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When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare: Promo and Giveaway!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

EXCERPT:

Prologue



September 21, 1808


Dear Captain Logan MacKenzie,


There is but one consolation in writing this absurd letter. And that is that you, my dear delusion, do not exist to read it.
But I run ahead of myself. Introductions first.
I am Madeline Eloise Gracechurch. The greatest ninny to ever draw breath in England. This will come as a shock, I fear, but you fell deeply in love with me when we did not cross paths in Brighton. And now we are engaged.

Maddie could not remember the first time shed held a drawing pencil. She only knew she could not recall a time shed been without one.
In fact, she usually carried two or three. She kept them tucked in her apron pockets and speared in her upswept dark hair, and sometimeswhen she needed all her limbs for climbing a tree or vaulting a fence railclenched in her teeth.
And she wore them down to nubs. She sketched songbirds when she was supposed to be minding her lessons, and she sketched church mice when she was meant to be at prayer. When she had time to ramble out of doors, anything in Nature was fair gamefrom the shoots of clover between her toes to any cloud that meandered overhead.
She loved to draw anything. Well, almost anything.
She hated drawing attention to herself.
And thus, at sixteen years old, she found herself staring down her first London season with approximately as much joy as one might anticipate a dose of purgative.
After many years as a widower, Papa had taken a new wife. One a mere eight years older than Maddie herself. Anne was cheerful, elegant, lively. Every- thing her new stepdaughter was not.
Oh, to be Cinderella in all her soot-smeared, rag-clad misery. Maddie would have been thrilled to have a wicked stepmother lock her in the tower while everyone else went to the ball. Instead, she was stuck with a very different sort of stepmotherone eager to dress her in silks, send her to dances, and thrust her into the arms of an unsuspecting prince.
Figuratively, of course.
At best, Maddie was expected to fetch a third son with aspirations to the Church, or perhaps an insolvent baronet.
At worst . . .
Maddie didnt do well in crowds. More to the point, she didnt do anything in crowds. In any large gatheringbe it a market, a theater, a ballroom— she had a tendency to freeze, almost literally. An arctic sense of terror took hold of her, and the crush of bodies rendered her solid and stupid as a block of ice.
The mere thought of a London season made her shudder.
And yet, she had no choice.
While Papa and Anne (she could not bring her- self to address a twenty-four-year-old as Mama) en- joyed their honeymoon, Maddie was sent to a ladiesrooming house in Brighton. The sea air and society were meant to coax her out of her shell before her season commenced.
It didnt quite work that way.
Instead, Maddie spent most of those weeks with shells. Collecting them on the beach, sketching them in her notebook, and trying not to think about parties or balls or gentlemen.
On the morning she returned, Anne greeted her with a pointed question. There now. Are you all ready to meet your special someone?
That was when Maddie panicked. And lied. On the spur of the moment, she concocted an outrageous falsehood that would, for better and worse, determine the rest of her life.
Ive met him already.
The look of astonishment on her stepmothers face was immensely satisfying. But within seconds, Maddie realized how stupid shed been. She ought to have known that her little statement wouldnt put paid to the matter. Of course it only launched a hundred other questions.
When is he coming here?
Oh, er . . . He cant. He wanted to, but he had to leave the country at once.
Whatever for?
Because hes in the army. An officer.
What of his family? We at least should meet them.
But you cant. Hes from too far away. All the way in Scotland. And also, theyre dead.
At least tell us his name.
MacKenzie. His name is Logan MacKenzie.

Logan MacKenzie. Suddenly her not-real suitor had a name. By the end of the afternoon, he had hair (brown), eyes (blue), a voice (deep, with a Highland burr), a rank (captain), and a personality (firm, but intelligent and kind).
And that evening, at her familys urging, Maddie sat down to write him a letter.

. . . Right this moment, they think I am writing a letter to my secret kilted betrothed, and I am filling a page with nonsense instead, just praying no one looks over my shoulder. Worst of all, I shall have no choice but to post the thing when Im done. It will end up in some military dead letter office. I hope. Or it will be read and passed around whole regiments for ridicule, which I would richly deserve.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. Now the clock is ticking, and when it strikes doom I will have to confess. I will firstly be compelled to explain that I lied about attracting a handsome Scottish officer while staying in Brighton. Then, when I do, I shall have no further excuse to avoid the actual rejection of countless English gentlemen come spring.
My dear imaginary Captain MacKenzie, you are not real and never will be. I, however, am a true and eternal fool.
Here, have a drawing of a snail.

October 5, 1808


Dear not-really-a-Captain MacKenzie,


On second thought, perhaps I wont have to explain it this year. I might be able to stretch this for a whole season. I must admit, its rather convenient. And my family looks at me in a whole new light. I am now a woman who inspired at least one headlong tumble into everlasting love, and reallyisnt one enough?
Because, you see, you are mad for me. Utterly consumed with passion after just a few chance meetings and walks along the shore. You made me a great many promises. I was reluctant to accept them, knowing how our nascent love would be tested by distance and war. But you assured me that your heart is true, and I . . .
And I have read too many novels, I think.


November 10, 1808


Dear Captain MacWhimsy,


Is there anything more mortifying than bearing witness to ones own fathers love affair? Ugh. We all knew he needed to remarry and produce an heir. To take a young, fertile wife made the most sense. I just didnt expect him to enjoy it so much, or with so few nods to dignity. Curse this endless war and its effect of hampering proper months-long honeymoons. They disappear together every afternoon, and then I and the servants must all pretend to not know what they are doing. I shudder.
I know I should be happy to see them both happy, and I am. Rather. But until this heir-making project takes root, I think I shall be writing you fewer letters and taking a great many walks.



December 18, 1808


Dear Captain MacFantasy,


I have a new accomplice. My aunt Thea has come to stay. In her youth she was a scandalous demimondaine, ruined at court in France by a wicked comte, but shes frail and harmless now.
Aunt Thea adores the idea that Im suffering with love and anxiety for my endangered Scottish officer. I scarcely have to lie at all. Of course Madeline doesnt wish to attend parties and balls in London! Cant you see, the poor dear is eaten with worry for her Captain MacKenzie.
Truly, its a bit frightening how much she cherishes my misery. She has even convinced my father that I should be served breakfasts in my room now, like a married lady or an invalid. I am excused from anything resembling public merriment, I am per- mitted to spend as much time as I please sketching in peace. Chocolate and toast are delivered to my bedside every morning, and I read the newspaper even before Papa has his turn.
I am starting to believe you were a stroke of brilliance.



June 26, 1809


Dear Captain Imaginary MacFigment,


O happy day! Ring the bells, sound the trumpets. Swab the floors with lemon oil. My fathers bride is vomiting profusely every morning, and most every afternoon, as well. The signs are plain. A noisy, smelly, writhing thing will push its way into the world in some six or seven monthstime. Their joy is complete, and I am pushed further and further to the margins of it.
No matter. We have the rest of the world, you and I. Aunt Thea helps me chart the routes of your campaign. She tells me stories about the French countryside so that I might imagine the sights that will greet you as you drive Napoleon to the other side of the Pyrenees. When you smell lavender, she says, victory is near.
I must remind myself to appear sad from time to time, as though Im worried for you. Sometimes, oddly enough, its quite an easy thing to pretend.
Stay well and whole, my captain.


December 9, 1809


Oh, my dear captain,


You will be put out with me. I know I swore my heart to be true, but I must confess. I have fallen in love. Lost my heart to another, irrevocably. His name is Henry Edward Gracechurch. He weighs just a half stone, hes pink and wrinkled all over . . . and he is perfect. I dont know how I ever called him a thing. A more beautiful, charming angel never existed.
Now that Papa has an heir, our estate shall never pass to The Dreaded American, and I will never be thrown into genteel poverty. This means I do not have to marry, and I no longer need a fictional Scottish suitor to explain it.
I could claim that weve grown apart, put an end to all these silly letters and lies. But Aunt Thea is ever so fond of you by now, and I am ever so fond of her. Besides, I would miss writing.
Its the oddest thing. I do not understand myself. But sometimes I fancy that you do.


November 9, 1810


Dear Logan,


(Surely we can claim a Christian-name familiarity by now.)
What follows is an exercise in pure mortification. I cant even believe Im going to write it down, but perhaps putting it on paper and sending it away will help rid me of the stupid habit. You see, I have a pillow. Its a fine pillow, all stuffed with goose down. Quite firm and big. Almost a bolster, really. At night I put it on one side of the bed and place a hot brick beneath it to warm it all up. Then I nestle up alongside it, and if I close my eyes and fall into that half-sleep place . . . I can almost believe its you. Beside me. Keeping me warm and safe. But its not you, because it is a pillow and you are not even a real person. And I am a bug. But now Ive grown so accustomed to the thing, I cant sleep without it. The nights simply stretch too long and lonely.
Wherever you are, I hope you are sleeping well. Sweet dreams, Captain MacPillow.

July 17, 1811


My dear Highland laird and captain,


You have pulled off quite a trick for a man who is no more than a pillow stuffed with lies and embroidered with a hint of personality. You are going to be a land- owner. Aunt Thea has convinced my godfather, the Earl of Lynforth, to leave me a little something in his will. That “little something being a castle in the Scottish Highlands. Lannair Castle, its called. It is meant to be our home when you return from war. That is the perfect ending to this masterpiece of absurdity, isnt it?
Dear Lord. A castle.



March 16, 1813


Dear captain of my hearts true folly,


Little Master Henry and Miss Emma are growing like reeds. Ive enclosed a sketch. Thanks to their doting mama, they have learnt to say their nightly prayers. And every nightmy heart twists to write itthey pray for you. God bless and keep our brave Captain MacKenzie.Well, the way Emma says it, it sounds more like Capn Macaroni.And each time they pray for you, I feel my own soul sliding ever closer to brimstone. This has all gone too far, and yetif I were to reveal my lie, they would despise me. And mourn you. After all, its been almost five years since we did not meet in Brighton.
You are part of our family now.



June 20, 1813


My dear, silent friend,


It breaks my heart, but I have to do it. I must. I cant bear the guilt any longer. Theres only one way to end this now.
You have to die.
Im so sorry. You cant know how sorry. I prom- ise, Ill make it a valiant death. Youll save fourno, sixother men in a feat of courage and noble sac- rifice. As for me, Im devastated. These are genuine tears dotting this parchment. The mourning I shall wear for you will be real, as well. Its as though Im killing off part of myselfthe part that had all those romantic, if foolish, hopes. I will settle into life as a spinster now, just as I always knew I would. I will never be married. Or held, or loved. Maybe if I write those things out, Ill get used to the truth of them. Its time to stop lying and put aside dreaming.

My darling, departed Captain MacKenzie . . . Adieu.



About WHEN A SCOT TIES THE KNOT

 On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shy, pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart. A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely. Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.

 About TESSA DARE

Tessa Dare is the New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of more than a dozen historical romances. A librarian by training and a book-lover at heart, Tessa lives in Southern California with her husband, their two children, and a big brown dog.

 Quotes

 “Dare’s marvelous third Castles Ever After Regency romance (after Say Yes to the Marquess) builds a gradual, intense romance between two people who are determined to avoid love and commitment….Dare’s swiftly moving plot is enhanced by the seamlessly developed romance, and the sensuality is heightened by the slow awakening of the pair’s mutual attraction.”—Publishers Weekly, **STARRED**

 “With sharp, clever banter, breathtaking sensuality, colorful descriptions, and solid cultural detail, this compelling, often hilarious escapade puts a refreshing spin on the [‘imaginary lover’ theme and adds another winner to Dare’s riveting ‘Castles’ series.” —Library Journal, **STARRED**

 “Dare’s latest begins with a fairy-tale twist of fate, then leads readers on a mesmerizing and intense emotional journey that explores love in many forms and the powerful pull of dreams.” —Kirkus, **STARRED**

 “Dare delights with another marvelously romantic story that delivers a deep sigh, a tear and a smile. With her painfully shy heroine and vulnerable hero, readers are immediately captivated and will savor the joy of this imaginary-sweetheart plotline. You’ll stay up all night to reach the unforgettable ending.” —RT Book Reviews, **4.5 Stars, Top Pick!**

 Where to buy MAKE ME

HarperCollins: http://avonromance.com/book/when-a-scot-ties-the-knot Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/When-Scot-Ties-Knot-Castles-ebook/dp/B00PQROPBC/ Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-a-scot-ties-the-knot-tessa-dare/1122449690 iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/when-a-scot-ties-the-knot/id942634113 Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Tessa_Dare_When_a_Scot_Ties_the_Knot?

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This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews. COPYRIGHT © 2014 LIVE TO READ

1 comments:

  1. Bube said...:

    I'm so excited about this book!
    Thanks for sharing the excerpt :)