Hello doves! I know I have to respond to … so much. Which will be a good distraction to not scratching my face off. (As in, I’m tempted to but know I shouldn’t.) >.> Ahem. Anyway, Julie Anne Long was fantabulous and stepped in with an exclusive excerpt – she did say “I’m not privy to what’s being shared on my blog tour.” So this might potentially be posted elsewhere… BUT for now, it’s exclusive because it’s all just for all of you. Whee! I hope you enjoy. 🙂
Oh! And I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention that today is release day! So yes you can get your hands on the book as soon as you finish reading the excerpt! Happy release day, Ms. Long! \o/
The moment orphaned American heiress Titania “Tansy” Danforth arrives on English shores she cuts a swath through Sussex, enslaving hearts and stealing beaux. She knows she’s destined for a spectacular titled marriage—but the only man who fascinates her couldn’t be more infamous . . . or less interested.
But it takes a devil to know one . . .
A hardened veteran of war and inveterate rogue, Ian Eversea keeps women enthralled, his heart guarded and his options open: why should he succumb to the shackles of marriage when devastating good looks and Eversea charm make seduction so easy?
And Heaven has never been hotter!
When Ian is forced to call her on her game, he never dreams the unmasked Tansy— vulnerable, brave, achingly sensual—will tempt him beyond endurance. And fight as he will, this notorious bachelor who stood down enemies on a battlefield might finally surrender his heart . . . and be brought to his knees by love.
“I’ve watched you, Miss Danforth…in the midst of your games. And it’s so very clear you know little to nothing of the…shall we say, matters between men and women. I would wager my entire inheritance on it. And I find game playing combined with ignorance tedious. I’m not a boy.”
She was badly stung.
“The matters between men and women! Do you mean sex?”
A heartbeat of utter silence followed.
“I suppose you think you’re being very bold,” he said quietly.
She was fairly certain she had succeeded in shocking him.
Perhaps even rattling him.
She said nothing, because she’d shocked herself by saying it and needed a moment to recover.
“Have you ever even been kissed before, Miss Danforth?”
She contemplated which answer would incriminate her the least and impress him the most, though why she should want to do the latter eluded her. She had been kissed, because she’d been curious and the young man had been handsome and the moment had been right, but it \hadn’t caused a single unusual physical response.
Whereas simply looking at Ian Eversea seemed to cause her senses to riot.
She wouldn’t have blamed him if he rolled his eyes.
Perhaps mercifully, the incredulity simply amplified a bit.
“It’s a risky game you play, Tansy. Why do you do it?”
She was angry now. “Because. I. Can. And because they like it.”
“I suspect you mean because they like you when you do it.”
This brought her up short. A tense little silence followed.
Why do you do it?” she countered. Ha!
His eyes flared in surprise, then anger swiftly kindled in them.
Splendid. She was certain she’d at least startled him. Yes, captain eversea, I know about your alleged exploits. She imagined saying that aloud. She discovered she wasn’t that brave.
But he ignored the question.
“I won’t always be lurking around corners when you face the consequences of your actions, Tansy. Not every soldier is born a gentleman, and not every gentleman understands the word ‘no.’ Men are fundamentally brutes. Some just wear better clothes and have more money. You ought to be more afraid.”
He was undoubtedly correct. She ought to be.
“Come now, Captain Eversea, surely you of all people know that a little risk makes life less dull, altogether.”
He gave a short laugh. She suspected she’d surprised it from him.
“My risks are calculated, Miss Danforth. And informed by experience.”
“And you can’t possibly know that I know nothing about, as you say, such matters.”
He inhaled deeply, exhaled at length, sounding oh-so-long-suffering. “Oh, you know how to make them yearn, I grant you. You know how to get attention. There’s a look experienced women have, that’s all. A demeanor. And you haven’t the look.”
This was news. How on earth would an experienced woman look? Shocked? Tired? Wicked? Reflexively, she tried an expression that she thought might incorporate all three.
He laughed again, genuinely. “I’ve seen that expression on one of the Colin’s cows, after she’d eaten something she ought not.”
Torn between laughing and scowling, she frowned.
“You don’t need the look. It isn’t something to aspire to, Miss Danforth. You’re going to marry a someone with a title and all the money you’ll ever need, isn’t that so? Aren’t you destined for a duke or something of the sort? So don’t even think about practicing. Like I said, I won’t always be around to rescue you.”
“I imagine you’ve benefited from that look any number of times, haven’t you, Captan Eversea?”
She was out of her depth with him, which made her even more reckless than usual. She was like a kitten with tiny sharp claws crawling up his trouser leg. She suspected he would indulge her only so long before he shook her off abruptly.
“Miss Danforth,” he said patiently. “It’s clear you want to goad me into saying scandalous things to you that you can take back to your room and savor, pore over, at night like found treasure. You want my attention. You don’t want the consequences of that attention. You don’t even know what the consequences are. And for me, it’s just…it’s well, just rather dull.” he said, with an attempt at kindness, and an intolerably condescending lift of one shoulder. “And in some circumstances, it might even be hurtful. And if someone I care about might be hurt as a result of whatever game you’re playing…I simply can’t allow you to do it.”
Someone he cared about!
Oh, the infuriating humiliation. Her eyes burned.
For some reason all of this hurt mortally.
“You don’t know me at all,” she said, her voice a rasp, her face hot. She could only assume it was a scorching, unflattering red.
“I know you some,” he said easily, sounding bored. “And some is enough.”
He leaned back against the wall of the terrace and struck a flint against the box and lit a cheroot without asking whether she minded. He sent the smoke up into the air, and aimed his gaze out over the landscape he likely knew the way he knew his own face in the mirror.
His own damned handsome, unforgettable face.
“Well, I suppose you’re right. But you ought to know, isn’t that right, Captain Eversea? Because you of all people know it’s all about the getting of someone or of something. Everything you do. Everything else is a waste of time. God forbid a woman should evince an interest in you first. I’ll wager you’ll run like a frightened little girl.”
She couldn’t seem to control what came out of her mouth when she was around him. Surely this was inadvisable.
He turned his head sharply then, eyes wide in surprise, then hot with a real fleeting anger. She took a step back, as though he’d lunged at her with a lit torch.
Then something speculative settled into his gaze. He studied her long enough for her heart to flop hard in her chest, painfully, like an obsequious mongrel. Eager to be patted or kicked, whatever he preferred. And she was angry that she was so very inexperienced that she couldn’t stop her heart from doing otherwise.
At least she felt seen by him for the first time.
Oh, how she wished she knew what he saw.
“Know a bit about being a frightened little girl, do you, Tansy?” he said softly.
Whee, so what’d you think? And who is going to be running out to buy a copy right now? 😀