Cover, Excerpt & Book Trailer
A marriage of convenience brings unexpected consequences: love, betrayal, and a hope for happiness.
Katherine Bescell, courtesan and member of a secret order, thinks the offer of a marriage in name only to Charles Leverret, heir to a large fortune, will solve all her woes.
Charles Leverret believes his hired wife will ensure his inheritance. He might even enjoy her company if she’ll let him anywhere near her. Charmed by his bride, Charles breaks their original bargain and falls in love. Betrayed by a trusted lawyer who withholds Katherine’s promised fee, Charles struggles against evil chance to persuade Katherine his love is real.
Lust and love, truth and trust, each makes demands on them both, but though Charles has captured her heart, Katherine can’t bring herself to admit they belong together.
Masked and robed in the rites in the West Wycombe Caves where only truth is told, Charles makes his stand to claim the woman he adores.
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: September 30, 2013
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
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Their disastrous conversation hovered like a storm cloud as she hurried into the house, swept along the corridor, up the stairs, and into her room, where she tugged off her bonnet and splashed cool water onto her neck. Appalled at her reflection, she dabbed at her spoiled face with a cloth and then patted on a new layer of fine powder to cover the worst of the blotches.
Sadly, the water did nothing to still the heat in her blood, and fearful she’d harm the child if she continued in her bitter fury, she lay on the bed.
The heavy door thundered open. Charles, breathing swift, strode in. He shoved the door back, and it crashed, juddering in the frame.
She bolted up. “How dare you come in uninvited!”
He dragged her from the bed, hands heavy on her waist as he set her on her feet. “Try such a trick again, and I swear, with child or not, my wench, I’ll thrash you every day for a week.”
“Savage! Leave me be.”
“Be quiet. There is more at stake here than your curdled temper.”
She couldn’t avoid his face so close to hers and couldn’t pull back. “You’re a vile cur. Let me go.”
“For the sake of silence.” He caught the back of her head in his palm and brought her face much closer to his. Warm and smothering, his mouth covered hers, and all the time, her body sang in answer to his kiss.
A cascade of shivers shot through her, stalling her doubts. Desire flooded her blood at the first contact of his lips. An instant, heady, insistent craving for his most intimate touch blazed to heat her body. She opened her mouth to accept the seeking warmth of his tongue, and her knees softened like wax under a flame.
He gathered her closer, tightening his grasp, and hauled her tight against him. Their kiss deepened until each movement of his brought an echo of hers. A whimper of satisfaction stole from her as she twined her tongue around his. She sucked the warmth of him deeper into her mouth so his taste and hers swirled and mingled, and she closed her eyes.
Time ceased to be anything other than velvet, pulsing darkness as his mouth worked on hers. He demanded more and more of her, and never had she been so willing to give herself up. She pushed forward against him, curled her fingers through his hair at the base of his skull, and kissed him while trembles made her shiver in readiness for his hands to seek her skin. Joyful, she climbed the steps of desire, until he pulled away.
He held her at arm’s length. “Christ alive, woman,” he murmured and breathed fast. His eyes shone, an intensity of golden brown glowing in his gaze.
She gave a tiny nod of encouragement. Surely he’d want to bed her now. His desire, obvious from his deep breaths and the rigid swelling she’d felt pressed against her, had woven a lustful magic. The heightened state of her need might drive her to any passion he could wish to ask of her. Desire beyond any hope of salvation ruled. But he made no movement to hold, touch, or kiss her again.
Shame boiled in her breast at the understanding he didn’t want her. She could hardly demean herself further.
“Now, have you regained your senses and will you listen? We may not be what they think us in this house, but though savage you believe me to be, I’d not see your mangled corpse twined in the traces. You will never take off so again. Say it.”
Staring at the shimmer of his reflection in the polished brass coal scuttle, she nodded.
“I’ll not behave foolishly again.” Why could he not be gone? A lump of sheer frustration had lodged in her throat. She was well used to driving such a small gig and pony. What the hell did he care? The one thing she wanted from him he’d not give.
A small gasp broke from her as he caught her around the waist. Thank God. He’d changed his mind.
He laid her back on the bed. “Move over. I’ll have to stay for an hour at the least. The household will expect no less.”
“By my faith, woman, don’t you think they’d expect us to kiss and make up after such a tempest? Half the servants saw you risk you neck to drive here alone from the lake, more saw you storm upstairs I’ve no doubt, and the rest will have heard, been listening spellbound to your yells. What are they to think now? We’re supposed to be happily wed. They’ll like as not put your tantrum down to your condition. So they’ll expect me to be a good husband and do the same and gentle you with some well tempered wooing.” He sat on the bed and took off a boot.
Shivers still danced on her skin from his kiss, and the ache in her loins remained a powerful throb of need. Was there anything she could offer him to complete her, to give her the fulfillment her body demanded? Humiliation spilled through her like a chill wave. Her means to change his mind were nothing. He’d never make their marriage a reality. But she so longed for the man. Was that the worst of it? Each moment with him her body flamed. No other man affected her so, nor, unless her memories were faulty, had any man ever. If she were alone, she might well have wailed like a babe in her frustration. As it was she clung on to a shred of pride. She would not weep for the lack of his loving.
Full of despair at the wretched prospect, she lay back and rolled over onto her side to leave the widest gap between them she could. An hour of him beside her, without even so much as the touch of his hand, would be interminable. She closed her eyes and swallowed down the desire for his flesh. His other boot fell to the floor with a thud.
He lay back, and she shuffled farther away, so close to the edge of the bed that, if she breathed too deep, she might tumble from its height to the floor. She’d made such a fool of herself at the lake, damn near demanding his body. She’d let herself be beguiled by his good looks, by the most simple of attentions given for the pretense they shared. She’d behaved like an untried girl, nearly falling over herself in her desire for him. “Never again,” she whispered into the late afternoon light.
“Let’s hope not.”
His words raised a new flash of wretchedness. She’d not be wanted by any man in her present state, let alone by a scoundrel such as this heir to a fortune. “You could at least be silent,” she snapped.
The lovers she’d taken in devotion to Venus had never made her feel degraded. But now, as the sunlight slid down the wall and her body still thrummed like a harp string from his kiss, she knew herself humbled by her own flesh. She’d become a woman of less sober character than the most lascivious tuppenny whore.
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