Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Don't silk and seduction go well??

For those who are following the adventures of the Aikenhead Honours spying ring, I’m delighted to announce that the fourth story is now available. His Silken Seduction is the story of Ben, my fourth spying hero. It's a short ebook, available to download from the Harlequin ebook store. It will also be available from the Mills & Boon store soon, following UK publication of Jack’s story in paperback in September.

Here's the opening of His Silken Seduction

Lyons, France — March 1815

Ben closed his unbandaged eye and relaxed into the feather pillows to enjoy the sensation of Suzanne’s hands on his body. As always, she was precise and careful in removing the dressings from his wounds. With his eyes shut, the touch of her fingers on his naked torso was utterly delightful, as if she had laid one of her sumptuous silken velvets on his chest and swept it slowly across his skin. He floated, half awake, half dreaming.

“Mmm.” The sigh of pleasure escaped before he was aware of it. His body might be weak as water, but every square inch of it trembled at the mere prospect of Suzanne’s touch. He sank deeper into the pillows. His bones were melting.

“Ouch!” The dressing had caught. A stab of pain shattered the fragile fantasy that had been cradling him.

“Oh, forgive me, Herr Benn,” Suzanne gasped. Her fingers stilled for a moment, but it was too late. His shoulder wound had begun to bleed again.

She had been nursing him for a week now, and had even learned that he was an English spy, but she had never asked to know his real name. She seemed content to keep using his nom de guerre, Herr Christian Benn. It was probably for the best. If she were to discover that he was actually an English aristocrat, their comfortable understanding might cease. That would hurt unbearably.

Ben slid his good hand over hers and held it. She did not try to pull away. Ben absorbed the heat of her body through his fingers, like a reptile basking in the sun.

Was that a tiny shiver?

She was refusing to look at him.

In the blink of an eye, the sun-filled warmth evaporated. His fingers felt as if they had been doused with icy water, as if his flesh were shrinking away from hers, even though neither of them had moved.

What on earth was he about? He was behaving towards this amazingly courageous girl as if she were some kind of loose woman. She was his nurse and his rescuer. She deserved better than to be turned into an object of his lust.

He lifted his hand away. “Your pardon, Suzanne,” he began in a low voice. “I did not intend to alarm you.”

Her glance flickered to his face and away again. Her cheek was flushed. The delicate rose became her much too well, reminding him yet again of why his body’s desires were threatening to overcome his sense of honour.

It must not happen. They had become close by force of circumstances as she dressed and redressed his wounds: the shoulder where the bullet had been so roughly dug out, and the head wound he had inflicted on himself, by staggering from his bed and collapsing on the floor. No matter what he felt for Suzanne—and he was ashamed to admit it was lust—he must not allow her to feel anything for him.

She was a gentle, shy and hardworking girl, with little experience of men. She might too easily come to feel more for Ben than she should. And then what would happen? As soon as he was well enough, he would have to abandon her to continue with his mission. That was his duty. He must make sure she was able to forget him. That was his duty, too.

It was different back home in England. The girls he met there were of his own class. If they chose to flirt, or to swoon over his cursed good looks and the viscount’s title he would one day inherit, that was their choice. They knew the rules of the game.

But Suzanne did not know those rules. She was no aristocrat, merely a French silk-weaver’s daughter. The game she played was a game of life and death, for she was a royalist in a country cheering the return of its beloved Emperor Napoleon. Worse, she was hiding and nursing an English spy. She must not be allowed to develop tender feelings for such a dangerous guest.

Soon they would part for good, and Ben must leave her with a whole heart. His honour demanded nothing less.

I hope you enjoy Ben and Suzanne's silken seduction. The title suggests it's Ben's doing, but I'm honestly not too sure which of them is to blame. Perhaps those who have read it will let me know? Happy reading.



Jan Jones said...

Sounds very good to me, Joanna!

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Fabulous! And a sinfully seductive cover, too!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jan and Melinda.

I had to do something for poor Ben, left alone in Lyons, with a gunshot wound and a head wound. He deserved his sinful seduction, as a consolation. And so did Suzanne, since she'd fallen for him at first sight, even when he was deeply unconscious.

Isn't it great to be a writer of love stories? Such satisfying endings.