Hi there! My name is Jessica Peterson, and my Regency-set romance, THE MILLIONAIRE ROGUE, is out this week from Penguin/Berkley sensation! It is book two of THE HOPE DIAMOND TRILOGY – which I pitch as THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR meets a (very sassy!) Jane Austen.
While I was researching ideas for my debut novel, I came across an interesting tid bit. The French Blue – later known as the infamous Hope Diamond – appeared in 1812 London under mysterious circumstances. Having once belonged to the kings of France, the diamond was lost during the tumult of the French Revolution…only to pop up across the channel in Regency England! This was far too delicious a nugget of history to pass up. My agent pitched the gentleman jewel thief idea; THE HOPE DIAMOND TRILOGY was born!
THE MILLIONAIRE ROGUE is the story of an unlikely couple – an overworked banker and a socially ambitious debutante – as they chase the diamond across London…and fall hopelessly in love while doing it.
I had so much fun writing Thomas and Sophia’s story – if you’d like to know more, visit my website at www.jessicapeterson.com. I hope you’ll have fun reading MILLIONAIRE, too!
For a chance to win a copy of MILLIONAIRE, I’d love to know what sort of unlikely pairing you love most. A rake and a wallflower? A Romeo and Juliet? A duchess and her footman?
Excerpt from THE MILLIONAIRE ROGUE:
Sophia’s pulse leapt as the old family carriage pulled into the street. Truth be told, Violet wasn’t the only one sent into a tizzy by the arrival of Lord Harclay’s invitation three days ago. Sophia smiled as she recalled Violet turning bright red whilst reading the note – something about money and champagne and settling their accounts.
All the ingredients for an appropriately scandalous evening out. Whatever her intentions, Violet had most definitely set her cap at that libertine the Earl.
Over Violet’s shoulder Sophia had managed to catch one last line – ‘others of our mutual acquaintance shall join us’ – and knew, knew, that Mr. Hope would be among them.
Even now her heart danced in her chest at the thought of seeing him again. She had not heard from him since leaving his house the morning after the theft; that was nearly a week ago. Much to her disappointment he had not come to say goodbye after interrogating the acrobats with Violet and Lord Harclay; Sophia in turn did not write him following her harrowing debut in the gossip sheets, perhaps out of spite, perhaps because she knew there was nothing either of them could do.
The French Blue, of course, remained at large.
Besides, the Marquess kept her busy, calling most afternoons, offering invitations for the evening. While talk of an offer was assiduously avoided, Sophia saw in Withington’s eyes he meant to do right by her. And what did one cryptic entry in the gossip rags matter when she was engaged to be married to a Marquess?
Still. She often found herself thinking about Thomas. She wondered what occupied his time, what he did and whom he saw. Had he had much success in his search for the French Blue? What of La Reinette, the cloaked riders, Sophia’s mysterious note?
And then there was the memory of his touch, his mouth and hands on her body in ways that made her ache when she thought of them.
Some days the longing to hear from him – a letter, a call, a stroll, anything – was unbearable.
And so it was no surprise that Sophia’s entire being thrummed in anticipation as the carriage drew to a stop before the immaculate façade of Lord Harclay’s residence on Brook Street, in fashionable Hanover Square.
Even in the midst of her own excitement, Violet noticed her cousin’s distress. As they dismounted, she took Sophia’s hands and pulled her close.
“Do not worry, cousin,” she said quietly, her blue eyes gleaming. “Tonight shall be great fun. Mr. Hope was asking about you today.”
Sophia’s heart skipped a beat. “He was?”
“Oh, yes.” Together they mounted the front steps. “It was actually rather adorable. At the end of our meeting he tied his tongue in knots trying to ask, without asking, if you were to attend tonight’s dinner. He had a certain spring in his step after I assured him you were.”
The butler, a young, handsome man by the name of Mr. Avery, led them into the drawing room. He held the door open and motioned them inside.
Sophia swallowed, hard, to keep her heart from leaping into her mouth. Violet patted the top of her hand and smiled. They were here at last.
Stepping over the threshold, Sophia blinked, turning her head; and there he was across the room, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, coupe held carelessly in his right hand, the left grazing a well-sculpted thigh.
In her veins her blood rushed as Mr. Hope met her eyes. His were bluer than she remembered, soft and serious and so lovely she could hardly bear to look. There was a tug, vaguely familiar, in the knot of her belly – the tug between their bodies, at once sweet and terribly overwhelming.
His lips were parted, face taut as if he, too, suffered from stolen breath. And still he did not look away; for a moment his eyes flashed with hunger, and she remembered his hands between her legs, the intoxicating tenderness of his fingers.
Hope set down his glass, eyes never leaving hers, and made to move in her direction.