Surprise! It’s Saturday >.> (yes, yes it is) and despite it not being Tuesday, we have an exclusive excerpt from the fabulous Katharine Ashe! I absolutely adored I Married the Duke, so I’m really excited to hear about this new romance. (And that twist – who wants to vet it for me? :D)
Book #1 in a new series of historical romances… with a twist.
Lady Corinna Mowbray has three passions: excellent books, intelligent conversation, and disdaining the libertine Earl of Chance.
Lord Ian Chance has three pleasures: beautiful women, fast horses, and tormenting high-and-mighty Corinna Mowbray.
Neighbors for years, they’ve been at each other’s throats since they can remember. But when a twist of fate forces them to trade lives, how long will it be before they discover they cannot live without each other?
Excerpt from My Lady, My Lord by Katharine Ashe
“Taunting the goddess again, Corinna?”
Her heart turned over. Ian’s voice at her shoulder was quiet but light. She looked up at him. He wore a black coat, sparkling white linen, and a black satin half-mask that revealed his clear blue eyes.
“Your costume.” He gestured, the corner of his mouth tilting up.
Corinna gathered her courage. “I mean to flatter Aphrodite by emulation. But what about you? What are you supposed to be?”
“Comfortable.” He grinned. Clearly he was not angry now. She might not deserve this olive branch, but she would take it if it meant being with him as they had been before, when they shared the most astounding adventure. Oddly, like friends.
“You look very mysterious.” And utterly handsome. “I would not have known you.” She would know him with her eyes closed.
He bowed. “Thank you, ma’am.”
“And yet you knew me. I’m disappointed. I hoped not to be recognized.”
“Your mouth is particularly familiar to me.” He placed a fingertip at the corner of her lips. A flock of butterflies took flight in her stomach. Rather, birds. But a spike of unease snipped at their wings. She must know if he had come with a woman.
“What brings you here tonight, Ian?”
“The pressing desire to dance with a goddess, it seems.”
“You wish to dance with me?”
“You may feel free to accept.”
Words—Corinna’s salt and butter—deserted her. Finally she managed to croak, “I may?”
“I depend upon it.”
“I meant, did you arrive with your friends this evening?” she said, feeling cowardly as she did.
“I suspect they’re hereabouts somewhere. I haven’t seen them.”
“This is an interesting gathering. But it’s not your usual fare, after all.”
“It suffices.” His eyes glimmered. “I don’t eschew all society functions. Only those that are unredeemable.”
“I don’t think there is a card room here tonight.”
“Then I will have to make do with dancing with a goddess.” He extended his arm.
She took it, willing her voice to remain steady even as her heart sped. “Or Cleopatra, or a sea nymph, or Marie Antoinette.” She gestured to the crowd.
He took her waist in hand and grasped her fingers with his other hand. The warmth of his hold, his scent and body so close all stole her wits. She tried to breathe, to think of anything to distract from the desire pulling at her. But all she could summon up was the sensation of his skin against hers, his lips on her breasts, her thighs about his hips, and confusion consumed her.
The music swelled through the chamber, mingling with voices raised in conversation and increasing hilarity. Champagne-filled crystal glittered in the candlelight, costumes sparkled, the breeze blew heady with jasmine, and Ian’s gaze remained on her.
Corinna struggled for words.
“In your estimation,” she finally said, “what are the redeeming qualities of this society function?”
“Masks. Dark corners. As you might expect. I am tediously predictable.”
He was roasting her. She slanted him a suspicious look. “Forgive me for wariness after our last disagreeable conversation, my lord, but from where has this good humor come?”
The corner of his mouth twitched. “Masks. Dark corners.”
Her stomach sank. “Already?”
“I have been here upward of ten minutes, madam.”
And he had spent them all with her. He had not come with a woman, or at least he hadn’t been with another woman yet this evening. It was foolishness, but her heart sang.
“Ian, I beg your pardon for what I said at Lady Upton’s house.”
He quirked a brow. “Do you?”
With some effort, she banked her temper. “I expected you would make this difficult for me.”
“Ah, still having trouble with apologies, are we?”
“We are when we must apologize to you. But I truly am sorry. It was uncalled for.”
“Not precisely. But I will allow you your charming groveling.”
“I am not groveling.”
“Forgive my mistake, then.” The dimple showed.
Her pattering heart tangled her thoughts. This thing—this feeling so acutely was new to her. She had not yet become adept at managing it. “Papa said he saw you at Westminster some days ago.”
“Your father did not misspeak.”
She looked up through her lashes, afraid to ask, but she must. “How did you find it?”
“Excruciatingly dull. Torture, in point of fact.”
Torture. That night, he had used that word. “Torture?”
“Not quite as onerous as upon another occasion.” His lips curved into a dashing grin, but it faded almost immediately. “I am not cut out for politics, Corinna.”
“Not everyone is,” she replied, wishing they were still making suggestive comments about torture and not discussing matters that could only emphasize the differences between them, and between him and Giles Fitzhugh. “But you have other talents,” she added.
He smiled wickedly.
“H—Horses,” she stammered.
“Ah, of course.”
More foolishness. She tried to regain her bearings. “Your brother is certainly suited to government.”
“Yes, you have something there,” he conceded, but he seemed distracted now. He looked away from her and she followed his attention. At the edge of the dance floor, a satyr and King Louis with a thick red band about his neck flirted with an Amazon, thankfully not bare-breasted. But Corinna didn’t recognize anyone in particular, or anything especially untoward occurring.
Ian’s hold on her hand tightened. He released her waist and drew her toward the terrace doors.
“Ian? Where are we going?”
“We are in the middle of the set.” She stumbled after him. “Why now?”
“Because I wish to kiss you,” he said roughly, with intention, “and despite your conviction that I am an unrepentant scoundrel, I cannot do so on a dance floor.” …
Katharine Ashe is the award-winning author of twelve romances that reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including I Married the Duke, nominated for Historical Romance of the Year in the 2013 Reviewers’ Choice Book Awards and How to Be a Proper Lady, an Amazon Ten Best Romances of the Year. She lives in the wonderfully warm southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. Please visit her at www.KatharineAshe.com.
So what’d you think? Have you read anything by Ms. Ashe before? Are you tempted to read this now?