I am proud to announce the cover reveal for Innocence by Elise De Sallier…
Watch for its upcoming release on December 17!
Ignorance is supposed to be bliss, but in Anneliese Barlow’s experience, it leads to poor choices and unnecessarily tragic outcomes . . . and there is nothing pleasant about either.
Forced to flee her father’s brutal heir, Anneliese masquerades as Lisa Brown, a servant in the grand, country mansion of the Duke of Worthington. Befriended by her fellow maids, she tries—and fails—to avoid attention while awaiting the return of the duke, her father’s friend. Discovering the life of gentility she had known was a virtual fairy tale, reality a dark and forbidding place, Lisa faces danger at every turn.
Captivated by the beautiful maid, Nathaniel Stanton, the Marquis of Marsden, decides the only way to protect the new girl is by offering her his protection. With her reputation ruined and all hope of returning to her previous station seemingly lost, Lisa surrenders her virtue to the man she has come to love almost beyond reason. Finding unexpected passion in Nathaniel’s arms, her senses are awakened to a world of sensuality she had not known existed. A world not without grave risks.
Believing it is the only way he can keep her in his life, Nathaniel asks Lisa to be his mistress, promising her a home and a future with him . . . of sorts. Despite her misgivings about its dubious morality, she accepts the position rather than be separated from Nathaniel. But her father’s heir, Lord Copeland, has not given up in his quest to have her for himself.
With her freedom, Nathaniel’s position in society, and the future of countless others at stake, she must sacrifice her future happiness and find a way to disappear forever. If her identity is uncovered, Lisa’s innocence won’t be the only thing that’s lost.
Elise met the love of her life when she was only sixteen, married him three years, and recently celebrated her thirtieth wedding anniversary. Needless to say, she is a big believer in living Happily Ever After. With a lifetime’s worth of experience behind her, Elise also believes great relationships don’t just happen, they take work . . . which doesn’t mean writing about them can’t be a whole lot of fun.
After surviving all manner of health obstacles while raising a family and nursing her elderly grandmother—her writing namesake, though she’d have been shocked by her granddaughter’s steamy love scenes—Elise established a career as a counselor and family therapist. Seeking an escape from the stresses of her work, she discovered the world of fan fiction, and her timid writer’s muse began to make its voice heard. Two point three million hits, twelve and a half thousand reviews, and an email from an acquisitions editor at The Writer’s Coffee Shop later, and Elise’s life found a new and fascinating direction.
A romantic fiction addict from way back, writing her own historical and paranormal romances—and having others read and fall in love with her characters and the worlds she creates—is a dream come true. Elise likes to see her characters grow, experience passion and adventure, tackle some difficult issues, and find lasting love . . . eventually.
Unable to see past the large bouquet, Lisa stumbled several times on the journey, the flowers falling to the side.
“Bother,” she muttered after her third attempt at repairing the damage was unsuccessful.
“I think they usually put the tallest ones at the back.”
Spinning around at the sound of a deep, male voice, she was surprised to see Nathaniel leaning against the wall.
“My lord! You startled me.”
He frowned—at her less than servile tone, she imagined—and Lisa offered a belated curtsy.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” she asked when the effect of his unbroken gaze reached an unbearable level.
“You can tell me your name.” His gaze roamed from the top of her head to the hem of her skirt in a shockingly forward manner.
“I’m assuming you have one?”
“Yes, of course. I have a name.”
One of his eyebrows rose, reminding Lisa of a novel she’d read by Mrs Radcliffe describing the hero as having a sardonic brow. She’d always wondered what one looked like, and now she knew.
Pushing away from the wall, Nathaniel walked over to the vase of flowers. With a few deft movements he created something quite presentable out of the jumble she had been fussing with for the better part of half an hour, and Lisa huffed.
“I’m sure you have many talents.” He chuckled at her reaction. “Although flower arranging and pouring hot beverages don’t seem to be among them.”
Unsure how to respond, she stared down at her wringing hands. Miss Brewer would not have approved.
“So, are you going to tell me,” Nathaniel continued. “Or am I going to have to force you to give me the information?”
Looking up, Lisa was surprised to see him standing mere inches away.
“Your. Name.” He enunciated clearly.
Feeling her cheeks catch fire, she stammered a reply. “Li—Li Lisa.”
“Well, Li—Li Lisa, that’s an unusual name. How about I call you Lisa, or would you prefer Li—Li?”
In hindsight, she should have chosen a name that wasn’t derived from her own, especially considering Nathaniel was an acquaintance of Lord Copeland’s. But it was too late to do anything about it now.
“Lisa. I prefer Lisa.”
“From Elizabeth?” he asked, and she blinked.
“Um, yes, that’s right. From Elizabeth.”
Anneliese had been named after her Danish great grandmother on her mother’s side, or so she had been told, the name not common on English soil.
“I couldn’t make the zed sound when I was little, so I was called Lisa not Liza,” she said, trying to fit her story to his quite understandable assumption.
“I suppose that’s one way to describe a childhood lisp.”
“Not just the lisp, you.” Nathaniel smiled.
Lisa’s mouth dropped open. He thought her adorable? Maybe Ruth and Sally were right and Nathaniel was attracted to her even though he believed her a servant.
“There’s something I’ve been wanting to speak with you about. The other morning—”
“You mean the one where you had me banished from serving in the breakfast room on my very first day?” Lisa interjected, forgetting her place once more.
“So you were offended.” He rubbed his jaw.
“Er, of course not, my lord.” She modified her tone, not wanting to get herself banished altogether. “I could have spilled the coffee on you or one of the other guests. It was gracious of you not to have me dismissed.”
“Ah, Lisa, you misunderstood. I wasn’t concerned about your inability to serve the coffee. The excuse to hold your hand was most welcome.”
“What then?” She blurted the words then snapped her mouth shut. Holding her tongue was not a strength, and the unobtrusive nature of her new role was proving a challenge. Fortunately, Nathaniel did not appear offended.
“Are you aware of my father’s unusual standards concerning the treatment of his staff?” he asked, running his fingers over the satiny smooth finish of the side table.
She nodded, though it was difficult to think clearly with him standing so close.
“His Grace wasn’t always so honourable. When I was growing up, I distinctly recall him enjoying the odd dalliance with willing maids, and he did little to hide the existence of his mistresses.”
Lisa frowned. Dalliance was not a word she was familiar with, and as far as she knew, a man’s wife was the mistress of his household, a role that need not be hidden and did not come in multiples.
Nathaniel’s gaze rose to her face. “Don’t worry. You’re quite safe here at Worthington Hall. My father had a rather dramatic change of heart a while back, a conversion of sorts. He now devotes a substantial portion of his time and wealth to the betterment and protection of the working classes, despite the cost to his reputation.”
Lisa had heard as much from her father who had shared the Duke’s opinion.
“Do you follow a similar creed?” she asked.
“Mostly.” Nathaniel shrugged and took a step closer. “I’m happy to honour my father’s wishes, especially in his own home. Although the effort does sometimes come at personal cost.”
Reaching towards her, he ran his forefinger slowly down her cheek. “You have amazing skin. Soft as silk.”
Staring unblinking into his handsome face, Lisa swayed towards him.
Category: Romance / Historical / Regency
Publication date: Dec 17, 2013
ISBN (paper): 978-1-61213-200-6
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-61213-201-3