The next book in the Wayward in Wessex series is now available!
Devastated by the disappearance of his sister, the Earl of Stranraer has gone to extraordinary lengths to find the notorious rake responsible, and enters his household incognito to wreak his vengeance. But his enemy has an unexpected protector—the innocent but headstrong Miss Cassandra Blythe.
Cassie is determined to learn the art of seduction. But she is blindsided by her body’s thrilling response to the wrong man—a mysterious servant who shows up at the most inauspicious moments to spoil her lessons in love with warnings of her imminent ruin. When she learns the handsome servant’s identity and the reason for his deception, she resolves to help Stranraer, but only if he abandons his vow to destroy his enemy.
The earl is sorely tempted give the meddlesome beauty a lesson in seduction she’ll never forget. But she turns the tables, and he gets his own lesson in forgiveness…and love.
“Ready to just grab her things and chase out the door, Cassie’s heart dropped like a stone when she saw the looming form of Ganstridge right next to the coat stand.
For a second she saw alarm on his face, but then his expression turned grim, and he strode toward her.
Damnation! He wasn’t going to drag her into a cupboard again, was he?
When he took her by the elbow, she feared the worst. Then why wasn’t she screaming and shouting for Wycherley or one of the footmen to rescue her?
She barely had time to register where she was going as the brute dragged her to the end of the corridor, through the kitchen, and into a tiny scullery with a lead-lined sink at one end.
When he closed the door behind them, she readied herself for another tirade.
But it didn’t come.
Instead, he held her by the shoulders and captured her gaze with his. “What has that damned libertine done now? Just say the word and I’ll teach him a lesson he’ll never forget.”
Cassie gaped up at him, struck with sudden insight. He wasn’t angry with her. He was angry at Wycherley.
She swallowed hard. Now they were in close proximity, she once again felt the lure of this man’s powerful body. And the fact that he was prepared to champion her made him almost…admirable. The urge to cling to him and accept the comfort of his arms was close to overwhelming her.
She shook the thought away. Julian. This was all about Julian. Soon, if all went according to plan, it would be his arms that were offered in comfort, his fists that were prepared to do battle for her—although she sincerely hoped the need would never arise.
The idea of Ganstridge chasing into the parlor and spilling Wycherley’s blood on the rug was not a pleasant one. Even though the captain had won honor at Waterloo, he had not the muscle to best his strapping servant.
She forced a smile, saying, “Oh, it was nothing. I’m being foolish.”
“This whole enterprise of yours is foolish,” Ganstridge replied. “But I’ve already told you that. Perhaps now you realize how dangerous being alone with a man can be?”
She blinked, uncertain for a moment if he was referring to himself, or to Wycherley. Both of them had managed to set her heart pounding, but for very different reasons.
“I know I’m taking a risk,” she said, looking away. His gaze was far too penetrating. And disturbing.
“Then stop doing it,” he said simply. “Put it all behind you and hope no one ever finds out. If you use Wycherley’s idea of courtship to win your ideal man, you’ll end up with a lover, but not with a husband.”
Her heart fluttered on hearing the word “lover” on his lips. He was certainly very blunt. And completely out of order.
Distracting the Duke, a heart-warming Regency romance, with a little bit of spice, available now!
“Clara crept softly across the carpet of pine needles until she came to where a rivulet split the dunes on its way down to the sea, and halted. She caught sight of Ulvercombe standing at the water’s edge with his back to her, hands on his hips.
She stepped aside swiftly, her heart beating hard. She would have to hide behind one of the dunes to avoid being seen, if he should turn round. Fortunately, the tide was still some way out and he was thus a considerable distance away, giving her time to make her escape if he spotted her.
Plucking off the old shawl she was wearing, she spread it over the grass-matted dune, then lay down on her stomach so only her head—with the telescope pressed to her eye—might be seen. Hopefully, with the waving sea grasses fanning across in front of her, she was well-hidden from any casual observer.
Eventually, she managed to locate Ulvercombe with the glass, and when she did her mouth dropped open in shock. In the time she’d taken to settle herself, he’d stripped off boots, stockings, jacket, and breeches, and now stood in nothing but his shirt, looking out to sea.
Clearly, the man had every expectation of being alone, and had no idea he was being covertly observed. It was early in the morning, it was his beach, his pine forest, his sand. She should back away and return to the house as quickly as possible.
A small attempt to move was made, but then he pulled his shirt over his head and she was transfixed.
The muscles rippled across his shoulders and she recalled, far too quickly, the feel of that hot body pressed against hers.
“Drat it!” The glass lens against her face had misted.
Crossly, she rubbed it with a corner of her shawl, and scanned the beach again until she found the duke.
The completely naked duke.
Her breath hitched in her throat. “Sweet Lord in heaven…”
It was not the splendid symmetry of his body, nor the very pleasing curve of his buttocks, nor even the straightness and supple power of his legs that had elicited her exclamation of shock.
It was the scars.
She hadn’t seen the backs of his thighs when he’d disrobed that day in his bedchamber. Now she could see them very clearly, and she could also see a complex pattern of pale, crisscross lines etched across the skin. They were scars, surely?
Had he received them in battle or in some horrible accident? Had he been taken prisoner and tortured by the French? Maybe he’d been involved in a fire and something hot had branded him thus.
The chance to observe the marks more closely was abruptly removed as the duke, who had been walking straight out into the waves, suddenly dove in with a splash and began swimming out to sea with deft, powerful strokes.
She shuddered. The water must be absolutely freezing. How could he stand it?
“Good morning, Lady Tinniswood. A very fine one, is it not?”
Devonshire, England 1820
Most women would be ecstatic about being trapped with the devilishly handsome Duke of Ulvercombe. But not Lady Clara Tinniswood. She has someone else in mind for the ton’s most eligible bachelor, her ward, Ellie. If she can only find a way to bring about their marriage, Clara can close the door on her painful, childless past and start a new life beyond the influence of any man. But an unexpected glimpse of the duke’s glorious naked body catapults her into a forbidden passion which threatens to undermine her well-laid plans.
Determined to avoid a strife-filled marriage like his parents’, Ulvercombe wants a biddable wife, and pretty Ellie fits the bill perfectly. But the annoying, opinionated Lady Clara keeps distracting him, tempting him to consider a more tempestuous—and fulfilling—union. But even if he abandons all thought of Ellie and surrenders to his growing desire for Clara, there’s one issue which could destroy his hopes forever.
The Duke of Ulvercombe needs an heir…