Posted by cynthiashepp
Today we have an exclusive excerpt from USA Today bestselling author Erica Ridley’s newest Dukes of War regency romance: The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress!
Captain Xavier Grey’s body is back amongst the beau monde, but his mind cannot break free from the horrors of war. His friends try to help him find peace. He knows he doesn’t deserve it. Just like he doesn’t deserve the attentions of the sultry bluestocking intent on seducing him into bed…
Spinster Jane Downing wants off the shelf and into the arms of a hot-blooded man. Specifically, the dark and dangerous Captain Grey. She may not be destined to be his wife, but nothing will stop her from being his mistress. She could quote classical Greek by the age of four. How hard can it be to learn the language of love?
The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress
In this scene, Captain Grey has rejected Miss Downing’s offer to become his mistress—and her assertion that he is a hero. He doesn’t feel like one, and believes sending her home with her virginity intact will be the first step toward becoming a better man. However, the two are snowbound in his remote cottage for the foreseeable future, and Jane isn’t willing to give up the hope of sparking something between them. She’s been invisible her entire life, and has finally found someone who truly sees her…
Xavier glared at Miss Downing in silence.
She lowered her voice. “War is terrible. I recognize that. But now it’s over. What happens next is up to you.”
He pushed to his feet and piled the dishes and silverware into a stack. “It’s not that simple, and we’re done talking about it.”
She gathered the cups and the teapot and followed him into the kitchen. “Of course it’s not simple. Did you know Major Blackpool was one of only two people who ever bothered to stand up to dance with me at a ball? That moment will literally never happen again. He no longer attends balls at all. He’s missing a leg. From what I understand, he can barely walk and shall never dance again. But his life isn’t over.”
Captain Grey submerged the plates into a bucket of water and pushed it out of her reach. “Who was the other man you danced with?”
“My brother. Why won’t you let me wash the dishes?”
“Scullery work is hard on the skin, and you have pretty hands.” He began to scrub the first plate. “Blackpool is a hero. I am not. You’d do well to remember that. It would be the height of foolishness to trust a man who doesn’t trust himself.”
She shook her head. “Fighting for innocents and defending your country is inherently heroic. I believe in you. Closing yourself off won’t change that. No matter what you do, your heroism will always—”
He grabbed her face with wet hands and closed his mouth over hers with bruising force. No doubt he expected her to swoon, or slap him, or some other such nonsense.
She gripped his arms and held on tight.
His lips were wide and firm. The rough hands cradling her face dripped with water, but all she felt was warm. Desired. He was holding her in place as if he never wanted to let her go. Hope soared within her. She pressed herself even closer and let her eyes flutter closed.
Even through his clothes, the muscles of his arms were tight and firm beneath her ungloved hands. What would it be like to feel them wrapped around her? Would he hold her close with the same desperate passion that had begun this kiss? Or would his embrace be tender, as his lips were now, brushing against hers with gentle insistence?
As he suckled her lower lip, her mouth parted—not in surprise, but in eagerness. Just because it was her first kiss didn’t mean she was ignorant of what pleasures it might bring. She rose on her toes to meet him.
She had researched the matter extensively, and was delighted to discover that he had been right about book knowledge failing to communicate the complete picture. No mere words on parchment could remotely convey the heat and immediacy andâ€¦ dizziness of having his mouth mold to hers. The heady sensation of need and shared desire.
Being kissed was more than she’d ever imagined. Being kissed by him was more than she’d ever dreamed.
Her fingers trembled—her entire body trembled—and she clutched his neck with abandon. She could no longer stand. She couldn’t feel her legs, her knees, anything except her mouth on his and their bodies cleaving together. The rest of the world melted away. It was as if she’d been waiting for this moment, this man, all of her life.
She licked at his lower lip and thrilled when a raw groan escaped his throat. Her heart hammered against her ribs, pushing her bosom against his chest with every staccato beat. All she could think was that she never wanted their kiss to end. This was heaven.
His tongue met hers and a delicious shiver shot down her spine, electrifying her skin. He tasted of tea, but also of a spice she could not define. He tasted of virile man, she supposed. Of Captain Xavier Grey. Everything about him was strong and sure and masculine and completely irresistible. She wanted to be his. She wanted him to be hers.
Her knees weakened. He felt like home and danger and hope all wrapped into one. Her breath escaped in tiny bursts when she remembered to breathe at all. He didn’t just make her feel desirable. He proved with every consuming kiss, with the thundering of his own heart against hers, that his desire for her was powerful enough to devour them both.
She was already lost.
He pulled away, gasping, and ran a shaking hand through his hair.
It was all she could do not to sway right back into his embrace.
“Was that heroic?” he rasped. “Or was it a selfish man doing what selfish men do?”
She gazed back at him in wonder. Her lips were tender from his kiss. “It was beautiful.”
“It was foolish.” He turned back to the bucket and reached for the next dirty saucer. “It shan’t be repeated.”
Erica Ridley is a USA Today best-selling author of historical romance novels. Her latest series, The Dukes of War, features roguish peers and dashing war heroes who return from battle only to be thrust into the splendor and madness of Regency England.
When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Costa Rica, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.