Piety or passion... What's a lady to do?
Lady Mary Rutherford believed she would live her entire life as a nun. But when King Henry VIII’s reformist movement makes practicing religion a dangerous proposition, Mary is forced to begin a new life with a family she doesn't know. Worse, she must become lady of the manor, a role for which she feels sorely unprepared.
After a decade of service to his king, Lord Trenton Stanley returns home to find his estate in ruins, his fortune depleted, and his doddering father drooling over Mary—a woman Trent fears has been installed to replace his mother. Trent strives to rebuild his life, but his desire for Mary becomes a serious distraction he can’t seem to ignore.
Though Mary is anxious to prove she’s a worthy lady, she’s tempted by the rakish Trent into deeds most unladylike…
“I have stopped, you see,” he said, lifting his hands above his head in mock surrender. “I mean you no harm, my dear, nor do I intend to rush our exploits, but you are quite the beauty. You have amazing lips and your breasts — ”
She gasped. “I am outraged, my lord. Why do you speak to me roughly?
I am not the type of woman who welcomes bawdiness. I’ve never heard such words or felt such…terror!”
“Terror?” He laughed. “You kiss well when frightened.” He arched a brow. “Seems to me, you wanted me under your petticoats. I apologize for my roughness, dearie, but you brought it out in me. It’s been a long time since a morsel like you presented itself to be sampled. And you do taste good. The finest mead honeys your breath. That tells me you demand a high price for your comely charms. Go ahead. Tell me what you want, besides my money and my cock, of course.”
At that, the woman smacked his face with unexpected strength. The blow sent Trent back into the seat from which he leaned. If she wanted to play her wanton games with fire, he was the man for the challenge.
Trent leaped upon her and pinned her to the seat. The woman struggled to sit up and shaped her petite hands into claws. “Unhand me. I am your ward not your whore!”
He recoiled, and she scurried across the seat and laid a quavering hand to her throat. He pointed his finger at her. “You? My ward? Impossible, woman. I have nonesuch.”
Tears swam into her eyes, and Trent’s heart skipped. My God, she is utterly enchanting. The glaze of passion that turned her blue eyes almost lavender lifted. She swiped at her eyes and affected a stonier expression.
“No apology?” she asked. “No words of welcome? No lord are you.” Now it was her turn to point, and she poked little jabs as if he were an insect she meant to squash with her finger. “You are a cur. A beast that should be tied in a field. You could not be the honourable lord my parents named benefactor before they passed into heaven. Sweet Jesu’, you are Lord Stanley?”
He nodded with a snap of his head.
- Word Count: 63,000
- Author: Ann Montclair
- Website: Ann Montclair
- Heat Level: 3
- ISBN: 978-1-61937-444-7
- Artist: David Efaw
- Editor: Marci Clark