Today it is my pleasure to host the lovely and talented Tarah Scott. She's here to share an excerpt from her new release, The Highlander's Improper Wife, an erotic historical romance. First, here's a little more about Tarah Scott :
Award winning author Tarah Scott cut her teeth on authors such as Georgette Heyer, Zane Grey, and Amanda Quick. Her favorite book is a Tale of Two Cities, with Gone With the Wind as a close second. She writes modern classical romance, and paranormal and romantic suspense. Tarah grew up in Texas and currently resides in Westchester County, New York with her daughter.
The Highlanders Improper Wife
A proper young lady should never attend a Masque...Aphrodite is no lady.
Betrothal to the callous Lord Blackhall painted a future devoid of love. Upon his death, Lady Caroline Wilmont is promised to the younger brother. Caroline refuses to allow her first taste of desire to be at the hands of a man who would rather have any woman but her. This, her last night of freedom, is to be a memory of lust that she can take with her throughout her loveless marriage. As Aphrodite, Caroline attends a masque determined to find a man to initiate her into the intimacies of erotic love.
Taran Robertson, Viscount of Blackhall, makes no secret that he despises his obligation to marry the Sassenach heiress chosen for him by his father. As a last foray before his wedding, he attends a masque. However, the spirited vixen he meets and seduces has secrets...secrets that just may reveal he’s to have an improper wife.
“By God,” Caroline cursed ten minutes later.
Lord Forbes had not been boasting when he’d said his garden maze was unmatched in all of northern England. She blew out a frustrated breath. Of all the nights to become lost in one of the damned labyrinths. She turned down another bend and a white stone statue became visible ahead on the left. Caroline groaned. Already, she’d seen half a dozen replicas of Greek and Roman goddesses. This statue, she realized upon approach, was a large cherubim. The half-moon peeked through a hole in the veil of clouds, illuminating an alcove just ahead.
Caroline hurried forward. As expected, a stone bench lay nestled between the bushes. She hiked up her skirt and stepped onto the bench. Wind rustled across the hedge tops, setting her nerves more on edge. She scanned the acres of perfectly manicured shrubs that cut and curved in all directions.
“Bloody hell,” she cursed.
In the distance, the rear of the maze gave way to trees that stretched heavenward, but she stood no chance of navigating through the twists and turns that led to them. She faced the mansion and studied the path leading back in that direction.
“Left, right, second right, third—no—second left,” she said, while reciting a silent vow never to have a stupid maze on any of her properties.
Caroline turned to jump from the bench and shrieked. A masked, kilted god stood nearly eye-to-eye with her. She stumbled back. He seized her waist and yanked her forward. She instinctively threw her arms around his neck to keep from falling and her cheek met the warm, damp flesh of his shoulder. Her heart raced at a gallop.
“Careful, my lady.” The deep, cultured English accent didn’t quite disguise the hint of Scottish burr.
Gooseflesh chilled her arms. Yet, her body warmed. Her nipples hardened to erect peaks against the thin fabric of her costume.
“My lady,” he prodded.
Fear that he would feel the heat of her arousal immobilized her.
“I can stand here all night, if it pleases you,” he murmured.
The erotic vision of him doing just that while she rubbed her nipples against his hard body snapped her head up. Dark eyes indistinguishable from the shadow stared at her through a black eye mask.
A flurry of butterflies swirled in her tummy. “I am lost.” She cursed the breathless note in her voice.
“Nay, I found you.” He shifted. A dusting of hair at the nape of his neck tickled her fingertips. He slowly slid her body against his as he lowered her to the ground.
The scent of leather and cloves clung to him. She inhaled, heart fluttering, then tilted her head up. “You have my gratitude, sir. I would be even more grateful if you could direct me out of this…this…labyrinth.”
“Even more grateful?” he repeated.
Caroline became aware of the rough wool of his kilt against the sensitive skin of her thigh. She willed her racing heart to slow. Here was the warm flush that had been missing with the domino in the ballroom. Cruel fate. Far too late has come my redemption.
“Would you like to return to the masque?” His hands dropped from her waist.
A strange sense of loss washed over her. She steeled her resolve to go home and stepped away from him. “I am leaving.”
“Through the gardens?” The harshness in his tone startled her. “It is more likely you fled the festivities to meet someone. The blue domino, perhaps?”
Caroline stiffened. “Anyone attending the masque is well aware of the frolicking taking place in these gardens.”
“Frolicking?” he repeated.
“You are here, sir. Need I feel recrimination because I am a woman? Bah,” she added in a mutter. “I have no time for this foolishness.”
She meant to head towards the mansion, but he blocked the way, so she turned deeper into the maze.
“My lady.” He grasped her arm.
She dropped her gaze to his long, dark fingers. His hold, though light, held her firm. An unexpected vision of those strong fingers gripping her hips while he pumped into her from behind caused her to snap her head up.
“No time for this foolishness?” He lifted his free hand and drew a thumb along her bottom lip.
Heat coursed through her veins. There was no misreading the invitation. Had he read her mind? He offered what she so desperately desired, a night of passion in the arms of a man who hungered for her. This man would demand more than she could afford—but suddenly wanted with every fiber of her being to give.
He pulled her an inch closer. She took the step haltingly. Amusement showed in the upturn of his mouth and he tugged her so near that her nipples came into contact with his warm chest. A tremor radiated through her. In all her planning, she hadn’t considered a man might steal her breath as well as rational thought. Heat crept into her face. She disengaged her arm from his grasp.
“Forgive me. I—” She faltered, unable to trust her ability to resist should he twitch even a muscle. “I fear I may have grossly misrepresented my position.”
He gave a low chuckle. “Most who attend these events misrepresent their position. That is the brilliance of the masque, Aphrodite, the night is ours.”
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