Charity Barlow wished to marry for love. The rakish Lord Robert wishes only to tuck her away in the country once an heir is produced.
A country-bred girl, Charity Barlow suddenly finds herself married to a marquess, an aloof stranger determined to keep his thoughts and feelings to himself. She and Lord Robert have been forced by circumstances to marry, and she feels sure she is not the woman he would have selected given a choice.
The Marquess of St. Malin makes it plain to her that their marriage is merely for the procreation of an heir, and once that is achieved, he intends to continue living the life he enjoyed before he met her.
While he takes up his life in London once more, Charity is left to wander the echoing corridors of St. Malin House, when she isn’t thrown into the midst of the mocking Haute Ton.
Charity is not at all sure she likes her new social equals, as they live by their own rules, which seem rather shocking. She’s not at all sure she likes her new husband either, except for his striking appearance and the dark desire in his eyes when he looks at her, which sends her pulses racing.
Lord Robert is a rake and does not deserve her love, but neither does she wish to live alone.
Might he be suffering from a sad past? Seeking to uncover it, Charity attempts to heal the wound to his heart, only to make things worse between them.
Will he ever love her?
M rated Except
Charity stood by the tall arched window, the light turning her hair gold as she swung round to frown at him. “That was rude of you, Robert. You had no call to speak to me like that in front of Lord Southmore.”
“Southmore is not a man to be trusted.”
“He is your friend, is he not?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean I approve of everything he does.” Robert walked to the table. “Would you like a sherry?”
“No, thank you.”
Robert dropped his hand and went to sit on the sofa.
He watched her walk around the room, her skirts swaying gracefully around her. “Come here.”
She remained where she was.
“If you wish.” She crossed the room to stand by his side.
He took her hand, turning it over in his large one, marveling at her delicate fingers. He thought of the carvings he’d seen on her mantel. “I’m sorry I snapped at you.”
“Are you?” She pulled her hand away, her voice doubtful.
He patted the sofa beside him. “We need to learn more about one another, don’t you agree?”
When she hesitated, he seized her by the waist and tumbled her onto his lap.
“The servants might come in.” Charity struggled to rise, but he held her fast within his arms.
“No, they won’t.”
“How can you be sure?”
“They wouldn’t dare. I told them we wished to be alone.”
Her green eyes widened. “Why do such a thing? There will be gossip in the servants’ quarters.”
“Servants love to talk. Why must we deny them something to talk about?” His hands roamed from her tiny waist to her bodice and her full breasts, enjoying the feel of her soft curves. She was unlike the willowy women he was used to. Her derrière felt plump and delightful against his hardening erection. Should he stop? He struggled with his conscience and his conscience lost.
He slid his hands up her smooth thigh, wishing to bare her body and study every bit of her he wanted to kiss and lick.
“Robert, should you…”
“Yes. I intend to make love to you.”
She squirmed and gasped. Her full lips open and inviting. “Now? Here?”
“Why not now and here?” he asked, forced to remove his hand as she jumped up. He drew her down again. “Don’t you want me to touch you?”
“But this is scandalous.” Charity’s eyes widened, her small pink tongue licked her bottom lip, sending a bolt of fire straight to his groin. She gave a shy smile. “A kiss perhaps.”
He found himself trembling as if it was the first time for him too, when he took her chin in his hands and softly pressed his lips to hers. Charity gave a soft moan. Her hands moved through his hair to the nape of his neck, pulling him closer. God, he’d started something now. How he wanted this luscious and delicate woman.
She drew away with a deep shuddering breath. “The bedchamber at night would surely be the ….”
Robert began to undo the hooks on her bodice. “I find myself unable to wait.”
“Unable? But you said …”
He undid the last hook and pulled her gown away. Leaning forward, he kissed the tender nape of her neck. “Can’t a man change his mind?”
“You agreed.” Charity continued to make a half-hearted attempt he disregarded as blood roared in his ears. “You said that we could wait before—”
“Hush.” He kissed her satin shoulder and let his fingers wander. Her shift was trimmed with lace and green ribbon, her corset embroidered with birds and violets. She looked delectable, good enough to eat. And he determined to do something very much like it.
Robert’s breathing grew heavy, and his cock hardened. He fumbled at his breeches to free it. Charity watched him, her eyes enormous. She opened her mouth to protest and he kissed her to silence her. The kiss lengthened, and after he finally broke away he gazed into those wonderful green eyes with amber highlights, and tasted her lips again. He couldn’t get enough of her sweet mouth. He drew away to find Charity breathing quickly, her pretty lips swollen and lush. So she enjoyed his kisses! Confident, his hands continued their work and while she didn’t assist him, neither did she stop him. Soon, her petticoats and corset joined her gown, a froth of ribbons, lace and silk on the chair.
His breath came in pants, as his mind fogged with lust. When he cupped her breasts to rub the taut nipples through the silk, she arched her back and gave a tiny cry.
He broke away to gaze at her. Her flushed skin was rosy and beautiful, her eyes hazy with desire, her breath as heavy as his.
He wanted her sweet body convulsing with pleasure under him.
“Don’t you think it’s time we made love?” he asked, his voice tight with need.
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