When passion sweeps away all reason…
Determined to put his roguish past behind him, the Earl of Camdonn arranges to marry the proper Lady Elizabeth. But when an accident lands the Earl in the expert hands of a beautiful Highland medicine woman, all well-laid plans are thrown to the wind- and, just as in the old days, his passions run high…
Ceana MacNab has terrible luck with men. Resigning herself to the healing arts, she has steeled her heart against love. Then fate sends Cam her way. Even though he’s a well-bred Earl-and Ceana a low-born Highlander-their all-consuming passion may lead the way to lasting bliss.
Available April 2010
NAL Signet Eclipse
ISBN13: 9780451229243 ♦ ISBN: 045122924X
Erotic Historical Romance
Warning: This excerpt contains material inappropriate for minors.
By reading on, you are certifying that you are over 18 years of age.
Strangely, he felt safe with Ceana. Comfortable. Like he’d known her his whole life. For some reason, he wanted to explain himself to her.
“I hardly know her, you see,” he admitted in a quiet voice.
Her gray-blue eyes locked on his once more. “Who?”
“The Duke of Argyll suggested the match. He introduced me to her uncle in London two months ago.”
A week later, they’d traveled to Hampshire to see Elizabeth at her uncle’s seat, Purefoy Abbey. The young woman had quickly shown him that she possessed all the traits required to make him a proper wife. After three weeks in Hampshire, he’d done what everyone expected and offered for her. Everything about the match was perfect. She was perfect.
“Can I tell you something?” he asked Ceana.
Why was he talking to a stranger about this? Something—God knew what—compelled him to give Ceana the truth. Hell, maybe he just needed to tell someone. He’d kept everything bottled inside for so long. Alan and Sorcha had remained his best friends, had seen him through his worst moments, but after all that had passed between them, there were so many things he couldn’t share with them.
He watched the struggle play out on Ceana’s face. Shadows seemed to pass over her expression as she debated. Her eyes shifted away from him.
He understood her dilemma. She feared getting too close to him. He knew why—he was dangerous. Poison.
“Of course you can,” slipped from her lips, and she closed her eyes in a long blink, as if she regretted her acquiescence. She sank onto the chair beside the bed.
“I’ve loved only one woman in my life.”
That took him aback. He was silent for a long moment, but then he gave her a rueful smile. “I’d forgotten you told me you knew Sorcha.”
He’d never love another woman like he’d loved Sorcha. He was solely responsible for the disaster he’d made of his obsession with her, and he’d never forgive himself. Partially in penance for his past deeds and partially in pure self-preservation, he couldn’t allow that to happen again.
“Do you still love her?” she murmured.
“Yes,” he admitted. “I’ll always love her. But—” He broke off, staring up at the rafters. In the past year Sorcha had stopped appearing in his dreams, stopped occupying his every thought. His thoughts of her usually occurred in conjunction with thoughts of Alan, and were no longer carnal. Sorcha and Alan were like a brother and sister to him. Closer than that, perhaps—he couldn’t know. He’d never had a brother or a sister to compare.
“I no longer desire her,” he finished belatedly.
“Well, good,” Ceana said on an exhalation. “I’d prefer not to witness Alan eviscerating you.”
“Indeed.” He released a low laugh that resonated in his wound. Though it didn’t hurt as much as it should—he felt almost too well for having been shot less than a day ago. Must be the MacNab family secret. The MacNab witchcraft, some would call it.
He returned his gaze to her and closed his hand over her palm. “I haven’t even been home yet, and you’ve already saved my life. I suppose, given my luck, you’ll have the opportunity often in the future. So I think we should be friends.”
Friends? He nearly laughed aloud at his own words. He was a damn fool, and Ceana saw right through him.
She raised a cynical brow. “Friends?”
He kept his gaze fastened on her. Hell, those lips. Such a deep red. Now slightly parted, they showed the hint of white teeth behind them. He wanted a taste.
“At another time, in other circumstances, I’d ask for more than friendship.”
“Yes.” He’d demand more. Insist on more. He wouldn’t give her a choice.
Or maybe he would. It would be gratifying to know she’d choose him. And right now, with the spots of color high on her cheeks, her dilated pupils, the pulse pounding rapidly in her neck, he knew she would.
As much as he’d tried, the beast inside him was impervious to all his efforts to destroy it. He’d never succeed in exterminating it. His reserved behavior in England was a sham, and now that he was home, his true nature emerged. He was debauched to his soul.
“What . . . would you ask?”
Her question sucked the air from his lungs. If he were free from his promises to himself and to the Duke of Irvington, what would he ask of this woman? A kiss? A onetime tumble? Or would he ask her to be his lover? His mistress?
His throat closed, and he couldn’t answer her. She seemed to understand, for she turned her palm up beneath his hand and curled her fingers around his.
He’d ask for a kiss, surely. A kiss would be the first in line of many other things he’d ask of her.
She leaned closer. Their lips brushed . . . so softly he barely felt it. But the connection hummed through his veins, all the way to his toes, softening the sharp pain in his shoulder.
He said her name against her lips, and he felt a violent shudder roll through her.
Reaching up, he wrapped his fingers around the back of her neck and yanked her closer. Her hand dove into his hair, sifting through the strands. Her fingertips rubbed his scalp. He deepened the kiss, tracing the softness of her lips with his tongue until she groaned, opening to him.
She fisted her hand in his hair, and he tightened his grip on her neck. They resonated together as if they’d been struck by the same bolt of lightning and its electricity vibrated through them.
A knock sounded at the door, and it creaked as someone swung it open.
“Cam?” Sorcha’s voice.
Ceana stumbled backward so fast, her chair toppled. Her chest heaved. Her curls framed her head like a halo, her cheeks turned fire red, and her eyes widened to blue pools. God, she was beautiful.
Finally, Cam tore his gaze from her. Alan and Sorcha MacDonald, the latter heavy with child, stood frozen in shock in the doorway, their mouths agape.