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Fair Cyprians of London Series (Book 3)
By Beverley Oakley
Beverley has a print copy of Her Gilded Prison to giveaway during the tour. Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Remember you may enter every day for your chance to win a print copy of Her Gilded Prison. You may find the tour locations here.
“My beautiful Revenge.”
Four years ago, Faith’s mysterious benefactress falsely accused her of stealing and deposited her in Madame Chambon’s exclusive brothel.
There, Faith was to learn how to entrance London’s noble gentlemen with her learning in philosophy, politics and art.
Her body was to be saved for the greatest enticement of all: revenge.
Faith doesn’t care what she has to do. She lives only to fulfill a bargain that will set her free.
But when Faith is recruited as the muse of a talented, sensitive painter whose victory in a prestigious art competition turns them both into celebrities overnight, she discovers the reasons behind her mission are very different from what she’d been led to believe.
Now she is complicit in something dark and dangerous while riches, adulation and freedom are hers for the taking.
But what value are these if her heart has become a slave to the man she is required to destroy?
Genre – historical romantic suspense
Heat Level – Medium
Keep Faith Buy Links:
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2Dg70UP
“What did you learn last night?”
“A gentleman must always believe he knows best.”
Confident that her answer was pleasing, Faith reached across the table to help herself to a macaroon but a sharp slap across the back of the hand stopped her progress by the silver teapot.
Her smile of feigned contrition was rewarded with a raised eyebrow from Madame Chambon. Not an invitation to partake of a macaroon, unfortunately. The table laden with eclairs and petit fours in Madame’s private sitting room was merely for show.
“Greedy girl, Faith! You can eat at the Dorchester tomorrow and I daresay you won’t even spare a thought for the other girls who are justified in being somewhat jealous of your cossetted life.” Madame sniffed as she patted one of the grizzled, orange curls of her elaborate coiffure. Faith suspected a squirrel’s pelt had made its contribution. “I’m sure they wonder every day why you never have to stir yourself – or anyone else, for that matter – to get your fine clothes or a roof over your head.” Madame Chambon piled three macaroons onto her already laden plate before making a sweeping gesture that encompassed the furnishings of her surprisingly decorous private sitting room with its gold tasseled green velvet curtains and flock wallpaper. “What have you told them, Faith? About why you are here, I mean?”
Faith’s stomach rumbled as she gazed from the prints of the famous artists that lined the walls to the fine fare in front of her, ordered from Fortnum and Mason. These monthly sessions in table manners were supposed to give Faith the practice she needed to deport herself like a lady when eating in public. However, under Madame’s guardianship, Faith never actually got to try the specialties.
“Answer me, Faith. In all the three years that you’ve been here, you’ve had to do precisely nothing to justify your existence. Surely the girls have questioned you? I have my own version of the truth for them, as you know, but I’d be interested to hear what you have to say.”
Faith didn’t answer. She already knew how lucky she was, but Madame was not ready to drop the subject, despite having just crammed an entire chocolate éclair into her mouth. Faith just managed to make out the muffled words, “Every night you lie peacefully in your bed while the other girls have to earn their livings.”
Lying peacefully in her bed was not how Faith would describe the restfulness of her slumber. She was kept awake every night by the grunts and cries of ecstasy that penetrated the thin walls of her attic chamber.
Still, she’d finally learned when it was wise to respond meekly, so she bowed her head and stared at her neat kid gloves while dreaming of the delicacies Mrs. Gedge would order for them when Faith really was dining with her at the Dorchester Hotel the following afternoon. The Sacher Torte Mrs. Gedge had ummed and aahed over before finally choosing the baked Alaska from the sweets trolley last month still haunted her. However, since part of Faith’s tutoring included how to win over reluctant gentleman ‘and make them wild with wanting’ which is how Madame phrased it, then surely Faith could persuade her American benefactress to order the Austrian chocolate specialty?
She was so busy rehearsing her words for tomorrow that she almost missed Madame’s prophetic and appalling statement.
“Well, Faith, the time has come for you to start earning your way, now.”
Faith brought her head up in shock. Was Madame teasing? When it appeared not, she gripped the table edge as she struggled for composure. For so long she’d known the reckoning would come. Yes, and with three years preparing for it, she’d believed she could meet it head-on with the necessary fortitude.
But there’d been no warning.
She began to shake, biting into her bottom lip and clasping her hands in her lap to try and keep secret the manifestations of her terror from Madame who’d only be spurred onto gloating and make her suffer even more.
“Mrs. Gedge reported last month that she wasn’t entirely happy you were ready for what she has in store for you when she took you to tea, Faith.” Madame chewed noisily, unperturbed, it seemed, by the crumbs that landed on her gaudy vermillion skirts.
Faith didn’t suggest that Mrs. Gedge’s dissatisfaction was perhaps the fault of Faith’s tutor – the one sitting in front of her – who knew nothing about deporting herself as a lady.
With a dainty gesture using only her forefingers, Madame Chambon raised her plate and licked at the crumbs that had not been dislodged before saying, “Fortunately, Lady Vernon is recovered at last from her long indisposition and has agreed to forget your rudeness to her from six months ago. In fact, she’ll be here shortly. Yes, she’ll soon have you passing the scrutiny of the most discerning duchess.” Madame gobbled down another macaroon with as much finesse as the dogs Faith’s father used to goad into fighting each other after they’d fought over the scraps from the scrubbed wooden table at the farm. Not that there’d been many scraps with ten children to feed.
“Should we not have waited for Lady Vernon?” Faith suggested, daringly. But she had to say something to stop herself from launching into a volley of querulous questions about exactly what form this ‘having to earn her own way’ might take.
Madame Chambon pushed aside an untouched plate of bread and butter to reach for another chocolate éclair and sighed. “There was just so much food on the table it seemed unnecessary to wait if her ladyship was going to be late. Ah! And here she is.” Madame’s orange painted mouth turned up at a knock on the door. “Shoulders back, Faith! And make sure you don’t talk with your mouth full.”
Since this was not a danger, Faith supposed there might be some compensation in having to face her former nemesis who surely must subscribe to the belief that learning table manners required one having to eat.
Madame threw her arms wide in a welcome as the door opened to admit the new arrival. “Good evening, Lady Vernon. We’re so glad you’ve recovered from your chest ailment,” she gushed. “A good rest has done you the world of good. Why, you look ten years younger. Just as you do every time I see you, in fact. And we’re indeed humbled that you’ve consented to return.” Madame simpered at the elderly woman, dressed all in black who looked, Faith thought, even more wraith-like than usual as she pinned up the veil of her bonnet and took the seat at the table proffered by Madame who went on, “I’m sure you’ll feel even better once you’ve heard Faith’s heartfelt apology.”
Faith blushed under the scrutiny of the two pairs of expectant, unforgiving eyes, and glanced longingly at the remaining macaroon.
Yes, there were times when it was worth being abject. She mightn’t mean what she said, but if the last three years under Madame Chambon’s roof had taught her one thing, it was how to sound heartfelt and sincere when she felt anything but.
“I’m sorry for my rude comments about…” Faith hesitated. Perhaps it was best not to stir up old memories. While it must be perfectly obvious to anyone who met Lady Vernon as to why an earl’s daughter could remain a spinster into her sixtieth year, it hadn’t been in anyone’s interest – Faith’s least of all, it turned out – for Faith to have gone into quite such specific and extensive detail regarding her thoughts on the likely reasons. “I behaved like a child, though it’s such a long time ago, now, I can barely remember what was going through my head at the time. I was only seventeen and, in those days, prone to losing my temper but now I’m eighteen and, thanks to all your efforts in teaching me how to act like a lady, Lady Vernon, I’m so far from the rude and impulsive young thing I was before, you’d not recognise me today. Thanks to your thorough tutelage, I am determined that I will never speak out of turn, to you, or anyone. Indeed, I have changed! I truly believe that, confronted by a table of delicacies like this, for example, I would certainly not embarrass you or Mrs. Gedge or any lovely young man or his mother who might take me out to tea by any show of greediness or lack of restraint.”
Lady Vernon’s eyes remained fixed firmly on Faith for the duration of this speech with no indication of how forgiving or otherwise she might prove to be.
After a long silence, she spoke. “Restraint?” She sniffed. “Restraint is the most important requirement of any young lady, Faith. I’ve told you this many times, so I’m glad it’s a lesson you claim to have finally learned.”
With her eyes fixed on Faith, she reached towards the remaining macaroon that sat lonely on its plate just in front of them both, her long-fingered hand hovering just above. “Please pass that to me, Faith. I can’t seem to reach it.”
Wordlessly, Faith complied, schooling her features into impassivity while she railed inside, I hate you! I hate you! as she watched Lady Vernon transport the coconut confection to her thin, bloodless lips.
“Delicious,” Lady Vernon murmured. “In fact, I believe it is the best macaroon I have ever tasted? You must surely agree, Faith, since the plate is now empty.”
She looked pointedly at the two remaining crumbs that clung to the edge of the fine china, as if to imply that Faith had eaten the rest. Then she indicated the plate of bread and butter near Madame Chambon. “Please eat, Faith. Madame Chambon and I have a leisurely afternoon at our disposal. She and I will partake of the remaining chocolate eclairs –” Her pointed chin wobbled slightly, whether from the suppression of mirth or the swallowing of bile, Faith could only guess, “while you make good work of the bread and butter with all the ladylike restraint you’re so anxious to prove.”
Other Books in the Series:
Saving Grace Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2z7rVGx
Forsaking Hope Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2DlzV9M
Debutantes, widows and the occasional courtesan test society’s boundaries in Beverley Oakley’s wicked, passionate historical romances dripping with scandal, intrigue, and suspense.
Her Fair Cyprians of London series is about a group of determined and clever courtesans at a high-class Soho brothel who use their wit and beauty to avenge past betrayals – and who find lasting love along the way.
How can there be a happily ever after? is a question many a reviewer has asked before admitting to being delighted and satisfied by the unexpected plot twists and surprise endings – just like in Beverley’s own life. You can read more on her website.
Beverley’s Social Links:
I love these quotes!
“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”
– Oscar Wilde
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
– Oscar Wilde
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
– Oscar Wilde
“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”
– Oscar Wilde
“The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.”
– Oscar Wilde
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.”
– Oscar Wilde
“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”
– Oscar Wilde
“All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.”
– Oscar Wilde
First and Ten: A Contemporary Reverse Harem
A Team of Her Own Book 1: Preseason
by Erin Hayes and Margo Bond Collins
Available on Amazon
FREE in Kindle Unlimited
When Madison Harte inherits a football team with three hot players who all want her, there’s one problem: when it comes to America’s favorite sport, she’s clueless.
I have the worst luck. Failed tech startup? Check. Jerk of an ex-boyfriend? Check. No idea what to do next? Check.
Then my Uncle Dusty passes away and leaves a whole football team to me. Never mind that I’ve never even seen a game. Who has time for that, right?
But I can sell the team and turn my life around, so I fly from San Francisco to Birmingham, Alabama, where I find a whole new level of football obsession—and start to develop a fascination of my own. Mostly with the three players who are very, very interested in me.
I never expected to find a team of my own. Or that there would be so many obstacles in our way.
Luckily, Madison won’t have to choose just one man in this contemporary reverse harem where Friday Night Lights and Bridget Jones collide and where—hallelujah—it’s still raining men.
Order now and get First and Ten, book one of A Team of Her Own by a New York Times Bestselling duo.
I was strong and capable and would get through this just fine.
And if that had to be my mantra for the next few weeks while I worked out how to sell the team, so be it.
I can do this. I can make it work.
I ignored the voice in the back of my head that said, “And if you can’t, maybe you can just find someone else to help you out.”
As I approached the rental car desk, the man working greeted me with a deep, soft, Southern accent, his vowels elongated and the A’s and I’s almost reversed. He checked the length of time I had arranged to rent the car
“One of our long-term rentals,” he noted. “What are you in town for?”
“Business,” I replied. “For a long time—maybe longer than I have the car rented for.” However long it took me to get the team ready to sell.
He nodded. “If you need to extend the rental, you can do that online.”
“Roll Tide or War Eagle?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.
Did that have something to do with extending the rental, too? “Pardon me?”
He repeated himself, and I stared back at him blankly.
“Alabama or Auburn?” he clarified, which wasn’t clarifying anything.
“I don’t know what that means.”
He rattled a plastic cup full of burgundy and orange flags. “I’m asking which team you go for. For a flag. For your car.”
I had no idea what I would do with a flag for my car, or how I was supposed to answer. “I am so sorry, but I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said.
He spoke very slowly, as if to someone who had a serious mental deficiency. “Your flag shows your support for the football team of your choice.”
Great. I was in one of the only states in the country where everyone had an opinion about football. Except maybe Texas. I had some vague idea that they might be as knowledgeable about football as people from Alabama. Then again, that might just have been because I knew Friday Night Lights was set there. Which I had never watched because it was about football.
It suddenly occurred to me that I did have a football team that I could go for. “I go for the Birmingham Yellowhammers,” I said brightly.
The rental agent shook his head sadly. But he reached under the counter and pulled out his small bucket of yellow flags. “Don’t get much call for these around here.”
“But this is Birmingham.”
“The Hammers suck.”
Sci-fi junkie, video game nerd, and wannabe manga artist Erin Hayes writes a lot of things. Sometimes she writes books.
She works as an advertising copywriter by day, and she’s an award-winning New York Times Bestselling Author by night. She has lived in New Zealand, Hawaii, Texas, Alabama, and now San Francisco with her husband, cat, and a growing collection of geek paraphernalia.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll be happy to chat. Especially if you want to debate Star Wars.
Read More from Erin
Margo Bond Collins
USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times bestselling author Margo Bond Collins is a former college English professor who, tired of explaining the difference between “hanged” and “hung,” turned to writing romance novels instead. (Sometimes her heroines kill monsters, too.)
Read More from Margo
Keywords: #NewRelease #ReverseHarem #ContemporaryRomance #RomCom
Teaching online classes is becoming a thing for me. How odd is that?
I love to teach in person, face-to-face. There is a special satisfaction to be gained from seeing a student’s face and feeling the excitement of comprehension. In today’s world that isn’t always possible. I have been teaching students on Skype. It’s a cool way to make the separation of miles less of an issue. I still catch the excitement of understanding that blooms sometimes!
I even dipped my toe into teaching through webinars. I’ll do it again soon.I just need to work out the technical parts that have nothing to do with teaching.
Teaching online seems like a thing I can’t let pass me by, so I taught through two weekend online mini-conferences and two classes classes for RWA online chapters.
Savvy Authors is a bigger deal! To learn more about the group check here. https://savvyauthors.com/blog/.
Starting August 22, I will work on debunking some “rules”, while showing ways we can improve our writing using those “rules” in practical ways. We will begin with “as clauses”. They aren’t bad as long as we use them the right way and don’t overuse them!
Week 1 will consist of working with “as clauses” so writers can see ways to replace as many as possible.Students will have the opportunity to improve material provided by the instructor and to offer work for us to help them improve.
Week 2 will deal with myths about passive voice and being verbs. The instructor will give rules, explanations, examples, and ways to select the best times to delete or keep passive voice and being verbs.
Week 3 will offer cures for ing verb indigestion. We will look at issues overuse of those ing verbs can cause.
Week 4 “And, but, and or” independent clauses will rule and fall as we find better conjunctions to use for them.
I am sooo re-blogging this! Your writing inspires with it’s beauty.
Breaking dawn and soon after is the best time of day. Nightly slumber renews the garden, beading every leaf and blossom with dew. Cows amble in the sparkling meadow, and the pond swims with waterfowl… It’s the garden of Eden time.
(Lilies with the barn in back.)
Pastoral charm and flowery nooks beckon and I get out my camera phone. Suspicious geese flee the crazy lady unless I sneak up on them. Fussy bunch. Summer sounds create a symphony while I dart around picture-taking. Birds sing, roosters crow, cows bawl, geese fuss… The cooing of mourning doves is a continual background note, and we have an insane mockingbird who runs through every tune he knows. Repeatedly. The…
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