From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bedding Proposal comes a seductive new novel about the most devilishly dangerous men in London...
When Lady Esme Byron happens upon a gorgeous naked man sleeping beside a secluded country lake, she can't resist the impulse to sketch him. But when her highly improper drawing is mistakenly revealed at a party, she finds her once-pristine reputation in tatters.
Gabriel, Lord Northcote, may be a notorious rakehell, but he is still stunned to find himself accused of despoiling a duke's sister—especially since he's never set eyes on her. When Esme’s six irate brothers demand a hurried trip down the aisle, he has no choice but to comply. He thinks he can forget about his inconvenient bride but Esme Byron is no ordinary woman and Gabriel is about to learn just how unforgettable she can be.
“Warren’s ability to craft a perfect classic Regency is what makes her a fan favorite.” – RT BookReviews
“An outstanding story! Thank you, book gods, for introducing me to Tracy Anne Warren.” – The Reading Café
“This one is a wild ride that readers will love!” - Deb’s Bookbag
“A delightful read.” - Ramblings From a Chaotic Mind“I adored Happily Bedded Bliss…highly recommended.” – Romantic Historical Reviews
Esme stared, a part of her not quite able to believe that she had just agreed to marry a complete stranger.
Well, not complete, complete, she reminded herself, since she had seen him in his birthday suit, so she at least knew what she was getting there.
Her body tingled to recall.
But as for the man himself, she knew next to nothing about him except for his devilish reputation and sharp-tongued, cynical turn of phrase. For as much as she’d just gone toe-to-toe with him—six bold, fiercely independent older brothers had taught her never to back down from a fight—he still set her ashiver.
Whether in a good way or bad, though, she hadn’t yet decided.
And then he was back on both feet, towering above her so that she was viscerally aware exactly how much larger he was; the top of her head came only to his shoulder. Determined to show no vulnerability, she tipped back her head and looked him right in the eye.
What she saw there made her quietly gasp. His gaze was focused on her parted lips, the undisguised hunger she saw there too forceful to mistake, even for a green girl like her.
Slowly, he smiled. “I’ll have to give you a ring later. When I came for holiday here in Gloucester, I wasn’t expecting that I might become engaged.”
“No, nor was I.”
His smile widened.
She saw that he had nice, even white teeth; only a single cuspid was slightly out of place. It did not detract from his appeal in the least.
He moved fractionally closer. As he did, she noticed that her hand was still held inside his. She tugged lightly to free herself.
He didn’t let go.
“Lady Esme,” he said, the faintest trace of mocking amusement in his voice.
“You may release me now.”
“Oh, I will. After we’ve sealed our bargain.”
“What do you mean by that? I’ve already consented to marry you.”
“Indeed, but aren’t you the least bit curious to see if we’re compatible?”
An electrical charge, rather like one of her brother Drake’s experiments, surged through her as Northcote wrapped his free arm around her waist and tugged her to him.
“But we’ve only just met,” she said hurriedly. “I do not even know your full name.”
She pressed her palm to his chest to hold him off—his extremely male, remarkably solid chest, which felt every inch as firm as it had looked when she’d drawn him.
“The family name is Landsdowne and I am Gabriel.”
“Oh. Like the archangel,” she said without thinking.
His eyes crinkled at the corners. “Exactly. Although I’ve more often been likened to Lucifer, the angel who was cast down to earth. My uncle once suggested I petition Parliament to have my name officially changed so everyone would know me for the devil I am.”
Esme gazed up at him, unsure whether or not he was joking. Then before she could consider further, it was too late, his mouth lowering to capture hers.
She’d been kissed only one other time, and that by a cousin the summer after she’d turned sixteen. But comparing that quick, sloppy mashing of lips with the easy, sophisticated heat of Lord Northcote’s touch was like comparing a light spring rain to a raging summer storm, complete with wind, claps of thunder and lightning bolts.
He didn’t overpower, exploring her mouth with confident thoroughness, as if they had all the time in the world. Gradually, he increased the intensity, his mouth sliding this way and that, angling his head to find the perfect fit. Then, before she had any idea what he truly wanted, he coaxed her lips to part so he could slide his tongue inside. He dipped and sipped, licked and pressed, teasing her in ways that made her thoughts turn to ash. Her fingers opened and closed spasmodically against the fine wool of his coat, and she rocked up onto her toes to get more.
He chuckled low in his throat as he slowly eased away, leaving her momentarily confused and bereft, her body keenly aware of the abrupt loss of pleasure.
His eyes gleamed like gold coins. “You taste every bit as sweet as you look, my dear.” He skimmed the back of one finger over her cheek. “Maybe this bargain we’re making won’t be such a bad one after all.”
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