His expression shifted to thoughtfulness. “I wonder why you might say that.”
“I have…everything a woman could want,” she acknowledged, matching her stride to his.
“Wealth, position. If there’s a material thing that I desire, I simply have to ask, and it’s mine.” She shook her head. “And I’m grateful for these things. I truly am. And yet…”
“And yet…?” he prompted gently.
“It comes at a high price,” she admitted.
“What is that price?”
She considered this. Never before had she spoken so openly to anyone. Not her friends, or her family. But here, now, to be with this man, and to consider the foundations of her life, was both odd and deeply right. At last, she said, “Freedom.”
He contemplated her perceptively. “Must be very restricting,” he murmured. “The responsibilities of your position in society. Not to mention the fact that you’re a woman.” He blushed a little at that word.
It was a charming—but also gently erotic—blush. Her own cheeks warmed.
He continued, “You haven’t the liberty that a man in your place might have.”
“Indeed, no.” She gave a small, strained laugh. “You must think me dreadful to take issue with my admittedly fortunate circumstance.”
He fell briefly silent. “I know a little about having one’s role be predetermined.” They stopped walking, and she gazed up at him. Cool sunlight carved hollows in his cheeks and gilded his eyelashes. “Being a vicar means I must be a model to everyone in my parish. I have to be more pious, more humble, more self-sacrificing. I have to be better at everything while also being deferential. I certainly cannot admit to being an ordinary human man.”
Their gazes held at that word, man. Awareness of him sizzled. His height, his physicality. That suppressed desire. Her own body warmed in response.
She tiled her head to one side, imagining what it must be like to live such a restrained life. “Sounds exhausting.”
“Not unlike being a duke’s daughter, I imagine.” He smiled at her, and that lush warmth continued to gathered through her.
“I never would have thought I’d have much in common with a vicar,” she said with a laugh.
“Nor I with you,” he answered, his smile softening. “But here we are, in this garden.”
“So we are.” Strange how the world worked, that she discovered a man such as him on a day that had started out so perfectly ordinary. It was almost…miraculous. Did miracles happen? She went to church as a matter of form, not faith, though the ritual gave her comfort. Still, it was a revelation to learn that men of God were mortal just like anyone else, with the same needs and frustrations anybody might experience.
She ought to have imagined as such. She often imbued people in her mind with hidden motivations and secrets. He was no exception.
“And does your…wife…feel as you do?” She inwardly grimaced at her lack of tact, but she needed to know whether or not he had someone with whom he could confide. It seemed a shame, a right shame, that he should be alone in this world.
“No wife, I’m afraid,” he said with a self-deprecating grin.
A strange relief shot through her. She reasoned that it must be because it wouldn’t do to flirt with a married man. “Stick around the London Season long enough,” she replied. “An earl’s son, with a living? You’ll make someone a fine catch.”
“I’m just a humble country vicar,” he answered. “Hardly the stuff of a doting mama’s dream for her daughter.”
“You might be surprised.” Without a doubt, she and Mr. Cleland could never be a match. Even if she wanted to marry, he stood too far beneath her to warrant any possibility of courtship. Duke’s daughters and vicars—though they might be sons of earls—made for an improbable, mismatched pairing.
A vicar could never be married to a woman who wrote anonymous erotic novels, either. The very idea was ruinous.
But damn and all the other curse words she wasn’t allowed to use—she liked Mr. Cleland. The way his mind worked, how he spoke to her like a person of equal intelligence, the sensual quality within him. It wasn’t all her writer’s fancy. Something burned in him and it lured her closer, closer, drawn toward the mysteries of this man. Even Lady Josephina wouldn’t find someone half as interesting in her adventures.
And…he was exceptionally attractive. In a way she’d never experienced with another man before. She’d met handsome gentlemen in the past, but Mr. Cleland lit a spark within her, low and hot.
A shame, really, that Sarah couldn’t have been someone else. Because, if she had…she might give him serious consideration.
But that was never to be. She was who she was, and he was who he was, and they would have to be friends—nothing more.
So absorbed was she in this thought, that she didn’t hear footsteps approaching until they were almost upon her. Turning, she saw her mother coming down the path, wearing a pinched expression.
“There you are,” Lady Wakefield said impatiently. She nodded at Mr. Cleland, barely acknowledging him. Sarah felt a small stab of shame at her mother’s rudeness. But a vicar didn’t warrant much attention. “This sun has given me a headache. It’s time to go.”
“Yes, Mama.” Before the words had left her mouth, her mother had spun on her heel and strode off back toward the main house.
Sarah offered Mr. Cleland a remorseful smile. “I’m so sorry.”
“Nothing to apologize for,” he said easily, and it was clear he meant it. He bowed. “It was a genuine pleasure to meet you, Lady Sarah.”
“I feel the same way.” They smiled at each other. For a long time, neither, it seemed, willing to move away.
“Now, Sarah,” her mother called out.
Sarah sighed. Her gaze drifted back to the hedge maze. Could she drop her fan? As they both bent to retrieve it, she might whisper to him an invitation to meet her there in a few moments. And then… She could taste those gently curved lips of his. Oh, she’d experienced a few chaste kisses before, but never anything she truly desired. But she wanted to kiss Mr. Cleland. She craved feeling his mouth against hers, and seeing if her imagination was correct about him.
He, too, looked at the maze. Was he thinking the same thoughts? Did he want to savor her? A delectable thought, one that made her feel both languid and powerfully alive all at once.
Their gazes met. He turned gorgeously pink.
He was thinking of kissing her!
Eleanor Hawke loves a good scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So when the earl himself marches into her office one day and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand, Eleanor is stunned. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades…What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?
Daniel has secrets and if The Hawk’s Eye gets wind of them, a man’s life could be at stake. And what better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and their desire for each other threatens even his best laid plans.
But when Eleanor learns the truth of his deception, Daniel will do anything to prove a romance between a commoner and an earl could really last forever.
I don’t know why, but I’m always skeptical when I read romances with reporters or the like. My trepidation was unfounded when I was only in a couple chapters and was absolutely loving Eleanor. I love that the story, at least to me, was a different tale of someone falling for a reporter. Hell, that storyline only adds to the tension between the two without feeling forced which I feel sometimes happens with stories with reporters (Or maybe just the ones I’ve read?). I hope that makes sense. It made sense in my head! Lol!
Anyway, I loved the story and the secret Daniel was trying to keep from Eleanor. I hope there can be a book about him down the road? Maybe? Please? This book paved the way for my emotions to be fully thrown into the mix with Eleanor and Daniel. I couldn’t get enough of how sweet they were with each other. Wonderful story all around!
Successful playwright Maggie Delamere has no interest in the flirtations of noblemen like Cameron, Viscount Marwood. She once paid dearly for a moment of weakness . . . and vows to rebuff the wildly persistent—and irritatingly handsome—scoundrel at every turn. But when pressure to deliver a new play hampers her creativity, an invitation to use his country estate as a writer’s retreat is too tempting to resist…
For years, Cam has admired Maggie’s brilliant work, and he can’t pass up the opportunity to discover if the beautiful, mysterious playwright is as passionate and clever as the words that flow from her quill. He’s never offered a lady his bed without being in it, but if it means loosening Maggie’s pen—and her inhibitions—he’ll do exactly that.
But soon Cam’s plans for seduction become a fight for Maggie’s heart. He’s more than the scandalous, carefree rake society believes him to be . . . and she’s the only woman who has ever noticed.
As much as I loved the first book in the series, I thought I’d love this one more than I did. Don’t get me wrong, this book was not a bad book, I just felt that at times, Maggie was a little more concerned about her and Cam’s class difference. It got slightly tiring, BUT about half way through the story, it got better when she stopped denying them.
And Cam, he was just lovely! I enjoyed his vigor and enthusiasm in the things he did. He knew what he wanted and screw what anyone else thought. I think that is an ideal man to have!
Overall, it was an enjoyable story in the end that added positively added to the charm of this series!
In society circles she’s known as the Watching Wallflower—shy, quiet, and certainly never scandalous. Yet beneath Lady Sarah Frampton’s demure façade hides the mind of The Lady of Dubious Quality, author of the most titillating erotic fiction theton has ever seen. Sarah knows discovery would lead to her ruin, but marriage—to a vicar, no less—could help protect her from slander. An especially tempting option when the clergyman in question is the handsome, intriguing Jeremy Cleland.
Tasked with unmasking London’s most scandalous author by his powerful family, Jeremy has no idea that his beautiful, innocent bride is the very woman he seeks to destroy. His mission must remain a secret, even from the new wife who stirs his deepest longings. Yet when the truth comes to light, Sarah and Jeremy’s newfound love will be tested. Will Sarah’s secret identity tear them apart or will the temptations of his wallflower wife prove too wicked to resist?
I went in not knowing much about Jeremy and Sarah but out of all the books in this series, this one is my favorite! I totally adored Sarah and her boldness of The Lady of Dubious Quality. She knew she had a calling and society’s standards and the chance of being caught did not deter her. And a good thing since she is so popular! And she was a lovely woman. It was hard not to love her!
Jeremy, at first, had me cautious. I didn’t know how he was going to come off being a vicar and all. I ended up loving his innocence (although not completely innocent) and his sensuality. And, clearly, Sarah loved it too.
This story had me reading as much as I could as fast as I could. I couldn’t read it quick enough! I cannot wait to read more from Eva Leigh. She pens a fantastic tale to keep me glue to the pages.
EVA LEIGH is the pen name of a RITA® Award-nominated romance author who writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, Tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ‘80s. Eva and her husband live in Central California.