I again take advantage of Vicky Blisse’s incredible generosity to post one of my favorite scenes from my award-winning, best-selling Regency romance, Lord Devere’s Ward, now available in paperback for the first time in over a decade.
What’s it about, you ask?
Here’s the blurb:
Orphaned Kate Scoville is trapped in a tower prison by her scheming uncle, who plans to wed her to his loathsome son in order to gain control of her fortune. Plucky and resourceful, Lady Kate escapes to London to ask for help from her guardian. She’s sure the elderly Earl of Devere will help her in her plight.
Kate is astounded to find that the Earl has died, and his son has become her guardian. Quinn, the present Earl, remembers Kate from his childhood as an awkward child he loved to taunt and tease.
But now his ward has grown into a beautiful young woman. Though honor prevents Quinn from making Kate his, their attraction is irresistible…
Will Kate tempt Quinn into abandoning honor? Will the wicked uncle trap Kate, compromise her and steal her fortune?
Here’s the snog
The afternoon warmth heated Kate’s skin where her bonnet did not shade her. The thin, low-cut muslin dress did little to protect her shoulders from the brilliant spring sunshine. She dashed through the maze at Hampton Court, laughing and breathless as she eluded the rest of the party. Quinn had promised a special prize for whichever of the young people reached the center of the maze first. Whatever you want, he had said, winking at Pauline when she wanted to know what the surprise would be. Kate was determined to be the recipient of the treat.
She wondered if she would dare to demand a kiss from Quinn.
Extending her left hand, she kept touching the side of the hedge. She had read that if the searcher kept to the left, always to the left, she or he would inevitably reach the center of the maze.
Quinn, armed in advance with a plan of the maze, now waited in the center for his quarry. Having seen the determined glint in his Kate’s eyes, he knew she would find her way to the heart of the maze first.
He sat on a stone bench and wondered what she’d ask of him. He counted himself fortunate that Fashion now favored loose trousers rather than skin-tight, knitted pantaloons. The clear evidence of his emotions at the picnic had been disguised by his pants.
Kate had been subtly but outrageously flirtatious the entire day. Her pink sprigged muslin appeared to be worn over dampened, clinging petticoats. She met his eyes constantly, then let her dusky lashes sweep her flushed cheeks. She had even brushed against him once or twice as they toured Hampton Court Palace.
How on earth had she learned such wiles? And from where?
Quinn frowned. He’d have a great deal to say to this Elizabeth Telmont, of Miss Elizabeth’s School in Bath, if they ever met.
But he had to credit Katherine with discretion as well as coquetry. She had frequently taken the arm of her friend Sybilla Farland
Lord Devere’s Ward
to giggle with her over some joke. Kate had sat next to Bryan St. Wills at the picnic, choosing to use her eyes and her smile rather than proximity to tempt her guardian. Quinn doubted anyone else knew the little witch was torturing his feelings, except perhaps for Willoughby Hawkes. The sharp-eyed roué wouldn’t miss the byplay, since he already knew Kate’s identity as well as Quinn’s desire for the girl. And if Hawkes knew, there was a fair chance Louisa knew also. Quinn didn’t understand why Anna tolerated the growing intimacy between Hawkes and Louisa but, as it wasn’t his business, he kept his nose out of the affair.
Affair. That was the word, wasn’t it? He wanted to have an affair with his ward…or more.
His breath caught in his throat as Kate appeared at the gap in the hedge, then entered the center of the maze.
They were alone. A butterfly fluttered ’round the silk flowers on Kate’s bonnet. She untied the ribbon beneath her chin, then sat next to him on the narrow bench.
She smiled at Quinn. “I believe I’ve won your prize, my lord.”
“So what shall you demand of me, sweet Kate?”
She tipped her head to one side and regarded him, still flirting with her eyes, her smile. He could tell she was nervous, yet expectant. He did not know if he should encourage her.
“I’m not quite sure yet.” She touched the tip of her tongue to her upper lip. “What do you have to give me, my lord?”
His voice rasped in his throat. “Quinn. Please, call me Quinn.”
“My lord Quinn,” she said, with just a trace of mocking good humor in her tone.
“Kate,” he said, taking her chin gently between his long, strong fingers. She quivered slightly but did not pull away as he stroked her cheek. Her response rippled through her body as he drew her into his arms.
Yes. The first kiss was as sweet as he had known it would be. For a few moments, he forgot why he had denied his desire, and hers, for so long.
As he touched his lips to hers, it was as though a spark flashed between them, igniting their emotions. Their mouths caressed and danced. When his tongue sought admission, she did not refuse him entry. He groaned as his embrace tightened, pulling her onto his lap. She reached up, touching his shoulders, tentatively at first, then with more confidence as their kiss deepened. Her arms wound around his neck as he held her close. He could feel her breasts, barely confined by the flimsy muslin, pressing against his chest. Her heartbeat was quick as a rabbit’s, and knowing she was excited aroused him all the more.
When they finally parted he regarded her with amazement. “My darling Kate. Where did you learn to kiss like that?”
She chuckled as she wriggled on his lap. He groaned as she unwittingly rubbed her backside against his erection. Good God, how he wanted her.
“Are you all right, Quinn?”
“I’m fine, sweetling, but let’s move you back onto the bench for now.” She shifted her weight, then let him entwine her fingers with his. He raised her hand to his lips and kissed each fingertip, then the back of her hand, appreciating the delicate interplay of bone and muscle. “That was not a rhetorical question. I am sure neither Aristophanes nor Homer discusses kissing in such detail.”
“I am not entirely book-learned, sir. I have had some small contact with boys.”
“‘Some small contact with boys’? Need I be outraged, my ward?”
She laughed again. “I trust not, my guardian. The brothers of my schoolmates would occasionally visit Miss Elizabeth’s, and I did steal a kiss or two.”
“And how do I compare?”
“Ummm…very well, I must say. You exhibit natural talent as well as considerable experience, my lord.”
“Oof!” Slapping his chest, Quinn affected a shot to the heart. “I suppose I deserved that.”
“Completely. I felt for a moment you were questioning my virtue.”
“Absolutely not. But you do exhibit natural talent as well as, um, some experience, my ward.” He looked down at her and smiled.
She met his gaze without a flinch, lifting her mouth to his again. “Only some experience, I assure you.”
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Sue Swift/Suz deMello
Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written over sixteen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Ai Press, and Liquid Silver Books. She also takes private clients.
Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.
A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.
Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com
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