It’s release day for A Promise of More, book #2 in my Disgraced Lords series, and my blog tour is under way. I’m running a contest where you can win
1. A $25 Gift Card and an eBook of A Kiss of Lies
2. 3 x bundles of A Kiss of Lies and A Promise of More eBooks
In the second novel in Bronwen Evans’s sexy new Disgraced Lords series, two very independent souls find themselves fighting to resist a deepening passion.
When Beatrice Hennessey sets out to confront Lord Coldhurst, the notorious rogue who killed her brother in a duel, her intent is to save her family from destitution. She’s determined to blackmail the man into a loveless marriage. She’ll make the wealthy Lord Coldhurst pay for the rest of his life. But while greeting his ship, Beatrice takes a tumble into the Thames—only to be fished out by a pair of strong masculine arms that tempt her to stay locked in their heated embrace forever. That is, until she realizes those arms belong to Sebastian Hawkestone, Lord Coldhurst himself.
The little drowned mermaid has an interesting proposition indeed; one that Sebastian is surprised to find quite agreeable. Although he’s had women more beautiful, she is pleasing to the eye, and besides, it’s time he fathered an heir. Beatrice promises to be the ideal wife; a woman who hates him with an all-consuming passion is far too sensible to expect romance. However, it isn’t long before Sebastian’s plan for a marriage of convenience unravels, and he’s caught up in the exhilarating undertow of seduction.
“She’ll be fine once the river she swallowed comes back up.”
Through the agonizing cramping and heaving of her stomach, the authority-saturated voice calmed her. She focused her mind away from the need to be sick and onto the man’s deep baritone voice. The sound flowed as smooth as her favorite sherry, stroking her insides, calming the rollicking within, and giving her courage.
Beatrice forced her eyes to open. She blinked the blurs away. Blinked again. She was lying on her side. The hardness beneath her cheek was wood. She was on a ship. They were men’s legs, sailor’s legs, all except one pair. Those well-shaped calves covered by dripping wet stockings were bootless. The legs obviously belonged to the refined voice she’d heard.
She moved her head slightly and blinked again, following those bootless legs up the sodden trousers to the clinging shirt, all of which delineated a body that was no stranger to exercise. Exquisite was her first thought. And then she reached his face.
Her breath caught in her throat and she was drowning once more. Not exquisite. Arresting. Arrogant. His ruthlessly handsome face was looking at her as if it were her fault she’d fallen into the Thames. Worse, his eyes held another emotion deep within, heat and lust. The gray-blue of his eyes penetrated the cold, and the wickedness within seemed to warm every inch of her skin.
She quickly looked away and down her body. The sight that greeted her made her gasp and try to sit up. Her dress had been ripped open and her stays lay several feet away in tatters. Her breasts were on full display for those on deck to see.
Heat flamed in her face as she tried to pull the tattered sides of her soaking clothes together. She didn’t know where to look. No wonder he stared. No wonder he looked so . . .
“You tore my dress.”
“Guilty.” The deep, seductive notes of his voice mocked her. “A ‘thank you’ would suffice. I did just save your life.”
Of course he had. Blast the man.
“Oh, yes, thank you,” she mumbled, too embarrassed to look anywhere but at her feet.
“It was my pleasure. Sebastian Hawkestone, Lord Coldhurst, at your service, my lady.”
Coldhurst. It would have to be Coldhurst who had saved her. He was the last man on earth to whom she wished to be indebted. She’d only ever seen him from a distance, having never been introduced to the notorious rake, but his reputation for being as handsome as sin preceded him. That must be why his presence was having such an effect on her.
Confound it. She’d heard Lord Coldhurst was a handsome man, and the reaction of her body made it impossible to deny the truth. He was exceedingly handsome, his look dark and very dangerous. With his dark-brown hair and chiseled, harsh, yet gorgeous features, he would be any woman’s fantasy. Any woman’s fantasy but hers!
His sinful lips curved in a mocking smile at her obvious assessing gaze.
She held her head high. “I know who you are. If not for you, I would not have been here in the first place.”
“Really, how fascinating.” He looked down at the dock below them. “I’m flattered. Such a warm welcome from lovely English lasses, although you’re in a different class from the rest of the ladies at the bottom of the gangplank, I think.” His finely arched brows knitted together as his eyes swept over her.
Indignation momentarily robbed her of speech. Her chin lifted. “I’m not here to welcome you.”
His skeptical study made her flush even hotter. “The captain informs me you were waiting with the other, shall we say, ladies. However, I do not believe I’ve had the pleasure . . .”
When she remained silent, he added, “I must admit, falling into the Thames is a unique way to gain my attention. Your charms are quite adequate from what I have seen. However, I must inform you that if you are after a protector, I do not ever keep a mistress. But if you’re interested in a short interlude of immeasurable mutual pleasure, I’m all ears.”
Despite the fact that her lungs were no longer full of water, she spluttered. “How dare you! I am not here for your pleasure, my lord. I’m here to collect on a family debt.” At his confused frown she added, “I’m Beatrice Hennessey.”
His seductive smile disappeared immediately, and his hands fell from where they were bracing his hips. The eyes that moments ago gleamed with a blatant invitation were now filled with guilt and pain. Perhaps he wasn’t as callous as his actions had dictated.
“As I wrote in my letter,” he said, “I’m sorry for your loss. I should never have allowed the duel to proceed. If I could change what happened that morning, I would. I did not mean to kill your brother. I’m sure my shot was wide, and the Prince Regent agreed that it was a terrible tragedy due to the mist and fog that winter’s morning, and has issued a full pardon.”
He’d paid for a pardon, more like. The Regent was always desperate for money. Suddenly Beatrice was very tired. She sat in her wet clothes, the cold numbing every part of her. Her heart clawed in her chest as she thought of her brother and the unfairness of what she now had to do.
She took a deep breath. “This is not the time or place to have this discussion.”
He obviously agreed with her. The words were scarcely out of her mouth when he bent and scooped her into his arms. Even though his shirt was soaked, the heat coming off his muscled chest seared as if she’d strayed too close to a roaring fire. She held the tattered edges of her dress together even tighter and let the warmth begin to seep into her bones.
Lord Coldhurst strode with her down the gangway to his cabin, where he deposited her gently on his bed. His manner made it clear his motives had no nefarious purpose.
He passed her a towel. “Best rid yourself of those wet clothes. I’ll find dry garments for you.” Then he left her.
She sat staring at the closed door. Finally, when the increasing ferocity of her shivers almost made her fall off the bunk bed, she rose and stripped off her ruined dress. Another expense, she thought as she peeled sodden stockings down her legs. Terrified of Coldhurst’s return before she was decent, Beatrice made quick work of drying herself with the towel. Then, spying a blanket at the foot of the bed, she wrapped it around her, and was instantly engulfed in Lord Coldhurst’s scent. It was a heady mixture of stale cheroots, a spicy cologne, and maleness.
A knock at the cabin door made her jerk her nose guiltily from the blanket.
Lord Coldhurst entered the room and handed her what appeared to be a clean garment very similar to what the ladies on the dock were wearing. “It’s all I could find.” With that, he turned his back and pulled his shirt over his head.
She couldn’t help her cry of outrage. “What on earth are you doing?”