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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Countdown to Christmas: 13 more sleeps...

Sinful Regency Christmas
featuring Marguerite Kaye

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A Collection of Five Sensual Seasonal Stories
It was a thrilling and thoroughly sinful Regency Christmas!

One Wicked Christmas
by Amanda McCabe

Lady Cassandra Osborne is ready to take a lover to her bed – and she’ll be at the same Christmas house party as Sir Ian Chandler, her late husband’s rakish best friend…

Virgin Unwrapped
by Christine Merrill.

Robert Breton’s touch fills Anne Clairemont with a delicious, scandalous heat – but can Robert’s mistletoe kisses seduce her into breaking her planned engagement?

An Illicit Indiscretion
by Bronwyn Scott.

Dashiell Steen, heir to an earldom, craves one final adventure before settling down – and finds it with a vivacious beauty escaping from a manor window!

A Rake for Christmas
by Ann Lethbridge.

Lady Eugenie Hardwick is being driven wild with need by the sounds of unrestrained passion coming from notorious Lord Richard Townsend’s bedroom!

Spellbound and Seduced
by Marguerite Kaye.

Cursed to be widowed on her wedding anniversary, Jura Mcnair chose not to marry, but, with handsome Lawrence Connaught, she feels the lure of forbidden desire…

Scroll down for an excerpt from
Spellbound and Seduced

Please note that this book is not included in the Advent Prize Giveaway, so if you want a copy, go and buy it now ;-)

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About Marguerite Kaye...

Marguerite's writing view
A Scot born and bred, I made the unbelievably foolish mistake of thinking I’d make a good lawyer, and clung to that belief right through university, where to everyone’s astonishment, not least mine, I graduated with a degree in Scots Law. To the relief of the Scottish legal establishment I decided not to practice, and instead embarked on a lengthy, successful but ultimately unfulfilling career in IT, where I learned a lot about people and not very much about computers. In the twenty years it took me to escape, I studied with the Open University, gaining a first class honours and a masters degree in history, and much more importantly discovered an enduring passion for the subject.

I’ve always been a voracious reader, and I’ve always wanted to write (honestly, my IT Project Delivery meeting minutes were positively Shakespearian!). At the age of nine I won a national poetry competition. At the age of twenty-nine I submitted my first ever manuscript to Mills & Boon, a modern romance which, for those familiar with the output of the BBC, was a bit like Monarch of the Glen meets Gardeners’ Question Time. There was a memorable scene in a potting shed, I recall. And a lot of orchids. Needless to say, it was very politely declined.

Reaching the turning-point age of forty, my life changed dramatically in a number of ways, and I took the plunge and decided to pursue my dream of writing for a living. It was difficult and very, very hard work but I loved it. I wrote anything and everything at first, articles for the local paper, travel, recipes, and lots and lots of history. Then I started writing short stories. And then I submitted another modern romance to Mills & Boon. A French froth, this time, and I received the same polite rejection letter. My next attempt, featuring a charismatic celebrity chef with revenge in his heart, went the same way. Finally, I thought (light bulb moment) you love history, you love romance, why not write a historical romance? So I did and HURRAH, Mills & Boon said yes!

I’d love to say the rest is history, but it’s more like a work in progress. When I’m not writing, thinking about writing, or angsting about not writing, I go for walks. Here in my native Argyll, there’s no shortage of two things, scenery and rain - just look at the view from my window. I also love to cook and eat and am extremely partial to a vodka martini. And because I love to drink martinis and eat, I have learned to love pilates (or more accurately, I have learned to love the effect of pilates).

Still want to know more? Read how I go about my writing (with a few digressions) here.



Christmas Day, 1622. Scottish Highlands

Snow had fallen overnight. In the early hours of the morning, the temperature had dropped sharply, making glittering crystals of the fallen flakes which crunched underfoot as the villagers gathered, the women with their arisaidhs drawn up over their heads, the men with their plaids wrapped tightly around them. Silence reigned as the birds watched on mutely from the bare branches of the trees.

A large bonfire had been built, but not to warm the assembled crowd. Its purpose was much more sinister. The atmosphere among the circle of Highlanders was tense, a potent brew of resentment tinged with fear at being forced to endure such a spectacle on Christmas Day of all days. But the laird had insisted, set upon providing an entertainment second to none for his high-born guests, and the laird’s word was law. 

Her bare feet numb, her eyes dazzled by the bleak morning light after days spent in the dank dungeons of the castle, Lillias was consumed by a fury so incandescent she did not feel the bitter cold, though she wore only her ragged shift. Ankles and wrists manacled, she shuffled along the path flanked by two of the laird’s men. The priest’s chanting affected her no more than the irritating buzz of an insect.

The circle of villagers opened suffice to allow her entry. In front of her stood the pyre on its platform of stones, taller than she’d expected, much more substantial. Faggots of peat were laid around the base. It would burn long and fiercely. Almost, her heart failed her then. Lillias staggered, but pride kept her upright. Boldly, she tossed back the distinctive tawny tangle of hair which marked all of her female kin and stood in the place hollowed out for her at the base of the wooden stack. The witch’s bonfire. Her funeral pyre. 

As they fastened the manacles to the stake, Lillias sought her daughter out amongst the curious gazes of the laird’s coterie. Her aura was bile-black and acrid, so different from the soft, glowing cloud which had enveloped Jennifer since childhood. Standing next to her was the man Lillias held responsible for poisoning her daughter’s mind towards her. Seamus, the laird’s son and Jennifer’s husband. The pair of them had branded her an evil witch even though they, and all the village, knew she only used her powers to do good. The laird had readily accepted their trumped-up evidence, sensing the opportunity for a Christmas entertainment that would be the talk of the glens.

The twigs were lit at the bonfire’s base. Damp with melted snow, the wood and peat caught slowly. The warmth was almost welcome on her chill-blained feet, though Lillias knew it was but a shadow of the fierce heat which would slowly consume her.

A man leapt forward from the crowd. “For pity’s sake,” he cried, “this woman saved my bairn’s life when all hope was lost. At least grant her the solace of a noose to spare her suffering.” But the laird shook his head and his men pushed the villager roughly back into the throng.

The first of the flames licked up around her toes. Her manacles heated and began to sear the flesh around her ankles. Lillias’s beautiful golden eyes blazed brighter than the pyre as she summoned her powers. Though her bound hands prevented her from pointing, the fierceness of her gaze directed all others’ – villagers, laird, and ladies – at Jennifer.

“A curse be upon you.” Her voice carried clear of the smoke, out into the crisp winter air. The villagers drew away as one, with a hiss of simple terror. Even the priest ceased his incessant chanting. With the flames licking at her shift, Lillias needed all her strength and resolution, all the vitriol which she had nursed through the days of captivity which followed her token trial. “For the sin of my betrayal, I place this curse upon you, my daughter. Your precious husband, who loves himself more than you, will die a year to the day upon which you married him.”

Her words held the villagers transfixed. The flames licked higher now, the heat was making her choke, but the pain was as yet bearable. “And so it will be, for each generation of my female kin in the years to come. To them, I bequeath my powers and my curse, until a true and perfect love does break the cycle.”

Smoke filled her lungs. Pain seared her flesh. Lillias fortified herself with a final look at her petrified daughter and corrupt son-in-law, then closed her eyes and waited for death to take her.

Click here to continue to chapter one


Please note that this book is not included in the Advent Prize Giveaway, so if you want a copy, go and buy it now ;-)

Enter giveaway!

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