31 December 2013
The Westruthers, Book 2
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Barnes & Noble
Passion to last a Lifetime…
THE SWEETEST SCANDAL
Beautiful, exuberant, and stubborn Georgiana Black has more spirit than sense—which she learns when an ultimatum to the Earl of Beckenham ends their engagement. Six years later, Georgie is less concerned with impending spinsterhood than with making sure her young sister doesn’t make the same mistakes she did. But soon Georgie stumbles into a scandalous encounter with none other than her former fiancé. Beckenham is still breathtakingly desirable—and as implacable as ever…
THE TRUEST TEMPTATION
Beckenham’s brief engagement to Georgie taught him one thing—when it comes to a wife, he wants a woman who will do her duty and cause no trouble. When the fiery Georgie falls unexpectedly into his arms, Beckenham remembers just how lushly delectable she is. Suddenly, the idea of actually marrying Georgie is irresistible. Convincing her will take more than a simple proposal, however. In a battle of wills, can passion conquer pride?
PRAISE FOR THE GREATEST LOVER EVER
Brooke delivers what readers want — a smart, witty, sexy and just plain delightful romance — in spades. She takes time-honored themes and makes them fresh, funny, charming and sizzling with sexual tension. This tale will brighten the darkest winter’s day. ~ RT Magazine (Kathe Robin)
Diverting ~ Publishers Weekly
The writing is fresh and well-paced, with witty dialog, chemistry that sizzles and characters so real they fairly leap from the page. ~ The Romance Dish (PJ Ausdenmore)
Georgie moved as far from the bed as she could manage. Not that it would make any difference to Steyne, but it made her feel better. She snatched up the Chinese vase from the mantel, tested its weight. Too delicate to do any damage and probably priceless into the bargain. She set it down again.
But the tall, dark-haired figure who entered was not Lord Steyne.
It was his cousin, her former fiancé. Marcus Westruther, Earl of Beckenham.
He stood there for what seemed an age, silhouetted against the doorway. She couldn’t see his features clearly in the shadows but she didn’t have to. They were as sharp and clear in her mind’s eye as they had ever been in the flesh.
For several moments, the shock of seeing him again suspended her faculties. Her lips parted but no sound came out.
Emotion flooded her chest, a swirling mass of reactions that could not be separated into constituent parts. The strength and tumult of her feelings made her light-headed.
What could she say to him? She’d avoided a meeting between them for years, and now, to see him in such fantastical circumstances… Could anything be more disastrous? She dreaded to imagine what he’d think if he discovered her identity.
Ought she simply tell him the real reason she was here?
Could she trust him? Instinct told her yes. He was the most solidly dependable person she’d ever known.
But why on earth should he help her, even if she told him her troubles? He’d washed his hands of her years ago.
She’d rejected him as a husband, dealt a severe blow to his pride, made them both the talk of the Ton. As far as Beckenham was concerned, there could not be a more unforgivable crime than that. He was a man who prized honor and loyalty above all other qualities.
So she waited in the silence. She would follow his lead.
Her awareness of him was so heightened that the slight tilt of his head as he studied her made her heart zing about her chest like a firework. She heard nothing but her own breathing. The unruly hitch in it seemed to echo in the silence.
He moved into the room, then closed the door. “I hear you’ve been looking for me.”
His deep voice resonated through her body, stirring the embers of a fire that had long lain dormant. Yes, but never in my wildest dreams did I think you’d be here.
She didn’t answer. Oh, God, it was awful and humiliating and. . . and wonderful to see him. She hadn’t laid eyes on him since that dreadful night when she’d released him from the engagement. Almost by tacit agreement, she lived in Town while he’d largely kept to his estate. She’d heard he’d attended Lady Cecily Westruther’s come-out ball in London last season, but of course she hadn’t been invited to that auspicious event. Most pointedly not invited.
And now here he was, with her. In a quiet bedchamber in the midst of a raucous, licentious party. But it didn’t feel as if they stood in any kind of oasis here. It felt like the eye of a storm.
Her mouth dried as he reached up a hand to loosen his cravat, flick it open and pull the long strip of linen from around his throat. Then he walked over to the wash stand, where a pitcher of water and a basin stood as if ready for guests.
“Take your clothes off,” he said to her over his shoulder. “I’ll be with you in a moment.”
Beckenham wished, with sudden exasperation, that she’d make it easier for him, admit to her presence and let him get on with this damnable proposal. But when had anything that involved Georgiana Black been easy?
She left him in the awkward position of offering to right a wrong she refused to acknowledge they’d both committed.
“I know not why you seek to continue this pretense,” he said, checking his horses to let a dray lumber past them, “but I must tell you that I am not so easily diverted from my purpose.”
“No,” she said, a little wistfully. “You were ever a steadfast type, were you not? Some might call it stubborn. Or pigheaded, perhaps.”
He ground his teeth.
She sighed, and in the voice of one humoring a child, said, “Very well, in the interests of concluding this delightful interview as soon as possible… Let us pretend—for argument’s sake, you understand—that it was indeed I at this party, in this bedchamber, with you.”
She fanned herself a little with her gloved hand. “Goodness, I’m all a-flutter just thinking of it.”
His frustration fired to anger. “Do you think this is a jest, ma’am?”
“Oh, the very cream of jests. However,” she continued, “let us pretend that all of this happened and it is not a figment of your imagination. What then?”
Her mocking tone stripped any desire to couch his proposal in terms that might make it acceptable to her.
“Obviously, I must offer you my hand in marriage,” he snapped. “For an intelligent woman, you are remarkably slow today.”
Finally, she gave him the full view of her face. Shock etched across her features.
For a bare instant, her plush lips quivered.
Then she laughed.
Threw her head back and laughed. A throaty, husky sound that filled him with all kinds of vengeful, thoroughly bawdy thoughts.
The struggle to keep his hands to himself, compounded by the frustration of bowling through populated Brighton streets, fully occupied with steering his strong-willed cattle, made the pressure build inside him until he bit out, “I take it your answer is no.”
Her chuckles ended on a long sigh. “Oh! My dear Lord Beckenham, you vastly underrate your charms if you think that.”