Robert MacAulay, heir to a powerful Baron, is known for being a skilled warrior with a strong sense of duty. His respectable reputation, along with his devotion to the king, is why Andrew MacFarlan and hope he'd agree to marry his youngest daughter, Lady Muriella. But for reasons Rob refuses to share, he turns down Andrew's request and vows never to wed. Lady Muriella never wanted to take a husband, but after seeing her two older sisters happily settled, she's beginning to think marriage may have its merits. When she learns that Rob has refused her without even knowing her, she becomes determined to seduce him into changing his mind. Then she will be the one to say no to him. But when she's captured by her father sworn enemy Dougal, both land in more trouble than either had anticipated.
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Swallowing hard, she entered her bedchamber to find a half- dozen candles lit, the shutters closed, and the bedclothes invitingly turned down.
Turning to Rob, she said, “Did my father say we should leave the table?”
“Aye, because he knows I want to get an early start tomorrow,” Rob said. “Also, he would like us to consummate our marriage tonight. But as I told you earlier, we can delay that for a short time at least.”
She cocked her head. “But we will sleep in the same bed, aye?”
Even by candlelight, she saw his cheeks redden.
“I’m not sure I should sleep with you, lass,” he said softly. “I do mean well, but you are gey enticing to me.”
“If I am to be your wife,” she said, relieved and warily delighted to hear him say again that she attracted him, “I want to be your wife in every way. Also, as I told you earlier, my sisters will ask me how it went, and they always know if I lie. So, if you are delaying because you fear I’ll dislike it, then I reject your notion of consequences, sir. Consummation is one of the consequences of marriage, is it not? I begin to think that you are the one who fears it, but surely that cannot be so.”
A twinkle lit his eyes, and her wariness fled.
Shaking his head, he patted the bed and said, “Sit, lass. I can think better and will likely explain my thoughts more clearly if we sit and do not touch each other.”
“It makes me feel strange all over when you touch me,” she said, climbing onto the high bed and sitting with her lower legs over the side. “Does it make you feel the same way if I touch you?”
“Not being female, I cannot tell you if it is the same,” he replied, sitting beside her. “But if the strangeness you feel is pleasant, then it is similar.”
“It is more than pleasant,” she said. “When are you going to kiss me again?”
“Lassie, do you want to hear what I have to say to you or not?”
Cocking her head a little as she turned and drew her knees up so she could face him, she considered the question.
Unabashedly looking at her breasts, the tops of which rose plumply above her low- cut bodice, he said gruffl y, “Sakes, lass, do not tempt me further.”
“I want to know what you are thinking,” she said as solemnly as she could, wondering how he could look so serious one moment and then surprise her with a twinkle in his eyes the next. “You did say that if you were wooing me, you would tell me why you had decided not to inflict yourself on any woman. Although you have not wooed me, Robert, we are married. So, will you tell me now ?”
Rob had expected the question, albeit not at just that moment. He was reluctant to tell her, but he knew she had a right to know. Moreover, he knew she would not hide what she was thinking as he told her. Her animated face revealed her thoughts as clearly as if she said each one aloud.
Remembering his first impression of her— that she was childish— he nearly chuckled. She was not a child but a most enticing young woman…
Amanda Scott is the author of over 60 romance novels and the recipient of the Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA Award. She lives in Folsom, California, outside of Sacramento. She is a fourth-generation Californian.
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After an eventful Season, Anna Sloane longs for some peace and quiet to pursue her writing. Though her plots might be full of harrowing adventure and heated passion, she'd much prefer to leave such exploits on the page rather than experience them in real life. Or so she thinks until she encounters the darkly dissolute-and gorgeously charming-Marquess of Davenport. Davenport has a reputation as a notorious rake whose only forte is wanton seduction. However the real reason he's a guest at the same remote Scottish castle has nothing to do with Anna . . . until a series of mysterious threats leave him no choice but to turn to her for help in stopping a dangerous conspiracy. As desire erupts between them, Davenport soon learns he's not the only one using a carefully crafted image to hide his true talents. And he's more than ready to show Anna that sometimes reality can be even better than her wildest imaginings . . .
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The tiny throb of her pulse beneath his fingertips had signaled her time was up. Devlin leaned in and felt their bodies graze, their lips touch.
A mere touch, and yet it sent a jolt of fire through him.
He froze. The distant laughter, the faint trilling of the violins, the rustling leaves all gave way to a strange thrumming sound in his ears.
Anna shifted and Devlin shook off the sensation. It must be the brandy, he decided. He had just come from his club, where he had been sampling a potent vintage brought up from the wine cellar. Women had no such effect on him.
A kiss was a distraction, nothing more. A way to keep boredom at bay.
“Go to Hell.” Anna’s whisper teased against his mouth as she jerked back.
“Eventually,” growled Devlin. “But first . . .” He kissed her again. A harder, deeper, possessive embrace.
Her lips tremored uncertainly.
Seizing the moment, he slipped his tongue through the tiny gap and tasted a beguiling mix of warmth and spice. Impossible to describe.
He needed to taste more.
Clasping his arms around her waist, Devlin pushed her back a little roughly, pinning her body to the unyielding stone. She tensed and twisted . . .
I am Satan’s spawn.
. . . and then went still.
Time seemed to stop, hang suspended within the shifting shadows of the fluttering leaves. A myriad sensations seemed to skate over his skin. Fire. Ice. The slow softening of her resistance.
Anna made another sound. No words, just a soft feline purr that drifted off into the darkness. She moved, tilting forward in a tentative tasting of her own. Entwined, they swayed, weightless in the cool caress of the night.
Somewhere close by, a door opened and shut.
The echo broke the strange spell. With a shudder, Anna wrenched free of his hold, a gasp fluttering through her gloved fingertips as she touched her lips.
Devlin blinked, not quite certain of his own feelings.
For a fleeting moment it looked as though she was going to speak, but instead, she shoved him aside and walked off without a word.
Walked with her head held high, her spine ramrod straight, he noted, rather than pelter off in a torrent of tears and sobs.
Hard and soft—no question Anna Sloane was a contradiction.
Which made her a conundrum.
But Devlin liked puzzles. They kept his own inner demons at bay.