Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Scandalous Wager by Cassandra Samuels - Book Snippets

I am so excited to share this with you all. A audio snippet of my book read by the fabulous Richard from I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Historical Hearts Christmas Blog hop - Mistletoe and Shortbread

By Cassandra Samuels

Dear readers, your roving reporter Letitia Wellbeloved is coming to you today from Whitely Hall, home of the Lord and Lady Bellamy.

Those who have been following my progress through the stately homes will know I am visiting these various noble estates to find out their favourite Christmas traditions.

You will no doubt know all about the Scandalous Wager that brought together Lord Bellamy with the then Lady Blackhurst, better known as the infamous Black Raven. What a to-do there was about these two lovebirds. Now that Lady Bellamy has been cleared of the murder of her previous husband she spends her time tending her garden here at Whitely Hall and enjoying her baby daughter, Petunia.

The housekeeper, Mrs Rollands tells me that the family especially enjoys their Christmas visitors. Lord Bellamy welcomes his Aunt Petunia and her companion Mrs Grey and Lady Bellamy is happy to have reunited her family with her Grandmother, her sister and her family all joining them too.

Mrs Rollands tells me that Mistletoe is especially favoured by Lord Bellamy who insists it be put around the house in nearly every doorway and is one of the main decorations in the house at Christmas. He and Lady Bellamy go out and source the sprigs themselves from the orchard where it grows in some of the apple trees.

Mrs Rollands told us the tradition dates back all the way to the Druids. Apparently, dear readers, in Norse mythology it was a symbol of love and friendship which is where the tradition of kissing under it comes from but it was we British who kept up the tradition. Originally, you had to pick a berry before you could ask for your kiss and when all the berries were gone there was no more kissing. No wonder Lord Bellamy has them all over the house!

Mrs Bellows, the cook here at Whitely Hall has kindly agreed to share her shortbread recipe. I must say it is jolly good too. I may have indulged in a piece, or two.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
Preheat oven
Cream butter and sugar
add flour and mix
Press dough into ungreased pan (9x13)
prick all over with a fork and then sprinkle over with sugar evenly.
Bake for 40-45 minutes in a moderate oven until light brown
Let it stand for 5 minutes, then cut into squares while warm.
If you want to make shapes you will have to chill the dough and roll it out.

Well, what a wonderful time I've had getting to know Lord and Lady Bellamy and their servants. I must say Lady Bellamy is nothing like what I expected and we have become firm friends during my stay here. This is Letitia Wellbeloved bidding farewell to Whitely Hall and hoping you will join me at my next stop at...

And especially for the readers of The Lady's Magazine, there is a chance to win yourself a Christmas Present of one of two Amazon Gift Vouchers. Just make sure you enter the Rafflecopter below.

Friday, November 13, 2015

AusRom Today's Readers Choice - Vote now

I am very proud to say that I have been nominated in three categories this year in the AusRom Today Readers Choice Awards. If you would like to vote for me please click on the links (red headings) below and "like" to vote. As a debut author it is always a thrill to be nominated for such awards.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Year End Splash - Blog hop Excerpt.

By Cassandra Samuels

From A Scandalous Wager (Copyrighted material)

Q: what is the name of Lisbeth's murdered husband? Check back with the The Romance Reviews to put your answer. The Romance Reviews

May 5, 1816
From the diary of Lisbeth Carslake, Countess of Blackhurst.

I refuse to give in to the curse of the Black Raven.
I will change my destiny, my future.
I will re-enter society.
I will find my husband’s killer.
I will prove my innocence.
I will reclaim my life.

‘This is my solemn vow,’ Lisbeth bit out between clenched teeth, snapping the nib of her delicate quill. She slapped her diary shut, disregarding the inky mess it would leave and for a moment rested her head on its cool leather cover. Every day her anger grew but she could not let it rule her. She would not let it rule her.
She breathed in and out slowly until her composure returned. Only then could she unfurl her fingers one at a time. She had lived long enough under the shadow of the Black Raven, it was time to put her plan into action and use her reputation to her advantage. It was time to fight back.
Lisbeth knew her plan to re-enter society would take all her strength and determination, all her courage and conviction. Every smidgen of self-worth she had left which told her she deserved more than this life as a social pariah.
The clock on the mantle chimed the quarter hour. She glanced up and frowned. No longer shackled to her abusive husband, she still found herself a slave to the relentless tick of time, of which he had made her so dependent. She felt in her pocket, pulled out a shiny silver pocket watch and flicked it open. Ascertaining the two timepieces were in accord, she closed the lid, pausing to finger the Blackhurst crest that adorned the cover. She closed her fingers around her husband’s watch until her knuckles were white.
‘I will never forgive you for what you have done to me, Nathaniel.’
Lisbeth let out a loud sigh. Hating someone who had been dead for two years was useless. She needed to put her energy to better use. As she placed the watch beside the diary on the desk, her schedule caught her attention. It was only ink on a page, a list of things to do in a logical time limit, to fill her days from dawn ’til dusk. It showed all her daily activities in a precise and orderly fashion — even the length of time it should take to complete. She always completed her tasks in the allotted time.
Oh, how she both loved and loathed it. She longed to pick it up, scrunch it in her fist and hurl it into the fire, but she dared not. It gave her purpose and direction when there was little in her life but misery and uncertainty. Now it protected her from the melancholy that threatened her every day since her husband had met his demise.
A murder for which she had been blamed. She closed her eyes as the injustice of her situation flowed through her, like a rapid of bitter, vile poison.
A soft knock startled her. She opened her eyes.
‘My lady?’ Rollands, her butler, stuck his head of grey hair through the doorway. ‘Sorry to disturb,’ he said as he entered the room. His tall lanky frame always moved at an unhurried, even pace.
She smiled and felt a little of the tension leave her shoulders. Rollands was always a comfort to her. ‘What is it, Rollands?’
‘It is Lord Bellamy.’
‘He’s refusing to leave, I suppose? How typical,’ she said. Lord Bellamy had first pounded on her door and demanded entrance to win the Black Raven Wager over two hours ago.
Her butler came forward until he stood in front of her desk, hands clasped in front of him like an apologetic child. ‘I’m sorry, my lady, but he says he will camp out on your steps until he is let in. I know you are heartily sick of his sort trying to win that wager. Would you like me to call the Watch on him now?’
She was momentarily distracted by a noise coming from outside, but then turned back to Rollands. ‘It is freezing outside. He picked a bleak night to carry out his attempt to win that ridiculous bet… Whatever is he doing down there?’ she asked.
‘Whistling,’ he replied in a tone that showed he cared little that Lord Bellamy may catch his death of cold.
Was that the sound she had heard outside? Lisbeth raised a brow. ‘Whistling? Well, at least he isn’t singing. Remember that one?’
‘With horrifying clarity, my lady.’
Lisbeth looked down at her diary, remembering the words she had only just written within its pages, then up at Rollands and asked, ‘Do you think Lord Bellamy will do? For my plan, I mean.’
Rollands considered her question for a moment then rubbed his chin with his thumb and forefinger. ‘He is an Earl. He is well connected. He does have the look of a hell cub and he seems…determined.’ Rollands took a step closer to the desk. ‘Are you sure you want to go through with this?’
I must reclaim my life, she said to herself. ‘No,’ she answered. Her heart beating faster at the task she had set herself. ‘But I have to. I can’t keep living like this. Using someone like him is the only way back into society. And getting back into society is the only way I will be able to find Nathaniel’s killer and prove my innocence once and for all.’
Rollands nodded. ‘I understand. The staff is ready to help, my lady. You need only tell us what you want us to do.’
She glanced at her pocket watch on the desk, her focus blurry. She would not get emotional in front of Rollands, even though he was her only confidante. Instead, she gathered a breath, and her courage. ‘I will do this, and Lord Bellamy is going to help me. He just doesn’t know it yet.’
Rollands bowed. ‘Very good, my lady. I’ll fetch him up, then?’
Lisbeth nodded.
Her butler’s weathered features softened. ‘Is there anything else you require?’
She gave him a weak smile. ‘No, that will be all, thank you.’
Rollands bowed and left the room.
She rose from her chair to search out the warm comfort of the fire. The flames leapt and danced in the grate but the warmth never quite penetrated her outstretched hands. The coals seemed to glow with such life, but she knew it was all an illusion. The embers were nothing but the last warm breath of death.
I am like this fire, she thought. I look alive but inside I feel dead.
She took a deep, painful breath. Still, tears burned behind her eyelids. Is this what she had become? A wisp of smoke, a hazy vapour, a ghost of someone who used to be? She longed to be someone again. To feel wanted. Loved. To prove to them all how wrong they were about her.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hump Day Hunk

Hi everyone

Just wanted to let you all know that my hero in A Scandalous Wager is the Hump Day Hunk over on AusRomToday blog.

Link Here: HumpDayHunk

Also for a short time A Scandalous Wager by Cassandra Samuels is .99c on and for Aussies with an account. So if you have been waiting for this book to go on sale now is the time to grab it. Or gift it to your mother for Mother's Day.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Announcement: Australian Romance Reader's Association Award nominations 2014

I am very proud to announce that A Scandalous Wager has been nominated for Best Historical Romance.

I am also very pleased to announce that I have been nominated as Best New Author for 2014.

Voting is open now!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Kingston Lacy - More than just a house.

In a previous post I talked about the amazing Corfe Castle. Corfe Castle is part of the Kingston Lacy Estate. Run for hundreds of years by the Bankes family
Kingston Lacy front view - all photographs in this blog post
owned by Cassandra Samuels

 William Bankes was by far the most interesting of the characters who  lived in this house. A good friend of the poet Byron (who described him as 'my collegiate pastor, and master, and patron.' who 'Ruled the Roast - or rather the Roasting - and was father of all mischiefs')

The very ornate fireplace.

 He was an avid collector of art and antiquities and Kingston Lacy has a large collection of Egyptian artifacts he acquired during his travels.  He spent some time in the peninsular following Byron and William Beckford to Portugal and Spain buying art as he went. He enjoyed the gypsy life and his travels lasted eight years.

All ready for dinner

 About 1820 William returned home and dedicated most of his life to the restoration and re-modelling of Kingston Lacy. He had inherited it after the death of his brother Henry who died in 1834 in a shipwreck en route to Sicily.

The bell pull chart so that the servants knew which room was requesting tea.

Thomas Cundy Jr submitted three schemes for remodeling the interior earlier but they had been rejected by Henry. Now he was dead William was free to work on Kingston Lacy. William belonged to the romantic generation  that had been inspired by Fonthill, William Beckford's Fantasy home in Wiltshire. Bankes along with Charles Barry took six years to transform Kingston Hall with the vision inspired by Indigo Jones and to be more modern to live in.

In 1841 William was accused of indecently exposing himself with a soldier of the Foot Guards in Green Park. In 1833 a similar charge had been dropped only after the intervention of the Duke of Wellington and other influential friends. Now he jumped bail and fled to Italy but still commissioned art to be sent back to Kingston Lacy, asking his sister (Lady Falmouth) to oversea the decoration. Even though he was still exiled there is proof that he did secretly come home to visit his beloved Kingston Lacy in his declining years and it must have been a great comfort to have at last seen his home decorated and remodeled in the theme and way he had planned all those many years ago.
The sarcophagus of Amenomope that sits in the south garden given to William Bankes by Henry Salt in 1822.
William engaged Giovanni Belzoni (a former strong man) to bring the Philae Obelisk to Kingston Lacy (which took 20years)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Snippet Time - A Scandalous Wager

Hi everyone

I've been so busy since A Scandalous Wager came out a month ago today. It has also just been nominated by the Australian Romance Readers Association for Best Historical Romance 2014.

To celebrate I thought I would post a short snippet. Enjoy. 

Set up: Oliver has just drunkenly taken on The Black Raven Wager and is now meeting Lisbeth for the first time. He just wants to leave but Lisbeth has other plans.

She spun to face him, fire poker drawn level with his heart. ‘Do sit down, Bellamy.’
This time he did laugh. He was in no doubt he could overpower her before she did much harm with that mere stick in her hand — as pointy and well-crafted as it seemed.
‘I believe you owe me an answer, Lord Bellamy.’ She moved towards him brandishing the poker like a rapier. He couldn’t believe his bloodshot eyes. He laughed louder. He nearly told her to keep the tip up, until he saw where her target was and it was no longer his heart. He stopped laughing.
‘Fifty pounds,’ he confessed with a slow smile, for there was no longer any reason to conceal his true mission here. Confounded woman had him at a disadvantage though. If only Henry had not been such a blasted fool, leaving him with more debt than he knew how to handle, a doddery old aunt and two entailed estates full of dependents. Oh, and no money.
He saw her glance at the mantel and realised his time was up. Should he start praying now or…? He wanted to laugh again. If only the Frenchies could see him now. Undone by a handsome widow and a fire poker.
Her gaze left the clock and seemed to focus on his cravat. ‘I fail to see what is so amusing to you, Lord Bellamy. I can only assume you know of my reputation. Why else would you be here? Ah, yes, the money. Fifty pounds, was it? How would you like to earn a  lot more?’ 
This was a twist he had not expected. ‘Excuse me?’
She glided over to him and pointed the poker at his vitals. ‘Let me explain it for you. These little wagers have been happening for quite some time, Lord Bellamy. You see, you are not the first man to sit on my steps and demand entrance. Some have even tried to break in. I find this whole business very childish and most annoying. Can you understand my frustration, Lord Bellamy?’ The poker came very close to his pride.
‘Yes, most annoying,’ he replied, his eyes riveted on the poker. She had no idea how easily he could turn this scenario on its, or in this case, her derrière. He was too intrigued, however, by her suggestion to bother demonstrating just now.
‘However, if you will assist me, I think you will be more than happy with the arrangement I am proposing.’ She stared at him coolly.
‘Arrangement?’ The fire poker remained hovering above his most important asset.
‘Yes. I find I require an escort. You see, I presume there are a number of…outstanding wagers concerning my reputation as the Black Raven, and I will allow you to collect them on the condition you but play the gentlemanly escort.’ She took the poker away from his crotch. ‘Are we in agreement?’

A Scandalous Wager is available for purchase now: 
eISBN: 9780857992017

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Scandalous Wager - is there any better kind?

Huzzah! I have some exciting news. Firstly, my debut novel - A Scandalous Wager is nearly here.

It will be officially released on the 8th of November, 2014 through Escape Publishing as an e-book. I am very proud to be part of the Escape/Harlequin family.

And the book should be available for pre-order through Escape and Amazon on the 1st of October, 2014.

Today I am revealing not only my cover but my blurb as well. I hope you like them both.

Isn't he gorgeous?

And now for the blurb.

Notorious Widow Lisbeth Carslake, Countess of Blackhurst was acquitted of her husband's murder, but no one believes in her innocence. Known as the Black Raven, bringer of bad luck and death, she is eviscerated by the gossips and mocked in the clubs. She’s also the subject of London’s most scandalous wager.

Oliver Whitely, Earl of Bellamy, needs money, but it takes more than a few drinks to take on The Black Raven Wager. He finds himself drunk, at her house, and – more surprisingly – inside, and agreeing to a business proposal at the end of a fire poker. She will let him win the wager, and he will help find her husband’s killer before the killer finds her. But business agreements don’t mean trust, and Lisbeth certainly doesn’t trust Oliver, her body’s reaction to him, or her heart.

Love may be the biggest gamble of their lives, but is it a wager their hearts can afford to lose?

Stay tuned for more exciting news.

Until then - only use good words.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Meet My Character Blog Tour

I’ve been tagged by fellow historical romance author, the lovely Amy Rose Bennet, to take part in this fun blog hop. Each week, an author is tagged. Follow the links and discover more about a character in either a newly released or upcoming title, or a work-in-progress.

Next week, I tag Alyssa J Montgomery blog author of both Contemporary and Medieval Romance.

Let me introduce Lisbeth Carslake, Countess of Blackhurst.

Thank you Cassandra, how sweet of you to ask me to join you today. My story begins in London in 1816. This is sometimes known as the year without a Summer because of the dismal weather we have been having due to a volcanic eruption last year (1815) causing bad weather, crop failures and general starvation over most of Europe. It has been a most horrible time for many.

I've had a hard time lately too. I've been a victim of domestic violence, accused of my husband’s murder, abandoned by my family and friends, called The Black Raven – bringer of bad luck and death and basically became a social pariah.

Even though I was acquitted of murdering my husband, Nathaniel, it seems that many chose to believe gossip and scandal over truth. Until the day I decided I'd had enough. I made a vow to myself that I would reclaim my life.

My plan was fairly simple - re-enter society and hunt down my husband’s killer and prove my innocence once and for all. What could go wrong?

Nothing is ever as simple as it should be as I was soon to find out. I could not just waltz into a ballroom on my own after being out of society for two years, so I had to find someone to escort me back into the vipers pit, otherwise known as the ton. Who would be desperate enough to agree to my proposal?

This is where the my hero comes in. Oliver Whitely, Earl of Bellamy, handsome, strong and dependable - not that I thought much of him at first. In fact I disliked him immensely and I am sure he did not think much of me either. I do confess to being a little protective of myself and my plan at the time. To be truthful I didn't trust him with a cup of tea, let alone my plan.

To find out what happens to Lisbeth and Oliver be sure to download A Scandalous Wager when it is released by Escape Publishing on the 8th of November, 2014.