Modern-day bounty hunter Bethany Bennett helps her brother track two fugitives to a forest outside of Houston, Texas. But what should have been a routine apprehension of two bail skippers spirals out of control and ends in violence. After Beth and her brother are both seriously injured, a mysterious figure suddenly looms over her. And, when the smoke clears, Beth finds herself not only in another place, but in another time.
As Lord Robert, Earl of Fosterly, attempts to identify and track down the nameless enemy who has been plaguing his lands and people with violence, the most peculiar woman stumbles into his path. Small, vulnerable, yet possessed of a bold, fiery spirit and wicked sense of humor, she persists in dubbing Robert and his men members of something called a medieval reenactment group . . . until she sees his castle and labels herself mad. It seems bounty hunter Bethany Bennett has come to him from the future, bringing with her laughter and chaos, swiftly winning the hearts of his people and inspiring within him a love he thought he would never experience again. But when Robert discovers a way for her to return to her time, will the love they share be enough to keep them together?
“I can’t bathe with you here,” she protested.
“I will not watch you, Beth,” he informed her patiently. Though the temptation would be great, he felt confident he could resist it.
“Then go wait for me at the campsite. I can find my way back.”
“I cannot leave you unprotected.”
“Have you forgotten this?” Reaching down to her ankle, she removed the smallest of her weapons from her boot. “I have my twenty-two. I’ll be perfectly safe.”
He eyed the silvery object doubtfully, unsure exactly what such a weapon did. “You are not familiar with these woods and know neither the dangers they possess nor how swiftly they can come upon you. I will not leave you alone.”
Her expression darkened with a mixture of frustration and dismay.
He loosed a heavy sigh. “I am here to protect you, Beth, not ravish you. Had the latter been my intention, I would have already done so. I vow I have never taken a woman by force in my life.”
A flush mounted her cheeks.
“I have already told you I will turn my back. If ’twill make you feel better, then leave your undergarments on, though I assure you such is not necessary.”
A moment passed. “Fine,” she grumbled, scooting off the rock and stepping onto the grassy bank. “I guess it’s nothing you haven’t seen before anyway. Just don’t take this as an invitation.”
“As you wish.”
Robert learned something new about her then. When Bethany decided to place her trust in someone, she gave her full trust.
After placing her twenty-two on the ground a few feet from the water’s edge, she proceeded to disrobe without even asking him to give her his back. She discarded her boots and odd, thick, ankle-high white hose first. Then she parted her long-sleeved tunic down the middle and shrugged out of it.
He stepped forward and extended one hand.
A question in her gaze, Bethany handed him the jacket, he thought she called it.
“I thought to wash it for you whilst you bathe.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Are you sure you’re real?”
“I do not understand.”
Shaking her head, she lowered her hands to the sides of her odd vest. “You’re too good to be true, Robert. First you say you would give your life to protect me.” Rrrrip. “Then you kneel in icy water and wash my hair.” Rrrrip. “And now you’re offering to wash my filthy clothes for me.” Rrrrip. Rrrrip. She lifted the vest over her head. “No man is that nice.” Tossing it aside, she reached for her belt. A few nimble pulls and it joined her vest at her feet.
Robert stood rooted to the spot, his mouth dry, breath quickening, as she tucked her fingers beneath the hem of her tiny sleeveless tunic, then dragged it up and over her head.
Heat seared him, racing through his veins and pooling in his groin.
Was that a bra? Those two tiny scraps of sleek black fabric that cupped her full breasts the way his hands itched to, barely covering the pale pink crests and held in place by the thin black straps whose purpose had eluded him earlier? More plump, pale flesh than he had anticipated rose above the edges, the shadowed valley between them drawing his hungry gaze.
Despite the fact that almost every inch of her skin was coated with dried blood, Robert found himself consumed with lust the likes of which he had not experienced in years.
“Mayhap I am not as honorable as you think I am,” he admitted hoarsely.
Unconcerned, she handed him the sleeveless tunic, then started unfastening the front of her breeches.
“Mayhap I only offered to wash your garments in hopes of distracting myself from”—his gaze returned to her breasts—“other things.”
Her eyes met his, then slid away. “Oh.” He thought her cheeks darkened a bit. “Well, just pretend we’re at the beach and this is a bathing suit,” she mumbled, tucking her thumbs in the waistband of her breeches.
“You make a habit of walking along the shore garbed so— By the saints!” he practically bellowed.
Bethany jumped. “What?” Eyes wide with alarm, she scanned their surroundings.
Try though he might, Robert could not look away. He knew he should, but he could not. Nor could he pick his jaw up from where it had landed on the ground. All he could do was stand and stare and go up in flames.
Bethany’s breeches now lay bunched around her ankles, leaving her long, slender legs and almost everything else bare. The only thing that shielded her… modesty… was a V-shaped piece of shiny black material that formed a triangle at the juncture of her thighs and narrowed to two thin strips that disappeared over her hips.
For a moment, he thought he would not succeed in dragging his gaze away.
How those black scraps tempted him, beckoning him to abandon all honor and let his hands and mouth go exploring.
“Robert? You’re starting to make me a little nervous.”
He imagined so, slavering over her the way he was, like a wolf wishing to dine on a ewe.
“Not to mention self-conscious,” she added.
At last, he managed to close his mouth. Clearing his throat, he tried to remember what he had been saying. “You wander along the shores garbed so sparsely?”
She glanced down and stepped out of the breeches. “Actually, no. I sunburn too easily. But I’ve seen women at the beach who wore less.”
“Less than that?” he asked incredulously.
Her brow crinkled slightly. “Aye. Lots of times. Especially during spring break.”
He did not know what spring break was, but surely she jested.
“Are you all right?” she asked, eyeing him dubiously.
All right? Nay, he was not all right. He trembled with need. He was on fire. He was a breath away from losing both his control and his sanity. And she seemed completely oblivious to the effect her near nudity had on him.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Immortal Guardians series and The Gifted Ones series. Reviewers have called Dianne’s books “fast-paced and humorous” (Publishers Weekly), “utterly addictive” (RT Book Reviews), “extraordinary” (Long and Short Reviews), and”wonderfully imaginative” (The Romance Reviews). Her books have twice been nominated for RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and are routinely deemed Top Picks by RT Book Reviews, The Romance Reviews,and/or Night Owl Reviews.
Dianne loves all things creative. When she isn’t writing, Dianne is active in the independent film industry and has even appeared on-screen, crawling out of a moonlit grave and wielding a machete like some of the vampires she so loves to create in her books.
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