To the cosmopolitan and haughty Malcolm, few engagements could possibly be more punishing than attending his friend’s country wedding―until the groom requests he watch over his timid sister during the weeks leading up to the ceremony. Fearful of her scar making her the center of attention to the visiting lords and ladies, Emily proves to be a difficult charge for the irascible bachelor.
Her diffidence an insult to his sensibilities, he finds a new purpose within his role: to bring out the bold woman within. But how can such a gentle creature as Emily abide his own coarseness? At odds with their natures, will these two willful souls be able to look beyond their past hurt to build a promising tomorrow?
Read on for the excerpt…
She turned for the door. He reached out and gripped her arms with both hands, stopping not only her forward movement but also her breath and, seemingly, her heart as well. Her eyes flew to his face as his gloved fingers burned through the sheer sleeves of her gown. She was suddenly transported to that day in the music room, when she had been so sure he had been about to kiss her. She had wanted it so desperately she had fairly ached with the need of it, even long after he had left her.
His eyes skimmed over her face, and in the dark recesses of her mind she remembered his horror when he had pushed her away. But it was a mere echo. All she could feel in that moment was the firmness of his chest pressing into her breasts, his hands on her arms, and the pool of heat that was quickly settling in the very core of her. Their breaths rasped in the quiet of the library, accompanied by the sharp crackle of the fire. Somewhere off in the distance, the sounds of revelry could still be heard, faintly. It was another world. The only real thing was here and now.
“Emily,” he groaned. It was a pained sound, ripped from the very depths of his soul. Her body responded instantly to her name on his lips, molten longing making her breath short, her knees weak with wanting him. Her fingers came up of their own accord and gripped onto his evening coat, crushing the fine material. It was the first time her name, and just her name, had passed his lips. She knew now why societal dictates were so strict on proper decorum, why the use of first names alone was so taboo. Never had she felt so open and raw, so bared to another. It was as if every wall that had been built up between them had been ripped away with that one tortured word.
He bent a bit closer, his face mere inches from hers. Yet he seemed to be doing battle with himself. He fairly shook under her fists. Every inch of him trembled. Her own body—her untutored and innocent body—was responding to it. She pressed a bit closer to him, saw the flare in his eyes. It was not the faint firelight, she knew. No, it was something more primal, something he was fighting with everything in him.
And she was tired of fighting. She was so damned tired of being alone, of being without. The devastating knowledge that she might never, ever have this intimacy with a man again struck her then. Dragging in a deep breath, her senses filled with him, with that wonderfully mouthwatering scent of black tea and leather and soap, underlined with the sweet spice of the brandy he had consumed. She wanted him. More than anything in her life, she wanted this man. With that realization, that the one person who had brought her so much heartache and grief could be the one man her heart and body wanted above all others, she shuddered.
He seemed to regain control of his errant emotions. She could feel it in him, the gradual pulling away. Her heart fairly broke with it. If he left her in that moment, when she wanted him with such raw need, she knew it would destroy her. Of its own accord, her heart spoke in that moment, a mere whisper of a sound that came out like a prayer in the stillness of the room.
His breath escaped him in a long, ragged rush. Then his mouth was on hers, hot and insistent. And there was no time to think. There was only him, and her. She gripped on tight, never wanting to let him go.
Christina Britton developed a passion for writing romance novels shortly after buying her first at the tender age of thirteen. Though for several years she turned to art and put brush instead of pen to paper, she has returned to her first love and is now writing full time. She spends her days dreaming of corsets and cravats and noblemen with tortured souls.
She lives with her husband and two children in the San Francisco Bay Area. A member of Romance Writers of America, she also belongs to her local chapter, Silicon Valley RWA, and is a 2017 RWA® Golden Heart® winner. Her debut novel, With Love in Sight, was released by Diversion Books in early 2018.