Blurb: She’s intended for his brother. He’s destined for adventure. Then a dangerous mystery throws them together, and all they want is each other.
All that handsome, heroic Lord Vitor Courtenay wants is to dash from dangerous adventure to adventure.
Now, snowbound in a castle with a bevy of the ton’s scheming maidens all competing for a prince’s hand in marriage, Ravenna’s worst nightmare has come true. Now, playing babysitter to a spoiled prince and his potential brides, Vitor is champing at the bit to be gone.
When a stolen kiss in a stable leads to a corpse in a suit of armor, a canine kidnapping, and any number of scandalous liaisons, Ravenna and Vitor find themselves wrapped in a mystery they’re perfectly paired to solve. But as for the mysteries of love and sex, Vitor’s not about to let Ravenna escape until he’s gotten what he desires…
Excerpt: “Be still,” he growled like an animal.
She went still.
“What are you doing, attacking an innocent man?” His tongue slurred. “Damn it, my head hurts. And my leg.”
Her heartbeats battered against his chest pressed to hers. His face was inches away, satiny hair falling over eyes that were dark sockets of outrage. The icy air between them did not reek of spirits. He was not foxed. The slur must be from the injury. The door had hit him hard.
“I will release your mouth,” he said, and squinted as though he were trying to focus. Long lashes. Long for a man. “But if you scream, you won’t like the consequences. If you understand, blink once.”
She blinked. His hand slid away from her mouth. She gulped in air.
“Why are you here?” His gaze swept the neckline of her gown, then her hair. “Are you a maid?”
“I came outside—needed air. You’re crushing—my lungs. Get—off me or—I’ll scream and—bear the consequences.”
“No scream will come without air to carry it.” He sounded less slurred now. And too rational. “Tell me who you are and I will release you.”
“Regina Slate. Daughter—Duke of Marylebone—guest. He’ll have you—strung up by your neck when—he learns you’ve—touched me.”
“Marylebone is a neighborhood, not a duke. And threatening a man with hanging in the uncertain future when he’s got you in his power at present is idiocy.” Now she heard a round, broken tone in his words. He was a foreigner. But not French, she thought, and he spoke English perfectly. Also, he knew Marylebone was a neighborhood in London. Her poor luck. “And if your father is a duke,” he said, “I am the Emperor of China.”
“Pleasure—” She gasped. “To make your acquaintance—your imperial majesty.”
His hand tightened about her wrist. “What is your name and why are you in this stable?”
“Ravenna—Caulfield. Truly. You were right. I’m—nobody.” With no one of her own to wrap her arms around at the end of the day and breathe in deeply, and no one to protect her from men who would throw themselves upon her because she was nobody. “Now get—off me.”
“Caulfield.” His brow bent. The pressure on her chest relaxed slightly and she tried to fill her lungs. But his grip remained tight around her arm. “You are in Sir Beverley Clark’s party?”
As stable hands went, this one seemed unusually well informed. “I work for him.” Not really now that she was a duchess’s sister, of course. But how much could he know about Sir Beverley’s household?
“What work do you do?” His eyes scanned her face with particular interest now, and an odd little eddy of awareness scampered through her. “Are you his mistress?”
Apparently he didn’t know much about Sir Beverley after all. “I care for his pet dogs and exotic birds.”
Abruptly, his brow relaxed. A crease dented his scruffy cheek. Ravenna’s heart did a peculiar sideways leap.
“You care for his—”
“Dogs and exotic birds. Twelve dogs. Two birds. And one house pig.” A strange agitation was rushing into her numb limbs. It must be terror. It could not be caused by the dent in his cheek above his hard jaw. He was a dangerous stranger attacking her. But attackers did not grin like they were curiously pleased. Did they?
A shimmer of red peeked from the fall of hair over his brow, the welt forming. A biscuit poultice would soothe that quick enough. Perhaps in the kitchen she could find milk and some—
“Animals?” he said, his gaze trailing over her face again, the dent deepening.
“I care for them and doctor them. I do the same for everybody’s animals in the county when they get sick, without compensation because I am not a man and nobody thinks they need to pay me except with a basket of fresh eggs or a cream or a cake of soap, which I usually take to mean they think a woman should smell better than I do. This struggling in straw soaked with puppy urine isn’t helping that problem, by the way. So now get off me.”
But he wasn’t going to release her. She saw the change in his eyes and felt it in his body the instant it happened. Then his gaze dipped to her mouth.
“You smell good to me,” he said...
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Author Bio: Award-winning, best-selling author KATHARINE ASHE writes intensely lush historical romance, including How To Be a Proper Lady, among Amazon's 10 Best Books of 2012 in Romance, and eight other acclaimed novels set in the era of the British Empire. With the publication of her debut novel in 2010, she earned a spot among the American Library Association's "New Stars of Historical Romance." She was a nominee for the 2013 Library of Virginia Literary Award in Fiction, and in 2011 she won the coveted Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Historical Romantic Adventure. Katharine is also a finalist for the 2014 RITA® Award, the highest honor in the romance fiction industry, for How To Marry A Highlander.
She lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European History at Duke University, Katharine writes fiction because she thinks modern readers deserve high adventure and breathtaking sensuality too. For more about her books, please visit her at www.KatharineAshe.com.
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