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Brides and Prejudice
A reluctant earl, a determined lady, an abandoned cottage...scandal, anyone?
The Earl of Marchmont is threatening Honeysuckle Watson's family home—but Honey has a plan. She will lure the earl from London with tales of a highwayman, and then she will compromise herself to force his hand. But when the arrogant earl arrives, Honey finds her plans backfiring in a hurry...
Reginald Wanstead never wanted to be Earl of Marchmont, but now that he is, he must marry and produce an heir. He wants a biddable wife who won't inconvenience him—certainly not Honeysuckle Watson with her fiery hair and lectures about his duties to his tenants. So why can't he get her out of his thoughts?
When a thunderstorm forces Honey and Reggie to shelter in an empty cottage, Honey's opportunity is at hand...but her treacherous heart betrays her. Has she fallen in love with the devil earl?
Page Count: 90
Word Count: 20555
Her smile had a powerful effect on his lungs. And on another troublesome part of his anatomy. He could not take his gaze away from the warmth in her clear, brown-green eyes, and he could not stop wondering whether the enticing freckles on her face were repeated in other locations. She was not beautiful, not in the strictest sense, but there was a vitality about her, an animation, that melted the ice around his heart.
Without caring for the consequences, he reached out and touched her cheek. The contact triggered a blast of heat that fired his entire body and left him rock hard. Beads of sweat popped out on his forehead.
If this had been one of his usual companions, a mistress or camp follower, he would already be between her legs. But this was Miss Honeysuckle Watson, respectable spinster daughter of the late vicar of his parish, and he was all but engaged to someone else. He must not touch her.
“My lord?” she said, her brow wrinkled. “I have a question.”
He lifted a brow.
“How do you do that? I mean work your eyebrows independently? It is very effective, I promise you. It makes you look quite—”
“I would say intriguing.”
Intriguing. Was she flirting with him? A jolt of desire shot through him.
“You had a question?”
“It is more in the nature of a favor.” Her eyes were huge in the pale face.
Well, damn. A favor. He sighed. “Is this about Bottomsley?”
“No.” She bit her soft, full lower lip, and his blood surged. “I wonder if you would mind, that is, I have never been properly kissed, and well, I would very much like you to do it.”
She wanted him to kiss her? He gazed at the bitten lip, at her small white teeth, and the urge to explore them with his tongue was almost irresistible.
Dangerous, he should warn her. But the words remained unspoken.
At his silence, her lips closed and a faint blush stained the soft skin under the freckles. She believed he had rejected her. She was hurt. Bloody hell. He slid one hand behind her slender neck and lowered his head. Her scent, lavender, and maybe sage? Jasmine? Whichever, it was unique and intoxicating.
Her lips quivered as he brushed them lightly with his own. He drew back a moment later, his chest constricted, his breathing heavy.
The clear eyes regarded him steadily. “I thought there would be something more.”
Reggie stifled a groan. He was not used to self-denial. “I must be honest with you, Miss Watson. Honeysuckle. I am afraid of the something more. I am afraid I will not be able to stop with a kiss.”
Her beautiful lips spread into a warm and welcoming smile. Dear God. He wanted to get inside her, inside her mouth, inside her soul, and more than anything, inside her body. With an effort, he controlled himself. And then she slid her arms around his neck. She brought her mouth to his and an instant later, her tongue, untutored but enthusiastic, explored the inside of his mouth.
Reggie’s groan reverberated in his chest.
She drew back. “Is that wrong?”
“Wrong?” His voice was a mere croak. “Yes. Completely wrong. And completely perfect.”
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