Author: Samantha Grace
Series: Rival Rogues, Book 3
Pubdate: July 7th, 2015
Genre: Historical Regency Romance
The worst thing Mr. Benjamin Hillary ever did was abandon his bride-to-be on their wedding day.
The hardest thing he will ever have to do is watch her marry another man.
After two long years abroad, Ben finds Eve every bit as captivating as she was the first time he saw her, and he vows to set things right.
Lady Eve Thorne has a new man in her life, and Ben is nothing but trouble. She is no longer a starry-eyed young woman, and now that he’s back, he can go hang for all she cares. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself…
Hi, everyone. I’m Samantha Grace, RITA-nominated author of the historical romance series, Rival Rogues. Today I’m very happy to be joined by Benjamin Hillary, the hero of my latest novel, THE BEST OF BOTH ROGUES, and his rival for Miss Eve Thorne’s affections, Sir Jonathan Hackberry. Our guest interviewer is the notorious Countess of Norwick, Bianca Hainsworth a.k.a. Bibi.
Ben mumbles under his breath: Blast.
Lady Norwick looks down her nose at him: Do you have a problem with me conducting this interview, Mr. Hillary?
Ben forces a smile: Of course not, my lady. Why would I be opposed?
Lady Norwick: Well, I’ve known Sir Jonathan since we were children, and I haven’t decided if I have forgiven you for jilting Miss Thorne. Nor am I certain if I like you. Today could turn out to be a disaster for you.
Sir Jonathan chuckles: Show mercy, Bianca. Hillary is not a bad sort.
Lady Norwick: He is trying to woo your betrothed away from you.
Sir Jonathan: Aside from that conflict of interest, he is decent.
Lady Norwick arches a brow: You always were gullible, Jonathan. Let’s get on with the interview. Would you rather be smart and ugly or dumb and handsome?
Ben: What sort of question is that?
Lady Norwick: Hypothetical. Pretend for a moment you aren’t already the stunningly handsome one, Mr. Hillary.
Sir Jonathan: Wait a moment. Are you saying I’m the ugly one?
Lady Norwick leans forward to pat his knee: Of course not. That would be unforgivably rude of me to say.
Sir Jonathan flashes a smile that quickly turns into a scowl: I believe she just insulted me.
Ben: And me. I choose handsome and smart.
Sir Jonathan: Hear. Hear.
Lady Norwick shakes her head: That isn’t an option.
Ben: And why not?
Lady Norwick: Because I am conducting the interview. If you want to conduct your own interview, you may ask whatever questions you like.
Ben stands: Very well. I will. Come along, Sir Jonathan. We don’t have to stay here and be insulted.
Sir Jonathan hops up from his seat: Indeed, we don’t. There are plenty of places we could be disrespected.
Ben: Or we could find a tavern and enjoy a tankard of ale together.
Sir Jonathan: That is an even better suggestion.
The men storm off. Lady Norwick smiles: Sometimes all it takes to bring two good rogues together is a common enemy. I believe my work here is finished.
Ben made a slow circle of the brightly lit ballroom, stopping occasionally to study the couples as they sashayed past, their cheeks pink from exertion. After several moments, he was satisfied Lord Wellham wasn’t among the dancers, not that Ben was surprised. If his memory served, the earl favored gambling over gamboling.
Reaching a secluded corner near a dark alcove, he paused to check once more for his quarry before he sought out the card room.
“What are you doing here?” a voice hissed. “You are not on the guest list.”
“Pardon?” Ben spun toward the speaker and came up short. His eyebrows veered toward each other. “How do you know?” he whispered back to the mass of green palm fronds.
“Because I helped make the list.” The plant’s fronds parted, and Eve Thorne’s stern glare greeted him. What the devil was she doing?
Her frown deepened when he simply stared, at a loss for words. “Do you have a death wish, Mr. Hillary?”
The corners of his mouth twitched. “Let me guess, you’ve been attacked by a man-eating plant. Are you in need of rescue, Kitten?”
She growled softly and the fronds snapped back into place. Ben checked the surrounding area to be certain they hadn’t earned any unwanted attention, then peered around the massive greenery. Eve was wedged against the wall, her yellow chiffon skirts crushed against the large pot. Her chest rose and fell in rapid movements, drawing his attention to the modest swell of her breasts peeking above her lacy neckline. A rosy glow infused her ivory skin, making the sprinkling of freckles across her cheeks almost unnoticeable.
God, he had missed her – her freckles, her pouty lips, her soulful brown eyes. He had been smitten from the moment he had spied her at the theater during the little Season, and two years on a faraway continent had done nothing to cool his ardor.
“What are you doing back there, Miss Thorne, and shouldn’t you have a chaperone?”
She crossed her arms as if erecting a wall between them. “God only knows why, but I am trying to save your skin, Benjamin James Arran Hillary.”
Damnation. He had almost forgotten he’d been burdened with so many names, and that she had a habit of invoking every one when she was perturbed. His smile expanded. Despite her pretense of indifference, she was worried for him. “Am I to conclude your skulking about means you still care?”
“I care about Lady Eldridge, and I do not want to see her ball ruined by you and Sebastian coming to fisticuffs. You really must leave before he sees you and demands another meeting on the field.”
Crossing paths with Sebastian Thorne didn’t concern Ben. Her brother’s need to defend her reputation after Ben jilted her had been satisfied three weeks earlier in a duel, and Thorne would not issue a second challenge for fear of losing. Ben suspected neither of them wanted to risk looking like fools again either. Instead of dueling with pistols or swords as any other normal men would do, they had allowed Eve to choose the weapons. She had chosen gloves.
He scowled. “Do you have any idea how ridiculous it looked for two men to engage in a slapping match?” The gents at Brooks’s hadn’t stopped talking about the duel for days, and Ben had endured the brunt of the teasing since he’d followed his youngest brother’s advice and allowed Thorne to win.
Eve’s smile radiated with self-satisfaction. “Since no one died, I would say I made an excellent choice.”
H grudgingly admitted her cleverness had managed to resolve the conflict without bloodshed – or much, anyway. Ben had walked away with a cut on his cheek and a nasty bruise, thanks to her brother filling his glove with pebbles. But bruised pride and a bruised mug were small prices to pay to see Eve’s position in Society restored.
Historical romance author Samantha Grace discovered the appeal of a great love story when she was just a young girl, thanks to Disney’s Robin Hood. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience and she didn’t want the warm fuzzies to end. Now Samantha enjoys creating her own happy endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publishers Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever.