Today is release day for my 4th House of Pleasure book:
Only Seduction Will Do
Break out the good stuff!
I want to do some partying today with several giveways and some fun games.
I’ll be gathering comments all day and at the end of the day (midnight, EDT), I’ll announce the winner, by random drawing, of the GRAND PRIZE: a Georgian style necklace and earrings.
Throughout the day I’ll be asking questions, giving away books, gift cards, and swag. I hope we all have a great time!
In a vulnerable moment, Alethea Forsythe allows herself to be seduced by a married peer. Now she is with child—and without recourse. Her reputation will soon be in tatters and she will be forced to wed a stranger—unless she takes matters into her own hands.
When Jack Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Manning, is summoned from the House of Pleasure on a matter of importance, he hardly expects to receive a marriage proposal. He’s long been aware of Alethea’s infatuation with him, but at twenty-three, taking on an expectant bride is not in his plans. Yet the desperation in the lady’s lovely eyes overrides his misgivings.
Alethea would not have believed it possible for a man to be too chivalrous. But though her new husband is perfectly amicable in public, he insists they maintain separate quarters. Desperate to possess his heart and prove herself a wife in every way, she boldly reaches out to Jack. And as their unexpected connection between silken sheets is tested by jealousy and misfortune, Jack must decide where honor ends…and true passion begins . .
Jack nodded, sipping wine. “I spoke with Braeton about it when we signed the settlements. He suggested we journey to Knowlton’s Keep for a few weeks’ time. A place we could be alone and become acquainted.”
“Knowlton’s Keep?” Astonished, Alethea stopped in the middle of bringing her wine glass to her lips. She’d traveled there with Eithne and Braeton last summer. To put it bluntly, there was nothing to do there.
“Your cousin believed time alone together would be good for us, together yet apart from the ton. He certainly painted the ancient castle as a treasure for those seeking solitude from the world.”
“Well, that much is true.” Laying her napkin on the table, Alethea clasped her hands in her lap. Lord, the thought of going back to Sussex filled her with loathing.
“You object to the Keep?” Jack’s eyebrows shot up almost to his hairline.
“No, not at all.” Of course she did. But she wouldn’t voice that to her husband. “Merely startled. I’ve only been there in the summer. It may be drastically different in winter.”
“I’m sure we’ll manage to stay warm.” His eyes twinkled and he raised his wine glass, his gaze never wavering from her face.
Heat touched her cheeks. It might have been the wine she’d already drunk, but she didn’t think so. She seized her wine glass and raised it to her lips. Tonight would be awkward. She was prepared for that. As long as he was at least somewhat gentle, she’d get through it. The first time had been bad, but that had been her own fault. Excitement bubbled up in her, despite her misgivings. She’d dreamed of this night often enough, ever since she’d met Lord Manning. It wouldn’t be perfect, but it would get better.
Dinner flew by in a flurry of meats, vegetables, salad, and at last small white iced cakes for dessert. Alethea at least tasted everything, but lost her appetite about halfway through the courses. At last the footman removed their dessert plates and Jack took her hand.
“Let us retire, my dear. We have quite a journey tomorrow.”
Suddenly shy, she nodded and rose, her mouth dry. She took his arm and tried to still her trembling hands as he led her back up the stairs. She’d been dreaming of this moment almost since she’d met this gorgeous man. And now he would be hers, in name as well as in the flesh. Breath quickening the closer they got to her apartment, Alethea tried holding it to calm herself. Anything to keep from fainting.
He stopped outside her apartment, opened the door and faced her.
Her heart beat fast then slow, unable to make up its mind which suited it best.
“May I come in, Alethea?”
She swallowed hard, expecting this of course, wanting this, just not quite so soon. She hadn’t prepared… “Of course, my…Jack. If you would allow me some little time to prepare for …”
“You can get ready for bed when I’ve left.”
Casting a wild glance into the room, searching desperately for Clemons, Alethea could
think of nothing to do, so she smiled back at him. What could she do now? Allow him simply to come in? What if Clemons appeared? What if he wanted to watch her disrobe? And just how was she to accomplish that without assistance?
“I don’t quite know how…I mean, I’ll need to get ready for you if…”
His eyebrows rose. “Oh, I’m sorry, my dear.” His voice was gentle but firm. “I see you are under the wrong impression. We have not had time to talk properly.” He clasped his hands behind his back. “Despite our nuptials this morning, we will not be sharing intimacies tonight.”