Ashlyn Macnamara is the author of What a Lady Craves, A Most Devilish Rogue, and A Most Scandalous Proposal. She lives in the wilds of suburbia outside of Montreal with her husband and two teenage daughters. When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading, and wasting time on the Internet in the guise of doing research.
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“And what are you doing here?” The crack of Lindenhurst’s voice shattered the oppressive silence. “Do you not have duties? You may give your report at the usual time. Did Mrs. Carstairs not tell you? I seem to recall hiring you for a specific purpose that had nothing to do with rifling through my personal papers.”
She hadn’t even heard the door swing open, but there Lindenhurst loomed on the threshold. His eyes snapped green fire, an unnatural light. One she ought to fear.
A wave of heat ran up the back of her neck. Caught, but she ought to be used to being caught by now, and she was well practiced at handling herself in such a situation. The trick was to brazen it out, to attack. She had every right to be here. She had to believe that, and she had to make Lindenhurst believe it.
“Perhaps I was looking for a clue as to why you’ve shut your son up in his chamber.” Despite the glare he turned on her, she dropped the page in her hand and came around the corner of his desk. Advancing like Jeremy’s soldiers. “It isn’t right. A child his age. He needs air and light. He needs to run.”
Lindenhurst advanced as well, dragging his left leg in a slow shuffle of a gait. It could have been comical. It was anything but when he held such coiled tension in check. “Nothing in here is any of your affair.”
She would not let him cow her. Perhaps the other governesses had made that mistake, but she would not. “And what of your son? You have made his welfare my business.”
Something indefinable flashed across his expression, the merest hint of emotion gone in the next instant. “My reasons do not concern you. I hired you to do a particular job, and I expect you to do it. The boy will learn. If you cannot accomplish that, I will find someone who can.”
“Then you will allow me to use what means I see fit.” A proper governess might have asked permission, but she was hardly a proper governess. She was going to lay out her terms for him to accept.
“You will keep the boy out of my way.” He shambled forward another step, and his hampered gait called forth memories of a time when he was hale and strong. When he could run and sit a horse, fence and box. How he must resent no longer being able to engage in any of those activities.
But that was no reason to punish a child, especially when the punishment involved the placement of similar restrictions. “I can do that, but I require the use of your grounds if I’m to give him proper lessons.”
Another shuffling step, but she remained in place. “And why should you need that when none of the others did? They used the nursery. As it should be.”
Never in her life had she had occasion to stand so close to him. His presence enveloped her in an overwhelming heat. Her breath quickened, and each desperate puff drew in his scent, keen and crisp like pine on a cold winter day. But the notion did nothing to cool her; there was earth to him, too, deep and heavy and arousing. That note called to something within her as nothing about any other man ever had.
Drat, and wasn’t that dangerous?
Yet, she could not bring herself to retreat. Her entire being willed her into closer proximity. Closer and closer and closer. But the last thing she could afford was this distraction. “All your other governesses failed, did they not? Besides, if he is to learn to run the estate, he ought to be familiar with it.”
He reared back, considering her from the top of his nose. If the man had any talent, it lay in his ability to project utter disdain when he wished. He turned its full force on her now, but rather than quail, a buoyant feeling swelled inside her. It rather felt like victory.
“I have a stipulation. You may take the boy out as long as you keep him out of my sight. And don’t take him anywhere near the pond.”
Length: 266 pages
Publisher: Loveswept (November 4, 2014)
Readers of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries will love Ashlyn Macnamara’s novel about a smoldering new love that is threatened by past betrayals.
Viscount Lindenhurst cannot seem to find a governess who meets his impossible standards—until Cecelia Sanford becomes the first woman to interrupt the widower’s brooding in years. Lind had returned home from the Napoleonic wars, broken in body and soul and longing for his wife’s embrace, only to find her changed. Before they could reconcile, an accident struck their son and claimed her life. Now enter Cecelia, with her soft curves and sharp tongue—a tempting distraction, it is true, but not a welcome one.
Past the usual marrying age and haunted by a scandal of her own, Cecelia soon finds herself caring for both the child and the man. The viscount is brittle and even abrupt at times, yet she cannot deny the attraction that stirs her body in his presence. Moved by the deep sense of abandonment that tortures his soul, Cecelia aches to fully awaken Lind’s heart from its rancorous slumber—if she can just keep their pasts from destroying a second chance at love.
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