Read An Excerpt

by Anna Campbell

Genre: England, Historical Romance

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He muffled a laugh. She proved more amusing than Roberta. At the very least, Roberta would have treated him to a display of hysterics by now. He couldn’t picture this grave goddess resorting to such. Perhaps this was his lucky night after all. His lurking frustration at Roberta’s maneuvers, fading under the influence of this lovely girl’s defiance, vanished. Trapping Roberta had been no great challenge, however satisfying the prospect of swiving his loathed cousin’s wife. Seducing Sidonie Forsythe promised fine sport indeed. 

“It’s my best dress,” Miss Forsythe said huffily. 

He subjected the limp frill at her décolletage to a derisive flick. “Perhaps when you were fifteen.” His gaze sharpened. “Just how old are you?”

“Twenty-four,” she muttered. “How old are you?”

“Too old for you.” At thirty-two, perhaps he wasn’t too old in years but he was a million years too old in experience. And he hadn’t spent those million years wisely. 

Sudden hope lit her expression. “Does that mean you’ll let me go?”

This time he laughed openly. “Not on your life.”

Her spiking fear might send her scarpering. He curled one hand around her shoulder, bare under her flimsy bodice. At the contact, something inexplicable arced between them. When startled pansy eyes shot up to meet his, he tumbled headlong into soft brown. She trembled as his hold gentled to shape the graceful curve of bone and sinew. 

“What are you waiting for?” she forced through stiff lips.

He should be horsewhipped for tormenting her, but still curiosity was paramount. He raised his other hand to her jaw, angling her face. This close, he could make out each individual eyelash and the gold striations in her rich irises. Her nostrils flared as though she took in his scent just as he took in hers. 

Or perhaps she was so frightened, she struggled to breathe. 

“The question is whether debauching my enemy’s sister-in-law has quite the same cachet as debauching my enemy’s wife,” he murmured. 

“You bastard,” she hissed, her breath warm across his face.

He smiled as dread lit her eyes. “Precisely, belladonna.”

Slowly he bent to place his mouth on hers. Her rain-fresh scent flooded his senses, made him giddy with anticipation. She didn’t move away and her lips remained sealed, but the satiny warmth intoxicated him. 

He slid his lips against hers in what was more the hint of a kiss than an actual kiss. Even as arousal pounded through him, insisting that he take her, that she was here to be taken, he kept the contact light, teasing. Nor did he tighten his grip on her shoulder to keep her under his mouth. The agony of suspense bordered on the delicious as he waited for her to wrench free, to curse him for a scoundrel. But she remained still as a china figurine. Except the subtle heat under his lips belonged to a woman, not unresponsive porcelain.