When friends turn to lovers, anything can happen…
A mistress should never be foolish enough to fall in love with her protector, nor trust him with her financial future. Mariah Desmond did both, and now her dearly departed protector has left her with nothing.Forced to seek another protector, she’s determined that this time, she’ll lead with her survival instinct—not her heart. But when she attends one of Vivien Manning’s infamous parties, the familiar face of her late lover’s best friend throws her for a loop.
A painful past taught John Rycroft that he’s not fit to be anyone’s knight in shining armor. His soft spot—make that a hard spot—for Mariah is precisely why he’s kept his distance. Yet the sight of her flirting with a bevy of men vying to become her next lover makes something inside him snap.
As John hauls her bodily away from her suitors, Mariah’s indignation melts away in the heat of the sizzling sexual chemistry. She quickly finds it isn’t easy to navigate John’s stormy emotional waters. Especially when his abusive father’s quest to get his son back under his thumb puts her life in danger.
“Let me go,” she squealed as she continued to squirm and wriggle in his arms. “You son of a bitch, release me at once!”
He could hear her tears in her voice and the sound cut him as deeply as a knife to the heart. His desire to fuck vanished, replaced by another troubling need to help her. He squeezed his eyes shut as he tried to block out that strange instinct to comfort, but it was stronger than he was, at least in this moment.
He spun her around so he could look at her as they spoke. Also so that her finely curved backside would stop tormenting his rapidly hardening cock.
“Mariah, stop,” he ordered in as firm a tone as he could manage. “Stop.”
She squirmed a little more, but slowly the movements ceased and she simply stared up at him, eyes wide and filled with tears that she blinked to keep from shedding.
“How could you not tell me?” she whispered. “You were supposed to be my friend.”
He jolted. “Is that what you think?” he asked, flattening his palm against her back and molding her against him even closer.
She stared up at him, eyes wide in the firelight, breath short. Everything between them shifted in that moment. She recognized that he wanted her. Better yet, he saw no resistance to that in her trembling body or wide-eyed stare. In fact, he saw a faint flicker of her own desire mirrored in there. Unexpected and glorious.
He couldn’t help it. He lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her.
John had dreamed of kissing Mariah for as long as he’d known her. Her mouth was made for the act, with its full lips and pert tilt. That and…other activities they had already witnessed in the next room a moment ago. The thought had him groaning against her lips, and to his surprise, she took advantage of his parted mouth. She drove her tongue between his lips and tasted him.
But whatever control she exerted in that moment was lost as he immediately went wild. He dragged his hand into her hair, tilting her head for greater access and lifted her ass with the other, grinding her against his erection so she would know what he wanted. What he was.
She yanked away to stare at him, panting with the same desire and confusion that was painted all over her face.
“We were many things while Owen was alive,” he murmured. “But I was never your friend, Mariah. You can feel that now, can’t you?”
“Jess Michaels delivers with a passionate, deep, and slightly dark story that truly entertains and pulls the reader deep within the pages of her story.” — Paperback Dolls
“…the writing of this books draws you into the story so completely you forget about everything else… one hot encounter.” — Darkest Addictions
“…a veritable buffet of steaming sensuality, which will have you squirming in anticipation of discovering what else Ms. Michaels has in store for the reader…” — CK2’s Kwips and Kritiques
“…a very sexy, wickedly naughty, character driven, mystery bound historical romance that kept me reading long after I should have stopped.” — Unwrapping Romance
“…such an enjoyable ride…” — Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries and More
“…a very heated read…” — Delighted Reader
“Jess Michaels writes some extremely steamy historical romance novels.” — Fiction Vixen Book Reviews
“…a very good follow-up to An Introduction to Pleasure…” — Love Saves the World Reviews
“Whew! Jess Michaels can write a book with some smokin’ hot sex scenes.” — Reading Between the Wines