A Fresh Fiction favorite is a finalist for the 2010 RWA RITA
category Historical Romance.
THE GREATEST PASSION
Lady Isobel Hume is an expert swordswoman who knows
how to choose her battles. When the king asks her to wed a
French nobleman to form a political alliance, she agrees.
But that's before the devilishly charming Sir Stephen
Carleton captures her heart-and tempts her to betray her
betrothed, her king, and her country.
IS WORTH THE GREATEST PERIL
Sir Stephen Carleton
enjoys his many female admirers-until he dedicates himself
to winning the lovely Isobel. So when a threat against the
king leads Isobel into mortal danger, Stephen has a chance
to prove that he is more than a knight of pleasure...and
that love can conquer all.
Whish! Whish! Whish!
The sound interrupted Sir Stephen Carletonfs
thoughts as he passed the storeroom. Drawing his sword, he
low wooden door open to take a look.
She looked as surprised as he was to catch her alone
in a storeroom attacking a sack of grain with a sword.
"The poor thing is defenseless," he said, cocking
head toward the sack. Grain was seeping onto the dirt floor
from several small tears.
"Close the door!" she hissed. "I cannot be seen
And what a sight she was, with her cheeks flushed and
strands of dark hair sticking to her face and neck. God
preserve him. He stepped inside and firmly closed the door
"I meant for you to remain outside when you closed
Though she took a step back as she spoke, she kept a
firm hand on her sword. As she should. Aye, the lady had
every reason to feel nervous at finding herself alone with
a man in this secluded place.
"That sack cannot provide much of a challenge," he
said, trying to put her at ease.
"You make fun of me." There was resentment in her
tone, but he was pleased to see her shoulders relax.
"Now, do you want to continue playing at sword
fighting?" he asked, deliberately baiting her. "Or do you
want to learn how to protect yourself from someone who
intends you harm?"
Green eyes sparking with fire, she raised her sword
and said, "Teach me."
Oh, what he would love to teach her! God help him,
she was breathtaking like this.
"You should carry a short blade, as well," he
instructed as he fended off her attack.
"Why? You think you can knock my sword from my hand?
"I can, but I will not have to. You will drop it."
She fought better angry, a good quality in a fighter.
Still, he was better. Much better. He forced her to
step back, and back, and back again. Once more, and her
heel caught on a sack. She threw her hands up, sending the
sword clattering against the wall as she tumbled backward.
The next moment, she was lying back on her elbows,
her hair loose about her shoulders, skirts askew, chest
Stephen could not move, could not even breathe.
She looked like a goddess. A wanton Venus, sprawled
on the dirt floor at his feet. Then she threw her head back
and laughed. Not a light trill, but a full-throated, joyful
laugh that made his heart soar.
"I'm afraid you have the advantage of me," she
her eyes dancing. She reached her hand up for him to help
her to her feet.
He took it and sank to his knees beside her.
"Not true, Isobel," he said in a harsh whisper.
"'Tis I who am at your mercy."
His eyes fixed on her lips, full and parted. Well
beyond thought now, he gave in to the inexorable pull
toward them. The moment their lips touched, fire seared
He tried to hang on to the thin thread of caution
tugging at his conscience. But she was kissing him back,
mouth open, her tongue seeking his. His ears roared as she
put her arms around his neck and pulled him down.
He cushioned the back of her head with his hand
before it touched the dirt floor. Leaning over her, he gave
himself wholly to kissing her. He splayed his hands into
her hair and rained kisses along her jaw and down her
throat, then returned to her mouth again.
The sweet taste of her, the smell of her filled his
senses. He was mindless of anything except her mouth, her
face, her hair, his burning need to touch her.
He ran his hand down her side to the swell of her
hip. When she moaned, he knew he had to feel her beneath
him. Beneath him, pressed against him. Skin to skin.
Slowly, he lowered his body until he felt the soft
fullness of her breasts against his chest. Sweet heaven! Oh
God, the little sounds she was making. He let himself sink
down further and groaned aloud as his swollen shaft pressed
against her hip.
There was a reason he must not do what he wanted to
do, but he could not recall it. And did not want to try.
The breath went out of him in a whoosh as he cupped
the rounded softness of her breast in his hand. It felt so
wondrously good he had to squeeze his eyes shut.
He froze the instant he felt the prick of cold steel
against his neck.
"You are right," she said so close to his ear that
he could feel her breath, "'tis wise to carry a short
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