Viscount Lindenhurst cannot seem to find a governess who meets his impossible standards—until Cecelia Sanford becomes the first woman to interrupt the widower’s brooding in years. Lind had returned home from the Napoleonic wars, broken in body and soul and longing for his wife’s embrace, only to find her changed. Before they could reconcile, an accident struck their son and claimed her life. Now enter Cecelia, with her soft curves and sharp tongue—a tempting distraction, it is true, but not a welcome one.
Past the usual marrying age and haunted by a scandal of her own, Cecelia soon finds herself caring for both the child and the man. The viscount is brittle and even abrupt at times, yet she cannot deny the attraction that stirs her body in his presence. Moved by the deep sense of abandonment that tortures his soul, Cecelia aches to fully awaken Lind’s heart from its rancorous slumber—if she can just keep their pasts from destroying a second chance at love.
At the tender age of fifteen, Cecelia Sanford knew she was too young to be observing a nearly naked man. Especially when said man was nine years her senior and a close friend of her brother’s. Most especially when said man was Richard Blakewell, Viscount Lindenhurst.
The sight of him clothed caused an odd heaviness to settle in the pit of her belly. Clad in almost nothing but golden skin set aglow by the rays of the rising sun . . . The heaviness turned hot and liquid. It made her blood simmer and her own garments constrict about her body.
As she watched, he kicked free of his trousers. Her mouth went dry. Muscles rippled along his back and buttocks, perfectly proportioned like the statuary she’d seen once in London. Only, those statues were cold and dead. Marble fig leaves covered their most interesting parts.
Not Lind, as her brother referred to him. Lind was now gloriously naked. If only he’d turn a bit more and reveal the final mystery.
Except then he might catch her spying on his early morning swim, and that wouldn’t do at all. Like the rest of the household, which was sleeping away the effects of a late night, she was supposed to be in her bed. But footsteps in the corridor had awakened her—booted feet and not the furtive padding of the servants. His feet, as she’d seen the moment she stuck her nose outside her bedchamber door. She couldn’t help but wonder why he was abroad so early, and so she’d dressed hastily and trailed him to the pond.
He splashed into the water before she could catch a glimpse of anything better. She ought to go back to the house before he noticed he wasn’t alone, but something about him drew her. Something more than his dark good looks, vivid green eyes, and that odd half-smile that tugged at his lips when he deigned to give it. Something more than even the sight of his perfectly sculpted back and rounded hindquarters that caused her palms to itch with the desire to squeeze. Something more than the brief view of the dark hair scattered across his chest—so masculine. So adult. He possessed a fascinating darkness that called to her to plumb its depths, and an air of forbidden danger blanketed him.
Oh, no. She most definitely should not be here, but she could not uproot herself and turn back. In fact, if a particular direction compelled her feet to dislodge themselves from the stony path, it was forward. Toward the pond.
Toward Lind, who now knifed through the frigid water.
If someone should come across her, she’d be ruined before she was even old enough to mingle in polite society. Part of her wanted to be ruined. And that wicked side of herself wanted Lind to be the author of her ruination. Lind and no other.
He stood, the water now waist high, eyes closed, face raised to the sun. With both hands, he pushed back the hair plastered against his head. Biceps flexed on a pair of arms worthy of a Greek statue. Droplets slipped across flawless skin. Her fingers tingled at the thought of replacing those drops, tracing the path downward, and somewhere deep inside, an aching throb began a merciless beat.
More than anything, she burned to know where that liquid, vital awareness led. She needed the knowledge like she needed air. And like the proverbial curious cat, that urge eventually led her into trouble.
Because the next man who piqued her curiosity was clearly not a gentleman.
Publisher and Release Date: Random House, November 4, 2014
Time and setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by Vikki
I thoroughly enjoyed this moving story of triumph over adversity. I always enjoy a story with a tortured hero and a misunderstood heroine. Both Cecelia and Lind had dark secrets in the past. Cecelia lost her innocence as a young girl of sixteen to a scoundrel who continued to plague her for years. Lind returned home after almost losing his life at the Battle of Quatre Bras a broken and wounded man, betrayed by the only woman he had ever loved.
Cecelia has been attracted to Viscount Lindenhurst ever since the tender age of fifteen as the reader finds out in the prologue. We next meet her when she applies for the position of governess to the now widowed Viscount Lindenhurst’s five-year-old son and heir. Lind has become a bitter man and rules his household like a commander rules his troops, and he expects Cecelia to fall in line with all the rest of his servants. After she disobeys one of his many rules, he tells her he’ll give her two days to teach his son how to write his name, or he will dismiss her as he has the last four governesses. Thus starts a battle of wills and a growing attraction between the pair.
This wonderful story has plenty of romance, some mystery and lots of deep passion. As the story unfolds, several moments brought tears to my eyes, especially the tender way Cecelia works with Lind’s troubled and confused child. My heart ached for Cecelia’s lost innocence at such a young age and in such a cruel way. Even though Lind has a disability, he does not let it pull him down. He soldiers on, dealing with his pain, refusing to allow others to do for him what most men would accept in his situation. Ms. MacNamara knows how to wring emotions out of the reader. She has a smooth and flowing writing style that helped keep the pacing steady and even, keeping the reader engaged from the first page to the last.
Overall, this is an enjoyable read and I will be looking for more books by this talented author. If you enjoy a story that pulls at the heart strings, with well-developed characters and an engaging storyline, then this is a book you will not want to miss.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashlyn Macnamara is the author of What a Lady Craves, A Most Devilish Rogue, and A Most Scandalous Proposal. She lives in the wilds of suburbia outside of Montreal with her husband and two teenage daughters. When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading, and wasting time on the Internet in the guise of doing research.
You can connect with Ashlyn at: