Hello My Lovelies!
I am going to deviate from Downton Abbey Week for just a day to bring you this lovely guest post this brilliant giveaway. Please help me welcome Stefanie Sloane to Royal Reviews!
Cut to the Chase
I don’t know about you, but there comes a point where all of the titillating information and backstory about an author grows tiresome. Don’t believe me? Then give this a go:
I am a romance novelist. I began my professional life as the Amazon.com Romance Editor. I live in Seattle with my ridiculously willful daughters and saintly husband. I wear a lot of fleece and yoga pants. I own two adorable if accident prone mutts. And my favorite dessert is cake of any kind. The fourth installment in my wildly popular Regency Rogues series, The Saint Who Stole My Heart, is on bookshelves now. Please, buy it so I may continue to pay for unreasonable vet bills, summer camps, and cake.
So I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. Below is an exclusive excerpt from The Saint Who Stole My Heart. If you enjoy it, there’s plenty more where it came from! And if not, well I’ve wasted no more of your time than the dancing dog on Youtube has—though, admittedly, he is a tough act to follow.
The Saint Who Stole My Heart
Dashiell Matthews, Viscount Carrington, remembers little of Miss Elena Barnes beyond her slight build, mousy character, and bookish ways. Her unavoidable presence at Carrington House would be inconvenient, true, but a woman could hardly prove enough of a distraction to interfere with what was the most important case of Dash’s life—ferreting out the monster who’d murdered a dear friend’s mother many year before.
Dash would, of course, live to regret such an assumption.
As for Elena, a trip to London to retrieve a priceless book is troublesome, though not nearly as much as the feelings the viscount inspires in her. His touch elicits feelings from Elena that she’d only ever read about. Her skin tingles. Lord Hardwicke is as handsome as she remembered—actually, more so as he’d grown into his frame in a rather attractive manner—and as dim as a ha’penny tallow. Or is he? The more time Elena spends with the man, the greater her suspicions grow regarding his intellect and just what he might be up to as they’re thrown together in the search for an individual known only as the Rook.
Can true love save the day? Find out in the exciting and enthralling fourth installment of the Regency Rogues.
The Saint Who Stole My Heart is out now!
Giveaway Ends May 29
To Enter leave your name and a valid email address.
Stefanie is willing to give away all four of her Regency Rogues books to one winner!
Miss Elena Barnes, the only child of Henry Barnes,
Baron Harcourt, wrinkled her nose in unconscious protest
when her father’s voice intruded upon her reading.
“I saw that.”
Elena smiled with warm affection. “You always do.”
“And yet,” he replied, taking a seat next to her on the
chilly stone bench piled high with brocade pillows, “you
continue to give yourself away. Attempting to deceive
me is a hopeless habit, if there ever was one,” he added
amiably, settling his small frame comfortably on the
makeshift settee and sighing with relief.
Elena slipped a satin ribbon between the pages to
mark her place and reluctantly closed her book. Her
gaze moved past the folly columns to the lake beyond
and the white stone of Harcourt House shining brightly
in the distance. “Really, one would think twitching my
nose would be far easier to hide, even from you, considering
that fact that everyone seems to agree that I always
have my nose in a book.”
Her father turned to her and cleared his throat, his
eyes twinkling with wry disbelief.
“Oh, all right,” Elena ceded with a smile, looking at the
dear man. “It is true that I spend much time reading. It’s
my favorite indulgence. But must Lady Van Allen mention
it at every dinner party? Even Lord Van Allen sighed
when she brought it up again, and he never hears a word
the woman says.”
Her father reached out and took one of her hands in
his, the weight and familiar feel acting as a gentle balm
to Elena’s stinging pride.
“Actually, I believe he does hear every word,” she
amended. “But it’s not like the man to reveal he’s heard
her comments, which only proves my point. Really, I
have no illusions about my status as a bluestocking. Nor
does anyone else in Dorset— or the whole of England, I
would venture to guess. Perhaps even the entire world,
though I would have to consult Lady Van Allen on that
point,” she finished, winking conspiratorially.
Last evening’s spring gathering had gone well and exactly
as planned— with the glaring exception of Lady
Van Allen’s comment. The turbot had been braised to
perfection, the wine her father’s favorite, and those in
attendance the best of friends. Elena adored every single
person present, including Lady Van Allen, a bosom
friend of her mother’s before the baroness’s death.
It was this very connection that drove the well intentioned
woman to say such things, Elena reminded
herself. Lady Van Allen’s conviction that Elena would
eventually find her prince was both endearing and vexatious.
Elena was all for perseverance. She thought it a
commendable trait in the right situation. But when it
came to her marital status, one would have to be an
absolute lackwit to hold out any shred of hope for a
happy announcement in the Morning Post.
She was five- and- twenty. If there’d been a prince for
her, he’d long ago gone in search of greener pastures,
Elena thought philosophically. She calmly met her father’s
gaze, and then pointedly turned her attention to
the fine day.
Brilliant yellow daffodils and creamy Lady Jane tulips
bloomed in clusters about the folly. A sea of bluebells
spread out before her, their miniscule heads bobbing on
the breeze. And just past the lake, a doe and her speckled
fawn nibbled at the sweet spring grass.
Elena contemplated the beauty of her pastoral home.
She was content, in her own way. Hours spent relegated
to the ranks of older women and wallflowers in ballrooms
during her one season had firmly beaten down
any hopes she may have harbored for a life in London.
She’d been plain. And even worse, curved where she
should have been straight. Heavy, when she should
have been light. None of which had mattered a whit in
But in London, everything about her appearance and
comportment was taken into consideration.
And the women of the ton had judged her harshly— as
if her inability to attract a man somehow made her completely
undeserving of kindness or friendship.
She discreetly eyed a long curl of her brown hair
where it lay against her shoulder, thoughtfully studied
the formless moss- green muslin gown that hid her generous
curves, and finally looked at the leather-bound book
in her lap.
Bluestocking. Elena could still recall the first time
she’d heard a fellow debutante call her that. She’d questioned
whether the funds used to sponsor a young woman’s
season wouldn’t be better spent on the poor. The
room had fallen eerily quiet at her temerity, like a Dorset
winter’s morn after the first snowfall.
Elena mentally shook herself from the cold, crystalized
memory. She’d left London shortly after. Turned
tail, some surely said. Elena, in her darkest moments,
She’d been fully aware that returning to Dorset permanently
would, most likely, end any chance of a suitable
match. Again, perseverance was all well and good.
But Elena was no fool.
Her father stretched his legs, the effort causing him to
wince from pain.
The movement drew Elena from her musing and she
slipped the cashmere shawl from her shoulders to tuck it
around her father’s. “What on earth possessed you to
risk inflaming your gout by venturing this far afield? It is
spring, but still cold enough to do you harm.”
“The lure of seeing you smile was too great to resist,”
he replied cryptically.
Elena narrowed her eyes. “Come now, I do so all the
time. Surely you could have waited until dinner.”
“Oh, but this smile . . .” Lord Harcourt paused,
grinning knowingly, “This smile will rival that of
Elena’s heart leapt at the mention of the Greek goddess
of joy. Her father knew better than to invoke one of
her favorite mythological characters without just cause.
“You’ve my complete attention. Please, amaze me with
your news,” she proclaimed eagerly.
Reaching into his waistcoat, he drew out a letter. He
slowly opened the thick, cream-colored paper and began
meticulously smoothing out the folds— every last one of
“You torture me for the fun of it, don’t you?” Elena
admonished, craning her neck in a vain attempt to read
the inverted script.
Lord Harcourt chuckled and mercifully handed the
letter to her. “Just a touch. You do make it so easy— and
enjoyable. No one would blame me.”
Elena righted the letter and began to read. The elegant
handwriting was unfamiliar, but soon enough, the
names mentioned within the lines began to make sense.
As did the message itself. Thrilling, fantastic, perfect
“Am I to understand . . .” Elena asked, carefully setting
her book on the bench between them before
abruptly standing with the correspondence in her hand.
“I’m afraid I won’t be of much use until you complete
your sentence, my dear.”
Elena reread the letter, turning in slow circles as she
did so. “That the fifth Viscount Carrington has died— ”
“Rather a sad fact for you to be so happily contemplating,
wouldn’t you say,” her father interrupted to
“Oh, of course,” she agreed remorsefully, stopping in
front of him. “He was a dear friend, was he not?”
Her father grinned again. “That he was, Elena. And
he’d lived an interesting life, which is a blessing, indeed.
I’d venture to guess the man is sitting at the right hand
of the Almighty at this very moment, happily setting to
work on one puzzle or another, as he was wont to do.”
Elena realized he’d only been teasing her further
and frowned at him before continuing. “Am I to understand,”
she began again, “that the fifth viscount Carrington
died and his son has offered you the late lord’s
entire collection of antiquarian books?”
Lord Harcourt appeared to be contemplating her
words. “Yes,” he finally conf rmed.
“Including the Paolini?” she ventured, not stopping to
scold him as she held her breath.
“Including the Paolini.”
Giacomo Paolini’s Abecedary Illustrations of Greek
Mythology dated back to the fifteenth century. A single
copy had survived. And it resided in the Carrington
Elena felt the rush of excitement bubble from her belly
to her chest, and finally her face.
“Ah, that is the smile I was waiting for,” her father
said, standing with some difficulty.
She automatically offered her arm just as the sun’s
rays began to slant toward the horizon. “When will
“Go where, my dear?” Lord Harcourt asked as he allowed
Elena to assist him down the steps of the folly.
“To Carrington House in London, of course,” she
replied distractedly, her mind already contemplating
where the valuable tome would be placed in the library
at Harcourt House.
“Oh, there. Yes, well, you see, I won’t be.”
Elena stopped, forcing her father to do the same.
“What do you mean? Lord Carrington is expecting
He gestured ahead to where a cart and horse waited,
and they set off once again. “That may be, but I can
hardly travel with this gout plaguing me so. You will
have to go in my stead.”
“Father, is that really necessary?” Elena countered.
“Could we not send Mr. Ghent after the book— that is,
Lord Harcourt patted his daughter’s hand. “And are
you aware of my estate manager’s knowledge of such
things, my dear?”
“No,” she admitted, already anticipating what would
“Mr. Ghent knows no more of priceless books than
a robin does,” her father replied. “He’s a good man,
Mr. Ghent, but not the sort one sends to collect such
valuables. Your expertise is needed, my dear.”
Elena could hardly argue. She would not risk her father’s
health by insisting that he travel, and she’d not
risk the safety of the books by employing Mr. Ghent.
Besides, there was no one more uniquely qualified to
catalogue the tomes than herself. Their own library was
a thing of beauty, if Elena did say so herself. From the
time she could toddle along with the help of her dear
nurse’s hand, the baron had welcomed Elena into the
enormous room that housed his most prized possessions.
She’d come to love not only the books themselves,
but the respectful process that was required for the care
and safekeeping of the delicate volumes. They were an
extended family of sorts to her, each one with its own
unique place in her heart.
And Lord Carrington’s books? Could she leave them
in the hands of an unschooled individual? Elena envisioned
rare books being tossed hither and yon, thrown
into trunks without the benefit of even the most basic of
lists to distinguish one collection from the other. It was
too much to bear.
“I see,” she answered practically, relishing the warmth
of the sun’s fading rays. “Of course, I’ll go. We’ve no
other choice, do we?”
“No,” her father confirmed, patting her arm reassuringly.
Elena looked again at the letter in her hand. She’d met
Dashiell Matthews once, which had been quite enough
for her. She couldn’t recall much about him, but she did
remember the man had caught the attention of eligible
females within the length and breadth of London— and
quite a few ineligible ones as well. He was tall and
broad, with golden hair and a face that could only be
described as beautiful.
If you liked that sort of thing, Elena thought, feigning
“And so I shall go,” she agreed resolutely. They
reached the aged farm cart and Elena allowed the groom
to lift her onto the seat. She attempted to smooth her
wrinkled skirt, ultimately accepting defeat and folding
her hands tightly in her lap.
Returning to London had not been in her plans— ever.
But neither had acquiring Paolini’s Abecedary.
She would travel as soon as possible, catalogue and
pack the books, then return to Harcourt House before
her father had time to miss her.
Simple. Straightforward. Just as Elena preferred.
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