by Karyn Gerrard
Blind Cupid Book Two
With a new name and an eagerness to begin a new life, Lila Jenner answers an ad for a governess and embarks on an adventure she did not expect. Hiding secrets and a past she longs to forget, she is disappointed to find out she has been employed to be a companion of a different sort: To a man who embodies both beauty and the beast.
In a gothic, crumbling manor on the edge of a North Sea cliff, Baron Simon Wolstenholme is cloistered away from society. Horribly scarred from battle wounds, the baron lives up to his infamous title “The Beast of Stonecliff” in appearance and attitude, and it doesn’t take long for him to come to the realization he’s been alone too long.
Simon bargains with Lila for a singular night of passion. A storm rages outside, but it cannot compare to the clash of emotions between a lonely man and a distrustful woman. Secret desires are revealed, hearts are laid bare. Many obstacles lay before them until they can admit their true feelings, though pride could destroy the fairy tale before it begins.
Note: This was originally published in May 2013 by Decadent Publishing. It is newly revised, re-edited, and 6500+ words have been added.
Genre: Erotic Historical RomancePurchase link(s): Amazon ARe iTunes Kobo B&N
Release Date: May 12, 2013
Excerpt & More
“Take a seat,” the muffled, gruff voice commanded. He didn’t turn to greet her, instead the baron continued to stare into the fire.
Hortense sat in the nearby wingchair and waited. Interminable minutes passed. Should she speak? No, she was taught to wait to until the employer acknowledges you or asks a question. So she sat, back straight, her hands clasped in her lap.
The rain outside had intensified since her arrival, the constant patter against the windows intermingled with gusts of howling wind. Taking a glance about the room, she noticed the mahogany wood walls and floors complemented the dark green color of the draperies and upholstery. Though there were gaslight sconces on the walls, at least a half dozen candelabras blazed. The distinct odor of beeswax intermingled with the smell of the wood burning in the fireplace.
Sliding her gaze to her employer, she took note of the baron’s fine clothes which clung to his muscular back and thighs and finely shaped arse. Leave it to her to notice. Suddenly, he spun around and faced her. Hortense could not contain the shocked gasp that escaped her throat.
The carriage driver stood before her, complete with scarf covering his entire face, save his dark, intense eyes. A shock of jet-black hair fell across his forehead. His too-long-for-the-fashion tresses fell just past his shoulders.
“Yes, I fetched you personally at the coach stop. I wanted to see for myself if you were as advertised,” he stated, the words clipped.
A rush of indignation flooded her. What did he mean? “I do hope I pass muster, my lord,” she sniffed, thoroughly annoyed.
His intense gaze assessed her from head to toe which caused her cheeks to flush in annoyance. The baron nodded. “You will do. Cease this ‘lord’ business. I am a lowly baron; I never cared for such airs. My acquaintances called me Stone or Stonecliff. I insist you do the same.”
She shook her head. “That is not at all an appropriate way for an employee to address you, my lord. You are a titled member of the peerage, and ‘my lord’ is the standard….”
“There is need for you to instruct me on the finer points of the addressing the aristocracy. Save your tutoring for the child.” His tone was firm and lacked any sort of polite friendliness. Very well, she could respond in kind.
She stood and primly smoothed her wool skirt. “Am I to meet your ward tonight, my lord? I believe his name is Christopher?” she asked.
The baron turned back toward the fireplace, picked up a long, stout poker and stirred the embers. “I am aware of what his name is, and no, you will not be meeting him tonight.”
He tossed the poker to the floor sending a loud echo throughout the room, then turned in her direction once again. “Do you have courage, Miss Jennings?”
The question confused her. “I suppose as much as the next person, my lord.”
Baron Stonecliff reached behind his head, untied the knot, and unwound the scarf until he exposed his face. He did so with deliberate slowness, as if to purposely add to the tension already evident between them. The scarf fluttered to the floor at his feet.
Utter ruin. She fought back crying out in horror, but could not prevent her physical recoil. Covering her mouth briefly, Hortense stepped back. Mottled, puckered skin, and a maze of nasty wounds, some of them burns, covered the left side of his face. Scars crisscrossed his cheek and disappeared into his hairline. How miraculous his lips and jaw remained intact. What made the destruction harder to bear was the breathtaking masculine beauty still visible on the right side. Caressing his perfect right jaw was a closely trimmed beard. On the left; however, the facial hair was sparse and patchy, no doubt due to the severity of the scarring.
The Baron of Stonecliff must have been devastatingly handsome at one point. Now recovered from the shock, Hortense kept her gaze steady and, she hoped, her emotions buried. Since there was still swelling evident, she surmised his injury must have occurred in the last several months. The skin was red and raw. Would it be it sore to the touch? The scarring continued down his neck and disappeared under his collar. So, not only his face received grievous injury.
“Have you looked your fill?” Stonecliff snapped in annoyance. “You must be able to gaze upon the horror that is my face. When I am in my own home, I do not conceal it. The doctors recommended leaving my skin free to breathe in order to aid healing. Since am I told it is not as red or swollen as before, I suppose their theory has merit.” He frowned and shrugged with slight indifference. The words were probably the most personal he’d spoken to anyone in some time, and no doubt more than he wanted to share.
Hortense swallowed and took a step toward him. “Regardless, you are free to do as you wish in your own home, my lord. Since I did not run screaming from the room, there should be no difficulty.”
Did one corner of his sensuous lips quirk into an almost smile? Despite the horrid scars and burns, his lips were full and perfectly shaped and an enticing shade of light crimson.
He bade her to sit again and took the chair opposite. Stonecliff crossed his long legs and regarded her closely. “What I am about to say may well have you scream and run from the room. I did not bring you here to be governess to my ward. Matter of fact, he is eleven years of age and away at school. I lied in the newspaper advertisement. In truth, I brought you here to be—my companion.”
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Other titles by Karyn Gerrard:
& Mr. Glover
& the Beast
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Be on the lookout for Karyn Gerrard's upcoming releases: The Copper and the Madam coming Fall 2013 and Rock the Wolfe coming Fall 2013
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