Wednesday, October 19, 2016

EskieMama Reads Midweek Spotlight w/Giveaway: Wicked Rivals by Lauren Smith

Welcome to EskieMama Reads Midweek Spotlight!
Today we are spotlighting Lauren Smith's 
Wicked Rivals!

Enter below to win a chance at the 1st 3 books in print Wicked Designs, His Wicked Seduction, Her Wicked Proposal (winner's choice paperback or digital) from Lauren Smith!

Book 4 in The League of Rogues Series
Wicke Rivals!

Merciless and powerful, Ashton Lennox is a wealthy man because he puts business before everything else, especially love. As a member of the infamous League of Rogues, he’s no stranger to scandal. His bedroom conquests are as legendary as his fortune. As he searches for a way to bring down an old enemy bent on destroying the lives of his friends, the last thing he needs is a Scottish widow getting in his way.

The daughter of a Scottish lord with a dark and treacherous past, Rosalind Melbourne has spent years distancing from her past. After escaping her tyrannical father and marrying an aging English lord, she has become a powerful widow with a business empire at her command. Her business dealings are everything to her, leaving her no time for love. Especially not with her business rival Ashton, a man with a scandalous reputation as striking as his blue eyes.


Ashton is fascinated by the strong-willed, intelligent and sensual lady who, up until now, had outsmarted him at every turn. Rosalind wishes she could deny she is falling for the brooding, handsome baron. How can she possibly trust him when doing so could cost her what she values most—her freedom? When Ashton discovers Rosalind might hold the key to saving the League of Rogues, he knows he will do anything to woo his wicked lass. As their pasts return to haunt them and dark forces rise to keep them from exposing a deadly spymaster, their game of love turns to a game of survival…

Warning: This book includes a brooding baron who’s wild in bed, a crafty Scottish lass who never knows when to quit, a wicked game of strip chess, and a merry band of rogues whose first instinct is to run they hear wedding bells ring.


Q & A with Lauren Smith about Wicked Rivals!

Tell us about Wicked Rivals.
Wicked Rivals is a tale of Rosalind, a female Scottish banker, and Ashton, an English baron, who vie against each other in business but fall in love along the way.

What initially inspired you to write Wicked Rivals?

Well the story originally came as part of my six book League of Rogues series which features a different hero from the League for each book. Ashton was always the one in the League that was focused on business and from the start of the series, he slowly began to get entangled with Lady Rosalind Melbourne who is a feisty Scottish lady that simply won’t let him win in business. I was researching the history of female bankers (yes there were female bankers back then!) and was fascinated to discover how much women were involved in businesses during the Regency era and since I love strong powerful female leads in my stories, I knew that Rosalind would have to be just as smart and cunning as Ashton to be his perfect romantic match.

Tell us little about the characters in Wicked Rivals
Ashton is a cool, controlled and sensual man who isn’t afraid to use his seductive talents to get ahead in business. He believes that he will likely never be lucky enough to fall in love and frankly doesn’t trust his heart to anyone. Rosalind comes from an abusive father and a crumbling castle in Scotland. Even though she had three older brothers to look out for her, she flees her country and marries an older, kind, Englishman who before he dies, instructs her how to run his banks and businesses. By the time she’s a widow, she is standing on her own and is quite powerful. She is drawn to Ashton just as he is drawn to her and they can’t help but fall in love as they challenge each other.

What was the hardest part of writing Wicked Rivals?

The hardest part was the subplots that thread through the entire series. Each book in the League of Rogues series has a villain named Hugo Waverly and he causes a bit of trouble for the league in an increasingly dangerous way and I have to balance a lot of story threads to pull it together.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why? 

The infamous game of Strip Chess!! In order to convince Rosalind to marry him, Ashton challenges her to a game of strip chess where if she loses she must marry him. The chess match is a metaphor for their relationship, the cunning battles, the planning, all of it. And to play it out in a physical game was fun and sexy!

What are your future project(s)?
I’m currently writing three Russian dragonshifter books which I hope will come out in 2018. I have 3 really fun, Edwardian novellas coming out in fall of 2017 which are a lot o like Downton Abbey.

Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers about this book/series?
All of the books in the series can be read as standalones, but it’s a lot of fun to read them in order because you see all of the heroes grow. And one of the most unique things about the series is that the men in the previous books still show up on the pages of the later books in every single book because the six men are close friends, almost like brothers, and the story is about that intense bond of friendship in addition to the wild steamy romances.

Now an exciting excerpt from Wicked Rivals!

Rosalind couldn’t believe the mess she was in. Marry Ashton? Was he serious? She wasn’t repulsed at the thought of pretending—truth be told, a part of her secretly enjoyed it—but now he was asking her why she wouldn’t actually marry him.
She shivered, even though the dressing gown she wore was warm against her. Her wet hair still lay thick and heavy on her shoulders. She felt vulnerable, too exposed physically and emotionally. Given the intense gleam in Ashton’s eyes, she knew he was aware of this vulnerability, and no doubt planned to use it to his advantage.
Yet she sensed in him a practiced restraint that always amazed her. She’d never met a man with so much control. Any other man would be pressing his advantage to slake his lust, but not Ashton. If it hadn’t been for that moment in the theater, she’d wonder if he even desired her. Was it all a game to him, even his passions?
“Is the thought of marrying me so dreadful to contemplate that it turns your stomach? What do you find distasteful about me?”
Rosalind’s eyes narrowed.
“Business practices aside, of course.” Ashton stepped closer. Only a few inches separated them now, but she held her ground. She raised her head and met him stare for stare.
“Let me think…” She tapped her chin with a finger as she compiled her list. “You’re too tall, for one thing. You’re arrogant, more so than most men. You think you can possess anything or anyone, and your actions are always justified if it gets you what you want. And frankly, I do not care for the way you kiss.”
She swore she saw a ghost of a smile. He raised one dark-gold brow and slowly lifted a hand to her cheek, brushing his knuckles over her skin. His touch felt wonderful, and she hated that it did.
“As to the first, it can’t be helped. The second I would call confidence, not arrogance. I readily admit to the third, and I believe you’re lying through your teeth about the last. Still, I see no reason why we shouldn’t go forward with this scheme to deceive my mother. Not if you believe it is to our mutual advantage. Should we see to settling the matter with our solicitors?”
She bristled. “That is perhaps what I despise the most. Everything is business with you. Details, facts, figures. All of it so cold and emotionless,” she growled in frustration.
“It usually is, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. I am a masterful lover.”
“There is that arrogance again.”
“Confidence,” Ashton corrected. His warm breath fanned across her face. She tried not to think about how good it felt to be so close to a large, warm, masculine body. She never asked anyone for help when she could avoid it, but sometimes she could still be tempted by the strength of a man like Ashton. Someone she could imagine would protect her, care for her.
It doesn’t make me weak; it’s simply that he’s too hard to resist.
“I’m not interested in being your lover,” she said. Yet she couldn’t stop staring at his lips. Full, sensual, kissable
“You don’t have to be. But a few kisses at the right time would at least convince my mother we are courting. And it should seem to her as if we have kissed before.”
“We have kissed before.”
“Practice does make perfect…” His head dipped a few inches toward hers, but his lips did not touch hers. Her body was nearly exploding with tension at being so close to him. She was angry, yet full of desire and utterly confused, but she knew she did want to kiss him…because he was right about her lying before. She liked how he kissed far too much.
She wasn’t sure who moved first. When their mouths met it was like setting a torch to a keg of gunpowder. All that she’d endured the last two days exploded out from her through her kiss, equal parts anger and passion.
She gripped Ashton’s shirt by his neck, clinging to him, meshing her lips against his. Suddenly she was lifted up in the air, and she wrapped her legs around his waist.
Hard wood slammed against her back as he pressed her against the wall and kissed her ruthlessly.
Even in this we compete. The thought had her smiling, and then a chuckle escaped between their breathless kisses. When he paused to look at her, she couldn’t help her silly grin.
“What?” he asked, his tone playful. “What is so amusing?” He nuzzled her cheek.
She almost didn’t tell him, but the fire in the room and his hot body flush against hers felt divine. She couldn’t think past the delightful haze sweeping through her.
“We compete, even in kissing.”
His laughter at that was dark and delightful.
“We are rivals, darling. Perhaps we ought to compete in bed as well?”
His suggestion flooded her with images of their bodies entwined, fighting to be the best at pleasuring the other to the point where neither of them would recover for days.
“Don’t you want to best me in that, future wife?” he asked huskily. “Put me in my place?”
Future wife. That brought her dire situation crashing back down upon her.
This is only a game.” It was as much to remind herself as it was him.
He pulled away, but only a few inches. “I know, but why are you so frightened of the idea?”
She wrinkled her nose. “Because I cannot give a husband what he would want.” She could never let him know just how terrified she was to lose the sense of identity she’d managed to build for herself.
He kissed the corner of her mouth, gently fisting one hand in her hair. The gentle but possessive hold made her body burn with heat.
“Why…not?” Ashton asked again, licking the shell of her ear now.
“Because I don’t…” Her mind was too fuzzy, her body too hot to think clearly.
One of his hands stroked up her outer thigh, his grip hard but not hurting. Just right…
“Come now, sweetheart, what has you so frightened?”
Damn, the man knew how to hold her, to touch her… “I cannot let any man control me ever again.” Memories of long, cold, frightening nights in Scotland when her father’s temper ran high had left scars on her heart.

Lauren Smith is an Oklahoma attorney by day, author by night for Grand Central Publishing, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She knew she was destined to be a romance writer when she attempted to re-write the entire Titanic movie just to save Jack from drowning. Connecting with readers by writing emotionally moving, realistic and sexy romances no matter what time period is her passion. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including: New England Reader’s Choice Awards, Greater Detroit BookSeller’s Best Awards, Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. To connect with Lauren, visit her at or twitter at @LSmithAuthor.

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