Sinful Rewards by Cynthia Sax

Sinful Rewards 12

A Billionaires and Bikers Novella

by USA Today Bestselling author Cynthia Sax

9780062354327 / Avon Red Impulse / On Sale: 6/16/2015 / $0.99

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A YEAR OF SIZZLING HOT SAX”

THE SEXIEST 12 MONTH SERIAL is SINFUL REWARDS

The thrilling conclusion to the Billionaires and Bikers series!

Nicolas stands in the hallway, a sheepish smile on his beautiful face, and my small burst of joy dissipates, replaced by the dreaded malaise. He’s handsome, the lights shining on his black wavy hair, tanned skin, dark eyes. He’s immaculately dressed in a gray suit, white shirt, pink tie. He’s carrying ice cream, a small tub of Heavenly Hash cradled in his perfectly manicured fingers.

But he’s not Hawke. He’s not the man I love, the only person I want to see.

Don’t look at me like that, Bee.” Nicolas pushes his way into the condo. “I had that situation with the New York build last night. There will be fancy events in the future.” He holds up the tub. “I brought ice cream.”

I summon a smile. “You forgot about me.” I take the ice cream from the dashing billionaire. “What do those articles I sent you say about forgetting friends?”

Nicolas grimaces. “You knew I was a bad friend.” He walks with me to the kitchen, smelling of expensive cologne and wealth.

You’re not a bad friend.” I set two bowls and two spoons on the counter. “You’re a terrible friend.” I open the tub of ice cream.

The real estate developer settles his long lean body on a bar stool and dips a spoon in the container. “You’re not giving up on me, are you?” The lines carved between his perfect eyebrows belie his casual tone.

I’d never give up on you.” I knock his sucked-clean spoon away and huddle over the tub, protecting the ice cream from impatient-billionaire-induced contamination. “Hawke doesn’t love me,” I blurt, needing to voice this, to share this with someone.

He said that?” Nicolas steals a spoonful of ice cream from the bowl I’m filling.

No.” I frown, scooping as fast as I can. “But he’s never said he loves me, either.” I push Nicolas’s bowl toward him.

His eyes sparkle. “I’ve never said I love ice cream.” He shovels the sweet treat into his mouth with a boyish glee. “But I do. Very much.” His lips curl upward. “The name of this flavor is perfect. It is heavenly.”

Hawke doesn’t love me,” I repeat stubbornly, dishing out a smaller portion for myself.

A good friend would agree with you.” Nicolas’s head is bent over his ice cream.

You’re not a good friend.” I place the tub in the freezer compartment of the fridge. “What would you do?”

I’d tell you that neither of you are acting rationally, that if craziness is a sign of love, Hawke has it much worse than you.” Nicolas licks his spoon. “He guards you like you’re the last piece of prime real estate on the planet. I’m taking my life into my hands by simply eating ice cream with you.”

I climb onto the bar stool beside him, his observations about Hawke’s protectiveness appeasing me, banishing some of my melancholy. “He cares about me.”

No, he cares about his team.” The billionaire’s lips flatten grimly. “Disregarding all of my advice about maintaining his distance.” Nicolas believes remaining aloof from his employees makes painful staffing decisions less traumatic. “What Hawke feels for you is in an entirely different category.”

It isn’t love.” Or is it?

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USA Today bestselling author CYNTHIA SAX lives in a world filled with magic and romance. Although her heroes may not always say “I love you,” they will do anything for the women they adore. They live passionately. They play hard. They love the same women forever.

Cynthia has loved the same wonderful man forever. Her supportive hubby offers himself up to the joys and pains of research, while they travel the world together, meeting fascinating people and finding inspiration in exotic places such as Istanbul, Bali, and Chicago. You can visit her at @CynthiaSax and http://cynthiasax.com/

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All of Me by Jennifer Bernard | Book Review

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ALL OF ME
Love Between the Bases #1
Jennifer Bernard
Releasing May 26th, 2015
Avon Romance

 


Jennifer Bernard, the USA Today bestselling author of the Bachelor Firemen series, scores another homerun with a brand-new series about sexy, single baseball players.

Playing for the Kilby Catfish is hotshot pitcher Caleb Hart’s last chance to salvage his career after a major league meltdown. But the day of his opener with the minor league team, Caleb strikes out with the gorgeous woman who is delivering a petition to run the unruly Catfish out of town. Now to stay in the lineup, Caleb will need to score big with the feisty brunette he can’t keep out of his thoughts.

After the nasty lies Sadie Merritt’s rich ex-boyfriend spread about her all over town, she’s lucky to have a job at all. She can’t afford to screw it up by falling for the player who is supposed to be helping her change the image of the fun-loving Catfish. But that’s easier said than done when Caleb’s voice alone is enough to make her pulse race. And when he surprises her with a mind-blowing kiss, she knows there’s no turning back.

 
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THREE STARS

Jennifer Bernard is on my list of favorite contemporary romance writers! I always get excited what book she has in store next. The way she delves deep in the characters flaws, strengths, and weaknesses makes you feel all kind of emotions. Her characters will also test your patience. Just like real people, they tend to get in your nerves, makes you want to punch them and do some serious damage in their nasal septum or testicles! I sometimes need to stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and proceed to endure the rage I’m feeling inside. But of course, there’s always a silver lining in every difficult situation and guaranteed that Jennifer Bernard delivers a happy ending!

With this first book of ‘A Love Between the Bases’ series, All of Me tackles the life of a hotshot pitcher Caleb Hart who has fallen into hard times. He had to abandon his dreams for himself to provide a good life for his young siblings (three of them, in fact). What strike me most about the life of an athlete is what goes behind closed doors. When the game is over, what happens then? Caleb’s life is a peek into that life where we thought it’s just all glam, money, and endorsements. Honestly, I think they’re all overpaid players doing what they do: play around. But what some of us realize is (like myself) playing is just a temporary thing in life. Ten or twenty years being a baseball player (or whatever sport) it will soon end. And Caleb realizes that soon he will have to give up baseball whether he likes it or not, and that is why he tries so hard to make sure that his family is taken care of when his parents can’t.

Sadie Merritt also has her own issues. She has experienced so much emotional trauma from her past relationship, it’s amazing she can still put up living in a town that hold so many bad memories. Friends that she once trusted turned against her, a knobhead for an ex-boyfriend. I’m amazed that she can still go out and face the people who caused her so much agony. I don’t know if that’s brave or just daft!

For fans of baseball romance stories or any other sport romance, this is a must-read! This is just the beginning of a new series from Jennifer Bernard, that means there is more to look out for! So stay tuned!

 

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Jennifer Bernard is the USA Today bestselling author of the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriels series. She is a graduate of Harvard and a former news promo producer. The child of academics, she confounded her family by preferring romance novels to … well, any other books. She left big city life for true love in Alaska, where she now lives with her husband and stepdaughters. She’s no stranger to book success, as she also writes erotic novellas under a naughty secret name not to be mentioned at family gatherings.


 

 

 

All’s Fair in Love and Scandal by Caroline Linden | Review and Giveaway

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Alls Fair CoverSYNOPSIS

Nothing wagered…

Douglas Bennet can’t resist a good wager, especially not one that involves a beautiful woman. When a friend proposes an audacious plan to expose the most notorious woman in England, Douglas agrees at once. After all, it would be quite a coup to discover the true identity of Lady Constance, author of the infamous erotic serial scandalizing the ton50 Ways to Sin.

Nothing won…

Madeline Wilde is used to being pursued. For years she’s cultivated a reputation for being unattainable and mysterious, and for good reason: her livelihood depends on discretion. When Douglas turns his legendary charm on her, she dismisses him as just another rake. But he surprises her—instead of merely trying to seduce her, he becomes her friend…her confidant…and her lover. But can it really lead to happily-ever-after…or are they about to become the biggest scandal London has ever seen?

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FIVE GLORIOUS STARS!!

The plot of ‘All’s Fair in Love and Scandal’ reminds me of Lisa Kleypas’ Suddenly You, where the heroine has a secret identity and the hero is dying to find out what that secret was. But as I continue reading, this prose by Linden is absolutely different from Kleypas. In fact, ‘All’s Fair in Love and Scandal’ is more riveting with an original plot that keeps you guessing every turn of the page! Romance, humor, and mystery all brilliantly sculpted into one prose that will result in conflating emotions.

The story starts with Douglas Bennett, notorious for his pranks and wagers, conversing with William Spence goading him into doing a wager to get Madeline Wilde, a widower, infamous in rejecting every offer of a dance. This then started a wager among the men on who could start a dance with the widower, but none has succeeded. And because Douglas loves a contest, he wagers he could persuade her to dance with him. But Madeline Wilde was not a daft woman, she could see right through Douglas scheme and his motive for his approach. Madeline knew how to play the game, so she beat him to it by exposing his motive and leaving Douglas Bennett awestruck and partner less in a crowded ball. This has made Mr. Bennett determined to know the mysterious Mrs. Wilde.

“Every day I scheme for some excuse to call on you. I look forward to tedious balls and soirees because I know you’ll be there. You enchant me, Madeline, and while I want to be your friend… Yes, I also want much more.” -Douglas Bennett

The clash between two strong characters of the opposite sex is a breath of fresh air in my book! Both are intelligent, quick with facetious retort, but highly attracted to each other. I especially love the self-dialogues they have where they try to figure out each other, their feelings for the other, and the consequences their actions may lead to.

Madeline is not the kind of woman to be trifled with. Although, she had not been with a man after her husband’s demise, she is not so easily charmed by any available gentleman. She is smart, independent, and quick-witted. A feminist is her time, I should say. And as for Douglas Bennett, whom I admire for his perseverance, charm, and patience in gaining Madeline’s trust, is the perfect partner! He knows that his charm could only go so far, and befriending her is the only way to actually know who this woman is. Reading Douglas Bennett inner struggle is very amusing! Whenever he’s around her, his rogue-like defenses starts to crumble and he’s very unsure what to do with it. He completely has lost his mojo (if you like to put it that way)!

“I’m sorry I was an ass when we first met. I’m sorry I upset you so much that you made that wager to get rid of me. And I’m desperately sorry this is all I’ll have to remember you by, because I think I’ve lost my heart to you, Madeline.” -Douglas Bennett.

An absolutely entertaining story guaranteed to make you swoon and giggle.

 Linden, CarolineCaroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer software before turning to writing fiction. Ten years, twelve books, three Red Sox championships, and one dog later, she has never been happier with her decision. Her books have won the NEC Reader’s Choice Beanpot Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA’s RITA Award. Since she never won any prizes in math, she takes this as a sign that her decision was also a smart one. Visit her online at http://www.carolinelinden.com

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Yours To Hold by Darcy Burke | Release Day

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Yours To Hold

 Synopsis

The next in USA Today bestselling author Darcy Burke’s sexy and emotional family saga about seven siblings who reunite in a small Oregon town to fulfill their brother’s dying wish…

Years ago, golden-boy Kyle Archer left Ribbon Ridge without a word. Now, with heartbreak on the verge of tearing his family apart, the black sheep is back and he’s determined to earn their trust by uncovering the truth behind Alex’s death. But the moment he confronts Maggie Trent-the therapist his parents blame for the tragedy-Kyle is stunned by his powerful attraction to the beautiful doctor… and drawn to her like no woman he’s ever met before.

When gorgeous, charismatic Kyle approaches Maggie about his brother’s death, she agrees to help him search for answers. And as they piece together Alex’s last days, their undeniable chemistry turns too hot to ignore. But when their relationship becomes more serious than either anticipated, Kyle may be forced to choose between the woman he’s desperate to hold on to and the family he almost let slip away.

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Where the Heart Is

Home is more than a place . . .Breaking free from her structured life, Chloe English quits her high-powered job and moves across the country to work as an art teacher. The simple life is all she hoped it would be until her house burns down, leaving her homeless. When a handsome firefighter swoops in to save the day, she can’t believe her luck. He’s laid-back and unassuming, everything she’s looking for in a man—or so he seems. It turns out he’s as ambitious as her ex, comes with a family who could be more stifling than hers, and harbors dark secrets he may never be able to share.

Orphaned as a teenager, Derek Sumner has found a place in his best friend’s family. However, the love and support of his surrogate parents and siblings can’t erase the grief and loss he struggles every Christmas to banish. But this year he meets the fun and sexy Chloe, whose optimism and sense of joy are incredibly contagious. Can she help him face his bleak past so they can forge a happy future?

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Only In My DreamsOnly In My Dreams (Book 1)Fed up with her self-imposed single life, successful event planner Sara Archer heads to a bar for a night of dancing … and bumps into Dylan Westcott, a high school crush she hasn’t seen in years. Harmless flirting leads to a hot, completely uncharacteristic one-night stand. But when she wakes up alone, Sara knows there won’t be a repeat.Dylan, a divorced, ex-military construction contractor, limits himself to casual flings—his failed marriage proves he’s better off alone anyway—but he can’t stop dreaming about Sara. And when his firm is hired to oversee the renovation project run by the Archer siblings, the two are unable to resist their explosive chemistry.

But when their secret affair grows beyond “friends with benefits” and neither is willing to admit they want more, family drama and emotional scars may ruin their chance at a love they believed was only in their dreams.

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When Love HappensComing Soon
When Love Happens (Book 4)

In a town as small as Ribbon Ridge and with a family as large as the Archers, even the best-kept secrets don’t stay buried for long…

Tori Archer is married…well, on paper anyway. She hasn’t actually seen her husband since the disastrous morning after their impulsive Vegas wedding. The memories of their intense passion may still make her weak in the knees, but Tori knows their marriage was a mistake.

After six months filming abroad, television producer Sean Hennessy wants nothing more than to track down his sexy, captivating wife and get her into bed…fast. So when his boss sends him to Oregon to persuade the famous Archer sextuplets—the former stars of a reality TV show—to do a reunion special, Sean sees the perfect chance to win Tori back.

But Tori wants nothing to do with him and is determined to push him away. Yet their attraction is as hot as ever and Sean will do anything to prove their relationship was more than just a fling…because he knows that when real love happens, it changes everything.

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Darcy BurkeAuthor Bio

Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations.

A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her devoted husband, their two great kids, and two Bengal cats. In her “spare” time Darcy is a serial volunteer enrolled in a 12-step program where one learns to say “no,” but she keeps having to start over. She’s also a fair-weather runner, and her happy places are Disneyland and Labor Day weekend at the Gorge.

Visit Darcy online at http://www.darcyburke.com, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/darcyburke, or like her Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/darcyburkefans.

 

I Loved a Rogue by Katharine Ashe | First Chapter Reveal and Giveaway

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I Loved A RogueSynopsis

In the third in Katharine Ashe’s Prince Catchers series, the eldest of three very different sisters must fulfill a prophecy to discover their birthright. But if Eleanor is destined to marry a prince, why can’t she resist the scoundrel who seduced her?

She can pour tea, manage a household, and sew a modest gown. In short, Eleanor Caulfield is the perfect vicar’s daughter. Yet there was a time when she’d risked everything for a black-eyed gypsy who left her brokenhearted. Now he stands before her—dark, virile, and ready to escort her on a journey to find the truth about her heritage.

Leaving eleven years ago should have given Taliesin freedom. Instead he’s returned to Eleanor, determined to have her all to himself, tempting her with kisses and promising her a passion she’s so long denied herself. But if he was infatuated before, he’s utterly unprepared for what will happen when Eleanor decides to abandon convention—and truly live . . .

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FIRST CHAPTER REVEAL

The Prodigal Son

Combe Park

Home of the Duke and Duchess of Lycombe

February 1819

You’re a ghost.”

This comment came at Eleanor Caulfield’s shoulder, quietly. Eleanor ignored it and tried to concentrate on the echoing glory of the pipe organ, whose music filled the chapel.

A living human’s cheeks cannot be so pale,” her youngest sister insisted below the hymn. Not whispered. Ravenna didn’t know how to whisper. “Yours are chalk.”

They aren’t.” Eleanor did whisper. She’d nearly perfected the art. “Now, hush.” But she lifted a hand to her face. Clad in silk-lined kidskin fastened with tiny buttons fashioned from oyster shells—gloves borrowed from her other sister, Arabella, the Duchess of Lycombe—her fingertips pressed at her cheeks.

Cold. Like death.

The death of life as she knew it.

Really, Ellie. You look like a princess,” Ravenna stripped off her shawl and covered Eleanor’s shoulders. “But you’ll catch a chill in this frigid sepulcher.”

The ducal chapel was hardly a sepulcher, rather, a lovely little space of honey-colored limestone and clear windows that allowed the winter sunlight to warm the assembled wedding guests one pale ray at a time. Still, she pulled Ravenna’s shawl over her bosom. With her hair cascading about her shoulders, Ravenna didn’t need it, and everyone always assumed Eleanor did. Thirteen years had not yet erased from her family’s memory the time when every wisp of air stealing through an open door had tipped her closer to death. The inflammation of the lungs she’d taken in her fourteenth year had lingered so long that no one ever thought she would fully recover.

No one, except one.

Today her bloodless cheeks had nothing to do with ill health or the February chill. At the foot of the chancel her beloved papa appeared sublimely happy as he wed a woman ideally suited to him.

Neat and subdued in a modest gown of dove gray cotton, the Reverend Martin Caulfield’s bride lifted a serene face to her groom. Intelligent, interested in theology, moved by his sermons, and honestly pious, the widowed Mrs. Agnes Coyne was the perfect wife for the long-widowed vicar of St. Petroc. The moment she had moved into the village everybody agreed.

Eleanor rejoiced that her papa would find happiness in marriage again; his first wife had perished even before he discovered her and her sisters in the foundling home. But Agnes’s willingness to assist him with his work and her experience running a gentleman’s household pointed to one damning certainty: Eleanor was now superfluous.

Her heart beat at too quick a tempo, and so hard it seemed to drown out the hymn rolling from the pipes. Her papa’s newfound happiness did not cause this. That her life was upon the verge of changing dramatically did.

After years of silence on the issue, Papa had spoken: his eldest daughter should marry. Joy! Happiness! He was to find contentment in wedded bliss, and he wished for her the same blessing.

Agnes had concurred, compassionately, so that Eleanor could not but love her for it. No woman grown wished to live in another woman’s house, she’d said. “My son admires you quite sincerely,” she added, then with a smile: “How could he not?”

Now Mr. Frederick Coyne stood behind Papa on the opposite side of the chancel steps, ogling her without subtlety. Subtle ogling wouldn’t have impressed her either. His coat buttons as large as tea plates made her giggle. But his brilliantly orange spotted waistcoat and matching stockings actually turned her stomach. How sensible Agnes had spawned this specimen of ostentatious exuberance, Eleanor couldn’t fathom.

Frederick waggled his brows, then shifted his eyes to the exit, suggesting . . . what? That she steal off with him for a quick assignation in the middle of their parents’ wedding? Or perhaps he intended for them to elope entirely.

He’d said as much that morning when he found her alone at breakfast. “ ’Spect you’re at wit’s end now that Mum’s taking over the roost, m’dear. Nothing to do for it but get leg shackled right away. Now, there’s an idea!

Why don’t we skip this dull hash, El, and show the parents how to do it right? Border’s only three or four days’ ride, if the weather holds. What say you?” Perusing her bodice, he’d waggled his brows then too.

If he looked at her breasts now, in church, she might laugh aloud.

And there was the trouble of it. Her palms were sticky-cold with nerves but she wanted to laugh.

She wanted to sing. Not as she sang on Sundays in church, but as loud as the lark that woke her each morning through her bedchamber window with its abandoned song.

She wanted to dance. Not decorously like she had danced at her sisters’ weddings attended by ladies and lords, but freely, wildly, gloriously, like the Gypsies who camped each winter in St. Petroc danced at the May Day festival.

She wanted to tear off her bonnet and feel the dangerous joy of wind in her hair and blazing sunshine upon her face while she galloped her horse along the edge of the cliffs. To suck the cold, salty air into her nostrils and fill her hungry lungs.

Quite simply, she wanted an adventure.

She had always wanted an adventure. Ever since as a girl she’d first read the books in her papa’s library, curled up in a window seat as the Cornwall winters blustered and batted the windowpanes, she’d made herself the heroine in the tales of knights and dragons and demons. Dreaming, always dreaming, while the world beyond the cozy safety of the vicarage—a world of workhouses and blisters and cruelties and starvation—no longer touched her.

Now she could have it. Finally, nothing held her back. Not the vicarage, or the needs of the parish, or her papa. Agnes would care for those.

Nothing stood in her way. Accustomed as she was to quiet, studious restraint, this abrupt freedom to abandon herself to the unknown both terrified and excited Eleanor.

Frederick adjusted his wide lapels and smiled invasively.

She should be flattered. Poor vicars’ spinster daughters weren’t often ogled by fashionable young gentlemen, or proposed to, even offhandedly, she suspected. Frederick wasn’t a trial to look at, with that thick swipe of hair over his forehead and hooded eyes. She’d even seen him reading a few of times. She could bear a husband’s fashion excesses if he read good books.

It was tempting . . .

His gaze slithered down her bodice.

Not tempting enough.

Then again, she’d never been tempted by any man. Not by any man. Only a boy. Young and naïve at the time, she would have left the comfort and safety of the vicarage for him. She would have gone anywhere for him.

But that was ages ago and didn’t bear recalling, except that he had helped her to learn the inconstancy of the male heart.

Not her papa’s, though. Papa would never demand that she leave the vicarage. Neither would Agnes. If she remained in St. Petroc, she would settle into a life of their endless kindnesses, and her own pathetic superfluity would choke her to death. She had lived modestly for years. But she had never been a milksop. The one moment in her life when she had been on the cusp of becoming so, a wild Gypsy boy had shown her a much better alternative. An adventure.

Then he’d broken her heart.

The medieval tales she loved were full of unexpected pitfalls and disasters, of course. That was to be expected. She could have an adventure now, only different in one crucial detail. An adventure that did not involve a man could be ideal.

Drawing a slow breath to bank the fledgling excitement that curled through her now, fire licking at kindling, Eleanor turned her eyes away from the happy couple to the chill winter day beyond the chapel window.

And ceased to breathe entirely.

A horseman rode up the drive from the house toward the chapel. The great black beast, powerful in neck and legs, thundered forward, its hooves marking the earth upon impact. The rider controlled the animal with ease, his greatcoat flaring out over the horse’s haunches. Eleanor could not see his entire face; his hat brim masked it. But she knew him from the confident grasp of his gloved hands upon the reins and from the manner in which he rode, as though he might command the world from that horse, and could.

She knew him because every day from September through April for seven years of her young life she had watched him ride. She had memorized him.

That boy.

The co-author of the single real adventure of her life.

Taliesin Wolfe.

Long ago she had trained her heart to take no notice of anything concerning him, not the infrequent letters he sent to Papa, nor her sisters’ accounts of seeing him in London occasionally. Now that heart betrayed her: it leaped into a gallop faster than his horse’s.

Beside the chapel he dismounted. A groomsman appeared and took the reins, but the beast swung its head around and bared its teeth, and the groom stumbled back. Taliesin placed his hand upon the thick ebony neck and the animal swiveled its face to him. With horses he had always had a rare magic; a natural wisdom and potent touch, like the wizard of Arthurian legend after whom he had been named: Taliesin the Merlin. This magic still seemed to be his. Lowering its head, the mighty beast went docilely with the groom.

Alone on the drive, Taliesin stood still for a moment as he removed his gloves, his black hat and dark overcoat making him a roguish shadow against the pale gray day. He seemed entirely out of place and yet perfectly at ease. As always.

Any moment he would look to the window and see her gaping. She must look away. As he’d always done as a boy, he would sense her attention upon him and he would—

He didn’t. With the loping grace that had characterized his movements as a youth, he went forward and out of her sight. She’d barely time to register the raucous thud of her heartbeats before the door to the chapel opened and he entered.

In the building.

Mere yards away.

After eleven years.

The brisk chill of the day seemed to cling to him in the high color upon his cheeks and the tousle of his satiny black hair.

And the kindling within Eleanor burst into flame. Eleven years of modesty. Eleven years of careful reserve. Eleven years of regretting the only adventure she’d ever had. Now he stood before her again, dark and lean and staggeringly virile. And like a sleeping princess in a fairy tale brought back to life by magic, every morsel of her maidenly body awoke.

Tali!” Ravenna exclaimed below the swell of the organ.

I told you he would come,” Arabella murmured from her other side.

She had?

Good heavens, Ellie,” Ravenna said in her ear. “Now you look positively fevered. Are you sure you’re well?”

The music ended on a single, dramatic chord. In the sudden silence the prodigal Gypsy’s boots clunked on the church floor. Eleanor’s papa turned his head around, and his face opened in happiness.

In the name of God above,” the priest began, and everybody looked at him. But to Eleanor, even the impact of her papa entering into marital bliss could not now compare to the sudden appearance after so many years of Taliesin Wolfe.

In the last of several rows of empty pews, he stood imposingly erect, still, and dark, his presence making shadows where none had been before. With a lift of lashes, dark and thick like a starless night, he met her gaze directly. Slowly, the corner of his mouth tilted up. Confusion. Indignation. Anger.

Heat.

All tangling together in the pit of her stomach and down to her fingertips. He had always done this to her—turned her insides out and her outsides quivering. Now after years of absence he was doing it again with no more than a mocking semi-smile.

She refused to succumb. The years had taught her. They had changed her.

Clearly they had changed him too. All sharp jaw, long limbs, sunken cheeks, and deep eyes as a boy, when he began to grow into his bones he had become an impossibly handsome youth. Watching him at a distance or walking beside him, she had found it difficult not to look too long at him, like a hunger that refused to be satisfied.

In appearance he was no longer that boy. His taut jaw and too-long hair and the silver rings in his ears were the same, but all else had changed. Fine clothing, broader shoulders, and the hardness in his black eyes marked him as a stranger now. And yet still she could not look away.

He bowed.

To her.

He bowed.

When had he learned how to bow? When had he thrown off the urchin who teased her and competed with her and made her crazy? When had he become this gentleman? And when had God decided that after a life of maidenly quietude she had sinned so greatly that she deserved to again meet the single person who could make her sin again?

Her cheeks flowered with pink and fire lit her eyes as she returned his stare as though he’d no business in this place.

Taliesin had not expected this. He should have. Just as he should have expected the grinding ache in his gut now. Her pull on him.

Golden, like a summer morning, with a quick glimmer in her eyes. That’s what he had remembered about her, the contrast between her fragile body and strong mind. As a boy, it had enthralled him. Often he’d goaded her only to see her ivory cheeks turn rosy and her golden green eyes flash. Always he’d sought to draw her gaze, to command her attention even if only to scold him for impertinence or arrogance or any of the other sins of which she believed him guilty. He would have done anything then to secure her notice. Anything.

Now he had merely walked through a door and she gave it to him. Voluntarily, thoroughly. She hadn’t ceased staring since he crossed the threshold. He hadn’t craved the touch of her gaze in years. But, God’s blood, he liked having it now.

A cool mist of displeasure slipped over her features, rain shrouding a spring garden. She turned her attention to the vicar and his new wife.

Satisfaction. Already he’d gotten under her skin. She hadn’t changed in that manner. Nor in loveliness. As a girl Eleanor had never been a blatant beauty like Arabella nor naturally vibrant like Ravenna. But she had been graceful and quick-witted and so lovely that for years she had commanded his waking thoughts, and sleeping.

Not only his thoughts.

Before God I declare you husband and wife,” the churchman pronounced to the pair before him. “Go and make fruit of your union.”

A muffled chuckle from Ravenna—the vicar taking his bride upon his arm but his gaze coming swiftly to the back of the chapel again—applause from everyone—organ pipes exploding into sound—Arabella smiling at him, diamonds around her neck. And Eleanor’s averted profile, pure and perfect, with cheeks abloom like roses.

Author Bio

katharine asheKatharine Ashe is the award-winning author of historical romances that reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including How to Be a Proper Lady, an Amazon Editors’ Choice for the 10 Best Romances of the Year, and How to Marry a Highlander, a 2014 RITA® Award finalist. 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 History, she writes romance because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too. Please write to her at PO Box 51702, Durham, NC 27717-1702 or visit www.katharineashe.com

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Katharine is givng away two signed sets of I Married A Duke and I Married A Lord

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ALL OF ME
Love Between the Bases #1
Jennifer Bernard
Releasing May 26th, 2015
Avon Romance

 


Jennifer Bernard, the USA Today bestselling author of the Bachelor Firemen series, scores another homerun with a brand-new series about sexy, single baseball players.

Playing for the Kilby Catfish is hotshot pitcher Caleb Hart’s last chance to salvage his career after a major league meltdown. But the day of his opener with the minor league team, Caleb strikes out with the gorgeous woman who is delivering a petition to run the unruly Catfish out of town. Now to stay in the lineup, Caleb will need to score big with the feisty brunette he can’t keep out of his thoughts.

After the nasty lies Sadie Merritt’s rich ex-boyfriend spread about her all over town, she’s lucky to have a job at all. She can’t afford to screw it up by falling for the player who is supposed to be helping her change the image of the fun-loving Catfish. But that’s easier said than done when Caleb’s voice alone is enough to make her pulse race. And when he surprises her with a mind-blowing kiss, she knows there’s no turning back.

 
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Jennifer Bernard is the USA Today bestselling author of the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriels series. She is a graduate of Harvard and a former news promo producer. The child of academics, she confounded her family by preferring romance novels to … well, any other books. She left big city life for true love in Alaska, where she now lives with her husband and stepdaughters. She’s no stranger to book success, as she also writes erotic novellas under a naughty secret name not to be mentioned at family gatherings.