Liam, the Earl of Windbury, had everything when he held his secret lover in his arms. Until a feud between their families left her dead, his body broken, and his sister married to his bitterest enemy.
Wracked with guilt, simmering with rage, he’s spent a year in seclusion, seeing no one except a few servants as he does his best to forget the past and patently refuses to think about any kind of future.
When courtesan Violet Milford enters Liam’s lair, she’s on a secret mission to gather information for Liam’s desperate sister, who fears for his sanity, even his life. What she finds is a man scarred inside and out, whose dark, controlling sensuality hides the kind, wounded man within.
Violet awakens a sexual desire more powerful than Liam has ever known, and her stories weave a spell that begins to work its way past his defenses. But when the truth inevitably comes out, it could well destroy the love that is saving them both.
Violet Milford sat in her carriage outside the very large and rather intimidating London home of the Duke and Duchess of Rothcastle. She stared up at it through her narrow window and wondered, yet again, why in the world she had been summoned here.
Yes, she was without a protector at present, but she had heard all the stories about how besotted Rothcastle was with his bride of less than a year. And what kind of man would bring a courtesan like herself into his main home and flaunt her about for the neighbors and his family to see?
The carriage door opened and she found herself looking into the grizzled, wrinkled face of her longtime driver, Gregson. He looked more like a sea captain than a driver and sounded like one too as he said, “We’re ’ere, miss.”
She glanced at the house again, a niggling fissure of doubt threading through her. Not dread, really, or fear, for she never ignored those intuitions, but something else.
“Miss?” Gregson repeated with a tilt of his head.
She moved toward him, taking the hand he offered so she could step down onto the crushed rock drive.
“Stay close,” she said softly, lifting her hand to shade her face from the unexpectedly sunny day as she continued to look up and up at the mansion.
Gregson nodded. “You think there might be trouble?”
“Here?” she asked.
She let her gaze slip down to the front door. These kinds of places seemed so respectable and safe, but she knew full well that a great deal of misfortune could come from “proper” men in their “proper” homes.
“I have no idea,” she murmured as she moved toward the door.