The Romance Reader says: "Candice Hern never fails to deliver a well written Regency with quirky, fun characters and a romance that feels genuine to the core."
Romance Reviews Today gives Miss Lacey's Last Fling a "Perfect 10" rating. Their review says: "A gem! May well be the best Regency romance of the year."
Heart Rate Reviews says: "Thoroughly entertaining. the story wraps around you from the beginning and totally pulls you into its heart."
Romantic Times Bookclub awards Miss Lacey's Last Fling 4 stars. Their reviews says: "Ms. Hern pens both believable and likeable characters, while writing with a wit and style that easily reflects the period itself. "
Author Chris Gilson says in his Amazon review: "Ms. Hern is a delightful writer, socially perceptive and witty in the language of the era (e.g. "that fatuous tulip Oswald"). You will feel all the wrenching humor of Rosalind Lacey's metamorphosis and enjoy unexpected wrinkles in this clever story that manages to be completely beguiling to the last page and leaves you wanting more."
This story was initially inspired by that old TV series "Run For Your Life." For those of you too young to remember, the series was about a man dying of some disease (I cannot recall what), who intended to spend his remaining days doing all the adventurous things he'd never found time to do. I'm always thinking of how modern stories might be told in a Regency setting, so I wondered what a Regency protagonist would do under a similar death sentence? And what if it was a woman instead of a man? Of course, there was the minor problem of a happy ending. I couldn't let my heroine die, unless I wanted to write a book Oprah might recommend. And now that I think about it . . .
Well, Oprah might have liked it, but my editor wouldn't. So I decided my heroine would only think she was going to die. She could have a few adventures, kick up her heels a bit, cause a spot of trouble, and then learn she was going to live. I had fun with this story.
A special thank you to Dr. Guenter B. Risse, Chair of the History of Health Sciences at University of California, San Francisco, who was very helpful with the medical information. Dr. Risse did not laugh or throw me out of his office when I told him my heroine needed to think she was going to die but that I didn't know from what cause. With the help of a great old copy of Buchan's Domestic Medicine from 1807, he helped me to figure out Rosie's dilemma.
My working title for this story was The Last Season. I gave my editor a long list of other possible titles, and at the end of the list, as a joke, I included Rosie's Last Fling. Of course, that's the one she liked best. But "Rosie" sounded too much like a maid, so we needed a formal name in the title. At that time, the heroine's name was Rosalind (Rosie) Mandeville, but Miss Mandeville was much too long a name for the title. So she was re-christened Miss Rosalind Lacey . . . all for the sake of a title that would fit on the cover!
From Chapter 7 ...
Max placed his left hand at Rosie's waist and held out his right hand. "Place your right hand in mine and your left on my shoulder."
"Oh, I know how it is done. I have watched and watched. Lead on, Max!"
With the merest pressure at her waist, he led her into the dance. It was easy to follow the rhythm of the music as well as Max's gentle yet persuasive lead. In less than a moment, Rosie found herself twirling and spinning in perfect accord with the music. It was pure heaven.
Max had her completely in his control. She kept her eyes on his, and everything else seemed to fade away. There was only Max, with his intense brown eyes and soft smile, the hand at her waist pressing ever so gently it might have been a caress. She closed her eyes, drinking in the scent of him bay rum, brandy, the starch of his neckcloth and let the music, and Max, guide her steps.
For this moment alone, the trip to London had been worthwhile.
"You dance well, minx." Rosie opened her eyes to find him gazing down at her, a smile tugging at one corner of his mouth. "Are you enjoying your first waltz?"
Amusement sparkled in his eyes. "I wonder whether you enjoy the dancing so much as you enjoy the uproar."
"Uproar?" Rosie reluctantly tore her gaze from his and glanced about the room. Several groups had gathered together women, mostly all of them whispering and glaring at Rosie and Max with outraged disapproval. One woman leaned heavily against another, fanning herself vigorously as though about to swoon. "Are all these people upset because a little nobody from the country dares to ignore their silly rules?"
"Hmph. What a lot of fuss over nothing."
"Nothing? I could have sworn that only a moment ago you were quite enjoying the dance."
"Oh, but I am. I am indeed. We shall pay no attention to those spineless ninnies who allow others to dictate their behavior. This is much too splendid to worry about such nonsense. Even more splendid than I had hoped. Just dance with me, Max."
"Is waltzing on your list?"
She looked up at him sharply. "How do you know about my list?"
"Your aunt mentioned it. Fanny believes it only includes such innocuous entries as visiting the Tower or Westminster Abbey. But I suspect there are other sorts of activities on that list." A slow, lazy grin split his face, and he winked at her.
Rosie threw back her head and laughed. "And what of it?" she asked.
"I merely wondered if I was helping to check off one of the entries. I assume you are dutifully checking them off as you go?"
"Rogue! I shall always be the country mouse to you. But if you must know, by the end of this evening, I believe I shall have checked off several items on my list." For one thing, she was determined to be thoroughly kissed. Rosie did not believe Max would accommodate her there. He did not think of her in that way. She was no more than an amusing rustic, a mere diversion. Max was used to glamorous high flyers and only flirted with her out of mischief, or out of habit, or possibly because Fanny asked him to do so. In any case, it meant nothing. Rosie was quite certain, however, she could entice one of the other gentlemen into kissing her. Lord Radcliffe, perhaps?
"I beg your pardon?"
"You were woolgathering, minx. I asked what sort of items on your list will get checked off tonight?"
"Oh. Well, besides this waltz you were correct, it is on my list I have engaged in a flirtation with a full-fledged rake. Lord Overton."
His brows rose in surprise. "And what am I, pray tell?"
He rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. "You delight in throwing those words back at me, do you not? I'll have you know I can flirt circles around Overton."
"Oh? Show me."
"Well, now you have put me on the spot, minx."
"All right, then. I suppose Overton filled your head with compliments? Give me an example, if you please."
"He said I looked beautiful in red."
"Just like that? 'You look beautiful in red?'"
"I believe that was how he said it."
"Amateur. The man has no finesse."
"Are you saying I do not look beautiful in red?"
"Quite the contrary, my minx. But if I were going to seriously flirt with you, I would tell you how the crimson of your gown merely reflects the vitality of your spirit, a vitality that burns like a blazing fire to singe a man's soul."
"But I would not stop there." His voice dropped to a husky whisper so low Rosie had to lean closer to catch every word. "I would tell you how the soft red silk enhances the natural flush of your perfectly sculpted cheeks cheeks softer even than the silk, petal-soft, beckoning one to touch, to stroke, to caress. And how the fiery color echoes the tantalizing hints of auburn caught by the candlelight in your glorious hair -- thick, luxurious hair such as a man craves to run his fingers through. And how the deep red hue is reminiscent of the Damask rose, though its fragrance is no match for the intoxicating scent of you, a scent that takes a man's breath away and makes him want to bury his face against your long white neck and breathe deeply of it. And how the rich color emulates the sweet tint of your lips -- full, lush, sensual lips ripe for a man to kiss, very gently, very softly, tasting, exploring, savoring, and finally devouring with the full force of his desire. Yes, you look very beautiful in red, minx."
"Oh, my." The room had suddenly grown quite warm.
End of excerpt. Like it? ORDER IT!
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