Fearless is the first book in The Shaws. While you met this family in The Emperors of London, now the most scandalous family in London gets to tell its own story!
The last thing Val wants is a wife, despite how desirous his lovely bride-to-be has become. But when he discovers sweet Charlotte is planning to marry a dastardly man, he feels duty bound to keep her safe, even if that means making good on his marriage pledge. Then Charlotte is taken hostage by her dangerous suitor and suddenly Val is ready to risk everything for the woman who has won his heart .
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“I ask one favor before we say goodbye. Because this will be goodbye, Charlotte. I will seek an interview with my father and you must speak to yours. They will negotiate how best to break the contract and then it will be over. You’ll be free to marry your Lord Kellett," Valentinian said.
She closed her eyes and swallowed. Yes, she would. “Could I ask my father first? Will you give me a few days?”
“Of course. We shall say that my behavior is too much for you to bear. That is only the truth, after all.”
He saw too much, but she would not deny it. “Yes.” Her stomach tied itself in knots at the thought of the ordeal that lay ahead. But she was set on the path now and she would see it through. At least she could offer a substitute husband, one who wanted to marry her immediately.
“I’ll always be your friend, Charlotte. You must come to me if you ever need help.” He didn’t say it, but he inferred that her brother was no use. That was not strictly true, but as yet he was too young to have any influence on their father. In time he would make a fine duke, but to rely on a man five years younger than she—no, she would not think of it.
Normally she would have said thank you, drawn her hands away, and asked him to take her into the house. Today she wanted one more thing. “I want us to part with a kiss,” she said, but her voice shook on the last two words. Just once she would know what he tasted like, why women went wild for him.
He stared at her, eyes wide and dark.
“Never mind. I didn’t mean it.”
With a swift movement, he dragged her forward, tipping her off-balance so she fell into his arms. “Oh yes you did.” His voice deepened to a growl as he settled her against his shoulder. “You shall have your kiss, Charlotte.”
When she opened her mouth on a gasp, he brought his mouth down on hers.
Charlotte had imagined adult kisses, of course she had, but this was her first. That was why she’d wanted it from Val. He knew how to kiss. He must, with the numbers of lovers he’d had.
She wasn’t wrong. His lips caressed hers, brushed over them in a gentle caress, moving from one side to the other before settling in for a firmer touch. Unthinkingly, she reached up and curved her hand around the back of his neck. Under the crisp, white neckcloth, his bare skin waited for her. Inching a little higher, she discovered the nape of his neck.
Was it her imagination, or did he shudder?
He had his hands spread over her back. Even through her shift, stays and the heavy back pleats of her gown she felt them burning, touching her as if she belonged to him. They held her firmly, giving her the entirely erroneous impression that she was safe with him. Charlotte had never been safe from Val.
When he crushed his lips against hers, she moved closer, curving her body to press against him. Despite the many layers they both wore their proximity made her melt. His breath was hot on her cheek, and the stubble she could not see, only feel, rasped with delicious roughness against her chin.
He touched her lips with his tongue, delicately tracing. With a little gasp, she opened. His grunt was like nothing she’d ever heard from him before, unguarded and essentially masculine.
Firm, slick wetness caressed her when he touched her tongue with his, stroking her, exploring her mouth, delicately at first and then with more firmness, taking all she offered and demanding more.
When he sucked in a breath through his nose she realized she’d been holding hers. She followed suit, breathing through their kiss, letting him take her where he would. His moan vibrated through her mouth, and she swallowed it, hungering for more.
Was she really letting this man go? She should have hung on, demanded more, because she ached to know what came next.