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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Feature: A Duke's Wicked Kiss by Kathleen Bittner Roth

Miss Suri Thurston knows the pain of abandonment. Intent on confronting the grandmother who tossed her to the lions, she travels from England to her birthplace in India. Her plans run afoul when she encounters the man who, ten years prior, left a mark on her soul with one stolen kiss. But he is a duke, and far beyond the reach of even her dreams.

The duke of Ravenswood, secret head of the British Foreign Service, has no time for relationships. His one goal is to locate and eliminate key insurgents involved in an uprising against the British East India Company before it’s too late. But when Suri appears in Delhi, his resolve is tested as he finds his heart forever bound to her by the haunting kiss they shared once upon a time.

With Suri’s vengeful Indian family calling for her death and insurgents intent on mutiny tearing their world apart, can their love rise above the scandal of the marriage they both desperately want?

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A Duke’s Wicked Kiss is a Victorian era romance about a proper duke on a secret mission to Delhi who falls for an illegitimate daughter of a British noble and an Indian royal, but overcoming the scandal of forbidden love becomes secondary when their return to England is blocked by a brutal native uprising against the British.

“What happened?” Marguerite demanded.

Suri glanced at her sister. Drat it all. Marguerite had more than concern in her eyes. They simply radiated with a meddlesome curiosity that would demand truth. Busybody. Suri rubbed her temples and turned to face the gardens. The first throb of a headache pulsed through her skull.

“I’ll thank you not to interfere in my business just because I’m your guest.”

“All the more reason. Being my sister is yet another. Suri, look at me.”

She would not.

“Did Ravenswood kiss you again?”

Suri’s throat tightened and her heart pumped. “What do you mean, again?”

“Don’t play coy. Like he did ten years ago—oh, good Lord, he did, didn’t he?” Marguerite’s eyes lit up like they used to every Christmas morning.

“For heaven’s sake. Only you would find an improper assault by a nobleman to be thrilling.”

“He assaulted you? Ravenswood?”

“Not exactly.” Now the ache stitched through Suri’s head like a sewing needle on one of those new-fangled treadle machines. “Can we please not have this conversation? And could you send Munia for some powders? I’ve a headache.”

“You’ll find them in that painted cabinet in the corner. Never mind, I’ll collect them for you.” Marguerite retrieved the box of powders, stirred a spoonful into a glass, and handed it off to Suri. “Now tell me.”

Suri drank the bitter concoction and set down the glass. What was she to tell her sister? That the way Ravenswood ran his fingers ever so softly alongside her cheek had stolen her reserves? That his kiss had swept her into his bedroom and she’d been held prisoner there ever since? That she’d wake up in a tangle of sheets, her body pulsating with a desperate need for him? That she could never have him the way she wanted him—had always wanted him, truth be told?

Oh, dear, all of a sudden her eyes misted over. “I…” She turned away.

“You’re quite taken with him aren’t you?”

Marguerite’s words stabbed like a lance. “Don’t be absurd.”

“You have been since that day in the stable ten years ago.”

“I was infatuated back then. Merely a young girl’s fancy. This is reality, and you know what that means.”

At her sister’s silence, Suri turned her way. No longer was there anything fanciful upon Marguerite’s countenance. She appeared quite serious. Pensive, in fact.

She shot Marguerite a scowl. “Why are you looking at me as though I’ve sprouted wings?”

“Would it be of interest to know that since my arrival in Delhi, Ravenswood has inquired of you on occasion?” Marguerite’s voice had dropped to a compassionate low.

Suri’s mind went blank. “Inquired of me?”

“Yes, Miss I-shall-repeat-everything-again. I’m no fool, Suri. I can tell when there is interest beyond mere socializing, no matter how nonchalant he’s tried to act. I believe you got in his blood that day in the stable, and now that you’re here, he wants you.”

“Which is even more reason to steer clear of him.”

Born in Minnesota, Kathleen Bittner Roth has lived all over the U.S.: Idaho, Washington, California, Texas and New York. Currently, she resides in Budapest, Hungary, often called the Paris of the East. Kathleen has won countless awards for her writing, including being a finalist in RWA's prestigious Golden Heart contest with A Duke’s Wicked Kiss.

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