A lone witness finds her protector...
Since losing her sight in a childhood accident, Mia Danvers has resided in a small cottage on the vast Carrington estate. Thought to be dead, Mia lives a life of virtual seclusion—until one night, while walking home, she happens upon a horrendous crime.
Alex Foster, Eighth Duke of Carrington, lives according to society’s expectations for him. He’s never met the woman who lives in the cottage at the edge of his property. But when she arrives at his door in the pouring rain terrified and claiming she has witnessed a murder, she seizes his attention.
Mia is determined to help the authorities track down the culprit, even though the only person willing to accept her aid is the handsome, arrogant duke. Working closely together proves difficult as Mia’s beauty and independence tempts Alex to ignore convention and follow his desire. But what neither of them know is that this murderer has struck before in Whitechapel, taunting the British press only to vanish—a ruthless killer who knows that Mia is the only living witness to his crime…
********* EXCERPT ********
She wanted him to kiss her again.
But she couldn’t very well say that. Earlier, he’d all but admitted he thought kissing her was the worst thing imaginable. There was no need to further embarrass herself by admitting her own disruptive thoughts.
He stepped away from her and she heard the drawer at his desk open again. He must have put the tobacco away, then removed the tray as she heard him set it on something across the room. Then he returned and sat in the chair next to hers, for she heard the wood creak under his weight as he settled in. “Mia,” Alex said, then said nothing else.
It was only her name, but the way he uttered that one word caressed over her skin. She wanted to ask him to say it again, but instead she took a deep breath. “What is it?” she asked.
Silence filled the room before he spoke. “I desperately want to kiss you right now.”
Her breath caught and she held it briefly as his words came upon her. He’d felt it, too. Though earlier he’d thought it a problem, perhaps now he’d reconsidered. She knew his words drew a smile to her face and try as she might she could not remove it. “And this is a problem?” Mia asked.
“It is a significant problem,” he said. “You’re smiling.”
“And I shouldn’t be?” she asked, still unable to hide her mirth.
“This is not a casual dalliance,” he spoke softly, his voice a low, seductive whisper. “I am not a man to do such things especially with a lady such as yourself.”
“Should I be offended by that comment or reassured?” she asked. Mia sat and waited for him to answer. Anxiety clawed at her, but she tried her best to ignore it. He might claim to want to kiss her, but that did not mean he would follow through with such a desire.
He pulled her to her feet and for a moment she thought he’d kiss her right then, but instead he brought her over to the settee and sat down next to her. “I suppose you should feel complimented.” And then came the sound of fine bone china, tea being poured, a splash of cream, and two sugar lumps being dropped. He placed the cup in her hand.
It did not escape her attention that he already knew precisely how she preferred her tea, but she reminded herself that that meant nothing other than he was an observant host.
“I am doing my damnedest to keep your virtue intact,” he said, his voice low and deep and full of such desire that Mia lost her breath.
She took a sip to settle herself. There was more to discuss here. He’d left the door open, so to speak, and she had to admit that his sheer annoyance at the situation was amusing. Mia doubted all men of such station were so conflicted when it came to carnal pleasures. “My virtue?” she scoffed. “And if I am interested in ridding myself of such a nuisance?” she asked. She held her breath, not believing she’d actually asked that aloud. Part of her meant it. Most of her meant it, but what would happen afterward? She wasn’t exactly marriage material, but deflowering herself would eradicate any possibility she had of marriage, despite how slight.
He exhaled, his warm breath brushed across the exposed flesh at her wrist. “I don’t know. You are a genteel lady, Mia. A woman of good breeding.”
“Indeed.” It was the logic she herself had stood by for the last decade, but was it truly so very logical? “Would you be so kind as to tell me precisely what my good breeding has done for me?” She took another sip of tea, then leaned forward and placed the cup and saucer on the tea service she knew sat directly in front of her. “Do you see a line of suitors outside my cottage? No. No one even knows I’m still alive, Alex. What difference does it matter if I remain a virgin my entire life? No one knows. And furthermore, no one cares.”
She’d never been particularly rushed to rid herself of her virginity. In truth, she hadn’t thought about it other than wishing now and again she could find the sort of love she’d read about as a girl. But now, here in this moment, she was faced with a man she desired and one who clearly desired her, at least insomuch as kissing was concerned, and the argument of her breeding suddenly seemed so weak.
His warm hand cupped her cheek. “You should not say such things.” His fingers lingered, his thumb rubbed gently against her cheek.
“Why shouldn’t I say such things?” She wanted to pull back from his touch, wanted not to need it so much; instead she clasped her hand onto his wrist to hold him still. “Are you afraid someone will hear?” She moved closer to him on the settee, until their knees touched. “Are you afraid that your mother will come in?” She released his hand so that she could run her own fingers down his torso. “Afraid I will tarnish your perfect reputation?”
“That is certainly a possibility. The bit about my mother at least, but she’s more than likely still abed.” He gripped her hand to keep it from exploring any further down his chest. “My reputation would not be harmed if I dallied with you.”
“Only mine,” she said. “And as I’ve said, I’m not overly concerned about that at the moment.”
“But you could change your mind and then, it would be too late.” He paused a moment before he spoke again. “Coincidentally, my mother has warned me about you,” Alex said.
“Indeed.” Mia had always wondered what the Lady Carrington thought of Mia’s presence on their property. Alex released her hand and when he did she pulled hers away from his body. “What did she tell you?”
“That you were mad,” he said bluntly.
“Is that what people believe? That if I’m not dead, I must be insane?” Mia asked. She wasn’t certain if she should be hurt or amused. Was this something that her own mother had told the Carrington family when she’d pawned off her daughter on their unsuspecting generosity? “I always thought it was so kind of your family to allow me to stay here on your property, but I don’t think, in my naïveté, that I ever considered what your family must think of me. I suppose I should thank you now that your father has passed.”
“It was my father’s decision, not my mother’s. She even suggested I have you removed once my brother died,” Alex said. “But you had never caused any problems, it didn’t seem to make much sense to get rid of you. Put you out on the street. Especially since you are insane.”
“Alex, did you just make a joke?” Mia asked with a grin.
“Perhaps I did. It does happen every now and again.”
“I was not aware you had a sense of humor at all,” she said. There was a long pause where he said nothing and she worried she may have taken the jest too far. “Are you smiling?”
“I believe I am.”
She reached over to him, putting her hands in his direction. “May I?”
He leaned forward, placing his face in her hands. Her fingers roamed gently, feeling the curve of his lips, the slight indentation in his cheeks. “You have dimples,” she said. “I was not expecting that.” She continued her exploration of his features. “And tiny lines at the edge of your eyes. You do have a sense of humor. You should use it more often, it softens your features.”
“I’m not certain, as a man, I want soft features. Aren’t we supposed to be stern and? . . .”
“Emotionless,” she finished for him.
He cleared his throat. “Something like that,” he said quietly.
“Now about that kiss,” she said.
He leaned in close, so close she could feel his breath on her cheek, smell the crisp scent of his shaving lotion and the intoxicating blend of his soap. Her fingers moved over his face again.
“You’re not smiling anymore,” she said.
“It’s not amusing.”
“Kissing me, I should hope not. It wasn’t meant as a joke.”
“Do you want me to kiss you?” he asked. His warm breath purred over her skin.
Desire surged through her. “Oh yes,” she breathed. “More than anything.”
He released a low chuckle and it was so deep, so unexpected and so damned sexy she nearly lost her breath. “Then, Mia, stop talking.”
A life-long love of stories and adventure, it was either become a stuntwoman for the movies or live out those adventures from the safety of her PJ's and computer. Award-winning author, Robyn DeHart chose the latter and couldn't be happier for doing so. Known for her unique plotlines and authentic characters, Robyn is a favorite among readers and reviewers. Publishers' Weekly claims her writing to be "comical and sexy" while the Chicago Tribunedubs her "wonderfully entertaining." Robyn is an award-winning author as well as being a four-time RT Bookclub Reviewers' Choice award nominee, and a three-time RomCon Reader's Crown nominee. Robyn lives in Texas with her brainy husband, two precocious little girls and two spoiled cats. You can find Robyn on-line at her website or at one of her group blogs, the Jaunty Quills or Peanut Butter on the Keyboard.
The Secrets of Mia Danvers
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6/17 - Romancing Rakes For the Love of Romance (Spotlight)
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