Friday, April 25, 2014

Reluctant Brides Scavenger Hunt & Blog Tour

New York Times bestselling author, CHERYL HOLT, delights readers once again with the first sizzling story in her new “Reluctant Brides” trilogy… 

Rose Ralston has spent her life at Miss Peabody’s School for Girls—first as a student, then as a teacher. But with Miss Peabody’s passing, the school has been closed, the students sent away, and Rose is facing an uncertain future. As Miss Peabody’s will is read, Rose had been told to expect a small bequest, but she’s stunned to discover that her inheritance is a dowry that’s already been paid to an elderly widower. The man is in quick need of an heir, and Rose can agree to wed or she’ll get nothing and will have no money and nowhere to go. She’s never lived on her own, and without family or friends to assist her, she’s out of options. Reluctantly, she agrees to the marriage and heads off to the man’s Summerfield estate.

James Talbot grew up at Summerfield. But as an orphan, his position was never exactly clear. The owner, Stanley Oswald, constantly tormented James with the secrets of his parentage. Rumors abound that he’s Stanley’s natural-born son, but the truth has been impossible to unravel. Needing to escape Stanley’s manipulations, James has spent the past decade in the army. But Stanley has lured him home, and when James learns of Stanley’s pending marriage, he can’t help but be intrigued. He’s eager to engage in a little mischief, and nothing would give him greater pleasure than to ruin the match before it begins. 

Rose is fascinated by handsome, virile James, but bound to wed elderly, decrepit Stanley. As Stanley woos her and James interferes, any wild ending seems possible. For Rose—who only ever wanted a home of her own—she just might end up with more than she ever dreamed. 

RELUCTANT BRIDES… When love is the key and dowry the bait, who can predict what a woman might do?


Stuck in Books - April 25th


The man unfolded himself from the chair.  He was six feet tall at least, broad shouldered, trim and fit and vigorous, his skin bronzed from the sun, as if he labored strenuously to earn his living.  But his clothes were sewn from an expensive fabric, his boots obviously expensive too, so he wasn’t a working man.
Who was he?  What was he?  If the room was actually his as he kept claiming, he had the superior right to occupancy, so he resided in the house and she’d constantly be bumping into him.  The thought of him being on the premises, of having to see him day after day, was more than she could abide.
He came toward her, approaching deliberately, like an African lion stalking its prey.  She should have shrieked with alarm and fled, but still, she felt no sense of menace.  Clearly, he was trying to scare her, to intimidate her, and in some intuitive part of her being, she realized that she shouldn’t let him rattle her.
He continued until they were toe-to-toe.  He was standing so close that his thigh touched hers, and she was frozen in place, having no clue as to what he intended or what she should do.  A more volatile female probably would have slapped his face and accused him of misconduct, but she’d never been keen on theatrics and couldn’t imagine she’d pull it off with any aplomb.
He leaned in, forcing her to take a step back so he had her pressed against the doorframe.  She’d never been so near to an adult male—certainly never in such a state of dishabille—and there was an odd and unnoted brazenness flowing in her. 
It dawned on her that she wasn’t concerned about being undressed, didn’t care that her hair was down and brushed out, didn’t care that he was gazing at her in a way that shouldn’t be allowed.
She wasn’t afraid of him and refused to be frightened.  Men were ridiculous creatures, which his boorish behavior had blatantly demonstrated.
“You must be the blushing bride,” he said.
“If you mean that I am here to marry Mr. Oswald, then yes.  I’ve come to marry him.”
He nodded shrewdly, as if assessing her for an ulterior, furtive purpose. 
“Are you sure you should?” he asked.
“That I should what?  Marry?”
“No, I’m not sure at all,” she bluntly admitted.  “But I’m a woman who keeps her word.  I agreed to the match, and I shall follow through.”
“You’re awfully pretty.”  He smiled a lazy, devil’s smile.  “But you’re awfully old to be a bride.”
“I’m only twenty-five,” she huffed.
“How is it that no other fellow has snatched you up?  How did you end up a spinster and having to settle for Stanley Oswald?  Are you a secret drunkard?  Are you a harpy?  Why haven’t you wed?”
“As far as I’m aware, I have no bad habits.”
“Every female has some.”
“Not me,” she insisted.  “I’m boring and ordinary, and I haven’t married because no one ever asked me.”
“So lucky Stanley swooped in before anyone else had a chance?”
“Yes, and I’m not usually so crass, but I find you to be extremely rude, and I’ve been more than courteous.  Will you please go away?”
His grin widened.  “You should be nicer to me.”
“I’ve been plenty nice.  In fact, I’ve been much too nice, and you’ve drained all my kinder impulses.”
“Have I?”
“Yes.  Now go.”
He tarried for the longest while, studying her, his blue, blue eyes digging deep.
She’d never been so thoroughly evaluated, and the sensation was thrilling in a way she didn’t understand.  She was warm all over, her pulse racing, the throbbing beat pounding in her stomach.  Her nipples had tightened into taut, painful buds.
To her astonishment, he reached out and laid a hand on her waist.  With her wearing just the thin robe, it felt as if he was touching her, bare skin to bare skin.  Her pulse hammered at an even faster clip.
Cunning and intent, he seemed driven to do…something, and for a wild, shocking moment, she thought he might kiss her.  There was a strange charge in the air as if any behavior might suddenly be permitted.
Then he stepped away.  A spark of energy had flared between them, and it sizzled out immediately.
“I’ll see you at supper.”  He hurled the remark like a threat.
“I’m having a tray sent up to my room.”
“Pity.”  He extracted a key from his coat and offered it to her.  “You’d better keep this and use it.  In this ghastly house, if you don’t lock your door, there’s no telling who might sneak in.”
She grabbed the key and flashed her most stern schoolteacher’s frown.
“Goodbye, Mr. Talbot.”
“Not goodbye,” he said.  “We’ll be together soon—and often.”  He spun and started out, muttering to himself, “This is going to be so amusing.”
The comment aggravated her.  He aggravated her, and though she should have kept her mouth shut, she couldn’t help saying, “Mr. Talbot?”
He glanced over his shoulder.  “Yes?”
“Who exactly are you, and what is your position at Summerfield?”
“Me?  Why, I’m no one at all.  But trust me, we’re about to become very closely acquainted.”
He left, and she staggered over to the bed, waited a few seconds as she listened to his boots stomping down the hall.  Then she rushed to the door and turned the key in the lock, double-checking to make sure it fit and that it worked.

Cheryl Holt is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thirty-nine novels. She's also an Amazon "Top 100" author.

She's also a lawyer and mom, and at age 40, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer. She'd hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn't sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance, where she was stunned to discover that she has an incredible knack for writing some of the world's greatest love stories.

Her books have been released to wide acclaim, and she has won or been nominated for many national awards. She is particularly proud to have been named "Best Storyteller of the Year," by the trade magazine, Romantic Times BOOK Reviews.

Her hot, sexy, dramatic stories of passion and illicit love have captivated fans around the world, and she's celebrated as the Queen of Erotic Romance, which is currently the fastest selling subgenre of women's fiction. Due to the ferociousness of some of her characters, she's also known as the International Queen of Villains.

She received degrees in music, languages, and education, from South Dakota State University, and her juris doctorate was obtained at the University of Wyoming. Her colorful and chaotic employment history includes such variety as public school teacher, cook, bartender, lobbyist, and political activist. She also did brief stints in metro-Denver as a deputy district attorney and administrative law judge.

Cheryl lives and writes in Hollywood, California.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other Stops on the Blog Tour:

Be My Bard - April 21st
Manic Readers - April 22nd
Night Owl Reviews - April 23rd
Susana’s Parlour - April 24th
Stuck in Books - April 25th
Romancing the Book - April 28th
My Life, One Story at a Time - April 29th
Reader’s Entertainment - April 30th
Novels Alive TV - May 1st


  1. I do want to read this series of feisty reluctant brides!

  2. I love reading romances set in history...with supposed gentlemen and ladies.
    Looking forward to reading this series.

  3. Love , Love reading romance history

  4. Congrats to Cheryl on the new release!! It looks and sounds fantastic :)

  5. Added on Goodreads. Can't wait.

  6. Looks like a good series. I love all the covers!

  7. Great excerpt! Mr. Talbot sounds very sexy indeed! I bet he ends up sneaking in her room! Thanks for sharing :)

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

  8. This sounds really good! It'd be interesting to see her dynamic with Stanley, an elderly man, and James someone closer to her age. Plus I love a good historical romance!

  9. This looks quite the romantic series! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Sounds like an amazing read!!
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  11. Miss Peabody does not sound like she was a very nice person. Would love to read this.