Welcome to today’s stop on the tour for THE EARL’S MISTRESS by Liz Carlyle! We have an excerpt here today as well as a giveaway!
Women rarely refuse the wicked Earl of Hepplewood, whose sensual skills are the stuff of legend. But when his new governess answers his proposition with a slap to his face, then stalks out with references in hand, Hepplewood finds more than his face is left burning . . .
Isabella Aldridge has brains, bravado, and beauty-but the latter is no use to a servant. With orphaned sisters to feed, eviction nearing, and Hepplewood’s words ringing in her ears, Isabella realizes she must barter her most marketable asset . . .
But when fate unknowingly sends Isabella back into Hepplewood’s arms, the earl must make an impossible choice-draw Isabella down into his sensual darkness, or behave with honor for the first time in his life.
“Mrs. Aldridge,” he said, snatching his shirt from the branch. “Welcome to Greenwood Farm. You’re a trifle early. I shall take it as a sign of eagerness.”
Isabella stepped backward. “Eagerness?” she parrotted, her eyes fixated upon a broad expanse of bare chest.
Hepplewood moved with a languid grace, shaking out his shirt as he came. “I was glad to learn you’d taken my good advice,” he said, shoving an arm in a sleeve, “but the coincidence of the thing did take me aback—as it has you, too, I see.”
But Isabella couldn’t begin to make sense of it; her brain felt stuffed with wool and her lungs had ceased to work. Hepplewood dragged the shirt on, his chest wall rippling as he drew it down his lithe, smoothly muscled torso.
Somehow, she forced her gaze to his face, resisting the urge to run back to the carriage. “I beg your pardon,” she said again, blinking slowly, “but whatare you talking about?”
He propped one hand on the gatepost that still stood upright, his gaze sweeping her length. “My advice,” he said with a faint smile, “to give up the dull business of governessing for an option that better suits your . . . well, let us call them your God-given attributes.”
Indignation welled up inside Isabella. “How dare you,” she said quietly. “I do not know, Lord Hepplewood, just what sort of deceit you employed to trick me here, but I will have—”
“Mrs. Aldridge,” he interjected, his eyes flashing dangerously as he came around the gatepost. “I should very much like the two of us to get on, butdeceit and trickery are not insults I’ll tolerate.” He set a large, very firm hand on her forearm. “Do we understand one another?”
But the word coincidence was slowly seeping into her consciousness.
“Surely you don’t mean to claim . . . ” Isabella cut off her words, and tried to draw back. “Surely you aren’t suggesting this is purely—”
“Accidental?” He gave an odd half-smile. “Little in life is. I saw a woman I wished to bed, but alas, she declined. Still, women, to my mind, are very nearly interchangeable. It was no great inconvenience to ask the resourceful Mrs. Litner to find me another raven-haired, violet-eyed beauty willing to slake my lust. Imagine my surprise when she wrote that I should expect you.”
“Dear God.” Isabella tried to back away, but the hand on her arm did not relent. “I don’t believe it.”
“Mrs. Aldridge,” he murmured, his eyes roaming over her face, “you approached Louisa Litner with every intention of marketing yourself in just the fashion I suggested. And she has sent you to—well, let’s be blunt—to charm and to flirt with and to almost certainly warm the bed of one Mr. William Mowbrey, a gentleman of very specific tastes. What can it possibly matter to you that I have turned out to be Mowbrey?”
“I . . . I don’t know.” Isabella tried to think. “It just does.”
“Does it?” His voice dropped, his eyes suddenly heavy. “My dear, you intrigue me.”
“I don’t wish to intrigue you,” she managed, setting a hand against his chest. “I want n-nothing to do with you.”
But she knew it wasn’t true; not entirely. More than once during the long drive from London, she had remembered their almost-kiss, and wondered what this man next would be like. Would his eyes flash with fire? Would his touch singe her through her clothes?
Oh, yes. It would.
And she, apparently, was an idiot.
Hepplewood had caught her chin, and was holding it none too gently. “No, Mrs. Aldridge, I was not mistaken in you,” he murmured, his voice thickening. “You are a stunning creature—and very much in need, I think, of being tamed.”
A full set of Liz’s St. James society books (A BRIDE BY MOONLIGHT, THE BRIDE WORE SCARLET, and THE BRIDE WORE PEARLS)