Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Online Book Tour & Giveaway - Seducing The Princess by Mary Hart Perry


Welcome to my stop on Mary Hart Perry's Online Book Tour for Seducing the Princess.  Please make sure to leave a comment or question for Mary below to let her know you stopped by.  You can enter her tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  You can also follow her tour dates here, the more often you enter, the better your chances to win.  My review will be posted separately.


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Seducing The Princess
by Mary Hart Perry

Publisher: Diversion Books
Release Date: March 3, 2013

Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 330 Pages

ISBN: 978-1626810518
ASIN: B00BOR8P3C


Buy Links:

Amazon Print   Amazon Kindle      B&N    Kobo     iTunes 


Book Description:

Mary Hart Perry’s acclaimed series of romantic Victorian thrillers continues with Seducing the Princess, inspired by the life of Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter Beatrice. 


Painfully shy and lonely, convinced she is unattractive and unloved, the dutiful Princess Beatrice finally accepts that she will never marry and vows to devote herself to the queen in Victoria's waning years. In fact, her mother has secretly discouraged suitors for Beatrice’s hand. Just when Beatrice has all but given up on love and happiness, she meets Henry Battenberg, a dashing nobleman from the Continent who matches wits with the aging Victoria and risks his life and liberty to woo Bea.

But Henry isn't the only man interested in being welcomed into Beatrice's bed. The timid princess has become the target of a cruel plot hatched by her nephew, the madman destined to become the last Emperor of Germany. Wilhelm II sends a ruthless agent, a charming Scot, to seduce the naive princess and spy on the queen. How can the sheltered princess hope to fend off a man capable of murder, and perhaps worse, to get what he wants? But Beatrice is not without her own allies--her older sister Louise and Louise's American soldier-of-fortune and lover, Stephen Byrne. Will Beatrice discover which of the two men pursuing her she can trust, before it's too late? Drama, romance and peril chase the royal family from Buckingham Palace to a storm besieged castle on the Isle of Wight.



EXCERPT:

Chapter 1


Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany—April, 1884

Cold, as cold as death itself. I might as well be in my tomb.

Beatrice inched closer to the fire crackling in the castle’s immense black-granite fireplace. She extended icy fingertips toward the leaping flames and felt grateful for the precious warmth rising up through her frigid hands, along the velvet sleeves of her gown and into her shoulders. How glorious it must be to live in the tropics, where it never gets cold!

She smiled at the mere thought of spending lazy afternoons basking under a Grecian sun or sailing aquamarine waters on the royal yacht between Caribbean islands. Instead of shut away in a drafty German castle that set her bones to aching.

Beatrice sighed. Little chance of that for a daughter of Queen Victoria. Their mother rarely had granted any of them permission to travel, except with her. After the older girls married that had changed, of course. Her four sisters had found husbands to escort them on their travels. Unfortunately, marriage no longer seemed likely for her, at the advanced age of twenty-seven.

Some days—like this one, caught up in the middle of a giggling, shrieking bridal party of younger, prettier girls—she felt utterly ancient. Most women her age were popping out babies, managing their own homes and servants. In this progressive age of modern medicine, steam engines, factory-made lace, and (the latest miracle of the age) electricity—she should be enjoying the productive prime of her life.

Stop it! she scolded herself, feeling selfish for thinking of her own welfare on the eve of her dear niece’s wedding. Weddings were meant to be cheerful times, and Vicky was a delightful girl, really more like a sister to her they were so close in age. The bride deserved her affection and full attention.

“Auntie! Oh, Auntie Bea, do you really think this gown will do?” her niece’s voice cut through the female chatter around Beatrice. “It isn’t too prissy with all these ruffles and flounces, is it?” Vicky spun on the tips of her toes, setting full skirts of petal-pink tulle and lush satin shimmering in a wide pool around her. Diamond clips pinched her earlobes. A stunning ruby-and-enamel locket hung about her neck. “I don’t want to look like a child on the night before my wedding.”

Beatrice smiled, shaking her head as the ladies-in-waiting who had been attending the bride flew like a noisy flock of bright-winged birds from the room, gowns rustling. The wedding ball was less than an hour away. It was time they joined the rest of the Court.

“My dear, you needn’t worry. So very grown up you look with that daring d√©colletage. Your gown is perfection, and you are truly a lovely sight.”

Tomorrow Princess Victoria of Hesse, granddaughter to the queen of England, would marry Prince Louis of Battenberg. Beatrice was happy for her…for them. Really, she was. Although she had more than enough justification for the nugget of regret lodged in her throat, and perhaps even for a lingering bitterness. Secretly. Guiltily. Tucked away in her heart.

Beatrice gave the girl her best smile, ignoring the twinge of envy that came with her words. “Louis is so very lucky to have you as his bride. Tomorrow when you marry, I shall look on with such pride.”

Vicky beamed, holding out her tiny gloved hands. “You are an old sweetie to say such lovely things. And to think the first time I ever heard of Louis, his name was mentioned with—” The girl suddenly blushed, her blond eyelashes fluttering in agitation. “Oh, dear, perhaps I shouldn’t have said.” She squeezed her aunt’s hands.

Beatrice pulled stiff fingers free from her niece’s warm little paws. “Ah well, that was nonsense, yes? Court gossip. You know how they exaggerate.” Her smile, she feared, was a bit watery as she turned away and back toward the fire. She welcomed the blaze that heated her cheeks. The raised color would cover for her discomfort at Vicky’s mention of the stories about her and Louis.

“Louis’s heart is all yours, my dear,” Beatrice murmured. “Anyone can see that by the way his eyes light up whenever you walk into a room.” It was true. And the two were a fine match both in humor and appearance, although he was a good deal older than she.

Before Beatrice had a chance to fully recover her composure, the massive oak door to the bride’s bedchamber creaked open. Vicky’s gasp and squeal, “Grand-mere!” announced the arrival of Queen Victoria.

Beatrice drew a breath to calm herself. The queen would no doubt insist Beatrice accompany her to the Grand Salon where the family gathered in preparation for the Lord Chamberlain announcing them to the bejeweled guests, already waiting in the ballroom. Louis would be in the salon too, with his family. How awkward. But she resolved to confront the evening with equanimity, if not with enthusiasm. Balls were pleasant enough when a few of the more attractive gentlemen approached her for a dance. Then she could at least pretend to be admired and happy.

Just the hope of whirling across the ballroom floor cheered her considerably. She loved to dance. Adored it, though she didn’t have much chance to practice these days.

Family legend had it that, at a mere three years old—golden ringlets agleam beneath the crystal chandeliers, wearing tiny satin slippers to match her first ball gown—Beatrice had performed a perfect waltz across Buckingham Palace’s ballroom, partnered by her beaming father, Prince Albert. The entire Court had gazed on, enraptured. It was nearly the Prince’s last public appearance before his sudden and shocking death from typhoid fever. A loss from which the family had never truly recovered.

Yes, dancing seemed almost enough to make the night bearable. Unfortunately, she knew not to expect her partners (at least the young, good looking ones) to return for a second waltz or polka or anything else. Beatrice suspected her mother was right—she wasn’t the type to entice men romantically, not pretty enough to encourage them to stay for more than one dance, and certainly not intelligent or witty or special enough to prompt a man to ask for her hand in marriage.

Anxious at the thought of having to pretend she was enjoying herself in front of the critical gaze of Europe’s nobility, Beatrice smoothed her ebony taffeta skirts while the bride-to-be curtsied and kissed the queen’s hand, then rose to touch her lips to the plump older woman’s proffered cheek.

“Oh my child, you do look precious,” Victoria cooed. “How pretty in this delicate pink you look. Thank goodness it’s not that unfortunate bold rose some girls are choosing this season. Your dear mama in heaven, my Alice, will be so proud of you tonight, and tomorrow of course in church.”

Beatrice observed her mother from a distance. Victoria wore no color at all on her barely five-foot-tall figure, a choice of wardrobe that had become a habit over the past two decades. Not since the death of the Prince Consort could Beatrice remember her mother wearing anything but black-black-black. Although she now allowed members of her court a reprieve from deep mourning, she still insisted that her youngest daughter share her grim obsession with death. The queen preferred seeing her in true mourning garb but, on occasion, allowed the very deepest shades of blue or gray, almost indiscernible from black, relieved only by a narrow collar of white linen about the throat.

Even their everyday jewelry had to be subdued—only jet stones allowed, all gold settings dulled with coal dust. No sparkle. No joy. Beatrice recalled her younger years—when her sisters or governess sometimes implored the queen to “permit Baby a bit of color.” She’d been granted a pretty dress for a few special occasions. But now, as Beatrice crept toward the disturbingly advanced age of 30, her mother flew into a rage if she saw even a scrap of brightness in her daughter’s wardrobe.

Beatrice shrugged in surrender. God forbid there appear a glimmer of cheer in their lives. “You, my most precious and faithful child,” the queen was fond of saying to her, “shall be my constant and loyal companion until I am lowered into my grave and join your dear Papa.”

Which apparently meant Beatrice must mirror her mother’s choice to remain unmarried.

“Beatrice.” Her mother held out a gloved hand to her, startling Beatrice out of her grim musing. “Come, give me your arm. I’m having a terrible time with my limbs tonight. The pain is unbearable. A return of the cursed gout, I expect.”

“Perhaps if you sit before the fire, Mama, you’ll be comforted by the warmth.” Lord knows she could use a little more time out of the castle’s damp drafts.

“Nonsense. Cold air is bracing, healthy. They keep this place far too hot.” The queen cast a grave eye about the room and latched onto the roaring fire with a disapproving grimace. “Mr. Brown always said fresh air is good for me.” Even after the burly Scot’s death, her self-proclaimed body guard, John Brown, seemed to hold a mysterious power over his sovereign. Some said he had been more to the queen than a loyal gillie and escort. A few even suggested he’d taken over Albert’s most intimate duties to Victoria, in the bedchamber. But Beatrice believed their relationship had never gone that far.

She herself had been very fond of the man and missed his powerful masculine presence at Court, and his calming effect on her mother. In many ways, he had made her life easier.

Beatrice left the fire with reluctance and obediently crossed the room. She offered her arm to her mother, lowering her gaze in submission to the parquet floor. Slowly, they paraded with the rest of the party out the door and down the long hallway lined with the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt’s ancestral portraits. The paintings’ arrogant countenances seemed to glower down at her, challenging her right to be in their home.

Beatrice took a deep breath, raised her chin and gazed straight ahead. I am the daughter of a queen, she thought. Don’t dismiss me yet.


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BIO:

Kathryn Johnson lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband and two feline writing partners, Tempest and Miranda. The author of over 40 novels, she's written under her own name and a variety of pen names, including Mary Hart Perry, Kathryn Jensen, KM Kimball and Nicole Davidson. She also teaches fiction-writing workshops for the renowned Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland. And, in 2008, she founded Write by You (www.WriteByYou.com), to coach other writers interested in reaching publication. She has been nominated for the prestigious Agatha Christy Award, and won the Heart of Excellence and Bookseller's Best Awards (sponsored by the Romance Writers of America) in 2011.

Her works in progress include a series of Victorian thrillers inspired by the lives of Queen Victoria's five daughters. The first novel, The Wild Princess, focuses on Princess Louise, who desperately wanted an education as a professional artist, at a time when women were not admitted into art schools. Her personal life becomes complicated when she uncovers a secret about her husband and must help protect her mother from an assassination attempt. The second book of the series,Seducing the Princess, launches April 2, 2013, and features Victoria’s youngest daughter Beatrice. Painfully shy and lonely, the dutiful Princess has promised never to marry and to devote herself to the queen in Victoria's waning years. Just when she has all but given up on love and happiness, she meets Henry Battenberg, a dashing nobleman from the Continent who risks his life and liberty to woo Bea and save both his beloved and the queen from a cruel plot. A third novel, to be published later in 2013, will star Crown Princess Vicky.

ONLINE LINKS:

Facebook:

Please "like" Mary Hart Perry (Here's the bit.ly short link): on.fb.me/Kj7hzU

Also find me on FB: http://facebook.com/Kathryn.K.Johnson.3

Twitter: @Mary_Hart_Perry and @KathrynKJohnson

Goodreads: Come find me as Mary Hart Perry

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kathryn-johnson/21/8b3/350

Website: www.WriteByYou.com Contact me: Kathryn@writebyyou.com or Mary@MaryHartPerry.com

FACE BOOK EVENT Running March 31st to April 4th With an all day hoopla on April 2nd to celebrate the release of “Seducing the Princess” 




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3 comments:

  1. Thanks, "Queen", for the lovely visit with your followers! It's been fun. I'm looking forward to gifting a few lucky participants at my Facebook Event (see above) There will be free books and several pieces of Victorian jewelry and such. Yum! See you at the Seducing the Princess event, online, March 29! Hugs, Mary Hart Perry (aka Kathryn Johnson)

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  2. I haven't read this...yet. But it's definitely going on the to read list. I really like historicals, and this sounds like a good one.

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  3. haven't read it yet = regnod(at)yahoo(d0t)com

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