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Excerpt & Giveaway: Syrie James’ Summer of Scandal

Today, Syrie James has stopped by to share with us an excerpt from her new novel, Summer of Scandal. And there will be a giveaway at the end of the post for her first novel in this series.

First, about the new book, Summer of Scandal:

Madeleine Atherton is no typical American heiress, sent to England to marry an English lord. A brilliant college graduate who secretly dreams of becoming a published author, she wants to marry for love. After receiving a proposal from a future duke, Madeleine flees the London Season for Cornwall to seek her sister’s advice, never expecting her decision to be complicated by a charming, handsome earl she’s certain she dislikes—even though his every touch sets her blood on fire.

Charles Grayson, the Earl of Saunders, has secrets and ambitions of his own. Although under pressure from his mother and gravely ill father to marry his cousin, Charles cannot find the words to propose. But this fascinating American visitor does not figure into his plans, either.

Thrown together unexpectedly at Trevelyan Manor, Madeleine and Charles struggle to rise above their intense attraction. But as things heat up between them over a summer that becomes increasingly scandalous, Madeleine and Charles will both be forced to make a difficult choice. Can two dreamers dare to defy convention and find their own happily ever after?

Here’s the excerpt from the new novel, Summer of Scandal, Ch. 10, in the Dare to Defy series:

Charles’s heart began drumming to a different cadence as he made his way across the golden expanse of sand. The ocean setting in all its fresh, morning glory was a fitting backdrop for the woman who, in a peach-colored dress that clung to her perfect figure like a second skin, resembled a goddess newly risen from the sea.

“Miss Atherton!”

Charles wasn’t certain if his voice had carried over the crash of the waves and the raucous calls of the gulls. He tried again.

This time, she turned in surprise. Good lord, she was beautiful. The wind brought out the roses in her cheeks and whipped through her skirts and the loose tendrils of her upswept hair.

He ventured closer and tipped his hat. “Good morning.”

“Good morning.” Her eyes and voice held a note of reluctance, as if undecided as to whether or not she was pleased to see him.

“Collecting seashells?”

“I am.” She held up a small cloth bag. “And stones. For Julia and Lillie. They are fond of them.”

“What a nice gesture.” Standing this close, looking down at her lovely face, he realized he had been wrong about the color of her eyes. Under the bright morning sun, they were more cobalt than indigo.

Stop waxing poetic about her eyes.

He drew a line in the sand with the toe of his boot. “I understand you are leaving us today?” Despite himself, he couldn’t disguise the remorse he felt at the prospect.

She hesitated, as if surprised by his tone and what it implied; yet her guard was still visibly in place. “A carriage is coming for me in a little over an hour.”

“I am glad, then, that I caught you before you left. I wanted to make sure I had an opportunity to say farewell.”

“That was thoughtful of you.”

He gestured for them to walk on together. As they strode across the hard-packed sand, he groped for words. “I hope you did not suffer a chill from our little adventure in the rain the other day?”

“Thankfully, no.”

He darted a glance at her. Their eyes briefly met and held. He saw her cheeks grow rosy. Was she thinking about the horseback ride? The near-kiss? Or both? She looked away without further comment.

“I know you felt uneasy about riding astride,” he commented. “I hope you have not berated yourself for that.”

“I haven’t. It was the sensible thing to do at the time.”

“I hope, as well, that you will forgive me for joining you on Tesla’s back. It was not, perhaps, the most gentlemanly thing I have ever done . . .” He broke off.

“It’s all right. It was pouring cats and dogs. We had to get back to the house as quickly as possible.”

“And so we did.”

“And so we did,” she repeated.

Her eyes met his again, now visibly and unexpectedly on the edge of mirth. They both let out a laugh, relieving the tension between them. A seagull squawked overhead, then swooped down to collect some unseen tidbit from the wet sand nearby.

“If it helps, I promise to never breathe a word of it to anyone,” he told her.

“Well. Just so you know: I saw a curtain fluttering when you rode off. I’m pretty sure Woodson saw us.”

“How do you know? Did he say something?”

“Just that he understood why we had both missed tea. And he gave me . . . a look.”

“Ah. A look from Woodson can speak volumes.”

“He didn’t seem to be passing judgment, though.”

“As well he shouldn’t. We were the bedraggled survivors of a downpour, returning to home and hearth.”

“Indeed we were.” Miss Atherton laughed again. “He also mentioned that he is married. To Martin! I had no idea.”

“They are the heart and soul of our household, and have been these many years. I cannot imagine what we should do without them.” The morning sun was growing hotter.

Charles lifted his hat, running his fingers through his hair to cool his head, wishing this moment could last forever.

“They are certainly devoted to your family,” Miss Atherton agreed. “I have been meaning to ask. Is there any news about your father? He has been indisposed almost the entire time I have been here. I worry about him.”

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of Runaway Heiress to U.S. mailing address; comment by Sept. 19, 11:59 p.m. EST

About the Author:

Syrie James is the critically acclaimed author of historical, contemporary, and young adult fiction and romance including the international bestseller The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel, Library Journal); Nocturne (Best of the Year, Suspense Magazine and Romance Reviews); Dracula, My Love; The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen; Jane Austen’s First Love; Forbidden; The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte (Great Group Read, Women’s National Book Association; Audie Romance Award, 2011), and the Harrison Duet (Songbird and Propositions). Her work has been translated into 18 languages. An admitted Anglophile, Syrie loves all things 19th century. She is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and has addressed audiences across the U.S., Canada, and England.

About Runaway Heiress:

When a runaway heiress runs into trouble, she may end up exactly where she belongs…

Brainy and college-educated, American heiress Alexandra Atherton will do anything to avoid marriage to the English peer her mother has chosen for her–even abandon the life of privilege she’s always known. But as her escape goes horribly wrong, Alexandra must invent a new identity to gain the help of a handsome stranger.

Thomas Carlyle, the Earl of Longford, sweeps in and out of London disguised as a humble artist, earning just enough to keep his ancestral Cornwall estate afloat. When Alexandra crashes into his life, she awakens feelings and desires that he vows will stay buried. Despite himself, he needs this beautiful newcomer, for his sisters have run off another governess.

Alexandra is surprised to find she thrives in her new position at Longford’s home. But as she grows closer to Thomas and his sisters, and her relationship with the emotionally guarded earl unleashes their hidden passions, the truth Alexandra’s been forced to hide may end up coming between her and the only man she’s ever loved.