Friday, June 2, 2017

Aloha to Manda Collins and DUKE WITH BENEFITS - Sneak Peek Excerpt

I follow Manda Collins on Twitter .... we chat about everything except books ... but the time has come for me to dive into her upcoming release.  DUKE  WITH BENEFITS is available June 27 from St. Martin's Press: 


Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher―an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches―Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on. . .and cannot resist.

Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest. . .and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

DUKE WITH BENEFITS is the second in Manda Collins' Studies in Scandal series set in Regency England.

 Ada, Countess of Loveless,
was a Regency Era Mathematician
(and Lord Byron's daughter)

I wonder if Manda knew I was a math major in college ... and so was my husband.  I share a few things in common - love of the English countryside and multiple cats - with Manda.  From her bio (link),

Manda Collins spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. An affinity for books led to a graduate degree in English, followed by another in Librarianship. By day, she works as an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college, where she teaches college students how to navigate the tangled world of academic research. A native of coastal Alabama, Manda lives in the house her mother grew up in with three cats, sometimes a dog, sometimes her sister, and more books than strictly necessary.

Learn more about Manda, including  buy links for her books, at

I am giving away Regency swag to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,

1. Let's chat about Manda's home state of Alabama. What do you know about the Cotton State?  I once visited an Air Force friend at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery.  It is the Heart of Dixie!

2. Comments are open through Sunday, June 4, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3. I'll post the winner on Monday, June 5.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Book 1 in the series ... 

St. Martin's Press offers an sneak peak excerpt of DUKE WITH BENEFITS, coming June 27 .... but available now for Pre-Order: Amazon | BAM | iBooks | B & N | Indiebound | Kobo

“There you are, my dear,” said the Earl of Forsyth with a beaming smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. Maitland saw at once that Daphne favored him. Her green eyes were the same shade as his, though there were lines of dissipation bracketing the earl’s. And though his expertly cropped blond hair was shot through with silver, what remained of its original color was the same shade as hers. But whereas Daphne’s gaze was focused off to the left of whomever she conversed with, like a bird hovering just over a branch, Forsyth’s speared one with cold calculation. As he did to Daphne now.

“You are looking well, Daphne,” the earl continued, stepping forward to embrace his daughter, who looked as uncomfortable with the contact as Maitland had ever seen her. “The sea air agrees with you. As I knew it would.”

“The sea is very beautiful,” Daphne replied woodenly. “Why are you here, Father?”

“Is that any way to greet your Papa?” the earl chided, stepping back from her and wandering farther into the room, standing to stare out at the gardens below through the window. “I’ve traveled all the way from London to see you. And this lovely estate. I must admit that when I first learned of your inheritance, I thought it was all some sort of trick. But you would have your own way and leave the loving bosom of your family no matter what I said. Now that I’m here, though, and see it in person, I must admit that it’s a lovely spot. And your chaperone, Lady Serena, is quite beautiful, isn’t she? A widow, I take it?”

His jaw clenched at the man’s mention of Serena, and Maitland thought perhaps it was time to announce himself. Daphne seemed not to realize he’d followed her in, and the earl was too busy waxing rhapsodic over the beauties of Beauchamp House.

“I don’t believe we’ve met, Forsyth,” he said forcefully, stepping up to stand side by side with Daphne. He gave a slight bow, perhaps not quite as deep as was warranted, but not caring. “The Duke of Maitland. I am a friend of your daughter’s, you might say.” What he meant by that last, he could not say, but the man made every bit of protective instinct within him go on the alert. He was her father, but all the same Maitland knew that Daphne was no safer with him than she would have been with Sommersby if he still lived.

At the sound of the duke’s voice, Lord Forsyth turned with almost comical haste from the window and stared. For the barest flicker, he looked angry. Well, if he were upset at the knowledge that his daughter was not without friends, then he would simply have to swallow it. Because Maitland was damned if he’d leave her alone with the fellow.

“Duke,” Lord Forsyth said with a tilt of his head, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I was a friend of your father’s, and had little notion I’d be meeting you here. He was a good man, your father.

His father had been nothing of the sort, but Maitland was hardly going to discuss it with Forsyth.“I am here visiting my sister, Lady Serena,” Maitland said coolly, letting the other man know in tone rather than words that he had not appreciated the older man’s speculative words about her earlier. “And of course my cousin, Kerr. He only recently married another of the heiresses here, and resides here with her.”

Forsyth’s eyes narrowed at the implication that Daphne was well protected should her father wish to cause trouble. At least that was the message Maitland was endeavoring to send. And by the looks of it, Forsyth read him loud and clear.

“Capital, capital,” the earl said with false cheer. “A merry party you must all make here. I had no idea you were in such fine company here, Daphne. No notion at all.”

“Because we have not spoken since I left,” Daphne said, looking from her father to Maitland then back again, as if wondering what went on between them. “And now, father, I really must ask you to leave. I have a great deal of work to do and . . .”

“Don’t be absurd, Daphne,” her father said with a shake of his head. “I only just arrived. And there is something very important I must speak to you about.” He turned to Maitland with a raised brow. “I’m sure you’ll excuse us, Duke. I’m afraid what I need to tell my daughter is private family business.”

Maitland was opening his mouth to tell the man he would leave Daphne alone with him when hell froze over, when Daphne did it for him.

“Maitland stays,” she said, reaching out to grasp him by the arm. It was as much of a cry for help as he’d ever thought he’d see from her. Wordlessly, he slipped her arm into his, as if they were about to promenade round the room. He covered her hand with his, keenly aware of the thread of tension in her. Once more, the earl’s eyes narrowed, and he turned an assessing gaze on Maitland, perhaps realizing for the first time the threat coming at him from that direction.

His jaw clenched, Forsyth said grimly, “Very well. If you wish your friend to witness our dirty linen, so be it.” As if needing to be in motion in order to speak, the earl began to pace the area between the window and the fireplace. “You know, Daphne, you left me without any obvious means of recouping what I lost from years of paying that tutor of yours, old man Sommersby.”

“You agreed to pay him,” Daphne said tightly. “After I threatened to expose . . .”

Hastily, Forsyth continued, “And I am currently in need of funds. As such, I must insist you return to London with me for the time being and meet a particular gentleman who has expressed interest in marrying you. Though his birth is not as high as yours, he’s quite wealthy and will make you a good
husband, I trust. He’s assured me he has no concern about your odd ways, if you’re as beautiful as your portrait.”

Before Maitland could burst out with the string of invectives the other man’s pronouncement inspired in him, Daphne said, “I cannot marry this person. I’ve never even met him. You promised me that I would not have to marry someone for money as long as I won enough at the tables. I did so. You promised me, father.”

“I never actually promised, Daphne.” Forsyth said with a shake of his head. “If you chose to interpret it as such, that is not my fault. Now, go pack your things.”

Daphne’s hand on Maitland’s arm gripped him tightly. And before he even knew what he was doing, he said, “I’m afraid that’s impossible, Forsyth. Daphne is staying here.”

“I don’t know who you think you are, Maitland,” said the earl through clenched teeth, “but I am her father, and I am well within my rights to take her back to London. Now, kindly take your hands off of her and let her go pack.”

“It might once have been your right, Forsyth,” Maitland said coldly, “but Lady Daphne is my betrothed now and as such, she will remain here. With me.”

Copyright © 2017 by Manda Collins and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

The Maitland family, styled as the Earl of Lauderdale,
lives in Thirlstane Castle in Berwickshire, Scotland.


  1. I know very little about Alabama actually.

  2. Don't know much about Alabama.

  3. Not much but one of my fave states

  4. I have not been there as yet but I know they like football.

  5. I have never been to Alabama and I can't remember ever meeting someone from there either.

  6. Thanks so much, Kim, for the lovely post! And I have an English major's awe at your dual math degree household! Re: Alabama, it's a diverse state with more to it than what you see on the news. For instance, I live in Mobile just an hour away from some of the most beautiful sugar sand beaches in the world! Also a recent fun fact, the movie GET OUT was filmed right across Mobile Bay from me, in Fairhope. 💗

    Thanks again, Kim!

  7. I loved that you visited Maxwell AFB... my brother-in-law was stationed there in the 90's. My husband and I visit Dauphin Island every winter!

  8. I've not visited Alabama - only came as close as Mississippi lol

  9. I know football is the king of Alabama's college sports, and two of its universities--Alabama and Auburn--are in the Southeastern Conference.

  10. Intriguing excerpt! I think I have only been through Alabama a couple times. Never stayed in it.

  11. I don't know anything other then what you mentioned here. Never visited. I love this excerpt. Can't wait to read it.
    Caro L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  12. I don't know anything other then what you mentioned here. Never visited. I love this excerpt. Can't wait to read it.
    Caro L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  13. I would love to visit of my friends from high school lives there.

  14. I really don't know much about Alabama other than where it is ...

  15. We were TDY (temporary duty) at Maxwell AFB while my husband went to SOS (Squadron Officers School, I don't know what they are calling it now). We arrived after New Years with a 13 month old and her sister was born Valentine Weekend. Lucky for me since it was the only weekend my husband had off the 3 months we were there. They let the wives do the obstacle course, but I was 8 1/2 months pregnant the first time and had a 3 week old the second time. Our daughter was the youngest person to ever attend the Dining Out. Needless to say I didn't see much of the state that time. We have been through Alabama a few times since and visited friends who live in Tallassee.

  16. my middle son will be going to 'Bama in August!

    I know at one time, Ft. Payne, was called the "sock capital of the world" because they created the most socks in the textile mills. Also, the band, Alabama, is from Ft. Payne.


    1. yes, I know I'm too late for an entry, I just wanted to chime in like the Denny chimes at 'Bama.