I have a new release this month! Alluring Secrets, the story of Severus and Penelope! It hit number four on the Samhain top ten this week, the highest I've ever been!
Severus Granville, Earl of Swithland, finds himself dealing with a wholly unfamiliar urge—to settle down and produce an heir. But among the bevy of beauties vying for his attention, none hold his interest except for one: Penelope. Clumsy, intelligent, appealing Penelope is the one woman with whom he could escape…but she’s expected to marry another.
Afraid she’ll be labeled an unmarriageable bluestocking, Penelope’s family forces her to go without her badly needed spectacles in public, and to hide her intelligence. Though she has loved Severus for years, the best she can hope for is a loveless union with a perfectly suitable—and perfectly boring—cousin. Except Severus seems to have changed his mind.
Hours spent in his rooftop observatory leads to a passion they couldn’t deny. Yet just as their eyes are opened to the possibility of lasting love, Penelope is embroiled in a plot to destroy her family and take her away from Severus forever.
If he wants to keep his heart’s treasure, Severus will have to fight for her with everything within him—mind, body and soul.
His hands stilled, and his head bowed over the papers. “Yes, but on an amateur basis. I’m an enthusiast, not a Newton.”
Rising, she went over to him, and looked at the papers. It was difficult to make anything out in the dusky light but she could make out symbols and colored diagrams, as meaningless to her as her graphs had been to him earlier. “I’m trying to map Venus,” he told her. “I don’t think I’ll be able to, but it gives me a reason to come up here and look.”
“I have every confidence in you.” With one finger, she gently traced the curves of a gleaming brass instrument lying in a case on the table. “A sextant,” he told her. “They use them at sea to calculate their position.”
“It’s lovely.” The gleaming curves fascinated her. She looked up at him and realized he was watching her, not the sextant, in what she could only describe as a noticing way. He seemed to be looking at her with a new awareness. She felt the same. “They do have a—a beauty of their own, don’t they?” Suddenly shy, she looked down.
He reached out, put a finger under her chin and guided it up, so she met his intent gaze. “It seems appropriate.”
“At least you don’t look right through me.”
All humor gone, he glared at her. “Who does that?”
She tried to smile, but failed and settled for a shrug. “Most people do. Women don’t see me as a rival in their matrimonial aspirations.”
She was astonished by his response. That should have been obvious, she thought. “Look at me. Add that to my clumsiness, and social ineptitude and you can see why they do that. They think I’m slow, they laugh at me. I don’t mind, really I don’t, but I don’t court their company, either.”
He looked at her, studying her until she felt uncomfortably warm. Then he lifted a hand from her arm and caressed her cheek. She didn’t mean to, but she leant into his hand, loving the feeling of being cherished, however false.
Because she’d closed her eyes for a moment she missed his bending his head to hers, but she felt the soft pressure of his lips. He slid his hand around her neck, and when she didn’t withdraw, touched her lips with his tongue. She shuddered, and heat spread through her. When she opened her mouth slightly, he took advantage of it, sliding his tongue just between them to taste her.
Toby had kissed her once, about three years ago, a kiss stolen in the orchard one summer. She’d allowed it, but escaped soon afterwards and felt no inclination to repeat the experience. Sev’s kiss wasn’t like that. It felt wonderful, as unlike Toby’s wet, messy embrace as possible. Penelope responded instinctively, reaching up to hold on to him. His response was to draw her closer and deepen the kiss.
Penelope tasted the brandy on his lips and knew that if he wasn’t drunk, he was well-to-go. She didn’t care. If he hadn’t been, he would not be kissing her like this, in this hot, demanding way that drove tingles to the tips of her toes. He broke the kiss, took a quick breath and returned to the fray. He caressed the back of her neck, his fingers moving slowly over the small curls clustered there. He seemed to be enjoying himself. Or perhaps, Penelope thought cynically, he wanted flirting without any expectations. If he’d done this with any one of the other young ladies in the house, taken her up to a private room and then kissed her, she would have expected a proposal of marriage in the morning. Penelope wouldn’t insist, wouldn’t tell anyone or demand anything from him that he wasn’t willing to give. With one small touch of his lips against hers, he drew back, and gazed at her, his eyes dark in the gloom. They were both breathing quicker, and Penelope followed his gaze to see her breasts rising and falling above her tight-laced, low-cut evening gown. “Sir?”
“Sev. Penelope, I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me—”
Was he apologizing because he remembered, rather belatedly, that he was a gentleman, or because he didn’t find the kiss interesting? “Sev, I—no, I’m sorry. I don’t expect—well, I’m not officially—” She stopped, floundering.
“It makes me wish you were,” he murmured, still too close to her for comfort. He rested his forehead against hers before drawing back. His gaze remained intent on hers as he withdrew his hand from her neck and touched her face, drawing his fingers down her cheek and tracing the line of her lips.
She stared up at him, the dim starlight softening his face. She wasn’t averse to another kiss, but she was unsure what to do. Should she behave like a lady, and deny all pleasure, or invite further caresses and perhaps the sobriquet of wanton?
Her experience didn’t extend this far. Nobody had looked at her in such a caressing way, or shown any inclination to kiss her. She’d assumed her lot in life was to be taken for granted and perhaps laughed at for her clumsiness. Now she was rapidly reassessing that. If such a connoisseur of women as Severus Granville took notice of her, she must have something worth looking at.
He bent to kiss her once more, this time briefly. “I didn’t mean this to happen. I wanted to reciprocate—show you my obsession. Believe me, this isn’t an attempt at seduction. It’s just that I haven’t—noticed you before this visit and I like what I see. Very much. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.” The words were out before she could suppress them. “I’m glad you wanted to show me this. And it was only a kiss.”
“Yes.” His mouth twisted up at one corner. “Only a kiss.”
Alluring Secrets - the Second in the Secrets trilogy
True Love Sees With The Heart
From Samhain Publishing