MEREDITH DURAN is the author of eight previous novels, including The Duke of Shadows (winner of the Gather.com First Chapters Romance Writing Competition); Wicked Becomes You (included on the Woman’s World List of Best Beach Reads for Summer 2010), and the USA TODAY bestseller Fool Me Twice. She blames Anne Boleyn for sparking her lifelong obsession with British history, and for convincing her that princely love is no prize if it doesn’t come with a happily-ever-after. She enjoys collecting old etiquette manuals, guidebooks to nineteenth-century London, and travelogues by intrepid Victorian women.
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Oh, she refused to think on it. She had vowed never to drink again.
She crossed her arms and looked over his shoulder toward the tenement. “Please go.”
“In a minute, I’m tossing you over my shoulder.”
She recoiled. “You wouldn’t dare.”
But perhaps he would. His smile looked rakish. “You might enjoy it. I seem to recall a fine compliment to my shoulders, last time we met. I’d put it down to the drink, but you say you were sober. Well, then. Your sober self, Miss Everleigh, adjudged me a handsomely equipped man.”
Mortification crawled through her. “You’re a churl.”
“Maybe. Course, a churl wouldn’t drive you home. He might throw you over his shoulder and carry you to his coach, though. Why don’t you think on it for a moment.” As another spate of rain dampened them, he grimaced and said, “I’ll give you five seconds.”
She darted another glance at the tenement. Peter might be in that building for hours, yet, and the light was fading now. “Fine. I will allow you to hail me a hackney.”
“It’s a wonder,” he said, “that you ain’t been robbed yet. You travel much by cab?”
“I would sooner trust a cabman than you,” she said through her teeth.
“You think you’ve got anything I want?” As his gaze trailed over her, she flushed and crossed her arms again.
“Ah,” he said, laughter twitching at his lips. “I see. You reckon me a lecher.”
“I see the insult gratifies you.”
“Oh, I’m gratified by something.” His gaze lifted again, but his smile had faded. “You didn’t get that idea from my niece,” he murmured. “Which means you cooked it up all by yourself. You think of me, Catherine, when you’re lying in bed at night? God knows I’ve thought of you, once or twice.”
She gaped at him. Never had any man spoken to her so vulgarly. ‘You flatter yourself’ did not seem like a properly sharp retort.
The truth would not serve, either. God help her, how did he see it? Since their first meeting, she had wondered about him. He was so very . . . free . . . in his attitudes and behavior. She had never met anybody like him.
He made some soft noise, then stepped toward her. The alley was not wide. Inches separated them now. She could feel the warmth radiating from his body, so welcome in the damp. She shrank against the brick wall, her pulse drumming in her throat. “What—what are you doing?”
“Wondering,” he said softly. He cupped her cheek, his palm warm and rough. She sucked in a breath, and smelled coffee and soap, where she’d expected gin. She could see the fine black grain of his oncoming stubble; his eyes were the shade of mist on a meadow, gray mixing with the faintest hint of green.
She averted her face, appalled by herself. “Let go of me.”
His thumb made a soft, lingering stroke down the slope of her jaw. “I’m not holding you,” he said. “Seems a pity, don’t it?”
She swallowed. “Please.”
“Please, what?” He spoke very low into her ear. She felt his nose brush against her hair. He was nuzzling into her, and the knowledge, as much as the sensation, sent a shiver over her skin. “You’re blushing,” he said, and the delighted surprise in his voice made her blush harder. “Tell me, Catherine. What do you imagine I’ll do to you, if I get you alone in a carriage?”
Page Count: 368 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books (September 15, 2015)
They call her the “Ice Queen.” Catherine Everleigh is London’s loveliest heiress, but a bitter lesson in heartbreak has taught her to keep to herself. All she wants is her birthright—the auction house that was stolen from her. To win this war, she’ll need a powerful ally. Who better than infamous and merciless crime lord Nicholas O’Shea? A marriage of convenience will no doubt serve them both.
The Crime Lord
Having conquered the city’s underworld, Nick seeks a new challenge. Marrying Catherine will give him the appearance of legitimacy—and access to her world of the law-abiding elite. No one needs to know he’s coveted Catherine for a year now—their arrangement is strictly business, free from the troubling weaknesses of love. Seduction, however, is a different matter—an enticing game he means to ensure she enjoys, whether she wishes to or not...
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