The Last of Lady Lansdown, a Regency Romance by Shirley Kennedy

lansdown_medalThe Last of Lady Lansdown (ISBN: 978-1-60381-818-6, $15.95, 308 pp.), is the newest Regency Romance by Shirley Kennedy, who has published several novels in that genre with Ballantine and Signet.

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**ALSO AVAILABLE IN KINDLE**

GOLD Winner in the romance category of the 2013 Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards

5 Cups of Coffee! (Highest Rating): “A unique story of high society in Regency Britain. Unlike most Regencies in which a hero moves up in society based on newly-acquired wealth, Douglas who is a younger son of a noble family, descends into the depths of the working class to expiate his sins. The evolution of Lady Lansdown from traditional society matron is believable and heart-warming. From the trials of a tenant family to Lord Rennie’s hopeless love for a society miss, Kennedy’s secondary characters jump off the page. Altogether, The Last of Lady Lansdown is a super read and a definite keeper.”  Read more …

–Rita, Coffee Time Romance and More

“I could not put this book down. It is exactly the type of book that urges me to run to my nearest book store and search for anything else written by the author. I have, without a doubt, found a new favorite author in the romance genre. Everything about this book flowed smoothly and effortlessly. The characters drew me in immediately. I was hooked to the story and found myself sitting on edge, quite often. The relationship between Jane and Douglas is sexy in ways that pull you to them through their dialogue and flirting. The heat is evident and the attraction, undeniable.”  Read more ….

–Tiffany Schlarman for Reader Views

“Shirley Kennedy has written a refreshing, entertaining novel and has created a likeable heroine and hero the reader will miss when the book is ended.”

Historical Novel Society

“I loved the controversy in the book between the family and the countess. It made me feel like I was in the story. I think Douglas should have just asked her to marry him and then things wouldn’t have been so difficult. Well written and I enjoyed the entire book.”

–The Pen and Muse

“This is a warm and enjoyable Regency romance starring two likable protagonists … Readers will relish the plot as Jane struggles between her countess image and a chance for love.”

–Harriet Klausner

In the dawn of the Regency era in Northern England, precious few mourn the sudden and shocking passing of the Earl of Lansdown. Certainly not Jane Elton, the young and beautiful widow whose life he made a misery. After her initial relief, Jane must contend with an unexpected and devastating reality: because she is childless, she and her family must descend several rungs down the social ladder. One hope remains. Could she be pregnant? A son would inherit; otherwise the title and estate will go to the Earl’s slightly younger twin brother, his greedy wife, and many unpleasant offspring. Jane must also contend with the unrealistic hopes of her bitter and ambitious mother and dowerless sister. Enter Douglas Cartland, a notorious rake with a tragic past. During these first months of widowhood, Jane’s conduct must be above reproach, but she cannot keep her distance. Especially when Cartland contrives to turn up everywhere she looks. Is Cartland really the scoundrel everyone believes him to be? Will Jane forfeit her title, her family’s fortunes and her reputation for the sake of forbidden desire? Fate—and Cartland—have many surprises in store.

Says Kennedy, “Although the Regency period lasted only a short time, I, like many authors, am drawn to those fascinating years in British history. In Lady Semple’s Secret I explored the sad plight of servants. In Three Wishes for Miss Winthrop my plot involved a cruel judicial system in which hanging was the punishment for over 200 offenses. In my latest release, The Last of Lady Lansdown, the complex rules of inheritance result in suspense, conflict, and a whole lot of problems for my heroine. The complex code of manners and morals, the writers and poets, fabulous fashions, and captivating historical characters provide limitless inspiration for the novelist.”

Shirley Kennedy has published Regency romances for both Ballantine and Signet. Born and raised in Fresno, California, she has lived in Colorado, Texas, California, Bogota (Colombia) and Calgary (Alberta, Canada), where she earned a BS in Computer Sciences. Before returning to her first love, writing, she worked as a computer programmer/systems analyst for several years. Shirley currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada where she belongs to The Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Las Vegas Writers Group. Her historical romance Heartbreak Trail was published by Camel Press in 2011. Click here to find Shirley online.

The Last of Lady Lansdown is available in a 5×8 trade paperback at select Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores as well as online at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, and Amazon Japan. It is also available in Kindle. Bookstores and libraries can order through Ingram or by contacting info@camelpress.com. Libraries can also purchase books through Follett Library Resources and Midwest Library Service.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

With the swiftness of a snake, his arm shot out and grabbed her foot. With one swift tug, he pulled her shoe off and cradled her foot in his hand. “Trying not to awake my base desires? You know how men are.” He gave a devilish grin. “Who knows? One more glimpse of your ankle and I might not have been able to contain myself. You could have been ravished on the spot.”

Despite herself, she started to laugh. “You are outrageous.” She tugged at her foot,which he still held tightly. “Unhand me.”

“Don’t you mean, unfoot me?”

She laughed harder. “Just give me my foot back.”

“Not just yet. Hmmm…” He directed his attention to her foot, holding the heel in one hand and lightly tracing his fingers over the top with the other. “Do you realize, my dear countess, you may have the most beautiful foot in all of England? Small…slender…beautifully arched.” He shook his head in regret. “What a pity it’s enclosed in ugly black.” He gazed up at her. “What is the latest fashion in mourning these days? Are you all in black? Dress, shoes, stockings…does that also include your drawers?”

She should be outraged, appalled, but she wasn’t. In fact, she could not suppress a giggle. If he thought she would act like a squeamish schoolgirl, he was mistaken. She grew serious and shot a cool gaze at him. “You, sir, are no gentleman.”

“Did I not just finish telling you that?” He cupped her foot with both hands, obviously in no hurry to let go. “Lean back and close your eyes.”

“I shall do no such thing.”

“Yes, you will. Foot massage is an excellent way to relax. You need to have your eyes closed.”

She closed her eyes.

He began rubbing her foot slowly, the warmth of his hands penetrating through her stocking. A delicious, tingling feeling spread along the sole of her foot from her toes to the back of her heel. The more he rubbed, the better it felt. His fingers slid to her toes where he began massaging. Ummthat felt good. She leaned her head back against the tree trunk, thinking she really ought to tell him to stop, and she would…in just a little while. So good. Too good. His fingers moved again. This time his thumbs massaged in a tantalizing circling motion over her arch. “How does that feel?”

She opened her eyes. “Not bad.” Perhaps it was the warmth of the sun on her face, or maybe the brandy spreading its magical comfort throughout her insides. Whatever it was, she had never felt so relaxed in her life or so utterly powerless. He continued the massage. Do not let him get above your ankle, a little voice inside her warned. If his hands slid higher, what would she do? She didn’t know. All she knew was, nothing had ever felt so good. She closed her eyes again, wondering what she would do if his hands roamed higher. Surely they would. He was a man, wasn’t he? She would stop him when the time came but right now…

It took her a moment to realize his hands had dropped away. Her eyelids flew open. He was looking at her, his eyes sharp and assessing, as if he knew exactly what she’d been thinking. “That’s enough for one day.” He reached for her shoe. “I’ll do the other foot next time.”

“No, you will not.” What on earth had she been thinking? She, who had just vowed her independence, who had decided never again to bow to the dominance of any man on earth. Not only that, she could guess what Sir Archibald would say. “There will not be a next time.” She grabbed the shoe from his hand and slipped it on. Standing quickly, she busily brushed at her skirt. “I must get back. I’ve been gone much too long.”

In silence, they cleared up the remains of the picnic, storing them back in Douglas’ saddle bag. She untied Beauty and led her back to the path.

“Need a leg up?”

Without thinking, she responded, “I can do it myself.” How could she? She had no mounting block. If she were dressed in something light, she could possibly gather her strength and sling herself over the horse, but her bombazine mourning gown was anything but light. “All right then, I need help.”

Keeping a very straight face, he bent and laced his fingers together. She placed her foot in his clasp, her hand on his shoulder. “Ready.”

“Up you go, Your Ladyship,” he said in a teasing tone. She seated herself firmly in her saddle. “I shall be gone a couple of days, but when I come back, we shall go riding again.”

From atop Beauty, she gazed down at him. She liked what she saw: his compelling brown eyes so full of life, the set of his chin that suggested a stubborn streak, the humorous lines around his mouth. She liked his massive, self-confident presence, too. In fact, what about him was there not to like?

Plenty. Whatever attraction she might feel for Douglas Cartland must end right here. “I cannot go riding with you, ever again. In fact, because of certain circumstances, I should not be riding at all.”

“You mean, in case you’re carrying the earl’s child.” His reply was so matter-of-fact it took a moment for his shocking words to sink in.

“Ladies do not discuss those matters.”

“Unfortunately, they don’t—not in this shallow, artificial society,” he countered with a gleam in his eye. “What a shame pregnancy and birth are not to be discussed except behind closed doors. They are both in truth natural events, more to be celebrated than censored.”

She could see his point but had no wish to argue. “Be that as it may, I won’t be riding for a while, not with you or anyone else.” Wanting to move away, she flicked the reins, but he held fast to Beauty’s harness.

“How do you feel? Do you want the child?”

Strangely, no one had asked her that question before. She should remain silent, yet she wished to answer because she sensed his genuine concern. “There are many reasons why my family would rejoice if I had a child. We could continue to live in Chatfield Court. Millicent could have her dowry…all sorts of good things. Whereas, if I am not with child, our lives will be rather bleak. On the other hand,” she pondered, biting her lips, “do I wish to carry the offspring of a man I despised? No, I do not. Now, let go of the harness.”

He complied, and she flicked the reins again. Beauty leaped away, carrying her back down the trail in a satisfying, soothing gallop.

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