From Governess to Countess Release Day and Giveaway

Today I’m celebrating the release of FROM GOVERNESS TO COUNTESS, which is out now in print and digital, in the US, UK and Canada.


This is the first of my new quartet, MATCHES MADE IN SCANDAL, which features four seriously down on their luck heroines who are given the opportunity to earn a much-needed second chance by a mysterious character I’ve called The Procurer. The idea came to me when I was watching one of those ‘behind the scenes’ documentaries about a 7 star hotel. One of the key front of house staff is the concierge, whose little black book of contacts means he or she can provide wealthy guests with their hearts desire, however outrageous. Front row seats for sold-out performances (yes, even Hamilton!), chef’s tables at 3 Michelin star restaurants, private shopping at the most exclusive boutiques, that sort of thing. The concierge, in other words, makes the impossible possible, for a price.

And there I had it, the strapline for my Regency concierge. I wanted her to be presented with unique and challenging requests, which meant my heroes had to find themselves in really tricky predicaments, and my heroines had to possess some very unusual talents. I wanted to set each of the books in a different European city, so that I could have fun with the world creation, which is one of my favourite aspects of writing. And I wanted my heroines to be true Cinderellas, women who find themselves in a desparate situation through no fault of their own.

In FROM GOVERNESS TO COUNTESS, the first of my heroines, Allison, is actually a herbalist, but she has to masquerade as a governess because my soldier hero Aleksei doesn’t want anyone to know her true profession. There’s a murder mystery at the centre of this plot, the first time I’ve ever written a whodunit, though it’s one of my favourite genres to read. I’ll put my hand up right now and confess that I had no idea how incredibly difficult it was going to be, to incorporate all that plot into a relatively short book and still keep the romance front and centre. I hope I have succeeded!

The other ‘character’ in this book, as in every one of the series, is the city itself.  I’ve never been to St Petersburg. Until I wrote this book I knew very little Russian history of the time, so I had to do a huge amount of research. I was utterly enthralled from the moment I opened Simon Sebag Montefiorre’s epic book The Romanovs, and as to the sheer opulence of the palaces and the court – wow! This is the Mariinsky Palace, which I used as the model for Aleksei’s home, the Derevenko Palace, though I ‘borrowed’ interiors from lots more. Other palaces which play a ‘walk on’ part in my book are the Winter Palace, the St Catherine Place and Peterhof. There’s images of all of those and more on my Pinterest page for the book here.

A huge thank you to everyone who offered to do a pre-publication read and review of this book. You can read some of their thoughts over on Goodreads here.  And just to whet your appetite for the series, you can read the prequel, FROM CINDERELLA TO MARCHIONESS for free over on the Harlequin website here (you do have to register to log in, but it’s quick and simple to do), where my mysterious Procurer makes her debut appearance.

So, on to the launch celebrations. I’m giving away three goody bags around the theme of going ‘doon the watter’ to the Clyde, and my home town of Dunoon. Obviously all the winners will get a signed copy of the book, but there is also a tea towel with a classic railway poster from the Fifties, a Firth of Clyde magnetised notepad, a coaster featuring Dunoon pier and the paddle steamer the Waverley, and a set of book marks in the form of a calendar, with some gorgeous pictures of the Highlands and Islands.

The competition is open to everyone. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me which of the two covers of FROM GOVERNESS TO COUNTESS you prefer (UK on the left at the top of this post, US on the right) and why.

I’ll announce the winners here in a week’s time on the 8th March. Good luck.

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62 Responses to From Governess to Countess Release Day and Giveaway

  1. Mary Preston says:

    I love the US cover. The gown is so beautiful in all it’s glory and I like the background scenery.

  2. Franca Poli says:

    They are both very beautiful. But I prefer that of the United States, because we see better the heroine and also the background landscape.

  3. Amanda Ward says:

    I prefer the US cover simply because you can see the flow of the dress and its incredibly eyecatching enticing the prospective reader to find out more about this ethereal looking woman!

  4. Suzanne Dye says:

    I like the one on the right for the U.S. Verson. It has a more classic look with the Harlequin symbol upper left and the setting is visible, not just the female.

    • The US one definitely seems to be the winner so far for this reason. When you see the two editions together though, I prefer the matt finish of the UK one – though I agree, I like the US picture

  5. Happy Release Day, Marguerite. 🙂 must add these to my TBR pile. I seem to be in the minority here, but I prefer the UK one. Love the close up details we get to see.

  6. Ann Cameron says:

    I love the U.S. cover, too. Usually I lean towards UK Covers but in this case the U.S. is a clear winner for me – her dress is so sophisticated and the background window view very attractive. ❤️

  7. bn100 says:

    US – see the whole dress

  8. JoAnne Weiss says:

    Love the US cover. Yes, I do get the feeling I’m in St. Petersburg! Love the premise of the series and the settings you’ve chosen. Can’t wait to read more.

  9. Rose Blue says:

    I prefer the cover that shows the full dress and the beautiful background.

    • Definitely the winner by a mile so far. It feels like St Petersburg here today in Argyll, we have blizzards – fluffy socks day, not a day for pretty dresses!

  10. Natasha Persaud says:

    Congratulations!! I love the US cover. The background is spectacular

  11. Andrea Hedgcock says:

    The US version because you see more of the dress (which is beautiful) and the view behind her. Though I do prefer the text layout on the UK version!

    • That’s not anything anyone else has commented on Andrea. I do like my author name better on the UK version, and the actual print cover, which is a matt finish, is lovely.

  12. Linda Townsend says:

    I prefer the UK cover as it seems more intimate. Thanks for the chance!!!!!

  13. Wendy Jensen says:

    I like the one on the right (US) the best. The background looks like a fancy ballroom and I like that look.

  14. MelK says:

    I like the US cover because it has more detail. The dress, window, dome. I do enjoy the Mills and Boons though. I’m an Anglophile. 🙂 Positively drooling over those prizes. They are the kinds of goodies I love to win! Have a great day, Marguerite.

    • Loads of luck with the draw then Mel. I like to give away Scottish prizes, and there will more coming soon with my next release (April) too, so do keep stopping by.

  15. Connie Fischer says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed FROM GOVERNESS TO COUNTESS and gave it 5-stars. Your descriptions were written so perfectly that I was able to actually “see” everything that you described. Very well done, Marguerite!

    Will not enter your giveaway because postage is insane! Congratulations!

    • Thank you so much Connie, I’m delighted that you enjoyed it so much. I’ve put you in the draw though, for this giveaway I’m including everyone regardless of the postage.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    I like both off the covers but I like the USA one because you get to see more off the ladd’s lovely dress.

  17. nancy reynolds says:

    I like both covers, but prefer the U.S. cover because of the view in the background, as well as the total view of the dress on the heroine.

  18. Carole Burant says:

    I really do prefer the US cover because you get to see the full gown she’s wearing and it’s stunning! I also love the fact that you can see the outdoors behind her showing one of the many wonderful buildings in Russia.

    • It’s funny, but when I first saw the US cover I didn’t even notice St Petersburg in the background, all I saw was the ballroom and the dress. It took one of my Facebook friends to point it out!

  19. Diane Sallans says:

    I like the US cover – shows more background out the window & the flowing gown is so pretty.

  20. Jorie says:

    Hallo, Hallo Ms Kaye,

    A new follower of mine had RT’d this blog post – what tipped my hat of interest is I’ve recently started to discover Mills & Boon #HistRom – due to my reading of Ms Tinley’s “The Captain’s Disgraced Lady”.

    The premise your speaking about was why I *loved!* one of Michael J. Fox’s films “For Love or Money” as he plays the kind of concierge characters your speaking about – the twist though is he’s trying to network with people who might give him a loan as he wants to open up an old-fashioned kind of hotel in the city. The ending of course, is what makes my heart melt everytime because it doesn’t end the way you think it will — it ends the way it should and it’s such a heartwarming story!

    Ooh my goodness – this sounds like a series I need to be reading!! 🙂 I love how you given each of the girls’ a second chance at living their lives with purpose & of finding their own living truth along the way. I love stories which uplift a character’s journey by showing how they can turn the tides round and find success, happiness and hopefully love!

    Hmmm… this might sound odd as I’m an American reader – but there are a lot of moments where I have a preference for the UK edition covers!! This is one of those times – I like how you feel so hugged close to the character,..the other one reveals a bit more of ‘where’ she might be but I like feeling the joy of what she’s feeling in the moment her picture was taken,..

    I’ve recently talked about why I love reading #HistFic & #HistRom as I’m part of the tribe of bookish souls who happily love to meet-up during @HistoricalFix quarterly chats whilst reading ‘book club’ picks for @BookClubFix (the secondary component) — as I was tweeting on Tuesday, I love how the research Historical authors put into their stories pulls us into their vision… we not only get the chance to ‘see’ the past but we get to feel as if we’ve fully lived that particular ‘moment of entrance’ due to what is being written. I also said, for me, when reading HistRom, I love the romance but I also love the immersion of the settings. When you can find writers (like you!) who can have this duality in their narratives something quite magical happens!!

    I’m so happy for you!! 🙂 Not only did you get to explore new things for your character but you had the chance to set the story elsewhere from where you’ve previously explored! I find this the wicked brilliant part of writing (and reading!) — we are all time travellers,… finding our way as we journey through time!

    Blessed to be in this bookaway,… such a clever way of adding a personal touch by including items from your local vicinity! I never heard the phrase “doon the wattle” – is this only to help us say the phrase out loud with the local dialect or is it really how it’s spelt? I have a penchant appreciation for phrases/words/expressions from the UK (clearly, as I read a lot of UK stories,… I even love narrators who are from the UK)…

    A big hug of gratitude to you for ‘introducing’ us to this lovely series! I’m following you on Twitter – can’t wait to hear more as you release more of the stories!!

    • Hi Jorie, how lovely to see you here – and to ‘meet’ you on Twitter today too. You’re one of the few people who likes the UK cover more, and I do agree with you, Allison (my heroine) looks so happy and wistful in this picture – and unlike some of my covers, very much like I had imagined her.

      The phrase ‘doon the watter’ (and it is pronounced exactly like that) is Glaswegian, and refers to going ‘down’ the River Clyde from Glasgow to holiday resorts on the Firth of Clyde which include Dunoon (my home town), Largs, Ayr, and the islands of Bute and Arran, all of which you can see in the banner on my website. I think the phrase was made popular in the early part of the last century, and the resorts reached their heyday in the Fifties, when the Clyde steamers had to compete to get a space to berth at the piers. I’m going to be talking a lot more about these places in posts to come, so do keep stopping by here.

      • Jorie says:

        Thank you for blessing me with this response! 🙂

        Before I reply in turn, I wanted to update you about something – I’ve been sharing my love of finding Mills & Boon authors lately with my Mum, as she’s found a renewal of interest in reading herself due to a reduction in work hours – however, she works 3 days / 12 hr shifts; two of which are ‘overnight’. Therefore, I’m constantly helping her find stories to read and enjoy. When she woke from her nap (she just came off one of the shifts) – I told her about this new series I had found – I immediately asked: “Which cover? One is UK / One is American”…. guess what!?

        The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – it’s UK all the way! To which she replied, “The other one (American) is too typical. The UK simply had more allure to be read!” Isn’t that smashing!? Two replies for one!

        Now, about what you’ve shared — I had forgotten Mum’s been to Glasgow – she crossed the English Channel from Stavanger, Norway in September and *loved!* the heather – this was in the early ’70s. I was going to mention my grandmother emigrated from Glasgow to America – therefore, the Highlands hold special interest to me overall. (also why I watched & loved ‘Monarch of the Glen’) She was my paternal grandmother.

        We both *loved!* the back-story about the phrase & we each will be eagerly awaiting ‘more’ #ontheblog! *Cheers!*

        • How lovely that you have a connection to the Highlands. I used the house from Monarch of the Glen as the model for the family home which featured in my World War I book, Never Forget Me.

  21. Emma Bewick says:

    The US version has more detail, with the background view from the window, and the full length of the amazing dress. The new UK covers are also nice with the close ups, but I do think the background image and the full length picture in this case is more striking. The book was amazing – so vivid in its description of St Petersburg.

    • Thank you Emma. Describing new worlds is one of my favourite things when writing, and I just fell into the magic of St Petersburg. I’m so glad that it comes over in the book.

  22. Carol Luciano says:

    I love the USA cover. The background is lovely and the dress just beautiful. But they are both great looking. Just partial to the USA cover. :). Thank you also for the giveaway chance.

  23. Tammy Koelzer says:

    They are both lovely, but the US version is my favorite. I enjoy seeing the whole dress and the movement it seems to have.

  24. Joye says:

    I like both covers but in the US version you can see more of the background and the dress.

  25. Joy G says:

    I prefer the UK cover, the close up better shows the emotion and intensity of the heroine’s

    • Reading all these comments has made me study both covers more closely. And only this morning, I compared this one with my April release and wondered if it was the same model with different coloured hair.

  26. Eli yanti says:

    I like UK version 😊

  27. Shirley L says:

    Most comments seem to be for the US version because you can see more of the dress and the background… But in my opinion that all draws my eye away from the heroine. So I prefer the UK version where she is the center and the focus of what I see. I have been reading From Cinderella to Marchioness and love it so far! I definitely need to watch for the quartet!

    • I’m so lad you’re enjoying the on-line read. Quite a few people have complained about having to wait a week for each episode, but as a writer, I really enjoyed the challenge of writing such short episodes and trying to make each one end on a ‘teaser’ to make readers want to come back. Kirsten, who features as Jennifer’s friend in FROM CINDERELLA TO MARCHIONESS plays a pivotal role in all four of the books in the series…

  28. JoAnn says:

    I have to say I prefer the US version better. That is such a beautiful dress.I think the cut off version doesn’t do it justice. I really like getting a glimpse of St. Petersburg. I had the pleasure to visit a few years ago, and the architecture is breathtaking. I’m excited to read this book and the rest of the series.

    • I’m so jealous that you’ve been to St Petersburg. It is such a magical city, so bursting with treasures, and the fact that it’s really all these islands connected by canals just adds to the romance. Hope you enjoy the story when you get to it – and you can let me know if my St Petersburg and your memories of it tie in.

  29. Patricia Barraclough says:

    The are both lovely covers. I prefer the UK version better. It concentrates more on the young woman herself rather than the setting.

    • And for once, the woman in the cover looks almost exactly as I’d imagined her too. This is my first of the new rebranded Mills&Boon covers, and I think when you see them in ‘real life’ so to speak, they really are lovely.

  30. Kanupriya says:

    Hi Marguerite,

    It is difficult to decide between the UK and the US version.

    In the UK version, focus is more on the heroine who is our central character. The cover goes very well with the title and her face features bring out the character strength. In all her vulnerabilities she stands to make her mark.

    However, the US version gives us a glimpse of the city which is an important character again. But I would consider it as incomplete as our third important character – the hero is not present there. Also, in spite of the fully visible gown, there is a lot of empty space which is distracting and will make you wonder that is the book also like this?

    I think from my analysis above I am definitely partial towards the UK version which I vote for.

    • It’s an interesting point you make about the space in the US cover, I hadn’t really thought of that before – maybe there should have been a hero dancin with her. The hero does appear on the next book in the series, and I’ll be running a giveaway for that soon, so it will be interesting to see what you think of that one.