If you’re reading this post on a handheld, or via email, or through a media that has crunched the cover image down to matchbox size, I encourage you to follow the link back to the original post on my site and have a good look at the details of this cover when it’s blown up to full size. It’s absolutely stunning how much Dar Albert, the designer, gets into it.
I told her my hero’s eyes were catch-your-breath blue. Boy, did she deliver!
And also check out the embroidering detail on the heroine, Bian’s, sleeves. Dar creates all this herself.
Anyway, in case the subject line didn’t tip you off, I spent all day yesterday chained to my desk, plus I think I ended up nailing Dar to her desk for most of her Saturday, too, finalizing the cover, while I got The Royal Talisman formatted and released.
Ta-dah! It is now officially available.
And with a small bonus.
The Royal Talisman used to be Masquerade’s Mate. I have spent the last few weeks editing and adding scenes and wordage (there’s a much longer explanation about this inside the book). I added so much, in fact, that The Royal Talisman is no longer a novella. It’s it’s a short book that can be printed in its own volume.
So as this is my “Author’s Edition” I could add all the special features into the stand alone print edition.
Life is good.
I’ll add the blurb and an excerpt below that isn’t from the book’s page.
It is 1884 and France is at war with China. Stuart Sutherland-Bruce returns to England after a posting in China as a member of the English diplomatic corps. He meets the astonishingly beautiful Bian, an exotic woman who turns his life upside down with the power of his desire for her. As she continues to astonish him at every turn with the unexpectedness of her life and her responses to him, he falls deeply in love with her.
But Bian did not wander into Stuart’s life accidentally. She has orders to become intimate with him and prove he has been giving English secrets to the Chinese. Yet as she works her spell on Stuart, she learns he does not seem to be the traitor her British superiors assure her he is.
Bian is caught in a trap: If she reveals to Stuart her real — and shocking — identity, she will lose the man she loves. If she honours Stuart’s highest values and does her duty, then Stuart will be tried for espionage and hanged.
An Excerpt From: THE ROYAL TALISMAN
Copyright © TRACY COOPER-POSEY, 2012
All Rights Reserved
Patrick’s butler returned with a morning gown and other essentials, which allowed Bian to appear in public once more. Dressed in a dark purple velvet suit, which offered some protection against the damp wind gusting along the streets, Bian climbed into her carriage and snuggled under the lap robe. She gave directions for Madame Evamy’s on Bond Street, with a sigh. It was the only establishment she knew. Madam Evamy would have to provide the props she needed to verify her sudden urge to replenish her wardrobe.
Bond Street was as busy as usual. The damp air rising from the Thames and whistling down the street had not discouraged business in the slightest.
Bian’s driver dropped the steps for her and handed her out, along with a caution in his rough accent, “Wotch it, Miss Bian. I couldn’t get no closer and the gutters are a right mess.”
She took a long step on to the footpath and looked up.
Stuart was there.
Bian smothered her gasp of shock with her gloved hand, staring up at him. He towered over her, large in his dark overcoat. His hair was ruffled and his chin unshaved. He looked like he had gone for a month without sleep.
“Dear lord! Stuart! Where did you come from? You startled me.”
His hands were pushed deep into his pockets. “Who are you?” he asked. His voice was as rough as his chin. “Why can I not stop thinking of you?”
She looked around for observers. Her driver stood with the carriage door open, watching with a wary eye. “It’s all right,” she assured him, for he looked like he wanted to leap to her defence. It wouldn’t be the first time he had wielded his blackjack for her and she knew the damage he could inflict. “I know this man.”
“Ye sure, miss? ’e don’t look all that good t’me.”
“I’m sure. But wait a moment.” She turned back to Stuart. “Where have you been, to look as you do?” Genuine concern pushed the question from her. He looked like he had been to hell and back.
“Following you,” he rasped. “I needed to know…needed to…” He stepped closer to her and cupped her cheek with a hand that trembled. “God, who are you? I’ve not slept since that night—”
It was more than she wanted her driver to hear. She glanced over her shoulder but the driver was staring at the passing traffic, apparently stone deaf.
“Come,” she told Stuart, tugging at his sleeve. “Come with me.” She climbed back into her carriage and gestured for him to board, too. She knew there was a risk she would be seen in a carriage alone with a man but didn’t care. The raw emotion pouring from him was making her own heart sing with joy and her insides roil with need. It didn’t matter that this man had betrayed his country. That she was here in London to find proof of his deeds that would survive cross examination in court became a distant fact she could barely bother acknowledging, when before it had driven her every action.
She could only feel the pleasure of being with him, even as dishevelled as he was. His ragged, exhausted, driven state sent a shiver of excitement through her. She had brought him to this.
She settled back into her corner of the bench and spoke quietly to her driver, who stood patiently at the door. “The townhouse.”
“No,” Stuart said sharply, as he sat beside her. He gave the driver an address that she recognized.
“Your house?” she said. “My reputation would not withstand the impact if I were seen entering it without a chaperone.”
“I suspect your reputation has survived far more than a peccadillo of this magnitude,” Stuart said, with a piercing glance at her.
She bit her lip, then nodded to her driver, who tugged at his hat brim and shut the door.