Message From The Author

Author's Message

DECEIVED

Since I usually write about the tenth to the seventeenth centuries, DECEIVED is a bit of a departure for me. If you read this book last year in trade format with its beautiful Elaine Duillo cover illustration, you may want to pass it by because youre waiting for this years two originals: THE INNOCENT, coming in April from Ballantine; and BEDAZZLED, the second book in the Skyes Legacy series, (Kensington, September). But if you havent yet read DECEIVED, I think youll enjoy it very much.

Set in the mid-eighteenth century, it begins on the fictitious Carribean island of St. Timothy. The islands heiress learns, upon her fathers death, that she is to be married to an English duke. Miss Aurora Kimberly is not about to take her betrothal lying down. Discovering a loophole in the marriage contract, Aurora and her stepsister Calandra switch places. Aurora wants nothing more than to remain at her home in the islands, but Callie dearly loves the idea of being a duchess.

Unaware that he has been deceived, Valerian Hawkesworth (Duke of Farminster) and his bride return to England. When Aurora and her stepbrother visit months later, they find that Callie has become a shallow social butterfly, more interested in parties, hunts, gowns and jewels than she is in either her husband or her duty to produce the next generation of Hawkesworths.

My favorite character in the book is Valerians grandmother, the old dowager duchess Mary Rose Hawkesworth. An intelligent, wonderful old lady, it is she who discovers the fraud. It is fate, however, that takes a hand in solving the problem.

I think that you will enjoy life in eighteenth century country England, complete with a side trip to the court and the London of young King George II.

The cover of this book is utterly delicious, and another departure for me. Different from the trade edition, it is iridescent mother-of-pearl white with hot pink lettering and has a beautiful embossed floral design. I am not usually a flower cover author, but I just adore this one! So, dear friends, until we meet again, I wish you much good reading.

Excert from DECEIVED

I think I may kill you, he said low, for all the time you cost us with your stubborn nature, my precious. He took her hand, and squeezed it hard. I think I fell in love with you the day I saw you coming from the sea, but I put it from me. Then when you arrived in England I was tortured by the thought you would wed another and I could not have you. And when you chose St. John, I wanted to kill him.

Hush, Valerian. She leaned over him, stopping his mouth with her own for a moment. Then she continued, I can never forget that my selfishness caused Cally great unhappiness, and cost her her life. I must live with that the rest of my life, even as I experience the joy of loving you. It seems so unfair that I should be happy and poor Cally will never know happiness.

Then you love me as I love you? he said, his voice breaking.

Of course I love you, you fool, she replied. When I would daydream, it was your face I saw, and never St. Johns. I did not understand it until now, but I realize that I was in love with you although I could not admit it for fear of being disloyal to my sister. After all, it was not right that I love Callys husband, Valerian, but I may certainly love my own husband, may I not?

There was a discreet knock upon the bedchamber door, and Brownes voice said softly, but distinctly, Supper is served, your grace. Then they heard him retreating down the hallway.

Are you hungry? he asked her. She loved him!

Ravenous, my lord, she assured him, her look smoldering, and then she amended, for food also, my darling!

Laughing, he arose, and crossed the room to open the door, and bring in an enormous tray which he placed upon a large rectangular table set against one of the paneled walls. He tossed two more logs upon the fire, coaxing the flames higher. Then he took the bedside taperstick, and used it to light several other candles upon the table and about the bedroom. What shall I bring you? he asked her.

What is there? she responded.

Removing the silver domes covering the dishes, he said, Raw oysters, capon, cold asparagus from the greenhouse, bread, cheese, butter and fruit. And champagne.

Everything! she told him eagerly. He filled her plate and brought it to her. She had plumped up the pillows, and drawn the coverlet up modestly over her breasts. Taking the plate from him she began to eat with great gusto, swallowing down six raw oysters, and then attacking a piece of capon breast. Joining her with his own full plate, he found himself being aroused as she ate her asparagus, sucking the vinaigrette from her fingers, licking her mouth with her facile tongue. He averted his eyes and concentrated on the consumption of a dozen oysters. He was obviously going to need their restorative powers.

We have no champagne! she cried, and putting her plate aside on the coverlet she climbed from the bed, padding across the room to pour them two crystal gobletsful. She brought him his, bending first to dip a nipple into the sparkling wine, then offering it to him mischievously. Is this to your graces taste? she inquired innocently.

It will do, he replied, licking her nipple with a grin.

She climbed back into their bed with her own narrow crystal, sipping it decorously. Delicious, she pronounced. Do you think we could dip your

No! he said, and he began to laugh again.

Write to Bertrice at: P.O. Box 765, Southold, NY 11971


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