Monday, December 19, 2011

On the 5th Day of Christmas My True Lord Gave To Me...With Miranda Neville and Giveaway

Five Golden Rings...Stolen By a Highwayman - Miranda Neville

Miranda Neville lives the glamorous life of a romance novelist, which means wearing pajamas all day during terrifying deadlines. She writes historical romances set in her native England, though she wasn’t actually alive during the Regency era. Publishers Weekly has praised her “mixture of hilarity, mystery and passion.” THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT won the 2011 Gayle Wilson Award for Excellence in the historical category. Her fifth historical romance for Avon, CONFESSIONS FROM AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE, will be released March 27, 2012.

Places to find Miranda:
This scene is unrelated to anything else I’ve written. It’s a stand alone short story with a Christmas-y conclusion.

A Deranged Marriage

Insanity must run in the family. How else to explain her father’s obsession with Mesopotamian antiquities and her own current escapade? Disguising herself as a highwayman and holding up a coach in the December 23rd twilight was hardly a rational act, but Harriet had a good reason: to save herself from a forced marriage to a much older man, a collector even dottier and more ancient than her sire. He probably drooled.

If she had any sense, she’d go home now. Though a little hazy about the laws of marriage, she was pretty sure the bride had to consent. But she wanted her beloved, exasperating father to have the Christmas gift he was expecting, the Assyrian warrior’s ring Lord Ashburn had offered in exchange for a wife forty years his junior. And since Lord Ashburn had proposed this despicable arrangement, she felt little compunction about robbing him.

The sound of hooves told her the visitor to Holton Hall had turned off the main road. A pair of horses, she thought. She cocked her pistol and hoped Ashburn hadn’t bothered with an armed escort for the short drive out of London.

“Let’s go, Argent,” she whispered, and propelled her horse round the laurels into the road. “Stop!” she shouted, in the deepest voice she could manage. It came out a bit croaky, as though she had a sore throat.

The vehicle was a curricle, not what she expected an elderly earl to drive. On the other hand, the fact that the driver was alone, without even a groom, must be an advantage when it came to daylight robbery. She’d have the treasure off him in no time, and gallop home with plenty of time to change into her oldest, plainest evening gown to greet their guest for dinner. Since Ashburn wouldn’t have the ring, her father wouldn’t insist on the marriage. Still, it was safer to make herself as unalluring as possible.

“Stand and deliver!” she cried, which she understood was the correct greeting for a highwayman. “Don’t move or I’ll blow your head off,” she added for good measure, in case the poor man didn’t understand. He might well be weak in the brainbox to have agreed to such a ridiculous marriage contract.

The chestnut pair drew to a halt, snorting breath into the frigid air. “Are you sure you can hit me?” the driver asked. “I’ve never yet encountered a woman who could shoot worth a damn.” Disobeying her order, he leapt down from the bench and Harriet got a good look at him: a tall, powerful figure with windswept black hair, a penetrating pair of dark eyes, and a faint smile on very nicely shaped lips. His face was not much below hers, even when she was mounted on Argent, and he didn’t appear frightened, or even mildly alarmed.

A couple of things became clear. Lord Ashburn, if this was he, was unlikely to suffer any symptoms of senility. He wasn’t old – twenty-five or thirty at a guess. Neither was he weak-minded. He’d penetrated her disguise with insulting ease.

Being held up, in daylight, on the approach to a private manor house in a quiet part of Surrey, seemed delightfully improbable. The fact that his assailant was female greatly improved a dreary journey to a dull visit duty. The highwaywoman (if that was a word) has a good seat on a horse and long graceful legs, revealed by well-fitting breeches. Though she wore a back mask over her eyes, he could tell she was young and pretty.

“I’m an excellent shot,” she said, no longer troubling to disguise her voice. A lady of quality and, if he judged correctly, slightly peeved.

“In that case,” he replied, “I’d better do whatever you ask.” He let his gaze slide down to her bosom, hidden, alas, beneath a heavy riding coat. “I can think of a number of ways I’d be happy to accommodate you.”

Well-shaped red lips pursed in shock at his deliberate leer and suggestive words. She recovered gamely and brandished her weapon. “What you can do is empty your pockets.”

“Don’t wave your gun that like that. Keep it pointed at me. That way, if it goes off by accident you’re bound to miss.”

“You underestimate my shooting.” Definitely peeved now.

Not really wishing to test the truth of her assertion and curious to see where this adventure would lead, Ashburn fished his purse from his pocket and held it out, but she shook her head. “What else do you have?”

“Besides my handkerchief? Only this.”

The reason for his visit, the curious antique ring, five strands of gold intricately braided and topped with a lion’s head, lay on his open palm. The girl would have snatched it, but he closed his gloved fist. “No. I must deliver it to Sir John Holton as my uncle commanded. They were friends and rival collectors and he wanted Sir John to have it. Even a desperate villain like yourself must respect a deathbed promise.”

How typical of her father! No doubt the death of an earl had been reported in the newspapers, but Sir John lived in an extremely distant past. Harriet doubted if the new Lord Ashburn was aware of the agreement his predecessor had made.

She looked at Ashburn again and, with a pang of regret, lowered the pistol. “Take it to him, then. I wouldn’t wish to thwart a man’s last wish.”

“A rogue with a conscience.” He smiled as he replaced the ring in his pocket and she felt an odd tightness in her chest.

“I should go,” she said but their eyes met and she couldn’t bring herself to leave.

Neither did he make any move to return to the curricle and complete his journey. His smile widened. “I had an odd letter from Sir John,” he said. “He offered me his daughter’s hand in marriage in exchange for the ring.”

Her mouth felt dry. “Very odd. He must be quite eccentric.”

“There’s no need for the girl to make such a sacrifice.”

“It would be a sacrifice. A terrible sacrifice.”

“I’d never demand it. I’ll give him the ring anyway.”

“Very noble. The right thing to do.” She tried not to sound disappointed.

“You sound peeved.”

“Why would I?”

“I doubt Miss Holton and I would suit anyway. And besides, I had no desire for a bride.”

Did she imagine the slight emphasis on one word? “Had?”

“Have. I have no desire for a bride. Especially not Miss Harriet Holton who must be an elderly spinster with a face like a cod if she has to get a husband this way.” The blackguard stood with his hands on his hips, laughing at her, and looking impossibly handsome. “Touched in the head, as well, “he continued. “Mad as a march hare. One knife short of a canteen.”

“I’m glad to see you amuse yourself.” She gathered her reins, anxious to get home and change into the new gown she’d been saving for the Twelfth Night assembly. “I must leave.”

“Places to go, people to rob?” he asked, seizing the cheek strap of Argent’s bridle to prevent her escape.

“I must be home for Christmas,” she said

“I doubt I will.” Ashburn unclasped her right hand from the reins and tugged off her riding glove. His lips were warm and his breath hot against her wrist, and then her palm. “I have a sudden desire to spend the feast at Holton Hall.”

Being kidnapped teaches Miss Celia Seaton a few things about life

LESSON ONE Never disrobe in front of a gentleman ... unless his request comes at gunpoint.

LESSON TWO If, when lost on the moors, you encounter Tarquin Compton, the leader of London society who ruined your marriage prospects, deny any previous acquaintance.

LESSON THREE If offered an opportunity to get back at Mr. Compton, the bigger the lie, the better. A faux engagement should do nicely.

LESSON FOUR Not all knowledge is found between the covers of a book. But an improper book may further your education in ways you never guessed.

And while an erotic novel may be entertaining, the real thing is even better

Places to purchase:

The ebook of THE WILD MARQUIS is currently on sale for only $2.99
| Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes


Miranda is giving away a copy of The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton to 1 lucky winner, open to International shipping. So make sure to leave a comment and fill out the Rafflecopter form. 

And don't forget to head over to Not Another Romance Blog and check out author Karen Hawkins special scene! 

**Grand Prize Giveaway**

On behalf of myself, Rita and lots of awesome authors, we will be having one BIG Grand Prize given away to 1 lucky winner. The grand prize consists of a mix of books, swag, and lots of other secret goodies. Believe me, you want to enter to win this prize. Just make sure to leave a comment everyday on each post on both blogs and fill out this FORM. That's it. Super easy! 

Good Luck everyone and Happy Holidays!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Great excerpt, Miranda! (Big fan of your works!)

    Happy holidays!

  2. I enjoyed the short scene. A kiss on the wrist and palm can be so erotic!
    Don't enter me - I already have The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton. Happy Holidays!

  3. Lovely scene, Miranda! LOVED it!
    Thanks for participating in the event <3 <3

  4. Only one problem Miranda, I want to read the rest NOW. Loved it!

  5. LOVE the scene!:) ..I want more!:=
    Thank u so much, Miranda!
    Happy Holidays!:*

    Dani, Rafflecopter's not working for me (again!=/ ) can u enter me, please? :) Thanks!:* ..have a nice week!:)

  6. I hope I get to read the rest. Great scene! Thanks for the giveaway.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Can't wait to read the rest of the story!

  9. What an amazing scene Miranda. I was sucked in immediately between the chemistry the two of them generated. I can tell that this is going to be one great story and I would love to read it to it's conclusion.

    Thank you for this opportunity.

    Seasons Greetings to you and all your family.

    dpd333(AT)aol dot com

  10. Thank you to make this international giveaway Miranda, i'm so excited with your book ;)

  11. I didn't read the scene cause it just makes me want to read the story more:-) I know it was great though

  12. This was a really good scene. It would make a really good story, the ring for a bride idea. Thank you for the wonderful giveaway.

  13. @Tin Thanks so much!

    @Winnie ditto. So glad you have Celia - goof luck with the Grand Prize!

  14. @Rita - thanks to you and Dani for a great event. It's a pleasure to participate.

  15. Hey Beebs. Fancy seeing you here :)

    And Hi to Shelley B, too.

    Ladies, I'm not sure there's going to be any more. I think these two are headed for a fairly quick HEA! On the other hand, I'm a big fan of seeing the happy couple after they get together - it's why I love epilogues.

  16. May and Diane - OMG some more people who want more of this story. Perhaps I'll write the scene when they meet at dinner and post it on my website over the holidays.

  17. Hi Eli - I don't usually make my giveaways international because of the postage costs, but I decided to make this one a holiday special. So come on, all you overseas readers! Sign up. This is your big chance :)

  18. @regencygirl! C'mon, read it! It won't hurt you:)

    @June I'm not sure crazy daddy's going to give up that ring once he gets his hands on it!

  19. Great scene! :D I can't believe I haven't came across your books before now--off to add them to my list! :D

    Thanks for the great giveaway!

    Happy Holidays,
    TBQ (check it out for a Holiday Giveaway currently running...)

  20. Lovely scene!! Have a Happy Holidays and can't wait for more of your books :)

  21. Thank you for the scene. It's been nice following the different author's stories.

  22. Miranda, I love how you made the heroine the "highwayman." What a wonderful story. I'd love to read another scene with these two!

  23. Miranda, what a gorgeous story. Love the humour! Started my day with a real smile! Happy Holidays!

  24. This story sounds great. Loved the excerpt. I love Highwaymen that are not really bad. I have to say that have not read one with a female especially. this is a new author for me and would love to win and read this book. Thanks for the chance to win.

  25. Wishing you a wonderful holiday, Miranda! I'm looking forward to your next book!

  26. That was fun, thanks for the story! I love the cover of your book, so colorful!

  27. Thanks for sharing the excerpt. I can't wait to read the story. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Merry Christmas to all!

    pnc07 (at) aol (dot) com

  28. I absolutely LOVED the Amorous Education. So much so that I loaned it to a friend with her promise that it would be returned to me. However, she loaned it to her mother and now it seems that no one is certain where it is.

    Anyway, I'm certain I'll never see it again and had decided to purchase a new copy just for my Keeper Shelf. However, winning a copy from the author herself (dare I ask for it to be signed?) would make it even more special.

    Thank you for many hours of reading pleasure.

  29. Fun excerpt - I always enjoy an adventurous heroine.
    sallans d at yahoo dot com

  30. Loved the story, but want more! Haven't read Amourous yet, so would love a win here! Thanks for your great stories!

  31. What a unique meeting.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  32. Great excerpt! Will I like Ashburn as much as I like Tarquin?

    ironss [at] gmail [dot] com

  33. Very cute short story. I'm not sure if this is part of a longer work or not.

  34. Hi Miranda! Great excerpt Miranda ! The encounters Braden the two characters are truly unique . This book will certainly be on my reading list. Thank you very much to make this international . Happy holiday to you. Aretha zhen ,

  35. I enjoyed reading the story you have posted. Thanks so much for the contest!

  36. A Deranged Marriage was intriguing. Thanks for the good, quick read.

    Ho, Ho, Ho...

  37. I really enjoyed the scene, it was a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to reading The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton, it sounds fantastic.

  38. Enjoyed that, wish it was longer.

  39. What a fun scene, Miranda! I definitely see another highway-woman heroine in your future.

  40. Enjoyed the scene. Can't wait to read the book.

  41. I had to go out for a few hours and came back to all these great comments. Thank you all so much and, for those who entered, good luck in the drawing.

  42. What a wonderful short! You should use that and make it a novel! Talent to write a good short that leaves the reader wishing it were longer.

  43. Great short scene! Definitely makes me want to read more about these characters.

  44. Loved it. A little slow getting here today, but glad I did,

  45. We have a saying in our family that: insanity does not run through the family it fairly gallops. So, the first sentence got my attention & then further down you actually have galloping going on & I just lost it. Once the hysterical laughter had subsided, I re-read & loved the scene thank you.


  46. This was great! I really enjoyed it! :-)

  47. Oh gosh, that was too short. I wanted more. But I enjoyed it never-the-less. :)


  48. Love the short scene,esp. the humor. TKS

  49. That's a true teaser! Thanks for sharing.

  50. What a lovely scene. I can't wait to read your books.

  51. Dear Miranda, I am excitedly looking forward to your latest novel CONFESSIONS FROM AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE, as arranged/forced marriages are one of my favourite if not THE favourite trope in HR. :-D

    Merry Chrismas and thank you for the fantastic giveaway! :-)

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

  52. Please count me in for this book! I would like to read it! I love romantic novels!

  53. Oh, I really enjoyed the excerpt and would love to read more - thanks for the chance.


  54. Loved the excerpt. I'll have to check out your books.