Saturday, April 30, 2016

Holding Out for a #Hero or a #Heartbreaker? #ComingSoon #preorder #ASMSG #IARTG

Heartbreakers and Heroes! 

Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks

Love doesn’t always follow the rules.

Get your hands on TWELVE sexyHEARTBREAKERS AND HEROES, a brotherhood bound by their troubled youth. A tragedy reminds them of the mentor who taught them all the rules to become a man. But some of them haven’t been following the rules…These TWELVE new novellas from USA Today bestsellers and your favorite contemporary authors are sure to get your pulse racing and heart pounding.


HIDING WITH THE HEARTBREAKER by USA Today bestseller Virginia Nelson

Making people laugh for a living is easy, but when a beautiful stranger needs Aloysius Sutton’s help, he has to find a way to become Jude’s hero.

HOW TO UNBREAK A HEART by USA Todaybestseller Jennie Marts

Solitary cowboy, Trip Turner finally has a chance to correct the mistakes he made when he let the woman he loved walk out of his life twelve years ago. But now that Bre Wilson is back, will he be able to unbreak her heart?


Zeke always planned to steal her heart, but she left him on base. It’s the bottom of the ninth, and Charity is up to bat. Can she tell her two-all stars the truth or will a foul end her best chance?


Can Stefano and Roxie resist the heat flaring between them or will working together force them to face their rocky past and give them the happily ever after they deserve?

HER UNWANTED HERO by Veronica Forand

A disenchanted police officer must choose between keeping a woman’s affection or keeping her alive.


When an A list actor returns to his hometown, old wounds and fresh gossip emerge… along with a second chance at love, if he’s brave enough to stick around.


Can Olympic mountain bike champion Ryder Bennett and his public relations rep Addison Carrington keep things professional between them this time around, or will they risk a sexy scandal for a chance at love?


Ty Preston ran out on the woman he loved twelve years ago, but now he’s back to prove he’s a changed man. However, Rayne can’t risk getting her heart broken by the cowboy again.


She’s about to change this playboy’s rule book.

HERO IN DISGUISE by Sharla Lovelace

Billionaire playboy Jake Jericho thinks he has it all, until one phone call reminds him otherwise. Can one week in disguise reform this trust fund playboy, or will his deception destroy the only real love he’s ever known?

SECOND CHANCE HERO by Michelle Major

Travis Jackson might not be the white knight Hailey Moore needs, but he’ll risk his future to win her heart.


Can Savannah teach serial heartbreaker Walker to be domesticated in ten days and convince them that maybe they can have s shot at a ‘them’ or can Walker convince Savannah there can be a ‘them’ on his terms only?

Friday, April 29, 2016

All Aflutter

One of my (in my opinion) best books, HER CAPTAIN,  released Tuesday from Decadent Publishing and I couldn't be more thrilled or excited.

Isn't that a gorgeous cover? It's brand spanking new. HER CAPTAIN originally released from Fated Desires Publishing in December,  and almost immediately thereafter, Fated closed its doors and removed all books from sites and booksellers. HER CAPTAIN was part of FD's Tempting Signs series and this is what the cover used to look like:

Not bad, not bad at all.

Still, the demise was disappointing. I love this book and I wanted so much to see it back on cyber shelves and Kindles and other e-readers everywhere. And I'm so happy that now DP has made it so!


Slate Claybourne, former Navy SEAL, returns to his bucolic hometown on Pieberry Island, desperate for the everyday routines he once wanted to escape.
Still unable to be around people, his body a lethal weapon when his night terrors wake him from sleep, Slate’s failed to keep the promise he made to the commander who died in his arms: to look after the older man’s baby girl.

But animated Holly Harper is not the pigtailed tot Slate expected her to be. She shocks him to the core when she lands on the island to take over the decrepit Pieberry House, determined to turn it into an inn for summer tourists…and even more determined to yank Slate back into the land of the living.

First she crashes into him at the island’s Winter Festival, dumping a towering stack of pies at his feet, then she drags him off to a fortune teller against his better judgment.
He's a Capricorn. She's an Aries. Except for the sizzling attraction smoldering between them, they’re incompatible in every way.

But when a furious December nor’easter traps Slate and Holly together at Pieberry House, will love be in the signs? 


“I like the tousled look on you,” she confided.
“Jesus. You really have no boundaries, do you?” He raked her with a glare and rested the cartons on the hood of a nearby car then brushed a hand through his disheveled hair. His attempt to restore some semblance of order failed miserably when a wayward lock flopped over his forehead. Growling, he flipped the stray curl away with an irritated gesture.
“I think not,” she responded. “I’m never going to have them where you’re concerned.”
“We’ve just met, Holly.”
“But I don’t feel like we’re strangers, really. Didn’t my dad ever mention me? He talked about you. Besides, I’m an Aries. Get used to it.”
With his now-straggled hair and a puzzled air reorganizing his features, he appeared almost boyish, or might have if it hadn’t been for the wave of pure, unadulterated lust smacking her like a two-by-four every time she gazed at him.
“You have no idea what Aries is, do you?”
“It’s a constellation. I’m a sailor.”
“It’s also a zodiac sign. You know, like in horoscopes? And it’s not actually aligned with the constellation anymore because of the way the equinoxes have caused a shift.”
His eyes glazed over a little.
“Aries are impulsive, impetuous, impatient, and daring,” she nattered on, surprised at her breathlessness but not her need to babble. “I’m guessing that’s everything you’re not.”
He frowned. “I can be impatient,” he said as if that was a good thing. The look he shot her indicated his nerves might, in fact, be wearing a little thin at the moment.
“And, I suspect, given your last employment, daring, too.”
“Maybe that,” he conceded. “Not by inclination or choice.” He shrugged. “Anyway, I’m a lobsterman now. And I run the ferry when needed.”
“But still mainly serious, driven, hard-working, and wise, fiercely loyal, tough, and unapproachable on the outside, but with a soft, warm, and squishy nougat center. I have you pegged for a total Capricorn. I’ll bet you’re a secret romantic at heart although you never show the world that side. When’s your birthday?”
“Do we have to play this idiotic game?”
“We do. And it’s not idiotic. You’d be surprised how telling astrology can be. Was I wrong about you?”
“Well….” He paused, and the silence between them lengthened.
“I’ll take that as a no.” She grinned at him.
“All right.” Again, he said nothing more, and she wanted to shake him until a confession fell out of his mouth.
“Chatty, too.” She tapped her foot and crossed her arms over her chest, drawing his gaze to her breasts. But he still didn’t take the hint. She groaned. Such a man. “Eyes up, sailor.” She flicked a finger in the vicinity of his chin until he raised his focus. “Birthday?” she demanded again.
“In a couple of weeks,” he said at last, the admission apparently so difficult it might have been wrung from him on pain of torture.
She snapped her fingers. “Knew it. Do I have you sussed or not?”
“Do you?”
“I mean we’re completely incompatible. Like oil and water. The tortoise and the hare.”
He shot her another incendiary look and then glanced at the exit as if contemplating how fast he could make his getaway.
“Oh, wait. So I ruffled your feathers a little, and you’re not going to help me now?”
Instead of replying, he seized her fiercely by the arm and spun her around, dragging her into him until he’d caught her up against his rock-hard chest. Then his mouth came down on hers, hard, harsh, and demanding. Giving absolutely no quarter. Shocking her into utter and complete silence.

Whoa! I thought this man lacked spontaneity? Holy simmering cinnamon buns!

Buy links:
Amazon CA : http://amzn.to/1XW2lIN

Amazon UK : http://amzn.to/242BlhQ

In other news... Signing on Long Island tomorrow!

I'll be doing my first ever solo book signing tomorrow on Long Island. If you're in the vicinity, I'd love for  you to stop by. To say I'm nervous about it is far understating the situation! It's a Charity event at the Gardiner Mall Barnes & Noble in Bay Shore, Long Island. Lots of other things will be going on all day, but I'll be around to sign, and perhaps read a hot excerpt of ANOTHER CHANCE, my sexy Black Hills Wolves shifter story, sometime between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. (It's later in the day because my excerpts are not that likely to be G rated!)

A portion of my sales will go to benefit the charity. If you can't make it to Long Island, you can buy books from April 30 through May 5 at bn.com/bookfairs.

Here's the flyer for the event:

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lana and The Laird Book #3 in the acclaimed Untamed Highlander Series by Sabrina York

Lachlan Sinclair cannot escape his accursed heritage in his Highlands homeland. Somewhat resigned to the fate that destroyed his ancestors, he is prepared to live his life without an heir, without a wife―without love. But when he meets the woman of his dreams in the flesh, the bewitching lass makes him want to throw away his cursed, restrained existence…and unleash the highlander within…

Lana Dounreay has only seen the Duke of Caithness in her dreams as a wild, rugged man, while in reality, his life has been cramped by curses and cravats. He may have forgone his kilt and lost his brogue, but Lana knows that the heart of a true Scotsman beats within his broad, muscular chest. But what plans does the mysterious, passionate Lachlan have in mind for her―and can she convince him that love is stronger than all else?

Lachlan threw back his covers and set his feet on the floor. He had to wait until he stopped shaking to stand, and even then his legs were limp. When he could, he stumbled to the wardrobe and found a pair of breeches and a simple shirt. After a fright like this, he needed to walk, to clear his mind, his soul, of the terror.
He didn’t wake Dougal. He never did. It was unfair to ask his cousin to bear the onus of his curse. Lachlan made his way through the deserted halls of Lochlannach Castle, down the grand staircase, and headed for the terrace that overlooked the crashing sea below. There was a moon tonight. The view of Dunnet Bay would calm his soul. And if it did not, there was always the option of stepping over the edge and into oblivion.
But as he emerged into the cool velvet night, it wasn’t oblivion that awaited him.
It was Lana Dounreay.
She sat on the seawall staring out at his coveted view, dressed in a diaphanous froth that had to be her nightdress. Her hair, turned silver by the night, hung down over her shoulders, glimmering in the moonlight.
His heart pattered, but for a very different reason.
She was so lovely, so serene, it made his breath catch.
He came to stand beside her without a word, tucking his hands in his pockets and staring at the sea. She glanced up at him, but without surprise, as though she had expected him. Together they gazed out at the dark ripples of the water, the shards of light dancing over the surface of the blackness.
A gentle breeze wafted by, bringing with it her scent. It made him dizzy.
Ah, how he wished . . .
He wished he were another man. A man not cursed. A man not haunted. A man not doomed to an early death.
A man who could have kissed her once.
How magnificent would that have been?
He must have sighed because she put her hand on his arm. It was warm. Soft. Alluring.
“Can you no’ sleep?” she asked in a soothing timbre.
He glanced at her and his gaze was snared. Her eyes were so wide, so blue, so deep. He wanted to drown in them. “No. I . . . had a visitor.”
Her brow rumpled. “A visitor?”
“Yes.” He turned back to the sea. Though he was loath to discuss this with anyone, lest they think him mad, he knew she would understand. “My father.”
“Ah. I see. Does he visit you often?”
Lachlan snorted a laugh but it was really not one. “Too often.”
Lana tipped her head to the side. “You . . . doona enjoy his visits?”
“I do not. They are . . . terrifying.”
Why this puzzled her was a mystery. Ghosts were terrifying.
“Can you describe the visit?”
Something in her tone caught his attention. He sat beside her on the wall, listening to the waves crash below. It took a while for him to collect his thoughts, but she waited. “He is always dour. Pained. There is wailing and—”
“Yes. But it is the chains that are the most perturbing.”
Lana blinked. “Chains?”
“Yes. He’s draped in them. Bound by them. It is his eternal torment. Because of the curse.”
“How odd. None of the ghosts I know wear chains.”
“They are probably not cursed.”
“Probably not.” Her lips quirked as she murmured, “As there are no such things as curses.”
His heart lurched. Would that that were true. He studied her face. Beautiful as it was, that hint of amusement pricked at him. “Do you find this funny?”
“Nae. No’ a bit of it.” She patted his hand. Her heat lingered. “’Tis just . . . odd.”
“What is odd?” Was he really asking? This whole conversation was odd.
“Odd that your ghost wears chains. Chains are verra . . . of this earth, after all.”
“He’s being punished. They are probably metaphorical.”
“Most likely.”
As they turned back to the vista before them, Lachlan reflected that this was, indeed, a surreal conversation to be having. But then, with someone like Lana, it made sense.
“Your mother doesna wear chains.”
His belly roiled at the thought. “I am . . . gratified to hear it.”
“She seems quite at peace.”
“Good to know.”
“Except that she worries about you.”
“Will you tell her I’m fine?”
“I canna.”
He gaped at her.
She lifted a shoulder. “I willna lie to her. Besides, she knows you’re no’ a happy man.”
A happy man? Was there such a thing?
“I am a cursed man.”
“I am.” He didn’t know why he smiled. His lips just wanted to move that way.
What was it about this woman, this sprite, that made the shadows waft away? Made all his dark ruminations evaporate like mists in the sunlight? Made him smile after the horrific encounter he’d just had?
Ah, but it didn’t seem so horrific. Not now. Not with her by his side.
Lana shot him a glance that warmed his heart. “She thought you looked verra fine tonight at dinner.”
“Ah. The kilt.”
“Aye.” Her lashes fluttered. “I thought you looked verra fine as well.”
Now, that stirred something in him. Something illicit and naughty. “Did you?”
“Was I manly?” He was teasing, perhaps, but when she flicked a glance at him, with that expression—one of hunger and admiration and . . . heat—all his playfulness withered, scorched by the blazing flare of his lust.
There was something about the cloak of night, the refreshing scent of the sea, the fragrance of her perfume, the way her hair riffled in the breeze. Or maybe it was his churning need to wipe the memory of his father’s visit from his mind, or the suddenly clawing desire to be a man he could never be . . . but Lachlan had to kiss her. Everything in him ached for it.
And so he did.
Though it was foolish and injudicious and wildly inappropriate of him, he did.


Bold and steamy—Publisher’s Weekly
A stunning tale from beginning to end—Love, Life and Booklust
Top Pick—Night Owl Reviews
York turns her talent for sizzle to men in kilts—and the women who love them—in her newest sexy romp—RT Magazine

Untamed Highlanders Series
Lana and the Laird—Coming in May 2016


Want More Highlanders by Sabrina York?

Scorching Highland Romp by @sabrina_york and @SMPRomance http://sabrinayork.com/lana-and-the-laird-by-sabrina-york/

About Sabrina York
Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & snarky to scorching romance.  Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bj8tKb.

Follow my Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/sabrinayork
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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cerise DeLand's #Regency #bestseller #comedy LADY VARNEY'S RISQUE BUSINESS #Free #1in #series! Get it now!

AMAZON    KOBO    iTunes   ARe
I am tickled to tell you that LADY VARNEY's RISQUE BUSINESS, #1 in my bestselling Regency Romp series, is now free!  That's right, zero dollars, zero cents! FREE!

When a proper lady of the ton takes on a new client in her risqué matchmaking business, she discovers that he has one decadent demand. Spend the night with him!

Lady Kitty Varney runs a discreet business to support herself and pay off her late husband's gambling debts. When Viscount Justin Belmont appears in her parlor, Kitty's latest client is the very man she was forbidden to marry years ago. Kitty questions if she can find Justin a woman worthy of him...and if she can bear to help him wed any other woman.

Then Justin lists his criteria for a wife and Kitty is shocked to learn she is among the few candidates suitable. He demands each candidate spend one night with him.

Can Kitty deny herself the chance to enjoy the charms of the man she's never forgotten? Lady Varney's risqué business might be her saving grace–but it may well become her undoing.

Your nibble of my cherryExcerpt, Copyright 2014, Cerise DeLand. All rights reserved.

Kitty stiffened her backbone, but felt no stronger than a floundering mackerel. How she took the circular staircase down to her drawing room was a mystery, given her knees of jelly.
#2 in series!
“Buck up, Puss,” she chastised herself. She pulled open the double doors herself rather than call her butler and crowd the occasion with unnecessary others. She needed to look upon Justin Belmont at this particular moment alone.
And oh, my. Yes. To realize that the newly dubbed Viscount Belmont, American-born, Englishman by blood, nobleman now by adoption and the entail, was even more devastatingly handsome than a decade ago when the world seemed fresh and full of positive possibilities.
“My Lord Belmont.” Kitty sailed toward him where he stood before her fireplace, her expression, she hoped, one of civility. My lord, how can you shake my sanity so easily with that harsh look? That painful curiosity in your hazel eyes?
Here before her stood the man who had saved her from lascivious Frenchmen more than a decade ago. Huge and imposing as Satan then, he was now more muscular, his face more angular, his hair more raven against skin more pale. In clothes that were better tailored and more form-fitting than the loose linen shirts that once had flowed to his fingertips, he was now the epitome of a titled English gentleman. He gave no hint of the American privateer who had captured her body with his boldness, her mind with his intellect and her heart with his artless charm.
She walked forward, her gaze up at his imperial height, her hand out for him to take.
He touched her fingertips, his own cold as the grave. “Lady Varney. Kind of you to receive me.”
#3 in series!
You don’t sound as though you think me kind. You sound…dismayed, appalled, even—dear god—disgusted that you are here.
“Please, my lord, do sit with me.” She nodded to one settee, and as he complied, she took the one facing him. His eyes, such a myriad of earthen colors, faceted in the lamplight of late afternoon. They flowed over her hair, her lips, her breasts, her fingers. Everywhere his gaze touched, her body pulsed, remembering how once he had looked at her with desire. Not this…this indifference. That sparked her to lie with her next words, “I am delighted you have come to see me.”
He did not even breathe as he said, “Are you now?”
“Of course,” she countered his challenge, but stayed true to her manners by adding, “I have heard of your recent good fortune.”
He cocked a long black brow. “When the news is published in the scandal sheets as well as the social notes, nothing in London is a secret.”
She licked her lower lip. “Very little.”
“But this service of yours,” he said with measured tone as he circled a hand in the air to denote her business, “this is a tidbit only the men of the ton share with each other.”
She hastened to agree. “Those who need help have found my—”
“Assistance? That is what you call your match-making, am I correct?” One corner of his mouth tipped up and she could not say if the move denoted humor or ruefulness. “Whatever your services, I need them.”
His directness had her fighting for a response.
“I hear you pride yourself on your knowledge of human nature,” he prodded her.
She lifted her chin. “Or to be exact, the nature of men.”
He barked in laughter. “If you knew that, dearest woman, you and I would not be sitting here.”
Should she show him the door? She bristled and sought to hold her ground, reprimand him, if she could. “You asked for this appointment, my lord.”
“It seemed the only way to see you,” he shot back.
“Perhaps I am mistaken, but I was under the impression that you requested a Sunday afternoon appointment because—”
“Because since my newfound status as a peer of the realm was announced in September, you have not invited me to any of your dinner parties.”
“Forgive me, but you really wished an invitation to dinner?” Incredulous at that conclusion, she felt a thrill sweep up her spine that he might indeed not seek a wife. “I—I am only recently out of my year of mourning for my husband, Justin, and those who may dine at my table with me do not include bachelors.”
“Especially bachelors whom you once knew? Ah, the rules of this blasted society!” He leaned forward, his gaze at once tender and yearning. “Kitty—”
“Please, sir, I am still Lady Varney to you.”
“You never were that to me. Besides, you just called me Justin.” His eyes twinkled.
“I did not!”
“Of course, you did.” He sat back, crossed one long leg over the other and seemed too well satisfied with himself to soothe her ruffled senses.
“We are here to discuss business,” she insisted with a hauteur that had him narrowing his gaze on her.
#4 in series!
It was not a kindly glance, either, but the fierce glare he’d worn so long ago as he climbed over the sides of the French Cyr to rescue her from those bastards.
He blinked. Drew back and appraised her.
Good. At least we are now on firm footing. Two equals about to do business. Not two older people who had cared passionately for each other in their youth.
She tipped her head when he remained silent. “Please tell me what you wish.”
He set his jaw, never having cared for anyone to give him orders. “As you know, I am to inherit the Earl of Belmont’s titles and estates. He is ailing. Sadly, I might add. I have come to care for my uncle deeply in the past six years. When I first set foot in England eleven years ago, I must say I had no idea he and I would ever get on. But we did. Do. Save for one issue.”
Kitty nodded, knowing precisely the matter that divided them. Touchy subject though it was, she went on boldly, because that was her wont, because it was her business to be forthright and because she knew this man very well. Or once had. “He wants you to marry.”
Justin seemed to retreat even further into himself. His jaw firmed. His lips thinned. His large eyes turned to glittering stones. “He wishes me to marry an heiress with title, high social standing and a suitable dowry. To put a fine point on it, he wants the perfect woman.”
“The earl thinks appropriately. His titles are six hundred years old and his estates are numerous and bring in a sizeable sum each year.”
Justin snorted. “My uncle was right about you.”
Kitty felt what would come next would not be a compliment. “How so?”
“He declares there is not much you do not know about the peers of the realm, their income or their need for propriety.”
“To learn the genealogies of the famous one hundred families was a favorite pastime for a lonely little girl.”
His features softened to a genuine compassion that made her heart ache. “You were alone as a child?”
She swallowed, not wishing to remember her youth. “I do have one sister, younger by ten years. But our parents were preoccupied with society. Hence, the house was often cold and dark. But the library was a wonderful room, warm and full of enchanting tales. Not all of them were fiction.”
His mouth spread wide in a grin and her memory of how those lips felt on her own was one she told herself could not be so fresh after more than a decade. Yet, it was.
She tipped her head, unable to suppress a smile. “Please tell me about the kind of woman you wish me to seek for you.”
“Ah. Yes.” He scowled, his glittering eyes hard as glass. “First, she must be lovely.”
“Of course.” No less for such a striking man. Besides, a plain woman would be intimidated by a husband who was so damned handsome.
“Blonde?” Hair color was often listed by a man, but not usually this early in the discussion.
She shifted. That specific? “I see.”
“She must be a peer in her own right.”
Kitty knit her brows, recalling how her own  barony of writ  had been the lure to Henry. “Why is this important?”
“Her own blue-blood complements my lack. Since I was born on the wrong side of the blanket, a lady in deed secures my own legitimacy.”
Kitty’s mind was racing. How many single golden-haired ladies who were titled in their own right could she count? Four? Five?
“It also enhances the reputation of any of my offspring.”
“True. I had not thought of that.”
Looking innocent as a cherub, he lifted a palm. “You see my logic.”
“Certainly.” Dear god, a taskmaster. “What else might I add to her qualifications?” A huge dowry? That’s what the ton says the old Earl demands of you.
“She must be shorter than I. Talented at the piano forte. A good conversationalist.”
“Really, how interesting.” Her gaze wandered to her own French piano. She frowned and noted, “Most men would have asked that she be a wizard at cards.”
He chuckled.
 “Most bachelors,” she ventured, “want to ensure they keep their money in the family.”
“Oh, never doubt, my dear Kitty, that I have other requirements perhaps more astonishing than not caring about my future wife’s ability at the card table.”
Oh, my.  This was the point at which many men told her they wanted peculiar qualities in their spouse. She hadn’t expected any oddities from Justin. Would she be disillusioned as well as surprised? And even more jealous? “Do tell me what they are.”
“I want someone versed in the art of conjugal bliss.”
Was she gaping at him? “I’m sorry. I supposed, I mean, I presumed—”
“You thought I wanted a virgin?”
“I did. Most men do.”
“Not I.”
Why ever not?” Was that her own shrill voice?
A grin flashed over his features. “I also want someone who has had a child.”
“A—?” Kitty blinked, clearing her impression of this man who now seemed suddenly so calculating. “Pardon me?”
“I need an heir. I need to be assured that the woman I marry can conceive and carry a child to term, birth him well and rear him. This means she must be of good constitution. After all, I will need not one child but at least two. Preferably three.”
Kitty could not believe her ears at his extraordinary list, but nodded and went on with the topic. “Raised by her, of course.”
“I want no fainting lily. No frail Bess. And no parade of nurses and governesses.”
“But surely, you need one,” she babbled, “ of each.”
“Of course. One governess. One nurse. And one loving mother.”
“I see.” Kitty began to have a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach that signaled either rage or a headache. Stress like this reminded her of verbal sparing with Henry who thankfully had gone to his Maker. The cure for that had been for her to run to her garden. Prune her roses. Trim her yews. At the moment, she could do neither, but deal with Justin and his demands. “You are being very specific.”
“I am.”
“Almost too much so.”
“Why do you say that?”
She rose to her feet, the sensation of standing so quickly made her head light. Airy. Euphoria had her swaying. So unexpected was this feeling that she walked toward the fireplace and put a steadying hand to the mantel. “Let me recount your requirements.”
He nodded as he sat in his chair, looking so infernally regal and congenial that she wanted to gather the fine lapels of his frockcoat in her fists and shake him. “Proceed.”
“You want a young woman, an heiress with wealth—”
He raised a hand to make her pause. “She need not be young. Too young and she is not useful to me as a wife who can bear children.”
“Quite. Shall we say that you want a seasoned woman? Yes?”
He nodded. “Go on.”
“Blonde. Golden-haired, specifically. Shorter than you, so then she must be five-feet-four or five inches tall. Good at the piano, in the assembly hall and the ballroom. Versed in the bedroom. A woman who has already borne a child and who wishes to bear more. She must also enjoy the process of raising them. Anything I have missed?”
He let his gaze drift up to her cap of golden curls, then down to lock on her eyes. “That is an excellent summary.”
She braced herself for what she was now about to say. “I have made matches for men for a long time.”
“Ever since you began to emerge from mourning for your husband.”
She gave Justin a small smile. Realizing he knew this about her was a delight. “Yes, and I have created some very fine marriages. Though not all of my couples have yet taken vows, those five who did, are very happy.”
Justin brushed imaginary lint from his trousers. “So I have heard.”
“But these requirements you list are unusual.”
“I am a very exacting man.”
“You are. Your friends declare it. I hear your tailor does, too. Your butler.”
“I shall have to reprimand my man for engaging in gossip,” he told her but his eyes and his lips quirked in amusement.
She tipped her head, unable to resist grinning at him and learning more. “Your butler is a good friend of my cook. They talk often.”
“To you as well, it seems.”
“My sources are legion. They help me with the work I do.” She raised her brows. “You must realize to match-make I need to know many facts about people.”
“A necessity of your occupation.” He winked at her, sending her back to days on his ship when she’d been so entranced by his charm.
She cleared her throat and returned to the subject of his visit. “Your list limits me severely.”
“I am aware of that.”
“There are few women who possess all the qualifications.”
He rose and came to stand before her.
So close now, she breathed his cologne. Smelled the mint on his breath. Admired the dimple in his left cheek and the facets of green and brown in his large heavy-lidded eyes. “In fact, there are only three women who meet all of your requirements.”
“Ah. But wait, you have not heard them all.”
“No? Preposterous! There is a very small pool of possible candidates, Justin. To add more requirements would be burdensome—”
“But my fortune will be very large. My homes, here and in the country, are grand estates. I will be married to this woman for many decades, and I need the best companion possible.” He frowned, very determined looking. “I have the right to declare to whom I shall be joined!”
“Precisely so, my lord, but we must be prudent.”
“You be prudent! I shall be as I am!”
His virulence shocked her.
“Your fees are high. I shall have whom I want! Who is best suited to me.” He strode closer and seized her arms, his powerful body dwarfing hers. Once his might had been comforting, but now, full of fury, his size made her wince. She had been intimidated by her husband far too often and she would not be by any man ever again.
She stiffened her spine. “Tell me your other requirements.”
“She must spend twenty-four hours with me at Belmont Manor.”
“Oh, I see.” She let out a breath, relieved. “You want her to visit.”
“No, I want her in my bed.”
Kitty blinked. “I...I’m sorry. You want her—?”
“Naked. I want to learn if she likes men. Me, to be exact.”