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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Feature and Giveaway: How to Woo a Wallflower by Christy Carlyle

An Unconventional Wallflower…
Clarissa Ruthven was born to be a proper lady, but she’s never wanted to live up to the expectations her late father set. Determined to use her inheritance to help the less fortunate women of London, she’s devastated to learn that she won’t be inheriting anything until she marries, a fate she has no interest in. Unwilling to let go of her plans, Clary works at Ruthven Publishing for Gabriel Adamson, a man who’s always hated her. She’s always returned the feeling, but as she begins to turn her family’s publishing company upside down, she finds herself unable to forget her handsome boss.

Never Follows the Rules…

Gabriel Adamson believes in order. He certainly doesn’t believe Clary should be sticking her nose in the publishing company, and she definitely has no business invading his every thought. But Gabe soon finds he can’t resist Clary’s sense of freedom or her passionate kisses and he starts to crave everything she’s willing to give him.

Especially When It Comes to Love…

When Gabe’s dark past comes back to haunt him, he’ll do anything to make sure that Clary isn’t hurt…even if it means giving up the only woman he’s ever loved.

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Check out the other books in the Romancing the Rules series:

Clary’s foot bounced against the carriage floorboards as she watched Gabriel Adamson give directions to the hansom cab driver.

Ruthven Publishing’s office manager made her miserable.

Beyond exuding insufferable pomposity, the man never smiled. He was as stiff as a statue. Admittedly, a gorgeous statue. One with all the beautiful symmetry of a Greek god. Assuming the god in question had oak-plank shoulders and a chest as broad as a doorway.

No matter how well-tailored his clothing—and it always was—the fabric showcased his muscled frame.

Not that she’d spent an excessive amount of time studying the man or his muscles.

Only enough to know he disturbed her with his flawlessness. Perfect features, perfect hair, polished accent. Yet his cool blue eyes and ink-black lashes were too striking. And he was far too tall and definitely too bulky. Most disturbing of all, Mr. Adamson seemed to lack any joy.

Of course, he always noticed her imperfections. His displeasure was evident every time they met. When she spoke too quickly, he grimaced. When she laughed too readily, he turned away. When she unsettled some item on his spotless desk, he eyed her with disdain.

What on earth was the point of having a desk if one’s intention was to give the appearance that no one ever used it?

In the four and a half years she’d known Mr. Adamson, they’d only been forced into close quarters on a few occasions, during rare visits to her family’s publishing business on Southampton Row and the single awful time her brother invited him to a family Christmas party. After five courses of glaring at her, he’d made a ridiculous excuse and bolted the moment Phee suggested he and Clary partner for a dance.

In short, he was the last man she wished to accompany on a stop-and-start crawl in a cramped carriage through London’s crowded streets, but she needed time with him. It wouldn’t do for Kit to hear of her run-in with Mr. Keene. Her brother’s concern was already suffocating. The last thing he needed was fresh fuel to stoke his worry.

When Adamson turned toward the carriage, Clary scooted across the bench and plastered herself against the cab’s wall, wishing for narrower hips and slimmer thighs.

He climbed up and squeezed in next to her, taking care not to allow their bodies to collide in any but the most unintentional of ways. “Pardon me.”

His voice had a low, smoky quality that Clary never understood. She couldn’t imagine him partaking of anything as messy as a cigarette or pipe.

She tried to ignore his enticing scent underneath the starch of his clothing. She prayed she didn’t reek of the vinegar mix she’d used to clean one of the schoolrooms.

Every time the carriage took a turn, their arms and hips and thighs pressed together. Every place their bodies met, he was hard and warm.

“I hope you’ll make your engagement in time, Mr. Adamson.” If she was going to convince him to keep mum about her activities in Whitechapel, establishing a polite rapport seemed a good start. Never mind that they’d never managed this in all the years they’d been acquainted.

“As do I.”

Ah yes, she was used to that note of irritation in his voice.

“If you’re late, will you blame me for your tardiness?” She lightened her tone, though teasing Gabriel Adamson felt a bit like baiting a bear.

“How could I, Miss Ruthven?” Sarcasm dripped from every syllable.

“You needn’t have stepped in, you know.”

“What should I have done? Watched as you bludgeoned a man to death with a croquet mallet?” He wrenched off his gloves, then assembled them, one on top of the other and every finger aligned with its mate, before slipping the pair inside his coat pocket. “I have no tolerance for men doing violence to ladies.”

“Nor do I.” Clary nibbled the edge of her lower lip. “Though I must admit, Mr. Keene never laid a finger on me. He tried, but before you happened upon us, I kneed him in the groin.”

“I know.” He cast her a quick glance, a single flash of his clear blue eyes. “No man could mistake that squawk of agony.”

Clary recalled the effectiveness of the defensive jab with her knee. “I’m not usually given to violence. I wished to banish the man from lurking outside the school, but I never intended any permanent damage.”

He didn’t reply, but the lift of one perfectly shaped ebony brow spoke volumes.
“I don’t care if you believe me or not.” Clary lashed her arms over her chest, which proved impossible to do without brushing the side of his body. “May I rely on you to say nothing to my brother?”

“He doesn’t know you waste your time in Whitechapel?”

“Is charity a waste?” Clary swung to face him, pressing her knees into the muscled thickness of his thigh. “You speak like a man who’s never been charitable in his life.”

She sensed a tremor rippling through his body, felt the jump of his leg against hers. He clenched his fingers into a fist against his thigh. For a moment, she thought he might leap from the moving vehicle. Bolt, as he had the night of that dinner party months ago. Just to get away from her.

He turned his wintry gaze her way. “You know nothing of my life, Miss Ruthven,” he finally said, his voice tight and even. “Even when you’ve come of age and call yourself my master, you won’t be privy to my past.”

Clary’s breath caught in her throat. Despite the forced calm of his voice, fury sparked in his eyes. Not his usual ill humor but something fiercer. Pain? Fear? Sitting here, closer than they’d ever been to each other, Clary wanted to know why Gabriel Adamson seemed a man forever fighting for control.

What did he fear unleashing?

She told herself he was cold, unfeeling, but she’d glimpsed something more too. Only intermittent peeks. But now she saw it again. Sparks of fire beneath his icy facade. She couldn’t help but wish to break through.

They stared at each other so long that embarrassed laughter bubbled up Clary’s throat. She fought the impulse, but a sound escaped. Not quite a gasp, more like a gurgle. Mr. Adamson’s gaze dropped to her mouth, and her lips warmed under his scrutiny. Heat spread down her body, pouring across her belly like warm syrup, gathering at the center of her thighs. Her cheeks caught fire.

Then it was as if the rain battering the carriage roof had rushed in to douse all the fire in Mr. Adamson’s gaze. He turned away from her and retreated toward his side of the carriage.

Clary drew in long steadying breaths as all the heat between them chilled. Retorts stewed in her mind, from scathing to impolite. Instead, she tried on an imperious tone and informed him, “The when you speak of has arrived, Mr. Adamson.”

“Pardon?” His handsome face crumpled in confusion, and he frowned at her as if she’d gone completely dotty.

“Today is my twenty-first birthday. I may not be your master, but as of today, I am your employer.”

Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there's nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

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  • 1 Signed copies of Rules for a Rogue and A Study in Scandal + a $30 Amazon Gift Card

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