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
Excerpt from Widow’s Wicked Wish:
“Who is Mrs. Goode?” Jack ushered Olivia into the front parlor, curious to learn what she thought of the large room that was rendered miniscule by an overabundance of gilded furniture and sentimental landscapes.
“The lady from whom you lease this house,” she replied before stopping just beyond the threshold. “My goodness, I’d forgotten this room was so...”
“Hideous,” Jack offered.
“Interesting,” she corrected primly.
“You’ve been here before?”
“I attended school with Rachel Goode,” she explained as she began to wander about the room. “I often called upon her here before my marriage.”
Jack watched her trail her hand along the edge of an ornate table and over the back of a spindly chair he’d never been brave enough to sit upon. “Is there no one of consequence you don’t know?”
Olivia shrugged delicately in answer as she continued about the room, stopping to peer at a vase paying homage to some Chinese dynasty.
“London’s Darling,” he murmured.
Olivia shot a quick look over her shoulder, one Jack couldn’t begin to decipher. Surprise perhaps, maybe chagrin. Before he could place it she turned back to the vase, her hands gliding over the squat base and long neck. “I have it on the highest authority that I am nothing more than the daughter of an earl, the widow of same and the mother of yet another.”
“Is that all?” he asked with a chuckle.
“Funny, that was my question, as well,” she said as she turned to face him across a garish Turkish carpet in shades of purple and yellow. “Somehow I don’t think we meant the same thing by the question.”
At a loss as to how to respond to her words, to the rather surly look upon her face, Jack chose to take the bull by the horns.
“I want to apologize for the other night,” he began as he stepped onto the carpet, one step closer to where he wanted to be.
“Whatever for?” she asked.
“For that ridiculous remark I made about your gown.”
“My gown?” she asked with a laugh that sounded anything but joyous. “You needn’t apologize for finding my gown lovely.”
“That’s not what I meant, and you know it.” Jack ran a hand through his hair. It appeared the lady was not going to graciously accept his contrition.
“How would I know what you meant? I hardly know you.”
“You knew me well enough this winter.”
She shrugged before resuming her promenade about the room.
“I did not mean to imply that you didn’t look lovely,” he continued. “Of course you were lovely. You are always lovely.”
“Lovely,” she murmured more to herself than him. “That’s it? I’m lovely?”
“Beautiful,” he hurried to assure her, surprised that she seemed to want to be flattered. The Olivia he’d known at Idyllwild hadn’t given him to believe she needed to be praised and petted. Nor was he one to spout such blarney, but hell, if she needed pretty words, if she wanted to be courted with poetry and sweet talk, then he would do his best.
“Your skin is like rose petals, your hair like…like the most luxurious silk.”
She spun about and pinned him with a glare down her pretty little nose. If it weren’t for the pulse beating at her throat, and the rise and fall of her breasts with each rapid breath she took, he might have mistaken her renewed temper for haughty disdain.
“That’s it?” she asked. “That’s all you’ve got?”
Caught off guard by the cold fury radiating off her in waves, Jack floundered.
“Go on,” she hissed.
“Your breasts are two pillows,” he began, grimacing as the words tripped from his lips.
“Where did you hear that? London’s Darling?” she interrupted.
“What? Nowhere,” he muttered in confusion.
Olivia advanced on him until she was close enough that he might have reached out and grabbed her.
No sooner had Jack lifted his hands to do just that when she spun around and returned to wandering about the cramped parlor. Jack turned to follow her, to keep her in sight in case she made to stride from the room, from the house, from him.
“This room really is dreadful,” she said after another charged silence, a silence during which Jack attempted to figure out what he’d done to set her against him. It couldn’t be his careless remark the night of her mother’s ball, not entirely.
“Awful,” he replied carefully to her back.
“I seem to remember Mrs. Dumfries having a knack for decorating,” she continued, peering up at a painting of two boys rolling a hoop in Hyde Park. “Likely Miss Dumfries inherited her mother’s talent. Perhaps you should ask her to help you with this room.”
Jack let out a bark of laughter, relief and amazement mingling to make him almost lightheaded.
“Is that what this is about, Livy?” he asked incredulously.
“This what?” Olivia turned to face him, her chin lifted in the air.
“Of Miss Dumfries?” she asked with a sniff. “Don’t be ridiculous. I wouldn’t trade places with that child for all the tea in England.”
“It was just a harmless bit of flirtation,” he said as he stalked toward her.
“It matters not a bit to me if you flirt with every woman in Town.” She stepped back from him until her hip grazed a statue of a blue elephant and she was trapped in the corner between the elephant and a carved wooden screen with butterflies painted in various shades of pink.
“Although I must say it was rather déclassé to do your flirting in my brother’s house, at my mother’s annual ball!” Her voice rose with each word until she was screaming at him as she’d done in the snow all those months ago.
At the time he’d found her behavior shocking, now he found it encouraging, hopeful.
“You’re absolutely right,” he agreed as he stepped into the corner with her. “I apologize. My behavior was beyond boorish.”
“Boorish but effective.” She stepped to the left, clearly intent upon sidling around him.
Jack shifted with her, effectively forcing her farther into the corner.
Undaunted, Olivia tossed back her head. “Although I must admit, I am a bit confused as to why you called upon me day after day, why you accosted me on the street today.”
“I wanted to see you,” he answered, not sure where she was going with this new tangent. Christ, keeping up with Olivia’s agile mind was a lot like following a conversation in Latin. Jack had never been much good with Latin.
Olivia sucked in a breath, all the color leaving her face. “You don’t intend to offer me some bauble, do you?”
“Bauble?” He’d purchased a ring but the large square-cut sapphire hardly classified as a bauble.
“Isn’t that what men do? They give a mistress a piece of gaudy jewelry, something no lady would ever wear, something meant to be sold to hold her over until another man comes along?”
“What are you talking about?” Jack growled as her meaning became clear. “You are not my mistress!”
“Well, I don’t need your tacky jewels,” Olivia growled right back, giving him a shove to his shoulder that didn’t budge him. “Let me by!”
“There won’t be another bloody man,” he snarled low in his throat.
“Don’t you curse at me.” She grabbed him by the lapels of his coat as if to shake him. “I am not some cheap doxy you can curse at whenever you choose. And I am not London’s goddamn Darling!”
The Countess of Palmerton had finally reached the end of her tether. Seething with rage, burning with a lust so powerful she’d been forced to flit about the room in order to refrain from grabbing Jack Bentley and wrestling him to the ground, Olivia did the only thing a lady can do when backed into a corner.
Tightening her hold on Jack’s lapels, she rose onto her toes until they were nearly eye to eye.
“Either put your cock inside me this instant or get out of my way,” she demanded, her voice vibrating.
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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