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Sylvia Halliday

Genre: Georgian Period, England, Historical Romance

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Summer Darkness, Winter Light

How do you make a hero of a drunkard? A man who is called "coward" by his neighbors? A man about whom it is whispered that he killed his wife? A man who courts the hatred of all his friends and servants?

That was the problem I faced when I set out to create Greystone Morgan, Viscount Ridley, the hero of my first hardcover for Kensington, Summer Darkness, Winter Light. (It's coming out under my new name, Sylvia Halliday, but you may already know me as Louisa Rawlings.) Grey is a deeply troubled man, dark and complex. I knew that underneath his torment lay a kind, caring man. But how to make him a hero?

His salvation comes in the person of Allegra Baniard. Warm and intuitive, Allegra sees beyond the face he presents to the world, to the man of goodness and passion beneath. A man who thrills her with his touch, even as he angers her with his self-destructive ways.

Allegra doesn't want to understand him, however. She has her own problems. She has come back to England after years of harsh indenture in the Colonies, solely to kill the man responsible for the ruin of her family. But when Grey forces her to indenture herself to him for a year, she is caught up in his life, in spite of herself. It's a conflict that tears her heart in two, as she learns the secrets behind Grey's anguish, and finds herself drawn to him.

How Grey rids himself of his demons, and Allegra learns the hollowness of her dreams of revenge, form the story of Summer Darkness, Winter Light. It's a tender love story, with two of the most passionate and intense characters I've ever created.

Here is an excerpt. Allegra has come into Grey's room, after witnessing him in a frightening, drunken rage the night before:

Allegra crept near the bed and studied him. His mouth-the cruel mouth that could curl with scorn-was now so sweet and tempting in its repose that she had to fight the mad desire to bend and kiss it. She gasped in sudden shock as she felt a band of steel clamp around her wrist; Ridley was now awake and alert.

Time seemed to stop. His eyes were like golden honey, liquid amber that bathed her with a tender light. His full, soft lips invited intimacies. She trembled in every nerve.

Then everything changed. The amber crystallized. Those melting eyes were now the eyes of a tiger, ready to pounce. The soft curve of his mouth became a wolfish smirk. He ran his tongue across his lipin a gesture that was hungry, sensual, mocking.

Allegra was aware of the heat of his burning hand on her wrist. "Please, milord, let me go," she murmured.

His mouth twisted in a sardonic smile. "I might spare you-for a forfeit. Give me a kiss."

She drew in a shocked breath. "Beg your pardon, milord, but I will not."

He gave a sharp twist to her arm. "I shall not let you go," he said coldly, "until I get my kiss."

It was madness to fight him. Clearly he had no scruples about breaking her arm. She sighed and planted her mouthon his.

She was totally unprepared for the sweet gentleness of his mouth...

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