Friday, December 23, 2011

On the 1st Day of Christmas My True Lord Gave To Me...with Stefanie Sloane (+ Giveaway)

An heir stuck up the Christmas Tree with Stefanie Sloane

The author of the wildly popular Regency Rogues series, Stefanie Sloane credits her parents’ eclectic reading habits—not to mention their decision to live in the middle of nowhere--for her love of books. A childhood spent lost in the pages of countless novels led Stefanie to college where she majored in English. No one was more surprised than Stefanie when she actually put her degree to use and landed a job in Amazon.com’s Books editorial department. She spent over five years reading for a living before retiring to concentrate on her own stories. Stefanie currently resides with her family in Seattle.

The Saint Who Stole My Heart, the fourth installment in the Regency Rogues series, will be released in April 2012.

Find Stefanie Online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Twelfth Night
or
A Story in Which Bernard, a Cat of Questionable Lineage, Risks His Very Life for Love. Not His Love. But the Love of His Mistress. Not for Him. But for… Oh, Just Read the Story and See for Yourself.
 
by Stefanie Sloane

Sheldon, Derbyshire County 
1815 

A full Dorset moon sailed high in the winter sky, its’ cool, clear light illuminating the snow-covered Warren estate and the graveled garden walk next to a tall oak tree. 

Lady Annabell Warren peered up at her cat Bernard where he clung to a thick branch of the mature tree. Though his full, furry face was hidden in shadow, the annoyance mixed with trepidation in his mournful feline plea was unmistakable. He was stuck. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Good and stuck. 

“I told you so, did I not?” she ventured, stamping her foot in the snow. The superior statement did little to ease her irritation. Nor did it alleviate the numbness threatening to overtake her extremities. 

Annabell looked down at her now damp, ruined satin slippers and felt as though she could cry. 

Oh, it wasn’t the shoes that squeezed at her heart, though they’d been pretty enough. 

No, she admitted reluctantly. Her tender heart was due to the appearance of Rafe Somerset, the Earl of Wexley. Annabell had successfully avoided her neighbor for most of her family’s annual winter ball. Unfortunately, the guests could speak of little else but the earl’s presence and the rumor that the heir of Wexley Hall had come home to take a wife. 

“Silly, blasted cat,” Annabell ground out, shaking her fist at Bernard. As to whom the earl would choose for his bride? Well, that appeared open for debate. 

But one truth was universally acknowledged: Annabell was not in the running. Her older sister Amelia was everything that an earl would want in a wife. And while Annabell was perfectly adequate in every way, she was not Amelia. 

There was no reason for her to hold out any hope. Despite the fact that the two had been dear friends for as long as she could remember. Even though he’d placed a chaste yet all together thrilling kiss on her cheek before disappearing into the wilds of Scotland last fall. Regardless of Annabell’s deep affection for the man. Deep, abiding affection. Affection? 

“You love him, you ninny,” she admitted to herself out loud. “Call it what it is. You love--” 

“Love who?” 

Startled, Annabell spun on her heels and slipped on the icy walk. For one awful, terrifying moment, she was certain she would fall. 

Rafe caught her arms and steadied her. “My life has been rather lacking in excitement of late, but you shouldn’t feel the need to endanger yourself on my behalf.” 

“What are you doing out here?” she demanded, too taken aback to be polite. He hadn’t released her and the silk bodice of her gown brushed against his elegant green waistcoat. Held so near to him, each breath she drew carried the faint scent of soap and masculine cologne. His tall, solid form fairly radiated heat that beckoned her closer. She wanted to curl against his warmth as she shivered yet again. 

“Saving you, apparently,” he said dryly, his lips quirking with amusement. 

“Meow-w-w-w-w.” 

Bernard’s demanding yowl drew Rafe’s gaze upward. Annabell, too, looked skyward and found her cat glaring down at her. 

“I see the old man is still alive?” Rafe asked mildly. “And fit to be tied, from the sounds of it.” 

Annabell sighed deeply. Bernard was six, hardly ancient for a cat. But in his short time on earth, he’d already managed to use up fourteen of his nine lives. Annabell was by no means a mathematician, but even she knew the cat was tempting fate. “Honestly? I believe he enjoys vexing me.” 

“I would have to agree,” Rafe commented with a wince as Bernard let out another long, wavering howl. “I’ll fetch him for you, Bell. 

Bell. She’d always been Bell to Rafe. Truth be told, he was the only one she’d ever allowed to call her such. It had always made perfect sense, the sound of her pet name ringing false whenever it was uttered by anyone else. 

Would he still call her Bell once he was married? She had no right to expect so. No right to expect anything, Annabell supposed. Such a privilege would belong to his wife. His painfully pretty and accomplished wife, if Annabell’s luck was to continue along its rather lackluster path. It was maddening. And even worse, completely out of her control. 

Suddenly, Annabell wanted to be anywhere else but where she was. 

She fixed Rafe with a pleasant smile, the effort almost more than she could bear. “The entire county, nay, the entire country, would have my head on a pike should you plunge to your death on my behalf. No thank you.” 

“I will use the utmost care,” Rafe assured her gravely. “And I highly doubt that the entire country would mourn my death.” He winked conspiratorially then grasped a lower branch and swung himself up. 

Annabell’s breath caught as he moved quickly from branch to branch until he was just below Bernard’s precarious perch. 

“Is that so,” she replied, suddenly emboldened by the utter sense of defeat she felt as he balanced on a frosty branch. “Well, I feel it is my duty to inform you of just what you’ll be up against, my lord. Your extended stay in Scotland only made the eligible young ladies of England that much more hungry to compete for the heir to the Wexley name. They are all but salivating at the sight of you here tonight.” 

With one swift, dexterous move, Rafe caught Bernard by the nape of the neck and lifted him free of the branch. The big cat twisted for a moment in protest, then seemed to think better of it and settled in against the man’s chest. “And you, Bell. What about you? Did you salivate at the sight of me?” 

Annabelle considered his words as Rafe carefully made his way down the tree. “Why would you ask such a thing?” 

Rafe didn’t release his grip on the feline until he stood once more on solid ground. Then he bent over and set Bernard on the snowy walkway at Annabell’s feet. “Do you know why I stayed so long in Scotland?” 

Bernard stretched lazily, then stood next to Annabell, his tail flicking back and forth as he gazed up at the two. 

“You are full of questions this evening, my lord,” Annabelle replied, staring into Rafe’s bottomless blue eyes. 

He took her hand in his and rubbed the pad of his thumb across her knuckles. “I was choosing a wife.” 

Her heart constricted further, her breath catching as she searched his beloved, handsome features. “Then the gossipmongers were correct” she managed, barely knowing what she said. “You’ve come home to claim your bride.” 

“I have,” he assured her solemnly. “Though it’s rather the other way around. You see, Annabell, every waking thought I had while in Scotland—and most of my dreams, as well—were claimed by you. And only you.” 

“What are you telling me?” she murmured, her head seemingly filled with an abundance of light, crystallized snowflakes. The world dropped away and Annabell felt anchored to earth only by the warm clasp of his hands around hers. 

“Do you think you have room in your heart for me, Bell?” Rafe asked, his voice raw with emotion. “You would make me the happiest of men if you would consent to take me on.” 

“Take you on?” she squeaked, reeling from the possible meaning in his words. 

His full lips curved in affectionate amusement. “I’ve been unclear, I see. Let me start anew. Lady Annabell Warren, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” 

Annabell felt the world spin and the flurry of snowflakes in her head began to dance merrily. She threw her arms around his neck. Rafe wrapped his arms around her waist and bent his head as she went up on her toes to meet him. He claimed her lips with a soft, sensuous kiss that threatened to befuddle Annabell further. 

“Oh, my,” she murmured moments later, her flushed face tucked against the warm column of his throat, just below his jaw. “You’re not to call me Annabell ever again. Is that clear?” 

The deep, masculine chuckle rumbled in his chest. “Is that a yes, then?” he teased. 

“Yes, my lord,” she said demurely. “I’ll gladly take you on, though I feel I must tell you that Bernard is nearly the whole of my dowry.” 

And when he laughed and kissed her again, Annabell knew with certainty she would never forget this Twelfth Night, nor her cat’s perfect timing. 

I really must remember to thank Bernard properly. Perhaps a fish—a very large fish, she contemplated vaguely before Rafe hauled her closer and any thought beyond her future husband disappeared altogether. 

###

Want some more of Stefanie Sloane's work?

Possessed of a brilliant mind and a love for puzzles, Dashiell Matthews, Viscount Carrington, is a crucial member of the elite Young Corinthians spy league. Assuming the fa├žade of an addle-brained Adonis, he hunts for a notorious London murderer known as the Rook. When fate causes him to cross paths with Miss Elena Barnes, Dash discovers an enigma that will prove delightfully intoxicating to unravel: a voluptuous beauty as intelligent as she is fearless. 

Only the lure of a collection of rare books bequeathed to her family by Dash’s late father could tempt Elena from her cozy rural life to the crush and vanity of London. But if Elena finds his lordship to be the most impossibly beautiful man she’s ever seen, he also seems to be the stupidest. Which made her body’s shameless response to his masterful seduction all the more unfathomable. Yet when she discovers Dash’s mission to track the dangerous Rook, she willingly risks everything—her trust, her heart, her very life—to join him.

PRE-ORDER TODAY! (Coming April 2012):
Amazon (paperback) | Barnes&Noble (paperback)
Amazon (Kindle) | Barnes&Noble (Nook)

**Giveaway**
Stefanie is offering up her first three books to one lucky winner! Open to international shipping. So make sure to leave a comment and fill out the Rafflecopter form below to be entered!

And don't Forget to head over to Ramblings From This Chick and read Maggie Robinson's special holiday scene (plus ener her giveaway)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
**Grand Prize Giveaway**
On behalf of myself, Dani and a whole host of generous and awesome authors, we will be having one BIG Grand Prize given away to 1 lucky winner. The grand prize consists of a mix of books, swag, and lots of other secret goodies. Believe me, you want to enter to win this prize. Just make sure to leave a comment every day on each post on both blogs and fill out that day's grand prize giveaway form on each blog. You can follow THIS link to today's form for this post or fill it out below after you comment.
That's it. Super easy!

Good Luck everyone and Happy Holidays!

47 comments:

  1. Hi Stefanie,

    Thank you so much to make this as an international giveaway, i hope i can win your book, so excited ;)

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  2. So sweet, Stephanie! I couldn't wait to see how you stuck the tree in there. Participating in these stories was so much fun! Thanks Rita, Danielle and all the authors for making the season merrier!

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  3. Really enjoyed this Stefanie, thank you so much for the great giveaway.

    Good luck and happy holidays to everyone, x

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  4. Hi Stefanie! Thank you sooooo muchhh to make this international . Love the excerpt so much. Really2 wish I can win your book and start reading you book:). Happy holiday n merry Christmas :)Aretha zhen, aretha_zhen@yahoo.com

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  5. Hi Stefanie,

    I really reading your "Twelfth Night". Your books rock!!!

    Thanks for this opportunity and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everybody.

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  6. Stefanie, this was beautiful! Love the use of Bernard as friend/plot point/dowry. Thanks for a wonderful ending to the 12 Days series. :)

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  7. Really enjoyed that... :) Love the 3 books that I read of yours... :)

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  8. This was really sweet! No need to enter me for the drawing - I already have your books. Happy Holidays!

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  9. Lovely scene, I adore cats so thats an added bonus :) Have a great holidays and looking forward to the new book!

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  10. Bernard definitely deserves a large fish for pretending to get himself stuck on that branch to help his mistress. I really enjoyed reading Twelfth Night.

    e.balinski(at)att(dot)net

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  11. Hello everyone! Thanks so much for the lovely comments. I'm so glad that you're enjoying Twelfth Night. I have to tell you that last night, when we took the Sloane girls to have their picture taken with Santa, there were three young women in front of us waiting. With five cats. CATS! And the felines were all dressed up for the holidays with antlers, festive scarves, and Santa hats. The best part? One of the cats looked exactly like Bernard. Big, furry, and mischievous.:) He did his best to escape, but failed in the end. Poor kitties. But adorable picture!

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  12. Great story! I very much look forward to reading more of your work-- I can't believe I haven't done so yet!

    Enjoy,
    TBQ
    http://tbqspersonalbookpalace.blogspot.com (Hoiday Giveaway ends 12/31...)

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  13. Yes, I do believe that cat deserves some type of reward for climbing the tree.

    The covers on your books Stephanie are wonderful! You are blessed by the art department.

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  14. What a wonderful story! Miracles can happen during Christmas, even with the help of a cat. :)

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  15. I love your work! Thanks for writing such wonderful stories!

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  16. Good story!
    Cindy
    cholub1968 at aol dot com

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  17. A pet always steals the scene. Thanks for the story.

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  18. Hi, Stefanie: Poor little cat stuck in a tree. Now, I'm hoping that a handsome hero comes along to rescue the poor thing and then the heroine will fall in love with him and the three (plus babies, I hope) will live happily ever after. Sigh! I need a really good romance to read. Love your books, dear Lady. Wishing you a wonderful holiday!

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  19. May I add that as I only have a "Barbie" cell phone (that was a hint, Santa. Are you listening?), I cannot do Twitter. Sigh....

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  20. Enjoyed your story! I look forward to reading more of them.

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  21. How perfect, he was off trying to get her out of his mind. Only she wouldn't get out! Short but sweet =)

    Thanks for doing such a generous giveaway!

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  22. Such a sweet holiday story. I can't wait to read your other books.

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  23. I've got these books too - whoever wins them is in for a treat!

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  24. Thansk for the giveaway! Hope everyone has a great holiday!

    The new book looks amazing!

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  25. I love the holiday story. I wish it was much longer!

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  26. How endearing. I like a man who is funny and tender at the same time :)

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  27. Oh Stefanie, I loved your scene. Thank you so much for sharing and being apart of this event. =)

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  28. I loved your little short story and can't wait to read the next in the series

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  29. Oh you guys, I don't need any Christmas gifts under the tree. Your kind comments are the perfect gift!

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  30. I loved "Twelfth Night", it was a really cute short story. I already have all three of Stefanie's books so please don't enter me in that giveaway.

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  31. What a fun short story! Thanks for the intro - I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series :-)
    Happy Holidays!

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  32. Thank you for a charming story. I now want to find your other books.

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  33. Aww, that scene was lovely, and the cat was perfect. I want a Bernard of my very own.

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  34. I loved the scene, and I'm looking forward to reading Stefanie Sloane's books.

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  35. Great scene! I love the inclusion of the cat. :) As I type this my cat is perched on my shoulder. LOL Oh, and she's yelling at me. :)

    Pam

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  36. Loved the excerpt. Thanks! Can't wait to read the entire book. Merry Christmas!

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  37. I love Bernard too! I can't have cats--husband is allergic--but if I could, he would be just like Bernard. In other words, a real character!;)

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  38. Oh, I would love to win the first 3 books of yours! I have not had that chance to read any of them yet, though I really want to! And I loved the scene, and they will have to reward that cat greatly.
    Have a wonderful holiday season!

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  39. Thanks for sharing your story! Thanks for the fantastic giveaway.

    Merry Christmas to all!!

    pnc07 (at) aol (dot) com

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  40. Yummy scene, typical contrary cat! Thanks so much for sharing and happy holidays!

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  41. Stefanie,

    I'm thrilled that The Saint Who Stole My Heart is coming out in April. What a great way to start off Spring!

    Thanks for sharing your story Twelfth Night with all your readers as a Christmas gift to us all.

    Thanks for the giveaway and best wishes to you and your family for a Merry Christmas.

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  42. “Do you think you have room in your heart for me, Bell?” Cue bucket full of sighs.... Loved! :-)

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  43. Thanks for having a give-away internationally. I really enjoyed this little story....have added your books to my goodreads to read list

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  44. Great short story, I enjoyed it. I have read her first book, and liked it. Looking forward to reading more Stefanie Sloane books next year.

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  45. That was a great story, I enjoyed it very much.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

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  46. Loved the story but I'm still laughing over the lady with 5 cats!!

    catslady5(at)aol.com

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