Well, honestly, this is a re-release of a book I published previously and got the rights back. It was one of those books where I’d wanted to go back to and add some things, like a few sex scenes, do some more editing, and put a new cover on. I also was in the midst of starting up my new pen name for my traditional (het) romance and wanted to add it to my new backlist.
So, I took it to Taliesin Publishing and said, “Hey, you want this?” Luckily, they loved the story and accepted it. So, here’s the new cover, I hope you’ll think it’s gorgeous. And the books is out as of March 6th at all the usual places – like Taliesin and Amazon, ARe, etc.
Here’s the blurb – Brett Butler’s always been a leader, as a former major in the Earth Marines she’s trained for it, but when she arrives on New Commonwealth as her father, the ambassador, personal assistant, she’s going to have to at least try to fit in.
Especially if she wants the handsome Lord Stephen Brandon.
A highly placed member of the aristocracy, Stephen’s every inch a soldier, from his spit-shined boots to the sword he wears on his hip. Dedicated to his job in intelligence, born to be a duke one day, the woman he marries must be gracious, well-versed in etiquette, and fit in with his peers.
Everything Brett isn’t.
But that won’t stop her, because even though they’ve only met, his touch makes her feel something she’s never felt before – like a woman, with all the wants and needs she’s kept hidden.
For Stephen, he’s never met a woman like Brett, one that fires a lust and desire deep inside him, and before long, he decides she must be his wife. Nothing less will do.
Or get in his way. Including his mother.
But neither of them counted on their parents butting in and falling in love, Stephen’s grandfather’s schemes to get he and Brett together, or on Brett and the old duke being caught up in a life and death fight over a secret weapon of mass destruction that could destroy the universe they’ve all fought to preserve.
And here’s a little excerpt –
Captain Stephen Brandon eyed the beautiful women passing either alone or on the arm of some man and shrugged. Another boring reception. Another night of his life wasted. Another crop of young women paraded before him and the other unmarried aristocrats in hopes of making a marriage match.
His cousin, Captain Johann Stuart, nudged him with an elbow. “Angela Walvers looks excellent tonight, Stephen,” Johann remarked as a beautiful young woman strolled past.
“Yes. We parted company several years ago.” Stephen nodded at her, and she nodded back. He’d no idea how he managed to stay on such good terms with his former lovers, but he did. If he were honest, he would have said he’d never been very important to them in the first place. Or maybe they’d just gotten tired of his interest in his career and moved on to more amiable suitors.
“A mutual decision, no doubt.” Johann grinned.
“Hers, actually. I should have…” He only had himself to blame. And his reputation as a perpetual bachelor, although a very eligible one, only added fuel to the fire.
Another woman floated by. “Her?” Johann dropped his voice to a whisper.
“What about…” He tilted his head in the direction of a tall brunette.
“A previous encounter. Very brief.” Yes, she’d taken him to her bed and then refused to take his calls. He’d gotten the message soon enough; no sense in being a fool over it.
Two women strolled past in matching gowns. Twins.
“Now, I know for a fact…” Johann lifted his hand.
“Two years ago.” Stephen sighed. He’d escorted them as a favor to his mother, Lady Diane Brandon, but he knew it was another of her attempts to see him wed.
“Both of them?”
“Not at once! Good Lord, cousin.” Stephen gasped. Johann just shrugged.
A distinguished older woman walked past and gave Stephen a slow seductive smile. Johann’s eyebrow rose as he shot his cousin a glance.
“The duchess?” Stephen snorted. “I have no intentions of being shot in her bed. Duke Marshfield is jealous to a fault and a very good shot with a pistol.”
There was no need for such dishonor to his family’s name. Both Stephen and Johann were second cousins to Queen Beatrice herself. Being shot in a lover’s quarrel wouldn’t sit well with his mother or his grandfather, Duke Alistair Brandon.
Johann remarked, “Not a very good selection, is it, cousin? You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a partner tonight you have not already danced with.” He smiled at the goad.
“It’s not so much the lack of partners. If I wanted, there would be plenty. It’s the lack of feeling,” he said. “Women these days are not afraid to take a lover at court. In fact, I sometimes wonder if the whole court revolves around supplying lovers for the aristocracy.” He chuckled.
“Don’t complain, cousin, you’ve had your share. And some of mine too.” He motioned with his wine glass.
“And yet, you are the one married and starting a family, while I am still unattached. Alone. The very bane of my grandfather’s existence and a disappointment to my mother.”
“ItT’s a problem of your own making, cousin. You’ve sequestered yourself in that damn dingy, small cube of yours at HQ. Come out to dinner with Helena and me this week. We’ll go to the officers’ club.”
“I’ll think about it,” Stephen said, knowing he’d find some way of backing out. The women he met at the club bored him. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but of late, all their inane small talk merely grated on his nerves, and he thought most of the women silly and empty-headed. At least, they acted as if they were.
“Face it;. Eveneven though you try to hide it, you’re a romantic, Stephen. ItT could be taken as a fault, you know. Why not just let your family hire the marriage broker and arrange something if you feel so desperate?” Johann bowed at a passing couple and then sipped his drink.
Stephen winced. “Arranged? Has it come to that? Is there no hope of love for me?” He watched with a pang of envy another passing couple who stared into each other’s eyes as if they were the only people in the large ballroom.
Why had he never found “the one” when all around him, men, regardless of looks, position, or fortune, managed to find brides? When he was in his twenties, he’d been as free as a lark and happy to play the role of the playboy. Since his thirties arrived, he’d settled down to his duties, not only to his work, but to his family. And having his grandfather nipping at his heels like one of his hunting hounds, pressing him to pick a woman and get the hell on with it, didn’t help.
He looked down his body’s six-foot length and made a mental inventory. Uniform clean and pressed. Check. Boots shined. Check. White gloves clean. Check. His sidearm left behind. No weapons, not even their ceremonial swords, were allowed in the palace, except for the ones the royal guards carried.
“Cousin, you have everything—rank, honor, and title. Well, for your grandfather’s sake, not duke too soon. You have money and a career. Don’t be so greedy,” Johann chided him.
“Greed, is that what you call it? Just so, I’d give it all up for a woman who looks at me the way Helena looks at you.” He glanced over to where Helena stood chatting with a friend of hers.
“Well, if you don’t find a wife soon, cousin, the duke will have your head on a platter.” Johann knew of the pressure the duke put on Stephen and reveled in it.
“Maybe I should take the duchess up, if only to have her duke shoot me. Might be easier than dealing with Grandfather. Disappointing him seems to be my lot in life these days.” Stephen shook his head and finished off his wine.
“Still having his ‘gatherings’ at Brandon House?”
Stephen nodded as he exchanged the empty glass for a full one from a passing tray carried by one of the servants.
“You are still his favorite topic, yes?”
“Oh, yes. He frequently discusses my lack of a wife and his lack of grandchildren with his old friends. I’m getting used to their pitying looks as they leave. I try to make it a point never to visit on those nights, but he will insist I appear for dinners.”
“I can just imagine. The stories they must tell. Do you realize with any luck we’ll never have those tales to tell? Good God, the Jihad Wars.” Johann shivered. “Your grandfather’s exploits alone could fill a book.”
“Yes. I grew up hearing those as bedtime stories. Pretty gruesome, actually. Gave me some context about Father and how he died, though. Mother never really talked about it.” Stephen sipped his wine.
“He died a hero, Stephen,” Johann said softly.
“A hero I barely remember.” A pang of guilt struck him. How do I live up to his legacy?
Johann gave him a steady hand on his shoulder, meant to reassure.
“Do you think in time, it will be us sitting around the table at Brandon House?” Stephen asked Johann.
“No doubt. We’ll spend our time reliving our glory days and talking about our sons, daughters, and grandchildren.” Johann laughed. Stephen winced.
Did he find solace in the thought or dread? And what would he have to offer to his circle?
* * *
“Now, Brett. Let’s knock ’em dead,” Ambassador Jonathan Butler whispered into his daughter’s right ear. She tucked her long black hair behind her ear, a recent habit she’d picked up in order to hear him better.
“Right, sir. Weapons locked and loaded.” She reached out to straighten his red ascot and run her hand down the lapel of his suit. The black tails looked good on him. The man was built to wear a uniform, and it didn’t matter which one, formal or military.
“You present the gifts, Brett. You know I hate those sort of things.”
“I’d planned on it.”
“It’s only fair after all.; Yyou selected them.” He touched her chin with the back of his hand and winked. “I would have brought them something awful, like a stuffed buffalo head.”
“Not the one on the wall of the library back home? He’s your favorite! You wouldn’t have parted with Old Bill, would you?”
“And give up great-great-great Grandfather’s trophy? Not for all the ambassadorships in the galaxy.” He shook his head.
“It’s time to go in.” Brett motioned to the servant who was waiting for them to enter the ballroom.
“Right. Damn the torpedoes,” he intoned in her ear.
“Full speed ahead,” she answered as they stepped through the carved double doors and into the Grand Ballroom.
* * *
“Good Lord, Brandon, who is this?” Johann leaned over to his cousin.
Stephen looked up. The most beautiful woman he’d ever seen stood in the doorway on the arm of an older man, the ambassador from Earth, if he recognized the insignia on the sash correctly.
“I have no idea. The new ambassador’s wife?” Stephen asked. Breathe, boy.
“Lucky bastard.” Johann looked closer. “No, I see a family resemblance. The man must be her father.”
“God, I hope so. I’ll slit my throat if she’s married to him.” Stephen looked searched for a place to put down his drink. He found an empty tray on a stand and left his glass there. Taking a quick look at himself in the reflective glass of the garden doors, he tried to get the lock of hair always falling over his brow to stay put.
It seemed his hair did not intend to humor him in his moment of need.
Turning back to the crowd and taking his place at Johann’s side, Stephen watched the young woman and the ambassador make their way toward the ceremony hall, stopping every now and then to speak to various people.
“Stop her, cousin. Introduce us, in the name of God and my grandfather,” Stephen whispered hoarsely.
“Practically no difference there.” Johann snorted. “You’re pathetic, cousin. The first fresh pretty face you see in a year, and you’re falling over yourself to get to her. Look around, man. You’re not the only one.” Johann motioned with his drink around the ballroom. Conversation in the room halted as everyone turned and stared at the pair.
“Good Lord! Has she no sense of propriety?” Helena joined her husband to stand at his elbow. “What is she wearing?”
Stephen took his eyes gaze off the stranger’s face and looked at her clothes. The suit she wore looked like some sort of leather, black and white with silver buttons. Long fringe ran down the underarms and across the back of her long fitted jacket and dangled from the hem of her knee length riding skirt to the tops of her boots. Her black-tooled boots were trimmed in silver on the toes and heels.
Stephen’s face broke into a wide grin. “A riding skirt and boots, I believe.”
“Good Lord,” Helena said with a gasp. “To meet the king and queen?”
The young woman pulled her waist-length black hair back on one side and held it in place with a silver and turquoise jeweled comb. The other side fell loose. The color of the turquoise matched perfectly her blue-green eyes.
“Well, she’s like no one I’ve ever seen,” Johann admitted.
“She’s so exotic,” Stephen murmured. “So very off world.”
“She’ll never fit in here. She’s doomed,” Helena declared, and everyone nodded.
“Then, we must save her.” Stephen stepped forward.
Here’s the buy links
Taliesin Publishing – http://www.taliesinpublishing.com/the-ambassador-s-daughter-p38.php
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Ambassadors-Daughter-Theodora-Lane-ebook/dp/B00ITF9O7S