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Fresh Pick of the Day

Sizzling historical romance 

Maroli SP Imprints
February 2013
On Sale: February 19, 2013
Featuring: Quentin Blackwell, Earl of Devlyn; Sophie Hamilton
244 pages
ISBN: 0984027742
EAN: 9780984027743
Kindle: B00BIOABDS
e-Book (reprint)
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"...The sex scenes are scorching, but the love between her hero and heroine is better." RTBOOKReviews – 4 Stars

All her life, Sophie's tried to earn her father's love to no avail. Even her one chance for happiness was crushed beneath his tyrannical thumb, leaving her firmly on the shelf at forty–one. Sophie accepts her fate until she impulsively uses her father's criminal activities to escape a life of servitude and right a wrong at the same time. She never really expected the Devil of Devlyn to actually accept her rash proposal, and she certainly hadn't planned on falling in love with a younger man.

When Quentin Blackwell, Earl of Devlyn, discovered the woman he loved was carrying another man's child, he refused to marry her. In retaliation, her father ruined Devlyn. When Sophie Hamilton, the man's eldest daughter, comes to him with an unexpected offer, Devlyn seizes the chance for vengeance. What he doesn't bargain on is how revenge could cost him the one thing he wants the most. Sophie's love.


Chapter 1 England, 1888

"Fischer!" Quentin Blackwell, Earl of Devlyn, shouted for his manservant as he strode through the front door of his country estate. Behind him trailed two enormous wolfhounds. As Devlyn halted in the foyer, he peeled off his riding gloves and slammed his crop down on the long table braced against the wall.

The mirror overhanging the furniture flashed his reflection and the peeling wallpaper behind him. He grimaced at the entryway's decayed state and his disheveled appearance. He looked as dilapidated as his house. The sleeve of his jacket was ripped at the shoulder, and a smudge of dirt on his brown cheek emphasized the jagged white scar streaking across his cheek.

Shoving a hand through his tousled black hair, he whirled away from the mirror as if doing so would make him forget his tattered appearance and  crumbling state of his family home.

"Fischer," he roared as he strode angrily toward his study. "Where the devil are you?"

The door to the study slammed backward and hit the wall with a violent crash as he strode angrily into the room. His encounter with Spencer Hamilton had only strengthened his resolve to destroy the boy's family. The insolent pup. The boy actually thought a pugilist match would avenge his sister's honor.

An image of Eleanor filled his head. No one needed to protect Eleanor Hamilton and her delicate sensibilities, the woman was like nasty–tempered cat that always landed on its feet. With a growl of disgust, Quentin made his way to the sideboard and splashed a stiff shot of whiskey into a glass.

With a sharp gesture, he tossed the liquor down his throat, relishing the burning sensation that made its way down into his chest. He turned his head toward the dogs lying quietly in front of the fireplace. Their soulful gaze met his as anger flooded his limbs once more.

"Where in the hell did the boy get the idea that Eleanor was the injured party five years ago?" Caesar lifted his head and cocked it to one side as if he understood the question. Quentin stretched out the hand he held his glass in and pointed his forefinger at the dog. "Eleanor, that's who."

The gentle giant released a soft whimper of commiseration at his master's rant then lowered his head back down to his large paws. Beside his brother, Beast just watched Quentin with a weary look that said he sympathized with his master's ire, but knew there was nothing he could do to help. Quentin gritted his teeth. The fact was, Hamilton's sister had been far from innocent five years ago, and he was certain that hadn't changed. A sudden snap rent the air as the glass he held crumpled under the weight of his grip.

"Goddamnit!" He grimaced as shards of glass bit into his hand. "Fischer! Get the hell in here!"

Whipping a handkerchief out of his pocket, he removed the glass from his palm and proceeded to clean the small lacerations. Behind him, footsteps echoed on the barren wood floors.

"I'm sorry, my lord. Cook had a minor catastrophe in the kitchen." The sparse–looking man eyed Quentin's appearance with arched eyebrows. "Another brawl, my lord?"

He glared at his butler, manservant, and all around man of affairs. When one's finances were in such miserable states as his, he was fortunate to have a loyal retainer like Fischer. But the man had the ability to make him feel like a chastened schoolboy at times. And this was one of those moments.

"I never brawl, Fischer," he bit out at the man's skeptical look then looked away with irritation.

At least not anymore he didn't. Granted, Fischer had dressed his wounds from more than one brawl in the past five years. The last time had been two years ago when a sailor sliced his cheek open. His hand briefly touched the vicious scar on his face. He'd almost lost an eye, and it had taught him to curb his temper and walk away from a fight. Although at the moment, he was hardly a model of decorum. As Fischer studied him with an air of disappointment, Quentin grimaced.

"If you must know, the Baron's youngest offspring discovered I'd returned and tried to avenge his sister's supposed honor," he sighed.

"I see."

"Do you? I'm not so sure you think me innocent." It was an unfair statement, and Quentin shook his head in silent apology. The older man's expression retained its serene state.

"I know you too well to believe you capable of walking away from a woman you've compromised, Master Quentin."'

Fischer's use of his childhood name was a comforting one. The older man had used that term of affection up until Quentin's father and mother had died of influenza when he was nineteen. The moment he became the Earl of Devlyn, the man had immediately begun to address him more formally. The exceptions were moments like these when Fischer instinctively sensed Quentin was at his lowest point.

He abruptly turned away. Fischer was right in his assessment. He could no more have betrayed Eleanor five years ago than cut off his hand. He'd been in love with the woman. The day she'd broken his heart, he'd set out to earn himself the title, Devil of Devlyn Keep. He'd explored every debauched sin and deed in the past five years with the sole purpose of obliterating the woman from his mind.

Until this morning, he'd been successful in his efforts. Then young Hamilton had accosted him at the pond, ripping open the wound he'd thought well healed. But it wasn't the wound he'd expected. For the first time today, he realized he didn't love Eleanor. Probably never had. No, what cut so deep was the injustice of it all.

Humiliation made his lips harden into a thin line as he remembered finding Eleanor fucking the stable boy. She'd tried to convince him that the stable hand had seduced her, but Quentin had seen enough to know the woman was lying. He immediately broken off with her, but the minute the woman learned she was with child she'd executed an audacious and brilliant chess move.

The bitch had done her work well the day she'd convinced Baron Townsend that Quentin was the father of her bastard child. It had set Townsend off in a wild frenzy to avenge his youngest daughter's so–called honor. Almost overnight, the man has set out to take from Quentin what little of the Devlyn fortune still existed. Shrugging out of his torn jacket, he handed it to Fischer.

"See that it's mended," he said as he breathed out a breath of resignation. "It will be several weeks before my investments will allow me to purchase a new one."

"Perhaps you might forgo my salary this month, my lord. I think it might at least afford you a new coat. This one is rather worn. In fact, I'm surprised the sleeve hasn't ripped before now."

The man's generous offer made Devlyn tighten his jaw. He often forgot how much Fischer truly was the only family he had. Quentin was the last living Devlyn, and Fischer had been with him throughout his younger years. The man had gone with him to America without question and never complained that the two of them had often lived hand to mouth for weeks on end. Forcing a smile to his mouth, he shook his head.

"I'm not that destitute, Fischer. You'll have your salary, and you can't say you don't earn every farthing."

"No, my lord. Indeed I can't." A small smile on his face, Fischer folded the coat over his arm and nodded toward Devlyn's hand. "Shall I send Cook in to look at that cut?"

"No, I'll be all right. Thank you, Fischer. That will be all."

"My lord." The manservant bowed and left Devlyn alone with his thoughts.

Eleanor. He wanted to wring the bitch's neck. Slowly squeeze the life out of that dainty, golden–haired body of hers. No, that would be too easy a punishment for her. He wanted to humiliate her. Make her pay for the lies she'd told and every bitter moment he'd suffered. And he wanted to make Townsend pay for trying to strip him of his fortune.

Eleanor had simply used him to avoid the scandal her pregnancy would have wrought. When she'd declared him the father of her child little more than a month after their first meeting, he'd realized he'd been a besotted, gullible fool.

With a quick movement, he removed the makeshift bandage from his palm to stare down at the cuts already puffy and red. He reached for the brandy and poured a small amount of the liquor over his palm.

"Fuck," he snarled softly as fire spread quickly through his hand.

The stinging reminded him of Eleanor's betrayal. He'd been oblivious to every one of her faults. Instead, he'd allowed love to blind him. He'd even come close to proposing to the woman. Never again would he allow his heart to blind him in such a way. No doubt, she would have continued her whoring after they were married. But fortunately, he'd caught the bitch and the stableman rutting like common beasts in one of the Townsend's horse stalls.

He wrapped his palm with the clean side of his handkerchief and moved to stand behind his desk. With his uninjured hand, he sifted through a thin pile of invitations. Word had already spread throughout the county that a Devlyn was once again entrenched in the Keep. He smiled cynically. It seemed his neighbors were more than ready to forgive any of his past transgressions. Well, to hell with them. To hell with every one of them.

"My lord." Fischer's voice echoed with aggravation, and the sound pulled Devlyn's gaze up with a jerk to stare at the man hovering in the study's doorway.

"What is it, Fischer?" he asked as he observed the manservant's state of apoplexy with a frown.

"It's a lady, my lord."

"A lady?" Quentin frowned darkly. He wasn't in the mood for guests, particularly an unescorted woman.

"Yes, my lord. But...well, I'm afraid..."

"Out with it, man!"

"It's Miss Hamilton." His body snapped to attention, his limbs rigid with tension. Eleanor. No. She was married now to that idiot Townsend had found for her. This had to be Eleanor's sister. He released a weary sigh. The last thing he wanted was to see another of Townsend's brats today.

"Send her away, Fischer."

"I've already tried that, my lord," the manservant said with a ferocity that was unlike him.

"What the devil does she want?" No sooner had he asked the question than a tall woman appeared behind Fischer.

"Lord Devlyn, please forgive my intrusion. I'm sure it's unexpected and unwelcome."

The husky sound of her voice stroked its way down his back in a way he'd not experienced in a long time. As Fischer stepped aside to let him handle the situation, Quentin debated crossing the room and closing the door in her face. But he didn't. A small, perverse voice in his head urged him to listen to what the woman had to say.

"Miss Hamilton."

Quentin gestured for her to enter the study as Fischer closed the door behind the woman. With a guarded look, he watched her step deeper into his private domain. Almost as if they'd been waiting for her to reach the middle of the room, the wolfhounds rose up off the floor. He allowed himself a small smile of derision as Caesar and Beast moved toward her.

Miss Hamilton had dared to enter his house uninvited, and if the hounds frightened her, he'd offer up no sympathy. Despite their size and fierce appearance, the wolfhounds were gentle creatures, but his unannounced visitor didn't know that.

He waited for her to draw back in fear, but to his amazement, she bent over to scratch Beast under the chin and tugged on Caesar's ear before straightening. The animals' betrayal made him glared at the dogs. Sensing their master's displeasure, the hounds ducked their heads in shame to slink back to the hearth.

Dressed in a royal blue riding habit, trimmed in black, her hat had black netting that prevented him from distinguishing her features easily. There was a mysterious quality to the woman, and it annoyed him to admit the fact. Few people reacted so casually to his dogs as she had. The woman made a slight curtsey then inhaled a deep breath as if uncertain how to proceed.

Clearing his throat, he folded his arms across his chest and noted how she jumped at he did so. She wasn't afraid of his hounds, but his simple movement had made her as skittish as a colt. His fingertips grazed the linen of his shirt, and he remembered that he wasn't wearing a coat.

If he were feeling more charitable, he would have made himself more presentable. But he was feeling more irritated than anything else. Quentin narrowed his gaze at her.

"So Miss Hamilton, I take if you're related to the Baron Townsend?" He tried to keep the bitterness out of his voice, but failed.

"Yes, my lord." Despite the way her rigid stance, her voice was clear and strong.

A grudging respect tightened his body. Disgusted he'd even acknowledged her quiet strength, he directed her to take a seat in front of his desk with a sharp wave of his hand. Unable to help himself, he watched her as she moved forward and sat down.

There was a fluid grace to her movements that made his body respond on a primitive level. He bit down on the inside of his cheek. What in God's name was wrong with him? She was one of Townsend's progeny. The dogs started to stand up from their place in front of the fire, and he scowled at the traitors until they sank back down to the floor.

Furious within himself for finding her intriguing, Quentin took his seat and threw his feet up on the desk. Even if he'd been properly dressed, the action would still have been a rude gesture, and he knew it. Her body stiffened in response, and he offered her a mocking smile. Had she really expected him to be a gentleman? He'd dispensed with gentlemanly behavior a long time ago. The Devil of Devlyn Keep answered to no one and did as he pleased. A small voice of guilt reminded him he wouldn't have been so obnoxious if she weren't related to the Baron. In fact, he would have been thinking about how to seduce her. He crushed his thoughts.

"And to what do I owe this honor, Miss Hamilton?"

"I...I came here with a...a proposition for you, my lord."

"A proposition." Quentin arched an eyebrow at her and fought not to shift his position. The woman was too damn mysterious for his comfort. "Continue."

"I'm here to offer you...revenge."

Her words made him slowly remove his feet from his desk and lean forward to study the women on the other side of his desk. He didn't like the way the netting shielded her expression from him. In all likelihood, it was a deliberate move on her part. Exactly what did the woman think she had to offer? Revenge for what?

Quentin's gaze drifted down to where her hands gripped the riding crop she carried with a ferocity that made him realize how much he intimidated her. It was obvious she was trying to hide her trepidation, but the manner in which the netting over her face quivered from her rapid breaths betrayed her apprehension.

He frightened her. Remorse coursed through him, and he wanted to point out he wouldn't harm her. Anger followed quick on the heels of his regret. Christ almighty, he was growing soft in his old age. Although the woman had been visiting relatives at the time Quentin was courting Eleanor, it didn't change the fact that she was one of Townsend's bad seeds. No doubt sent to reap more vengeance on his head.

Determined not to relent, he smiled slowly. Although he couldn't see his features, he knew his smile emphasized the scar on his face. Women had told him it gave him a dangerous look. Where this woman was concerned, he wanted to look as dangerous as he could. He wanted her to go back to her father and confess she'd failed in whatever scheme Townsend had concocted.

"What an intriguing concept," he murmured with irony. "Revenge on whom?"

"My sister, Eleanor." Her response made him arch his eyebrows. He'd expected her to say Townsend.

"You're willing to betray your only sister?"

"Yes…" She paused slightly. "And my father."


The harshness of his one word question made the netting covering her face stir with her accelerated breathing. The sight fascinated him for some reason. It reminded him of how fast a woman breathed when she was on the threshold of a climax during lovemaking. He almost growled his frustration for even thinking such a thought where the woman was concerned.

"Because what my father and sister did to you was wrong."

Firm and resolute, her voice had a ring of truth that he struggled to discount. Slowly, he leaned back in his chair, determined not to reveal his thoughts. He didn't respond for a moment. Instead, he rested his elbow on his armrest, his forefinger pressing into his cheek while the rest of his hand supported his head.

"I see." At his nonchalant response, she leaned forward.

"Eleanor has never cared for anyone but herself, and my father has catered to her every whim."

"This is all quite fascinating, but you'll forgive me for being just a tad skeptical as to your offer." He arched an eyebrow at her.

"Of course," she said with an understanding nod. "But I assure you, my lord I'm most serious about this. I have information that will allow you to recoup what my father stole from you, and at the same time, you'll have the opportunity to expose Eleanor's lies and deceit."

"You've still not really answered the question of why. Why are you willing to betray your father and sister?"

"Because they..." She stumbled to a halt as confusion and trepidation radiated out from her. She sprang to her feet, twisting her hands around her riding crop. "I'm sorry. I...I shouldn't have come. Please...please forgive my intrusion."

Whirling about she hurried toward the study door. Curiosity getting the best of him, Quentin sprang to his feet and pursued her. He wasn't about to let her leave without learning her real reason for coming. Her hand was on the knob when he braced his palm against the wooden barrier, preventing her escape. She immediately took a step back and he followed. Her height amazed him. If she wasn't wearing that damned veil, she would almost be eye–to–eye with him. Up close, the thin veil covering her face afforded him a better glimpse of her features, but his hand itched to remove the netting. He refrained from doing so. Instead, he trailed his forefinger along the edge of her jaw. The coarse netting was rough against his finger, but he was certain that it hid skin soft as silk beneath it. It aroused him, and he tried to crush the sensation. His attempts were minimal at best.

"Surely you don't think I can let you leave without discovering why you're willing to betray your family."

"Please, my lord. It was a mistake to come here."

"Perhaps, but nonetheless, I'll have an answer from you."

"Or what?" The sudden challenge in her voice amused him. Sophie Hamilton had backbone. He liked that.

"Hmm, what could I do to persuade you to answer?"

His fingers touched the snowy cravat tied around her neck. With a lazy movement, he gently tugged at one of the ties. She went rigid as his forefinger slipped between her skin and the white material before he slowly pulled the loose knot away from her throat. The cravat tumbled open to expose her creamy throat. God, she was a tempting wench. Quentin tensed at the way his body was reacting to her. Without thinking, he pressed his thumb against the hollow of her throat enjoying the way her gasp moved her skin beneath his touch. Again, the netting fluttered wildly against her face.

"My lord, please."

"Please is a subjective word, Miss Hamilton. Are you asking me to do something wicked? Or are you begging to tell me your reasons for this interesting proposition of yours?"

"I...I wish to...oh bloody hell!"

Her oath was so completely unexpected as she jerked away from him that he found himself choking in an effort to swallow his laugh. Sophie Hamilton was far more interesting than any woman he'd ever met. The fact that she was Eleanor's sister amazed him. Two women were never more alike. Eleanor had always tried to seduce him into doing what she wanted. Her sister didn't seem to have the slightest notion of how to go about using her feminine charms to gain his assistance. She began to pace the floor, and she reminded him of a restless cat as she prowled the study's frayed carpeting. A sleek, beautiful cat. The analogy made him grit his teeth. He needed to remember who she was. After a moment of tense silence, she stopped and whirled to face him.

"What my father did to you was reprehensible..." Her voice died away as she stared off into space before her gaze focused on him again. "You weren't the only one betrayed. They betrayed me as well."

The bitterness in her voice matched his own internal acrimony, but it was the distinct note of pain that touched something deep inside him. It made him want to comfort her. He stiffened. God almighty, he'd been wrong a moment ago. The woman was actually trying to manipulate him. He folded his arms across his chest. Townsend had outdone himself this time. His oldest daughter was as skilled at deception as Eleanor.

"I see."

"When Eleanor became pregnant with her lover's child, she needed a husband. You suited her purpose. But when you refused to marry her, Father helped her steal my fiancée instead."

"You were engaged to that weakling, Shively?" He couldn't contain his surprise. For some reason he didn't comprehend, Sophie Hamilton didn't seem the type to tolerate fools, and Viscount Shively was nothing but a buffoon.

"Yes. He was...he was my last hope."

"Last hope?"

"Yes. I'd already given up hope of ever marrying until I met Andrew. I was never the pretty one in the family."

He watched her take a deep breath as she slowly reached up toward the netting covering her face. As she revealed her features, he eyed her with curiosity. For someone who believed herself unattractive, she was quite the opposite.

Although she wasn't a beauty by any stretch of the imagination, her hazel eyes were large and echoed with warmth, while her complexion was smooth and creamy. Wisps of brown hair framed her heart–shaped face and her full mouth pouted in a manner that brought his cock to attention. The reaction startled him. Clearing his throat, he turned away from her to hide the sudden arousal. Closing the distance between himself and the desk, his fingers touched the scrolled woodwork on the edge of the furniture's flat surface as he willed his body to fight his sudden attraction.

"I think you underestimate yourself, Miss Hamilton. I'm sure there are plenty of men willing to offer for you."

"No, my lord you're wrong. Offers of marriage have been nonexistent for many years."

"Come now, I think you exaggerate, Miss Hamilton." With his body once more under control, he turned to face her again.

"Perhaps. But it's of little consequence," she said with a small shrug before her gaze met his. "Now that you've received the answer to your question, my lord, I will bid you good day."

Frustrated, he realized he didn't want her to leave. She intrigued him and the pain he'd heard in her voice had been real. He was willing to wager money he didn't have on that. It was a pain he was more than familiar with. Empathy pushed its way through his distrust until he was almost ready to forget she was Townsend's daughter. Angry that he'd allowed the woman to get under her skin with her story, his jaw went tight with tension. She was a catalyst for another plot on Townsend's part to inflict more damage, and he intended to prove it.

"Before you go, why don't you tell me what you'd hoped to receive in exchange for this method of revenge you offer me?" His question caused her luscious mouth to curve in a slight smile as she arched an eyebrow at him with obvious amusement.


"Marriage?" he exclaimed. "To me?"


"Good God, woman. Whatever made you think I'd make a suitable husband?" Quentin stared at her in amazement. Why in the hell would Townsend want him for a son–in–law?

"I didn't think you'd be suitable at all." Her smile was filled with irony as she tipped her head to one side and studied him with a matter–of–fact expression on her face. "In fact, I knew you would be far from the ideal husband."

"Then why settle for me? I'm sure there are any number of men willing to marry you."

"I'm beginning to have my doubts as to your keen sense of observation, my lord," she said with annoyance. "I'm Eleanor's older sister. What man would want to marry me?"

"Eleanor is at least six years younger than I am." He frowned slightly as he calculated the math. "My guess would be that you and I are close to the same age."

Her pink mouth formed a moue of astonishment before she burst out into laughter. A small part of him acknowledged it was a pleasant sound. She shook her head and eyed him as if he were a small boy who'd been caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

"I am extremely flattered by your assumptions, my lord. But I'm afraid I'm much older than your tender years."

"I'd hardly refer to the age of thirty–two as my tender years." Quentin frowned as he glared at her, annoyed by her amusement.

"It's quite tender when I consider my own age of forty–one."

The comment made his jaw sag. How was it possible this lovely woman could possibly be so much older than him? She hardly looked old enough to be his age, let alone nine years older. Impossible. Quentin narrowed his gaze at her. He found it difficult to believe Townsend would want him to marry his daughter, but her revelation made it difficult not to think she was following her father's dictates. The confession strained her credibility.

"You almost had me convinced," he snapped.

"I beg your pardon." She stared at him in confusion.

"I was almost ready to believe that you were here on your own accord and not at your father's bidding," he said coldly. "But expecting me to believe you're a spinster who needs to marry destroyed the illusion. You would have been better off telling me we were the same age."

They glared at each other for a long moment. Her affront was clearly genuine, and Quentin experienced doubt once more. Sympathy crossed her face, and with a slight shake of her head, she retied her cravat and covered her exposed throat. The movement made his muscles tighten in protest.

"You must have loved her very much to still feel so much pain at her betrayal," she said quietly. As her fingers completed the knot at her throat, she shook her head with a look of rueful humiliation. "I have not lied to you, my lord. I am indeed forty–one. My mother died when I was seven, and my father remarried several years later. Eleanor and Spencer are the result of that union."

Head held high she brushed past him on the way to the door. Quentin spun around and caught her arm to halt her progress. He wasn't sure how he knew she was telling the truth, but he did. Perhaps it was the quiet resignation in her voice that convinced him. It didn't matter. She'd come to him with an offer and given him an honest answer.

"You say you want revenge. How would marrying me give you that?"

"It wouldn't, or at least not much," she said as pink color crested over her cheekbones. "I confess marrying you would infuriate Eleanor given her inability to trap you into marriage."

"What else?" Quentin narrowed his gaze at her.

"I wanted...wanted to experience what it's like between a man and a woman." The color in her cheeks deepened, before she shrugged. "I could pay for the experience I suppose, but I'm not quite that bold. Coming here is the boldest thing I've ever done."

The sudden image of watching her face as he thrust into her made Quentin's body tighten in a way that threw him completely off balance. The idea of teaching this woman about the pleasures of the flesh flooded his head as he contemplated the types of things he could teach her.

His cock stirred in his trousers at the thought of initiating this woman in the art of lovemaking. Before he realized what he was doing, Quentin pulled her toward him to trace the curve of her mouth with his forefinger before his thumb pressed down on lower lip. It was plump and tender. The sharp intake of her breath excited him. When was the last time he'd had the pleasure of initiating a novice? Years. The scent of citrus drifted up into his nose as he lowered his head toward her.

"And you're willing to put yourself completely into my hands?"


"Are you certain of that? I've not earned my title without a great deal of wickedness." He bit back a smile at the flash of trepidation in her wide eyes.

"Your sexual prowess has always been widely touted in social circles. I doubt you've acquired any worse deviant practices while in the colonies."

The pulse at the side of her neck fluttered beneath her skin. He excited her. A smile tilted his mouth at the knowledge, and he leaned forward until his lips were just a hairsbreadth away from her shell shaped ear.

"I believe you'll find the social circles are only half accurate. I'm far more decadent than any rumors you may have heard."

"But since you are not interested in my offer, you'll not be able to confirm that," she said in a breathy voice.

"I don't recall refusing your proposal." He lifted his head to study her startled expression. "In fact, I think I shall take you up on your offer."

"You will?" Eyes widen with surprise, her throat bobbed as she swallowed hard. Quentin smiled.

"Yes," he said with a nod. "I accept your offer to avenge myself in exchange for my name and experience."

The moment his words crossed his lips, the voice of reason shouted its objection. What the hell was he doing? A wife? He'd actually offered to marry one of Townsend's offspring? He shoved the thoughts aside as he observed Sophie Hamilton closely. She blushed again, clearly at a loss for words under his intent gaze.

Perhaps it was time to try for an heir, and he could do much worse that this delectable creature. And if the woman didn't give him a child, then his cousin's brat could inherit for all he cared. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth as he watched a quick flash of excitement and apprehension cross her face. Her heart had to be pounding fiercely in her breast from the way the pulse on the side of her neck fluttered so quickly. He glanced down at the snug fit of her royal blue habit, which emphasized the size of her bust.

Lust crashed through him as he imagined caressing the firm, plump mounds. It was difficult to believe she was only nine years older than him. The anticipation of the decadent pleasures he wanted to introduce her too as his wife made him grow hard as a rock. His lips curled into a deeper smile as he pinned her with his gaze.

"So?" He waited patiently as her mouth moved in the most enticing way before she nodded her acceptance. Anticipation snagged his entire body as he smiled at her. "Then we're agreed. Revenge in exchanged for nights of sinful pleasures. A decidedly decadent proposition."

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by Diana Palmer
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New York Times bestselling author Diana Palmer's dramatic tale of an embittered small-town sheriff as he comes face to face with the Read More »

The past and the future come together with a few bumps

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