If there’s one thing I enjoy almost as much as writing books, it’s READING books. I love discovering new authors, too. So I thought my blog would be a perfect place to introduce my authors friends to potential new readers. Only to give it a twist, we’re doing this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. The clock is ticking. Ready! Set! Go!
This week’s guest: Eileen Dreyer
1. Which Scooby Doo character best describes you in high school?
I’d love to say I was Velma. Truth was I was more klutzy Daphne.Although I can’t imagine waiting for somebody else to save me.
2. How many rejections did you receive before you sold your first book?
Let’s put it this way. I threatened to wallpaper my bathroom.
3. Bon Jovi or Tim McGraw?
Bon Jovi. Rock’n’roll, baby!!
4. In which genres and sub-genres have you been published, and what does your narrow or sweeping focus say about you?
As Eileen Dreyer and my evil twin Kathleen Korbel–medical suspense, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, paranormal, historical romantic adventure. It says that I’m an old trauma nurse. We bore easily.
5. When you give into a craving for fast food, what’s your drive-thru destination, and what would be found in your bag?
Steak ‘n Shake–Steakburger with everything, fries, Diet Coke (although I just had my first In-N-Out Burger, and I could be swayed).
6. Which is your preference to write: love scenes or murder scenes?
Murder scenes. You can murder people a million ways, but love scenes comes down to Slot A and Tab B. And as much as I love it, emotion is much harder to write.
7. Jane Austen or Stephen King?
Jane Austen. King scary.
8. What is your best advice to a writer who has just received a rejection?
Congratulations. You’re now a real author. Now sit down and get back to work. Often the difference between published and not is the inability to hear the word no.
9. Are you more dangerous in a bookstore or a shoe store?
Have you seen my shoes? Bookstore, obviously.
10. Which heroine from one of your books is most like you?
Probably Lady Kate Seaton from Always A Temptress (without the dysfunctional family-my dad wants people to know that). I’m kind of a snot, and I love to outrage people when I can.
11. The Bachelor or Sons of Anarchy?
Sons of Anarchy. Give me story over schlock.
12. What is the first thing you do when you finish a book?
Clean my office. It gets pretty awful in there when I’m on deadline. Keep thinking I’ll find the Lindbergh baby.
13. Name one thing you wish you could change about yourself.
I do wish I could get my ADD more under control. It would be so nice to be able to write without deadline….squirrel!!
14. Does your perfect vacation involve high-altitude and the word “jump” or umbrella drinks at poolside?
I’m probably going with “jump.” I love experiences. I can drink by any pool.
15. Sure, it’s like picking a favorite child, but which one or two of your titles do you secretly love just a little more?
One Kathleen Korbel Silhouette, A Rose for Maggie (going back up soon), and my first Eileen Dreyer historical romance, Barely a Lady .
Once a Rake
By Eileen Dreyer
There were six riders in all, four of them dressed in the motley remnants of their old regiments. Foot soldiers, by the way they rode. Not very good ones, if the company they kept was any indication. Ragged, scruffy and slouching, rifles slung over their shoulders and knives in their boots.
Sarah might have dismissed them as unimportant if they had been led by anyone but her husband’s cousin, Martin Clarke. She knew better than to think Martin wished her well. Martin wished her to the devil, just as she wished him. A thin, middling man with sparse sandy hair and bulging eyes, he had the harried, petulant air of an ineffectual law clerk. Sarah knew better. Martin was as ineffectual as the tides.
Just as Sarah knew he would, he trotted right past the great front door and toward the outbuildings where he knew he’d find her at this time of day. She stood where she was, egg pail in hand, striving for calm. Martin was appearing far too frequently lately.
“Martin,” she greeted him quietly as he pulled his horse to a skidding halt within feet of her. She felt sorry for the horse, a short-boned bay that bore the scars of Martin’s spurs.
“Sarah,” Martin said in a curiously deep voice.
He did not bow or tip his hat. Martin knew exactly what she was due and wasn’t about to let her forget it.
“Lady Clarke,” the sixth man said in his booming, jovial voice.
Sarah’s smile was genuine for the Squire, who sat at Martin’s left on an ungainly-looking sorrel mare. “Squire,” she said, then walked up to rub the horse’s nose. “You’ve brought our Maizie to call, have you? How are you, my pretty?”
Pretty was not really a word one should use for Maizie. As sturdy as a stone house, she was all of seventeen hands, with a Roman head and a shambling gait. She was also the best hunter in the district, and of a size to carry Squire’s massive girth.
Maizie’s arrival was met by a thud and a long, mournful squeal from the pig pen.
The squire laughed with his whole body. “Still in love, is he?”
Sarah grinned back. “Caught him not an hour ago trying to sneak over for a tryst.”
The squire chuckled. “It’s good someone loves my girl,” he said with an affectionate smack to the horse’s neck. Maizie nuzzled Sarah’s apron and was rewarded with an old fall apple. Willoughby sounded as if he were dying from anguish.
“To what do I owe the honor, gentlemen?” Sarah asked, wishing she had at least had the chance to tidy her hair before facing off with her cousin by marriage. She hated feeling at a disadvantage.
“Have you seen any strangers around?” Martin asked, leaning forward. “There’s been some theft and vandalism in the area. Stolen chickens and the like.”
“Oh, that,” Sarah said with a wave of her hand. “Of course. He’s taken my eggs.”
Martin almost came off his horse. “Who?”
Shading her eyes with her hand, Sarah smiled up at him. “Who? Don’t you mean what? Unless you name your foxes.”
That obviously hadn’t been the answer he was looking for. “Fox? Bah! I’m talking about a man. Probably one of those damned thievin’ soldiers preying on good people.”
Did he truly not notice how his own men scowled at him? Men who undoubtedly had been wandering the roads themselves? Well, Sarah thought, if she’d had any intention of acknowledging her surprise visitor, Martin’s words disabused her of the notion. She wouldn’t trust Napoleon himself to her cousin’s care.
“Not unless your soldier has four feet and had a long bushy tail,” she said, genially. “But I don’t think he would meet the height requirements for the army.”
The squire, still patting his Maizie, let out a great guffaw. “We’ll get your fox for you, Lady Clarke,” he promised. “Not great hunt country here. But we do. We do.”
“Kind of you, squire. I’m sure the girls will be grateful. You know how fatched Mary and Martha can get.”
“Martha….” Martin was getting redder by the minute. “Why haven’t I heard about this? You boarding people here? What would Boswell say?”
Sarah tilted her head. She knew better, but she couldn’t help gigging Martin. He was just so disagreeable. “I imagine he’d say that he was glad for the eggs every morning for breakfast, Martin.”
For a second she thought Martin might have a seizure, right there on his gelding. “You’re not going to get away with abusing your privilege much longer, missy,” he snapped. “This land is….”
“Boswell’s,” she said flatly. “Not yours until we know he won’t come back.”
“Bah!” Martin huffed. “It’s been almost fourth months, girl. If he was coming back, he’d be here.”
Sarah stood very still, praying that none of them caught the sudden tension in her shoulders. Instinctively her gaze wandered over to what they had taken to calling Boswell’s Arbor, a little sitting area by the cliff with a lovely view of the ocean. Boswell had loved sitting there. His roses, though, were dying.
“He will be back, Martin,” she said, throwing as much conviction as she could into her voice. “You’ll see.Men are returning all the time from Belgium. The battle was so terrible it will be months yet before we learn the final toll from Waterloo.”
“You’re only putting off the inevitable, girl. And wasting my time.”
It was the Squire who brought their attention back with a sharp ‘harrumph’.
For the first time, Sarah blushed. “My apologies, Squire,” she said. “You didn’t come here to be annoyed by our petty grievances. As for your question, Cousin Martin, no. I have seen no one here.”
“Big man,” Squire said. “Red hair.”
She was already shaking her head. After all, she hadn’t seen anything but a shadow.
“I’m sure you won’t mind if we search the property,” Martin challenged.
He was already dismounting his horse. Pretending that the action didn’t set her heart stumbling all over again, Sarah smiled. “Of course not. Start with the house. I’m sure the dowager will be just as delighted to see you as the last time you surprised her.”
Martin was already on the ground and heading toward the stables. With Sarah’s words, he stopped cold. Sarah refused to smile. She didn’t need to incite him further. It was a good thing, though, that he couldn’t hear her heart or sense how sick she suddenly felt at the thought of him searching the property.
“Just the outbuildings,” he amended, motioning to the men, who followed suit.
Sarah was a heartbeat shy of protesting when she heard it. Willoughby. The thudding turned into a great crash and the heartfelt squeals turned into a near-scream of triumph. She turned just in time to jump free as the pig came galloping across the yard, six hundred pounds of unrestrained passion headed straight for Squire’s horse.
Unfortunately, Martin was standing between Willoughby and his own true love. And Sarah sincerely doubted that the pig could see the man in his headlong dash to bliss.
Sarah called out a warning. Martin stood frozen on the spot, as if staring down the spectre of death. Howling with laughter, the Squire swung Maizie about.
It was all over in a moment. Squire leapt from Maizie and gave her a good crack on the rump. With a flirtatious toss of the head and a whinny, the mare took off down the lane, Willoubhby in hot pursuit.
But not before the boar had run right over Martin, leaving him flat in the mud with hoofprints marching straight up his best robin’s egg superfine and white linen. Sarah tried so hard not to laugh. The other men weren’t so restrained, slapping legs and laughing at the man who’d brought them as they charged down the lane after the pig.
Sarah knew that she was a Christian, because she bent to help Boswell’s unpleasant relation off the ground. “Are you all right, cousin?”
Bent over and clutching his ribs, Martin yanked his arm out of her grasp. “You’ll pay for this, you little…”
The Squire frowned. “Language, sir. Ladies.”
Martin waved him off as well. “This is no lady. You know it perfectly well. Why my cousin demeaned himself to marry her…”
“Is no bread and butter of ours,” the Squire snapped, casting a contemplative eye in the direction Willoughby had taken, as if considering once again setting him on Martin. “Apologize to the lady, Clarke, or I’ll know why. And then let us leave her to her work. We certainly haven’t made her day any easier.”
Martin huffed, but he complied. He was still brushing off his once-pristine attire when the soldiers, bantering like children on a picnic, returned brandishing Willoughby’s lead, the pig following disconsolately behind. With a smile for the ragged soldier who’d caught her pig, Sarah held her hand out for the rope.
“Thank you, Mr…”
The man, lean and lined from sun and hardship, ducked his head. “Wilms, ma’am. Pleasure. Put up a good fight, ‘e did.”
She chuckled. “I know all too well, Mr. Wilms.” Turning, she held her hand out. “Thank you, sir. Squire. I’m so sorry you had to send Maizie off.”
The squire grinned at her, showing his gap teeth and twinkling blue eyes. “Aw, she’ll be at the bottom of the lane, right enough. She knows to get out of yon pig’s way.”
Tipping his low-brimmed hat to Sarah, he turned to help Martin to his horse.Sarah waved farewell and tugged a despondent Willoughby back to his pen. She was just pulling the third knot tight when she caught sight of that shadow again, this time on her side of the coop. Casting a quick glance to where the Squire had just mounted behind the pig-catching soldier, she bent over Willoughby.
“I wouldn’t show myself yet if I were you,” she murmured, hoping the shadow heard her. “And if it was you let Willoughby go a moment ago, I thank you.”
“A search would have been…problematic,” she heard, and a fresh chill chased down her spine.
There was a burr to his voice. A Scot, here on the South Dorset coast. Now, how frequently could she say she’d seen that?
“You didn’t by any chance recently shoot at someone, did you?”
As if he would tell the truth, if he were indeed the assassin.
“Not who you think. No.”
Why she instinctively believed him, she had no idea. She should turn around this minute and call for help. Every instinct of decency said so. But Martin was the local magistrate, and Sarah knew how he treated prisoners. Even innocent ones. Squeezing her eyes shut, Sarah listened to the jangle of the troop turning to leave.
“Give you good day, Lady Clarke,” the Squire said, and waved the parade off down the drive.
Martin didn’t follow right away. “This isn’t over, missy,” he warned, pitching his voice low enough to not be overheard. “This land belongs to me now, and you know it.”
Sarah sighed, her mind made up. She simply could not accommodate Martin in this or anything. Straightening, she squarely faced the dyspeptic man. “This land is Boswell’s,” she said baldly. “Until he comes back, I am here to make sure it is handed back into his hands in good heart. Good day, Martin.”
And she deliberately turned back to her pig.
Martin opened his mouth to argue, and then saw the Squire and other men waiting for him. He settled for a final, “Bah!” and drove his heels into his poor horse.
Sarah stood where she was until she could no longer hear them. Then, with a growing feeling of inevitability, she once more climbed past the broken pigpen and approached the shadow at the back of the coop. And there he was, a very large red-headed man slumped against the stone wall. He was even more ragged than the men who had ridden with Martin, his clothing tattered and filthy, his hair a rat’s nest, his beard bristling and even darker red than his hair. His eyes were bright, though, and his cheeks flushed. He held his hand to his side, and he was listing badly.
Sarah crouched down next to him to get a better look, and saw that his shirt was stained brown with old blood. His hands, clutched over his belly, were stained with new blood, which meant that those bright eyes were from more than intelligence. Even so, Sarah couldn’t remember ever seeing a more compelling, powerful man in her life.
“Hello,” she greeted him, her own hands clenched, as if that alone would protect her from him. “I assume I am speaking to the Scotsman for whom everyone is looking.”
His grin was crooked and under any other circumstance, would have been endearing. “Och, lassie, nothin’ gets past ye.”
“I thought you were dead.”
He frowned. “Wait a few minutes,” he managed. “I’ll see what I can do.”
And then, as gracefully as a sailing vessel slipping under the waves, he sank all the way to his side and lost consciousness.
New York Times Bestselling, award-winning author Eileen Dreyer has published 40 novels and 10 short stories under her name and that of her evil twin, Kathleen Korbel in contemporary romance, paranormal romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, mystery and medical forensic suspense. A proud member of RWA’s Hall of FAME, she also has numerous awards from RT BookLovers and an Anthony nomination for mystery. She is now focusing on what she calls historic romantic adventure in her DRAKE’S RAKES series. A native of St. Louis, she still lives there with her family. She has animals but refuses to subject them to the limelight.
Connect with Eileen through social media at these locations: