She’s intended for his brother. He’s destined for adventure. Then a dangerous mystery throws them together, and all they want is each other.
All that clever, passionate Ravenna Caulfield wants is to stay far away from high society’s mean girls.
All that handsome, heroic Lord Vitor Courtenay wants is to dash from dangerous adventure to adventure.
Now, snowbound in a castle with a bevy of the ton’s scheming maidens all competing for a prince’s hand in marriage, Ravenna’s worst nightmare has come true. Now, playing babysitter to a spoiled prince and his potential brides, Vitor is champing at the bit to be gone.
When a stolen kiss in a stable leads to a corpse in a suit of armor, a canine kidnapping, and any number of scandalous liaisons, Ravenna and Vitor find themselves wrapped in a mystery they’re perfectly paired to solve. But as for the mysteries of love and sex, Vitor’s not about to let Ravenna escape until he’s gotten what he desires…
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Vitor had already reached the base of the stairs to the upper quarters when he heard her footsteps, light and far too quick for a lady, coming after him. He lengthened his pace, and she hastened hers.
“Wait, would you!” she shouted up to him.
It could not be avoided. Hand on the rail, he paused on the uppermost step and turned, squelching a grimace from the pain in his leg. Like a dark, homespun fury, she ascended.
“Miss Caulfield,” he could only think to say. As in the stable, then again in the drawing room, he felt the most insistent urge to grab her about the waist and kiss her. It was instinctual and animal and thoroughly ignoble and certainly a product of two years of enforced celibacy. It left him tongue-tied.
She came to a halt on the step beside him. “Well?” Cheeks flushed lightly pink and eyes sparkling like stars at midnight, she looked directly at him. There was no coquettishness about this girl, no maidenly reticence or superficial niceness, rather, all justified indignation that made her astoundingly pretty. “Well?” she repeated.
With some effort he unwound his tongue. “I am emboldened by your eloquence, Miss Caulfield, to suggest that you are perhaps as weary as I at the end of this long day—after a rather uncomfortable night, although perhaps not quite as uncomfortable for you as it was for me.” He allowed himself the slightest smile. “I advise you to continue on to your quarters for a good sleep as I intend to do.”
“Oh!” she said brightly. “Such a wit! I am transported.” With a swift perusal of his coat, waistcoat, trousers, and boots—first down, then up—that rendered the tension in his abdomen into an aggressive pressure, she took the final step to the landing above. Her starlight eyes came to his level. Not good.
“You tackled me, then you kissed me,” she said.
“And you hit me with a door and then a pitchfork and bit me. It seems we are both outrageously outrés.”
“Perhaps,” she conceded with a twist of soft, full lips the color of summer dusk over the Mediterranean. “But you actually deserved it.”
“I don’t know what came over me.” Celibacy. Two long years of celibacy. And ripe lips. Dusky, tempting lips an inch beneath his. And a soft, curved body, also beneath him. Tonight her curves were concealed by yet another gown of plain fabric and serviceable shape, and yet still he could not look away. He didn’t know what sins he had done to deserve this torment, but whatever it was he was willing to do a thousand novenas to escape speaking with her in private ever again.
She set her hands on her hips, emphasizing their decadent curve. Never mind her homespun gown and unkempt hair, she made his breaths short.
“You kissed me because you thought I was a servant, which is despicable.”
“I kissed you because you were soft and shapely and at the time under me, which is in fact quite reasonable.”
“I did not exactly put myself there.”
“And I did not exactly plan on being attacked by a feral cat in the dark. It was a mistake. Good night, Miss Caulfield.” He continued onto the landing and swiftly down the long, high gallery that his blood-grandfather had constructed to display the family’s vast collection of medieval armor. To either side, his forebears had arranged suits of steel, some of plain, pounded metal, others elaborately painted and embossed.
“Is that all I am to have?” She followed him. “I suppose you consider an apology beneath you.”
Rather, he was considering her beneath him, how good she’d felt there, and how he would like that again. He halted. “Madam, I offer my profoundest apology. It shan’t happen again.” As though his feet moved of their own will, he found himself stepping toward her. “Unless you wish it to.”
She backed up. “Not in this life.” But her eyes were wary.
Good. He did not wish to frighten her. But keeping her wary could work. And yet the most powerful need to be near her would not leave him. Of course it wouldn’t. After two long years he wanted a woman. Among his half-brother’s potential brides was not, however, the place to go searching for one.
“That must be to my advantage, then,” he said.
She screwed up her brow. “Must it?”
“You wield an impressive pitchfork.”
“I know how to use the tines too.” A smile played about her lips, a reluctant smile that begged a man to set his lips to it and tease it into fullness.
Oh, no. …
In 2012 Amazon chose Katharine’s How To Be a Proper Lady as one of the Ten Best Romances of the Year. Upon the publication of her debut in 2010, the American Library Association named Katharine among its “New Stars of Historical Romance”. She is a two-time nominee and 2011 winner of the Reviewers’ Choice Awards for Best Historical Romantic Adventure, and her novella A Lady’s Wish launched HarperCollins Publishers’ Avon Impulse imprint in 2011. Her books have been recommended by Woman’s World Magazine, Booklist, Library Journal, Barnes & Noble, the San Francisco & Sacramento Book Review, Durham County Libraries, and the Library of Virginia.
Katharine lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European history, she has made her home in California, Italy, France, and the northern US. She adores hearing from readers.
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