Thursday, February 28, 2008

Emergency Chocolate Cake

My dh recently turned me on to a great food blog called Farmgirl Fare. I've been slowly making my way through the recipe posts and I was ecstatic when I found her recipe for Emergency Chocolate Cake. In part because the cake looked simple and yummy but also because I was so glad to know that other people had such deep desires for chocolate cake Right This Minute that they would consider it an emergency.

This cake is moist and fudgy and heavenly, and I can have in the oven in about 10 mintues. My dh and dd are in love with it too. Check it out here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chat at Love Romances

I'll be chatting tomorrow (Feb 28) from 1-3pm EST at the Love Romances Cafe. I'd love for everyone to drop by and keep me company :)Link

Monday, February 25, 2008

One Love for Liv By Marianne Arkins

Fellow Samhain author, Marianne Arkins is doing a blog tour this month. Her delightful book, One Love for Liv released on Feb 12 with mine. To learn more about Marie, click here or here.

One Love for Liv by Marianne Arkins

Liv is out to prove her high society fiancé is cheating on her. Can she do it without breaking a nail—or falling in love with Mike the mechanic?

Olivia “Liv” Leigh, wealthy socialite and spa owner, suspects her fiancé of cheating on her. Drastic steps are required to discover whether appearances are deceiving. And if those steps require a bit of stalking, a change of appearance, a hippo-sized dog named Spike, and sacrificing her manicure to clean house for a sexy-but-sloppy man whose neighbor is determined to break several of the strangest Guinness world records, why should that be a problem?

Mike, a happily single auto mechanic, is more than content sharing his bachelor pad with piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and a sneaky ferret. But when a half-crazed woman in a bad wig shows up on his doorstep, what’s a nice guy to do?

Why, invite her in, unknowingly help her in her search for the truth and, in the process, fall head over heels for a woman who’s never been less his type.


Liv drove past the VW and parked around the corner. Nervous in these strange surroundings, she stepped out of the car. First one foot cautiously touched the pavement, then the other.

Litter dotted the sidewalk, and she sidled around a huge wad of pink chewing gum that glistened on the cement to her right, practically pulsating in the sunshine. The wooden fence beside her was covered in graffiti, mostly silly scrawls of people’s names and the objects of their affections.

With a glance over her shoulder at the beat-up sedan, she gave thanks she wasn’t driving the Miata after all. This neighborhood made her terribly uneasy, and her sweet car probably wouldn’t last an hour parked on this street.

She hurried up the sidewalk to the corner, grateful for the first time she was wearing sneakers instead of her usual pumps, and peered around to make sure Daisy wasn’t looking. Of course, she probably wouldn’t recognize Liv, but it was still good to be careful.

She trailed Daisy until the redhead turned up the walk toward the complex and moved behind some thick evergreen bushes. Liv broke into a trot, not wanting to lose her.

As Liv turned the corner, she nearly ran Daisy over. The woman had stopped to check her mail at the wall of mailboxes just outside the complex.

Liv leaped back and slipped between two parked cars, squatting down to hide for a moment until she realized she couldn’t see anything. She duck-walked up a few cars until she could lean down to peek underneath and watch Daisy’s feet to note when she moved on.

Utterly focused on the sight before her, she had no warning before the driver’s door beside her swung open, clipping her sharply on the head. She flew backward, sprawling into the street and thumping her skull on the pavement. Tires squealed nearby as a moving car whipped around her flattened body.

“What the—?” From a million miles away, a man shouted in surprise. She heard the thump of footsteps but couldn’t seem to open her eyes. “Hey, lady.” A huge, heavy hand shook her shoulder. “Are you okay?”

Something warm and wet swiped her face, both reviving and disgusting her. She kept her eyes closed and limply swatted at it. Her hand hit fur. “Ugh.”

“Spike, back off.”

Spike? What was going on? She gave a low moan and tried again to force her eyelids to obey her will, finally succeeding after a Herculean effort. A tanned face covered in five o’clock shadow and smears of black grease swam in front of her. Next to him, its neck surrounded by a studded black leather collar, sat the biggest brown dog she’d ever seen. The creature had drool suspended from its mouth and it looked as if it had swallowed a sneaker with the laces hanging out. Dear heavens, was that what had licked her?

The voice spoke again, and this time she saw the man’s lips move, though they seemed oddly out of sync with his words. The last time that had happened was when she’d seen Shoot the Piano Player in French with English subtitles.

“You don’t look so good. Maybe I should call for an ambulance or something. I whacked you pretty hard.” He touched her forehead and she tried to move away from those greasy hands. Did she have a smear on her skin?

“No, don’t call an ambulance.” Liv was dismayed at how feeble she sounded, but the last thing she needed was to draw more attention to herself. How would she explain that to Geoff or her father? “I’ll be okay. Just help me up.”

“If you’re sure.” Strong, firm hands slipped under her arms and pulled her easily to her feet. The dog leaned against her and shoved its head under her hand. She flinched at the feel of its bony, fur-covered skull even though she appreciated the support. It wasn’t enough, though, and her legs wobbled beneath her.

“Whoa there, Nelly.” The man tightened his hold and steadied her. “Maybe you should come inside and sit down for a couple of minutes. I could give you an ice pack for your head.”

Liv drew herself up to her full height, all five feet, two inches of it—damn, now she missed her three-inch heels—and declared, “I would no more go into a strange man’s house than…than…” She hated that the man only grinned and watched her sputter. She lost the little bit of strength she’d summoned and sank down onto the sidewalk. “I’ll sit on the curb. Just get your ugly dog away from me.”

“Spike? C’mon, he’s gorgeous.” He gave the monster a vigorous scratch all up and down its body. “And he’s not my dog, but don’t worry, he’s a marshmallow.”

“I don’t like dogs.” She dropped her aching head into her hands and peeked through her fingers to watch as the man dragged the dog a few feet away. Spike stared at Liv with droopy brown eyes for a couple moments before he turned and trotted into the apartment complex. Thank heavens.

“Look, you can’t sit out here by yourself. What if you have a concussion and pass out?” The man squatted beside her. “Do you live nearby? I could take you home.”

“I don’t live anywhere around here.” Heaven forbid. Liv waved off his offer with a flip of her hand. “I just need a few minutes to gather my wits.”

“I don’t feel right just leaving you here. Maybe you could go to my neighbor’s? Daisy is a pretty harmless woman—at least if you’re not a man—and from where I’m sitting, it’s obvious you’re no man.”

“Daisy?” That was impossible. What were the odds?

“Yeah.” He grasped her elbow and helped her stand again. Despite the grease and calluses, his hand was oddly gentle and comforting. “I bet you’re seeing double, and you can’t drive in that condition.”

Annoyed he was right, and interested in checking out where the competition lived, she reluctantly agreed. They walked side-by-side into the complex, each step making her head throb more.

“I’m Mike, by the way. Mike Peck.”

She looked up at him, really seeing him for the first time. He was unbelievably tall, well over six feet, and wore some kind of gray coverall that had his name embroidered on the patch affixed to the front.

She squinted at the smaller lettering above his name. Doug’s Import Auto Shop. Saved by a grease monkey. How exactly right for her day.

Monday Morning Quiz

I'm supposed to be getting my kids up and ready for the day but instead I'm mindlessly surfing the net and I ran across this quiz. As a writer, I just had to take it. (Acutally I'm a sucker for quizzes of any kind. :) I'm a dash. Take it yourself and let me know what mark you are....

You Are a Dash

Your life is fast paced and varied. You are realistic, down to earth, and very honest.

You're often busy doing something interesting, and what you do changes quickly.

You have many facets to your personality, and you connect them together well.

You have a ton of interests. While some of them are a bit offbeat, they all tie together well.

You friends rely on you to bring novelty and excitement to their lives.

(And while you're the most interesting person they know, they can't help feeling like they don't know you well.)

You excel in: Anything to do with money

You get along best with: the Exclamation Point

Monday, February 18, 2008

Greek Caponata

I also tried another recipe from the same episode of Everyday Italian where Giada made the baklava, it's called Caponata and it's basically a roasted vegetable salad. I am sadly not a good vegetable eater. I want to love vegetables but most of the time I simply eat them because I think I must, but this recipe made me eager to get in some veggies with my dinner. The flavors of garlic and oregano with the eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes were so yummy mixed together. I served it over thickly sliced rustic bread like Giada did, and all we ate with it was some cheese and nuts. I'll definitely make it again. You can find the recipe here.

Simple Baklava

I've never made baklava before but during a rare quiet moment last week, I sat down and watched Everyday Italian, my favorite cooking show. When I saw Giada di Laurentiis make a simplified version of baklava using a mini muffin tin, I knew I had to try it no matter how much phyllo dough intimidates me. One morning last week while I had a few moments to myself, I tried her recipe and it came out great. I even managed to separate the sheets of phyllo and butter them without much trouble. I highly recommend giving it a try.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Persistent Attraction Available Now!

A Persistent Attraction is now available so hop on over to Samhain and get your copy. Buy it here!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Countdown: A Persistent Attraction Excerpt #2

One Day Until the Release of A Persistent Attraction

Here's a second excerpt to get you ready for the big day….

Rhys ran after Amanda. He wasn’t letting her go until he knew why she’d come. As much as his clouded mind wanted to believe she’d finally succumbed to his sensual lure, he knew better.
He reached her as she started down the steps to the street. He caught her waist and pulled her against him.
Once she caught her breath, she began to struggle. “Let me go.”
“You’re not leaving until you tell me why you came.” He fought to ignore the delicious sensations coursing through his body as she writhed against him, rubbing her tight, barely covered derrière against his thighs.
“You are in no condition to help me,” she snarled.
“Stop this before we draw unwanted attention. I’m not letting you go until you agree to talk to me.”
He watched as she glanced from side to side, likely looking to see if they had attracted onlookers. Eventually, her struggles ceased. “Fine. If you promise not to touch me again, I’ll come inside and talk to you.”
“You ask much considering how you are dressed, but nevertheless, I won’t touch you even if you beg me too.”
“You needn’t worry about that.”
“Ever so confident, are we?” he asked, before turning to go back into his house.
She followed him into his study and eyed him closely as he sank into a leather chair.
“Can you possibly be sober enough to comprehend what I’m saying?”
He cursed his stupidity. If only he’d known she was coming, he never would have drunk so much. What had made him want to lose himself in the bottle anyway? The answer nagged at his consciousness, but he couldn’t quite catch it. His mind was filled with base urges that made him want to use Amanda’s body in a way no man should.
Why did she look so angry? Oh, right, she’d asked him a question. What was it? Sober. Was he sober? No, definitely not. Maybe he could fake it. He sat up straighter. “Get on with your story. I’m tired of waiting.”
She looked ready to murder him, but the rapid rise and fall of her chest had him mesmerized.
“I would ask Aunt Claire for help, but as you probably know, she’s been in poor health recently. I refuse to endanger Elise. Mark and Cassandra have enough to think about, and they are too far away. You were the only other person I could think of.”
She said the last sentence as if the very idea of speaking to him disgusted her.
“I’m sorry you are faced with such an odious option. I’m still waiting to hear what this problem is.” He stood and leaned over his desk to grab the whiskey decanter. “Would you like some?”
“No thanks. I prefer not to dull my senses when I’m near you.”
“No, you mustn’t give an evil rake a chance at seduction.”
Her pink cheeks brought him satisfaction.
“I received this note the afternoon before the Leightons’ ball.” She extracted a piece of paper from the waist of her breeches and handed it to him.
It was warm from her body. The feel of her heat made his cock harden instantly. He unfolded the paper and forced his tired eyes to focus on the words.
When he finished reading he was ready to use his bare hands to strangle the man who’d written it. The cold terror that ran down his spine sobered him. “Why didn’t you come to me the day you received this?”
“I thought it was a joke. I figured some man I’d jilted sent it to frighten me.”
“Damn it, Amanda. You were almost killed.”
“I’m fine. But I received a second letter today. That’s why I came. He wants me to meet the same demand in three days.”
“And you want me to help you find him before then?”
“Yes.” She kept her jaw tight as though her response pained her.
An evil idea came to him. He had every intention of finding this bastard and making him pay dearly for harming Amanda, but her situation had given him a wonderful opportunity to toy with her. For just a second, reason broke through his alcohol-laden haze. He knew better, but he couldn’t stop himself.
“I deserve some payment for my assistance, don’t you think?”
“What?” Amanda’s eyes widened.
“Every day that I’m helping you, I will be given one chance to seduce you.”
She shook her head back and forth vigorously. Her fists clenched at her sides. He watched her attempt to get her anger under control. For a few moments, he thought she would send the vase on the table next to her toward his head, but she reined herself in.
“You told me that if I ever needed help, I should come to you. I should have known better than to trust you. Mark may think you have a heart under your detached façade, but he’s wrong.” She stood and grabbed her cloak from the back of her chair. “I’ll handle the problem myself.”
He cursed himself and considered following her once again, but decided against it. Instead he rang for Meadows. When the valet appeared, he said, “I want Miss Halverston followed and guarded. She should be in the sight of one of my men any time she leaves her aunt’s residence.”
“Yes, sir. Anything else?”
“No, that is all.” He sat at his desk and proceeded to drain the rest of the whiskey. His last thought before he passed out over the hard wooden surface was that he could never drink enough to forget the feelings Amanda stirred in him. Feelings a man like him should never have.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Countdown: Researching the Regency

Two Days Until the Release of A Persistent Attraction

Here are some of the resources I use frequently for Regency era research:

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool
Our Tempestuous Day: A History of Regency England by Carolly Erickson.
The Prince of Pleasure and His Regency by J.B. Priestly
Life in the English Country House by Mark Girouard
English Landed Society in the 19th Century by F.M.L. Thompson

The Regency Collection
Regency England
Republic of Pemberly
Online Etymology Dictionary

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Countdown: Becoming A Romance Reader

Three Days Until the Release of A Persistent Attraction

I first started reading historical romances in the early 90s. Here are some of my favorites that addicted me to the genre:

Mary Jo Putney's Fallen Angels series particularly Thunder and Roses
Jane Feather's V series, particularly Velvet
Untamed by Elizabeth Lowell
The Ruby by Christina Skye
Reckless by Amanda Quick

Some more recent reads that have gone on my keeper shelf:

Never Deceive a Duke by Liz Carlyle
Lord of Ice by Gaelen Foley
My False Heart by Liz Carlyle

What books turned you into romance readers? What are your current favorite?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Countdown: How Rhys and Amanda met

Four Days Left Until the Release of A Persistent Attraction

Rhys and Amanda first met when Cassandra and Mark were investigating the nefarious activities of Cassandra's deceased husband in Book 1: A Carnal Agreement. Rhys was shocked by his reaction to such a young innocent woman, and when he learns that she is as strong and self-reliant as her older sister, he fears his heart has been stolen. Here's their first encounter…..

Excerpted from A Carnal Agreement

Mark looked around when Cassandra said “Mr. Stanton” as if registering Stanton’s presence for the first time. Rhys stood from his chair and bowed toward Amanda. “We have not been properly introduced, but I can only assume you are Cassandra’s sister. You are a perfect replica of her except for your most exotic eyes.”

He walked behind Amanda and reached his arms around her as if to undo the clasp of her cloak. “May I?”

Amanda nodded and he took the cloak from her shoulders. Rather than putting it down, he held it over his arm, letting his fingers run absently over the fabric. Cassandra should have scolded him for flirting with her sister in such a ludicrous manner, but she found it rather amusing, so she simply introduced them.

“Rhys, as you guessed, this is my sister, Miss Amanda Halverston. Amanda, this is Mr. Rhys Stanton. He is a friend of Mark’s.”

Amanda gave Stanton a withering look. “I would prefer if you did not maul my cloak. It was given to me by my aunt, and I am rather attached to it.”

Stanton looked down at his hands as if he had not realized what he was doing. “Of course. I meant no harm. It is a beautiful garment, almost as beautiful as you.”

Mark scowled at him. “What’s wrong with you, Stanton? This is no time for your ridiculous games.”

Stanton shook his head. “Do forgive me. I was quite overcome by the young lady.”

Mark gave him a withering look. “Take a seat.”

Purchase A Carnal Agreement in print.

Purchase A Carnal Agreement in ebook.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Countdown: Sinfully Good Treats

Five Days Left Until the Release of A Persistent Attraction

I am a firm believer in the sensuality of food. Some day I must write a book with a chef as the hero or heroine. For now though, please check out my two free stories "Cinnamon Dreams" and "Strawberry Fantasy" that demonstrate the connection between food and sex.

To get us in the mood for a good sensual romance, I want to share some recipes for sinfully delicious treats.

Triple chocolate cake

1 pkg Devil's Food cake mix
1 pkg instant chocolate pudding
1 cup chocolate chips
8 oz sour cream
4 eggs
1/2c vegetable oil
1/2 c water

Stir cake mix and pudding mix together. Add other ingredients except chips. Stir until combined. Mix on high speed for 2 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips with flour (prevents them from sinking to bottom of pan as cake cooks) and mix them in on low speed. Pout into a bundt pan and bake according to cake box directions.

Apple Butterscotch Tart
I discovered this recipe after we went apple picking last fall and fell in love with it.

Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies
These are my new favorite cookies!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Countdown: A Persistent Attraction in the Making

6 days left until the release of A Persistent Attraction. I'll be here every day for the next week counting down the days and posting excerpts and Regency info. Every time you comment, your name is thrown into the hat to win a book from my backlist so join in the fun.

A Persistent Attraction is the sequel to A Carnal Agreement and I am thrilled to be able to share both of these books with my readers. This series has been a long time in the making. I wrote the first book seven years ago when I was teaching high school. I would snatch time to write during my planning period when I should have been grading papers and in the evenings while I sat drinking shot after shot of espresso and my husband typed away on his dissertation. When it was finished I submitted it to several publishers. I got several encouraging personal rejection letters, but no takers.

Even though I hadn't found a home for book one, Rhys and Amanda called for me and I knew I had to write their story, so I started it in 2003, when I was pregnant with my first child. I wrote as quickly as I could, but some complications in my third trimester prevented me from finishing it before the baby came. I took a writing hiatus for almost a year and I focused on a sci fi novella when I started back to work, so Rhys and Amanda's story stayed unfinished.

Then in 2005, I decided to revise A Carnal Agreement. I was overjoyed when it was accepted by Samhain. As soon as my writing schedule allowed, I wanted to finish book 2, but once I again, I found myself trying to complete and revise it when I was pregnant. I had two chapters left when my second child was born, but this time, I jumped write back into writing and wrote whenever I could, sometimes when I was awake with the baby in the middle of the night. I feel such relief that it's done and ready for readers. Rhys is one of my favorite heroes and I can't wait for you to get a hold of him.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Coutndown Contest : Free Story

Only 7 days left until the release of A Persistent Attraction. I'll be here every day for the next week counting down the days and posting excerpts and Regency info. Every time you comment, your name is thrown into the hat to win a book from my backlist so join in the fun.

To get us in the proper mood for more Regency Intrigue, here's a little Regency-era short...
(Just to clarify - this is not an excerpt from A Persistent Attraction. It's a separate story I wrote for fun that might one day develop into a longer story.)

As Brodie pushed the door closed behind them and clicked the lock into place, Alice's heart pounded. What did he think he was doing?

But she thought she knew the answer all too well, and when her lover turned and flashed a wicked grin, her suspicions were confirmed. He meant to seduce her. In her aunt's house. In the middle of a ball.

She shook her head. "We can't. Not here."

"The hell we can't." He sat down on the settee and pulled her into her lap so abruptly her breath whooshed from her lungs. Before she draw in more air, he pulled her head down and took her lips in a ferocious kiss.

Heat and need spiraled through her.. She tried to pull away, but Brodie's hands were already unbuttoning the back of her dress.

He tugged so hard on her bodice she heard stitches rip. Dear God, she hoped she'd be decent enough to return to the ballroom.

She gasped as Brodie's mouth left hers and closed around her nipple. He was always a passionate lover, but tonight he was relentless as if he wanted to devour her. Her body responded with abandon even as her mind screamed out the need to stop.

"Lift your dress."

His pause to speak gave her a chance to protest. "My aunt will be looking for me. We've got to stop."

His eyes darkened. "If you think you can tease me like that and not suffer the consequences you are quite wrong."

Alice smiled at his mock anger. She'd been feeling a bit wild all evening, contemplating the night she and Brodie had planned. So when he'd pulled her onto the dance floor for a waltz, ignoring the fact that the dance had been claimed by her cousin, she'd allowed herself to stand quite a bit closer than propriety allowed. Once or twice she'd even allowed her belly to brush against his cock, delighting in the feel of it hardening in response.

Brodie growled. "Now."

Alice smiled and did as he commanded, raising her dress and straddling him while he worked the fastenings of his pants.

When he'd freed his cock, he lifted her and thrust deep. She had to bite her lip to hold in a scream. They'd been lovers for weeks now, but she'd still not gotten used to his size. He filled her nearly to the point of pain. Yet it felt so wickedly good.

She rose on her knees and brought herself down hard. He gasped, and she laughed.

He grabbed her hips in response, taking over control and driving into her over and over, so fast she couldn't catch her breath.


Her aunt's voice. In the hall. She tired to find the will to stop. But her hands clasped Brodie's shoulders rather than pushing him away.

"Alice! Where are you?" Someone, presumably her aunt, tried the door. Thank God Brodie had locked it. She opened her eyes and looked at him pointedly.

Brodie shook his head. "Can't . . . stop." The words sounded pained.

He reached up and brushed his thumbs across booth her nipples as he flexed his cock inside her, brushing across the spot inside her that made her sizzle.

Her aunt knocked again, but Alice no longer cared. All she cared about was Brodie and what his hands and his cock were doing ot her.

He tormented her nipples as he thrust fully into her. Her nails bit into his shoulders, nearly ripping the fabric of his jacket. "Come for me, Alice."

She moaned, slamming herself onto his cock, letting him fill her until she exploded. Hard bursts of passion raced through her. At just the right moment, Brodie took her lips with his and swallowed her scream of release.

As her body writhed against his, he lifted her and she felt the hot splash of his seed against her thigh. As the aftershocks of passion slowed, she realized something she'd been trying to deny. She needed this man with her very soul. She would have to find a way to keep him.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Countdown and Contest

A Persistent Attraction, Book 2 in the Regency Intrigue series will be released by Samhain Publishing on February 12. For those of you who have read Book 1: A Carnal Agreement, you'll remember Rhys and Amanda. This is their story.

Starting on February 5, I'll be doing a daily countdown here. Anyone who comments will be entered to win a book of their choice from my backlist. Each time you comment, you're name will be entered to win so the more you comment the more chances you have to win.

Here's a little taste of A Persistent Attraction to whet your appetite:

A Persistent Attraction by Silvia Violet

Rhys flashed one more knee-buckling grin and walked away. Amanda tried not to observe the animal grace of his movements as he made his way through the crowd. His powerful, fluid walk was at odds with his foppish attire. Her sister had warned her there was more to Rhys than his appearance indicated, but she didn’t want to delve into his secrets. If she were wise, she would do her best not to cross his path again after their dance.
Despite her resolve, she could not pry her eyes from him. She watched him halt next to one of the musicians. The man continued to play, never faltering, while he held a brief conversation with Rhys. Rhys handed him something, and he pocketed it when he had a chance. What was he up to?
She turned away, hoping to seek her aunt’s advice on how to manage Rhys’s advances. But Claire had followed her friends to the punch table. A few minutes later, the music ended with a flourish, and Rhys appeared behind her.
When he set his hands around her waist, she pulled away and turned around. “Have you forgotten where you are?”
“Not in the least. I merely intended to guide you onto the dance floor.”
The strains of a waltz floated across the ballroom, and Rhys’s conversation with the musician suddenly made sense. “You bribed them, didn’t you?”
“I made a request and tipped them for their thoughtfulness.”
“I will not waltz with you.”
“Yes, you will.”
“You can return when the next dance begins.”
“What are you afraid of?”
“I am not afraid. I am wary as any young woman should be of a man like you.” Amanda was intensely aware of him. She could still feel the heat of his hands where he’d touched her. How was she going to survive a waltz without letting him know how he affected her?
He took her arm and linked it through his. “Even a rake such as I would not attempt to ravish you on the dance floor.”
Much to her annoyance, his touch sent shivers down her spine. “One waltz. Then you promise to leave me be for the rest of our stay here.”
Rhys smiled. “If that is what you still wish, then I will not plague you again.”
Amanda’s heart pounded as he led her onto the dance floor. The strictures of society dictated that a waltzing couple kept eighteen inches of space between them, but Amanda doubted Rhys left three. He was so close, the warmth of his body radiated against her as if she were naked. His thighs brushed hers as they twirled, and she tried to look anywhere but into his eyes.
As they moved together, she realized Rhys was an excellent dance partner. Most men whose invitations she accepted were arrogant and boorish once they got her on the floor. Even if they showed any skill at dancing, she was too busy trying to discern their true motivations to enjoy herself.
Rhys made his motives clear enough. He wanted to seduce her, but she also knew he would not truly harm her. Mark would kill him if he did. Rhys led so expertly she had only to relax and let him direct her body. She could easily let her world narrow to the strains of the music, his body pressed to hers and the wonderful feeling of flying.
Then she made the mistake of looking up. Their eyes met. Raw hunger was reflected in his gaze. She’d seen lust on men’s faces before, but she’d never expected such primal desire to be directed at her.
She realized with dismay that Rhys had managed to maneuver them so they were standing by the French doors which led to the courtyard. When the music ended, he flashed a wicked smile. “I thought you might enjoy some fresh air.”
Before she could protest, he reached around her, opened the door and practically pushed her through. She took a slow, deliberate breath. “Now I have some fresh air in my lungs. Please return me to my aunt.”
“Your aunt is busy catching up with old friends. Why don’t we take a few minutes to enjoy the cool evening?”
Rhys had made her body come alive while they danced. She was much too vulnerable to be alone with him. “I found the temperature in the ballroom quite pleasant.”
“Really? Then why are you flushed?”
“How rude of you to notice.”
“Not rude, simply honest.”
He walked toward her. She backed up, but a bench caught her behind the knees. She sat down hard, her breath escaping in a whoosh.
Rhys sat beside her and took her hand in his. His thumb stroked her wrist, sending waves of heat straight to her belly. “Why are you afraid of me?”
“I’m not afraid. I’m annoyed. Now unhand me and let me go inside.”
He smiled. “Prove it.”
“Prove what?”
“That you are not afraid.”
“How would I do that?”
“Kiss me.”
“You must be joking.”
But she looked into his eyes and knew he was quite serious. He’d said the words in a light, teasing tone, but his eyes glowed like a predator stalking prey.
She told herself to get up and go inside, but her legs wouldn’t obey. He’d trapped her like a frightened rabbit. A secret part of her wanted to sample what he had to offer.
His lips descended on hers, and she opened to him. For once in her life, she gave herself utterly to a new sensation.
What a glorious sensation it was. The heat of his mouth enveloped her as his tongue sought the recesses of her mouth. Never in her most fevered fantasy had she imagined a kiss could feel so…exotic and sinful.
Instinct took over, and her tongue reached out, sliding across his and seeking entrance to his mouth. He groaned as she traced his lower lip with her tongue. His arms closed around her, pulling her firmly against his hard chest. She shuddered as his hands stroked the naked skin of her shoulders.
Amanda sank her teeth into the soft flesh of his lip, and he growled. His hands slid around to cup her breasts. When his thumbs flicked across her nipples, bolts of lightening ran through her body.
Then reality crashed like thunder.