Inspiration: Shemar Moore, the Duke of Hastings, and Video Games

This book was never supposed to exist, but this is true for most of my stories, so bear with me as I explain how Confessions of a Gamer Girl came into existence.

When I set out to write Confessions of a Fangirl, it was supposed to be a one and done kinda book. I had an idea for a story, and I wrote it. The end.

But when I wrote Maggie’s character in Fangirl, I knew she deserved to have her own story. The moment Lily’s roommate, Gavin, waltzed onto the page during game night, I knew I would write Maggie’s book next. Both Maggie and Gavin had strong personalities that lit up the scenes they were in. I couldn’t ignore the tension simmering between them.

Fortunately, when I plotted their book, their story flowed naturally. With both of them being avid gamers, their competitive natures brought a great source of contention between them. They were both successful and independent, but they grew to love and crave the benefits a partnership could bring.

Petite Maggie packs a punch. When I saw her in my mind while writing Fangirl, I had a clear vision of her style and personality even though I didn’t have a specific person I modeled her after. Gavin was a completely different creative process.

When Lily introduces her roommate during game night, the first person who came to mind was Shemar Moore. The handsome charmer became the inspiration for not only Gavin’s looks but his personality as well. I loved his portrayal of Derek Morgan in Criminal Minds, so I allowed it to inspire me. I mean, who wouldn’t want him to whisper baby girl in their ear? But he wasn’t the only one who inspired Gavin.

The Duke of Hastings certainly made an impression on me when I watched Bridgerton Season One. Rege Jean Page’s swoonworthy performance in season one held me captive. How could I not be inspired by such a dapper duke? I mean…look at him. *swoon* The combination of these two men served as the perfect amalgamation for Gavin in Confessions of a Gamer Girl.

Now, I’m not going to lie. I was insanely intimidated writing a POC hero. I’ve never written any characters who weren’t white, not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Fortunately, my best friend and biggest supporter is also a person of color with a rich, vibrant cultural background. She helped me through the process and encouraged me every step of the way. For that, I am eternally grateful. Thanks, Niki.

Since I was a kid, video games have always fascinated me. Because I’m an 80s baby, I feel like video games and I share a lifetime. They evolved as I grew up. Even now, seeing how far we’ve come in gaming is amazing. Now, I’m not a gamer, but I have many friends who are avid gamers and I love watching others play. While Maggie’s obsession with gaming isn’t something I can relate to, I know many people who can.

I watched my brother take on the neighbor kids in Super Mario and battle on our first computer in Duke Nukem and Doom. My roommate in college spent many nights playing Counterstrike, where I’d fall asleep to the sound of gunfire and smack talk. Even my best friend in college was an avid gamer who had an obsession with Legend of Zelda and a tattoo of Link to prove it. And today, I love taking my kids to the local arcade for pinball and watching them play Battlefront and Assassin’s Creed on the PlayStation.

Video games have become an integrated part of our popular culture, and it felt natural to write a story centered on two peoples’ love of gaming. Especially after writing a book heavily focused on the struggles of being a fangirl. But in the same vein of Fangirl, I wanted Gamer Girl to showcase the struggle with finding balance and discovering what’s truly important in life.

Writing this book taught me to reach beyond my own comfortable bubble. I’m proud of Maggie and Gavin’s story. Their characters are dear to my heart. I’m excited to see if they pop up again in future books. One of my favorite things to do is tie in the characters from other book series I’ve written, like I did with Ben, Evan, and Andrew in Gamer Girl. (If you’d like to read their stories, you’ll find Ben’s in A Lockdown Love Affair, Evan’s in A Holiday Love Affair, and Andrew’s in Mistletoe and Mistakes.) You’ll definitely see Gavin, Maggie, Jen, and Shaun again in Lily’s story, Confessions of a Glamour Girl coming in September.

Thanks for all the support and love. Happy reading, my friends.

All my love,

Kirsten

Sneak Peek: Confessions of a Gamer Girl

I’m so excited to share Maggie and Gavin’s story with you! With release day just around the corner, I wanted to give you a sneak peek. Let me know what you think in the comments. Enjoy! xoxo

Releases on June 28th!

CHAPTER ONE

One year ago…

“You’re gonna die! Don’t do it!” The shout echoes through the immaculate brownstone, followed by a chorus of disgruntled groans and several colorful metaphors my mother would disapprove of. Those words, those groans of agony, are etched upon my soul, and they lure me down the hallway.

They’re coming from a dark room where an eighty-inch television sits against the far wall, its glorious glow casting three men in flickering shadows. The two with controllers sit bickering like five-year-olds over the game flashing on the screen. The third lounges off to the side, his face hidden. Looks like the most recent Space Vendetta game. The one I haven’t had a chance to play yet but have been dying to buy because it allows both in-person and online player-versus-player battles.

“You found it! I didn’t hear you knock.” Lily appears at the end of the hall wearing her signature pinup-red lipstick and a vintage cream blouse paired with a black and white houndstooth print skirt. The Betty Boop apron tied around her waist makes me grin. This girl was born in the wrong decade.

“Hey, Lily. Sorry, I just let myself in.” My gaze drifts to the room where her three roommates sit in the semi-darkness glued to their video game. “No one answered when I knocked.”

“I told them to listen for the door.” Lily glares at the room before turning back to me. “I’m sorry. Jen and I had music playing in the kitchen. Come on. We’ll leave the boys to their game.”

“Aren’t we watching a movie tonight?” I follow her down the hall, though there’s part of me that wants to run back to the living room and watch them play. No. Fuck that. I want to take them on. I rarely get to challenge anyone in person. No one wants to play against me. Not face to face at least. Guys don’t like when girls kick their asses in a video game.

“Yeah, but I told them I was commandeering the living room at seven. They’ve had time to play their silly games.” She tosses her head back and her set curls bounce against her shoulder. I flinch at the way she says it. Her huge blue eyes fix on me and she bites her lip. “Sorry, I forgot.”

“It’s okay, Lily. I didn’t take it personally,” I lie. It stings to hear the condescending tone. Not that she meant to imply gaming was silly or a waste of time, but that’s typically the response I get when people uncover my secret passion. It shouldn’t have to be a secret, and I shouldn’t have to apologize for liking video games. I grit my teeth and force a smile.

Jen pops in from the other side of the kitchen. “Hey, I’m glad you came.” She smiles and hugs me. Her dark hair lays in a braid over her shoulder. The oversized sweater she’s wearing looks warm and comfortable. Paired with jeans, she resembles one of those cute heroines from a Hallmark movie right before she meets the town hunk. I shake my head. We are such a trio of oddballs.

“Yeah, well. I have to admit, these girls’ nights are becoming the highlight of my week.” I take a seat beside Jen at the island in the center of the kitchen.

“Mine too.” Lily pulls something steaming and delicious out of the oven. The scent makes my stomach growl like a rabid dog. I shouldn’t have skipped lunch. She sets the casserole on the stovetop to cool and bustles to the fridge. “Want a beer?”

“Got anything stronger?” I joke, but I’m half-serious.

“Of course.” She grins and pulls a bottle of vodka from the freezer. “Don’t tell Gavin.” She winks conspiratorially and pours me a double in a whiskey glass. “Want some, Jen?”

“I’ll stick with the beer, thanks.” Jen watches with wide eyes as I lift the glass to my lips and down it in one swallow.

The ice-cold vodka burns straight to my gut, ripping away the thoughts of the past week and my asinine bosses. I set the glass on the table and Lily gapes at me.

“Rough week?” Jen asks with a smile as she pops the top off her Yuengling.

“If your boss was anything like mine, you’d be drinking straight from the bottle as soon as you got home.” A stifled laugh breaks from my throat. “Those two think I’m a fucking miracle worker.”

“Mr. Roberts can be like that, right Jen?” Lily takes a sip of her beer. Her pale face pinkens at the mention of their boss, but before I can say anything, Jen cuts in.

“Yeah, though he’s reasonable most of the time, from what I’ve noticed. But I don’t know him all that well. He keeps to himself.” Jen takes a drink.

“Well, Mr. Sunshine and Major Grump think I have nothing better to do with my personal time than chase their fucking mistakes.” Lily and Jen chuckle at the nicknames I’ve bestowed upon my ungrateful bosses. “They’re lucky I know my way around that office blindfolded.”

“It has nothing to do with the fact you need that job and can’t afford to get a poor character reference because you cursed out your employer and burned down the building, right?” Lily smirks behind her frosted mug.

I shove away from the counter, rip open the freezer, and pour another double. She’s right. One hundred and fifty percent. I do need the job, and I can’t afford to have my reputation ruined for all eternity because I couldn’t hold my tongue.

“This is why I have friends.” I toast them, raising my glass high. “You catch the brunt of my rage so I can keep my pristine reputation and my job. Thank you for your sacrifice.” I pour the liquor down my throat and shiver at the intensity of it.

“Hear, hear.” Lily and Jen both drink to my pathetic admission.

“Is it movie time? I need to eat something and vegetate for a while.” I hedge around their concerned looks. They want to ask me what happened, I can tell, but I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to escape for a while. Normally I’d lose myself in a game from Friday night to Sunday afternoon, but since girls’ night became a weekly thing, it’s thrown off my me time. My fingers itch for the plastic comfort of the PlayStation controller.

“Yeah.” Lily sets her glass aside and prepares plates heaping with the gooey delicious casserole cooling on the stovetop. “Here.” She hands one to both Jen and me before taking up her own and retrieving her beer. “Let’s go kick the boys out. They can go find something else to do.”

“How the hell do you put up with having three guys for roommates, Lily?” Jen asks.

“I don’t know. They kinda grew on me I guess.” Lily beams as though it explains everything.

“Don’t they drive you crazy though?” I’m curious because I hate people and the thought of sharing my living space with another person, let alone three men, makes me want to rip the fabric of space and time apart with my bare hands. Although living in a vintage old brownstone like this might be worth the frustration.

“Sometimes. But they always help out when I ask and pay rent on time. Even though they can act like children, they’re really sweet.” Lily smirks. “Plus, they’re a great deterrent if there’s a guy who’s interested in me, but I’m not into him.”

“How do they feel about the ones you do like?” Jen’s question mirrors my thoughts exactly.

“I haven’t found one worth bringing home that I wanted to keep.” Lily half-heartedly defends herself.

“You have a kinky side, woman, I can see it.” I snatch a fork from the pile on the counter. “One of these days, you’ll share your dark secrets.”

Lily flounces from the room without a word, leading the way down the hall. She sets her glass down on the table beside the couch and flips on the light switch, flooding the living room with a brilliance that blinds her roommates.

Their loud groans melt into complaints as they shield their eyes behind their hands.

“Come on, Lils, ten more minutes.” The one winning complains with a pout, shoving aside the blond hair hanging in his eyes.

My gaze shifts between her roommates. The two engaged in the battle when I first arrived were still at it. They look similar, in a distant cousin kind of way. Both have lanky builds with sharply defined jaws and handsome features, but one sports slick, jet-black hair while the other rocks shaggy dirty blond hair.

“Please, Lily. I’ve nearly got him. One more, please?” The black-haired roommate inclines his head and pouts, batting impossibly long lashes in Lily’s direction.

“Tough. I said seven, and it’s five after. Get out.” No nonsense Lily shelves her hand on her hip. Pride wells up in my chest. She doesn’t bend easily to their demands. Good for her.

“But Gavin hasn’t had a chance to play yet.” The blond pleads. “Can’t you guys watch a movie upstairs?”

My attention shifts to the third roommate, the one who seems to favor the shadows, and my lady bits decide to take notice of absolutely everything and approve wholeheartedly. His soulful brown eyes, the scruff along his jaw, and the short, dark curls crowning his head. His gaze rests on Lily, and with his chiseled good looks, I can’t help but catch the passing resemblance to a young Shemar Moore from Criminal Minds. Hot damn. I resist the urge to fan myself because I do not fan myself in the presence of delicious men. No, I do not. When he meets my gaze, I stiffen as a slow smile curves his sinful lips. Bastard knows exactly what he does to women.

“Tell you what, Lily.” Gavin leans forward. “Let me play a round against your friend here, and we’ll leave you alone for the rest of the night.”

I swear he’s Shemar’s twin. That silken voice could seduce a whole convent of nuns into sinful abandon. I can almost hear him whisper the words baby girl, and I shiver. Then the implication of his words registers. Was he challenging me? I click my tongue about to form a response, but Lily interjects.

“One game?” Lily taps her chin, skepticism written all over her face. “With Maggie?” A satisfied smile curves her lips. “It’s a deal.”

“Wait, what?” I’ve never even played the game! I tend to stick with military-style first-person shooter games. This one looks similar to that, but I know nothing about it aside from the characters. I’m relatively confident the same tactics apply, but still—

“You got this.” Lily pats my shoulder. “I have faith in you.”

“Thanks.” I turn to Gavin, who seems amused by this whole exchange. Confidence oozes off him in waves. He underestimates me. They all do. I grin and all my uncertainty scatters. He’s going down. This cocky shit has no idea what he’s in for.

Surfer boy hands his controller to Gavin while Maybelline gives me his. I don’t actually know their names as they forgot all their manners and never introduced themselves. So nicknames it is. I scoff. Men. They both move from their seats, allowing Gavin and me to have the center stage. Our audience flanks us, Lily and Jen to the right, and the two guys on our left where Gavin had been sitting. I flex my hands as my challenger chooses the settings and battle mode.

We’re not touching, but his heat surrounds me. God, he smells good. Like Gucci and wintergreen gum. There’s something else lingering beneath it, a haunting scent I just can’t place. I lick my lips and focus on the screen. I won’t let him distract me. Damn him.

“Don’t worry, baby girl. I’ll take it easy on you.” He mutters under his breath.

Lord, he really is channeling Shemar. It takes the restraint of a nun not to react to that tempting purr and the deluge it releases inside me. I bite my tongue instead of unleashing my uncensored thoughts. “Thanks.”

The game starts. Immediately I jump into the zone. Everyone around us disappears into the background. I’m in the world on the screen. The controls are exactly like my favorite game, so I adapt quickly. Stumbling a few times, I miss a few obvious things, which makes my opponent chuckle. I curse under my breath and redouble my efforts.

Beside me, I feel Gavin’s presence, his focus. But he’s too relaxed. Too confident. Once I see my opening, I shift into action and steal into the position I need to ensure my victory. The moment I do, I feel the transition. He leans forward, his elbows resting on his knees. I hear him swear when I steal the health pack and weapons cache from under his nose.

A smirk plays on my lips as I sneak up behind him on the screen and put a bullet in his skull before he even realizes I’ve made it past his defenses. Game Over flashes on the screen in bright green lettering.

His jaw hangs open while the controller dangles between his hands. “What the actual fuck?”

I stand up and do a little victory dance. Drinking up the look of pure disbelief and rage on his face, I add a little more sizzle to my dance and drop it to the floor, ensuring he sees every twitch of my ass when I bring it back up.

“Thanks for taking it easy on me, sweet cheeks,” I murmur in his ear before handing my controller to Lily. “To the victor go the spoils.”

Surfer boy and Maybelline grumble as they gather their drinks and leave the room. Gavin slowly rises from his spot on the couch. He towers over me. The top of my head doesn’t even reach his shoulders. It hurts my neck to look up at him, and I take a step back.

“Good game.” I offer my hand in a truce.

With a dirty look, he pushes past me and leaves the room. I stand there with my hand hanging in midair. Disappointment crowds me. I shove it aside, rubbing my palms on my jeans.

“I knew you could do it, Mags.” Lily hugs me before sitting on the couch.

“You were amazing!” Jen settles down beside Lily.

I sit in the spot Gavin just vacated. His scent lingers and I close my eyes. The image of his handsome face skewed in shock and disgust fills my mind. Damn it. This is why I don’t challenge people in person. Losing is bad enough, but it’s almost like losing to a girl brands you with shame. Losing to me is a surefire way to end any possibility of a friendship or more. I curse my competitive nature and my love of gaming. Not that it matters. I don’t need a man. I’ve got a good thing going without one.

As for Gavin, he’ll get over it. They always do.

Inspiration: A Tumblr Blog, The Trickster, and Wicked Whispers

Once upon a time, I had an unquenchable addiction to Tumblr and roleplaying fan fiction for multiple fandoms. Fortunately for my writing career, it was short-lived. But not before I stumbled across this gem of a blog.

Before you click that link, let me warn you. Some of those posts are highly NSFW and dark, which makes sense, considering they’re about our favorite trickster god, Loki. Proceed at your own risk. I’ve only included a tame one on my blog, but check them out later if you’re so inclined.

First, let me tell you how this blog inspired a trilogy.

There I was, minding my own business, when one of these whispers floated across my screen. I was already a fan of Tom Hiddleston and Loki, but this sparked something different in my mind.

I heard a voice speak to me. No, not speak, whisper. He convinced me to write a few of his whispers down, and from that evolved a full character: Prince Crispin Saville.

The more I explored his whispers and his character, the deeper it drew me into his world. I created Meradin, a small kingdom among the already established kingdoms of the era, placing it where Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland all converged. Crispin vowed to rule this land even though he was not the first born son of the king. He took on a life of his own complete with strong opinions and no moral compass to guide him.

I created Henry to provide him with an external conscience at the very least. But it was Ruby who gave him a reason to mature and grow.

Alas, he does neither of these things during the course of the first book. However, books two and three provide him with ample opportunity and motivation to examine the state of his soul and set his feet on the proper path. I shall give no spoilers, but I will provide a gentle reminder that while he may be brash, selfish, callous, and spoiled…he finds redemption for all his faults in the end. But they come at a cost.

Loki heavily influences Crispin’s character. If you’re a fan of Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the Norse god, then Crispin will charm you. But I will reiterate my warning. He is not a good man, nor is he a moral one. There are some scenes that will leave you with conflicting emotions and a thousand questions. Fear not, there will be resolution by the end of Book Three.

This trilogy was difficult for me to write because it’s different from the other books I’ve written. The tone and theme are darker. In the beginning, the hero is unlikable. The conflict woven throughout is heartbreaking. So, after writing the first book, I chose to publish it under my pen name, Jen Bradlee, for fear it would alienate my readers.

Unfortunately, life got in the way, and I could not write the subsequent two books until last year. I never intended for it to take this long to finish.

Determined to give this series the best possible success, I revisited the first book with fresh edits, a new title, and a few adjustments. I also had pretty new covers made for all three books. Once called, The Prince of Whispers, Book One is now His Wicked Whispers, and I’m releasing it on May 10th.

Seduction Most Wicked, Book Two, releases on July 12th, and Reign of Wicked Temptation, Book Three, will release on August 9th.

I kept the pen name as an homage to the author I was then. But Jen and Kirsten’s styles have morphed into something similar, so I no longer felt the compulsion to keep them separated any longer. Although I may not publish as Jen Bradlee with nearly the frequency I do as Kirsten in the future, there will be a few stories that fit Jen’s personality much more than my own. So, I’ll keep the possibility of publishing more stories as Jen Bradlee open for the time being.

It amazes me how one simple meme can ignite a story idea that transforms into something like this: A trilogy with characters who take on a life of their own in a world of my imagination. Inspiration can be a fascinating thing.

Now, go check out that Tumblr blog if your curiosity is gnawing away at you.

If you’re looking for a wicked hero to take you on an epic adventure, join us. The Prince of Whispers awaits your presence, and when he whispers, you will come.

Thanks for stopping by.

With love,

Jen Bradlee/Kirsten S. Blacketer

Curse of the Huntsman’s Jewel: Release Day and Sale!

If you’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to pick up a copy of Curse of the Huntsman’s Jewel, then your wait is over. ❤

Starting on Sunday, March 27th, my fairy tale fantasy romance will be ONLY $0.99 for a limited time. Three romances in one novel for a buck! That’s a steal of a deal. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this opportunity. It goes LIVE on March 29th. Check it out. ❤

Once upon a time, an ancient darkness consumed the land. It cursed the innocent and seduced the powerful. No man could break it for none possessed the knowledge or the will to do so.

After seven years hunting the beasts who killed her aunt and grandmother, Scarlett returns to her cousins, Bianca and Rose, only to find her uncle slaughtered in the forest near their cottage. The man who once protected them from the queen was gone.

When three handsome brothers appear at the village market selling their wares, Scarlett and Bianca hesitate to welcome the outsiders, but Rose takes an immediate liking to the burly, quiet middle brother.

Unease fills the women when it becomes obvious something is hunting them. Trained in the art of the hunt and the healing power of nature, they set out to uncover the sinister truth behind the death of their family members. Wandering down a dark and twisted road, the trio soon discovers the hunter can easily become the prey.

Still not sure? Check out Buffyanna’s review:

“You have such bright eyes.” The observation fell from her lips in a whisper. “All the better for me to see you in the dark.”

Scarlett, and her cousins Bianca and Rose, are huntresses. Orphaned at a tender age, but not before they have been trained to be fierce and resourceful fighters, they live in the forest outskirts of the Kingdom of Revaria and wish to be left alone. Well, Scarlett and Bianca do. Rose, the most amicable and nurturing of the three, wants to know the new blacksmith better. The feeling is mutual, and he has two brothers who want to know Scarlett and Bianca better, too!

“What sharp teeth you have.” She licked the trickle of blood from her lip. Lust boiled beneath the surface of her fear.

Kirsten Blacketer performs pure alchemy, transmuting “The Red Riding Hood” and the “Snow White and Rose Red” fairy tales into one all-in-the-family dark tale complete with an evil queen, a cruel curse, and not only one, but three, love stories! Oh, how I loved this! In the first half, I was totally captivated and I couldn’t put it down. Towards the end, I forced myself to slow down, savour it, chew slowly, because I so desperately didn’t want it to end.

“Such a wicked mouth you have.” He grinned at the way she writhed beneath his touch. “All the better to—”

I loved the way the Scarlett, Bianca, and Rose are badass all the way through from beginning to end, but they do have their soft spots for their boys, each in their own way. There is a mystery as to why the evil queen and her huntsman have been pursuing them (which makes this a nod to both Snow Whites) but the reason was not one I guessed! I strongly recommend Curse of the Huntsman’s Jewel to anyone looking for a carnal, suspenseful, feminine retelling of Grimm’s fairy tales.

Thanks for the support and love. I hope you enjoy my fairy tale reimagining. xoxo

All my love,

Kirsten S. Blacketer

Sneak Peek at His Wicked Whispers

I have far too many projects releasing this year, but I can’t help it. These stories demand to be told. So, I’m offering a little teaser of the first chapter of the first book in my medieval trilogy. His Wicked Whispers is Book One and releases on May 10th. It’s being published under my pen name/alter ego Jen Bradlee. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to Crispin Saville, the Prince of Whispers.


A knock sounded through the chamber. Crispin fumed. How many times must he remind them to leave him alone after the evening meal?

“I will not be disturbed!”

“Your highness.” A strained voice echoed through the solid wooden door. “The king wishes to speak with you straight away.”

His cock wilted at the mention of his father. He glanced at the door, willing the man behind it to burst into flames.

“Your highness?”

“I am coming!” He tossed the whip down and glanced at the naked wench on his bed. “Cover yourself.” He strode to the door and opened it. “This had better be a matter of life and death. I gave clear instructions I was not to be disturbed.”

“I beg your pardon, your highness.” The servant bowed. “I explained your request to the king, but he insisted you be summoned immediately.”

Crispin inclined his head, agitation clawing at his spine. “Well, I would hate to keep him waiting.” His words dripped with sarcasm.

The king only demanded his presence when he wanted something. He frowned, feeling the crease deepen between his brows. The only time anyone had use for him was when they desired something of value.

The servant led him to the king’s presence chamber and opened the doors. Crispin sauntered into the room bearing an air of boredom and disinterest. The servant closed the doors behind him as he exited. The king sat behind his desk, reading a roll of parchment, oblivious to his presence. He cleared his throat when the king continued to ignore him.

“You required me to attend you, yet you do not speak.” Crispin bit back the other words threatening to spill from his lips. Over the past several weeks, his father had shown him nothing but contempt. He had returned victorious from a quest and was met with utter disregard. He straightened, watching his father take up a quill and write upon the parchment before him. His father’s fair hair bore no sign of his age.

Crispin ran his hand through his own auburn locks. He resembled his mother, while Francis—he let the thoughts of his brother drift away and focused instead on his growing irritation with his father.

“I did.” The king spoke slowly, not lifting his gaze from the parchment before him. “You have put me in an awkward position.” He finally met Crispin’s gaze. “I am forced to make a difficult decision.”

“I am unaware of what you refer, Father.” Crispin grit his teeth.

“You know damned well what you have done!” The king rose from his seat and slammed his fist down on the massive wooden desk. He stalked around it, approaching Crispin. His dark gray eyes shone with exasperation and conviction.

Crispin swallowed hard and straightened, keeping his attention fixed on the far wall. He refused to make eye contact with his father. Why should he care what the peasants thought of him? He was the rightful heir to the throne, chosen by God to lead them. He smirked, allowing his arrogance to bolster his courage.

“She informed me she was unattached. How was I to know she was the visiting duke’s wife dressed in peasant rags?” Crispin dropped carelessly in the chair beside him, swinging his legs over the arm.

“Do not pretend you had no inkling as to her identity. Why must you constantly behave like a self-indulgent child?” The king leaned against his desk, arms crossed, his gaze narrowed on Crispin.

“Because I am—at least according to you.” He had grown tired of the lectures and his father’s constant ridicule.

“Crispin.” The king rubbed his forehead. “This is precisely why I sent Henry away. If you do not learn to control your baser impulses, I will be forced to cut you from your inheritance and give the crown to the next in line, your cousin Fredrick.”

His head snapped up at the mention of Henry and the implication of the king’s words.“Father, you cannot be serious. You would deny me the throne? My cousin, the bumbling fool, has neither the presence of mind nor the fortitude to rule a nation.”

The old man shook his head. “I have done all I can to lead you, to show you how to rule as a true king should, but you simply refuse to acknowledge the basic tenets of leadership.”

“I have done all you have asked of me, Father.” Crispin ground his teeth and shot to his feet, pacing the worn rug. “Surely you must see this is ridiculous.” He ran his hand through his hair tempted to tear it out in frustration.

The king’s gaze followed him. His lips pulled in a thin line and his face remained stoic. “I have tried to be a good king and father, but as of late, all my attention has been dedicated to appeasing nations you have insulted with your careless and selfish behavior. The people have suffered because of this, and I must set things to right. Unfortunately, disinheriting you may be the only course of action to ensure the safety of my people and the realm.”

“You cannot take what is mine!” Crispin’s voice rattled the ceiling timbers. “It is my birthright! I will have what is owed me.” He jabbed his finger at the king, punctuating each word.

“It was not your birthright; it was your brother’s!” His father’s restraint finally snapped like a dead branch beneath a boot.

“He is dead!”

“Crispin!”

His mother’s voice boomed behind him making him turn. She stood inside the door, her hands clasped before her. The dark blue gown emphasized the color in her cheeks and the dark auburn braid wrapped intricately around her head. The stern set of her lips and the concern in her eyes enhanced her regal bearing. Crispin cursed himself for not realizing she had entered the room, but then she made it a point to tread lightly until the opportune moment. He dropped his hand and met her gaze.

“Mother.” He greeted her with a slight bow. Fury still raged inside of him, boiling and roiling in his mind full of dark thoughts. He would definitely need a good, mindless fuck to release all this repressed anger. Maybe he would start a fight; sometimes that worked just as well. He allowed himself a small, wicked, satisfied grin.

“I know the gleam in your eyes, my son. It betrays the mischief in your mind.” She cocked her head and stepped closer to him, cupping his face with her palms.

Crispin leaned into her warm touch. Her unwavering belief in him touched his calloused heart, but it never swayed him. He stiffened and reached up to slowly draw her hands from his face.

“I appreciate your concern, Mother.” He took a measured step out of her reach. “But I am a man grown, I believe I know my own mind.”

She nodded with tears glinting in the corners of her blue eyes. “’Tis what concerns me, darling.”

The king held his hand out to her, and she joined him, leaning into her husband’s warm embrace. They formed a united front. Crispin crossed his arms, irritation flooding him.

“We are sending you on one last mission to see if you truly are ready to take your responsibilities seriously.” The king spoke with confidence and conviction. “This is your last warning. Failure will result in your banishment.”

Crispin arched his brow, silently challenging his father. “Is this the worst you can do? Banish me from my home and abrogate my God-given rights.”

“I will strip you of your title, your station, and your wealth, and cast you out of my kingdom. Then you may live as you choose. As you are right now, you are unfit to wear a crown.”

His father’s words stuck like an arrow piercing his heart. How did they expect him to change overnight? Could he even change at all? Crispin refused to let emotion creep into his expression. He affected a cold mask of indifference.

“What is this mission?” His voice remained level and calm while the storm raged in his breast.

“A taste of what you can expect if you fail.”

“I beg your pardon?” Crispin glanced between his mother and father. “What will this accomplish?”

His mother spoke this time. “You will travel within our borders, unescorted and penniless, with only the clothes on your back and the people you meet for companionship.”

“And you expect me to survive when they discover who I am?”

“You are not permitted to reveal your true identity. You are to survive using only what you bring with you as a man alone against the world.” The king’s limiting instructions seemed ludicrous.

“Father, surely you jest?” Panic crept into his chest, constricting his heart with its iron grip.

“You know I am not one for games and tricks, Crispin.” He narrowed his gaze. “Those are traits you favor. I doubt they will serve you well on your mission.”

“When may I return?”

“When you have learned what it is to lead and serve in tandem. When you realize a king has duties which lie beyond these walls and his own selfish indulgences.” The king’s voice grew more passionate with each statement. “When you fulfill your destiny and become the man I know you can be.”

Crispin’s hands clenched into fists as he listened to his father’s words. He would do what he must. Deep in the corner of his mind, he realized the futility in arguing. He was not a good man at heart and refused to conform to the mold in which his father expected him to fit. He nodded even though he burned to argue the uselessness of such a challenge.

“Yes, Sire.” His jaw clenched. If he unleashed his anger now, his father would surely banish him without a second thought. It was for the best he follow their request. “Is there anything else you require of me before I take my leave?”

“Know that we do this out of love,” his mother said softly. “Be the leader we know you were born to be.”

 With a stiff nod, Crispin turned his back on his parents and strode from the room without a backward glance. If they were so eager to be rid of him, who was he to defy their orders? He swiftly returned to his chamber and found himself alone.

The wench had gone. He cursed. Part of him had hoped to find her still wet and willing in his bed. He ran a hand over his face. The night had quickly turned sour.

He changed into sturdy traveling clothes and packed a small satchel with some essentials. He hoarded some coin, so he tucked what he could into his pocket for safekeeping. Strapping the belt around his waist, he buckled it and slid his sword into the scabbard. He tucked the daggers away, one into the sheath at his hip and the other in his boot. One could never be too prepared. Crispin headed for the door, snatching his heavy woolen cloak from the hook and draping it across his shoulders. He took one last, long glance at his warm bed and his opulent room then disappeared into the night.

Curse of the Huntsman’s Jewel (Sneak Peek)

This week I have a special treat for you. The first glimpse into my twisted fairy tale romance, Curse of the Huntsman’s Jewel. I borrowed from the established tales of Red Riding Hood as well as Snow White and Rose Red (the sisters who befriend an enchanted prince) to create this magical universe. There are three romances in this book. One for each female lead character: Rosalind, Bianca, and Scarlett. You won’t want to miss the three handsome huntsmen brothers either. *wink*

Releases on March 29th! Preorder is available from ebook retailers HERE.


Prologue

Scarlett

A knock at the door disturbed the evening meal. Uncle Jack stood, gesturing for the family to remain seated at the table. Her grandmother and Aunt Caroline exchanged a lingering look, the stew before them left untouched upon the table. Her cousins, Rose and Bianca, continued eating without care. Scarlett knew better. Something was amiss.

She glanced toward the door where Uncle Jack stood over the threshold blocking whoever interrupted their peaceful evening. Voices echoed through the small space, but the words garbled together, muffled by distance and tone.

“Eat your supper, Scarlett.” Aunt Caroline gestured to the bowl of venison and potatoes in front of her.

“Come now, Red, you do not want it to get cold.” Grandmother lifted a spoonful to her mouth, but her gaze darted between the door and the table before her. “Finish your supper, and I shall tell you a bedtime story.”

Bianca and Rose bounced in their seats, grins on their faces.

“We love your stories, Grandmother.” Bianca shoveled a large spoonful into her mouth.

“Can you tell us the story about the huntsman’s curse?” Rose asked, her eyes wide.

“Of course, Rose.” Grandmother smiled and encouraged her to finish what remained in her bowl.

Scarlett took a bite of her food, unable to enjoy the flavor. A strange tension pulled tight in the small cottage. Rose always wanted to hear the story about the huntsman and the princess. Personally, Scarlett disliked the tale. It always left her with a sadness she could not describe. Were love stories not meant to have a happy ending?

The door closed and Uncle Jack returned to the table, his handsome face lined with worry making him look like an old man, burdened with exhaustion.

“Who was that?” Aunt Caroline wiped her mouth with a rag.

“The queen’s guard.” He cleared his throat and tucked his hands into his pockets. “We have been summoned.”

Her aunt dropped the cloth, her lip trembling. “How…? Never mind.” She rose from the table in haste, nearly upsetting the bowl of unfinished stew.

“Go. I shall remain here with the girls.” Grandmother rose from her seat and shooed them toward the door before any questions could be asked.

Curiosity burned within her. Scarlett regarded her aunt and uncle carefully as they donned their warm, outer garments. Her aunt pulled a satchel from the hook hanging near the door and slung it across her shoulders before retrieving her bow and quiver of arrows. They kissed their daughters and Scarlett before heading toward the door.

“We shall return as quickly as possible. Remain here until then.” Uncle Jack pulled on his cap, and together they ventured out into the night where the queen’s guard awaited them.

Before Scarlett could say a word, Grandmother pushed her empty bowl away and stood. “Shall we gather around the fire for our story, girls?”

Rose and Bianca wasted no time. They raced for the bearskin rug beside the hearth and curled upon it. Grandmother settled in the rocking chair beside the crackling flames.

Scarlett sighed. She reached her fourteenth summer only a fortnight past. She was older and wiser than her cousins. At eleven and twelve summers respectively, Bianca and Rose were still quite young. They enjoyed Grandmother’s tales of romance and adventure, while Scarlett knew of the dangers of the world.

Aunt Caroline and Uncle Jack took her in, raising her as their own daughter in the wake of the tragedy which took her parents’ lives. Only a wee baby at the time of their deaths, she remembered nothing of her birth parents. Her aunt and uncle welcomed her into their family, and they taught her the ways of the huntsmen. Or in her case, the huntress, giving her the tools to defend herself and survive. Scarlett embraced the challenge with relish.

“Once upon a time there lived a huntsman…”

Rose sighed, and Scarlett rolled her eyes, leaning back listening from a distance.

“Come join us, Red.” Grandmother patted the chair beside her.

Reluctantly, Scarlett retreated from the table and slid into the seat beside Grandmother. She folded her arms across her chest and fixed her gaze upon the flames in the hearth. How she detested love stories. Her thoughts remained on the curious summons from the queen as her grandmother continued her tale.

“This huntsman lived in the forest surrounding the royal palace.” Grandmother’s voice carried through the small cottage. “One day he fell in love with the princess. But he hid a dark secret, one that would bring his ruin should it come to light. He bore the mark of the Inkling, a message to all who saw it that he was an animus.”

Bianca gasped even though they heard the tale a hundred times before. The story infected them, drawing them in with every telling. “What form did he take?”

“No one knows his form, but for the sake of our tale, let us say it was a wolf.” Grandmother chuckled before continuing with her tale. “He remained content to admire the princess from afar and never tell her of his love. He watched and waited, praying fate would bring them together.”

“How romantic.” Rose clung to her every word. The contents of Scarlett’s stomach churned.

“One day, the huntsman was wounded while hunting. He managed to return to his human form and seek help, but he grew weak from his injury and collapsed deep in the forest.” Grandmother’s tone deepened drawing the girls into the tale. “A lone traveler found him. He happened to be a powerful alchemist and took mercy on the injured man, carrying him to his cottage. The alchemist healed the young huntsman, but the damage was done. He saw the Inkling beneath the young man’s skin.

“As payment for his aid, the huntsman bestowed a vial of his blood drawn directly from the Inkling. The alchemist vowed to inspect this mysterious affliction and gain a greater understanding of its power.” Grandmother leaned closer. “However, the huntsman did not realize how powerful his blood truly was and the magic qualities it possessed.”

“Foolish man,” Scarlett grunted in annoyance. How could the huntsman do such a ridiculous thing by relinquishing something so rare and coveted?

“Hush!” Rose scowled at her and turned to motion for Grandmother to continue.

“Several moons passed and the huntsman encountered a pack of wolves in the forest near the castle. He tracked them knowing they stalked prey.” Her voice lowered. “When he reached the clearing, the huntsman gasped. The ravenous pack encircled a woman wearing a white cloak and brandishing a large tree branch in a futile attempt to scare them away.” Grandmother swiped her hands at the girls like massive paws. “They attacked, and the huntsman joined the fray. He defended the woman, fighting off the pack of bloodthirsty wolves alone.

“When he defeated the final wolf, he converted into his human form and offered his hand to the cowering woman. It was the princess! He bowed low, and she threw her arms around him in gratitude for coming to her aid.” Grandmother sighed with satisfaction. “She explained how her horse had bolted when it smelled the wolves, casting her aside. When the pack surrounded her, she could not fight them off. Under the protection of the huntsman, she followed him through the thick and winding forest until they reached the safety of the castle.”

Scarlett listened to the story, knowing each part by heart and reciting it in her mind. Her cousins adored the tale, and her grandmother told it with such fervor, one would believe it truly happened. Try as she might to ignore the attraction of such a legend, it drew her in every time. She licked her lips and waited for Grandmother to continue.

“After being rescued by the handsome and charming huntsman, the princess grew quite fond of her savior. He returned her to the castle unharmed and was granted a boon for his daring rescue. Seizing the opportunity, he requested to become the princess’s personal protector.” Grandmother chuckled. “The king laughed at the bold request, but he acquiesced with gratitude, sensing the young man’s honorable intentions.”

Rose sighed again. Irritated, Scarlett nudged her with her foot.

“As time passed, their love blossomed, and the young huntsman waited for the opportunity press his suit for the princess’s hand in marriage.” Grandma’s smile faded and her eyes grew misty. “Until one cold winter morning, the alchemist returned with a gift for the king. A vibrant jewel with rare and mystical powers. The Huntsman’s Jewel, formed from the blood of an animus bearing the mark of the Inkling.”

Rose and Bianca gasped.

“The huntsman realized his mistake, but it was too late. The bargain he made by bestowing the blood to the alchemist bound his soul to the gem, and a cursed existence, one from which he could never break free. If he remained, the curse would plague generations to come.” Grandma sighed. “He stole the gem and transformed into his animus form before escaping into the night. The huntsman was never heard from again, and the princess languished of a broken heart.”

“This story is ridiculous.” Scarlett threw her hands up in the air. “Why must you always tell the saddest story? Aren’t love stories supposed to have happy endings?”

“I like the story, even with a sad ending.” Bianca scrambled to her feet and stuck out her tongue. “Why must you always ruin it?”

“The story ruined itself.” Scarlett scowled. “I do not understand why you cannot tell us a different, happier story, Grandmother.”

“I happen to like this one.” Grandmother shrugged and rose to her feet. “Off to bed, girls.”

Once they were tucked in bed, Scarlett attempted to sleep, but visions of snarling wolves appeared in her dreams whenever she tried. Darkness lay thick in the cottage, reaching down from the loft where they slept. She drifted in and out of sleep.

A door slammed, shaking the cottage. Scarlett bolted upright, pulling the blankets around her like a shield.

“Girls, wake! Hurry!” Her uncle’s voice echoed from below. A lantern flickered to life illuminating the small space. “Get dressed and gather your things, quickly!”

In haste, they dressed and packed a few items in their sacks before slinging them over their shoulders. They climbed down the ladders to find Grandmother and Uncle Jack pacing by the door with their own satchels on their backs.

Confused, Scarlett stepped forward. “Where are we going?”

His haunted eyes met hers. “We must go. Now. Whatever happens, run and do not look back.”

“Where is mother?” Rose asked, glancing around.

“Come.” Grandmother pulled her close, and they ventured out into the night.

As they weaved through the blackened forest, an eerie sound filtered through the silence. Wolves. The girls took off at a run with Grandmother and Uncle Jack following behind. They ran until their legs weakened and their chests nearly burst.

Somehow they remained ahead of the pack, reaching the river as the cool blue light of dawn broke over the horizon. They climbed into the boat and pushed off from shore. Grandmother cradled Rose and Bianca against her chest as Uncle Jack rowed.

Scarlett scanned the shore, catching a glimpse of the pack in the distance standing where the boat had been moored. Relief filled her.

“Where is mother?” Rose muttered between sobs.

“She is gone, pet. I am sorry.” Uncle Jack hung his head, hiding the tears staining his cheeks. “The wolves…” His voice drifted off as though it pained him to recount what had transpired. He cleared his throat. “Whatever happens, you must remain hidden from the queen. Do you understand, girls?”

Rose and Bianca nodded.

Scarlett tried to comprehend, but nothing made sense. “Why?”

“It does not matter why.” His dark gaze bored into her soul. “But if you wish to live, you must remain as far from the queen as possible.” Those were the last words spoken on the matter.

Naughty Feels So Nice at Romantic Shorts

I wanted to share this with ALL my readers and followers. ❤ Today, I’ve had a new short story published by the amazing Romantic Shorts. If you’re looking for a steamy holiday short story to warm you up tonight, I highly recommend it.

We’ve got:

  • Hot Grumpy Boss
  • Sexy Santa Claus
  • Holiday Office Party
  • Bad decision making skills
  • Thirsty Heroine
  • NSFW, literally

You know you’re curious now. Go…check it out. Leave a comment and some love for my RS family. ❤

All my love,

Kirsten

Release Day for Deceiving the Earl

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived.

Deceiving the Earl has made it to your e-reader. If it hasn’t, then perhaps you should consider picking up a copy.

deceiving the earl cover art

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Apple

Smashwords

I will be going Live on Facebook this evening, May 10th, 2018, at 8 pm, EST to host an AMA (ask me anything) chat. There will also be a giveaway! So you don’t want to miss that. Just follow me on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/KirstenSBlacketerAuthor/

My last newsletter featured the first look at Adele and Christopher. So today, I’m offering you a more intimate glance into their book. It’s one of my favorite scenes featuring Christopher teaching Adele to waltz. I hope you enjoy it.

“Lord Dorrington has requested your presence in the parlor, Anne,” he said.

“Another lesson.” She sighed dusting her hands on her apron and then removing the garment. “What is it today, Jameson? Introductions? Conversational etiquette?”

“Dancing, I believe.” His lips quirked up in an amused smile. “One of your favorites, if I am not mistaken.”

Adele could not stop the smile from gracing her lips. Dancing had always been one of her favorite activities, second to reading. As she ascended the stairs, a small bounce in her step lightened her heart. He wished to teach her to dance, did he? Well, he would be surprised how quickly she learned. In fact, he might learn a few things from her during this lesson.

The thought of being his dance partner created flutters of excitement in her chest. She wished for nothing more than to lose herself in the music, in the movements.

She entered the parlor and noted all the furniture had been arranged to give them adequate space to dance.

Lord Dorrington stood before a Victrola, arranging a disk on the machine.

“You summoned me, my lord?” she asked by way of announcing her presence.

He glanced over his shoulder. “Yes, I believe there are a few more details we must practice before the ball.” He lowered the arm of the machine and the room filled with sweet, familiar music.

Almost without prompting, Adele felt her body begin to sway with the melody. A waltz. How delightful. She caught herself before he turned around.

When he did, he approached her. “Have you ever danced before, Anne?”

“Once or twice,” she lied.

He offered his hand in invitation. “Would you care to dance?”

“Nothing would delight me more,” she replied with a demure nod and took his hand.

Lord Dorrington drew her into his arms. Their bodies aligned perfectly creating a balance between them. She drew her stance tight, keeping her arms solid, her left hand pressed against his shoulder while her other lay clasped in his.

The heat rose between them as he led her into the dance. He took his time, attempting to guide her in the basic motions. Alas, her body would not be denied as the music infused with her soul. The lessons she savored so long ago came back with a simple turn on the dance floor.

Adele closed her eyes, allowing him to lead, but also allowing the steps to arise from her memories. She savored the music and the dance. With every pass, she found her heart growing lighter as well as her steps.

“I believe you lied to me, Anne.” Lord Dorrington’s voice interrupted her moment of bliss.

Her eyes snapped open, meeting his curious yet pointed expression. “Whatever do you mean?”

“You dance better than I do,” he said with a lopsided smile. “How many times have you waltzed before?” His gaze dropped to her lips, then back again to her eyes.

“A few,” she admitted in part. Truth be told, the waltz had always been her favorite dance to practice, even if she never had the opportunity to dance in a social setting before.

Together, they continued the dance, but the lesson became lost along the way. With their bodies moving to the music, their gazes fused, Anne realized how much she enjoyed this moment. She committed every detail to memory. Her first true waltz, and with Lord Dorrington.

Adele marveled at how far she had come. From distrusting to disinterested to disarmed. Lord Dorrington enlightened her to a great many things it seemed.

His grip tightened on her waist as they spun faster, attempting to match the tempo in perfect synchronization. Everywhere his body pressed against hers heated with a delicious friction. She longed to lean against him fully, to feel his warmth seep into her.

Her gaze dropped to his mouth. The softness of his lips contrasted with the sharp angles of his face. Lord Dorrington, with all his dark, brooding features and isolated eccentricities, cut a fine and quite handsome gentleman.

“Why have you not married?” Adele asked, regretting the question as it fell from her lips.

A pang of sadness pierced his eyes before he replied. “Marriage requires intimacy.” He paused. “Who would want a broken man?”

“I believe we are all broken in some way,” Adele responded, her voice gentle.

He glanced away for a moment before meeting her gaze with his own. Lord Dorrington smiled.

Adele quelled the nervous flutter in her stomach. Lord have mercy, but her heart could not take the ache any longer. Why did he affect her so?

His grip on her waist tightened, drawing her closer. Their steps slowed until it became a calm sway in the midst of the storm of attraction brewing between them.

“You are a strange little bird,” Lord Dorrington said in awe. “Somehow I feel a connection to you in ways I cannot comprehend. You quite baffle me.”

“Your compliment leaves me speechless.” She batted her lashes and smiled.

He spun her, shaking the simpering debutante from her display. He leaned close, his lips nearly brushing her ear. “You are far too clever to play coy, Anne.”

Saints above, she would have melted or run from the room, but his arms held her fast. Every fiber of her being protested and craved his proximity, his touch. Adele dared hope for more, even though her rational mind told her to push him away.

She pulled back enough to gaze into his eyes, dark and deep like the sea at midnight. How she longed to brush the wayward lock of hair back away from his face. His handsome face betrayed his desire, and yet she saw the hesitation in every breath he took.

He could have stolen her soul in that instant, and she would have relinquished it without a single solitary regret. Adele dared not speak for fear of shattering the fragile sacred moment.

*sigh* This scene makes my heart flutter. I wish I had someone to waltz with me. My poor husband has two left feet when it comes to dancing. Although bless him, he does try.

Thank you for all the support and encouragement. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

SNEAK PEEK at Deceiving the Earl

Hello, darlings. My latest novel, Deceiving the Earl, will be releasing in May! I’ve decided to share a little snippet from this Victorian romance. It has a dash of mystery and a hint of steampunk elements. If you’ve ever seen Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes film series with Robert Downey Junior, this book is similar in aesthetic.

Please keep in mind, this hasn’t been to my editor yet. So have patience with me. We’re still in the process of polishing the story. Thank you.

Allow me to introduce Adele and Christopher…

Spring 1895

Adele Prescott is the daughter of the Viscount of Longmont. After her family is killed in a house fire, Adele hides her identity and becomes a maid in the home of Lord Christopher Underwood, Earl of Dorrington. Why? Because she believes the fire was no accident and that the earl had some hand in her families deaths.

Lord Underwood is a man haunted by the past and laden with secrets. His reclusive nature leaves him to pursue his passion for science, but after the fire, he wishes for nothing but the blissful oblivion of opium and seclusion. Until he meets his new maid, and a plan forms in his mind. A plan that leads to an intimacy neither of them expected but brings them into the heart of danger.

Excerpt:

The sound of the door opening interrupted their solitary moment. A wave of fear forced Adele to spin around, turning her back to the door. She would not want to be caught idle while she was supposed to be working.

“My lord,” Elizabeth said behind her. “Pardon us.”

“Ah, yes, I had forgotten you would be here at this hour.” His voice tugged at her memories. While familiar, it echoed strangely in her mind, as though distant, foreboding, and strangely alluring.

Adele turned, keeping her head down. She bobbed a small curtsy and avoided meeting his gaze.

“Is this the new maid?” he asked.

“Aye, my lord, this is Anne.” Elizabeth stepped to the side as he approached them.

He paused before Adele. She studied his neatly pressed trousers and the tips of his polished shoes.

“If you will beg my pardon, my lord, I shall fetch some coal for the fire.” Elizabeth’s voice echoed from the doorway.

“Very well,” he said in dismissal.

Adele stood as still as her trembling body would allow. Her heart pounded. There would be no way to hide herself from him now. Most masters were satisfied when the work was completed and their servants remained silent. Adele closed her eyes and took a deep breath. What if he recognizes me?

“Anne.” Her alias on his lips sounded almost like a challenge.

“Aye, my lord,” she replied, her voice steady, unlike the emotions boiling beneath her calm exterior.

“Will you not meet my eyes?” he asked. When she hesitated, he tipped her chin up with his gloved fingertip.

With a deep breath, Adele met his gaze. She faltered only for half a second, not because of his familiar face, but because of the shock of his deep, soulful hazel eyes. Never in her father’s long acquaintance with him, had she taken the opportunity to converse with him, let alone share a lingering look.

Lord Underwood was even more handsome than she’d remembered. His dark hair lay in waves, longer than fashionable, but neatly kept. The strong lines of his jaw were shadowed by a days’ worth of stubble. It lent him a roguish air. Her breath caught. From his dark, penetrating gaze to the soft smile haunting his lips, Adele found herself mystified by the man before her.

He only ever visited her father to work in the laboratory. Everyone knew him to be a reserved sort, especially after he had returned from the war and inherited his brother’s estate. Adele wanted to despise him for the path he had led her father down. But finally seeing him, eye to eye, she saw the despair behind the gentleman’s façade.

His fingertips brushed along her scar. “An injury from the fire, I presume?”

“Aye, my lord.” Adele suppressed the sudden desire to run as he inspected her face.

“You were fortunate to escape with your life, my dear.” He nodded before dropping his hand. “How do you find your new post?”

“Very well, I thank you, my lord.” Adele tried to keep her answers direct and simple.

He tilted his head and regarded her closely. “Have we met before? Upon my visits to your former employer’s estate perhaps?”

“It is possible, my lord. However, I do not recall.” She bowed her head unable to bear the constant scrutiny, fearful he would remember her.

He exhaled sharply. “I shall leave you to your duties then, Anne.” He turned to leave before pausing in the doorway and gesturing to the cylinder in the corner of the room. “Oh, and careful as you dust the inverter. It is liable to produce an electric shock that may be uncomfortable.”

With those cryptic words, Lord Christopher left her.

Adele collapsed in a chair and pressed her hands to her cheeks. Relief flooded her as she realized he did not recognize her. The dye in her hair and the scarring from the fire must have altered her enough to allay any suspicions he might have. She allowed a smile to cross her lips. Surely she would be safe enough to discover what he had convinced her father to study in that laboratory.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at Deceiving the Earl. I wanted to share the moment they first meet in the novel. What did you think?

I’m excited to share this novel with you. Keep an eye here for more details about the release date and special events.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

Surprise!!! Jewel of Winter is HERE!

Hello my friends…

Today is a very special day. My first self published book releases!

I introduced you all to this story back in December. Well it’s available for purchase right now!

Amazon – JEWEL OF WINTER

Smashwords – JEWEL OF WINTER

Dive into this Victorian romance and discover the benefits to breaking the law.

jewelofwinter2400 (1)

A simple country girl at the mercy of a cold-hearted thief with more secrets than scruples.

As a widow, Jessamine gained the freedom she’d always desired. Her late husband left her his sole possession, an inn on the north road to Scotland. When a trio of gentlemen appear at the doorstep of her isolated inn during a snowstorm, Jess can’t help the curiosity coursing through her veins. Eavesdropping on their conversation only entangles her in their web of deception.

To the petite innkeeper, Edmund is a wealthy thief. Allowing her to think what she will, he decides to use her to his advantage. That is until she hides the stolen jewels and refuses to reveal their location. Never cowed by a challenge, Edmund issues an ultimatum: return the jewels or repay the debt with her body.