This morning we have LADY FEATHERSTONE'S FERVENT AFFAIR out today at Resplendence Publishing, including a Free Read inside, LADY RAMSEY'S RIBALD CHOICES!
Hope you give them a go!The story? 1809, Lancashire.
Willful Lady Lacy Featherstone knows how the lack of love can warp a person’s life. When her dashing fiancé, Colonel Wesley Stanhope retreats to his hunting lodge after a devastating cavalry injury in Spain, she sweeps into Wes’s hideaway with a scandalous proposal. Wes will make her his wife or she’ll make him her lover. But if Lacy cannot conquer the Hero of Talavera with logic and kisses, how risqué must she become to prove that she is his equal in fortitude…and the only one worthy to grace his bed?
A titillating taste, perhaps?
“No! No!” he would yell as her rat-like minions scurried round him, rolling him to his back, while he screamed in the torment as they took his body up, up, up, his left arm hanging useless as the pain careened through his body and tore his mind to shreds. “Let me be!” he would yell to no avail. “Let me die!”
Wes bolted upright.
His heartbeat pounded a tattoo.
Perspiration dripped down his temples.
“Oh, Christ!” he muttered, wiping his brow. He glanced around, felt his arm in the sling. Safe. Yes, safely on the armrest. “The nightmare.”
“Sir?” his sergeant and servant, Charles, stared into his eyes, the man’s hands on Wes’ shoulders. “Tis the dream again, sir. Are you recovered?”
“Yes,” Wes grumbled, hating how his voice quavered. “Yes, yes! Brandy.”
“Here, sir. A hefty draught.”
Wes grabbed the glass as if it were ambrosia then gulped it down.
He coughed, the damn strong stuff burning all the way down his gullet but inspiring strong affirmation that he was indeed alive.
He sank backward in his old wingchair, the one he had inhabited now for nigh onto thirty days. Ever since they had brought him home from the Peninsula in a hospital bay, he’d sat in a goddamn chair. At Jack’s house in Grosvenor Square. At Adam’s in Berkeley Square. Here. Like an old man. A cripple.
He cursed. He’d left both brothers’ homes, knowing, seeing, seething at their understanding—aye, their pity---for his infirmity. Riled, he had come north to this old hunting lodge and sat in this chair.
His sergeant had come with him. Charles Brighton was a loyal sort. From childhood, Charles had been a servant at their father’s Stanhope estate in the Cotswolds. Charles had been Wes’ body servant since Wes was five, and he had followed Wes into the Hussars. Promoted by Wes four years ago, the older man probably had never thought he would need to play nursemaid to the illustrious cavalryman, Wesley Stanhope. More like, Charles would have thought to care for his horse and his kit until Wes pensioned him off at sixty.
Instead of any such banality, Wes found himself here in this drafty old place his father had given him on his twentieth birthday. He sat here day after day in this big ugly chair, recovering from a broken left arm, a broken left ankle and the loss of his left eye. A scar long and ragged as sin ran across his left cheek.
No thanks to a French corsair and the muck of the Spanish plain outside Talavera, Wesley Hamill Curruthers Stanhope had fallen in battle during a charge of his own cavalry brigade. Days later, in a medic tent, his commander had informed him that his maneuver had won the day for the British, but Wes rued the praise. What good was a man fallen in the pursuit of his duty? What joy in that? What recompense were words of praise when his body was broken and ripped? He could only ponder his own mortality, which now he expected would have a sad and lonely ending.
A man without his profession. Without his faculties. Without an income, save what he got as a handout from his roué of a sire. Without hope of the comfort of a woman.
He growled in frustration at the memory of desire. The memory of how he’d made love to a woman. The recollection of how virile he’d once been, fucking as he wished. When. Whom. Never loving. Until two months before he’d left for Portugal, Spain and the terror of Talavera. Then had found a sprite of a woman. Never before had that been his type. But once he’d seen her, talked with her, been amused and enchanted by her, he’d known he was fully caught. Captured. Enraptured. Only that one time in his life had he thought he might brave the family curse on all loving marriages and find more than the temporary slaking of his desires.
But Lady Lacy Featherstone would never want a weak and broken man. His gut wrenched at the memory of her in all her angelic glory. She was a beauty, an accomplished horsewoman, an heiress freshly debuted last Season with family connections and willful as sin. If he had ever considered himself a proper match for the lady, now he was less than suitable. He was a cripple. Deformed. An oddity for any drawing room, let alone a bedroom.
Lacy. He shut his eye now, recalling how she had looked the night he’d met her for the very first time at his brother Adam’s house party in April. In jade green bombazine, she had followed him into the library after the supper.
“You are ignoring me, Wes,” she had accused him as she’d shut the door behind her.
He’d chuckled ruefully. His need to stop eating her up with his eyes was a monstrous thing so gigantic, he’d had to retreat here. Alone. If only just to get his cock down. “Evidently not entirely.”
She’d drifted forward to face him, her startling robin’s egg blue eyes searching his. “I want a kiss.”
He’d raised a brow and chuckled. “We have only just met. Two hours ago.”
She’d glided forward, her pale moonbeam hair a sweet accent to her flawless skin and the perfect roses of her cheeks. “Minutes, hours. What do they matter when you know in your soul what is to be?”
He’d adored her audacity to counter him but had had to show some resilience. “Ha! And what is that, Lady Featherstone?”
She’d tossed him a smile. “We are to be one. Forever.”
“You are so certain.”
“Doubt me? Kiss me and see.”
He could not take his eyes off her as she’d came to stand an inch from him. His fingers had itched to draw her close, feel her delicate curves pressed to his rock hard body. “You are all of what? Eighteen?”
“Nineteen,” she’d whispered and risen on her toes to press her lush lips to the corner of his mouth. “I have debuted. Of age. Open to a proposal.”
He’d hooted. But his hands had gone around her small waist. “We are not suited.”
She’d slid her lips to rest on his. “You are a cavalryman. I am a horsewoman. We are strong, independent and know what we want.”
He’d pressed his palm to her back and against his chest, he felt the warmth of her breasts . “You need a man of wealth and position. I have neither.”
“I have a large dowry, and you have position. You are a colonel in the King’s Hussars.”
“We are at war, my sweet.”
“Ah. I see.” She’d kissed him once, quickly, the fragrance of her perfume fogging his brain. “You fear you will come back an invalid.”
“Or not at all,” he’d corrected her, giving her a small shake.
She’d nestled closer to him. Her breasts, large and supple, had bored into his chest. Her thighs, strong and insistent, had pressed against his own. “Darling, I care not how I have you.” Her voice, soft as a cat’s purr, had enveloped him. “I want you.” She’d run her fingers through the curls as his nape.
He’d snatched her hand away. “That is wrong.”
She’d placed his palm over one breast. “Kiss me and tell me then.”
How could he refuse?
(Copyright 2010, Cerise DeLand. All rights reserved.)