What It’s About:
Geoffrey Kane, Earl of Kanewood refuses to feel anything more than passion. Four years ago, his fiancée betrayed him and he has no desire to experience that again so when he meets the beautiful Rebecca Kingsley, it’s passion at first sight. And only passion.
Rebecca has led a very quiet life working for her father at a small country inn. When she meets Geoffrey she falls in love with him right away. But she’s only the daughter of a baronet and men like Geoffrey never marry country girls like her. Do they?
When Rebecca’s father tries to marry her off to a wealthy old man, Geoffrey intervenes and marries her himself. He wants her very much but he couldn’t possibly love her. Love is for fools. At least that’s what he tells himself. But a sinister enemy soon threatens to destroy all that Geoffrey holds dear, forcing him to face the truth.
His marriage depends on it . . .
And maybe even Rebecca’s very life.
The Raven’s Inn was surprisingly elegant. The brick structure was trimmed with dark green, its long windows sparkling in the late afternoon sun. Rebecca Kingsley was straightening the beautifully-appointed parlor of the inn. Her father, Thomas, insisted that all the rooms look fine. His father had been a baronet, but all that was left of the family fortune, as it were, was the inn. As a younger man, he’d traveled in the social circles of the ton and claimed to know what the gentry and lesser folk alike looked for in food and lodging. Many travelers stopped at the inn, and they expected service and accommodations as fine as any in London, or so Rebecca’s father insisted.
At just twenty years old, Rebecca had been working at the inn all of her life. Her mother died when Rebecca was just two, leaving no real memories. Thomas refused to speak of her and Rebecca had long since given up asking. The only thing he’d say was that she took after her mother in looks. This he always said in a gruffly, affectionate manner that never failed to surprise her. She supposed she inherited her fair skin from her mother, that and her thick raven-black hair. She could never see anything of herself in Thomas.
He never really gave her much notice. She worked as hard as the servants at the inn, keeping her own room as well as half of the rest abovestairs. Mary, the chambermaid, took care of the other rooms as well as seeing to the guests’ personal needs. Rebecca served the morning and evening meals in the dining room, as well, along with Emmy. Emmy was funny and kind and a shameless flirt. She never hesitated to share her experiences with Rebecca, who couldn’t help but blush. She listened, though. Closely.
Rebecca was usually free to go about her own business after finishing her chores abovestairs. But this afternoon, she polished the candlesticks and dusted the furniture in the parlor. As usual, she wore her hair plaited in one long braid coiled at the back of her head. Her simple muslin gown was a few seasons old and well-suited to her task. She paused to gaze longingly out the window toward the stables out back. Beyond them, she could see the gently rolling hills over which she so loved to ride. If she didn’t have to see to the parlor today, she’d surely be out riding her black filly.
From her vantage point, Rebecca could see two figures walking out of the stable’s wide doors. One man was slight of stature and fell in step behind the other. The man in the lead was tall with broad shoulders and dressed in a brown coat and tan breeches. He walked with a long, easy stride. Sun glinted off hair she fancied the color of honey. He had a strong profile, and Rebecca couldn’t tear her gaze away from him. What color were his eyes?
“Fool,” she chided herself. She turned back to her work, flicking her dusting cloth in frustration.
* * *
She moved with an easy grace through the dining room, her glossy black hair catching the light given off by the candles. Curls framed the perfect oval of her face and teased the back of her neck. Her simple gown hugged her lush figure, the skirt swaying over her hips as she walked. She carried a pitcher of ale, and Geoffrey couldn’t take his eyes off her as she moved from table to table.
A man’s voice broke through his reverie. “Fetchin’, ain’t she?”
“What …?” He hadn’t even noticed the gray-haired man who joined him at his table. “Yes.”
“Peter Jenkins is the name,” the slight man offered. “How do you do?”
Geoffrey shook the man’s hand. “Kane. Geoffrey Kane,” he answered. “Very well, thank you.”
The older man gave a flick of his head in Rebecca’s direction. “She’s Kingsley’s daughter.”
Geoffrey raised an eyebrow at that. This beautiful creature was related to the florid-faced innkeeper? Impossible.
Just then, the girl approached the two men. Her mouth curved into a smile for the older man before she turned her attention to Geoffrey. Her rose-colored lips parted as she stared into his eyes for a long moment. “Blue.”
Geoffrey blinked. “What?”
She shook her head. “N-nothing.”
Geoffrey could only stare at the girl, dumbstruck. Her eyes were the color of emeralds, and sparkled as prettily. His gaze fell on her lips as she flicked her tongue over them. Desire shot through him, want like he’d never felt before. Once again, Peter’s voice broke in.
“Rebecca, this is Geoffrey Kane. Kane, meet Rebecca Kingsley.”
The girl, Rebecca, curtsied in greeting after a brief hesitation. She seemed as off-kilter as he felt, to his amazement. After a moment, Geoffrey stood and bowed slightly. “Miss Kingsley.”
“I’m pleased to meet you,” Rebecca said.
Her voice suited her. It was soft and a bit husky. And damn sensual.
“Will you be staying with us long?”
If I can help it. “A few days, actually,” he said, smiling.
She gasped softly, the sound no more than a whisper. “Well, do enjoy your stay,” she said, shyly returning his smile.
She stared up at him for a moment longer. Finally, she filled his tankard. With a nod of her dark head, she continued on through the dining room. Geoffrey sank back down into his seat, his gaze glued to her form.
“Rebecca.” He breathed. “Becca.”
JoMarie DeGioia writes historical romances with a touch of mystery for Lachesis Publishing. And her books are always on the steamy side. Her Dashing Nobles series follows the romances of four male friends in Regency London.