New Release!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

1st Ch. #Excerpt: The Delicate Matter of Lady Blayne #EroticRomance Regency

Hello Everyone,

I'd like to share the first chapter of The Delicate Matter of Lady Blayne. This Erotic Regency Romance will release June 12. It is currently available for Pre-Order on Amazon Kindle.

Scroll down to read the excerpt.

** ALSO AVAILABLE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED **
RELEASING JUNE 12, 2015

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 DelicateMatterCover

Catriona, Lady Blayne is recovering from a most delicate situation. Driven to the brink of madness by love for her late husband, a young man too ill to meet the demands of the marriage bed, she teeters on the brink of scandal. Now she must face the carnal temptation personified by her husband’s cousin and heir, James, the new Lord Blayne. His sensual appeal, contrasted with his iron will and stern self-mastery fascinates her. She can’t help but ask: what if sensual indulgence is the only way out of her darkness? However, she is not free to explore the idea. There are those who seek to control the young widow, keeping her imprisoned through emotional manipulation and physical coercion. With her growing restlessness, the very people she loves and trusts the most are becoming an increasing danger to her sanity and safety.

.
James is determined to protect Catriona—but he will not soften to her again. She rejected him once and James can’t risk losing his heart a second time. As heir to the Blayne baronetcy, he must marry a woman socially and politically appropriate. Such a scandalously self-indulgent lady as Catriona won’t do. Yet the pretty girl he once knew has grown into a beautiful, curvaceous woman that is every man’s dream.
Especially his.

Erotic Romance; Regency Historical; Elements of Sensual Domination, Spanking and Light Bondage; Rubenesque Heroine; Character-Driven Story with Angst and Strong Internal Conflicts; Standalone Long Novel.

Reader Advisory: The characters discuss issues of abuse which took place in the heroine's backstory. Frank sexual language & period appropriate sexual slang and general bedchamber naughtiness.


First Chapter Excerpt from The Delicate Matter of Lady Blayne


 Erotic Historical Romance: By reading any further, you are stating that you are 18 years of age, or over. If you are under the age of 18, it is necessary to exit this site.


 
September 1816
Edinburgh, Scotland


The waning sun shone in tones of rose and gold upon the shimmer of a plum velvet gown. The day had been warm, but now, with the sun setting, a cool, shifting breeze carried the scents of flowers and ruffled the golden-brown curls at the woman’s long, graceful nape. James stood still, transfixed by the enchanting sight.
Sunny.
He spoke the name silently, not daring to speak aloud for fear she would vanish into a mist and he would awake alone in his bed as he so often had.
But no, he was not dreaming.
Only a few feet from him, Lady Catriona Blayne—known to her intimates as “Sunny” because of her ever-cheerful demeanor—stood by a rose bush, her head bent as she smelled the flower she held.
But this woman was different from the girl who haunted his dreams.
He moved his gaze over her dark gown. Its modest white lace collar gently scooped down to show just a hint of her collarbone.
James felt his eyes enlarging at the sight of the generous breasts that filled out her bodice. Her well-defined but by no means slender waist that curved softly into wide, softly rounded hips. It was the kind of womanly figure a man could grasp a hold of and give his passionate best to without fear of bruising or breaking anything.
He remembered her as being girlish. A tiny, skinny lass who should never have turned his head. Yet, her inner light had drawn him, a lusty young man, against his will.Those new sensual curves sent an instant sexual charge tingling from the base of his spine, through his stones to his cock. His heart began to beat faster, pumping blood into his loins. He was getting hard. Harder. But such overt, almost indecent carnality was a shocking juxtaposition to his former image of her.
Oh, devil take him. Sunny was a lady, in every sense of the word.
Hadn’t he once forgotten that, thereby making the worst mistake of his life?
He should not indulge in such salacious thoughts about her. He forced himself to focus on something else besides her lush form.
What color was that gown anyway? He frowned.
Dark plum.
Half-mourning. Really? It had been what? Three and a half years since the previous Lord Blayne had died. It might not have been excessive for an older woman to wear mourning attire now. But Sunny was young.
He did not want to think about her grief. That was mean, jealous, petty. Yes, of course it was. And yet, he couldn’t help it.
Almost eight years ago, she had rejected his proposal.
She had chosen to wed an invalid instead. A mere boy.
What nonsense to feel jealousy. Any love that James had held for her had in fact been infatuation born of his callowness. It meant nothing now. He had experienced a lifetime since then. Nevertheless, after all the years and distance and war—God help him, seeing her still seemed like a dream.
Perhaps even a shock.
A shock to the heart.
What an asinine thought for him to have. He’d come home, after all this time, because of her. Because of the duty he bore as Lord Blayne to see to the well-being and safety of his late cousin’s wife.
She was nothing to him now.
Nothing at all.
Just another obligation on an endless list.
Sunny.” The name escaped him before he thought. Did his tone sound too impassioned?
Yes.
Damn.
However, she didn’t look up. She hadn’t heard him.
All the same, he stood there, fuming at himself for revealing his feelings so readily. The very first time he’d spoken her name! He had sworn that when he next saw her, he would show no emotion. He would treat her with all the respect due to his cousin’s widow, no matter their past. Respect. Nothing more or less.
So why, then, did he feel the need to keep constantly reminding himself of that point?
Because she’d been pretty before. Pretty. But now, damn his eyes, she was stunning. She just might be perfection.
His boot crunched a dry twig.
She still did not look up.
Sunny?” He spoke louder this time, more calmly.
She looked up from the rose and turned her head to look at him. Her green eyes appeared dull, glazed over, unfocused. As though she did not recognize him.
Catriona?” He tried to make his voice as gentle as possible as he approached her slowly.
Her pupils were dilated, which seemed odd, seeing as they were out of doors in the sunlight. They seemed to dilate even more as her eyes widened.
James.”
Warm pleasure filled him. Warm pleasure? An utterly inadequate way to put it. The sensation that filled him was like that which he felt upon returning to his cabin on a cold morning—not just any cold morning, but after having come in from hard-driving sleet on the deck of a ship sailing somewhere in the northern Atlantic—and taking that first drink of coffee spiked with whisky and feeling the fiery spirits spread through his belly.
That was how hearing his name spoken in her soft voice, after so many years, had felt.
Too dramatic a mental image?
Undoubtedly. God. How he wished to feel that warmth. It was something far greater than just carnal excitement.
No. Stop it. Now.
He sucked in his stomach, hardening every muscle and willing the sensations away. He didn’t want to feel anything for her except his proper sense of obligation.
Well, no need to be so harsh. To feel some fondness for her—mild fondness—would be acceptable.
But not lust.
And certainly not that intoxicating rush of warmth.
She held her hands out to him. An automatic gesture, he could see from the wooden way in which she moved. Always proper, always polite. As she had ever been.
He could not be rude in return. He took her hand, touched her for the first time in years. The iciness of her flesh bled through her thin silk gloves.
Some life came into her eyes, their dull green becoming a green such as rain-washed leaves sparkling in the sunlight. He caught his breath at such brilliance of color. Yes, that definitely placed her securely at the top of his list of perfectly beautiful women.
It put her on a list all her own.
He’d never seen such a gorgeous, flawless form before—and certainly not paired with such large and luminous green eyes. Yet, there was danger in the realization. Full of sadness, those emerald orbs struck direct to his heart.
Tightness seized his chest. A feeling as though he dared not draw a full breath, or something vital within him might break. As he held still, a sense of shock rippled down into the pit of his stomach, like the moment a ship rocks with the first volley of cannon fire.
God. He remembered that kind of pain.
Pain he’d never imagined, until her.
And after her, the agony of loss had almost undone him.
Her sad gaze continued to assail his, rendering him immobile.
Another gut-rocking volley of pain tore into him. Its intensity shocked him. Take control of yourself.
He shook himself. He was thirty-six years old. No longer a young man. No longer capable of such foolish heights and depths of emotion.
He kept his expression impassive. Inwardly, he frowned. No, he did not want to care about her grief. He certainly did not want to feel it.
But he shouldn’t be shocked. It had always been that way. He might not understand her. Not at all. She was a woman, after all, and women were inscrutable. But he could feel for her. That had been their connection from the start. The way she could get under the layers of rationality and self-mastery that he had worked years to build between his emotions and the world, and make him feel. It had made him take a second, long, hard glance at a passing pretty yet utterly skinny little chit and fall in love with her.
The chit who had somehow grown into a goddess.
Her chest rose and fell more rapidly, drawing his attention once again to those new, luscious curves. Those magnificent breasts.
Thank God trousers were looser now than the tighter pantaloons he had worn the last time he had stood with her alone in the garden at Landbrae, the Blayne estate. He could still feel the sting of her hand making contact with his cheek. Could still feel the urge to lunge at her, to restrain and subdue her, the sensation like fire in every part of him as he’d summoned every drop of restraint he’d possessed and watched her flee.
Well, he was no longer driven by his passions. He would never be so foolish again.
He smiled. “It’s grand to see you again, Sunny.”
There. He had kept his tone fond, friendly. Despite the pounding of his heart. Despite his ever-hardening erection.
There. All was in order. Everything was under control.
She glanced away from him and her hands went limp.
He firmed his grip on her hands, preventing her from pulling away. “How are you?”
I am a widow now.” She spoke incredulously, as though she’d had no reason to believe she would become one. She laughed softly.
The sound held a certain wildness. It sent an odd chill through him. A wild light sprang to life in her eyes. Bathed in the rose-gold light, she looked so different from how he remembered her. She had always been gentle-natured, modest. Never wild.
Sunny’s condition continues to deteriorate. Without desperate measures, I fear what she could eventually be capable of.
The words from his aunt’s last letter blazed within his mind and sent another chill through him. Again, he felt as though he had slipped into a dream.
Maybe not such a pleasant dream as he had first thought.
He frowned. What a morbid thought. He forced it down and carefully regarded the girl he had once loved. He tried to make his voice gentle. “It has been over three years, Sunny, since Freddy left you.”
She smiled. Her small, even white teeth flashed against her rose-colored mouth. A perfectly kissable mouth. He had claimed it but once. One unforgettable evening. He fancied he could still remember her exact taste. Like peaches and honey, but also like something else he couldn’t quite place.
All other women’s kisses tasted the same. There was something unique about Sunny’s kisses, the sweetest he’d ever known. And now her smile held him captive, caught between the memory of her sweetness and his present determination to feel nothing towards her but a proper sense of obligation.
Then her face did that peculiar crinkly thing that women’s faces did right before they began to cry.
He didn’t abhor women’s tears in general. Women came with tears. If a man wanted to have his bed warmed, he accepted this.
But Sunny’s feelings too often became James’ feelings.
Oh, Christ, she couldn’t.
Surely, she wouldn’t. It would be damnably unfair. A strike to his composure from which he feared he’d not be able to defend nor recover.
At least not easily.
Three years, Sunny,” he said, his tone more insistent than before, as though he could convince her that tears would prove futile and would be best saved for a later time.
For when he was gone.
Her throat moved as she closed her eyes and swallowed. “Yes, it has been three whole years. So everyone continues to remind me.”
Perhaps somewhat strained, her voice was so gentle, the soft brogue unchanged since her younger days. It flavored the moment with a touch of wistfulness. Yet, her defensive tone surprised him. “I am not admonishing you, Sunny.”
Well, you should.”
Why would you say that?”
Because-because…” Her voice strained.
Christ, her eyes were wilder now. The brightest green. The scent of her sweat, part tangy, part sweet, carried to him. A most seductive, womanly fragrance that sent fresh blood pulsing into his erection. She pulled against his grasp, but he held her tight, close enough so as to keep her from running off, yet far enough away from certain vital places that would tell too much of his weakness to her.
Yes, because?” He tried to soften his voice, despite the impatience that crackled along his nerves. Despite the lust that throbbed painfully in his loins at the feel of her lushness so effortlessly imprisoned in his arms. Her scent increased, intoxicating him.
She gaped at him dumbly, as though she had forgotten the question. Another woman’s ploy? Or was her mental state really that frail?
Damn it all, what if Aunt Frances had not overstated the severity of Sunny’s condition? Suppose the poor girl was mad?
Suppose he could have taken action sooner and prevented her condition from progressing? But it was a woman’s matter, wasn’t it? Hadn’t he done the best thing by allowing the women of his family to tend to her?
Perhaps not.
No, he must not leap to conclusions. He must assess the situation carefully. That was he what he was here for, wasn’t it?
Why—” he repeated, striving hard to hold onto one last, fragile shred of patience “—why ever would you say that I should admonish you, Sunny?”
Because you are looking at me so fondly. No, not quite fondly. Worshipfully.” Now annoyance with himself burned through him. He forced his expression to remain pleasant yet—he hoped— convincingly impassive.
Her golden-brown brows, delicately etched and with a slight, elegant arch, drew together. “You think I am still a perfect lady to be placed on a dais and sheltered from the world.”
Well, what is so wrong with that, Sunny?”
Her gaze cut away from his. There was a certain guilty furtiveness about the gesture. “You don’t know how I have changed. How wicked I have become.” Her voice had risen. There was an edge to it that he didn’t wish to name.
You could never be wicked.”
She gave him a sideways glance. “Oh no?”
No,” he said with firm resolution.
You’ve been away. What would you know of it?” She laughed softly.
What the devil did that mean? And he had never heard such a bitter and strained tone in any woman’s laugh. What had happened to his cheerful girl? He frowned. “Has my aunt been good to you?”
What choice does she have? I am your cousin’s widow.” Again, her tone was bitterer than soured lemon juice, the dregs from the bottom of the casks on a several months’ long voyage. Such acrimony on a young woman’s tongue would have jarred any man with feeling and a conscience.
Coming from Sunny, his once ever-cheerful girl, it lashed into James without mercy.
He tightened his hold on her hands. “Has she been good to you?” he demanded.
She has treated me as she thinks will benefit me best.”
I didn’t ask you what she thinks about how you ought to be treated. I asked how she has treated you in truth.”
They treat me about as well as can be expected.”
Again, what the devil did that mean? Dread tightened his gut. “But you’re not happy with the situation? You’re not happy living here?”
She compressed her lips tightly. The wild light in her eyes flared brighter. He’d once seen the same look in the gaze of a cornered vixen, the moment before it made a desperate, suicidal swipe at its attackers.
The sense of dread in his innards grew heavier. “I know that Freddy’s will did not leave you adequately for.”
Ha! And Papa left you in full control of my trust.”
Neither point had seemed to matter to anyone up until this time. Sunny had always been content to let Aunt Frances make decisions.
Had her feelings changed?
Sunny, I have invested your trust. However, it will take a long time to turn such a small portion into something substantial. Certainly into anything grand enough to sustain the life to which you have become accustomed as Freddy’s wife. I had communicated this to you previously.”
She rolled one shoulder up. “So you did.”
And Aunt Frances replied that you were happy living here, and that she was seeing to your every need and whim. That you had no need to spend any of your trust.” He frowned. “If you weren’t in agreement with that, you might have written me at any time, and let me know that you wanted access to enough funds so that you could purchase a residence of your own.” He took a deep breath against the increasing tightening in his stomach. Had she really believed that he would deny her access to her own money? Had he interpreted that correctly?
Or was she baiting him?
Yes, she must be baiting him. Surely she could not believe he was such an authoritarian monster. Could she?
A shadow crossed her face.
By God, she did believe it.
Had his neglect done that? Had Aunt Frances misrepresented him?
More importantly, had Aunt Frances misrepresented Sunny’s desire to remain living at Blayne House? Made more of her weakened mental and emotional state? Could his aunt be capable of such? Maybe. A now childless, older woman, fearing old age and aloneness—
Devil take it. This was the world of women—their politics, their strategies, and their silent, undeclared wars. He’d rather face an armada of fire ships than something like this.
Sunny, would you like to have an increase in your allowance? Would you like to have your own rooms somewhere here in Edinburgh? Or London?” He forced the hint of a smile. “I am sure we can find a willing companion for you amid all my female cousins,”
Her eyes widened in a flash. “It is not so easy to imagine leaving Frances and Grandmother Blayne.”
You wouldn’t be leaving them, not entirely. You could always visit.”
Was that a flicker of fear in her eyes? What the blazes was going on here?
She shook her head. “I couldn’t live apart from them. No’ after…”
With her tone, with her whole demeanor, she’d made the concept of her living apart from his aunt and grandmother seem like the worse betrayal.
Impatience burned through him. He paused and took a deep breath, struggling to keep his tone gentle. “Not after what?”
Her chin quivered. Her eyes grew glassy. She shook her head.
Sunny?” he said softy, caressing her fingers. “You can trust me. I will protect you. You can tell me anything.”
Her chin quivered all the more. Fat tears glistened on her lashes.
His insides twisted.
Anything, Sunny.” His voice worked like a rusty hinge, as though he were fighting hoarseness.
She shook her head more firmly.
Increased sickness twisted through his belly. Dread.
Mrs. Tibbs has gone for my wrap.” She tugged at his hands. “I really do not need it. But she will insist.” Sunny frowned. “I don’t think you should be here when she comes.”
Why ever not?”
Her eyes grew even more shadowed.
His stomach began to ache in earnest. “Catriona.”
Her head jerked up. Her mouth fell open and she paled.
She looked stricken.
He’d spoken more sharply than he’d intended, but not that sharply. Was her emotional state so delicate now? She had never been a nervous woman before. Certainly never frail. He took a deep breath and attempted to moderate his tone. “Sunny, why would your lady’s maid care if I were here or not? I assure you, I do not have any wicked designs.”
Her eyes widened.
Christ, what was wrong with him? Speaking to her suggestively like that—what was he thinking?
Her expression eased a little and her lips curved into a wan smile. ”I am just feeling somewhat fragile. She looks after me.”
But your mourning is over. I am your late husband’s cousin. I am now the head of this family and I look after your financial affairs. What would it matter that we were talking in the garden?”
Sunny sent a glance back at the terrace doors. Didn’t she look quite harried?
Oh!” She pulled hard against his hold.
He held her fast.
Please! Please!” She pulled at his hands fiercely. Frantically. Her eyes held a cornered look.
A look of fear.
He released her.
She reached for her skirts and lifted them quickly, revealing little black silk slippers and pale gray silk stockings that clung to shapely calves.
What he once would have promised or done to have seen Sunny’s ankles and calves! He’d seen them only once before. But he could take no pleasure in the sight now. Terrible dread beat through his blood.
She’s coming!”
Sunny—” He put his hand on her arm.
She jerked away. “I told you, she must not find me—no’ with you here!”
She whirled and took flight in a crisp rustle of skirts. She had just reached the terrace when the stout matron came out to her with the firm, patient expression of a governess who has every expectation that her orders will be met with strict compliance. She leant closer and touched Sunny’s arm and ushered her into the house.

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