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Duke’s Daughter Bickers with Stepmother

November 19, 1817

Residence of the Duke of Huntingdon

Mayfair, London

“Must you always be badgering me on this matter, Wife? Alicia is barely one-and-twenty. She and Stanton will settle down one of these days. I daresay they are on the brink of setting a date even as we speak.”

The duke’s young wife crossed her arms in front of her chest.

“So you’ve told me for the last two years. Not only have they not set a date, Lucas, but they rarely even see each other! Alicia has danced more with the Prince Regent than with her own betrothed this past Season!”

The Duke of Huntingdon closed his book and laid his spectacles on top of it. “Has that old lecher been philandering with my girl? I’ll see him in hell first!”

Cheeks flushed, the young duchess clenched her fists. “No, of course not! That’s not the point, and you know it well. What I’ve been trying to tell you is that Alicia and Milton Gardiner show no signs of partiality for each other’s company, and people are beginning to question whether the marriage will ever be accomplished at all!”

Her eyes narrowed. “The Prince danced as many times with me this Season, but you’ve never said a word against him. I believe you care for her more than your own wife!” 

She pulled out a handkerchief and swiped it over her eyes.

The duke rolled his eyes. “Good God, Elise, must you always make a fuss about everything? You know very well that as an unmarried young woman, Alicia’s reputation must be spotless, or no one, not even Stanton, will marry her. She and Stanton have always been the best of friends, Neither has ever spoken a word against their childhood betrothal, and you know Alicia well enough to know that she would certainly do so if she wished to.” He snorted.

“As far as Stanton, he can hardly be expected to dance with the gel when he’s spent most of the Season in Norfolk taking over his father’s duties on the estate. It may be unfashionable for a young man to take his responsibilities seriously, but I say it speaks well of his character.”

Lady Huntingdon glared at him. “And when Blackburn dies, the wedding will be postponed a year at least. Lucas, I must insist that you speak to your daughter immediately and impress upon her the urgency of securing this marriage as soon as may be!”

**********

At the sound of her stepmother’s footsteps moving toward the door, Alicia fled down the hall into the nearest room where she posed in front of the hearth and pretended to be studying a portrait of her late mother. Too late, she thought better of the idea. Elise hated that portrait of her predecessor almost as much as she hated Alicia herself. 

The staccato clicks of her stepmother’s heels on the wooden floor paused when they passed the drawing room where Alicia had taken refuge.

“What are you doing here?” Elise demanded, her voice dripping with suspicion.

Alicia shrugged and smiled innocently. “Why, looking at my mother’s portrait, of course.”

The duchess’s brow furrowed. “Were you eavesdropping on my conversation with your father?”

Alicia’s mouth assumed a slack expression. “Were you having a conversation with my father? About me?”

Her stepmother’s nostrils flared. “You were listening! I knew it!” she snapped. “Did you learn anything interesting?”

“I-I, well…,” Alicia stammered.

“A thousand pardons, Your Grace, but you’re needed in the nursery. Master Gervase is poorly today, and Nurse wishes to call in a physician.”

One of the upstairs maids appeared in the doorway, looking worried. 

“Gervase, my darling child…ill? Oh my, I knew that Nurse should not have taken him out of doors yesterday! Oh, I must go to him immediately!”

She gave Alicia a menacing stare, lifted her skirts, and rushed toward the stairway.

The maid winked at Alicia. “More ’n likely he’s just teething.” Then she took off after her mistress.

Alicia sighed heavily and gazed up at her mother’s beautiful face. It was almost like looking in a mirror, as she had inherited Frances Howland’s dark wavy hair, tawny eyes, and high cheekbones. Her prominent nose and light brown skin that no amount of lemon juice scrubs would lighten had come from her father, who had some French ancestry in his blood.

“Oh Mama! Why did you have to go sailing that day, of all days?”

She pressed her face down against the cool marble surface of the mantel. Three years ago she’d received the devastating news that her mother and Lady Blackburn had drowned when the skiff they’d been sailing had run into a sudden storm and capsized in the Wash a mile off the Norfolk coast. Her life had never been the same since. Particularly not when, after a year of mourning, her father had married a young girl only a few years older than she, who’d had the nerve to bear him the son he’d always wanted fifteen months later.

Her new stepmother, the daughter of a baronet whose mother claimed to be a displaced French countess, had been scheming to get rid of Alicia from the first day she’d moved in. Alicia was a constant reminder of her mother, a notorious London beauty. Elise’s skin was the pale porcelain favored by society, but in combination with her gray eyes, small round head and pale blonde hair, she tended to fade into the woodwork. With dark hair in fashion these days, it galled her to appear in public with the stepdaughter who outshone her.

Nor did it help when all the servants showed a pronounced preference for Alicia.

“That’s not my fault,” she said lifting her head to her mother’s face as if to defend her behavior. “I never encouraged them to do that.”

But you never did anything to prevent it, did you, Daughter? You weren’t raised to prevaricate, you know. This type of behavior is beneath you.

A lump formed in Alicia’s throat. It was true. Her mother, at least, had worked very hard to keep her grounded in good Christian values and a healthy respect for others. Alicia knew her mother would have been sorely distressed to see the way she provoked her stepmother, sometimes without half-trying.

Your behavior causes your father much grief, you know. Does he not deserve a peaceful home?

Alicia paled as she recalled the conversation she’d just overheard in her father’s study. Unkind as it was to deliberately provoke her stepmother, it also had the effect of disturbing her father’s domestic life. Which she’d not hesitated to do at first when she’d been furious with her father’s decision to remarry, but now…it seemed rather childish and cruel.

He’s been a good father to you, Alicia. He was a good husband to me as well. Does he not deserve your loyalty?

“Alicia, my dear.”

Lucas Howland, the Duke of Huntingdon, strolled through the doorway toward her. At forty-nine, he was still a fine figure of a man, although his dark hair was now sprinkled with gray and his stomach was beginning to make itself known beneath his olive-green waistcoat.

He sighed as he cupped her shoulders and drew her against his chest as they both gazed up at the portrait of his first wife.

“Aye, she was a marvelous woman. I still miss her too, you know. Many times I wish I had forbidden her to take the boat out that day.”

Tears gathered in Alicia’s eyes. “But she would never have heeded you, Papa. It wasn’t your fault.”

He turned her around and hugged her to his chest. “No, she was a willful one, my Frances. So spirited and full of life…I’m sure it never occurred to her that it could all be lost so quickly and tragically.”

They stood there a moment and reflected on what the loss of the former duchess had brought to their lives. For the duke—a young second wife and the heir he’d always wanted. For Alicia—a new baby brother with whom she’d felt an instant connection, but who came with the inconvenience of an antagonistic stepmother.

“She was my best friend,” Alicia whispered. “I could tell her anything and she would never laugh at me or remonstrate with me. She always told me to forget the past and live each day to the fullest.” 

She lifted her wounded face to her father’s. “But how can I forget her? She was my life and now she’s gone! I feel…lost without her, Papa.”

Her father sighed and kissed her forehead before drawing her head to his shoulder. “I know it well, my dear. I’ve seen you drift aimlessly through two Seasons, and I know well things would have been much different had it been your mother sponsoring you and not your aunt.”

“Aunt Tabitha has been very kind, Papa, but you are correct—it’s not the same.”

Her father’s sister had not got on well with her sister-in-law and it seemed Alicia had inherited too many of her mother’s characteristics to make for an amicable connection between aunt and niece.

The duke turned and, taking her arm, led her to a settee.

“Come and sit with me, Daughter. It’s been a long time since we’ve spoken privately, and I think a chat is quite overdue. Shall I order tea?”

Tea? Alicia forced herself to relax her hands, which had tightened into fists at her father’s request. She knew where this conversation was going.

“No tea, Papa. It will be time for nuncheon soon. I suppose you want to know about how things stand between Milton and me.”

Her father patted her hand. “I don’t wish to push you out of the nest, Alicia, but people are beginning to wonder if you and Stanton mean to marry after all. You’ve had two Seasons and I’ve heard no reports of your forming any other attachments in that time.”

Because everyone knows I’ve been betrothed to Milton forever.

“I had beaux,” she said defensively. “I was never a wallflower, you know. I had any number of escorts to Vauxhall and drives through the park.”

The duke heaved a sigh. “Of course, you did. I never meant to imply otherwise. But of all of them, did none appeal to you as a better choice for husband than young Stanton?”

“No, nothing like that.” Well, there was Lord Hadley, the handsome young viscount who made all the young ladies’ hearts flutter, but he’d gone off on his Grand Tour last year and showed no sign of returning any time soon.

“As far as I know, Papa, Milton and I still plan to be married. I haven’t heard from him lately, since he’s been so busy at Blackburn, but I’m sure we’ll discuss it after our return to Huntingdon.”

Her father grimaced. “I don’t mean to pressure you, my dear, but with Blackburn’s illness, you might want to set an early date. I’m sure it would give him great pleasure to see his son wed before… well, there’s no way to avoid the fact that his days are numbered.”

“And once he’s gone, there will be a year of mourning. I do realize that, Papa. I’m sure Elise will be no end of piqued to have me on your hands for another year.”

Her father flinched. “It’s not that, Alicia. It’s just that… it’s obvious you’re not happy with us, and we think it’s time you settled down and started your own family. With Stanton, if he’s your choice. No one wishes to force you out, least of all your stepmother.”

Alicia snorted. Did her father really think she would believe that? She’d have known it to be an untruth even if she had not overheard their recent conversation.

“Of course not. I’m sure Elise is eager to become a grandmother.” 

Her father tried to hide his grin, and Alicia turned and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.

“I’ll discuss it with Milton, Papa. He has a lot on his mind these days. When his father dies, he’ll be alone in the world. At least I still have a father left.”

Her father let out a huge breath. “Thank you, my dear.”

He stood and started to leave, then turned and looked at her with a twinkle in his eye.

“I can’t speak for Elise, of course, but I for one am looking forward to becoming a grandfather with great anticipation. And I’m sure Gervase will be in alt to have a little niece or nephew to play with.”

Alicia blushed. “Really, Papa!”

Baby Gervase an uncle? An amusing image, but it all seemed so premature. She’d been betrothed to Milton for so long, but the actual marriage had seemed far off. In all that time, she’d never actually thought much about being Milton’s wife and having his children. Now that the time seemed imminent, she felt a growing feeling of panic. Bridal nerves, of course. All brides had them. It would all turn out well in the end, she assured herself.

******

All I Want For Christmas is You is part of the Bluestocking Belles’ latest Christmas collection, Christmastide Kisses.

https://books2read.com/u/m26VG6

About Susana Ellis

Susana Ellis is a retired teacher, part-time caregiver, sewist, cook, and fashion print collector. Lifelong reading and a fascination with history led her to writing historical romances. She is one of the original Bluestocking Belles and a member of Regency Fiction Writers and the Maumee Valley Romance Authors Inc.

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Who did the young earl marry? And what happened to the other bride?

Your tip was a good one, Sam, though none of the villagers of Rorrington will admit to sending it. They had a front-seat row to the goings on at Thorn Abbey, and you’ll be pleased to know that even out here, they’ve all heard about the scandal of the Earl of Spenhurst and his bride. Indeed, since the wedding was at their own Thorn Abbey, and some of the main actors stayed at the village inn at the time in question, they feel quite a sense of ownership.

Rorrington is a tiny village in the wilds of Shropshire, with the border of Wales so close in two directions that, or so the local joke goes, if your cow runs away, you have to go to another country to get it back.

They keep their own counsel, here. Certainly, the lord that owns Thorn Abbey heard nothing of what I am about to relate to you, for nobody can appear less intelligent than a countryman of Shropshire who doesn’t want to answer a question.

But the Teatime Tattler’s sympathetic treatment of the earl and countess had acted as my introduction, and so I am hopeful that, by the end of my visit here, I’ll have as much of the story as these people know.

It seems that the Earl of Yarverton used to be the owner of Thorn Abbey. The ownership was to pass to the Marquess of Deerhaven as part of the marriage agreement between their children, but I don’t know what will happen to it now. But I get ahead of myself.

What I can tell you so far is that Deerhaven’s son was delivered to Thorn Abbey in chains and Yarverton and Deerhaven arranged for the local vicar to perform a marriage ceremony between him and Yarverton’s daughter.

Young Spenhurst dug his toes in and said he would marry Miss Miller or no one. He wouldn’t consent to the marriage, and the good vicar refused to go ahead with the ceremony. Apparently, after he left the mansion, Yarverton beat the poor young man so badly that one of Deerhaven’s guards had to intervene to stop the assault from becoming a murder.

Remember, that the boy was chained!

What happened after that? I hope to know more tomorrow, when I meet with a fellow who was a footman at the Abbey at the time. But I have been able to confirm that there was a wedding a few weeks later, that the two fathers left the Abbey satisfied that the marriage had been consummated, and that the young couple left a few days later. Looking happy, say those who saw the carriage on its way.

The bride must have been Yarverton’s daughter, surely. So what happened to Miss Miller? And who were the couple seen recently in Leicestershire?

 ***

For the solution to the mystery, read Weave Me a Rope, currently on preorder and released on 26th January. Weave Me a Rope is Book 5 in A Twist Upon a Regency Tale, and is inspired by Rapunzel.

Weave Me a Rope

By Jude Knight

When the Earl of Spenhurst declares his love for a merchant’s niece, he is locked away in a tower. Spen won’t get out, the marquess, his father says, until he agrees to an arranged marriage.

After the marquess unceremoniously ejects Cordelia Milton from his country mansion, she is determined to rescue her beloved, but it all goes horribly wrong.

She needs time to recover from her injuries, and Spen has been moved across the country under heavy guard. It seems impossible for two young lovers to overcome the selfish plans of two powerful peers, but they won’t give up.

Click below to buy.

Meet Blaise Arquette, formerly of Wellington’s Army

Blaise Arquette has just returned from a position at the Home Office where he had served since Waterloo. Prior to that he served nearly two decades in the War with France, lately as an exploring officer with the Duke of Wellington. Just one day prior to this scene, he had met a lovely seamstress in his brother’s haberdashery shop. The rest of Blaise and Susana’s story, A Seamstress, a Soldier, and a Secret will appear in an updated version of Desperate Daughters, which you can get for free in January 2024 if you have previously purchased the ebook version.

You can meet Susana Bigglesworth here.

18 December 1816

Leeds, West Yorkshire

Early afternoon

Blaise knew that finding work would not be an easy task; his time at the Home Office had shown him that. Soldiers and sailors trudging London streets desperately trying to feed their families, many reduced to begging in the streets. Those who returned without limbs had even less to hope for; they would end among the parish poor, no doubt in some workhouse or another. He always felt a flutter of guilt when he came upon them; wishing there were some way to help them but at the same time perceiving that, but for the grace of God, he might even now be among them.

He at least had his brother to fall back on, although he had no intention of remaining a hanger-on. He had no clear idea of what sort of position he might find; the skills he had mastered in the Army—namely marksmanship, horsemanship, map drawing, and writing—were not transferable to any sort of trade he could think of. The government was eliminating positions right and left as the post-war economy hurtled the country toward disaster, his own with the Home Office included.

That morning he rose early, determined to do a bit of reconnaissance in the neighborhood to assess the situation. The tradesmen he chatted with were impressed with his military service, but few were taking on employees, and even fewer—none actually—were the sort of jobs suitable for Blaise. Young boys who could be apprenticed to learn a trade without pay had more choices than he, he mused grimly. Returning to France to fight for his inheritance might be his only option.

Heading back to Fanshawe & Sons, he noticed a tradesman’s carriage harnessed to a pair of black Percherons, Macclesfield Silks painted on the side. Inside, he found his brother and Louise poring over ells of colorful fabric arrayed on the counter, a stranger—presumably the silk merchant—running his hand over the wares.

“Thomas Pemberton,” he introduced himself after Benoît had presented him. “Grandson of Joseph, founder of Macclesfield Silks.”

Pemberton was middle-aged, a few streaks of gray in his dark hair, hazel eyes, and a jovial manner. He regarded Blaise with new respect when he heard of his military career.

“Served with the duke, did you? This country is in your debt, sir.” He tilted his head and regarded Blaise with furrowed brows. “So, what does a soldier with your experience do with himself after the war is over?”

Blaise grinned wryly. “I’m still looking for the answer to that, Pemberton. There doesn’t seem to be much of a use for soldiers in peacetime.”

“Thomas. Do call me Thomas.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Look, I may have something that will suit. I’m short an assistant at present, a traveling man to demonstrate our wares to shops like your brother’s.” He blew out a puff of air. “This,” he said waving at the wagon in front of the shop, “isn’t my strong suit and I’m needed at the mill. Is this something you could consider, for the present, at least? I might have something better in the future.”

Blaise’s eyes widened. “Certainly,” he said slowly, unwilling to dismiss any possibility. “But I don’t know much about silk.”

Thomas laughed and clapped a hand on his shoulder. “That can be rectified,” he asserted. “Come and see me in Macclesfield after the holiday, and I’ll show you around the mill, introduce you to the weavers, give you a bit of an apprenticeship. If it’s not to your taste, you’ll at least come away with a better acquaintance with the textile industry.”

Benoît and Louise looked at him hopefully. Blaise chuckled. “I can see you are already anticipating the discount for silk wares for the shop.”

Turning to Thomas, he held out an arm. “I’m honored to accept the offer, sir.”

Louise squealed, and Susana, needle and thread in hand, peeked out of her “office” to investigate. “Oh, the silks are here,” she exclaimed, misunderstanding the situation. “I can’t wait to see them! I shall be out as soon as I finish the hem on Miss Delphi’s dinner dress. I expect her momentarily for a final fitting.” She rushed back into her workroom.

Thomas appeared momentarily stunned by her appearance. Noticing his interest, Louise said helpfully, “That’s Susana, Miss Bigglesworth. She’s our modiste.”

Running his hands through his hair, Thomas swallowed. “I beg your pardon, but she looks familiar. Although I can’t place her. Or the name.”

“She’s from Harrogate,” Louise offered. “Comes from a family of ten sisters.”

“Ten!” Thomas’s eyes widened. But then he shook his head. “Doesn’t bring back anything. It’ll come to me, I suppose.”

He straightened his back and offered his hand first to Benoît and then to Blaise, subsequently tipping his hat for Louisa.

“I thank you for your business, sir,” he said to Benoît, and then to Blaise: “I’ll write you soon, Mr. Arquette, er, Blaise. We’ll expect to see you in Macclesfield after the New Year.”

“I’ll look forward to hearing from you.” Blaise accompanied him out of the shop to the driver’s seat of the wagon, beginning to feel hopeful for the first time in a while.

Desperate Daughters

This story was written for the readers of the original version of Desperate Daughters who expressed concern over the absence of Susana’s story, since she played a key part in the other sisters’ stories.

Her story deserves to be told.

Susana Ellis is a retired teacher, part-time caregiver, sewist, cook, and fashion print collector. Lifelong reading and a fascination with history led her to writing historical romances.

After January 1, 2024:

To update your Kindle book version, go to Manage Your Content and Devices. Search for Desperate Daughters. If available, select Update Available, then select Update.)

Shocking scandal rocks village just before Christmas

My dearest Madeline

You will never believe who I met coming out of the church this morning. You shall not be able to guess, so I shall tell you. Lissette Parslow.

Yes, I know. We were both certain she would never dare to show her face in Fairview again. Not after what she did. But there she was, chatting to the vicar for all the world as if butter would not melt in her mouth. You would think Vicar would know better, for he was curate back then, when it all happened.

But there. He is too good for this world, as I’m sure all of Fairview would agree, and that wife of his encourages him in his misplaced kindness. Well. She would, would she not? We do not forget that she remained friends with Lissie Parslow even after it became obvious what the trollop had been up to. Yes, and who with, for who else could it have been, when she never left the manor, and him with an eye for a pretty girl, as all the village knew–and most of England, too, come to that.

“Lissie Parslow,” I said to her. “You have come back.” I should have thought my expression was enough to put the fear of God into her, for she knows what she did. But she always was a pert baggage. The countess made too much of her, and I always said so, did I not, Madeline?”

“I am Mrs Penworth now,” she replied. “And is it still Miss Albright?”

The cheek of it, Madeline. “Is there a Mr Penworth?” I snapped back. A fair question, given her history!

“Now, now, ladies,” said the vicar. “A little Christmas charity, if you would be so kind.”

So I put him on the spot, right there in front of the brazen hussy. “Do you suppose, vicar,” I said, “that Christian charity applies to those who seduced their lady’s husband and got themselves with child?”

You will never, in a million years, guess what he said. I tell you true, Madeline. He said, “Yes, that is exactly what I suppose. I also suppose that we are instructed not to judge the circumstances of others, when we do not know the facts. Judge not, Miss Albright, lest ye be judged.”

I was so shocked, I did not know what to say, and before I could recover, they both said good day. The Parslow woman–or Penworth, if that is her real name–walked off along the road, and Vicar went back into the church.

But that is not the whole story. On Sunday, when I went to church, she was there, sitting with a man whom I must suppose is Penworth, whether she is married to him or not. Madeline, they were sitting in the earl’s pew with the new earl himself, and with a girl of about the age our dear departed countess was when she came to our village. I could not see her face from where I was sitting, but I had to suppose she was Lissie Parslow’s daughter, and how she came to be sitting in the earl’s pew, I could not fathom.

Not, at least, until the homily was over and the vicar invited the earl to stand up and speak. What he had to say, Madeline, changed everything.

Find out more in A Countess by Christmas, by Jude Knight, a novella in Christmastide Kisses, the Bluestocking Belles with Friends collection that is coming out on 26th December.

Story blurbs and the buy links for the book will be added to our project page over the next week.

 

 

A new woman seeks to marry from an advert! She shall not have him!

I write to you today, dear Tattler, to tell of an outrage in my village. What do you say to a lady who sails all the way from London to the south shore of Wales, all to get a husband?

And to take one who has advertised to get you to come hither?

Is that not a ridiculous venture?

Sight unseen to agree to travel hundreds of miles to a sordid little town and devilihs house like the tumbledown Rambles of the barons of Rhouse and Gary? This is a sprawling, ugly monstrosity built by Normans, kept by men who made their living stealing what bounty floated up from the shores.

A wicked house it is too. Filled with wicked men who take women for their money and their land. Hollow men who fill themselves up with the dowries of naive girls and who ravaged them…and any others they wish.

The barons of this house and this lineage are thieves and charlatans. What woman would want such a man as husband? 

I didn’t. Yet I had to. My father demanded it of me and where else was I to go, sicne my fiance’s father had already defiled me, eh?

Now this girl comes. Silly thing. She will not have this new baron to wed.  I will see to it.

Warn your female readers not to accept a man’s hand if they know him not. It is not wise. It is not safe.

I warn you. Do not answer an advert to become a wife of a Welsh baron. He had only danger and heartache in store for you.

Sincerely,

~ Desperate Lady

*****

When a young widow wishes to marry again, will the man she grows to love ask more than she can give?

Mrs. Tynley Wallingford yearns for a quiet, comforting marriage to a man whom she can respect. She’ll go to any lengths to find the best candidate who can respect her, in turn. Even correspond with one fellow at length before she agrees that Kendryck Hollens is the man whose words awaken her desire for a husband she might grow to love.

Tynley takes a risk and sails to Wales with the best intentions. She finds in Kendryck a man with a noble ambition—and a family filled with age-old conflict and despair.

Kendryck Hollens returns home to Wales after fifteen years abroad, a stranger to his cantankerous family. He assumes his rightful title as baron of the legendary house of Strade and attempts to change the dastardly reputation of his ancestors, and put his siblings on the right path to a purposeful life.

Thrilled that Tynley has come to his home, he notices that her presence creates challenges among those in his family. But he feels assured she can help him obtain what he wants most in this world.

When a tragedy threatens to ruin his ambition and his family, he fears the price of endurance will ruin Tynley’s personal objective too—and drive her from him.

How much can one ask of one whom they love? Are any prices too high?

*****

Excerpt YOU MADE ME LOVE YOU, All rights reserved. Copyright 2023. Cerise DeLand.

Kendryck put his two hands to her cheeks. “I told myself I would not take you like a villain.”

“Hmmm,” Tynely said as she considered that with a tip of her head this way and that. Then she pulled at the end of his beautifully tied cravat and said, “You aren’t.”

He took her by the shoulders. “Not against the stables, not in a carriage. We must be in a bed.”

“I do agree.” She sank to lick the skin of his corded neck. “But one must have a few bites of bliss before the main course.” She undid the button of his soft linen shirt and kissed the hollow of his throat. “Otherwise, one’s appetite is not prepared.”

He laughed, he groaned, then he pressed her flush to his chest. “You should have told me you were a tease.”

She rolled her eyes. “Why? Isn’t this more fun?”

He hooted. His grip on her was mighty and seductive. “What should I know, my darling?”

“About…?”

“Making love to you.”

She bent to his mouth and licked his bottom lip. “That I will be as needy as you.”

“Thank God.”

“That I will want all of you as mine.”

“I rejoice at it. And? Anything else?”

“That I am yours completely and you may have me at your will,” she whispered and took one of his fingers and nipped the end, “as long as I may have you at mine.”

BUY LINK:     https://books2read.com/u/4jBX90

Cerise DeLand is the USA TODAY Bestselling Author who believes love brings rich rewards from a life lived with honesty, valor—and a functioning funnybone. 

Known for her poetic elegance and accuracy of detail, she’s won awards for many of the more than 70 novels she’s written.

Her work has been nearly life-long! First published in 1991 by Kensington, then Pocket Books, St. Martin’s Press and independent presses, she is now published by DRAGONBLADE PUBLISHING. Plus her books have been monthly selections of the Doubleday Book Club and the Mystery Guild. 

To research, she’s dived into the oldest texts and dustiest library shelves. She travels abroad taking good walking shoes, big notebooks, trusty pens and a camera! She visits chateaux and country homes she loves to people with her own imaginary characters. 

And at home every day? She cooks. (Every night.) Never dusts. (That can be a problem.) She goes swimming or pumps iron once a week and tries (desperately) to grow vegetables in her arid backyard in south Texas!

Website: 

https://www.cerisedeland.com

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Cerise-DeLand/e/B0089DS2N2/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cerise.deland/

Blog:  https://cerisedeland.blogspot.com/

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