Today I am so pleased to welcome K.J. Charles to Joyfully Jay. K.J. has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, An Unsuitable Heir (which I absolutely adored and reviewed here). She has also brought along three copies to give away. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Pen exchanged a few words with the doorkeeper, then headed off down the narrow court, heels echoing on the stone. Mark slid out of the shadows as quietly as he could, and caught up within a few paces. “Hello, Pen.”
Pen stopped and looked around. Those high boots put him a good two inches above Mark, and he didn’t look friendly. “Oh, it’s you. Why don’t you go away?”
“Because I need to talk to you,” Mark said.
“Unfortunately, I don’t need to talk to you.” Pen turned on his heel.
“Mate, you do. I swear it’s important, and I owe you a drink. Come and have a quick one with me. Please?”
Pen turned back to face him fully. There were a few dark ringlets framing his face; he was indeed painted, with his eyes darkened and, Mark suspected, reddened lips. He looked . . .
He looked strange. Phyllis at the Jack would never dress like this, both male and female. Mark wasn’t entirely sure he understood what was going on.
“Uh,” he said. “You look—”
“Yes, yes, I’ve heard it all,” Pen snapped. “And no, I won’t embarrass you by taking you up on that kindly offer of going to sit in a pub, so why don’t you clear off?”
“I know a place we could get a drink and nobody would look at you twice.” That wasn’t remotely true; Pen would be swarmed with admirers in the Jack. “Where nobody will give you any trouble, is what I mean.”
“You know a place like that,” Pen said, voice flat with disbelief.
“I do. And I owe you a drink, and an apology as well, so—”
“That much is true. I’ll have the apology and not bother with the drink.”
“It would be a lot easier if you took the drink,” Mark tried. “If you let me explain—”
“No.” Pen’s voice was clear and loud. “No, I do not want to hear whatever this is. I don’t want to hear anything except for your apology and then your goodbye.”
Mark sighed. “I really am sorry. I needed to find who you were, professional reasons, and I got . . . caught up in the conversation.”
“Bollocks.” Pen sounded almost incredulous. “Absolute balls. You paid me a whole lot of compliments, told me lies to get my trust. That’s not professional.”
“No, it wasn’t,” Mark said. “But it wasn’t lies either. I got caught up. I liked talking to you.”
“Telling me how much you liked my hair,” Pen bit out. “That was conversational, was it?” He was holding himself still, but Mark could feel his readiness to move. Maybe to flee; maybe not. Mark wasn’t fool enough to believe that a dress or a bit of eye paint turned anyone, man or woman, into a fainting flower. Phyllis had a right hook that could fell a horse, and used it freely; Pen wasn’t short of muscle either, and if he thought that Mark had been trying to trap him . . . well, Mark knew how he’d react himself to that.
“It wasn’t,” he said. “And I wasn’t trying to fool you. I said I liked the way you look because you looked bloody good. You looked good then, you looked good in there, on the trapeze, and you look good now. I should have kept my mouth shut about that, because it wasn’t my business to say so, but it wasn’t a lie. You might want to tell me to piss off—”
“—but let’s make it for the right thing, eh?”
A private detective finds passion, danger, and the love of a lifetime when he hunts down a lost earl in Victorian London.
On the trail of an aristocrat’s secret son, enquiry agent Mark Braglewicz finds his quarry in a music hall, performing as a trapeze artist with his twin sister. Graceful, beautiful, elusive, and strong, Pen Starling is like nobody Mark’s ever met—and everything he’s ever wanted. But the long-haired acrobat has an earldom and a fortune to claim.
Pen doesn’t want to live as any sort of man, least of all a nobleman. The thought of being wealthy, titled, and always in the public eye is horrifying. He likes his life now—his days on the trapeze, his nights with Mark. And he won’t be pushed into taking a title that would destroy his soul.
But there’s a killer stalking London’s foggy streets, and more lives than just Pen’s are at risk. Mark decides he must force the reluctant heir from music hall to manor house, to save Pen’s neck. Betrayed by the one man he thought he could trust, Pen never wants to see his lover again. But when the killer comes after him, Pen must find a way to forgive—or he might not live long enough for Mark to make amends.
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden, and an increasingly murderous cat.
K.J. has brought three ebook copies of An Unsuitable Heir to give away to three lucky Joyfully Jay readers. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Wednesday, October 11th at 11:59 pm ET. Books will be gifted through Amazon or B&N only and open to US and Canada.
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