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Meet the Heroine: Lady Amelia Pembroke

Accounts. Right. Focusing, Lord Benedict Sheffield dipped his pen into the standish and began totaling the first row of sums. He made it through the first few pages before his butler appeared in the doorway.

Benedict frowned. No one called upon him during working hours without prior arrangement. “Yes, Coombs?”

“I’m afraid there’s a Lady Amelia Pembroke here to see you, my lord. She was most insistent.”

“I trust you informed her that I was not receiving, and refused to let her in?”

“Of course.” Coombs hesitated before continuing, “She said she would simply wait until you are receiving.”

Benedict put down his pen. “Wait where, pray?”

“Upon the front step, my lord. I’m afraid the lady brought . . . the lady brought . . . a book. She cannot be budged.”

Benedict tilted his head, impressed. Rather than attempt to barge her way in, she’d come prepared to wait him out—on the front stair, where every eye in every townhouse in the whole crescent was likely watching her. Intrigued despite himself, he tugged at his fob and checked the time on his watch.

A quarter ’til eight. Damn.

“Did the lady mention whether she was calling for business or for pleasure?”

“Both, my lord.”

He coughed. “Both?”

“She would not elaborate. She said . . . she said explaining the intricacies of her design to a butler would be a waste of both our valuable time, and that each of us would operate far more efficiently minding the tasks in which we’re experienced. Then she pulled out a book and a pair of spectacles and sat down on the front step to read.”

Benedict mentally canceled his plans for the theater. He loved actresses, found them endlessly diverting in fact, but was forced to admit he’d never once been intrigued by one. They were beautiful, simple creatures, which was precisely what he liked about them. After a long day of arguing in the House of Lords or negotiating business contracts or managing tenant properties, he liked to disconnect his brain and let the rest of his body reign for a few hours.

At least, he’d always thought he liked that. He was beginning to suspect he liked being intrigued even more. He consulted the hour again.

Still a quarter to eight.

A sudden thought occurred to him. “Do you mean to say we’ve got a lady with her derrière freezing to ice atop our slush-covered concrete?”

Coombs shook his head. “Not at all, my lord. She brought several rugs and a warming brick, and had her coachman clear off the steps before she settled in. He’s got eyes on her, even if he can’t talk her back into the carriage.”

Benedict drummed his fingers atop his leg. She hadn’t just been prepared in case she had to wait—she’d known it would happen! She’d planned for the lost time, for the denied entry, for the slush upon the stoop, for the inclement weather . . .

He shoved his watch back into his pocket.

Business and pleasure, the chit had said. He certainly hoped so. “By all means, Coombs. Show the intrepid lady in.”

He returned to his sums until footsteps sounded out in the corridor. Eight o’clock. Perfect timing. He sheathed his pen.

Let the games begin.

He pushed to his feet the moment the lady appeared in his doorway.

Her hair was a rich brown and her eyes a clear green, but despite the fine cut of her gown or the becoming flush upon her cheekbones, those were not the aspects of her appearance he found the most incredible.

She was dry.

There wasn’t a spot of snow on her pristine slippers. No hint of dampness to her velvet-and-ermine pelisse. No sign of the book or the warming brick or the infamous rugs. She had not only planned to be kept out, she had also planned to be let in!

“Who are you?” he found himself asking, his tone at complete odds with his usual charm and decorum.

She dipped a pretty curtsey. “Oh dear, I have you at sixes and sevens. I am Lady Amelia Pembroke, sister of Lawrence Pembroke, whom you perhaps better know as the Duke of Ravenwood.”

He peered behind her. “Where is your chaperone?”

Elder sister,” she enunciated crisply. “At nine-and-twenty, I find myself being a chaperone rather than requiring one. If you suspect I have come to trap you to the altar, have no fear. Once our brief partnership has concluded, you will have no need to lay eyes on me anew. In fact, interacting in person need not happen beyond just this once. It would be far more efficient for us both if I were allowed to handle our business from here on out.”

He leaned back. “What, may I ask, is the nature of our business?”

The adventures of Lord Sheffield and Lady Amelia continue in:
The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation
The Dukes of War #0.5

Meet the Hero: Lord Benedict Sheffield

Amelia tilted her head toward the door. “Are we ready?”

Lord Sheffield stared at her, incredulous. “Ready? I haven’t a clue where we’re going!”

“Haven’t you?” she teased. “But it’s Wednesday!”

Almack’s?” His mouth opened and shut without making a sound. “But its rooms are only open during the Season, which hasn’t even begun yet—”

“—making it quite suitable for our ends. All we have to do is bend the patronesses to our point of view. Lady Jersey has agreed to hear our request.”

“Bend—Queen Sarah—” He burst into laughter and offered her his arm. “Come, my lady. I shall permit you to do all the talking.”

She slipped her gloved fingers into the crook of his elbow and allowed him to escort her to his waiting carriage. Despite the many times her societal roles had caused her to be on the arm of this duke or that earl, she had never before been struck by the sudden, foolish wish that her fingers were not so properly gloved, and his arm not so encased in winter layers, so that she might feel the warmth and strength of the muscle beneath.

Heat pricked the back of her neck. Her, blush? It simply would not do.

Oh, certainly, Lord Sheffield was a Tulip of Fashion and a delight for the eyes. Even were he to suddenly attire himself in waistcoats of tangerine and puce, his golden curls and sparkling hazel eyes would flutter the heart of any maiden—and did. Amelia was not so green as to be unaware of his rakish reputation. Being alone with him in a carriage might be considered fast, even if one was a spinster in her dotage.

And yet . . . His behavior toward her had spoken very well of him from the very first. When he had enquired about her chaperonage, she had been the one to point out her age obviated the necessity. He had not only been perfectly willing to drive separately to their various assignations, he had accepted the assumption without question. It was she who had foregone her carriage in favor of accompanying the viscount.

Just what were her intentions toward the man? She bit her lip and forced herself to turn from his handsome mien and focus instead on the view out the carriage window.
His profile reflected back at her.

She closed her eyes. It wouldn’t do, she reminded herself. Besides the frivolous reasons that they could not suit—his estate being perfectly run, future children failing to be lords and ladies—his nightly carousing was legendary, and unlikely to alter for someone as negligible as a wife.

Unless the rumors were greatly exaggerated? She indulged herself in another long look at the golden-haired Corinthian seated across from her. He didn’t seem blue-deviled and bleary-eyed. But if that was because he’d spent the entirety of his daylight hours sleeping off a night of unrepentant bacchanalia, then she couldn’t even fathom a friendship forming between them.

No. She’d had it from no less than three sources: after she’d gone home from the theatre at two in the morning, he’d traipsed directly to the Daffy Club, where he’d caroused until dawn.

His eyes met hers and his brows lifted in question.

She gazed back blandly, thankful the shadowed interior would mask any flush to her cheeks.

“Guinea for your thoughts,” he said in his low, smooth voice.

“Prinny has caused that much inflation?”

The corners of his mouth quirked. “Most people’s ruminations aren’t worth a ha’ penny. Yours, I am persuaded, are worth considerably more.”

“You shan’t think so once I’ve made them known.” She flattened her lips into a straight line. “I was thinking about those who behave impractically. All of today’s scandal sheets were full of a certain Viscount S—’s adventures with Blue Ruin.” She arched a brow pointedly. “Late night, was it?”

“Mmm. And an early morning.” He stretched his long legs out before him. “As a lady of clocklike precision yourself, you may appreciate my schedule. I have kept strictly to it every day for the past decade. From eight in the morning to eight in the evening, I devote myself to my duties. Then from eight in the evening to eight in the morning, I . . . do . . . not.” He smiled, as if in remembrance of some unspeakable exploit.

Amelia was horrified. His devil-may-care response had been crafted in just such a way to provoke her displeasure, and so it had. But not, perchance, for the reasons he might expect.

As much as she tired of the house parties and winter retreats she was obliged to attend, or the two weeks in Bath every year with her cousins the Kingsleys, she could not deny the rejuvenating effect of several days in a row without a single responsibility or effort on her part. While she’d been picnicking at follies or riding in the parks, he hadn’t enjoyed a single ray of sunshine at all.
She bit her lip. His estate might run smoothly, but it was in shocking want of efficiency. What had he said about the Christmastide party? He hadn’t wanted her to do it?

“Requiring help does not indicate one is incapable of performing a task,” she said softly. “It simply means it is more expedient not to do so.”

The darkling look he glowered upon her could have melted iron.

The adventures of Lord Sheffield and Lady Amelia continue in:
The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation
The Dukes of War #0.5

Author Timeline

Release day for Lord of Temptation, book four of the Rogues to Riches regency romance series

Erica spends four days with readers at the Historical Romance Retreat, and participates in a multi-author book signing open to the public

Release day for Lord of Night, book three of the Rogues to Riches regency romance series

Erica launches Historical Romance Book Club, open to all readers

Release day for Lord of Pleasure, book two of the Rogues to Riches regency romance series

Release day for Lord of Chance, book one of the Rogues to Riches regency romance series

Release day for Romancing the Rogue, the third Passion & Promises standalone romance

Erica becomes president of Novelists Inc, the professional international organization of multi-published novelists

Release day for All I Want, romance eight of the Dukes of War regency romance series

The Duke’s Accidental Wife hits #9 on the NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST

The Duke’s Accidental Wife hits #36 on the USA TODAY BESTSELLER LIST

Release day for The Duke’s Accidental Wife, book seven of the Dukes of War regency romance series

Erica becomes president-elect of Novelists Inc, the professional international organization of multi-published novelists

Release day for The Pirate’s Tempting Stowaway, book six of the Dukes of War regency romance series

Release day for The Brigadier’s Runaway Bride, book five of the Dukes of War regency romance series

Release day for The Major’s Faux Fianceé, book four of the Dukes of War regency romance series

Erica presents a romance workshop for the Tampa Area Romance Authors in Florida

Release day for The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress, book two of the Dukes of War regency romance series

Release day for Premiere, a collection of romantic tales from Romance Writers of America

Release day for The Earl’s Defiant Wallflower, book one of the Dukes of War regency romance series

Release day for The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation, prequel to the Dukes of War regency romance series

Tempted By His Touch stays on the USA TODAY BESTSELLER LIST for a second week

Tempted By His Touch hits the USA TODAY BESTSELLER LIST

Erica and nine other historical romance writers release Tempted By His Touch, a limited edition boxed set of ten full novels by ten great authors for only 99¢

Release day for DARK SURRENDER, the second Passion & Promises standalone romance

Erica presents a romance workshop at the Florida Writers Conference in Orlando, FL

Release day for LET IT SNOW, the first Passion & Promises standalone romance

Release day for MIDWINTER MAGIC, written under the Katie Spark pseudonym


Release day for TIS THE SEASON

Erica launches new Facebook Page

Release day for CHARMED (aka Love, Lust, & Pixie Dust), written under the Katie Spark pseudonym

Week-long writing retreat in beautiful Costa Rica with fellow authors Karen Rose, Emma Locke, Courtney Milan, Elissa Wilds, Melody Monroe, and Wendi Darlin

Erica Ridley and Diana Cosby go to Lady Jane’s Salon in New York City to read from our vampire romance anthology BORN TO BITE

Release day for BORN TO BITE with Erica Ridley, Diana Cosby, and Hannah Howell

Erica autographs copies of TOO SINFUL TO DENY at the RWA literacy signing in New York City

Release day for TOO SINFUL TO DENY! Launch parties in Tampa, FL and Elkhart, IN.

Erica launches 1813 Unauthorized Scandalsheet with chances to win a free autographed advance copy, and the infamous online Regency Pirate Translator

Erica will be autographing and reading from TOO WICKED TO KISS at Lady Jane’s Salon in New York City! (Manhattan)

Erica autographs copies of TOO WICKED TO KISS at the RWA National Literacy Signing in Orlando, FL

Erica signs at the Annual Readers Luncheon in Portland, OR, the Chicago Spring Fling in Deerfield, IL, and at Barnes & Noble in South Bend, IN!

Release day for TOO WICKED TO KISS! Launch party in Tampa, FL and a multi-author group signing in Carrolwood, FL.

The Earl’s Defiant Wallflower

Dukes of War Series #2

Oliver York returns from war to find his father dead, his finances in arrears, and himself the new Earl of Carlisle. If he doesn’t marry an heiress—and fast!—he and his tenants are going to be pitching tents down by the Thames. He definitely shouldn’t be trading kisses with a penniless debutante… no matter how captivating she is!

Miss Grace Halton is in England just long enough to satisfy the terms of her dowry. But a marriage of convenience isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. Back in America, her ailing mother needs medicine only Grace’s dowry can afford. Which means the dashing earl she can’t get out of her mind is the one man she can’t let into her heart.

Regency-set Historical Romance Novel

Grab the audiobook on: Audible | iTunes | Amazon

Join the official Dukes of War Reader Group!

Download a free excerpt: epub | mobi | pdf

The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation

Dukes of War series #1: FREE at all retailers! (ebook)

Certain individuals might consider Lady Amelia Pembroke a managing sort of female, but truly, most people would be lost without her help. Why, the latest on-dit is that rakish Viscount Sheffield is canceling the fête of the year because he hasn’t time for silly soirees. He doesn’t need time—he needs her!

When a flash of lightning destroys the venue for his family’s annual Christmas ball, Lord Benedict Sheffield intends to enjoy a relaxing holiday for once. But after twelve days of beguiling Lady Amelia’s guerrilla tactics, he’s up to his cravat with tinsel…and tumbling head over heels in love.

Regency-set Historical Romance

Audiobook: Audible | iTunes | Amazon

Join the official Dukes of War Reader Group!

Download a free excerpt: epub | mobi | pdf

Dark Surrender


Violet Whitechapel committed an unspeakable crime to save a child. To escape the hangman’s noose, she takes refuge in a crumbling abbey with secrets darker than her own. When its master offers her a temporary post, Violet cannot say no. Just as she begins to see him in a new light, her past catches up to her and endangers them all.


Alistair Waldegrave keeps his daughter imprisoned in the black heart of his Gothic abbey. As he searches for a cure to the disease the villagers call demonic, his new governess brings much needed light into their lives. But how can the passion between them survive the darkness encroaching from outside their sheltered walls?

Regency-set Gothic Historical Romance Novel

Download a free excerpt: epub | mobi | pdf