Happy September everyone. This is the month when my latest baby, A Scandalous Proposition, sees the light of publication. This is another raunchy Regency that I had a lot of fun writing. Whipped cream and strawberries are involved but that’s all I’m saying on that subject!
Like I told you before in a previous blog – wake up at the back there; of course you remember! – my hero is a hunky major in the 95th Rifles, (Sharpie’s regiment), at home on furlough but all is not well in paradise. Out of the goodness of his heart, Adam rescues a beautiful woman from an awkward situation at an inn, only to discover that she’s a Spanish émigré who acts as paid companion to his mother, the Dowager Duchess of Southsea, but also has connections to the local brothel, the hussy. Adam’s price for his silence? Well, he’s been celibate for a while and she is a beautiful woman, so he demands one wicked night in her company.
Florentina, of course, isn’t a courtesan and has no idea how to act the part, but she has to go along with Adam’s suggestion for fear that her true, far more noble, purpose might be exposed. Here’s how Adam figure’s out that she’s not a tart.
“Is something amiss?” she asked in a husky voice.
“Then I don’t understand.”
“Perhaps I’m different to your usual customers. I have no wish to rush and, er…the way things stand, so to speak,” he said, waving a hand in the direction of his groin, “it will all be over in an instant unless I put distance between us. You’re a terrible tease, you know.”
“That’s why I get so well remunerated.”
“I dare say.”
He reseated himself and pulled her down beside him, draping an arm round her shoulders.
“Do you have much to do in the card rooms at Chamberleigh?” he asked.
Florentina knew that a number of gentlemen really did go there just to play cards. Since she herself had never set foot in those particular rooms, she was at a loss to know how to answer him.
Lord Fitzroy was looking at her with a slight frown. “Tell me, does old Witherington still favour backgammon?”
“Oh yes, he often challenges me to a game but is too good a player for me.”
To her mortification, he threw back his head and roared with laughter.
“What’s so funny?”
“You are, sweetheart.”
“And what’s so diverting about me?” she asked huffily.
“Nothing whatsoever.” He refilled their glasses, clinked his against hers and drank deeply, looking smugly satisfied.
“In spite of what you say, I believe you are disappointed in the duchess, my lord, and can’t bring yourself to look favourably upon me as a consequence.”
“Firstly, my name is Adam.” He placed three long fingers beneath her chin and lifted it until she was compelled to look directly into his eyes. “And secondly, you couldn’t be more wrong.” He was smiling again, his eyes containing a warmth she’d not seen in them before. And something else. If she hadn’t known better she’d have thought it was admiration. But she did know better. A great deal better. Not only was he rejecting her but he was also laughing at her. It was too humiliating for words. “I’m delighted to be rid of Philippa. I swear it on my mother’s life.”
“Oh, well then, in that case…Adam.” If he swore it on his mother’s life then it must be true. Emboldened by her use of his name, she touched his face, much as he’d touched hers a short time ago. She was determined, for some obscure reason, to rekindle his interest in her. Her fingers snagged on the bristles on his chin.
“I’m sorry. I ought to have shaved again this evening.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“I dare say you’re used to such impediments in your profession.” The idea appeared to amuse him.
“Indeed, it’s an occupational hazard.”
He stretched his legs out before him, perfectly at his ease, which was a great deal more than could be said for her. “And what others problems do you encounter during the course of your work?”
“Well…you know. Er, that’s to say—”
“Yes?” His smile broadened as she desperately searched about for something amusing to say.
A hand came to rest on her silk-clad thigh, causing her to start and spill champagne over her hand. He gently smoothed the fabric with long sensuous sweeps of his fingers. The intense intimacy of his actions caused her skin to burn, even though several layers of fabric separated it from his direct touch.
“I dare say some of your gentlemen require a little encouragement in order to achieve satisfaction.” He spoke in a soft, seductive purr. “If they are of advanced years, that is.”
She nodded vigorously. “Yes, yes, you’re absolutely right. That’s exactly how it is.”
He took her hand and slowly, teasingly, his eyes not once leaving her face, licked the spilt champagne away. The gesture was so sensual that her entire body trembled with a deep-rooted yearning. He noticed, of course. His eyes gave him away. They darkened until they appeared almost black in the dim candlelight. He released her hand again, almost abruptly. “But what else, Mrs. Smith? What more do your gentlemen callers require of you?”
“Well, I really don’t think that I ought to betray their confidences.” She shook her head emphatically. “That would be most indiscreet.”
He offered her a disarming smile. “That it would, my sweet, that it would.”
His hand was again caressing her thigh and she heartily wished he would remove it. It was hard enough to play her part with him looming so close, tempting her, filling her mind with forbidden desires. When he touched her, the ability to think about anything other than the exquisite feel of his questing hands deserted her completely. She chanced a sideways glance at his profile as he continued to laugh at her expense and wondered what had brought about such a change in him. He was a different person from the one who’d been so insulting that morning. He was now lighthearted and chivalrous. The epitome of the well-mannered gentleman the dowager spoke of in such glowing terms.
He removed his hand from her thigh and slipped an arm ’round her shoulders again, pulling her close. Her senses were assailed by the combined aromas of sandalwood soap, horses and pure, stark masculinity. An aroma she already associated uniquely with him. His fingers were twined in a lock of hair that had fallen in front of her shoulder. He twisted it up into a tight knot, his knuckles brushing against her breast as he did so. Quicksilver rushed through her veins at this brief, accidental contact and she gasped aloud.
Adam laughed and dropped a featherlight kiss on her lips, clearly in no hurry to do anything more. She had thought she’d be grateful for any delay but now appeared to be the one who was in a tearing rush. She slipped a hand behind his neck and drew his head toward hers. He immediately pulled away.
So he really did mean to reject her. Florentina’s face burned scarlet with mortification.
A Scandalous Proposition available from Carina Press and Amazon.com from September 13.
Go to my website at http://www.wendysoliman.com where you can read the first chapter. If you enter the contest I’m running there you stand a chance of winning a copy of the book.