Friday, 10 December 2021

Son of an Earl from the Defying Propriety Series by Bronwen Chisholm - Except and Giveaway

Book cover: Son of an Earl by Bronwen Chisholm
Happy Friday to you all!

I’m happy to be welcoming Bronwen Chisholm to the blog today. Recently Bronwen joined us for the first book in her Pride & Prejudice-inspired Defying Propriety series. The second book, Son of an Earl, is coming out on 22 December and should be available for pre-order today! Bronwen has come here today with a guest post, excerpt and an ebook giveaway of Son of an Earl.

It’s a nice long read, so grab yourself a cuppa and I will hand over to Bronwen for her to introduce the excerpt.

Hi, Ceri! I love coming to visit with you and your readers here at Babblings of a Bookworm. The second novel in my Defying Propriety Series, Son of an Earl, should be available for pre-order today, 10 December, on Kindle. Here is the cover along with the blurbs for both the series and this book.

We are formed by experiences of our childhood. Family and friends influence our character. Decisions, wise and foolish, direct our path. Through chance encounters and early introductions, our beloved Pride and Prejudice characters come together on a slightly different path which may, to some, defy propriety.

All the books in this series are sweet, clean romances.

Ashton Fitzwilliam, Viscount Grayson and cousin to Fitzwilliam Darcy, has always known what was expected of him. As the eldest son of an earl, he must marry a lady from the first circles of society, preferably one whose father will be a new ally to the current earl. He never anticipated meeting an intriguing American lady with a secret or two she is determined to keep hidden from the disapproving haut ton.

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As this is the first blog after the cover reveal, I thought I would share an excerpt from the first chapter and give you a peek at our heroine. As with the first book in this series, we back up a couple years from where we left the viscount at the end of As a Proper Lady Would. (It’s a bit long, but I didn’t think you would mind.)

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Book cover: Son of an Earl by Bronwen ChisholmDespite the fact that Ashton Fitzwilliam, Viscount Grayson, was rapidly approaching his twenty-fifth birthday, his father, the Earl of Matlock, seemed to believe the man was still in leading strings. He had yet to attend a society event without his esteemed father at his side. For the life of him, Ashton could not determine what had the man so fearful that his heir could flounder in such a manner as to cause the complete destruction of the political power the Matlock earls had accrued in the past hundred years. Even now, at opposite ends of a ballroom, he could feel the man’s gaze upon him, but he refused to acknowledge it.

Sipping the punch, weak in flavour and potency, he surveyed the gathering and determined it well matched. An impoverished knight attempting to foist his daughter on a wealthy gentleman here, a desperate lady preening like a peacock in an attempt to hide the fact she was quickly approaching spinsterhood there. The faces changed but the stories remained the same. He finished the vile drink and handed the glass to a passing footman.

Perhaps his cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy, had the right of it. Darcy despised society and its expectations. He avoided events such as this like the plague. Of course, the man had also lost his father during the winter, which Ashton did not envy. Reluctantly, he turned towards his own sire and nodded when the man tipped his head in the direction of a gaggle of ladies.

A tremour ran through the group as he approached; postures were adjusted and simpering smiles affixed. Checking off those ladies he was decidedly against encouraging, he bowed and asked Lady Gertrude, daughter of his father’s closest friend and recently engaged, for her next dance.

“I fear my dance card is full, Lord Grayson,” she replied with a smirk. “May I introduce Miss Carrington? She has recently arrived in London from Virginia. Our mothers were presented the same season.”

The lady curtseyed but kept her eyes lowered. Her complexion held a healthy glow missing from the near sickly paleness of the ton, and her black hair shone in the candlelight. The lavender silk gown draping her frame hinted at a pleasing figure but revealed no more than absolutely necessary.

“Miss Carrington,” Ashton said with a bow. “May I have the pleasure of your company for the next two dances?”

“You may,” she replied, her voice so soft he nearly missed it.

Her eyes remained glued to the floor, and the current dance was not yet ended. Several of the ladies looked to Ashton expectantly, but he had dismissed the prospect of dancing with them earlier. He could wander away, but there was truly no one present with whom he wished to speak.

“How fares your mother, Lady Gertrude?” he asked, hoping she would fill the time with meaningless small talk.

“She is well, but I thought I had seen you greet her earlier.” The lady’s eyes shone with mirth.

“Oh yes, you are correct.” Ashton frowned at the woman who had been his sister’s playmate and always found a way to annoy him. She could clearly see through him and was determined not to come to his aid, so he turned to her friend. “You are from Virginia, Miss Carrington?”

“Yes, sir,” she responded in that damnable quiet voice.

Ashton fought the urge to lean forwards to hear her better for fear she think it an attempt to look down her d├ęcolletage. “And how do you find London?”

“Crowded.”

Her simple answers suddenly amused him, and he chuckled. “Yes, I suppose it is. I understand Virginia is quite rural.”

The lady nodded.

Ashton narrowed his gaze as he noted Lady Gertrude’s amusement. This Miss Carrington appeared determined not to speak. She was a worse conversationalist than Darcy before the years of instruction his cousins had provided. The viscount was about to admit defeat and seek another distraction, when the lady lifted her head and met his gaze. Grey eyes, the colour of a winter sky before it snows, stared at him from behind a thick fan of ebony eyelashes. Ashton felt as though he were drowning but without any desire to struggle.

“Miss Carrington,” Lady Gertrude said with a laugh, “I believe you have affected a small miracle. No one has ever silenced Lord Grayson before.”

A becoming blush crossed the lady’s countenance, and her gaze fell to the floor once more effectively breaking her spell.

“Forgive me,” Ashton managed to say before bowing to the ladies and walking away as casually as he could muster. The moment he was out of sight of the group, he ducked into an alcove and took a deep breath. Never had he been affected in such a manner.

“Ashton?” his father said from the edge of his sanctuary. “Are you well, son?”

“Yes.” The viscount straightened his waistcoat and stepped out to stand beside the earl. “I needed a moment to catch my breath.”

His father studied him suspiciously. “You sound like Darcy. I noted you appeared pale when you left the ladies.” He chuckled. “Did they refuse your request to dance?”

“Lady Gertrude’s card is full, but I secured her friend’s hand for the next two dances.”

“Her friend?”

“Yes, a Miss Carrington from Virginia.”

The earl’s smile slipped into a frown. “American.” He sniffed. “Freddy mentioned something of the sort. Daughter of his wife’s friend.” He sniffed again. “I suppose one set will not be an issue.” His eyes wandered over the room. “You have not danced with Sir Patrick’s daughter this evening.”

“Nor will I.” Ashton followed his father’s gaze to where the insipid lady stood with her parents. “I nearly fell asleep during our dance at Almack’s. You would not want me to embarrass you.”

His father’s frown deepened. “What of Miss Haverton? You have danced with her more than once before.”

“I have secured a dance with her later.” He turned to face his father fully. “Is there a reason you wish me to dance this evening?”

“I do not wish to see you standing about like your cousin. Since Philip left for the continent, you have not been as gregarious.”

“I thought I was becoming a sheep’s head, sir. At Demi’s engagement ball, just two months past, you accused me of being overtalkative.”

“So, it is to be extremes with you? There is no middle ground?”

Ashton noted the earl’s colour had risen and saw his mother quickly approaching. “If you will excuse me, sir, I believe the next set is forming.” He dipped his head as Lady Matlock arrived and turned abruptly back the way he had previously traversed.

By the time he reached the place he had left the ladies, only those he had dismissed remained. The previous dance had ended, increasing the numbers surrounding him. His indignation grew as he surveyed the crowd for the lady who was to be awaiting his return. Finally, he found her on the distant side of the ballroom, standing with Lady Gertrude’s parents. Taking the quickest route available to him, Ashton stopped before the small group just as the first notes of the dance were played.

“I believe this is our dance, Miss Carrington.” He bowed to her companions, hoping they had not recognized the pique in his voice. Their smiles, perhaps a bit strained, did not show him any ill will.

The lady placed her hand upon his arm, barely touching him so that he might have thought her a spirit and not flesh and blood. Indeed, those haunting eyes felt unworldly when they briefly searched his features before returning to the floor as before. Since the dance had begun, they joined at the bottom of the set, a place Ashton rarely held, and awaited their turn.

“Are you enjoying the ball?” he asked with a bit of a challenge in his tone.

“Yes.”

Silently cursing himself, Ashton searched for a question which would demand more than a single word answer. “When did you arrive in England, Miss Carrington?”

“Last autumn.”

“Did your family accompany you?”

“My father.”

“Has he enjoyed his time here?”

The movement had finally reached them, and they stepped together as she replied, “He was called back to Virginia.”

Ashton frowned. “You are to remain in England, then?” he asked when they next approached each other.

The lady simply nodded as the steps of the dance drew her attention.

Though he made a few more attempts, Ashton failed to procure any lengthier response.

The dance ended, and he escorted the frustrating woman back to her companions. His hopes of a quick retreat were dashed when Frederick Howard, Earl of Carlisle, asked after his sister. Certain his parents had already provided the information, Ashton responded following Miss Carrington’s example, with simple, short answers.

“Gertie and Demi nearly ended their friendship over who would marry first,” Lady Carlisle said with an amused wink at Miss Carrington. “They have been friends since childhood, much like me and your mother, Adsila.”

Ashton stared at the young woman as a pleasant blush covered her countenance yet again. The name was foreign and beautiful, much like the lady herself.

“They came to an agreement?” Miss Carrington asked, her voice just loud enough to be heard over the music and a fraction stronger than Ashton had yet heard from the lady.

Her ladyship nodded. “Demi will marry here in London and will arrive in Cumbria following her wedding trip to attend Gertie’s wedding. It was the most convenient option for all.”

“Will you attend the weddings?” Ashton asked.

“Of course she will,” Lord Carlisle said with a laugh and a wink at the lady. “Miss Carrington is to make her home in England now. We hope to see her following Gertie and Lady Demetria to the altar ere long.”

Ashton noted the blush which travelled down her neck and warmed her chest. “Virginia has lost its charm?” he asked, hoping to distract her.

“Never!” she replied as her head lifted and she stared at him directly. For a brief moment, lightning flashed in her stormy eyes. All too soon, she looked away and was once more the meek ghost. “It is my father’s wish,” she whispered.

Taken aback, Ashton was unable to reply before Miss Carrington’s next partner claimed her hand. He was watching them walk away when his father’s friend laid a hand upon his shoulder.

“Mr. Croome will be a good match, I believe. His family could use her dowry, and his position will not be injured by marrying an American.” Before Ashton could respond, the earl continued. “Have you danced with Lady Gwendolyn? I am certain it would please your father.”

Ashton thanked His Lordship for his advice and claimed the wallflower’s hand for the next dance. Only required to answer with brief affirmations to the lady’s mindless rambles, he was able to watch the newcomer as she danced with her current partner. By the final note, he was fairly certain there was a great deal to Miss Carrington that she and her chaperons were concealing, and by the time he entered his father’s coach for the short ride home, he was determined to uncover every detail.

 * * *

So, what do you think of Miss Adsila Carrington? Are you as suspicious as Ashton? I promise there is nothing sinister about her.

Book cover: Son of an Earl by Bronwen ChisholmNow, a GIVEAWAY! Just make a comment on this blog and Ceri will pick 1 lucky winner to receive an ebook copy of Son of an Earl. Good luck! I can’t wait to read your comments.

Please comment by the end of the day worldwide on Friday 17 December. If you have any problems adding your comment please contact Ceri (details on contact meand your comment will be added for you.

 

Author Bronwen Chisholm
Bronwen Chisholm has released eight Pride and Prejudice variations since 2014. She takes great pleasure in searching for potential “plot twists” and finding the way back to a happy ending.

Her love of writing has led her to several writing groups, and she is currently serving as the vice president of the Riverside Writers and organizes the Riverside Young Writers.

For more information, visit her at www.bronwenchisholm.com

Buy Links

At the time of posting, the pre-order link for Son of an Earl wasn't yet live, so here are the links to Bronwen's books on various Amazon sites, and her author page on Goodreads:

• Amazon US • Amazon UK • Amazon CA • Add to Goodreads shelf  

Blog Tour Schedule

Visit the other stops on Bronwen's blog tour! Details are below:

Blog tour: Son of an Earl by Bronwen Chisholm


 

24 comments:

  1. I look forward to reading more and learning more about Ashton.

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  2. Sounds interesting. Best wishes with the release. Merry Christmas, everyone who celebrates such. Thanks for a chance to win a copy of this story.

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  3. Oooh, a mystery! I wonder what kind of secrets she could have.

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    1. Probably not what some people think, but close. Is that ambiguous enough? lol

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    2. I have no clue, but there is definitely something!

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  4. You have everyone wondering about her now!

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  5. Adsila--what an interesting name. How did you come up with it for a primary character and what does it mean? Looking forward to reading the story.

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    1. I will be talking about that in a later post, but I will tell you that Adsila means blossom. I hope you enjoy it.

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  6. Oh, this was such a teasing excerpt. You were very naughty to pull us into the mystery surrounding this American and then cut us off. I already own the first book and am looking forward to this second book. I would love to win a copy. Good luck to all in the drawing. Blessings for the rest of the Holiday Season in the manner in which you celebrate.

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    1. Not too naughty, I hope. I hope you will enjoy it and good luck. May you have a Blessed Holiday Season.

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  7. Enjoyed the excerpt , thank you for sharing. Intrigued with these secrets and the Viscount's interests.

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  8. Thanks all for commenting. I chose the winner using a random number generator and that winner was....

    J. W. Garrett!

    Congratulations to you, I will be in touch

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  9. Congratulations, Jeanne. Merry Christmas to all. Happy Holidays if you don't celebrate that one.

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If you're not logged in to Google please leave your name in your comment or it will post as anonymous. Thanks! - Ceri