Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It's Time for some Royal Romance! by Jenny Gardiner

I'm so excited to let you know I just released book two in the It's Reigning Men series, HEIR TODAY GONE TOMORROW. And book three, BAD TO THE THRONE, is available for pre-order, with the release set for June 29.

If you love a modern royal romance, I think you'll enjoy this story, set in the beautiful fictional European principality of Monaforte.

Here's a sneak peek of HEIR TODAY GONE TOMORROW. Now it's Caroline and Darcy's turn...I hope you enjoy it!

Chapter One
“It was a dark and story night,” Caroline McKenzie typed. Only her m key kept sticking, so instead of stormy, it apparently was story. Whatever that meant. That stuck key was pretty much a metaphor for how this embarrassing attempt to figure out if maybe she could just drop everything in life and be a writer was going.
Ever since Caro’s best friend, Emma Davison, had jumped ship for the small European principality of Monaforte and the gorgeous Prince Adrian who’d lured her there, life had become a distinctly dull shade of gray—and no, not in a way that involved hot men and questionable bondage practices, thank you. Until then, Caro had worked as a photography assistant for Emma while she was figuring out what she wanted to do with her life and had enjoyed a perfectly fine time in her off-hours social life, flitting about like a hummingbird, zipping from flower to flower and drinking tasty nectar.
For her that nectar came in the form of mostly charming, usually handsome, and almost always entirely forgettable men. But now without that job, she really had to decide what she wanted to do with her life and maybe put a lid on that boy-crazy nonsense and start figuring herself out. Considering she was fast approaching thirty with little grand achievement to show for it, it seemed time. At least according to her mother—and latest stepfather and grandmother, and any other blood-ish relative she knew of, come to think of it.
She closed out of her document, putting an end to her fledgling writing career. She figured her time was better spent FaceTiming with Emma, whom she’d been missing something fierce since her friend had closed up her business, packed up her belongings, and departed for a life most people could only dream of. She opened up the app and dialed through.
“Caro! What a pleasant surprise!” Emma said.
“What up, bitch?” Caro replied, sticking out her tongue and then putting her face so close to the screen Emma could see likely every pore on her nose.
“Awww, so glad to see you haven’t changed on me,” Emma said. “I’d bitch you back, but I’m trying to pay attention to decorum—”
“—now that you’re going to be a real-life princess.”
Emma laughed. “Honestly, I still can’t get used to that whole concept. Me! Of all people! Although I suppose if the media can dub Kim Kardashian American royalty—I mean, come on, now, seriously?—I guess anybody can be.”
“Yeah, well, I’m still waiting on my chance,” Caroline said, forcing her lower lip out in a pout.
“Still haven’t heard anything from Darcy?”
Caroline and Darcy Squires-Thornton—the Marquess of Weltenham and Adrian’s best friend and equerry—had seemed to hit it off, well, royally, when Emma and Adrian were getting to know each other, when Emma had helped Adrian flee a forced marriage his mother was trying to impose upon him. Right up until the time Caro hastened Emma off by surprise to Monaforte to be reunited with Adrian. After which Darcy weirded out and turned into a complete and total jerk.
“The guy’s a complete and total jerk. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
Only she did. Big-time.
“Okay, let’s change the subject then.”
“Have you seen him?”
“I thought you said you didn’t want to talk about him!”
“I don’t,” Caroline said, pulling strands of her hair outward and making long, thin braids with her gorgeous, bright red hair. “Maybe I should be a hairdresser?”
“Oh yeah, that would be perfect for you,” Emma said. “You did such a good job frying my hair with a curling iron in college. I had hair sprouts growing out of my scalp for months. I’m still not sure if I’ve forgiven you for that.”
Caroline sighed. “Too late. Now that you’re a princess to be, the slate’s wiped clean. Guess it’s back to the drawing board for moi. My writing career didn’t pan out either.”
“Caroline, you regularly got Cs in English class. And didn’t you drop that creative-writing class your sophomore year?”
“Well, we had a really long paper due,” she said, raising her voice in a whine. “Besides, that was the weekend of that superfun fraternity festival out at that big lodge on the lake. Priorities!”
Emma shook her head. “Oh yeah, I remember. We had to hitch back to town, and it was like ten degrees out, and you kept sticking out your leg to try to attract cars, and then that idiot Bruce Bishop stopped for us—”
“—but he’d been drinking all day long, so we refused to ride with him. And he was so insulted, but he agreed to pull over on the side of the road and we all slept in his tiny two-seater car with the heat blasting, you and me squished together in that one seat, till about five in the morning when the car ran out of gas and the heat died.”
“And then we had to find a tow truck on a Sunday morning, and I think we had about half a bar on our crappy old flip phones, so it took a thousand times trying to get enough of a signal to call someone.”
“Ah, but we lived to tell about it. And then I lived to watch my best friend grow up and have the kick-assiest life imaginable while I lingered here and became a has-been.”
Emma tsk-tsked loudly, wagging her finger at her friend. “Hey, Care. That’s not you talking. You’re no has-been. You’re an up-and-coming. You just haven’t gotten there yet. But in the meantime you’re the most fun friend a girl—or guy—could have.”
Caroline felt tears welling up. “If I’m so fun, then why did that jerkball bail on me just when we were starting to have a great time? Was I that bad in bed?”
“Don’t you mean in beach?” Emma said with a wink.
Caroline and Darcy had sort of PDA’d it after skinny-dipping in twenty-degree weather at the beach in North Carolina where Adrian had holed up, and they had seemed to actually have some potential as a couple. Back then, Emma had been too busy blubbering about her own broken heart once Adrian returned to his real life to worry about Caroline. Besides, Caroline had a reputation as a love-’em-and-leave-’em type, which suited most guys just fine. After all, from a guy’s perspective, what’s better than a girl who’s full of life, loves to fool around a little, and then doesn’t demand the guy put a ring on it?
“You never answered my question.”
Emma arched her brow. “Which one was that?”
“Have you seen him?”
Emma shook her head. “Honestly, Caro, I’ve been crazy busy since I moved here, and Adrian has too, and now he’s been out of the country for weeks, so I haven’t had a chance to think about much of anything except what is right in front of my face. I know a few weeks ago Adrian said something about Darcy’s father being ill, so maybe he’s been sticking close to his family lately. Plus you told me not to ask around. You said you’d feel stupid if he knew you were prowling.”
“Yeah, but that was before I didn’t hear from him at all.”
“How was I supposed to know you had a sudden change of heart?”
“You’re my best friend. Of course you need to know that intuitively.”
“Okay, then. I’ll just double-check in my crystal ball next time I have a chance to come up for air so I can second-guess you from across the Atlantic Ocean.”
Caroline rolled her eyes. “Rubbing salt in the wound that you’re so far away. And that you’re so busy you don’t have time to deal with the likes of me.”
“Oh, honey. I know you’re upset with him, and I totally understand that. But I hope you can understand that I’m just doing what I have to do to become part of this family.”
“This royal family.”
“Oh yeah, no forgetting that. I think I’ve seen more sabers in the past month than I saw in the entire Three Musketeers novel. And velvet. Wow, do we have a lot of velvet here. And ermine. The queen has a deep red velvet cape trimmed in ermine. If I weren’t so sad about how many little ermines had to die to make that cape, I’d want to use it as a blanket at night. Even though I’m not sure what an ermine even is.”
“A weasel.”
“I don’t think Darcy’s a weasel, Care. I think he’s just dealing with other things right now.”
“I wasn’t talking about Darcy, you dingbat! An ermine is a weasel.”
“Huh. Wonder who decided it was particularly regal to wear a weasel. I could see something like a sable sounding more royal, but a weasel?”
“A sable’s kind of weaselly too, to tell you the truth.”
“And you’re an expert on royal fur trimmings because?”
“Remember that protest-march phase I went through? Only I wasn’t so wild when the group decided to throw red paint on fur-wearing women, even if I did think their fur coats were better off on the original owner?”
Emma nodded her head knowingly. “I was sort of glad you stopped that only because I wasn’t up for having to bail you out of jail. Even though I totally respected your conviction.”
“Yes, conviction minus the conviction. To be honest, my mother threatened to take me out of the will if I got cuffed and put in jail. Even though we all know there is no will. But considering I’m still paying off college loans, I didn’t want to cut off my nose to spite my wallet, just in case my mother ever happened into a cash windfall. Or something like that. But enough about me. Let’s hear more about palace life.”
Emma walked over to sit in what looked like the world’s most comfortable chair, something long and overstuffed but posh with what appeared to be hunt scenes involving leopards on the upholstery. It was right by a fire blazing in one of those mammoth fireplaces in which you could cook an entire ox on a spit. She put up her feet and leaned back, settling into the chair, which seemed to swallow her whole, it was so cushiony. A beautiful yellow Labrador was asleep beside her. It could’ve been a scene from a Norman Rockwell: the Royal Years painting.
“They call this a fainting couch. Do you love it?”
“I’d love it more if I were sitting in it rather in my apartment in northern Virginia.”
“I hear ya. You know you have an open invitation to come over here anytime.”
“Thanks, Em. I do know that. And believe me, I’ll take you up on it. As soon as I can drum up the funds.”
“Once I’m feeling more settled, maybe I can figure out how I can enlist the royal jet to come for you. Surely I’ll have some access to it.”
“Don’t force it yet. I don’t want you getting kicked out before you’re even in.”
“I really do want to see you. And I’d love for you to be here to help me plan this wedding.”
“Oh, my God. I still can’t believe you’re going to be married. You, of all people. The last of the holdouts. Well, besides me, that is.”
“Tell me about it. If you’d have asked me just a few months ago if I’d even date someone, let alone marry them, I’d have cackled in your face.”
“I think maybe you did that.”
“Okay fine. You know what I mean. But really, Caroline, you’re my only royal attendant. There are going to be times where it would be really nice to have you here.”
“Like, say, a bachelorette party, being that you don’t know a bleeding soul in the whole country? It will be the world’s smallest hen party.”
“Oh, you are so funny. Actually I really love Adrian’s sister Isabella. She’s as sweet as can be and a little feisty. Reminds me of you, sort of. And I even kind of enjoy Serena’s company, believe it or not. She’s not half bad, especially now that I know all that I thought was true about her wasn’t. She’s got a little pissy streak in her, in a good way. And she can be pretty bawdy too, for a blue blood.”
“So what’s it like having people wait on you hand and foot?”
“Sometimes it’s amazing. I mean like never having to wash a dirty dish is so not a bad thing. I could truly get used to that. Actually, I have gotten used to it. Wait—no I haven’t. At meal times I go to clear my dishes, only someone else clears them before I can even think to. Sometimes I feel a little pampered. Okay, I feel really pampered. It’s just incredible.”
“And your royal wardrobe?”
“So get this: they come to me. I mean if I want to shop at stores I can, but I can also have people bring me clothes. Stylists and designers. Considering the fanciest I ever got was J. Crew or Anthropologie, and that was only for really special occasions, this is way out of my league.”
“And you and Adrian?”
Emma’s eyes got all swoony and her face Dalai Lama–serene. “It’s amazing, Caro. He’s amazing. Never could I have imagined being so happy with someone. I am absolutely over the moon.”
Caroline smiled, finally. “Enough with the amazings already! But seriously, it couldn’t have happened to a better person. I’m so happy for you, Emma. So, so very happy for you.”
And she was. Although she wished right about now she could make crank calls to Darcy like the kind she and Emma used to make back in sixth grade. Maybe one of those I hear you have Prince Albert in a can. If so, you’d better let him out! type of calls. Maybe she could say Prince Adrian, make it more authentic. Anything to get his attention. To hear his voice with that dreamy accent. To enable her to take the pulse of the situation. To understand why it was that they had gotten along so well and their chemistry was pretty darned electrifying, and then all of a sudden he’d dropped off the face of the earth. It didn’t make any sense, and things that were senseless made Caroline crazy.
But the fact was she couldn’t be making long-distance phone calls to Europe. Nor did she want to come across as desperate. If he wanted her, he’d have reached out to her. And clearly he had moved on. So what that when she showed up at Emma’s wedding he was going to be the royal equivalent of best man to her maid of honor? They’d likely be paired up and have to fake it that they even wanted to look at one another, pretend that they hadn’t almost cared about each other. Because by then she wasn’t going to care. Not one whit. And if Darcy wanted her, he was going to have to crawl to her on all fours. Better yet, slink. Like one of those royal ermine. Skitter and slink right back into her heart, damn him.

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"SOMETHING IN THE HEIR by Jenny Gardiner is a wonderful tale of love and self discovery, as two people who should have nothing in common, somehow are perfect for each other. The story flows at an enjoyable and natural pace, with plenty of funny moments, alongside the romantic scenes. I love the secondary storyline of Caro and Darcy, and I look forward to the next instalment, to see their relationship develop. SOMETHING IN THE THE HEIR by Jenny Gardiner is a fabulous short, modern day fairy tale, with interesting characters, and I highly recommend it."  
--Linda Green for FRESH FICTION

"Jenny Gardiner tells a wonderful, feel good story about an American commoner and a European prince. If you're looking for a quick read that's sure to make you smile, Something in the Heir will do the trick!"  

--Bethany Petty for CHICK LIT CENTRAL

Book one in the It's Reigning Men series: SOMETHING IN THE HEIR.
Book two in the It's Reigning Men series: HEIR TODAY GONE TOMORROW.
Book three in the It's Reigning Men series: BAD TO THE THRONE.

And all will be available in book form soon!
JennyGardiner_SomethingintheHeir200 JennyGardiner_HeirTodayGoneTommorrow200JennyGardiner_BadtotheThrone200

Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)
Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)

and some time soon I'm going to reissue Anywhere but Here---I'll keep you posted.
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1 comment:

dstoutholcomb said...

fun excerpt