The Reluctant Bride by Beverley Eikli is featured at The Library today as part of her virtual book tour, organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Beverley will award a $20 Amazon/BN GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. You can see the other stops on the tour here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2013/08/book-blast-reluctant-bride-by-beverley.html.
Emily Micklen is proud, passionate – and left with no option after the death of her loving fiancé, Jack, but to marry the scarred, taciturn, soldier who needs to secure a well-connected wife.
Major Angus McCartney hopes that marriage to the unobtainable beauty whose confident gaze about the ballroom once failed to register his presence will offer both of them a chance to put the past to rest.
Emily’s determination to be faithful to Jack’s memory is matched only by Angus’s desire to win her with honour and action. Sent to France on a mission of national security, Angus discovers how deeply Emily has been duped, but the secrets he uncovers lead them both into danger. Can Angus and Emily unmask the real conspirators before they lose everything?
Major Angus McCartney was out of his depth.
He glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece. Only five minutes in this gloomy, oppressive parlour after the women had arrived and he was questioning his ability to complete his mission, a feeling he’d not experienced before Corunna four years before.
He’d been unprepared for the assault on his senses unleashed by the beautiful Miss Micklen. He shifted position once more, fingering the letters that belonged to her. For two years he’d carried the memory of the young woman before him as a confident, radiant creature in a white muslin ball gown with a powder-blue sash. Now her tragic, disbelieving gaze unleashed a flood of memory, for in her distress she bore no resemblance to the paragon of beauty at the Regimental Ball, a bright memory in an otherwise tormented year after he’d been invalided out of Spain. Clearly Miss Micklen did not remember him.
She’d remember him forever now: as the harbinger of doom, for as surely as if he’d pulled the trigger he’d just consigned her hopes and dreams to cinders.
She turned suddenly, catching him by surprise, and the painful, searing memory of the last time he’d confronted such grief tore through him.
Corunna again. As if presented on a platter, the image of the soldier’s woman he’d assisted flashed before his eyes, forcing him to draw a sustaining breath as he battled with the familiar self-reproach which threatened to unman him.
He reminded himself he was here to do good.
‘A skirmish near the barracks?’ the young woman whispered, resting her hands upon her crippled mother’s shoulders. ‘Last Wednesday?’
‘That is correct, ma’am.’
Mrs Micklen muttered some incoherent words, presumably of sympathy. Angus pitied them both: Miss Micklen digesting her sudden bereavement, and the mother for her affliction. The older woman sat hunched in her chair by the fire, unable to turn her head, her claw-like hands trembling in her lap.
He cleared his throat, wishing he’d taken more account of his acknowledged clumsiness with the fairer sex. He was not up to the task. He’d dismissed the cautions of his fellow officers, arrogantly thinking he’d be shirking his duty were he not the one to deliver the news. It was condolences he should be offering, and he had not the first idea how to appeal to a frail feminine heart.
Nor was he accustomed to the lies tripping off his tongue as he added, ‘A tragic mishap, ma’am, but Captain Noble acquitted himself with honour to the end.’
Miss Micklen’s gaze lanced him with its intensity. Tears glistened, held in check by her dark lashes. ‘I can’t believe it,’ she whispered, moving to draw aside the heavy green velvet curtain and stare at the dipping sun. ‘Jack told me he was on the Continent.’
Choosing not to refute Jack’s lie, he said carefully, ‘An altercation occurred between a group of infantry in which I was unwittingly involved. When Captain Noble came to my assistance he was struck a mortal blow to the head. I’m sorry, Miss Micklen.’
He wished he knew how to offer comfort. The beautiful Miss Micklen of the Christmas Regimental Ball had seemed all-powerful in her cocoon of happy confidence. Unobtainable as the stars in heaven, he’d thought as he’d watched her skirt the dance floor in the arms of the unworthy Jack Noble. For so long he’d carried Miss Micklen’s image close to his heart and this was the first time he’d been reminded of Jessamine.
God, how weary he was of war.
She's been shortlisted twice for a Romance Readers of Australia Award in the Favourite Historical category — in 2011 for A Little Deception, and in 2012 for her racy Regency Romp, Rake's Honour, written under her Beverley Oakley pseudonym.
Beverley wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.
After throwing in her job on South Australia's metropolitan daily The Advertiser to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, Beverley discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire.
Eighteen years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland's ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia teaching in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, as well as teaching Short Courses for the Centre of Adult Education and Macedon Ranges Further Education.
She writes Regency Historical Intrigue as Beverley Eikli and erotic historicals as Beverley Oakley.
Amazon Author Page
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