I’m so excited! Today, after six long months of waiting, the second book in the Scandal in Surrey series is here!
The Bride’s Gambit is available and out in the wild.
Here’s the blurb:
She wants a dashing, courageous man…Vanessa Underhill is on the run from her fifth would-be groom. She doesn’t care for any of the men her father has picked–none engaged her mentally or physically. Hunger for a man who will stir her imagination fires her virginal fantasies.
He wants understanding… When he’s bored with his role as Viscount Blackpool, Collin Northington becomes a highwayman to gain anonymity and solace. With his face scarred fulfilling his military duty in India, he hides behind the brigand mask and persona. What he really desires is a woman who will look beyond outward appearances and take a chance.
If only for one night… In lieu of payment, Collin kidnaps Vanessa from the northern-bound stage. The more time they spend together—and in each other’s arms—the more they find they have in common beyond heated desire. When Collin delivers an impromptu marriage proposal, Vanessa unmasks more than his scarred face, but will his true identity and her penchant for fleeing grooms ruin what could very well be love?
Opportunity threw them together but circumstances might tear them apart.
And a short excerpt:
The next moments ticked by in pregnant silence. She could remain inside and stay safe for a while, or she could go outside into unknown danger and ruin. This was her choice, a step onto a new path. A slow smile parted her lips. It was time to live for herself, to discover who she was outside of her parents’ wishes and home, and damn the consequences. If Papa couldn’t choose a decent man for her, and she’d already proclaimed most dim-witted and uninteresting, maybe she needed an indecent one. She suspected the highwayman could do nicely.
“Thank you, sir.” She slipped her hand into his. The instant his gloved fingers closed around hers, warmth slid upward to her elbow. Heat continued to bloom when she moved to the door and he placed his hands on her waist before lifting her out. For one breath-stealing moment, she was crushed against the hard wall of his chest. “Oh my.” She slid her hands over the wide breadth of his shoulders and past a scarlet waistcoat decorated with black embroidery then her feet found purchase on the road and he released her.
The highwayman secured the door to the carriage. He strode, with a slight limp, to the driver. Not once did he look back at her. In black breeches that hugged every lean line of his thighs and calves and a billowing white shirt, he appeared the consummate mystery villain—and a man who would haunt her womanly dreams. He tossed the coachman a coin and touched the brim of his black hat. “Be sure you take those two straight on to your destination. Don’t return until they disembark, and tell no one what transpired on this road.”
“As you wish, gov’ner.” The driver flicked a glance at Vanessa then just as quickly snapped it back to the road. He slapped leather reins against the horses’ backs and the coach rumbled into motion. A cloud of dust trailed behind it, leaving her with the rogue.
Vanessa swallowed around the sudden lump in her throat. She was alone with a highwayman, on a road far from home, with no one to help her if things turned ugly. Yet, despite the reality, her stomach pitched with excitement. Goose flesh raced over her skin. Never had she felt so alive or filled with so much purpose. She stared at the brigand, whose back was still to her. The wayward ends of his blond hair falling past his collar were tied at his nape with a scrap of leather. “What now, sir? Shall you drag me off into the woods and ravish me without mercy? Have your wicked way in lieu of payment I do not have?”
A wash of heat crept into her face at her effrontery. Where had those thoughts come from, and why did they seem like very good ideas? Did she want him to do such things when not three hours ago, the thought of being in a man’s bed had left her shaking with disgust? She snorted from the absurdity. She didn’t know the answers to any of the questions that had plagued her this evening, but she desperately wanted the option to decide.
As he turned to face her with his hands on his hips, she uttered a soft gasp. The red silk mask he wore covered the upper portion of his face, but his jawline, shadowed with short blond whiskers, and those sensual lips gave her imagination more than enough material to work with.
“Trust me, madam, I have thought about it. Quite frankly, I’m of the mind to do just that merely for the hell of it.” He closed the distance between them by half, and the dust from the road dulled his Hessian boots. “Before we come to an understanding, I’d enjoy a few preliminary niceties like introductions and perhaps a short conversation about where you were headed.”
“It isn’t exactly proper.” She had no prior experience to draw from.
“Yet us making a cake of ourselves in a tangle of limbs here on the main road would be?” He made a show of glancing about the empty, wood-lined road. “Do you see anyone here to guide us through introductions?”
“No.” She bit her bottom lip.
“Very well.” The beginnings of a grin softened his face. “My name is Collin. You do not need to know my surname at this time.”
“The Honorable Miss Vanessa Underhill.” Should she curtsey? Offer her hand? What did one do when making introductions to a brigand?
“Ah.” Recognition sprang into his dark brown eyes. “The troublesome would-be bride from Farnham.” He took a few steps closer. “Then, you must be running from yet another ill-advised nuptial union.”
I hope you’ll pick up this book. It would be a terrific way to help you relax during the hectic holiday season!
Also, today I’m over at Books-n-Kisses talking about it and giving away a Starbucks gift card.
Plus, there’s still time to visit me over at Lady Scribes. Comment to win a pretty bookmark over there.