Friday, July 24, 2015

Laird of Her Heart by Sabrina York - danger, hot highlander alert!




Laird of her Heart: Book One in the Dundragon Trilogy by Sabrina York
When Maggie Spencer is mysteriously transported to the Scotland of her ancestors, she is stunned to come face to face with him. Dominic Dundragon, the man she’s been half in love with her whole life. A man who’s been dead for 700 years.
They both have enemies aplenty. Will she have a chance to win his love, or will this adventure end in disaster?

Read an excerpt
Maggie yelped as, without warning, the burly warrior named Declan whipped her up into his arms and tossed her over his shoulder. To her horror, she lost the hold on her locket.
“Wait,” she cried. She wriggled to get free, but his grip was too hard. When she pummeled his back with her fists as he strode from the circle of stones, he chuckled. The beast. But to be fair, he was so large, it would have felt like a kitten batting him. “Put me down.”
“I willna,” he said. “The Mackintosh will decide how you die.”
All right. That shut her up. For a minute. “Die? Why do I need to die?” What the hell had she done to him?
The man following, an enormous blond with a scar tracking his cheek bent down to peer at her. “The Mackintosh’s doona tolerate spies.”
“I’m not a spy.” Seriously. She wriggled more and Declan smacked her ass.
Smacked her ass.
She’d kill him when she got free. Just kill him.
“Yer wearing the Cameron colors,” the blond said. “And the Mackintosh’s doona—”
“Right. I know. The Mackintosh’s doona tolerate spies.” Her head was starting to spin from being upside down and jounced around with each step. Her temper was on a short leash. “But honestly, if I were a spy, would I wear the Cameron colors? It seems a little counterproductive in my opinion. I mean, if I’m spying and all. I might as wear a sign that says, oh, I dunno, honk if you love spies.”
His brow rumpled but he didn’t respond. At least, not to her. “She speaks strangely,” he complained to Declan.
Her captor snorted a laugh. “She dresses strangely too.”
“Aye. She does at that. I’ve heard the Cameron lasses are a wild lot, but I had no idea—”
“I’m. Not. A. Cameron.” She reached out and smacked the blond, but only because he came close enough. He reared back and gaped at her—as though he’d never been smacked before—and then he quickly moved out of range.
It hardly mattered, because, apparently, they had reached their destination, a camp on the edge of the woods. The sounds of nickering horses and clanks of pots gave her her first clue—she was facing the other way, after all.
Her second clue was that Declan dropped her on the ground. She landed with an oof. She glared at him. He didn’t seem to mind in the slightest. “Go get my brother, Ewan,” he barked, and the blond trotted off to one of the larger tents.
When she stood and brushed off her jeans, Declan bristled and she shot him a sardonic glare. Did he think she was stupid enough to run away? For one thing, these enormous men had her surrounded. For another, she never ran. Not if she could help it.
Instead, she made a quick survey of her surroundings. The camp was little more than a huddle of tents with the forest on one side and a sweeping plain on the other. A small herd of horses were hobbled to one side and a deer roasted over a pit fire. An entire deer. Before she could silence the thought—she often had that problem—she said, “You killed Bambi.”
Declan’s brow rumpled. “I dinna kill anyone.” And then he asked, “Who is Bambi?”
“Never mind.” She crossed her arms and turned away pretending to ignore them. But she wasn’t. She was aware they were all staring at her like she was a curiosity in a zoo, but she was taking in tiny details as well. Like the fact that their clothes were all handmade and simple. Their hair appeared to have been cut with a chainsaw and their beards were scraggly and long. Their weapons were what made her mind really start to spin though.
One held a crossbow that dated from the thirteenth century. Another had a Mackintosh dirk that resembled one she’d seen in a museum once. Declan had a simple calfskin sporran tied to his belt.
Odd. Could she have wandered into some renaissance faire? But no. It had been evening when she stepped into the woods and now it was daytime. Early afternoon. And the acres of woods around the house belonged to the family. It couldn’t be—
“So.” She flinched as a deep, melodious voice wafted to her on a hint of humor. Shivers danced through her, along with a prickling sense of premonition. “You’ve captured a Cameron spy?”
She turned slowly and froze as her gaze landed on him. On that so-familiar face. Broad, handsome, savage. Much more captivating than the sketch had been. Much more captivating by far.
She must be hallucinating. She had to be.
He was the hero of her dreams come to life.
Dominic Dundragon, Laird of the Mackintosh clan.
Large, looming and in the flesh.
Her head went woozy. Her vision blurred. And then, for the first time in her life, she fainted.

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ABOUT SABRINA YORK
Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & sexy to scorching romance. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests.

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If you love hot highlanders, be sure to read Sabrina York’s Untamed Highlanders from St. Martin’s Press!

Lana and the Laird—Coming in 2016





Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Danger Wears White is out!



Danger Wears White
You can read an excerpt and order this book now!
Amazon
iTunes
Kensington website
Barnes and Noble

“Full of political intrigue, steamy romance and plenty of twists and turns…a well crafted story that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page. If Lynne Connolly isn’t on your auto-buy list, she should be.”~Sharon Cullen, author of Sebastian’s Lady Spy
Hoping to live down her family’s connections to the traitorous Jacobite cause, Imogen wants nothing more than a quiet life in the country. When she stumbles upon a wounded man, the white cockade in his coat tells her he’s a Jacobite, and a danger to the crown. Yet there’s something about him she can’t resist . . .
In search of a document on behalf of his powerful family, Tony is shot and left for dead. Secreted away to a hidden chamber, he finds himself both a guest and prisoner of a beautiful but mysterious woman. What she wants and who she serves, he cannot know. But what he does understand is the desire burning strongly between them. And that neither of them will be spared until their lust is sated.
When the action moves to London, suddenly it’s Tony who has to act to save Imogen. Forced to become a lady in waiting to Princess Amelia, she is in peril from the Jacobites, who are convinced she is their salvation. Only the strength of Tony and Imogen’s love can save them now.





Friday, July 03, 2015

News for July, 2015



So, I’ve had a month since I got back from the US, and I’m not caught up yet! I’m thrilled with the success of the Waterloo books, too. “The Incomparables” went top 5 on Amazon Regency!
Basically this month I’ve been sitting at my desk, writing, writing, writing, trying to catch up. I now have two books on the way, and ready for their final run-through. I’ve written Julius’s story for the “Emperors of London” series, and another instalment in the Even Gods Fall In Love series.
I’ve done my first Facebook parties, too. One for “The Incomparables” and another to help my friend Monica Burns launch “Mirage,” and so I can launch “Danger Wears White.”
It’s hot here. Really hot, like in the mid 30’s. at Wimbledon yesterday, the thermometer topped 40, so we’re talking hotter than Hades. But we have fresh strawberries to cool us! I finally got to see the new Mad Max movie, which I enjoyed. Tightly constructed, nice pacing.
And I’m still writing, writing, writing!
This month Kensington is releasing “Danger Wears White,” which has an absolutely beautiful cover, IMO. It features one of my favourite places, although I’ve retitled it and resituated it a few miles north. But basically, Imogen lives in Little Moreton Hall in Cheshire. It’s an amazing place, built in the 16th century with additions put on later. It’s a timber-framed building, with spectacular patterns.
The Hall was built with “green” timber, so it warped and bent under stress, but it held. Now there’s hardly a straight line in the place now. When one of the owners wanted to emulate his neighbours and have a Long Gallery, he built one on top of the existing building, thus blocking off a few rooms, which became “secret” rooms. Not built to be secret, but not much use for anything.
Little Moreton Hall is like something out of a fairy tale, so of course I had to base a book there! Imogen’s family have seen better days, and took the wrong side in the struggle with the Jacobites, so she’s been working, keeping out of trouble. That ends when she finds a wounded man on her property. She thinks he’s a Jacobite, but she can’t just give him up. He’ll die. So she takes care of him. She hasn’t found a Jacobite, she found an Emperor, Antoninus.
So then Tony has to keep Imogen out of trouble!

Danger Wears White
You can read an excerpt and preorder this book by clicking the following links
Amazon
iTunes
Kensington website
Barnes and Noble
“Full of political intrigue, steamy romance and plenty of twists and turns…a well crafted story that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page. If Lynne Connolly isn’t on your auto-buy list, she should be.”~Sharon Cullen, author of Sebastian’s Lady Spy
Hoping to live down her family’s connections to the traitorous Jacobite cause, Imogen wants nothing more than a quiet life in the country. When she stumbles upon a wounded man, the white cockade in his coat tells her he’s a Jacobite, and a danger to the crown. Yet there’s something about him she can’t resist . . .
In search of a document on behalf of his powerful family, Tony is shot and left for dead. Secreted away to a hidden chamber, he finds himself both a guest and prisoner of a beautiful but mysterious woman. What she wants and who she serves, he cannot know. But what he does understand is the desire burning strongly between them. And that neither of them will be spared until their lust is sated.
When the action moves to London, suddenly it’s Tony who has to act to save Imogen. Forced to become a lady in waiting to Princess Amelia, she is in peril from the Jacobites, who are convinced she is their salvation. Only the strength of Tony and Imogen’s love can save them now.

Read an Excerpt!
Imogen turned to Tony, anxious to see how he was.
Only for him to roughly haul her close and kiss her. It was brief, but it spoke of a hunger she found hard to believe but easy to reciprocate. Hooking her arm around his neck, she opened for him, and when his tongue entered her mouth she knew this was right. Once again, the world seeped away. Only this was real.
A slow burn crept through her as he tasted her thoroughly. He explored her, touching the roof of her mouth and sending shivers through her. He caressed her tongue with his, so carefully and tenderly that a lump came to her throat.
She’d nearly missed this. Missed him. He could have died. Losing someone to an infection happened so fast and had devastated not a few families she knew.
He spread his big hands over her back, encompassing her body, and she strained up toward him, pressing her breasts against his chest, loving his body heat. If he surrounded her with that heat and never let go she could stand anything. She just needed to keep it there.
When he finished the kiss and gazed down at her, she whimpered and tried to pull him down for more. With a groan, he obliged, and she lost herself in him. He moved her, swinging her to the side to lie next to him, and then he rolled to lean over her, all the time with their mouths locked together, drinking each other in.
A jerk disturbed her, a tiny wince, but that served to bring her back down to earth. About to grip his biceps in an unthinking action she stopped. Shame swept through her and she pulled away. “I’m sorry.”
“You have nothing to be sorry for.” His voice was rough. “I’m the one who should be sorry. I didn’t mean to pounce on you like that. I don’t know what came over me.”
“I do.” With an instinct as old as time she cupped his cheek, melting when he turned his head and pressed a kiss into her palm.
“I’m sorry about the whiskers. There’s little I can do about that at present.”
When she rubbed her palm against his jaw, the bristles set up an abrasion that half-tickled, half aroused. These new sensations gave her new responses, but something deep inside her stirred and awoke. She could even put a name to it. Desire.
Imogen wanted this man with a desperation she couldn’t have imagined before she met him. If she didn’t have him, she’d regret it forever. She knew it. It was worth any price. Five minutes, ten, half an hour—she didn’t care.
Spinsterhood stretched ahead like an empty wasteland. But she could have this, once, this one time. Nobody would know. Unless the unthinkable happened, but she could even cope with that.
“I like it.” She smiled, letting her need show in her face, daring to open to him. He could reject her. She wouldn’t blame him if he did. Or—her cheeks heated. She was forgetting far too much here, taking too much for granted. “Are you too tired to stay awake? Too weak?”
When he moved, something brushed her hip. His erection, hard and needy. Heat flooded her groin, and she shifted to ameliorate the desire to be touched.
“Does that feel weak? But you’re my savior. I’d be a poor man if I thanked you in this way. I can’t take advantage of you like that.”
She took umbrage at that remark. As if she had no choice in the matter. “Take advantage? I should strike you for that. But you’ve suffered too much hurt already. I can’t. How are you feeling?”
He tried to move away but she refused to release him. She pulled him back. His smile was rueful. “Sweetheart, if I don’t let you go now, I don’t think I will be doing it for some time.”
“I don’t want you to.” She bit her lip. “But you should rest.”
“I am resting. Here, with you. Don’t tempt me, please.”
The plea pushed her the rest of the way. She had to persuade him somehow or spend the rest of her life regretting it. “I want you.”
This close she saw the way his pupils widened. “I want you too. Never doubt that. But I cannot. How can I despoil what isn’t my right to take?”
“It’s your right if I give it to you.” She needed to tell him the truth. Well, not all of it. “I’m not married, nor am I likely to. I’m a maid, but I want you to take it as a gift. My virginity.”
His shock was evident in the way he froze, every part of his body stilling. “You can’t do that.”
“It’s mine. If I want to give it away, I will.”
He swallowed. “Are you sure?”
“Are you up to the task?”
Her inadvertent double entendre gave him a smile, and his body relaxed against her when he laughed. All but one part. “Yes, I’d say so. I’ve suffered much worse in my time, and seen worse, too. Your prompt action saved me from harm, and Young George worked like a Trojan to reinforce what you started.”
“What did he do?”
“Washed out the wound every hour. Every trace of infection is gone. He fetched some brandy last night that you’re not supposed to know about, so don’t go telling him that I told you.”
Now he made her laugh, and on the heels of her laughter, he kissed her.
Mirth stopped, and passion took its place. At his taste, every part of her body strained up to him. Her yearning became undeniable.
Especially when he spread one hand over her waist and slid it up her body to touch that part of her breast that swelled above her stays. It felt so good, his warmth and the way he was stroking her, that she wanted more. She unfastened the first hook. He groaned. She kept going.
After brushing her hand away, he took over, rapidly unhooking her stays, and then broke their kiss at last. When he opened his eyes, the pupil was nearly all black. “Why don’t all women have their stays made that way?”
“They do.” He couldn’t have seen many women in their everyday wear. For some reason that made her happy. With a wicked smile, she wriggled, and the stays fell away.
He touched her as if she were sacred, feathering his fingers down her breast to the edge of her shift. When he pulled the bow undone, nothing stopped him pushing it out of the way. He made careful work of it, his fingers shaking against her flesh.
Anticipation made her center dampen. She bit her lip, trying to push some control back into her wayward body, but he smiled and dropped a kiss on her mouth.
“Take off your shirt,” she said.
“It’s all I have on.”


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

New release: It Started At Waterloo


Dreaming of Waterloo by Lynne Connolly
Does she love him enough to let him go?

After three straight days working beside surgeon Will Kennaway to treat the wounded of Waterloo, Amelia Hartwell collapses on the nearest bed to sleep. Surely she can be forgiven for not caring that the warm body sleeping next to hers is Will’s.
Amelia’s status-hungry mother, however, couldn’t be more pleased to have an excuse to get the painfully shy, socially awkward Amelia married off, albeit to a less-than-ultra-rich husband.
Will doesn’t keep his title a deep, dark secret. His little-known earldom simply affords him the financial freedom to focus solely on healing the sick. But now that he has a wife to think about—and to admire, thanks to her unstinting bravery at Waterloo—he reluctantly takes up the mantle of earl to do his duty.
Missing her meaningful work as a nurse, Amelia finds herself floundering in society’s glaring spotlight, wondering if Will regrets being forced to marry. Perhaps it might even be better to give him his freedom, even if doing so will break her heart…
Warning: Steamy, battlefield kisses under a tent canvas lead to steamy scenes in the bedroom.
Coming June 16th from bestselling and award winning historical romance author Lynne Connolly


Read an excerpt of It Started at Waterloo:

Desire took Amelia, strong and hard. She wanted to feel this man’s skin against hers, his body curved around her as they were when she awoke, but with both of them bare. Tomorrow, when her mother would ensure she was betrothed to Sir Henry, it would be too late.
The cocoon of warmth, and the privacy here in Will’s bed gave her a dreamy sense of wanting, her usual barriers gone. Rain pattered on the canvas above them, and the memories of the terrible three days that had led them here melted into a dream.
Amelia had long known her feelings for him were more than she should allow, but she could not help herself. She wanted him badly, and here was her chance.
She wriggled uncomfortably, trying to find some space in this small bed, but in doing so she came into contact with his—member? The men called it a cock. Secretly she liked the word, but doubted she could ever say it aloud.
He made an essentially male sound, a kind of grunt, and moved closer, snuggling it against her thigh. “Much though I’d like to, we cannot. I’m so tired, for one thing.” He paused, and froze into position. “Amelia.” As if reminding himself who she was.
“Yes, it’s me,” she said steadily.
“You’re warm and safe, so let’s take advantage of that. Sleep.”
“Who removed my clothes?”
“I did.” He opened his eyes wider. “I only got rid of your stained dress and your shoes, so rest easy. Oh, and your stays. How women can sleep in those things defeats me.”
Yes, he was right. Her gown had been horribly marked, and when she wriggled her toes she realized she was still wearing her stockings, shift and petticoats. She could almost walk down the main street of Brussels like this. Except being without her stays made her feel vulnerable. She squirmed against him, savoring his warmth and essential maleness.
Will groaned. He swung up, lying over her, his shaft pressed into her stomach. “You want this?”
“Yes.”
He blinked down at her. “You were supposed to say no. Perhaps one more kiss will not do any harm. God knows we both deserve it. Then will you go back to sleep?”
Happily, she nodded. What harm could one kiss do?
They must not do more than this. But even as the thought crossed her mind, he flicked his tongue against her lips. She trembled at the intimate touch and did what came naturally. She opened her mouth and he surged in.
Her gasp of shock drew him in further. His articulated sigh swept through her, and his body surged lasciviously against hers. Scandalous. The consideration, instead of deterring her, added spice to the encounter.
Will tilted his head, sealing them together. He worked his lips against hers, sliding his tongue around her mouth, tasting and exploring. When he touched his tongue to hers, she shuddered.
This was a dream. It had to be. How could it be anything else? Tiredness lapped at the edges of her mind. But such a good dream that she gave herself up to it.
He brought his hand up and cupped her breast, moving a little so he could reach it. His lips left hers for the bare moment it took him to murmur, “Pretty.” He was back again before she had time to protest.
Not that protest had formed the uppermost thought in her mind. When she dared to curve her arm around his neck and spread her hand over the back of his head, he groaned into her mouth. The sound added to the sensations rocketing through her body.
Yes, rocketing. She’d seen rockets, the way they fizzed before shooting off at unimaginable speeds and exploding in enemy lines. At a siege somewhere, Badajoz, maybe.
Her thoughts scattered as fast as she tried to collect them. He massaged her breast, his fingers finding her nipple, tweaking and pulling, increasing sensitivity with each touch. She pressed against him, pushing into his hand, her body climbing to a peak she’d had no idea was possible.
Was this why people risked everything? Did intimacy feel like this every time?
She had no idea, but she wanted to find out. Longed to, with an urgency that shocked her.
Will kissed her again and again before touching his lips to hers in tender caresses. He moved to kiss her ear, lingering on the rim. When he nipped it, she jumped, bringing her into closer contact with him, caressing his shaft with the warmth of her body.
“Amelia, you have hidden depths,” he murmured, his voice so soft anyone standing at the tent flap would not hear him. “I am privileged that you chose me to explore them.”
A noise outside disturbed her, then sent her into shock. A man cleared his throat, his voice coming from directly outside the flap. “Mr. Kennaway, sir?”
Will closed his eyes and pulled away from her. His mouth was swollen and wet, his gaze slumberous. “We will resume this later.” He blinked and shook his head. She was so close she saw the blue of his eyes return.
He raised his voice. “Yes, Robinson?”
“Let me through!”
The strident tones of her mother came clearly through the tent flap, and before either had time to move, Lady Hartwell had shoved her way through. Robinson followed.
“Am-e-li-a!” Every syllable of her name sounded like anathema on her mother’s lips.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New Release: Dreaming of Waterloo - The Incomparables



Dreaming of Waterloo by Lynne Connolly
One of six amazing novels in a landmark collection honoring the heroes of Waterloo and the ladies they love!

The Incomparables
This limited edition box set includes 6 scorching romances that commemorate the 200th anniversary of the June 18, 1815 Battle of Waterloo.

From the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels to the Battle of Waterloo and beyond, join these six unforgettable heroes as they journey back from the physical and emotional trials of war and discover the passion that thrills the body can also heal the heart. 

Coming June 16th from bestselling and award winning historical romance authors Cerise DeLand, Sabrina York, Suzi Love, Lynne Connolly, Suzanna Mederios and Dominique Eastwick,

The Stories in the Set:

Interlude with a Baron by Cerise DeLand
Emma wants only an interlude with the man she’s adored for years. But Drayton Worth has spent five years riddled with guilt for hurting her—and he’s determined to have more than a few nights in her bed.

Tarnished Honor by Sabrina York
Daniel Sinclair is a broken man with war wounds that are physical and spiritual. He’s weighed down by grief and guilt and tormented by his tarnished honor. When he meets Fia Lennox, a beautiful and brave Highland lass in dire need of his protection, he sees in her his chance for redemption…or utter damnation. Because despite his valiant attempts to resist her, he cannot.

Love After Waterloo by Suzi Love
When Lady Melton and her son join Captain Belling and the last wounded soldiers evacuating from Waterloo to London, she expects clashes with army deserters but doesn’t anticipate how falling in love with the antagonistic captain will change her life.

Dreaming of Waterloo by Lynne Connolly
Paul “Lucky” Sherstone daren’t even let his wife too close because of his headaches and the living nightmares he can’t dispel. Hetty hardly knows the man who comes back from war, but one thing she does know—she still wants him.

The Captain’s Heart by Suzanna Mederios
A man who is determined to fulfill his duty at the expense of his own happiness, a woman who wants only one taste of true passion, and a case of mistaken identity. Can Captain Edward Hathaway and Grace Kent overcome the guilt that continues to haunt them both and find true love?

For Love or Revenge by Dominique Eastwick
Captain Roarke Wooldridge is about to find out that sometimes love does heal all wounds.But when his need for revenge collides with desires he never believed he would feel again, will he be able to put aside the scars of Waterloo to embrace his future?

Read more about Tarnished Honor by Lynne Connolly

They called him “Lucky,” but not all injuries are physical ones. Plagued by headaches and living nightmares, Paul, Lord Sherstone returns to London to a wife he doesn’t know and an estate he has to manage. He daren’t let her close, even though he is falling in love with her all over again.
Married and abandoned in a month, Hetty learned to manage a large estate and fend off would-be lovers, but a threat emerges much closer to home and from an unexpected place. In need of help she turns to Paul but since his return he has only shut her out. Refusing to give up on the man she fell in love with five years ago, Hetty has to persuade her husband to let her into his bed—and his heart.

Read an excerpt of Dreaming Of Waterloo:

The crowd parted.
They were not dancing, having left off in favor of supper, so Paul walked straight across the room to face Hetty. His gait was loose and easy, but he ate up the ground with no regard to the careful, mincing steps of the fashionable gentleman. His Hussar uniform, one of the most flamboyant in the army, looked as good as any ever did on his broad shoulders, and tall, muscular form. Gold was so heavily laced across the front that the red cloth beneath could hardly be seen. The pelisse that hung from one shoulder, red lined with blue, was equally fine.
Despite the magnificence, the man outshone the uniform, his carefully brushed dark hair and square jaw more than adequate to the task. The grim purpose delineated in every spare line of his form embellished the uniform rather than the other way about.
Hetty drew her hand away from Lewis’s arm, and stood clear of him. Paul bowed to her. “My lady.”
“My lord.”
Thus, a year of silence was broken.
She held out her gloved hand, proud that it did not waver, even though her pulses throbbed and her throat had tightened so she could scarcely breathe.
He took it and bowed over it in the approved manner. Then he glanced at his cousin. “Lewis.”
“Welcome home, Sherstone,” Lewis said, his voice slightly higher than usual.
“Thank you.” Straightening, his eyes met hers again, and once more he transfixed her.
Her mind flashed back to the first time they had met. Like this, in a ballroom, before she knew he was to be her husband.
But of course, this was nothing like that time. He was a soldier, but not a major, as he was now. He didn’t have that hard expression in his eyes then, either.
Five years had passed between that day and this, and a wealth of experience. Not to mention heartbreak, on her side at least.
Because of the woman she was now, not the one she had been once, Hetty put on her practiced society face of mild interest, allowing her lips to tilt upwards very slightly. “I had not known you were coming.”
“My arrival was somewhat confused, my lady. I was prepared to accompany Wellington to Vienna, but he had other plans. So I climbed on to one of the many ships transporting the wounded to England instead.” His lip curled in a self-deprecating sneer. “I was assured I was not taking the place of someone who needed it more than I did.”
For this was the hero, the talisman of the army. “I see you are not hurt, sir. Or is some part of you damaged beyond repair?”
The sneer turned to a smile and his dark eyes lit with amusement. Eyes that dark caught every spark of light that passed by, reflecting it with an adamantine glitter. Hetty had never been sure if she imagined the volatile moods that shaded them, or whether it was the light affecting them. But this was unmistakable. “I am never wounded. I thought you knew that.”
“Yes.” She wet her lips and watched his gaze settle there before lifting once more to encompass her face. “You have that reputation.”
“I do seem to, do I not?” His nickname of ‘Lucky’ had never been bestowed on a worthier candidate. He had been at the heart of every battle Wellington had sent him into. Men fell around him, but Major Lord Paul Sherstone remained upright and unscathed. Men strove to join his company, which had fewer casualties than others. Prints were made of him standing in bloody battlefields, staring at the carnage going on around him. Handsome and tall, the picture of a perfect officer, Paul had captivated the popular imagination.
He was doing the same now. Around them, a hush was barely broken. People watched him, most of them with awe or smiling. He ignored them all in favor of his wife and cousin, but Hetty was painfully aware of all of them. Usually she moved around society as one of many, as part of it, but not standing out. Just the way she liked it. Suddenly she was the center of attention. “I—I went to Horse Guards. They wouldn’t tell me where you were.”
He shrugged. “They probably had no idea. I told them I was selling out. My superior officer should have told the authorities.” He frowned. “You mean you did not know if I was alive or dead?”
“Exactly.” Good of him to put it so succinctly.
Fire sparked in the depths of his eyes. “That is not acceptable. It’s been ten days since the battle. I wrote to you. Did you not receive my letter?”
She shook her head. “But you are here now, my lord.” His words eased her somewhat. Before, she had imagined that she was of little importance in his scheme of things, but it appeared he had made efforts to contact her.
“And you are not one to sit before the fire, wringing your hands, are you?” A steely tone had entered his voice.
Did he expect as much? Once she might have done just that, but these days Hetty was more inclined to take her fate into her own hands. “I will find out more here than at home, waiting for something to happen.”
He gave a brief, terse nod. “True enough.”
He glanced around. “You were heading for the supper room? Allow me to escort you.”
After a nod to his cousin, Paul took Lewis’s place. He offered her his arm and she laid her hand on it. Now she trembled. Heat rose from his body through the unblemished cloth to her hand. Like this, Paul appeared as nothing more than a dandy, dressed more flamboyantly than anyone with a dozen fobs to his waistcoat. Underneath, his body was honed and sharpened to a killing edge.
As they moved away, leaving Lewis behind, chatter rose up once more.
Paul let out a long breath. “Well that was difficult.”
She felt cold, numb with shock.
“I had no idea you didn’t know I was alive.” He cast a glance over his shoulder to where Lewis was standing. “I regret you had to discover it in such a way. I suggest I find you something to drink, and then we may sit and try to appear unobtrusive.”
There was an edge of wildness to her laughter. “You? Unobtrusive?”
His mouth tightened in a mirthless grin. “I try. I should have more success soon.”
He said no more until he had procured wine for them both. After she refused food, he took her to a seat by the side of the room. “Let us hope that our reunion deters people from approaching us.”
But that was not to be. First one person then another offered him their felicitations and expressed their admiration of his prowess. Paul greeted them all with a smile, reminded them that his wife was with him, so they had to get to their feet and bow and curtsey.
“This will not do,” Paul said. “I wish to speak to you privately. We have much to discuss, my lady.”
She wished he wouldn’t call her that. She was Hetty. Henrietta if he had to, but not “my lady.”
“May I call on you tomorrow?” he asked her.
Startled, all she could do was blink at him. “I had thought—”
“I arrived far too late last night to disturb you, so I went to the club.”
“You’re staying at White’s?”
“No, at the Incomparable, farther along St. James’s Street.”
She frowned. “I don’t recall the name.”
He nodded. “It used to be the Classical. We’ve revived it. It’s now a club for people who fought at Waterloo.”
If she was not on her best behavior, she might have whistled. “So fast?”
“We had to move quickly, or the building would have sold elsewhere.”
“We?”
“We formed a committee. We have yet to meet and discuss the details of the club, but we felt the need to ensure we remembered the battle.”
“I see,” she said. She did indeed. Battle was an essentially masculine affair, and like turkey-cocks, they would want to strut their achievements. “To relive its glories.”
His lips twisted and he shook his head. “Not in that way. We need somewhere we feel safe.” Abruptly, he stopped looked away. He finished his wine before putting it aside on a table next to the sofa they shared. “We have bedrooms, so I used one last night. I will stay there tonight, and come to you in the morning.”
“At what time?”
“Does a man need permission to enter his own house?”
That made Hetty guilty. She was so used to having the house to herself but of course, that was at an end now. “Of course not. I merely wanted to ensure everything was ready.”
He lowered his voice and leaned closer. “That phrase could mean something entirely different in certain quarters.” Leaning back, he observed her discomfiture.
A flush rose to her cheeks. “Then I apologize.” She would be up with the dawn tomorrow. She had no desire for him to find her still abed.
He still disturbed her, still made her want—things. Their marriage had not been marked with passion, except right at the beginning. Sometimes she considered those heady days as the only truly happy ones of her life. That was foolish, of course it was, but in her more melancholy moments, she remembered them.
She would never get them back. They had gone on and their union had become something completely different.
“My cousin seemed very thick with you,” he said, leaning back.
She breathed in relief, as if he’d taken all the air when he’d moved closer to her. “He’s been of great help with the estate. It is in good heart.”
He frowned. “But you take the decisions, do you not?”
“Yes.” She had ensured that. Working with the men of business, the estate managers, the lawyers and other professional people she had managed to keep her finger on the pulse of his estate. Not that Paul had cared much, or so it seemed. He was not the first son of his parents, but had inherited the earldom when his brother had died unexpectedly shortly after Paul had joined the army. He could not be reached for some time, and when he finally returned home, he was an earl. Wellington had demanded his return. The earldom could wait, Wellington had said, and so it had.
Now it would not. “Your men of business will be anxious to talk to you,” she said.
“It appears that they talk to Lewis far more than to me.” He shrugged, his shoulders moving powerfully under the fabric of his uniform. “I have a new skill to learn.” He got to his feet and held out his hand.
After only a moment’s hesitation, she took it and let him help her to her feet. “You look weary,” he said softly. “I won’t tax you with my presence tonight. Go home and get some sleep.”
“Yes, I believe I shall.” She smiled brightly, forcing back the shadows.
Perhaps they would do better this time, after all. This time as friends and colleagues, not passionate lovers. That chapter had ended a long time ago, and she should not regret it.
And yet she did.

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