Thursday, September 8, 2016

Virtual Tour & Teatime and Books Review ~ My Fair Princess by Vanessa Riley

The Improper Princesses—three young women descended from royalty, 
each bound for her own thrilling adventure . . .

Improper Princesses #1
Vanessa Kelly
Releasing Aug 30th, 2016

Vanessa Kelly brought readers The Renegade Royals. Now, in a delightfully witty
new series, she introduces The Improper Princesses—three young women descended
from royalty, each bound for her own thrilling adventure . . .

Despite being the illegitimate daughter of a prince, Gillian Dryden is happily ignorant of all social graces. After growing up wild in Italy, Gillian has been ordered home to England to find a suitable husband. And Charles Valentine Penley, the excessively proper, distractingly handsome Duke of Leverton, has agreed to help transform her from a willful tomboy to a blushing debutante.

Powerful and sophisticated, Charles can make or break reputations with a well-placed word. But his new protégée, with her habit of hunting bandits and punching earls, is a walking scandal. The ton is aghast . . . but Charles is thoroughly intrigued. Tasked with taking the hoyden in hand, he longs to take her in his arms instead. Can such an outrageous attraction possibly lead to a fairytale ending?

     The next thing Gillian knew, he was shoving her down onto the sand. He came down on top of her, mashing her flat.
     It took her a moment to catch her breath, since there wasn’t a particle of air between them. She was certainly becoming intimately acquainted with various parts of Leverton’s impressive anatomy.
     “Who is it?” She felt a spurt of hope. Perhaps some of the smugglers had returned. Now that Teddy was safely out of the way, Leverton might even help her track them. They might not see eye to eye on everything, but he would be furious that smugglers were trespassing on his lands.
     “Wait,” he breathed out.
     He cautiously lifted his head to peer over the rise of sand between them and the beach. The sound of a cantering horse, hooves thudding into the hard-packed flats, quickly grew and then faded away down the beach. Leverton still didn’t move, his attention focused in the direction of the mysterious rider.
     “Could you please get off me,” she finally said. “You are completely squashing me.”
     He looked down at her and frowned, as if surprised to see her there. Gillian raised a sardonic brow.
     “I beg your pardon,” he murmured, as if they were on the dance floor and he’d simply trod on her foot.
     He rolled off, but kept an arm slung across her waist. Gillian tried to push it away, but it felt like a tree trunk was pinning her down. She let out an aggrieved sigh and dropped her head back onto the sand.
     “Whoever it was, he’s long gone,” she said. “Why are we still lying here?”
     “I just wanted to make sure,” Leverton answered. “I think it’s now safe to get up.”
     “I should hope so. I feel like I’ve spent half the night lying on this blasted beach.” With nothing to show for it but sand in her breeches and an irate duke.
     Leverton rolled into a crouch and then smoothly rose. He reached down a hand to pull her up. “And whose fault is that?”
     Gillian pulled the tails of her coat back in place and started brushing herself off. “Not mine. If you hadn’t shown up, I could have tracked the smugglers back to their lair. That, as you must admit, would have been very helpful.”
     “Their lair? Good God, you’ve been reading too many lurid novels. Wait, I forgot,” he said, holding up a hand. “You actually believe you’re living in one. You fancy yourself some sort of heroine, dashing about, trying to right all the wrongs of the world.”
     “No, I fancy myself as the hero.” She wiggled a leg, hoping to at least shake some of the sand from her backside down to her boot. “The heroines are always moaning and falling down in a faint, waiting for the men to rescue them. I don’t have time for that sort of nonsense.”
     “That is quite obvious to anyone who knows you. Well, I think we’ve both had enough larking about for one night. Are you ready to go, Miss Dryden, or shall we wait to see the sunrise?”
     “There’s no need for sarcasm, Leverton,” she said as she bent to retrieve her cap. It had fallen off when he tackled her. “And you still haven’t said if you recognized the rider. It wasn’t one of the smugglers, was it?”
     “No, it was a riding officer, on patrol. He was obviously too late to be of any use.”
     “Why didn’t you flag him down?” she snapped.
     “As I just said, there was no point,” he replied with exaggerated patience. “The smugglers were long gone.”
     “No point? He was on a horse. He could have easily caught up with them. What were you thinking to just let him go by like that?” Her mother would be horrified at the way Gillian was speaking to him, but she couldn’t help it. Leverton had let another opportunity slip away. What was wrong with the blasted man?
     “I was thinking I didn’t want to expose you to more scurrilous gossip,” he said, clearly growing irate again. “I am trying to protect your reputation, Miss Dryden. Explaining your presence here in the middle of the night to a riding officer would hardly assist me in achieving that goal.”
     “I don’t give a hang about my reputation,” she shouted. “That was our best chance to find my jewels, and you ruined it.”
     “It is blindingly obvious that you care not a whit for your reputation. You take every occasion to be outrageous, to behave like a—”
     He bit off whatever insult it was he was going to level. Then he sucked in a deep breath, as if trying to calm himself.
     “Gillian,” he said.
     She waved an impatient hand, ignoring the way her chest seemed to twist and tighten. His tone practically reeked with disdain. “Light-skirt? Doxy? Which is it? Go ahead and say it if it makes you feel better. It won’t bother me in the slightest.”
     It was a lie. She’d spent a lifetime learning to ignore the acidic little jabs and the steady drip of smirking insults, but the pain they’d caused was nothing compared to knowing he felt the same. It seemed to hollow her out, leaving an empty darkness that could never be filled.
     “I wasn’t going to say any such thing,” he said. “I never would.”
     “Well, it doesn’t matter. Now, can we please go?” She needed to move, to get away from him. Tears stung her eyes, and she could feel her throat going thick. The notion that she would cry over this—over him—was simply appalling. Gillian hadn’t truly cried since the death of her stepfather. That Leverton had the power to call forth such a dreadful sign of weakness infuriated her.
     Perversely, that made her want to cry even more. What in God’s name was wrong with her?
     She tried to shove past him again, but he stepped in front of her and grasped her shoulders.
     “Let me go.”
     “Not until you let me apologize,” he said in a gravelly voice.
     She tried to wriggle out from under his grip. His gloved fingers held her tight.
     “I don’t need any apologies from the likes of y-you.” Gillian almost fainted in horror to hear the break in her voice. She’d called him a coward, and yet here she was acting like a silly female with the vapors. As if his words truly had the power to harm her.
     Sadly, it appeared they did.
     She sniffed as she tried to steady herself. Unfortunately, one exceedingly defiant sob seemed intent on forcing itself out.
     Damn and blast.
     “Are you crying, Gillian?” Leverton asked in a voice of soft amazement.
     “Don’t be ridiculous. As if I would cry over something as stupid as this.” As if she would cry over the mistaken assumption that he liked her, when apparently he did not.
     “Then what is this I see on your cheek?” He gently brushed a gloved finger over her face. “Yes, there is a tear, sparkling like a jewel. How extraordinary.”
     “Don’t you dare make fun of me.” She glared up at him, rather a tricky feat when one was trying not to bawl.
     He barked out a laugh. “Believe me, I find this situation anything but amusing. Painful would be a more apt description.”         
     That dried her tears. “If you don’t let me go this instant, I will make you very sorry. And I don’t give a damn if you are a bloody duke.” He wouldn’t be the first man she’d kneed in the bollocks, and she didn’t suppose he’d be the last.

     “Right now, I don’t give a damn either.” And with that, Leverton hauled Gillian up on her toes and covered her mouth in a fierce, smoldering kiss.

Teatime and Books Review

I loved this story and give it a high 5 stars. How intriguing and lovable these characters were. I loved Gillian, she's such a determined young woman with a lot of tenacity. I must say I completely fell in love with both Charles and Gillian and they couldn't have made a better pair. The plot was beautifully written, with touches of intrigue and suspense throughout. The story kept me turning the pages! A lot of romance and passion throughout! Truly a remarkable read that you will want to add to your library!

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Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the
review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of
Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated
for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single
Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her
current series, The Renegade Royals is a national bestseller. Vanessa also
writes USA Today bestselling contemporary romance with her husband, under the
pen name of VK Sykes.

Q & A

Teatime and Books
1. Describe a typical writing day. Are you a morning, afternoon, or night-owl writer?

The only thing that’s typical is that I try to write, or at least revise and edit, every day. But when I’m in the first draft of a book, it’s important to write new words every day to keep the momentum going. I’m definitely not a morning person and late-at-night is totally out for me. I gave up all-nighters years ago!

2. Can you tell us about your current work-in-progress?

I just this week finished THREE WEEKS WITH A PRINCESS, Improper Princesses 2. The hero of that book, the Marquess of Lendale, is introduced in MY FAIR PRINCESS. Like all the books in the series, it’s loosely based on a famous movie musical. THREE WEEKS WITH A PRINCESS is based on Gigi, and is also a friends-to-lovers story. The heroine, Lia Kincaid, is from a long line of courtesans and is expected to take up the family business. Lia, however, really, really wants to become an actress. Unfortunately, she can’t act her way out of a paper bag, which leads to some interesting adventures!

Next up I start working on book three, which will feature a Scottish Highlander hero. That book is called THE HIGHLANDER’S PRINCESS BRIDE.

3. What inspires you when you’re writing?

This is kind of funny, but I actually use an app from a company called Brain Wave. I pop on my headphones and listen to the app, which generates a hum that’s supposed to stimulate the brain. I think it really helps. The truth is, however, some days you just have to force yourself to write, whether inspiration strikes or not.

4. What’s your favorite item on your writing desk?

I actually don’t have a writing desk, per se, although I do have a computer desk. For writing, I use a small portable desk, usually sitting in an armchair or on my bed, with my research and notes spread out around me. I also write on an Alphasmart, which is basically a lightweight portable typewriter. I guess that would be my favorite item, because I can’t imagine writing without it!

5. What’s your favorite genre and why?

Hmm. I’ve found it changes over time. For romance, it would be either historical romance or romantic suspense. As a reader, I’ve always loved thriller and mystery elements, so I’m always on the lookout for that. I’m also a big fan of historical mystery written in the first person. I love history, especially the Regency Era (no surprise there), and I love seeing a certain time and place through the eyes of one character.

6. Any advice you have for a blossoming author?

First off, write what you love and what you want to write, not what you think the market is looking for. Chasing trends rarely results in success, unless that writer genuinely enjoys what she’s writing. Second, take the time to learn your craft. We’re all tempted these days to throw a book or novella up quickly, hoping to make some extra cash. But if you’re really serious about establishing a writing career for the long term, you have to learn to write really, really good books. Even with natural talent, that usually takes time. Third—read a lot, and read widely in different genres. It’s the best teacher.

7. When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I like to read, naturally, and my husband and I love watching really good TV and movies (The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Ray Donovan spring to mind). Basically, we have a pretty quiet, non-glamorous life. Since we live in a great neighborhood with lots of interesting stores, we tend to do most of our food shopping and errands on foot. I cook most nights, and I love spending time with family and friends—there’s never enough time for that!

8. What or who inspired you to become a writer?

Honestly? It was going through a particularly bad time in my life. I needed something that was just for me and that was a fun, creative outlet. I went to a romance writing conference around the time I started writing my first book, and that gave me some additional inspiration. But writing for me truly began as a way to focus on something positive and productive.

9. How long have you been writing? How long as a published writer?

In one form or another, I’ve been writing for most of my adult life. I was an English major in university and grad school, and I was also a professional researcher for a number of years. I began writing fiction about 10 years ago, and was first published in 2009.

10. Anything else you’d like to share with your readers?

I’d like to share my sincere thanks for all their support. I’m so grateful that my readers enjoy my books!

Just for fun:

11. Do you have any pets?

Not anymore, although I’m an insane dog lover.

12. Who’s your favorite musician/band?

I don’t think I have one. I love Mark Knopfler, Matraca Berg, Paul Simon, Emmy Lou Harris, Johnny Cash…oh, a ton of others.

13. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

The English countryside, especially Cornwall or the Cotswolds.

14. Do you like coffee or tea?

Both, every day!

15. Did you go to college? If so, what was your major?

I have degrees in Theatre Arts and English, and I spent grad school studying British women writers of the Georgian and Regency Eras.

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  1. Thanks so much for hosting me today - I'm so happy you enjoyed the book!

  2. Thank you for hosting and reviewing MY FAIR PRINCESS today!

    Crystal, Tasty Book Tours

  3. Loved coming to see you today~!!!! Always a delight. Can not wait to read your new book, "My Fair Princess.