Two steamy full-length stories featuring two men skilled in the ways of seduction and two older heroines strong enough to resist them.
When Julia Westgard commissions a nude portrait of herself, the painting is much more than a rebellious act. It’s an attempt to regain her self-worth after years of a loveless, repressive marriage to her late husband. But the private portrait puts her directly in the path of Morgan St. Claire, one of the Marlborough Set’s most notorious seducers. A man who doesn’t take no for an answer.
From the first moment Morgan sees Julia’s portrait, he’s determined to have her. But the woman he meets is a far cry from the image on canvas. What starts out as a simple exercise in seduction quickly evolves into a quest to reveal the true Julia. With each sensual encounter, he employs every erotic weapon at his disposal in hopes of making Julia see she really is the woman in Love's Portrait.
When Quentin Blackwell, Earl of Devlyn, discovered his fiancée had betrayed him, he broke their engagement. In retaliation, her father ruined Devlyn. When Sophie Hamilton, his ex-fiancée’s older sister comes to him with an unexpected offer, Quentin seizes the chance for vengeance. What he doesn't bargain on is how revenge could cost him the one thing he wants the most. Sophie's love.
All her life, Sophie's tried to earn her father's love to no avail. Even her one chance for happiness was crushed beneath his tyrannical thumb, leaving her firmly on the shelf at forty-one. Sophie accepts her fate until she impulsively uses her father's illicit activities to escape a life of servitude and righting a wrong at the same time. But she never really expected the Devil of Devlyn to actually accept her rash proposal, and she certainly hadn’t planned on falling in love with a younger man.
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Beneath his gaze, Morgan saw the pulse in the side of Julia’s neck flutter. The delicate movement indicated she was aware of his stare, and from the rigid set of her shoulders to the way her fingers curled around the stem of her wine glass, her tension was plain to see. He liked knowing he unsettled her. It meant she wasn’t immune to him.
He stared at her lips for a long, drawn out moment. It was a tempting mouth. The wine had stained her lips a dark red, and a sudden urge to taste her latched onto him with all the force of a charging bull. He fought the desire clamping down on every inch of his body as he watched her take a bite of her salmon. Despite her attempt to present a calm composure, he knew she was anything but.
“You seem distracted, Mrs. Westgard.” He bit back a smile as she quickly looked away from him.
“Do I?” There was a catch in her voice before she regained that serene composure she’d consistently presented him with since their first meeting. “Forgive me. I’m simply savoring this delicious salmon. The hotel’s chef has outdone himself. Do you suppose he would send me the recipe?”
“Actually I have a personal chef who prepares all my meals, and I’m afraid Henri refuses to share his secrets.” He deliberately paused and offered her a secretive smile. “Even with me.”
“What a pity.” She took another bite of her dinner, and his gut tightened as he watched her mouth and suddenly wished they were alone. Her throat flexed slightly as she swallowed. “This salmon is a dish I could eat quite often.”
“Then come back for dinner again, next week,” he said as he leaned toward her, his voice dropping a level so that his invitation reached only her ears. The startled expression on her face made him smile, and he saw her hand tremble as she quickly laid down her fork.
“I think that would be unwise. One should never mix business with pleasure.”
He bit down on the inside of his mouth at having his own rule thrown back in his face. She was right, but it was too late to go back now.
“Perhaps.” He reclined back into his chair and lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Although I’m sure it would be quite—pleasurable.”
She immediately took another drink of her wine, this time more a gulp than a sip. If possible, her confusion made her even more beautiful. What would she be like tipsy? Relaxed and uninhibited with no barriers between them. He liked the idea.
“I’m glad to see that my Bordeaux is to your liking.” He grinned as a pink flush crested in her cheeks. She shot him a baleful look, which only made him chuckle as he lowered his voice even more. “You blush quite charmingly, Julia.”
“I don’t recall giving you permission to call me by my given name.” Her back ramrod straight, she attempted to stare him down with a haughty expression. It did little good, and he flashed another wicked smile in her direction.
“No? Forgive me, I thought you had.”
There was nothing remotely apologetic in his response, and they both knew it. She toyed with the necklace at the base of her throat before she tightened her mouth and met his gaze directly.
“Well, I didn’t, and I prefer to keep our relationship strictly a business one.”
“And if I don’t?” he challenged with a smile.
Dashing through the steady rain, she hurried into the hut. Although the interior was relatively clean, it was dark and lonely. She quickly removed her clothing down to her damp combination and drawers. Rubbing her hands up and down her arms in an effort to stay warm, she hurried to the fireplace.
The sight of a small stack of firewood and kindling next to the stone hearth made her sigh with relief. Now all she needed was a piece of flint. In the near darkness, she ran her hand along the mantle in search of a flint box. At the same moment her fingers grasped the starter, a loud crack split the air as the hut door flew open.
With a scream of surprise, she whirled around to see a dark figure in the doorway. Frightened, she stumbled backward until the fireplace’s stone mantle pressed painfully into the back of her neck. Lightning flashed outside, and the brief flicker of light revealed a familiar scarred face. Weak-kneed, she clutched at the mantle to steady herself.
“Quentin,” she breathed with relief.
“Damn it to hell, Sophie, what in god’s name were you thinking to come out in this kind of weather.”
Without looking at her, Quentin closed the door behind him. Still shaken, she swallowed her fright as she watched him remove his overcoat. He shook the garment out then hung it on a hook close to the door. When he turned to face her, she could just make out the harsh lines of his face. A low growl rumbled out of him as he closed the distance between them and grasped her shivering shoulders. The moment he touched her, he grew still as a statute.
“Christ Jesus,” he choked out in a strained voice. “You’re soaked through.”
“Of course…I’m…soaked…it’s rain…raining.” She tried to sound amused, but her chattering teeth made her attempt an abysmal failure.
At her chattering response, Quentin frowned darkly. Whipping off his jacket, he covered her bare shoulders with it. The garment was relatively dry, and the warmth of it eased most of her discomfort immediately.
“Why the devil didn’t you stay at home?” he asked as he roughly rubbed her shoulders and arms in an attempt to warm her. “I would have thought you had more sense than to come out in this type of weather.”
“It wasn’t…wasn’t rain…raining….when I …left home,” she said between her chattering teeth. “And I could…could say the same to you.”
“I was at a nearby tenant’s farm, and came just to reassure myself that you weren’t mad enough to ride out in this weather.”
“Oh,” she said. The fact that he’d wanted to make sure she was safe warmed her.
“We need a fire before you catch a chill,” he growled as he looked down at the fireplace.
Her teeth still chattering, Sophie offered up the starter clutched in her hand. With a grunt of irritation, he snatched the flint out of her fingers and busied himself with making a fire. She quickly stepped aside and moved to the middle of the room. Quentin’s coat had warmed her a great deal, but she was still shivering as she watched him work.
One knee pressed into the stone hearth, he bent forward to arrange several pieces of wood in the fireplace. There was a suppressed strength about him that she was certain could be destructive or protective depending on his mood. With each movement of his arm as he picked up another piece of wood, the linen shirt he wore stretched taut against his back. Her eyes drifted down to where his riding breeches hugged his buttocks. He was beautiful.
Hypnotized, she noted the sleek, muscular build of his thighs as he leaned into the fireplace and blew gently on the small flame he’d created. His dark hair was wet from the downpour, and she wanted a towel to dry it so she could slide her fingers through it like she had yesterday. A deep ache suddenly pushed its way into her conscious mind. It drew her belly up tight then slowly spiraled downward until it settled in the apex of her thighs.
She wanted to see him naked.