Duke With Benefits EXCERPT BLITZ!!

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Duke With Benefits will be released later this month (June 27th) and after reading the first book in the series (Ready Set Rogue) I can’t wait to read this one!! You’ll also see my review of this book later this month. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, and a short author bio!  

SUMMARY

Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher—an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches—Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on. . .and cannot resist.

Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest. . .and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Manda CollinsManda Collins is the author of several books, including Ready Set Rogue and The Lords of Anarchy series. She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.

EXCERPT

51hiXwy2TSL“There you are, my dear,” said the Earl of Forsyth with a beaming smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

Maitland saw at once that Daphne favored him. Her green eyes were the same shade as his, though there were lines of dissipation bracketing the earl’s. And though his expertly cropped blond hair was shot through with silver, what remained of its original color was the same shade as hers. But whereas Daphne’s gaze was focused off to the left of whomever she conversed with, like a bird hovering just over a branch, Forsyth’s speared one with cold calculation. As he did to Daphne now.

“You are looking well, Daphne,” the earl continued, stepping forward to embrace his daughter, who looked as uncomfortable with the contact as Maitland had ever seen her. “The sea air agrees with you. As I knew it would.”

“The sea is very beautiful,” Daphne replied woodenly. “Why are you here, Father?”

“Is that any way to greet your Papa?” the earl chided, stepping back from her and wandering farther into the room, standing to stare out at the gardens below through the window. “I’ve traveled all the way from London to see you. And this lovely estate. I must admit that when I first learned of your inheritance, I thought it was all some sort of trick. But you would have your own way and leave the loving bosom of your family no matter what I said. Now that I’m here, though, and see it in person, I must admit that it’s a lovely spot. And your chaperone, Lady Serena, is quite beautiful, isn’t she? A widow, I take it?”

His jaw clenched at the man’s mention of Serena, and Maitland thought perhaps it was time to announce himself. Daphne seemed not to realize he’d followed her in, and the earl was too busy waxing rhapsodic over the beauties of Beauchamp House.

“I don’t believe we’ve met, Forsyth,” he said forcefully, stepping up to stand side by side with Daphne. He gave a slight bow, perhaps not quite as deep as was warranted, but not caring. “The Duke of Maitland. I am a friend of your daughter’s, you might say.”

What he meant by that last, he could not say, but the man made every bit of protective instinct within him go on the alert. He was her father, but all the same Maitland knew that Daphne was no safer with him than she would have been with Sommersby if he still lived.

At the sound of the duke’s voice, Lord Forsyth turned with almost comical haste from the window and stared. For the barest flicker, he looked angry. Well, if he were upset at the knowledge that his daughter was not without friends, then he would simply have to swallow it. Because Maitland was damned if he’d leave her alone with the fellow.

“Duke,” Lord Forsyth said with a tilt of his head, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I was a friend of your father’s, and had little notion I’d be meeting you here. He was a good man, your father.”

His father had been nothing of the sort, but Maitland was hardly going to discuss it with Forsyth.

“I am here visiting my sister, Lady Serena,” Maitland said coolly, letting the other man know in tone rather than words that he had not appreciated the older man’s speculative words about her earlier. “And of course my cousin, Kerr. He only recently married another of the heiresses here, and resides here with her.”

Forsyth’s eyes narrowed at the implication that Daphne was well protected should her father wish to cause trouble. At least that was the message Maitland was endeavoring to send. And by the looks of it, Forsyth read him loud and clear.

“Capital, capital,” the earl said with false cheer. “A merry party you must all make here. I had no idea you were in such fine company here, Daphne. No notion at all.”

“Because we have not spoken since I left,” Daphne said, looking from her father to Maitland then back again, as if wondering what went on between them. “And now, father, I really must ask you to leave. I have a great deal of work to do and . . .”

“Don’t be absurd, Daphne,” her father said with a shake of his head. “I only just arrived. And there is something very important I must speak to you about.” He turned to Maitland with a raised brow. “I’m sure you’ll excuse us, Duke. I’m afraid what I need to tell my daughter is private family business.”

Maitland was opening his mouth to tell the man he would leave Daphne alone with him when hell froze over, when Daphne did it for him.

“Maitland stays,” she said, reaching out to grasp him by the arm. It was as much of a cry for help as he’d ever thought he’d see from her. Wordlessly, he slipped her arm into his, as if they were about to promenade round the room. He covered her hand with his, keenly aware of the thread of tension in her.

Once more, the earl’s eyes narrowed, and he turned an assessing gaze on Maitland, perhaps realizing for the first time the threat coming at him from that direction.

His jaw clenched, Forsyth said grimly, “Very well. If you wish your friend to witness our dirty linen, so be it.” As if needing to be in motion in order to speak, the earl began to pace the area between the window and the fireplace. “You know, Daphne, you left me without any obvious means of recouping what I lost from years of paying that tutor of yours, old man Sommersby.”

“You agreed to pay him,” Daphne said tightly. “After I threatened to expose . . .”

Hastily, Forsyth continued, “And I am currently in need of funds. As such, I must insist you return to London with me for the time being and meet a particular gentleman who has expressed interest in marrying you. Though his birth is not as high as yours, he’s quite wealthy and will make you a good husband, I trust. He’s assured me he has no concern about your odd ways, if you’re as beautiful as your portrait.”

Before Maitland could burst out with the string of invectives the other man’s pronouncement inspired in him, Daphne said, “I cannot marry this person. I’ve never even met him. You promised me that I would not have to marry someone for money as long as I won enough at the tables. I did so. You promised me, father.”

“I never actually promised, Daphne.” Forsyth said with a shake of his head. “If you chose to interpret it as such, that is not my fault. Now, go pack your things.”

Daphne’s hand on Maitland’s arm gripped him tightly. And before he even knew what he was doing, he said, “I’m afraid that’s impossible, Forsyth. Daphne is staying here.”

“I don’t know who you think you are, Maitland,” said the earl through clenched teeth, “but I am her father, and I am well within my rights to take her back to London. Now, kindly take your hands off of her and let her go pack.”

“It might once have been your right, Forsyth,” Maitland said coldly, “but Lady Daphne is my betrothed now and as such, she will remain here. With me.”

Copyright © 2017 by Manda Collins and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/?index=books&keywords=9781250109880&tag=macmillan-20

B&N: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?EAN=9781250109880&afsrc=1&lkid=J29980420&pubid=K239557&byo=1

BAM: http://www.booksamillion.com/product/9781250109880

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/duke-with-benefits/id1183035057?mt=11%E2%80%9D

Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250109880

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/duke-with-benefits

Powells: http://www.powells.com/partner/33241/biblio/9781250109880

2017 Monthly Status Update: May

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Wow so May was a pretty crazy month. I participated in the Bout of Books 19 reading challenge and I also participated in a couple blog tours. I think I got a lot of reading done considering my work schedule, which exploded this month. I tried my best to keep up but there are a few May releases that I missed and will have to catch up with later this year. So anyways, here is my progress for the month of May!

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 9
# pages read this month: 2,945
# books read year-to-date: 48
# pages read year-to-date: 13,673

Favorite Books I Read:

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda – 4.75 stars
The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert – 4.5 stars

Other Posts this month:

My gosh this was a crazy month for other posts. I had so many fun things going on this month:

Never Trust a Pirate BLOG TOUR!!
The Bad Luck Bride BLOG TOUR!!
Bout of Books 19 – Sign Up Post
Bout of Books 19 Update – Day 1
Bout of Books 19 Update – Day 2
Bout of Books 19 Update – Day 3
Day 4 Challenge: Character Dating Profile
Bout of Books 19 Update – Day 4
Bout of Books 19 Update – Day 5
Bout of Books 19 Update – Day 6
Bout of Books 19 Update & WRAP UP

Status of 2017 Reading Challenges:

  1. Finish 2016 ARC’s from NetGalley that I missed – Haven’t read any since last month so still have 27 to go
  2. Participate in 2 reading challenges – During May I participated in the Bout of Books challenge, see all my posts listed out in the Other Posts category above. Next one is scheduled for August
  3. Other goals:
    1. Write shorter reviews – I think I’m doing better at this, this past month I was able to get out a few shorter ones
    2. Continue establishing relationships – I think I’m doing it, we’ll see how it goes I guess!

Next Month TBR List:

-Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell
-Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford
-Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
-The Whole Art of Detection by Lyndsay Faye
-The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo
-Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
-Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach
-The End of Temperance Dane by Wendy Webb
-Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
-The Party by Robyn Harding
-No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan
-Night Circus by Erin Morgensten
-The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
-Here and Gone by Haylen Beck
-Duke With Benefits by Manda Collins

Bout of Books 19 Update – Day 6

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Day 6 was not my most productive reading day. I had planned to get up early and read before the plans we had with our family but I ended up sleeping in so I only really ended up reading for like an hour before bed. So anyways, my Saturday’s progress is below:

Updates

Saturday
Number of pages I’ve read today: 70
Total number of pages I’ve read: 966
Books read today: I continued reading Mediterranean Caper
Challenges: I did not participate in the Saturday challenge, there just isn’t enough time in the day, and also similar to Friday I didn’t feel like digging through my boxes of books

Today (Sunday) is the last day of the read-a-thon and I spent time volunteering this morning and then spent the afternoon at my little cousin’s First Communion and then having brunch with my family! I am going to try and do some reading now but seeing as how its already almost bedtime I’m not sure how much I’ll get to read. That’s ok though, Happy reading everyone!

Bout of Books 19 Update – Day 4

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I had a really busy work day yesterday and then Kris and I went out to dinner and watched a movie, so I definitely didn’t get to even read for two hours, I’d be surprised if I read for one hour. Luckily today (Friday) I have off so it will be a catch-up day for reading. Anyways, my Thursday’s progress is below:

Updates

Thursday
Number of pages I’ve read today: 30
Total number of pages I’ve read: 580
Books read today: I continued reading The Simplicity of Cider
Challenges: I did the Thursday challenge, which was to create a dating profile for a character from a book. I picked a character from a recent read, Vasya from The Bear and the Nightingale

Today (Friday) I’m home reading and hope to get a lot done. Especially since the upcoming weekend will be such a busy one! Happy reading everyone!

Bout of Books 19 Update – Day 2

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Well Day 2 went better than Day 1. I still had to work but I ended up reading for 3-4 hours (mostly thanks to a devoted reading break after the dentist but before Lions). So my Tuesday’s progress is below:

Updates

Tuesday
Number of pages I’ve read today: 251
Total number of pages I’ve read: 460
Books read today: Continued reading The Perfect Stranger (IT IS SO GOOD)
Challenges: I did the Not a Font challenge for Tuesday, I posted it on Twitter here

I’m hoping to make good progress through the rest of today. Today is a busy workday for me but I spent some time reading before work and will also read before bed. I’m looking forward to a day off on Friday! Happy reading to you all!

DREAM CRATE – LootCrate

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About a month or so ago I learned about a fan-related project being run by Loot Crate. If you haven’t heard about LootCrate, it’s a monthly subscription box. Similar to other subscriptions offered through various sites, it’s based around a theme and filled with various fandom items particular to that theme. Here’s a list of their past boxes and the items. As you can see it varies from crate to crate what kinds of items you’ll receive. What’s also great about LootCrate is that there are a variety of crates to choose from, whether you like gaming, anime, things for your pets, or just a crate filled with items to wear. The variety I think is one of the awesome things about LootCrate since it pretty much has something for everyone. So anyways, Loot Crate has been reaching out to various fans to put together their very own “dream crate,” which would have a particular theme, items, etc., and I have to say I was definitely intrigued. It wasn’t until this past week though when I read If We Were Villains that I was really inspired on what my Dream Crate theme would be!

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

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Like I mentioned, I was really inspired by one of my recent reads, If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. I loved the book and I thought it would be a great addition to a subscription fandom box about William Shakespeare. And since I actually enjoy Shakespeare’s works myself, I thought that this would make for a really interesting “Dream Crate”!! Researching for this crate got to be a little overwhelming because there were just SO MANY things I really wanted to include. I wanted some staple pieces (necklace, candle, etc) but I also wanted to include some interesting pieces that you might not usually find in your average book subscription box. It was really hard to narrow it down, but if I were in charge of crafting the make-up for this crate, this is what I would include:

  1. TWO Books: The first book has to be A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare – This is one of my favorites by Shakespeare and I’ve re-read it over the years. I just love the tongue-in-cheek humor and the two sets of lovers who get all turned around by the fairy’s spells. The second book in this crate would be a recent read for me, If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio – I read this book during March and just loved it. I thought it incorporated Shakespeare so well into the story and it was dark and mysterious and just a great read.
  2. An “A-Z SHakespeare” T-shirt from Woot.com I saw this on Woot one day and thought it was such a cute piece and the little characters on the shirt are so funny.Tshirt
  3. A Romeo and Juliet inspired necklace by LiteraryGiftsUK This piece is just gorgeous and I love that it comes with such a long chain. And the quote is touching.il_570xN.1073964411_fh0k
  4. This funky bracelet with a Macbeth quote made by WickedWordsmithCo I love the shape of this bracelet and the quote on it, this is such an interesting piece. And since Macbeth was so prevalent in the If We Were Villains novel, I thought this piece would pair great with the book as well. il_570xN.819912967_tojc
  5. A light-weight summer scarf with Romeo & Juliet quotes on it from Storiarts I have a different scarf from this company and I love the quality of their products. And I think the summer scarf is really stylish with the ribbon bow. rj_summer_01_580x@2x
  6. This “fandom” candle for A Midsummer Night’s Dream created by PretAGeek –  I love how many new candle places are popping up on the internet that sell candle scents inspired by books. This candle sounds like it would be great, and I’d be interested to see how it would evoke different thoughts on the play it was inspired by. il_570xN.1129020309_ihax
  7. This cat-Shakespeare mug from CatapostropheShop I know this is probably super dorky but I thought this mug was hilarious and adorable. I just wish it came in a different size since I like soup-bowl mugs to fit extra coffee!! il_570xN.1024369029_9alg
  8. And last but not least! I saw these thank you notes by ArteOfTheBooke and I thought they were really nice. I’ve been kind of collecting different designs of thank you cards lately and I thought these would be great and give the person being thanked a bit of a laugh. il_570xN.645749986_or7h

So! That is my DREAM CRATE, inspired by a recent read. Thank you to LootCrate for reaching out to me with this opportunity, I had a lot of fun finding different pieces for my Dream Crate!

2017 Monthly Status Update: March

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Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 15
# pages read this month: 2,722
# books read year-to-date: 28
# pages read year-to-date: 7,156

Favorite Books I Read:

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If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio – 4.5 stars

Other Posts this month:

Last Night with the Duke BLOG TOUR!!
The Enemies of Versailles BLOG TOUR!!
Wine and Cocktails – New Releases!

Status of 2017 Reading Challenges:

  1. Finish 2016 ARC’s from NetGalley that I missed – I got a chance to read one this month, so one down! Only 27 to go
  2. Participate in 2 reading challenges – Scheduled for May and August
  3. Other goals:
    1. Write shorter reviews – I’m trying! I think this past month I was able to get out a few shorter ones
    2. Continue establishing relationships – I think I’m doing it, we’ll see how it goes I guess!

Next Month TBR List:

-Windswept by Sabrina Jeffries (part-way through now)
-My One True Highlander by Suzanne Enoch
-I Sared the Duke by Anna Bennett
-The Lady and the Highlander by Lecia Cornwall
-Geekerella by Ashley Poston
-Hannah’s Moon by John A. Heldt
-The Young Widower’s Handbook by Tom McAllister
-Running With Scissors by Auguston Borroghs
-Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
-The Whole Art of Detection by Lyndsay Faye
-The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo
-Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
-Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach
-The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

That’s the general reading plan. Fortunately, tax/busy season will be ending for me in less than 3 weeks (only 16 more workdays!!!!!!) and then I have about a week and a half off where I will be spending a lot of time reading. So I am hoping to read everything in the list above and maybe catch up on a few other ones I missed in March as well!! Plus my husband and I are taking a couple trips that I’m really looking forward to, including a new quilting retreat in Ogunquit, ME! So stay tuned for some serious reading in April!