SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: Tempting the Pirate by Tamara Hughes

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Charity Goswick thinks she is escaping an arranged marriage to a brute when she slips onto a ship unnoticed. Little does she realize that this is no honorable vessel of the King’s Navy—it is a pirate ship. It’s just a matter of time before she is discovered by a handsome rake of a pirate, who locks her in his cabin. And while she should be scared, her captor sparks the most unladylike feelings within her…

James Lamont is on the ship for one reason, and one reason only: to track down his brother. However, his spirited little stowaway certainly affords plenty of distraction with her many (failed) attempts to escape. And each time, the unspoken—and unbidden—passion between them grows stronger. But as violence and danger mount on the high seas, Charity will have to put all of her trust in the most untrustworthy of men… the arrogant pirate who just might steal her heart.

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EXCERPT

She shifted to her back and scanned the darkened room. James lay in his hammock, his hands behind his head.

Perfectly at ease. The chair had been returned to the desk, away from the door. The locked door. He’d taunted her with the key like a jailor giddy with his little slice of power. If you can take the key from me, you can keep it. She glowered in his direction, his breaths now deep and even. Sleeping so peacefully. Soundly. Perfect.

Charity rose from the bed, her movements silent and purposeful. Lifting her hem, she took one step, then two, the boards beneath her feet creaking and her body adjusting to the rock of the ship. She inched closer until she stood over him. His dark lashes fanned over his angular features. He was handsome, without a doubt, but he had his share of flaws. Everyone had flaws. And without his skillful words to influence her, his defects would surely reveal themselves. Bending over him, she took a closer look.

No warts. No blemishes of any kind. Or overly long nose hairs. In fact, in the moonlight, his face appeared very much like the skillful work of a sculptor. His skin smooth, and his features perfectly carved. Drat.

His dark beard lightly shadowed the lower half of his face. Hardly a defect. The rugged quality only served to enhance the strong line of his jaw. She bent lower. Those whiskers could be coarse and prickly. Not that she’d touch them. Still, anyone he kissed would no doubt feel the scrape. She contemplated his lips. Not too thin or full, ideally shaped, their gentle slopes irritatingly perfect.

With a deep, slumberous sigh, he shifted his position, turning his face to the side. A silent groan reverberated inside her head. What in heaven’s name was she doing?

The key.

She glimpsed the leather cord through his open collar. On bated breath, she grabbed the string between her index finger and thumb and tugged the leather. The length inched upward until the edge of the pouch peeked out from beneath his shirt.

James uttered a low grumble, and she nearly jumped from her skin. She stilled and searched his face, her hand clamped onto the cord a fraction of an inch above his skin.

His eyes closed, he scratched his chest where the pouch had rubbed, then rested his hand on top of hers. Smothering a curse, she stared at their hands. What now?

The pouch. She could see it. So close. She grasped its exposed edge with her free hand and dragged it free, then fumbled with the opening, tipping its contents into her palm. In a jingle of metal on metal, a handful of items poured out. A jackknife, a locket…the key tumbled from her palm, slipped off James’s chest, and landed on the floor with a clink. Curse it! She needed that key. By his own words, it would be hers if she could reach it.

Intent on freeing the hand trapped by his, she eased it back, but the moment her hand moved, he gripped it more firmly.

“Stay with me,” he mumbled, circling an arm around her shoulders, drawing her closer.

Her pulse stuttered, and she held her breath as she crouched in the awkward position with her head resting on his chest and her hand still trapped beneath his. No, no, no.

She tamped down her frustration before she gave herself away. Her mind spun with useless ideas, nothing that could free her from the predicament she’d found herself in.

Giving a sleepy groan of contentment, James slid his hand from her shoulder. It roamed down her spine, dipped to her waist, then rose to cup the side of her breast.

A choked gasp escaped her throat. She looked toward his face and found his eyes open. They glittered with humor.

“Oh!” She jerked away, overturning the already tilted hammock. They both fell to the floor. She landed hard on her back, and James’s muscular body followed. He braced himself on hands and knees to avoid landing fully on top of her.

“Are you hurt?” he asked, his face concealed by the shadows.

“I don’t think so.”

He chuckled low. “That was interesting.” Amusement laced his voice, and her mind conjured that wicked smile of his as he leaned in and his lips grazed hers.

Although the caress was scarcely a touch, she tingled all the way down to her toes. Miss Biddle would be aghast. But as the soft pressure of his lips increased, the warnings of her former governess failed to have the same impact they’d had in the past.

His mouth slanted across hers, and warmth seeped into her bones. He nuzzled her neck, and his beard gently scraped along her skin, the texture of those hairs rough yet heady. His breath fanned along her ear, sending little shivers down her arms to her fingertips. “You taste like perfection,” he whispered, the slight rumble through his chest intoxicating.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

professional-outdoor-headshotA small town girl with a big imagination, Tamara Hughes had no idea what to do with her life. After graduating from college, she moved to a big city, started a family and a job, and still struggled to find that creative outlet she craved. An avid reader of romance, she gave writing a try and became hooked on the power of exploring characters, envisioning adventures, and creating worlds. She enjoys stories with interesting twists and heroines who have the grit to surmount any obstacle, all without losing the ability to laugh.

You can connect with Tamara at: her website * ~ * ~ * Facebook * ~ * ~ * Twitter * ~ * ~ * Goodreads

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