Tuesday, September 16, 2014

RELEASE DAY: Vivian Roycroft "Shenanigans in Berkeley Square"

The right man doesn’t know she’s alive. The wrong man’s out to change that.
Coralie Busche can only admire Kenneth Rainier from afar. He’s a most handsome philosopher of the Romantic movement and for months she’s eavesdropped on his conversations at the coffee house. If only she had the courage to join his debates… and perhaps more. Her feminine education of singing and sewing could be of no interest to such a man — but then that vexing rake, the Duke of Cumberland, brings her to Rainier’s attention and she can’t hide any longer.
Rainier has lived with his mercenary sisters for too long to suffer any illusions about women. They value money, position, and precedence, not life’s important things such as poetry or painting, and only very lucky men find true love. But when he notices Cumberland staring at a dark-eyed beauty hiding in the coffee house’s corner, Rainier is smitten. Perhaps there’s a chance he could be one of those lucky men.
Cinderella meets Romeo and Juliet with a gorgeous gown, an unusual ducal matchmaker with motives of his own, and two cynical, jealous sisters. With All Hallow’s Eve approaching, tempers flaring, and a duelist’s challenge thrown down, how can His Grace, the Scoundrel of Mayfair, teach some loving sense to two soaring sensibilities?
Vivian Roycroft is a pseudonym for historical fiction and adventure writer J. Gunnar Grey. And if she's not careful, her pseudonymous pseudonym will have its own pseudonym soon, too. Plus an e-reader, a yarn stash, an old Hermès hunt saddle, and a turtle sundae at Culver's.
You can find Vivian and her writing compadre, J.L. Salter, at their shared blog, www.TakeTwoOnRomance.Weebly.com, or follow her on Twitter as @VivianRoycroft.
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Chapter One
Thursday, October 14, 1813
Strong sunlight poured between the pretentious columns fronting the Olympic Pavilion. Beneath the portico moved shadows not cast by the neoclassical architecture, shadows of completely the wrong shapes and sizes; and, when His Grace approached to a sufficient proximity, shadows creating noises both indiscreet and inappropriate for a public street. A flash of copper curls and a clashing maroon sleeve caught his eye, and surely only one couple in all of Mayfair would dare sport such an unfortunate combination of colors. Deliberately he clumped on the pavement, announcing his presence. The shadows whipped behind their sheltering column and the salacious noises ceased.
But as he passed, a calculated glance back proved his theory correct. Mrs. Beryl Fitzwilliam, née Wentworth, stood on her tiptoes and peered over her new husband’s shoulder. The Duke of Cumberland, His Grace, Ernst Anton Oldenburg, gave her a victorious grin; her bewitching green eyes lit with glee and she wrinkled her nose at him. Satisfied, he resumed his more usual manner of walking and continued on his way, permitting them to resume — well. Perhaps better not to pursue that thought.
Enchanting Beryl’s adventure was complete, her dreams now reality.
Leaving him free to acquire a new target.
Who unknowingly awaited his tender attentions within Trent’s coffee house, beyond the Temple Bar on Fleet Street, where he’d first laid siege to delicious Anne Kirkhoven, now Mrs. Frederick Shaw, a woman delighted with her husband’s literary success and essaying upon a few attempts of her own.
As His Grace crossed the coffee house’s threshold into its shadowy, happy clutter, a hush descended upon the crowded patrons, heads swiveling in tribute to his entrance. He’d long ago become accustomed to such moments and let his lips curl into a rogue’s smile in greeting, doffing his beaver, tucking it beneath his elbow, and tugging off his gloves.
There they sat, at a table near the yellow-curtained casement windows, three elegant gentlemen of the ton staring at his entrance. They all wore similar expressions of eyebrow-arching recognition, although George Anson’s little smile seemed tinged with a certain amount of relief, as well. Whatever topic they had under discussion, perhaps it was more beyond his reach than usual. Not that Anson was stupid, not at all; merely limited in his understanding of deeper subjects, such as anything beyond Goodwood, sporting life, and Gentleman Jackson’s saloon on Bond Street.
But his manners remained impeccable. “Well met, your grace. Won’t you join us?”
“It would be entirely my pleasure, Mr. Anson. Thank you.”
Surprise joined Anson’s relief. Well, if the subject was that deep, the invitation might be his first contribution to the discussion since sitting down.
They made room for him, Henry Culver and Kenneth Rainier scooting their chairs to the sides. Round-faced Trent brought a steaming pot and matching cup — his best, the ivory with blue and white flowers — sans any cream or sugar; only lesser mortals doctored Trent’s invigorating brew. Preparations complete, His Grace leaned back, cradling the cup, and inhaled the coffee’s essence. The aroma alone was sufficient to wake half the ton at dawn and keep them that way for days.
Deliberately, and with malice aforethought, His Grace stared even more pointedly than normal at Miss Coralie Busche, who hid in the shadows beside the dark paneling.


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