Genre: Historical erotic romance
Flame rating: Scorching
Publisher: Rising Phoenix Publications
After a night of passion with her betrothed, Sir Geoffrey Longford, Lady Alyse de Courcy is eagerly looking forward to her wedding. But when Geoffrey is forced to marry another, a heartbroken and possibly pregnant Alyse finds herself in her own private hell. She must either gamble with her reputation or marry someone she does not love.
A reputed connoisseur of women, Thomas, Lord Braeton, has dallied with many ladies of King Edward’s court, although he has favored none. However, as Geoffrey’s best friend, Thomas has sworn to serve and protect Alyse, an oath now sorely tested when he agrees to marry her—in name only—to guard her reputation. Yet, as they grow closer, and Thomas discovers Alyse’s sweet but spirited nature, he comes to desire a marriage in truth. Can he overcome her memory of Geoffrey or is Thomas doomed to burn with passion for a woman he can never possess?
“Lady Maurya, Lady Anne, Margaret,” the princess beckoned them. “Lord Braeton would have a moment with Lady Alyse. Would you attend me, please?” Princess Joanna passed Alyse, caressing her arm as she led the confused women through the door.
At the touch, Alyse sought the princess’s eyes. Fear gripped her heart at the pity she saw there.
“Thomas.” Alyse curtsied quickly then blurted out the fear she had fought almost since Geoffrey had left. “Is my lord well? Have you news for me?” Thanks to Anne and Margaret’s thoughtless comments, she had become convinced Geoffrey had fallen ill with Sir Robert’s ailment and now himself hovered between life and death.
Avoiding her eyes, Thomas answered briefly. “Aye, my lady. When I left him, Geoffrey was well enough.”
While his words relieved her, a shadow still lay on her heart. If Geoffrey was not ill, why had Thomas’s manner changed? What had summoned this aloof stranger? He was withholding something from her.
“And Sir Roland?”
He hesitated, searching her eyes then looking away. He fisted his hands. “Sir Roland is…has…”
Alyse could stand it no longer. She crossed to stand directly before Thomas, laid a cold hand upon his arm, and gripped it. “Tell me.”
That there was something he could not bring himself to tell her filled her with terror. He said Geoffrey was well enough when he left. What about now?
Before she could question him further, he drew out a folded piece of parchment, sealed with blue wax and stamped with a signet ring bearing Geoffrey’s family crest. She stared at it, a cold dread creeping through her.
“Geoffrey bade me place this in your hand and no other, my lady.” Thomas thrust the missive toward her.
Alyse compelled herself to hold her hand out.
He sighed. “He also bade me be at your service, lady, had you need of anything.” He gave the parchment into her hand. As he did so, she looked into his eyes and recognized the same pity she had seen in Princess Joanna’s.
Panic made her arms weak and her fingers numb. She forced her shaking hands to break the seal. Alyse unfolded the letter and slowly read the scratched and blurry words.
Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance. She is currently finishing revisions to her fifth full length novel, To Woo A Wicked Widow, set in Regency England and the first book in her five part series, The Widow’s Club.
Only Marriage Will Do, second book in her Georgian House of Pleasure series is with the editor. Her medieval trilogy, Time Enough to Love, is being published by Rising Phoenix Publications. Book 1, Betrothal is currently available. Book 2, Betrayal, will be available at the end of January.
Jenna has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.
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