Portrait of Passion
Idyllwild, Book One
What’s a Viscount to do when a mysterious lady with a secret past and a reputation frayed around the edges suddenly appears in London in hot pursuit of his naive young cousin, setting the gossips’ tongues wagging, stirring his family into pandemonium, and driving him mad with her irreverent ways?
If the Viscount in question is Simon Easton, the answer is quite simple. Seduce the beguiling lady. But Miss Beatrice Morgan isn’t your average tarnished lady. She lives a slapdash life wandering the globe like a gypsy, painting fantastical portraits of Duchesses as sirens and landscapes featuring a crumbling old fountain, all the while harboring a secret desire to return to Idyllwild, the only home she’s ever known.
What Simon does not know is that Beatrice just might be willing to sacrifice her honor, her virtue, her very heart to reclaim Idyllwild.
Ellora's cave: http://www.ellorascave.com/portrait-of-passion.html
Widow’s Wicked Wish
Idyllwild Series, Book Two
Be careful what you wish for.
The Countess of Palmerton has lived her life by Society’s rules, marrying the right man, bearing the required heir, and guarding her name at all costs. And what has it gotten her? A loveless union, a cold marriage bed and a reputation for perfect propriety.
Fleeing the whispers of her husband’s scandalous demise, Olivia finds a haven at Idyllwild. Away from the gossip and glitter of London, she dares to cast a wicked wish to the winter sky.
Jack Bentley has a wish of his own, one he has no intention of leaving to the fickle fates. He will marry the stubborn widow, even if it means using her awakening passion to force her to the altar.
Ellora's cave: http://www.ellorascave.com/widow-s-wicked-wish.html
Lynne Barron always wanted to be a writer, if only she could decide what to write. Everyone told her to write what you know. It wasn’t until she married her extremely romantic and surprisingly sensual husband that she was able to follow that advice. Lynne lives in Florida with her husband, son and a menagerie of rescued pets.
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Simon arrived at Viscount Moorehead’s stately town house at five minutes before eleven the next morning. He knew it was gauche to arrive early but he wanted to be sure to have a few minutes to speak with Beatrice before Henry and Olivia arrived.
He knocked on the door and waited, his small wrapped package tucked securely in his pocket.
The door swung open and there was Beatrice.
“Hullo, Easton,” she said, smiling up at him. She wore a flowing muslin dress of pale blue with tiny pink flowers embroidered around the modest neckline and scalloped hem. It flowed from neck to hemline with no cinching at the waist whatsoever. It looked like an old lady’s nightgown more than any dress he’d ever seen. Small puffs of lace were surely intended to be sleeves, but it was only pretention. Her long, elegant arms were bare from fingertips to shoulders. He looked down to discover ten little pink toes peeping out from the hem of her gown. He tried to remember if he had ever seen a woman’s bare toes outside the bedroom and decided he hadn’t.
“Doesn’t Moorehead have a butler?” he demanded, stepping into the cool shade of the foyer.
“I sent Billings on an errand,” Beatrice replied. She closed the door and leaned against it. “It only seemed fair that I answer the door in his absence.”
Simon said nothing. He had never heard of such a thing. He tried to remember if he had ever answered a knock upon his own door and decided he hadn’t.
“Come with me,” Beatrice said as she breezed past him and across the long hall toward the back of the house. “I’ve been experimenting and you can tell me what you think.”
Simon followed along behind her, shaking his head slowly. Bare feet!
“I think you are a man who needs to be shocked.”
She must have heard his footsteps following behind her in the quiet of the hall, for she didn’t turn around once to make sure he was still there. Simon looked from her golden hair, swinging back and forth in one long braid, long enough to reach the small of her back, to the place where he thought her shapely little derriere must be. Who could tell? Her dress looked like a sack.
“You aren’t just now rising from bed, are you?” he asked, then could have bitten his tongue. A gentleman did not, under any circumstances, refer to a bed in a lady’s presence. Good God, she was making him crazy.
Her husky laughter was the only sound he heard from her as she pushed open a door and held it open for him to follow her.
He stopped beside her just inside the bright room. She had brought him into Moorehead’s kitchen. A pleasantly round woman with frizzy gray hair sat at a long wooden table cutting up strawberries. She looked up at their entrance and then jumped to her feet to bob a curtsy.
“Oh Mabel, do sit down,” Beatrice said with a laugh. “It’s only me and Easton.”
Mabel gave him a quick glance from shoes to hat, which he belatedly realized he had not removed. He quickly did so, tucking it under his arm. He could feel heat rise from his neck to his face. Mabel nodded to him and returned to her perch.
“I’ve tried a new recipe for lemon muffins,” Bea tossed over her shoulder as she walked across the room. “Be honest, you won’t offend me if you don’t like them.” She lifted a muffin from a tray and walked back to him where he stood by the door. She offered the still-warm pastry and waited while he stood there looking from her smiling face to the muffin in his hand to her bare hands clutched together between her breasts. And with her hands clasped just so, he could just make out her breasts on either side. Thank God. He had been beginning to wonder if she had any figure at all in that ridiculous frock.
“Go ahead, try it,” she urged. “I didn’t put poison in it.”
His eyes shot from her happily rediscovered breasts to her face. She tilted her head to the side and studied him, a smile still teasing her lips.
“Easton, are you all right?” she asked quietly. “You haven’t said a word, well apart from that bit about the butler.”
“And the part about you just rising from your bed,” he reminded her just as quietly and watched her eyes widen before she laughed—a dark and husky laugh that rolled over him like a wave.
“I thought I should be proper and ignore that part,” she said. She turned and walked across the room as she added, “After all, one of us should be. And today it seems it shall be me.”
Simon swallowed a bite of lemon muffin quickly before he could choke on the chuckle that tried to escape.
“You? Proper?” he teased. Mabel’s head swung around and she glared at him.
“I can be, you know.” She had stopped in front of the sink and he saw that she was pouring milk into a glass. She turned and started back across the kitchen before continuing. “I know how. I simply choose not to be. Much more fun that way.” She handed the glass to him and stood watching while he took a sip before handing it back to her.
He stood in absolute awe as she proceeded to take a long swallow from the glass he had just handed back to her.
“What do you think?” she asked, licking the foam from her upper lip.
Think? How could he possibly think? How could he think when he was standing in the kitchen with her looking up at him while she licked her lips? How could he be expected to think when she was wearing what had to be her nightgown with her hair still in its braid from the night before? How was he to think with her bare shoulders and bare toes on display?
He looked over to his right to find that Mabel had risen from her stool to lean one plump hip against the table, her arms crossed over her ample bosom. She was beyond glaring at him now, she was shooting daggers.
Beatrice followed his eyes and whatever Mabel saw in her gaze had her huffing and puffing toward the other door, the one that must lead to the dining room. She cast one final look over her shoulder before slamming through the door with such force it bounced against the wall and swooshed back and forth before finally stopping.
Simon turned back to find that Beatrice had stepped closer to him. She was so close that he could see tiny flecks of amber in her brown eyes, close enough that he could smell her scent, floral and minty. She continued to regard him silently for three beats of his heart. He knew it was three, he counted. Three slow beats. Time seemed to stand still.
“Do you like it?” she asked in the softest of voices.
“Yes,” he whispered back, though he hadn’t a clue to what she referred. Her bare shoulders? Her bare toes? Her braided hair? Her ridiculous dress? Her kissable mouth?
“Good,” she said. “Here, wash it down with some more milk.”
Simon looked from the glass she had handed him to the half-eaten muffin and let out a bark of laughter.
“The muffin!” he exclaimed before taking a quick sip of milk.
“What did you think I meant?” she asked as she stepped back. The twinkle in her eyes told him she knew. “Did you think I was fishing for compliments?”
“It crossed my mind,” he replied, stepping farther into the room to set aside the now empty glass and his hat. He leaned one hip against the table, much as Mabel the Hun had done, and withdrew a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe away the crumbs from the muffin.
“Don’t be silly, Easton,” she said. “I have no need to fish for compliments from you.”
“No?” he asked. God, she was beautiful. The light from the window above the sink drifted over her, bringing out myriad colors in her hair and bouncing off the freckles on her shoulders. Her entire countenance shone with happiness and warmth.
“No,” she said looking him straight in the eyes. “I know that you want me.”
Would she ever stop surprising him?
“Want is too mild a word for it,” he told her. What a relief to be able to say what he meant.
“Have I rendered you speechless, Beatrice?” he asked when she only stood motionless, quietly watching him.
Beatrice slowly nodded, her brown eyes huge.
“Come here,” he ordered. He tried to keep his voice light, easy, but it came out hard, gruff.
She walked silently to stand in front of him. Simon twisted so that he was leaning back onto the table and opened his legs just enough for her to step between them. He told himself he wasn’t surprised when she accepted the silent invitation, but he was. He was also surprised when she rested both her hands on his chest and leaned in to kiss the cleft of his chin. He was beyond surprised when she followed with a row of featherlight kisses along his jaw to his ear. He held himself still by sheer force of will. He wanted to grab her and ravish her mouth. He wanted to plunder. She seemed to have other ideas.
“I want you too,” she whispered in his ear.
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