Read An Excerpt

by Hannah Howell

Genre: England, Historical Romance

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England—Summer, 1790

There was a naked man in her father’s rose garden.

Lorelei Sundun blinked her eyes several times, but the man was still there. She wondered why he was staring at her in astonishment. She was not the one standing naked in a garden, a fat white rose the only thing protecting her modesty. Lorelei was certain she should be the one doing the gaping. In fact, she mused as she allowed her gaze to travel the long length of his lean body, she should be on her feet and racing toward the manor, perhaps even screaming for help. Loudly. Instead, she was utterly fascinated.

For a moment she wondered if she had been sitting in the sun contemplating her lack of a husband for too long. She was not wearing a hat. Could one get a brain fever from sitting hatless in the sun? Lorelei was not sure that even a brain fever would cause her to see a naked man. Certainly not one with a big, fat white rose hiding his manly parts, the part of a man she was most curious about. Lorelei was certain that the drawings in a book she had found hidden in her father’s massive library could not be accurate concerning those parts of a man. A man could never hide something that large in his breeches. She doubted a man could even walk properly with such an appendage and suspected the looks on the faces of the women in those drawings were not ones of ecstasy but excruciating pain.

He was, she decided, a very handsome man. It might be why she found it impossible to look away as any woman of sense would do. His hair was thick, hanging far past his broad shoulders, and a black so deep and true the sunlight caused it to glint with faintly blue highlights. His features were harsh, almost predatory, but there was no fear in her heart. His eyes were dark and she was tempted to move closer to see what color they really were. He was tall and lean, but she could see the firm muscles beneath his smooth, swarthy skin. There appeared to be the remnants of bruises marring his fine body. Lorelei clasped her hands together in her lap to quell the sudden, and startling, urge to touch that sun-kissed skin, to soothe those hurts. He had good teeth, straight and white, she mused even as he shut his mouth and revealed lips that had a seductive hint of fullness to them. Those lips and his enviably long lashes were the only soft features on his hard face.

“Who are you?” he asked, his deep voice holding such a strong note of command she could feel it tug at her mind, and had to quell the instinctive urge to immediately refuse to answer him.

“Lady Lorelei Sundun, seventh child of the Duke of Sundunmoor,” she replied, thinking that she ought to be the one making demands. “And you are?”

 “Sir Argus Wherlocke.” He scowled at her. “This is not where I wished to be.”