Authors: Nicole Jordan
Tags: #Romance, #Historical, #Regency
ess gazed mutely up at Rotham, searching his face. He had intense eyes. Vivid, dare-the-world eyes. Just now she felt as if she could drown in those vibrant gray depths.
He was far too masculine and desirable, devil take him. She knew she should turn and run, yet she couldn’t move.
And then he took the decision from her. Raising his hands, he slowly slid his fingers along either side of her jaw. When his mouth covered hers, Tess completely forgot to breathe. She could only remain rooted there, absorbing the jolting delight of Rotham’s probing kiss.
His lips had the texture of heated silk, his exploring tongue a scalding wildness.
What a wicked, marvelous sensation
. Her head swam with drugged pleasure, her body trembled.
He kissed like a possessive lover—or what she imagined a possessive lover to be. A whisper of a sigh escaped Tess. She had suspected that kissing Rotham would be remarkable, but she’d vastly underestimated how wonderful, how intensely glorious, it would be. The impact left her too flustered to think, too dazed to stand on her own. Reaching up, Tess weakly clutched at his shoulders.…
The Courtship Wars
TO PLEASURE A LADY
TO BED A BEAUTY
TO SEDUCE A BRIDE
TO ROMANCE A CHARMING ROGUE
TO TAME A DANGEROUS LORD
TO DESIRE A WICKED DUKE
MASTER OF TEMPTATION
LORD OF SEDUCTION
THE PRINCE OF PLEASURE
TOUCH ME WITH FIRE
To Desire a Wicked Duke
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A Ballantine Books Mass Market Original
Copyright © 2011 by Anne Bushyhead
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
This book contains an excerpt from book one of the forthcoming Legendary Lovers series by Nicole Jordan. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.
Cover illustration: Alan Ayers
For Sandra Chastain and Ann Howard White
Dear friends and sisters at heart
Love you bunches
Although I have been
the Marriage Mart a good while now, I am quickly relearning an indisputable rule of engagement with the opposite sex: When you play with fire, you are likely to be burned … and Rotham is the hottest sort of fire
—Diary Entry of Miss Tess Blanchard
The kiss was amazingly insipid.
Disappointment surged through Tess Blanchard as Mr. Hennessy drew her more fully into his embrace. She had expected so much more when she acquiesced to his impulsive gesture.
More excitement, more pleasure, more
. In short, she had secretly longed to be swept away by romantic passion.
Instead she found herself logically analyzing the construction of his lovemaking. The precise pressure of his lips. The exact angle of his head. The unarousing feel of his arms around her.
There was no spark, no
between them at all, Tess realized sorrowfully. The entire business left her remarkably cold.
Oh, Patrick Hennessy certainly
skilled in the art of kissing, she mused as his mouth plied hers with increased ardor. But surely a man who counted
himself such an expert lover should have elicited a stronger response from her?
Not that she had much basis for comparison. This was only the second man she had ever romantically embraced in her three-and-twenty years.
It had happened purely on a whim. One moment they were laughing together over a line in the comic play Hennessy had written. The next, an arrested expression claimed his features as he gazed down at her. When he stepped closer and bent his head to capture her lips, Tess had no thought of stopping him. For too long she had let herself languish on the shelf in the game of love, refusing to open herself up to renewed heartbreak. But it was past time to reenter the lists.
Admittedly, in Mr. Hennessy she was drawn by both curiosity and the lure of the forbidden. She knew better, of course. A proper lady did not indulge in scandalous experiments with libertine actors behind the stage curtains. Hennessy was known as something of a Lothario among the London theater crowd, although in addition to being a brilliant performer, he was also a successful manager of his own troupe, a budding playwright, and the talented director of Tess’s two recent benefit concerts, which had raised vast sums for her charities.
Then again, perhaps she was not giving him a fair chance.
Closing her eyes more tightly, Tess made a stronger effort to enter into the spirit of the kiss. In response, Hennessy’s hand stole lower down her back, over her derrière, to pull her closer. Despite her own lack of
enthusiasm, she had evidently affected
, judging by the swelling hardness she felt pressing against her lower abdomen—
“Well, well, are you practicing to play the part of lovers in your production, Miss Blanchard?”
At the sharp-edged drawl, a startled Tess tore her mouth away from Hennessy’s—and froze in mortification upon recognizing that sardonic male voice. Obviously she had failed to hear anyone enter the ballroom where their makeshift stage was erected.
Good Lord, what utterly dreadful timing, to have her transgression discovered by the arrogant, infuriating Duke of Rotham, elder cousin of her late betrothed. Rotham had stepped behind the stage curtains to find her locked in a clandestine embrace with the man she had hired to produce her amateur theatrical.
Scalding heat flooded Tess’s cheeks as she pulled away from her partner in crime. Hennessy had also reacted to the duke’s unexpected appearance by releasing her instantly. Yet the actor looked not only guilty but somewhat alarmed, as if he’d been caught in a hanging offense.
Squaring her shoulders, Tess turned to face Ian Sutherland, the tall, lithe Duke of Rotham. His handsome face was an enigmatic mask in the muted daylight seeping over the stage curtains from the ballroom windows, but his mouth held a tightness that signified displeasure, perhaps even anger.
He had no right to judge her, she told herself defiantly.
“You are mistaken, your grace,” Tess said, striving
to keep her voice calm as she responded to his mocking tone. “There are no lovers in Mr. Hennessy’s play. It is merely a comedy of manners about a mischievous ghost.”