Read An Excerpt

by Isabella Bradford

Genre: England, Historical Romance

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You are beautiful,” Lizzie said with a certain despair as the gentleman guided her through the steps of the dance. “You’re beautiful like the plaster statue of Adonis I saw last week in a museum.”

“Not quite.” His laugh had dropped to a chuckle, so warm that the sound tickled down Lizzie’s spine and back up again. “Adonis. My God. Didn’t your mother tell you that a pretty face can hide an ugly soul?”

“Hardly.” Her smile turned wry. “She would say a pretty face would be the first one asked to dance at a ball.”

“Then that explains why you are here with me now.” He drew her closer, close enough that she felt the plush velvet of his coat against her arms, bare beneath the tiny sleeves of her fairy costume. Their dancing had slowed to a sway as he’d leaned closer, and his face over hers while the lights in the branches twinkled overhead.

She knew he was going to kiss her. She also knew that if she’d any sense or decency, she’d turn away and deny him. But then she likewise knew herself, and was dreadfully aware that there’d be no denying anyone, however deserved. Instead she raised her mouth a fraction, challenging him. 

“You can’t explain fairies,” she said. “We are beyond reason and capture.”

“Not to me,” he said. He bent lower, his mouth brushing over hers. “Kiss me, my fairy-queen.”

Her heart racing with anticipation, she closed her eyes and offered her pursed lips, the way she’d observed other ladies did. 

But observation wasn’t experience, and at once she could tell she wasn’t doing it right. She realized that as soon as his mouth found hers and without a word he demanded that she relax and kiss him in return. She’d no idea a man’s mouth could be so firm and so soft at once, or able to coax her lips to part so that their mouths joined, too, all wet heat and sensation. Her knees turned wobbly and she held onto his shoulders so she wouldn’t collapse. He pulled her closer, the spangles on her costume catching on the silver braid of his coat. His arm tightened around her waist in a way that only made her want to kiss him more, and when he finally broke away, she felt light-headed and full of wonder and regret that it had ended.

“Oh, my.” She touched her fingertips to her lips to see if they’d changed, and smiled up at him from the cozy nest in the crook of his arm. “How ... how extraordinary.”