Today on the blog, I’m thrilled to share an extract of Lara Temple’s Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal…
In this scene Lily and Lord Ravenscar are alone in the house Lily inherited. Ravenscar has been ill and Lily was been tending to him but is now back in her room. It is late at night and suddenly something goes bump in the dark…
At least this time she wasn’t asleep when the noises began.
She should have been after the events of the past day, but she remained frustratingly awake, thoughts and images darting around her mind like the school of colourful fish in the bay.
The sound was so soft at first, a faint scratching and clicking. It might have been a branch tapping at her window, the wind outside was high enough, whooping and hissing, except that there were no trees near any of Hollywell’s windows and the sounds hadn’t come from outside.
Don’t be ridiculous, Lily Wallace. Remember what you told Alan…if there are sounds, they have a perfectly rational, earthly cause. Either go see if there is anything there or ignore it and read your book.
Oh, blast it.
She tiptoed to the door and raised the candlestick ahead of her, trying to see into the gloom of the corridor. Perhaps it was Alan after all. Could he possibly be wandering about at night again? He was no longer ill enough to justify such stupidity, was he?
Several doors down she saw a line of faint golden light under Alan’s door. He was awake. Was he ill again? She had thought he had recovered but hadn’t Mr Curtis been well enough to go to church and then he had dropped dead? Perhaps Alan was even now lying on the floor of his room, dying…She hurried forward and her hand was already raised to knock on his door when she saw it. Just a flicker out of the corner of her eye, and she turned, raising her candle.
She dropped the candlestick and the world went black and her imagination wild. She groped desperately in the dark for the knob. The door opened abruptly and she propelled herself inside and slammed against something hard.
‘Lily. Good God, what is it?’ Lord Ravenscar’s arms went around her.
Alan. Oh, thank God, Alan. She turned into him, practically burrowing into his side, her hands fisting on the warm fabric of his shirt.
‘There’s something in the corridor. I saw it. It’s not human. Alan, no…’ she tightened her hold on his shirt but he merely tucked her against his other side and stepped into the doorway and stopped. He started shaking against her and instinctively her arms went around him in case he was about to collapse. His arms tightened around her as well, drawing her back into the room and closing the door, his mouth brushing her hair.
‘I warned you about those novels, didn’t I?’
He was laughing! She tilted her head back, between horror and outrage.
‘I am serious, there is something out there. I am not hallucinating!’
‘It’s not out there any more, it’s in here now. Hello, Grim, old boy. No one told me you were still alive. How on earth did you enter Hollywell? Looking for the tabby cat? This place is a menagerie.’
His voice was so uncharacteristically gentle, especially after the acrimony earlier that evening, she relaxed and looked down into the liquid eyes, filmy with age, of a tall, black-as-pitch dog. It leaned its rain-dampened head lovingly against Alan’s thigh as Alan’s free hand stroked him.
‘You know him? What did you call him?’ she whispered, reaching out to touch pull the dog’s ear gently between her fingers, sinking into the rhythm to calm her shaking.
‘Grim. He used to be my dog a lifetime ago, before I left Ravenscar. Where have you been, Grim? Make your apologies to the lady. You scared this Amazon as white as her nightdress.’
‘He did not!’ She began pulling away but his arm tightened and only then did she realize he had been stroking her back as well as the dog. It had been so natural and right, she hadn’t noticed except now to miss it.
‘Whiter,’ he murmured. ‘That muslin is a delicious shade of rich cream. Now we just need some peaches and strawberries to dip in it…that’s better, you were looking a little ghost-like yourself for a moment. Did he wake you?’
She looked down into the adoring eyes of the aged dog, escaping from the less adoring but far more unsettling eyes of his erstwhile master.
‘I couldn’t sleep and then I heard something…’
‘You can’t charge after ghosts in the middle of the night, Lily. It’s dangerous. You are too brave for your own good.’
‘I’m not, I was absolutely terrified. My mind froze.’
He pulled her against him and she pressed her cheek into the warmth of his shoulder. In a moment she would go.
‘Fear is natural and healthy, Lily. It means you have something to lose. If you weren’t scared I’d be worried about you. Whenever any of my soldiers really turned their back on fear, I knew they were in trouble. Sometimes we have to put it aside, but never put it away. You should be a little more forgiving towards yourself.’
His voice flowed over her hair, warm and soothing and his hand was caressing again. Smooth and gentle, his fingers shaping and reshaping the curve of her waist and hip. Each motion sent a shiver of heat through her abdomen, gathering between her thighs and tingling over her chest.
She drew back, remembering his cold anger from before.
‘That is rather in conflict with your comments earlier this evening. I thought was being too forgiving towards myself?’
He considered her but the coldness she had expected didn’t return.
‘Perhaps both. In any case, next time you hear a bump in the night, set the bells pealing but stay in your room. Haven’t any of those novels taught you anything?’
His voice was sinking, hoarse now, a warning in itself. She tried to pull herself back behind her usual defences.
‘Just that fiction is more exciting than fact.’
‘That won’t do. That is practically an invitation to prove you wrong.’
ABOUT THE BOOK
“Women either ran from Lord Ravenscar or ran to him.”
A Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies story
Alan Rothwell, Marquess of Ravenscar, is furious when unconventional heiress Lily Wallace refuses him purchase of her property. He can’t even win her over with his infamous charm. But when fever seizes him and they’re trapped together, horrified, Alan realizes Lily’s attentions will compromise them both! His solution: take Lily as his betrothed before desire consumes them completely…
Purchase Link: myBook.to/Ravenscar
Giveaway – Win 3 x e-copies of Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal (Open Internationally)
Lara Temple writes strong, sexy regency romances about complex individuals who give no quarter but do so with plenty of passion. Her fifth book with Harlequin Mills & Boon, ‘Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal,’ will be published in March 2018, and is the second in her Wild Lords series. Her four previous books are: Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress, The Duke’s Unexpected Bride, The Reluctant Viscount, and Lord Crayle’s Secret World.
When she was fifteen Lara found a very grubby copy of Georgette Heyer’s Faro’s Daughter in an equally grubby book store. Several blissful hours later she emerged, blinking, into the light of day completely in love with Regency Romance but it took three decades of various fascinating but completely unrelated careers in finance and high tech before she returned to her first love.
Lara lives with her husband and two children who are very good about her taking over the kitchen table for her writing (so she can look out over the garden and dream). She loves to travel (especially to places steeped in history) and read as many books as possible. She recently went looking for that crowded little bookstore but couldn’t quite remember around what corner it was…hopefully it is still there and another girl is in the corner by the window, reading and dreaming…
Social Media Links –
Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2mWin9R
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LaraTemple 7