SINFULLY YOURS by Cara Elliott (April 28, 2015; Forever Mass Market; The Hellions of High Street: Book #2)
After an eventful Season, Anna Sloane longs for some peace and quiet to pursue her writing. Though her plots might be full of harrowing adventure and heated passion, she'd much prefer to leave such exploits on the page rather than experience them in real life. Or so she thinks until she encounters the darkly dissolute-and gorgeously charming-Marquess of Davenport.
Davenport has a reputation as a notorious rake whose only forte is wanton seduction. However the real reason he's a guest at the same remote Scottish castle has nothing to do with Anna . . . until a series of mysterious threats leave him no choice but to turn to her for help in stopping a dangerous conspiracy. As desire erupts between them, Davenport soon learns he's not the only one using a carefully crafted image to hide his true talents. And he's more than ready to show Anna that sometimes reality can be even better than her wildest imaginings . . .
About the author:
Cara Elliott started writing Western novels at the age of five. Later she changed her genre to Regency romance after reading Pride and Prejudice. She graduated from Yale University, and she now lives and works in New York City.
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Excerpt“It was getting devilishly dull out here with only my own thoughts for company.”
Speak of the Devil!
Anna whirled around. “That’s not surprising, sir, when one’s mind is filled with nothing but thoughts of drinking, wenching, and gaming. Titillating as those pursuits might be, I would assume they grow tiresome with constant repetition.”
“A dangerous assumption, Miss Sloane.” Devlin Greville, the Marquess of Davenport—better known as the Devil Davenport—tossed down his cheroot and ground out the glowing tip beneath his heel. Sparks flared for an instant, red-gold against the slate tiles, before fading away to darkness. “I thought you a more sensible creature than to venture an opinion on things about which you know nothing.”
Anna watched warily as he took one . . . two . . . three sauntering steps closer. Quelling the urge to retreat, she stood her ground. The Devil might be a dissolute rake, a rapacious rogue, but she would not give him the satisfaction of seeing her flinch.
“Sense has nothing to do with it,” she countered coolly. “Given the rather detailed—and lurid—gossip that fills the drawing rooms of Mayfair each morning, I know a great deal about your exploits.”
“Another dangerous assumption.” His voice was low and a little rough, like the purr of a stalking panther.
Anna felt the tiny hairs on the nape of her neck stand on end.
He laughed, and the sound turned even softer. “I also thought you a more sensible creature than to listen to wild speculation.”
“Indeed?” Feigning nonchalance, she slid sideways and leaned back against the stone railing. Which was, she realized a tactical mistake. The marquess mirrored her movements, leaving her no way to escape.
“I—I don’t know why you would think that,” she went on. “You know absolutely nothing about me.”
“On the contrary. I, too, listen to the whispers that circulate through the ton.”
“Don’t be absurd.” She steadied her voice. “I am quite positive that there’s not an ill word spoken about me. I am exceedingly careful that not a whiff of impropriety sullies my reputation.”
“Which in itself says a great deal,” he drawled.
“You’re an idiot.”
“Am I?” He came closer, close enough that her nostrils were suddenly filled with a swirl of masculine scents. Bay rum cologne. Spiced smoke. French brandy. A hint of male musk.
Her pulse began to pound, her breath began to quicken.
Good Lord, it’s me who is an idiot. I’m acting like Emmalina!
Shaking off the horrid novel histrionics, Anna scowled. “You’re not only an idiot, Lord Davenport, you are an annoying idiot. I’m well aware that you take perverse pleasure in trying to . . .”
Cocking his head, he waited.
“To annoy me,” she finished lamely.
Another laugh. “Clearly I am having some success, so I can’t be all that bumbling.”
To give the Devil his due, he had a quick wit. Biting back an involuntary smile, Anna turned her head to look out over the shadowed gardens. Flames from the torchieres on the main terrace danced in the breeze, their glow gilding the silvery moonlight as it dappled over the thick ivy vines that covered the perimeter walls.
She shouldn’t find him amusing. And yet like a moth drawn to an open fire . . .
“What? No clever retort?” said Devlin.
Anna willed herself not to respond.
“I see.” Somehow he found a way to inch even closer. His trousers were now touching her skirts. “You mean to ignore me.”
“If you were a gentleman, you would go away and spare me the effort.”
“Allow me to point out two things, Miss Sloane. Number one—I was here first.”
The marquess had a point.
“And number two. . .” His hand touched her cheek. He wasn’t wearing gloves and the heat of his bare fingers seemed to scorch her skin. “We both know I’m no gentleman.”
Devlin saw her eyes widen as the light pressure on her jaw turned her face to his. It wasn’t shock, he decided, but something infinitely more interesting. Miss Anna Sloane was no spun-sugar miss, a cloying confection of sweetness and air that would make a man’s molars stick together at first bite. He sensed an intriguing hint of steel beneath the demure gowns and dutiful smiles.
If I had to guess, I would say that she’s not averse to the little game we have been playing.
She inhaled with a sharp hiss.
Or maybe I am simply in a state of drunken delusion.
It was entirely possible. Of late he had been imbibing far more brandy than was good for him. Only one way to find out.
He would give her a heartbeat to protest, to pull away. Yes, he was dissolute, but not depraved. A man had to draw the line somewhere.
She made a small sound in her throat.
The tiny throb of her pulse beneath his fingertips had signaled her time was up. Devlin leaned in and felt their bodies graze, their lips touch.
A mere touch, and yet it sent a jolt of fire through him.
He froze. The distant laughter, the faint trilling of the violins, the rustling leaves all gave way to a strange thrumming sound in his ears.
Anna shifted, and Devlin shook off the sensation. It must be the brandy, he decided. He had just come from his club, where he had been sampling a potent vintage brought up from the wine cellar. Women had no such effect on him.
A kiss was a distraction, nothing more. A way to keep boredom at bay.
“Go to Hell.” Anna’s whisper teased against his mouth as she jerked back.
“Eventually,” growled Devlin. “But first . . .” He kissed her again. A harder, deeper, possessive embrace. Her lips tremored uncertainly.
Seizing the moment, he slipped his tongue through the tiny gap and tasted a beguiling mix of warmth and spice. Impossible to describe.
He needed to taste more.