Friday, September 14, 2018

Jilted Brides Trilogy by Cheryl Holt ~ Guest post & Giveaway

Stuck In Books welcomes Cheryl Holt!

My series for 2018 is my new “Jilted Brides” trilogy.  It’s coming on September 20th.  The three books have a linked premise that all three heroines have been jilted at the altar.  The humiliating episode pitches their lives into entirely new directions and right into the arms of my yummy new heroes.

If you haven’t read my books before—or if you have!—they contain all the things readers have grown to love about my books:  fast pacing, larger-than-life characters, deep emotional writing, and lots of shocking plot twists and turns.  I’ve always been hailed as the “International Queen of Villains”, and I have some new, very wicked villains in this series that you can truly love to hate.

I’m releasing the three books together on the same day, so readers can scoop them up and read the whole story without having to wait for the next installment.  The books will be available as print books and e-books.  Mark your calendars!  Coming September 20th!  I’m counting down the days!    

Cheryl Holt is a New York TimesUSA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling author of forty-eight novels.
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.
She is considered to be one of the masters of the romance genre, and her emotional, dramatic, and riveting stories of passion and illicit love have captivated fans around the world. She has won or been nominated for many national awards. For many years, she was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance”, and she’s also revered as “The International Queen of Villains.” She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic Times BOOK Reviews.
Cheryl lives and writes in Hollywood, California.


Josephine Bates only ever wanted to marry and have a home of her own.  At age eighteen, when a handsome suitor swept her off her feet, she believed all her dreams were about to come true.   But he was actually a cad who stole her dowry and jilted her at the altar. Since then, she’s been wary of men and their motives.  She’s accepted the notion that she’ll never escape her dreary, quiet existence, and she’ll most likely live out her days as a spinster…

Peyton Prescott is a ship’s captain in the Royal Navy.  He’s a man of action and adventure, and his years have been filled with danger and excitement.  But his brother has died, so he’s inherited a title and earldom he never sought or wanted. He’s afraid his new position will force him to abandon the thrilling life he loves, and he’s loafing in England, feeling landlocked and desperate to return to the sea.  He’d give anything for a diversion, and when pretty, lonely Josephine crosses his path, he’s fascinated and can’t resist…

But Peyton isn’t looking for a bride, and Josephine could never be interested in a handsome, dashing scoundrel.  Yet as friendship blossoms and passion flares, can love be far behind? 


CHERYL HOLT continues to delight readers with the thrilling, dramatic second novel in her Jilted Brides trilogy…

Winifred Watson grew up as the only daughter of a decorated war hero. When he died suddenly, she was shocked to learn that he was bankrupt and she lost everything to pay his final debts.  She’d hoped to wed her fiancé—a steady, handsome man who would have guided her through the tumult of her father’s death.  But when her penury was revealed, her fickle betrothed jilted her at the altar. His treacherous conduct pitched her into a downward spiral that she can’t seem to halt…

John Dunn escaped his dreary home by joining the army when he was sixteen.  He loved his years as a soldier and planned to dedicate the remainder of his life to King and country.  But he was swept into a scandal and drummed out of the service. He’s returned to his family’s isolated, dreary castle on the Cornwall coast, but it’s the one spot on the globe he vowed to never visit again.  He’s bitter, raging, and eager for a diversion from his pathetic situation…

When Winifred arrives, demanding shelter and assistance, John isn’t inclined to provide any help.  But she’s pretty, intriguing, and in desperate need of a knight in shining armor. How can he resist?


CHERYL HOLT delivers the delightful, emotional, and stunning conclusion to her Jilted Brides trilogy…

Amelia Boyle has always viewed herself as an extremely modest and moral woman. But after suffering a string of personal catastrophes, she went a bit wild and made several reckless decisions. Her spurt of excess culminated in her becoming engaged to a man she barely knew. When he promptly jilted her at the altar, the cruel act yanked her to her senses. She’s been forced to admit she has frivolous tendencies, and she vows to never let them flare again.

James Hastings loves his life in the army, and he doesn’t plan to ever retire. He’s a confirmed bachelor who spends his days around active, tough men who are proud to serve King and country. He’s not interested in marriage or settling down, and he has no time for women and no patience for flirtation.

But when Amelia stumbles into his dull, boring world, she turns it upside down, and it gradually dawns on him that he might not be able to live without her. Amelia has sworn off romance though and has other plans that don’t include binding herself to a handsome, dashing soldier. Can James convince her that he might be precisely who and what she needs to be happy?

“You look lovely.”
“Thank you.”
Winifred Watson, called Winnie by her acquaintances, smiled wanly at her fiancé, Holden Cartwright.  His comment was appreciated, but he was being gracious rather than truthful.  He was trying to cheer her, but he hadn’t succeeded.
They were seated side by side in his carriage, but before leaving her house for the church, she’d dawdled in front of the mirror to assess her pathetic condition.
It was her wedding day, so she was wearing her prettiest blue gown, the matching slippers that went with it.  As adornment, she’d added the sapphire necklace and earrings her father had previously given her as a birthday gift. 
Her blond hair was curled and braided, and her maid had weaved flowers from the garden into it.  Outwardly, she appeared fetching and elegant, like the daughter of the rich gentleman she’d grown up assuming herself to be, but the gown and the styled hair couldn’t conceal the worry in her blue eyes or the pallor in her cheeks.
Her father—famous and renowned army veteran, Sir Walford Watson—had died three weeks prior, and since then, anxiety had been her constant companion.  It was taking a definite toll.  Her mother had died too, when she was a baby, and she didn’t have any siblings.  There was just a distant cousin, and that was the extent of her relatives, so she didn’t have any kin to advise her during such a painful period.
There were only lawyers and bankers, and they never delivered any good news.       
Fortunately, she had Holden standing with her, so she wasn’t alone. 
With her being just seventeen, she and Sir Walford had originally decided to wait a few years before they started pursuing suitors and matrimony, but Holden had burst into their life and changed their minds.
Holden was fun and charming, handsome and interesting, and theirs had been a whirlwind romance.  They could have wallowed in a lengthy, pointless courtship, but when they were so attuned, it had seemed ridiculous to delay. 
When Holden had proposed, her father had acquiesced immediately.  She was glad and grateful that he’d bound Holden to her.  After he’d dropped dead at his favorite club in London, Holden had been her rock, an anchor who’d provided steadfast support so she wasn’t adrift.
To her great relief, he’d suggested they move up the wedding.  Sir Walford had been such a vibrant, commanding figure, and she couldn’t imagine how she’d carry on without him.  She was eager to attach herself to Holden, to let him be in charge—as her father had always been in charge.   
Holden was nearly a decade older than she was, and he was prudent, wise, and very mature.  He had strong shoulders that she could lean on as she maneuvered to the end of her dreadful ordeal.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied.  “Are you?”
“I’ve been ready for this forever.”
She felt exactly the same.  From the instant they’d met, it seemed as if Fate had brought them together, and with Sir Walford’s premature demise, he’d arrived when she needed him the most. 
“You’re about to be Mrs. Holden Cartwright,” he said.  “I can hardly believe it.”
“Your bachelor days are over, Mr. Cartwright.  What do you think of that?”
“I think I’m very lucky.”
He dipped in and kissed her on the cheek, and she smiled again, this one firmer and more robust.
“I’m happy,” she said.  “Is it wrong that I am?”
He scoffed.  “No, Winnie.  You’re allowed to be happy today.”
“Father is so recently buried.  It seems…inappropriate, I guess.”
“Sir Walford wouldn’t like you to be sad at your wedding.”
“It’s what I keep telling myself.  Do you suppose he’ll be watching from Heaven?”
“I’m sure he will be.”
Holden patted her hand in a gentle way that made her want to weep.  
They were in London, at Holden’s church.  He’d convinced his vicar to perform a quick ceremony, and he’d obtained a Special License so they could hold it at once.  Winnie would admit to being a bit irked by the swiftness with which she’d become a bride, and by the venue where it would occur, but it was silly to be annoyed. 
She was an adult now, and she could have countered any of his ideas, but in her present morose state, it was easier to consent rather than bicker.  It was just that Sir Walford’s death had left her dizzy and disoriented, as if the world was spinning too fast and she couldn’t find her balance.  She was certain—after the vows were spoken and she had a ring on her finger—her perception of vertigo would pass.
Yet she couldn’t deny she’d have liked to marry at her village in the country, at the church where she’d attended services ever since she was a little girl, but her vicar was very traditional, and he’d balked at the prospect of a hasty wedding.
He’d angrily counseled her to exhibit the proper respect for her beloved father, to spend a full year in mourning as was required of a daughter.  He’d declined to officiate unless the correct processes were observed.  Winnie and Holden couldn’t bear to wait, so they were in London and about to tie the knot in front of strangers. 
There would be no neighbors or servants sitting in the pews, no grinning cousins or decrepit aunties nodding their approval as she walked down the aisle.  And of course, there would be no Sir Walford to escort her to her husband. 
There would just be her and Holden and no one else.  His family lived in Scotland, so there had been no time for any of them to travel to England.
“It’s almost eleven,” he said.  “The vicar is probably wondering where we are.”
He reached for the door, but she stopped him.
“I need a minute more,” she said.  “I have to confide something grim, and it’s difficult.”
He studied her, his gaze sympathetic.  “What is it, Winnie?  You look positively deflated.”
“I’m sorry, but I’ve had some awful news from Mr. Dobson.”
He groaned.  “That old codger?  I told you to ignore him.”
Mr. Dobson was her father’s banker, and she’d had several tense, frightening meetings with him.  He’d brusquely shattered her illusions about the future.  Initially—with massive encouragement from Holden—she’d derided his stories about her fiscal situation, but she wasn’t a dunce.  She’d received an excellent education, and she couldn’t argue with hard numbers. 
She and her father had carried on like royalty, and she’d been raised like a princess.
Sir Walford had earned his fortune while in the army in India.  He’d been a national hero who’d committed many famous exploits, and he’d taken advantage of his position and renown.  He’d acted as if his wealth was unlimited, but he didn’t have a good head for money, and he hadn’t noted how rapidly it was being frittered away. 
Mr. Dobson had constantly warned him to behave better, but the advice had been disregarded.  For decades, Sir Walford had staved off an economic reckoning by borrowing and mortgaging—over and over—until there wasn’t a single possession left unencumbered. 
He’d died penniless, so she was penniless too.  Even her dowry—the one Holden was expecting to be his—was squandered.  There would have to be an estate sale with every item—right down to the forks in the drawers—sold to square Sir Walford’s debts. 
Holden was aware of Mr. Dobson’s scathing attitude about her father, and he’d mocked the dire tidings and declared Dobson an elderly worrywart.  Because she’d been desperate to believe Holden over Mr. Dobson, she’d latched on to his derision and had adopted it for her own.  But she couldn’t continue to pretend. 
She should have visited Holden the prior evening to reveal the enormity of the debacle.  Or when he’d arrived at her town home to convey her to the chapel, she should have bluntly explained.  She was a coward though and had been terrified to confess her reality, terrified he would cry off.  Then where would she be?
Holden was very fond of her, wasn’t he?  He always claimed he was, and she had no reason to suppose he wasn’t sincere in his affection.  Circumstances couldn’t dampen their bond.  He wouldn’t leave her in the lurch merely because she was suffering financial difficulties.
“I should have talked to you about this back at the house,” she said.
“Well, we’re talking now.  Supply me with the shortened version so we can get inside.  I refuse to miss my own wedding.”
It was just the type of comment she was anxious to hear.  “My appointment with Mr. Dobson was very disconcerting.”
“I wish you wouldn’t let him upset you.  He’s not worth it, Winnie, and you shouldn’t have met with him alone.  I won’t have him browbeating you when I’m not there.”
“He’s been telling me the truth, Holden.  He brought in some men who showed me their ledger books.  I’m going to lose everything.”
Time seemed to halt as he froze, his expression confused as if she was babbling in a foreign language he didn’t understand.
“Define everything,” he ultimately said.
“Sir Walford was a gambler who borrowed and spent what he didn’t have.  He had numerous huge mortgages, and because of his reputation, the bank allowed his payments to lapse, but now that he’s deceased, they’re finished being generous.  They want their money, and they intend to foreclose.”
“You’re his daughter!” Holden huffed.  “What are they planning?  Will they kick you out on the road?”
“I’m afraid they might.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he firmly stated.  “No one will kick you out.  I’ll speak to Dobson in the morning and fix this straight away.”
“I doubt you can.  He was quite adamant.”
“What about your dowry?  We’ll still have that, won’t we?  It’s a substantial sum, so we don’t need the house or the property.  They can take it all and good riddance.  We’ll be fine on those funds.”
She glanced away, her cheeks heating with shame.  “I’ve never had a dowry, Holden.  My father never created one for me.”
“Why was he always bragging about the size of it?“  He scowled ferociously.  “I won’t accept such a false narrative.  This is Sir Walford we’re discussing.  He wouldn’t have behaved that way toward you—and Dobson is a liar.”
“Please tell me this doesn’t matter to you,” she said.  “I’m so scared you’ll forsake me.”
“I could never forsake you, Winnie.  Let’s go in and repeat our vows, and you’ll learn how committed I am.”
“All right.”
Tears flooded her eyes, and he drew a kerchief from his coat and dabbed at them.  She was calmed by the gesture, relieved by the gesture.  He would guide her through the approaching months and years, and his unwavering devotion would make the pummeling seem less severe. 
Besides, the loss of her assets wasn’t exactly a calamity.  His family was rich, and his brother had his own estate across the border in Scotland.  If worse came to worst, they could travel north and stay with him for a bit until they sorted out her fiscal predicament.  She needn’t worry.
Holden climbed out of the carriage, and he reached up and helped her out too.  The day had started out cloudy and rainy, but the sky had cleared, and it was sunny and bright.
In his gray wedding suit, he looked handsome and dapper.  His golden-blond hair appeared to glow, and his green eyes were sensitive and warm.  He stared at her as if she was beautiful and marvelous, and she was swamped by a burning sensation that things would work out for the best.
“Are you ready?” he asked as he had earlier.
“Yes, I’m ready.”
“No more tears.  Promise?”
“No more tears.”
They walked over to the church, and as she scooted into the dark vestibule, he casually inquired, “Are you sure Mr. Dobson was correct about the dowry?”
“Yes, he was very sure.”
He chuckled.  “Well, then, I am sure he’s insane, and I hate that he alarmed you so hideously.”
They peered around, their vision adjusting in the dim light.  The vicar was up by the altar.  He waved at them, and Holden waved back.
“Oh, Winnie,” he suddenly said, “I have a surprise for you, but I left it in the carriage.”
“What is it?”
He grinned.  “If I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise, would it?”
“No, I suppose not.”
“Give me a second to fetch it for you.”
“Hurry, please.  I don’t want to keep the vicar waiting.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
He urged her into the rear pew, then he winked and strolled outside. 
She peeked over her shoulder to watch him leave, the door slowly swinging shut behind him.  And she continued to watch, for a minute—then another and another and another and another—but he never returned. 
Eventually, she stood and went out to discover what had delayed him, but the carriage was gone—and he was gone.
She never saw him again.
Three years later…

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  1. Hi everyone! Thank you so much for logging on to read more about my new Jilted Brides trilogy. It's coming in 6 days! Whew! It was long, exhausting year of work for me, and I'm so glad everyone will finally have a chance to read the novels. I think they're really fun. This is a big year for me. I'm celebrating my 50th novel. I hope all of you will celebrate with me. Thank you again for taking the time to learn more about my new books. I'm always grateful for you kind attention!

    1. Thank you for being with us today on Stuck In Books.

  2. Thank you for hosting me, Valerie! I'm grateful!