Wherever he goes, Blaize, Marquess of Stretton, hears the jingle of keys as society mothers lock up their daughters. As the embodiment of Bacchus, god of wine and madness, it’s something he’s used to.
Yet his heart is lonely. Until he enters a ballroom, hunting for the Titans who destroyed his father. One look at Lady Aurelia Wells and he’s consumed with an instant compulsion to protect her from the attentions of another man who smells of Titan—Marcus, Duke of Lyndhurst.
Aurelia is no shy debutante. She knows what she wants, and it’s the stunningly handsome Blaize, even if it means defying her powerful mother. When Blaize disappears, Aurelia embarks on a treacherous cross-country chase to find him, knowing that if she fails, she must marry her mother’s choice: Marcus.
Each book in the Even Gods Fall in Love series is STANDALONE.
- Lightning Unbound
- Mad For Love
- Arrows of Desire
- Forged By Love
- War Chest
- Her Quicksilver Lover
About the Author
L. M. Connolly, also writing as Lynne Connolly, writes historical romance, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. She loves the conflicts and complications that come about if someone lives their life to the full.
She has her own blog, but she also blogs for The Good, The Bad and The Unread, the UK Regency/Georgian writers' blog and Heroes and Heartbreakers. She lives in the UK with her family and her mews, a cat called Frankie. She also enjoys making and decorating dolls' houses. She visits the US at least once a year, attends conferences and has a great time.
Visit her at: http://lynneconnolly.com.
Read an Excerpt
London, Spring 1755
"If you listen hard you can hear the sound of keys turning in locks," d'Argento remarked, gazing around the crowded ballroom. In spring, at the height of the Season, the matchmakers were in full cry. Everything glittered, from the jewels to the spangles sewn on some of the gowns and waistcoats to the brilliance of the chandeliers above. The pier-glasses set between each window reflected the light back at the participants.
Blaize enjoyed the spectacle but preferred to remain apart from it, if he could. He glanced at his friend, a cynical smile quirking the corners of his mouth. "Mothers locking up their daughters, you mean?"
"From you. They like me." D'Argento arched a brow, daring Blaize to disagree with him. Why should he when he was telling the truth?
Blaize laughed outright. His reputation was bad, but d'Argento could meet him and even overtake him in the right mood. However, d'Argento had only recently arrived on these shores and they didn't know him very well. Yet. "If only they knew. You're a new conquest for them. Pretty, isn't it?"
Blaize moved across the ballroom toward a waiter bearing a tray of wine, his manner easy, not revealing his need for the drink. "All those silks and satins, the candlelight — in our day we had torches and drapery."
"Our day?" d'Argento purred, but the sound held a warning. "It's always our day, my friend."
It had been his day for the last thousand years, although Blaize himself could only claim a couple of hundred. But his forebears had borne the same gifts — or curse, as he preferred to call them on occasion — for as long as human memory lasted.
One day he would forget and allow the oblivion of total madness to descend on his soul. The way to do that was to stop drinking alcohol. He couldn't afford that indulgence, but it remained a tantalizing promise just out of reach.
He snatched a glass of wine off a tray and tried not to gulp. D'Argento watched him with satisfaction. "If you had not done that, my friend, I would have forced it down your throat. The last time was enough for me."
"I liked Bedlam. One day I will claim it for my own."
"It's already yours."
"Not yet." The wildness, never completely at bay, receded as the wine filled his system, but it never completely left him. Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. He was that god. Bacchus, the god of wine and madness was here, alive and well in this exclusive, beautiful room in the person of Blaize, Marquis of Stretton. If they knew, the mamas would do more than glare.
The Comte d'Argento — or as the legends had it, Mercury, messenger and physician to the gods — stood next to him, watching and waiting. They'd come here searching for more of their kind. After their enforced dispersal thirty years before, the quest had become Blaize's raison d'etre. Nothing else mattered next to that. Once completed, he'd allow himself the sweet forgetfulness of insanity.
He sensed something. Just a twitch, a tinge of the mental communication they could use or disguise at will, but it flashed through his senses like wildfire. A buzz, like a sound only a bat would hear.
"Feel that?" d'Argento said sharply.
"Yes, but only a little."
"It's the first hint we've had for months."
They'd been hunting the lost gods, the re-creations of the divinities destroyed in an explosion thirty years ago. Nearly thirty-one now. They'd lost most of their number and the battle between the Olympians and the Titans, which had died down in recent times, revived in full force to clash swords, minds and bodies in the ballrooms of fashionable London. Blaize and d'Argento were two of the few gods to escape the slaughter, the others scattered, living in hiding or simply ignorant of their true nature.
That nudge of a mind against his meant back to work. They needed to discover what it was and if it was deliberate communication or accidental. "We should split up. The mamas love you, so you take the ladies and I'll stroll to the card room and see what I can find there."
"Torturer." D'Argento adopted a plaintive tone. "You have a way of turning every situation to your advantage."
Blaize chuckled. "One of the best parts of a fearsome reputation as a rakehell is being avoided by designing mamas."
"Not all of them are designing. And you're rich enough that most don't care."
He deposited his empty glass on a tray and seized another before the waiter could pass him. "True enough. So I'll take the ones that don't want anything but enjoyment and good company."
Grumbling under his breath, d'Argento left him. After pasting a smile on to his face, Blaize headed for the corner where the older matrons clustered closest. He only avoided them because of their marriageable daughters, for scandalous though he was, he still held one of the highest titles in the country. Marquess of Stretton, no less. A less scrupulous mama might still try to net him for her daughter. The daughter would get a great deal more than she bargained for.
He took his time strolling down the window side of the elegant room, a salon converted to a ballroom for the occasion. All fashionable elements lived in this gilded space, every candle in the two big chandeliers was lit. Wall sconces enhanced the glitter, while mirrors over the fireplace and between the windows added to the glare. Too much, in his opinion, but it reflected off the jewels and shining fabrics of the people pacing the stately moves of the minuet played by the quartet stationed in one corner of the room.
He could appreciate the sight, though often he wished himself a thousand miles away. Still smiling, he managed to snag and drink two more glasses of red wine before he reached the end of the room. People stopped him to exchange words and he began to relax, the tension caused by abstinence leaving him, sanity returning, the wildness banked down deep inside. Resting, not gone. While he walked, he scanned, tracking the room for a trace of that supra-normal buzz. Blaize didn't care how many people watched his progress and his consumption of wine. They could think what they liked, as they always did. Besides, he wasn't the only person taking advantage of the generous hospitality their hosts offered. The Dowager Duchess of Kentmere and her daughter had newly arrived from Scotland. In London they were known by repute only, but by this display they were certainly not short of the means to throw an elegant ball. He was about to leave the room, heading for the smaller salon beyond, when he felt it again. Another twinge, like catching a nerve unaware, and then it disappeared. He had no idea if the flicker was meant to draw him or if the owner was unwittingly sending it, but someone had contacted him mentally, and it wasn't d'Argento.
He glanced around. He didn't know everyone here. A young woman snagged his attention. Her hair gleamed dark through its covering of fashionable powder, her eyes clear and blue. She was innocent, respectable, no doubt wellborn. Everything he'd determined to avoid. Short, slender, a fairy of a woman, she appealed to him like no other.
His heart beat harder, then subsided. A warning, and a recognition. One hammer blow against his chest told him the truth.
This woman was his. Deep down, something primitive and unreasoning called to her. She belonged to him. Even though men thronged around her, he'd kill them all to get to her.
Every rational bone in Blaize's body screamed against him approaching her, but she drew him like no other person in this place tonight. His cock twitched most inappropriately. He wanted her in private, alone, where he could strip that pretty pale blue gown from her body and feast on her pearly skin. He stared at her like an untried boy, yearning to touch her, to take her.
Despite having calmed the beast inside him with wine, it strained at the leash, drawing him as inevitably as a snake drew a rabbit. Blaize was used to being the rabbit. He chafed at the reversal of the roles.
The older lady sat on a wide sofa, her voluminous skirts spread wide. She held court while the younger woman, her daughter, stood just to one side of the sofa. As he approached, Blaize took note of her pure, cut-glass accent. "Indeed, Scotland was good enough for us, sir. Edinburgh is an elegant city with many attractions. You know it?"
She took her time turning, a play for power. He glanced around, found someone he knew, Lord Siddling, and put a subtle persuasive hint into the man's mind. Siddling glanced at him and bowed. "May I have the pleasure of introducing someone to you, ma'am?"
She scanned him. Blaize took care not to let his attention stray to the young woman standing by the sofa smiling gently. Too much interest and the guardian would slam the door on him. He'd wait to be invited in.
With only a brief second of what am I doing? astonishment, Blaize went through the introduction. "Delighted to meet you, Duchess," he murmured, his breath whispering over her hand.
An invisible net closed around him, gilded and glittering, but only one of his kind would see it. The pretty snare sent to trap a man in seduction — a spell. It was nothing he couldn't slice his way out of. He'd escape long before the cords strengthened enough to hold him.
This woman had psychic power of some kind. She might even be one of his own, but some mortals had powers too, and a few witches remained, despite the purges of the last century. Although — could they cast a spell powerful enough to ensnare a god? Certainly they could, especially if the god in question went eagerly to his fate. But they couldn't hold him.
Blaize made his bow to Lady Aurelia Welles, and when he took her hand, he touched his lips to her skin. Barely, lightly, but he might as well have pressed his naked body to hers.
Shock arced through him with the power and intensity of pure emotion, no reason in the way. Civilization dropped away from him and he wanted to grip that little hand and drag her away so he could have her to himself. It took a considerable effort of will to batten it down.
Not that he would, of course. Not yet, at any rate. But he wanted her.
Aurelia gazed at the man who'd had the temerity to kiss her hand. Very few gentlemen did, either here or in Scotland. With that brief, barely there kiss he'd attracted her attention. His intention, she imagined. The thrill of real contact in this most artificial of places.
Everything stilled as he lifted his head. Clear grey eyes met hers, his gaze frankly open, with a gleam she couldn't interpret or didn't dare to. Possessive? Surely not in a man she'd only just met. Not someone she didn't know. If Aurelia were the fanciful kind, she'd have imagined they'd bound themselves together with that first touch.
Those things didn't happen outside the old romances, and they never ended happily. She should remember that. A reasoned, negotiated marriage was what she should be looking for. A suitor like the ones who had sworn to follow them down from Scotland to London. However strongly she emphasized that in her mind, rational thought dissipated in the presence of Lord Stretton.
Her mother spared her a glance. "Are you quite rested from the exertions of the dance, my dear?"
Aurelia took a step closer to Lord Stretton. Near enough to feel his warmth over the heat of the candles and the other people standing around, talking. And her usual court of admirers, the men she almost took for granted. They surrounded her every time she appeared in public, even in the presence of women as wealthy as she was, and far more beautiful.
His lordship bowed. "Would you care to dance, Lady Aurelia?"
Relieved to get away from the tedium, delighted and nervous in equal measure, she smiled and glanced at her mother, who gave a dismissive wave of her hand. "Go, girl. Let me discuss the newest gossip with Lady Nottingham. I know how such nonsense bores you."
Resting her hand on his arm in the approved manner, she let him guide her away. "You dislike gossip?" he asked. "If so, you're the first female I've met for a long time who feels that way."
"Just discussing it for hours," she confessed. "I don't consider myself too high-minded for it or anything like that. But once I've heard it, then it's done."
"A woman of determined aspect." He smiled, an edge of wicked adventure in his gaze. She repressed a shiver. His increased intimacy had a definite effect on her.
"Doesn't that deter you?" It had certainly done so to a few men of her acquaintance, even though they usually came back. She sometimes used the forthrightness of her nature to turn them away, but it didn't work for long. But her mother seemed in no hurry to marry her off quickly, as many did. As the daughter of a duke, she said, Aurelia could afford to pick and choose. That Aurelia had been grateful for.
He drew her, the sun to her daisy. So much that the power of her attraction for him scared her. It threatened her good sense and the control she kept hold of so firmly she didn't know what it was like to let go. Usually she liked the men she attracted, no more. Some she disliked, some she tolerated. Nothing else. But this — a man she'd just met, whose clever grey eyes seemed to take her in with a glance — this was unlike anything she'd known before.
They walked to the part of the room designated as the dance floor. When the servants had rolled up the carpet yesterday afternoon, her mother had breathed a sigh of relief that the floor was polished wood and didn't need too much doing to it to make it presentable. In hired houses sometimes the floors had rougher surfaces.
At least they'd started on the country dances now. Formal patterns like strip the willow and threading the needle would separate the partners for large portions of it. He was dangerous. With every smile, and the way others looked at him, she knew. Some stared openly until he stared back. Others gave him a glance and turned away to gossip. Wherever he passed, he didn't go unnoticed. She could slink through a ballroom and if people didn't know who she was, they wouldn't take any notice of her. He'd never go unremarked whether they knew him or not. His presence was too powerful for that.
"Is it tedious being so notorious?" she asked as they took their places.
He shot a startled glance at her, eyes wide, and then the corners creased when he smiled. Goodness, that was far too attractive. For a moment she'd reached the real man, the person behind the glossy exterior. Then he covered up again, drew his smooth society aura around himself, and the quartet struck up.
She'd learned this measure in the schoolroom and danced it any number of times. Just as well, because her memories scattered. She had to let her body take control and follow the remembered paces by itself. In the same way she pasted on a practiced smile for the ten minutes or so they were on the floor.
When she had to take his hand to "thread the needle", she looked everywhere but at him until he said, "In answer to your question, the answer's yes. Sometimes." He paused long enough for the dance to take them apart again and give her the moment she needed to recall what she'd said ten minutes before.
The music came to its natural conclusion and somehow they ended at the other side of the ballroom. In the usual confusion of couples leaving the floor and more moving in to replace them, then forming sets for the next dance, Lord Stretton seized her hand and drew her in the direction of the exit. God help her, but she went.
The grand salon was on the first floor, but a few rooms on the ground floor were open. "Let's find something to drink," he suggested, as he guided her down the stairs. Aware her mother would expect her back directly, that only proved as an incentive to go with him. Besides, when would she ever get this chance again, to enjoy the company of a man like this?
Her behaviour was a little daring, but not too much. Made more when he procured them each a glass of white wine and then took her not back upstairs, but to the open door that led to the garden.
Gardens in London were more spacious than they appeared from the front, but this one contained a greater number of people than it was used to, so Aurelia assumed she'd be reasonably safe. Until he turned to her and she realized she'd never be safe anywhere. Not with him.
His eyes gleamed in the moonlight, seeming to take on the silvery hue. Transfixed, she let him take her glass and set it down on a nearby parapet before taking her hand to lead her along a path to a small pavilion set by the wall to the next house. "We're in luck," he murmured. "We have the place to ourselves. But who knows for how long?"
Excerpted from "Mad for Love"
Copyright © 2015 L.M. Connolly.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A literally ENCHANTED heroine, a pissed off God in hiding & a TITAN sized Dowager Duchess take NAUGHTINESS to an OLYMPIC LEVEL! Over 30 years ago, a power hungry God caused a explosion of OLYMPIC proportion & hit the resent button on many God & Goddesses' lives, as they died & were reborn in the nearest prego lady. Blaize, the Marquess of Stretton, is over 1000 years old, hiding in plain sight, searching for reborn Gods & Goddesses & is actually Bacchus, the God of Wine & Madness. Now Blaize (love his name) has a few godly quirks like, if he doesn't drink a ginormous amounts of wine, he actually goes MAD with DRUNKENNESS! Society thinks he is a rogue & drunk 24/7, but he is actually clear headed. His BF Argento aka Mercury are searching for reborn brethren to school them in the powers & hopefully join forces against their enemies, but when he struts into a ball & sees the spectacular visions of gorgeousness, he is compelled to PROTECT only her! Lady Aurelia is the daughter of the Scottish Dowager Duchess of Kentmere, who rules her life 24/7. The Duchess has been trying to snag the best hubby for her daughter to raise HER higher in Society. Aurelia just wants to be loved for herself, not her beauty, wealth or her mom's ambitions. She plays her mama's & Society's games with juggling suitors, acting like the prim & proper lady, dodging her mom's wants & conceals her complete BOREDOM inside herself. But Aurelia see the dazzling & tempting man who just entered the ballroom & makes her safe world dissolve & totally awakens HER SEXUAL KRAKEN! The Dowager Duchess wants Aurelia to catch Marcus, the Duke of Lyndhurst, but she CRAVES Blaize, but mama & Society doesn't approve, but 1 kiss is all it takes for her vajayjay to start making all the decisions, good or bad. Blaize knows that Aurelia is magically enchanted, draws males like flies to sweets, has a nasty mama from a Titan heritage & knows she spells DANGER, but he could care less & follows the path to his own destruction or salvation! With not so innocent tea times, garden NAUGHTINESS, screaming girlie parts & 1 hard & unfulfilled God of Wine & Madness, they know that must fight to be together for always. Of course, Mama Duchess uses all her EVILNESS to bring the Marcus to heel & Blaize to vanish to Scotland. But what she doesn't know YET, is that Marcus, Blaize & Argento join up, combine powers & rediscover some new old friends! Plus throw in a pissed off Cupid starts shooting out arrows of anger, a REVENGING maze & that sometimes MADNESS can be a welcomed dear old friend to vanquish the cruel villainess. Along their mystic quest, Blaize finally gets his much needed satisfaction from his BAD GIRL, who does all things, so naughty & not so nice, to his granite hard manly part, but can there love conquer her MIGHTY TITAN of a mom? Will Blaize willing embrace his madness to get his girl? Can Aurelia defy her upbringing to get her man? Will poor Argento get his own healing mate? How do you calm down a pissed off Cupid? Pretty please, may I have 5 minutes alone with he Dowager Duchess to give her that so well deserved BEOTCH SLAP? This is the 2nd book of the Even Gods Fall In Love series & I didn't read the first (but crave to), but it didn't matter because it rocked all on its own! Now Aurelia was a GOOD GIRL because she was watched 24/7, plus she never had a good reason not to. All GOOD GIRLS need a reason to embrace & release their INNER BAD GIRL, but Blaize inspired her SEXUAL KRAKEN & I personal love it! Blaize was a walking contradiction in Society's eyes, with his drinking, but I love a yummy MAVERICK who fights back & Blaize was the Vin Diesel (with hair) of his time, by bucking against Society & using his so-called weakness as his strengths. Ms. Connolly created totally flawed characters who were defined by their pasts, but were willing to push past them by their mate's encouraging love. The Dowager Duchess was he villainess of the tale, but she soon learned that the way you treat your kids will either improve your life or will bite you in the a$$! Let's just say that the Duchess will need a donut for her heavily padded chair! I loved how Ms. Connolly mixed her 1800s romance with Greek mythology because it brought back all the hours my mom & I shared our love of mythology & books & getting "SHHHHH!" out of countless libraries (snorting laughter is loud)! Let's chat about Ms. Connolly & her RELEASING THE SEXUAL KRAKEN scenes filled with panties dropping nibbling kisses, mythology sized orgasms & screaming satisfaction that keep my pleasure center on high alert. Some may say I give out a lot of 5 finger up & 10 toes scores, but the author has to completely EARN it & Ms. Connolly EARNS her 5 fingers up & toes score with intrigue, God & Goddess misbehaving, good verses evil & evil getting its a$$ kicked, a SEXUAL KRAKEN RELEASED & EMBRACED, wine & madness being put to excellent use, a heroine & hero fighting Gods, Goddesses, an older brother & Society's rules, a Dowager Duchess worthy of Tartarus (Google it my peeps) & scenes that will awaken your SEXUAL KRAKEN to demand your own PULL THE FIRE ALARM satisfaction! But I have to ask her, who's the next God or Goddess to fall? P.S THOUGHT- The cover is so perfect for this story! Author & NetGalley ARC given for my honest review.
me being greek had me fantasizing about this before I even started it , since i am named after a greek goddess myself i loved it This book was such an amazing surprise! I started reading a book about characters in London in 1755 and was imagining all the beautiful, enormous gowns and the powdered wigs the characters would be wearing. The opening scene starts in a London ball room, but it became apparent quickly that this was no ordinary historical romance novel. I wouldn’t characterize it as paranormal, but rather almost a blend of historical romance with fantasy. And what a fantasy it is! It’s like the author unleashed the Avengers on the unwitting inhabitants of London. We learn there are mere mortals, witches, Gods, Olympians and Titians. The main character Blaize is actually the God Bacchus. He is an immortal God who has lived many, many years. He is the ruler of bacchanalia and chaos, of drinking and voracious appetites. He lives a sober life however, choosing not to unleash his immense powers. In order to stay sober, he must drink wine. He is the opposite of an alcoholic. While an alcoholic drinks to get drunk, Blaize must drink in order to stay sober. Being seen constantly imbibing has given him a reputation among the ton that he is a rake of the first order, even though he is a Marquess. His companion and friend, D’Argento (actually the God Mercury) is searching along with Blaize for more of their kin. His gaze lands on the lovely Aurelia at this ball. He feels that she has an enchantment spell woven around her, but he doesn’t care. He wants her. He whisks her away and they have a very intense introduction involving tongues and lips. He realizes quickly that her mother has something to do with the enchantment, but being a cocky man and God, he feels he can break the spell if he chooses and therefore nothing will keep him away from his prey.The time has come for Blaize to ask for Aurelia’s hand in marriage. He knows her mother is a dangerous woman, but he doesn’t know how dangerous. After his meeting with her, he has disappeared. For over a week, Aurelia and Marcus can’t find him anywhere. D’Argento would have been helpful, but he has gone searching for Kentmere, Aurelia’s brother as they strongly suspect he is also a god. There is no trace of Blaize until one evening Aurelia has a vivid dream of Blaize, intoxicated out of his mind calling for her to help him. She realizes that he is lost in the treacherous maze at her family estate in Scotland.They find Blaize in the maze. He is being drugged and has not had wine in two weeks. He is mad with his powers. They quickly leave wine and plan to return later once Blaize has got himself under control. That night Blaize and Aurelia have their long lost reunion. Aurelia and Blaize are married the next day as she was a ruined woman the minute she left London with Marcus. They take a yacht back to England to deal with her mother. The two waste no time and spend the two days locked in their cabin exploring each other’s bodies. If Blaize is the God of orgies, he gorges himself on Aurelia and she can’t get enough of him.