Today I have a spotlight and giveaway for the By Invitation Only series by Kate McKinley! You can enter to win a special bound galley of all three novellas in the series!
A DUCHESS IN THE DARK (Forever Yours E-Novella; $0.99)
Miss Daphne Hayward is on the hunt for a safe, honorable husband and she has set her sights on the perfect target. She plans a full-scale seduction that will bring him to his knees, and have him begging for her hand in marriage. But when she mistakenly slips into another man’s bed, the passions that quickly ignite threaten to send her well-laid plans up in smoke.
Ashton Fitzgerald, Duke of Claymore has never been for want of a willing woman in his bed and his rakish ways have become legend in boudoirs and dark corners all across London. But not even Ashton can account for the powerful desire that surges through him when a mysterious woman pays him a clandestine midnight visit. As dawn breaks, his goddess flees before he can learn her identity. Now Ashton will stop at nothing to unmask the identity of the woman who bewitched him body and soul and make her his . . . Forever.
A COUNTESS BY CHANCE (Forever Yours E-Novella; $0.99)
A gambler’s daughter, Sophia Weatherby knows her way around a deck of cards. So when her family estate becomes threatened, she has no choice but to use her skills at the gaming tables to save herself from ruin. A lavish house party affords her the perfect opportunity-until the newly minted Earl of Huntington arrives. Adam Greyson has never forgotten the day Sophia rejected his proposal. Now to even the score, he challenges her to a shocking wager-his two thousand pounds against the one valuable commodity she has left: her virtue.
A NIGHT WITH THE BRIDE (Forever Yours E-Novella; $0.99)
While at a lavish house party, Gabriella Weatherfield confidently bets her friends that she can convince the “unseducable” Duke of Somerset to kiss her. But Gabriella’s innocent wager turns wicked when faced with the duke’s intense blue eyes and talented hands. Nicholas Montgomery usually strives to stay away from society, yet there’s no denying Gabriella’s wild beauty or the way she makes him want to lose control for once. Will the fire between them burn out when Gabriella uncovers the inner demons haunting Nicholas?
About Kate McKinley: KATE MCKINLEY writes Regency and Fantasy Romance. When she’s not staring at her screen, dreaming up delicious heroes, she’s a wife, mother and part-time assistant.
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Excerpts from the BY INVITATION ONLY series by Kate McKinley
A DUCHESS IN THE DARK
The memory of their first meeting was still vivid in his mind, and it swirled to life more often than he cared to admit. He could still remember the emerald gown she’d worn to James’s wedding, the delicate, slightly breathless look about her when James had introduced them. She was beautiful, with wide blue eyes and fiery red curls, and a smile that had stricken him silent. If she were any other woman, he’d have pursued her relentlessly, but her innocence and her connection as James’s sister-in-law had placed her far beyond his reach.
“You can’t possibly mean that.” She scrunched her face in disbelief. “Now let me go before someone catches us.”
“The door is locked. We are quite safe. Unless you wish for someone to happen upon us.” He flashed her a wicked smile.
“Of course not!” Shock looked rather fetching on her. Cheeks flushed, eyes brightened, she was a prime article indeed. Marrying her might not be quite the trial he’d feared. In fact, he rather liked the idea her filling the role as Duchess of Claymore. More than that, he liked the idea of claiming her in every way imaginable.
“Then I’d advise you to lower your voice. The whole house is liable to hear you.”
She pressed her lips together and glared.
“Now,” he said, “where were we?”
He’d had enough women to know what desire looked like and Daphne had it written all over her pretty face—she was just too afraid to admit it. The way she trembled, the way her gaze licked him from head to toe, the way her breath hitched when he drew in close. Oh yes, she was hungry for him indeed.
“I don’t believe you are unaffected by me.” He had her pressed against the bed, so she scrambled atop the mattress and faced him on her knees. “Perhaps I shall prove just how affected you are.”
“Completely unnecessary, Ashton, I assure you,” she said. “I’m perfectly willing to admit you have a certain…appeal, but it’s Edward I intend to…” Her words trailed off as he reached out and brushed a silky tendril of hair off her shoulder, exposing the mark on her neck again. His mark.
“Do you want me to leave? Say the word and I’ll go.”
Boldly, her gaze raked down his bare chest, down to his straining erection. He needed to be inside her, filling her, taking her to the very edge of ecstasy. She licked her lips and shook her head, just a slight movement, but it was all he needed. Triumph shot through him. She wanted him; she was just too frightened to admit it.
“What do you need, Daphne? Tell me.” He needed to ease her into this, seduce her with his words, his tongue, and then perhaps she’d be willing to admit the truth.
Their eyes met and held, before her gaze suddenly flicked away. “I don’t know.”
He advanced, pushing her back against the pillows. Her lips were red, plump, ripe for his kiss. He itched to tear at the fabric of her nightgown and push into her tight, welcoming heat. To bury himself inside her so deeply he’d be a part of her forever.
“Let me show you.”
A COUNTESS BY CHANCE
“Why on earth would you consent to such an outing when you clearly have no talent for riding? You would have done better to stay home.”
She stiffened, indignant. “I ride exceptionally well, thank you kindly.”
He smiled, flashing that damnable dimple in the side of his cheek. “I think we both know you can ride only marginally well. I wouldn’t even venture to call your
skills on a horse sufficient. Certainly not well enough to be traipsing through muddy fields alone.”
Her cheeks heated. How dare he! The truth of his statement was of little consequence. Her pride flared, and before she could think better of it, she said, “My skills can hardly be measured while riding such an impossible creature. This horse is unnaturally ornery. I venture to say that even you, my lord, couldn’t command her.”
“You are wrong about that, Miss Dewhurst. I can be quite persuasive when the mood strikes.” His hot gaze raked down her body, briefly stopping at her breasts, then meandering down to the V between her thighs. His lips twisted into a delicious, knowing smile. “Or don’t you remember?”
Heat surged through her like a cresting wave. Of course she remembered. One didn’t easily forget passion so potent, so unyieldingly intense.
Swallowing, she glanced away. “You seem quite sure of yourself.”
He shrugged. “I’m capable enough.”
She licked her lips. “In that case, how about a little friendly wager?”
Her father, a retired gambler, had taught his only child a great many things. First among them, strike quickly when you have the advantage. Huntington would be fortunate to get Chocolate to move, let alone run.
His lips twisted into that arrogant smirk that had never failed to annoy her. “That all depends on the prize, Miss Dewhurst.”
“Two hundred pounds says you cannot outrun me with this horse.”
With his sleek gelding, she was sure to win. And two hundred pounds would be enough to pay for her father’s medicine, and a little extra besides. She smiled sweetly.
He leaned in, his big, imposing body impossibly close. “Two thousand.”
Her breath caught. She had no hope of paying him two hundred pounds if she lost, let alone two thousand. “You know I don’t have two thousand pounds.”
It was no secret. While she and her father struggled to conceal the true desperation
of their situation, all of England knew the money—everything—was gone. Only the family estate remained, derelict and neglected, but untouched by creditors.
Boldly, he reached out and traced her lips with the tip of his finger, a barely there touch that sent shivers of awareness skipping down her spine. She should push him away. It was the proper thing to do. Instead, her eyelids fluttered closed as she absorbed his touch. It took every drop of self-control not to reach out and pull him into a deep, delicious kiss. She still remembered the feel of his lips against hers, the fierce, unrelenting need that followed in the wake of his touch.
“As it happens, you do have something I want.” His voice was low, seductive, and it reminded her of the warm afternoons they’d spent together, talking, laughing, kissing…
His hand fell away and she opened her eyes, blinking. That she had something he wanted seemed impossible. She was destitute, on the brink of ruin. She had nothing.
He leaned in closer, his warm breath brushing over her cheek, and whispered in her ear. “Two thousand pounds if you win.”
She swallowed. “And if I lose?”
“I get you.”
A NIGHT WITH THE BRIDE
“There is rumor that you are looking for a wife. Is that true?”
His gaze turned wicked. “Indeed, I am. Are you volunteering, Miss Weatherfield?”
Oh! Is that what he thought—that she had designs to become his wife? “No, no,” she said quickly. “No.” She shook her head. “I am most certainly not volunteering. No.”
He lifted a brow. “You follow me out onto the terrace, alone, your gown enticingly tight, and ask me if I am in the market for a wife.”
She glanced down at her gown and frowned. It was perhaps a little tight, but not improperly so. She looked up at him. “I am not in want of a husband, I can assure you—”
“Then what is it you want?”
She stepped forward, her gaze fixed on his mouth, mesmerized by the perfection of his lips. “A kiss.” The words slipped out, a whisper, and she blinked.
Oh, dear God, she’d said that out loud. She hadn’t meant to blurt it out so abruptly.
“Young women don’t make such admissions, and certainly not to men they’ve just met.” He laughed and the rich, heady sound made her heart flutter wildly. “Miss Weatherfield, you are playing a dangerous game.”
She swallowed. “You’re a duke of the realm and trustworthy, by all accounts.” Rumored to be mad as well, but it seemed unwise to mention that just now. “Surely I have nothing to fear from you.”
Again, not entirely true, but she was perfectly safe on a terrace, outside a house
that was filled to the brim with people. No harm would come to her, she was sure of it.
“You seem so certain, yet you know nothing of my character.” With every word, he inched closer. She took a step back, then another, until she was pressed up against the granite banister with nowhere to go. “Do you?”
She swallowed. He was so close she could smell the mint leaf on his breath, feel the intense heat of his body. “I have nothing to fear from you,” she repeated, infusing her tone with confidence she didn’t feel.
Something dark flickered in his eyes, and she felt a moment of apprehension. His gaze was intent, predatory, and her body hummed with anticipation.
He brushed a gloved finger down her bare arm, causing tingles to spread in its wake. “Don’t you?”
Yes, perhaps she did. This man was quite dangerous, in all the most tantalizing ways. Those intense blue eyes, that smooth, enigmatic charm, did things to her—wicked, delicious things.
With one step closer, he pressed against her intimately, his lower half pinning her to the banister. He stretched an arm out on either side of her, caging her in. He was all warmth and decadence, all powerful male virility.
In that moment, she realized what had been missing with all those other gentlemen—why she’d never felt compelled to accept their proposals. It was this. Unlike the other men, Somerset made her feel vibrant, unrestrained. He made her feel alive.
“If you want a kiss, Miss Weatherfield, you’ll have to earn it.”
Win a special galley with all three novellas in the By Invitation Only series bound together! US/Canada addresses only.