Adrienne Basso's TIS THE SEASON TO BE SINFUL
Adrienne Basso's TIS THE SEASON TO BE SINFUL
"Sinfully sensual."—Booklist on The Christmas Countess
TIS THE SEASON TO BE SINFUL
Publisher: Zebra Books
Publication Date: October 4, 2011 (ebook)
Publication Date: October 4, 2011 (mass market paperback)
The Season For Surprises. . .
Juliet Wentworth knew what she was getting into: a marriage of convenience that will save her estate and protect her family long into the future. But she wasn't expecting to find the passion of a lifetime in her new husband's arms. After just one night, Juliet knows a marriage in name only will never be enough. . .
The Season For Seduction. . .
Richard Harper's beautiful new bride has him reeling with desire--and running for cover. After all, falling in love was never part of the bargain. Yet when Christmastime celebrations bring him back to their country manor and back into Juliet's arms, Richard finds his wife is determined--and all too able--to win over his heart, one kiss at a time. . .
"Richard, welcome home!" She was the fourth person to say those exact words to him, yet falling from her lips they sounded fresh and new and real.
Was he truly home?
"Juliet, I regret my tardiness, but important business delayed my departure from Town."
"No matter, you are here now." She smiled broadly and took his hands in hers.
He had a momentary impulse to lean forward and kiss her. A proper greeting for a wife, but the familiar gesture made him uncomfortable, especially in front of others.
Almost as if she knew what he was thinking, Juliet gave his hand a gentle squeeze. Richard nearly groaned, his body responding instantly to the pressure. Aroused, he looked into her dark brown eyes. "It's good to see you."
She smiled and his resistance weakened. Then he heard a quiet cough. Juliet glanced away from his face toward the direction of the sound, her eyes growing round as she beheld Miss Hardie. She pulled away, letting go of his hands. "You've brought a guest?"
"What? No! She isn't a guest. This is Miss Hardie, my new secretary."
"Oh...I...," Juliet faltered. "Strange, you never mentioned that your new secretary was a Miss." Her eyes took on a peculiar glint as she struggled to be cordial. "'Tis good to meet you, Miss Hardie."
"And you also, Mrs. Harper."
"Mrs. Perkins, please escort Miss Hardie to the green suite," Juliet said. "I think that bedchamber will do nicely for her."
"Certainly. Right this way, Miss," the housekeeper said.
Miss Hardie silently sought Richard's permission. At his nod, she turned and went with Mrs. Perkins. The other servants also melted away, leaving Richard and Juliet alone.
"Your secretary?" Juliet turned a skeptical eye in his direction and he nearly burst out laughing. She appeared jealous. Over Miss Hardie?
"You have Mr. Barclay. Why can't I have Miss Hardie?" Richard asked with a sly grin.
"That is not in any way the same sort of-" She cut herself off abruptly, narrowing her eyes. "Are you laughing at me, Richard Harper?"
"I wouldn't dream of it, Mrs. Harper."
He took a step toward her and then another. Her breath hitched as the awareness between them became almost unbearable.
"Would you like to see the house?" she asked in a quivering voice. "As I wrote to you, the renovation is completed on many of the rooms."
"Later," he said in a husky voice. "After I've said a proper hello to my wife."
A shudder racked her delicate frame. Her body leaned heavily against his, her face turned into his chest. He lowered his head until his breath fanned her cheek, waiting for her surrender. He could see the rapid rise and fall of her breasts as she strained to control her obvious need. He stared down at them with growing interest, his heart beating in an irregular rhythm.
Without warning, Juliet groaned and tilted her chin, capturing her mouth with his. The kiss caught him by surprise and the intensity of his own reaction astonished him. The feel of her lips and tongue staggered his senses. He had never before been kissed with such deep longing, such unabashed joy.
Control slipping, Richard kissed her harder, pressing her back against the front door. Her hands cradled his head as she encouraged him, drawing her leg up the outside of his. He had a wild fantasy of reaching under Juliet's skirts to tear away her undergarments, releasing himself from the confines of his trousers and then entering her body.
Right there. Right now. In the entrance foyer.
Before he lost complete control, Richard tore his lips from hers and pulled her against his chest. They stood together, impossibly close, breaths ragged, pulses jumping.
"I suppose I won't mind it so much next time you leave, if you promise to kiss me like that when you return," Juliet said, her words muffled in his shirt.
"I should have taken an earlier train." Richard hugged her tighter, trying to remember the most direct route to her bedchamber.
"Yes," she agreed. "One that left months ago."
Her words were like a bucket of cold water thrown over his head. Releasing an unsteady sigh, Richard slowly eased his grip and pulled away. He could feel her eyes trained intently upon his face, but refused to meet them.
Richard didn't dwell on things from the past that he couldn't change, nor did he make promises he was certain he couldn't keep. And being gently rebuked over his long absence was a stark reminder of the complications that could occur between a married couple.
The expectations of a woman could turn a sane man to madness. He was unprepared to negotiate the tangle of a woman's needs and feelings. He had a business to run and expand, profits to be made. There was simply no time for it. Not if one strove to do it properly.
He tried to face his wife calmly. "If you'll excuse me, I need to speak with Miss Hardie about some correspondence that must be sent in the morning post."
Juliet reached out and caught his hand. His flesh sizzled; it was the authoritative, possessive touch of someone who knew they had the right to make demands on him. His mind was not enamored with the situation, but his body responded with primal intimacy, hardening instantly.
"I understand that you have responsibilities and I admire you for taking them so seriously." Her eyes sparkled with emotion. "Dinner will be served at seven-thirty. Please don't be late."
She bestowed a devastating smile upon him before turning and walking away, confusing him further. Was she angry? Hurt? Disappointed?
He fought the urge to chase after her, not knowing what he would say. Instead, he stood alone in the foyer, wrestling his lust into submission, wondering how he was going to keep his mind occupied and his body calm until seven-thirty.
"...a winning romance to win over your heart, and give you that warm fuzzy feeling you look for in every romance….purely sensual to the core!!!—Addicted to Romance