Title: A Tempting Ruin
Author: Kristin Vayden
Series: Greenford Waters Legacy
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing
Release Date: July 28th
He might be a gentleman by title, but he was a rogue at heart…
Beatrix Lamont is in hiding. Sequestered at Lady Southridge’s country estate, she assumes the identity of a lady’s companion: never once expecting her past would catch up with her.
It does, however, in the vexing and seducting form of Lord Neville.
Determined and far too charming for his own good–after all who simply demands a woman marry him?
Not a gentleman.
Lucky for Lord Neville, being a gentleman has never been an option, especially when it comes to Beatrix, the woman would try the patient of a saint, and every encounter with her leaves his body yearning for more.
Caught between wanting her for himself and needing to protect her from dangers that lurk in the shadows of both their pasts, he must eventually make a choice.
Become the gentleman he’s never been–or play the seducer she brings out in him, and hope in the end she’ll forgive him for using her to catch a killer.
***This is an Interconnected Standalone***
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“What is it you are reading?”
“Ah, I doubt you’d approve.” She shot him a glance over the page.
“Lady Maybelle’s Mysterious Suitor.”
“It’s the butler.” He leaned forward and grinned evilly.
“What? No. You did not… I—“ Beatrix stood, closed the book and paced irritatedly. Opening the book, she glanced to the last page and read, her fury rising by the moment.
“It was the butler! You ruined it!” she all but shouted as she lifted the book. For a fleeting moment, she wanted to throw it at him! How dare he ruin the fantastic book, the sweet mystery, by giving away the ending! Of all her pet peeves, this was champion.
“I do hope you’re a poor aim if you decide to follow through with hurling the volume at my head.” He stood and held up his hands.
“Why? Why would you do that?” Beatrix lamented, tossing the book on the chaise and glaring at him.
“Because it amuses me.”
She stilled, knowing her glare grew more menacing by the moment as she studied the horrible creature she had, only moments ago, thought so devastatingly attractive. “It… amuses you?”
“Rather, you amuse me. Your reaction.” He lifted his shoulder in a blasé manner, as if he hadn’t just provoked her!
“I — you — you!” Beatrix ground out then stomped.
“Did you just stomp?” he asked, his grin growing.
“A lady doesn’t stomp. There was a spider,” she lied and stalked away toward the window, hoping the horrible man would get the point and take his leave.
The sound of footsteps approaching had her stiffening her back.
“I’m sorry for offending you so greatly. But I do thank you for being the cause of such a prized few moments of amusement. It was… delightful. And I’ll tell you a secret…” His voice was close, sending prickles of awareness up her arms as his velvet voice spoke softly.
“Humbled to be your entertainment, sir,” she replied frostily, trying to keep her reaction to him hidden away and forgotten. Turning to face him, she shifted her gaze from him to the door meaningfully.
His amused chuckle was the only response.
“If you read the next book, you’ll find out a little bit more about the butler… because, Miss Beatrix, things are not what they always seem,” he replied kindly and then turned to leave.
“Wait,” she called out before she thought about it.
He paused and turned to her, his grey eyes clear and completely drawing her in. “You don’t have to leave just yet.”
“I do believe that is the kindest thing you’ve said to me.” He bit back a grin.
Barely resisting the urge to roll her eyes, Beatrix walked over to the bookshelf where she had originally found the book and looked for the sequel. “What is the title of the second book?” she called over her shoulder.
Lord Neville smiled and glanced down, then strode toward her. “The Butler’s Secret.”
“Oh! I can’t wait.” She smiled as she searched for the book. “Ah! There it is!” She stood on her very tiptoes, reaching for the book, her fingers brushing the spine and missing in the effort to withdraw it.
“Blast it all,” she mumbled.
“Such language from a lady!” Lord Neville scolded, tsking his tongue.
In spite of his grin, which bespoke his unoffended nature, Beatrix still felt her face heat with a painful blush.
“No, I’ve got it.” Beatrix tried again.
“Very well.” Lord Neville stepped back, crossing his arms.
After several additional attempts to dislodge the book, Beatrix sighed and turned to face him. “Can you please help?”
“I thought you’d never ask, though I must say the… stretching… offered a very pleasant view of your ankles,” he replied as he brushed past her and began to reach for the book.
“Ooo…” Beatrix elbowed him in the ribs just as he stretched.
“What the—“ He dislodged the book only slightly and turned to glare at her. “Was that necessary?”
“You were looking at my ankles,” she replied haughtily.
“You were looking at me earlier.” He crossed his arms, knowing he had won the argument, judging by the triumphant gleam in his eyes.
“The book, please?” Beatrix shifted the topic of conversation.
“Here.” He easily reached the book’s spine and removed it to the point of where it was teetering on the edge.
“You simply could not resist, could you?” Beatrix grumbled as she reached and pulled out the book.
“No,” he answered honestly, “but to be honest… if you were in my position, would you have done any different?”
“No… wait. Yes.”
He cocked his head, waiting.
“I would have tried to make the book fall on your head,” Beatrix replied then dashed across the room.
“Unbelievable!” he called out and gave chase.
“You’re simply jealous I thought of it rather than you.” She spoke as she strategically stepped, placing the chaise between them.
“I’d never do anything so diabolical to a lady,” he shot back then slowly circled the chaise.
Beatrix matched him step for step till they’d made a full lap around the piece of furniture.
“This is pointless,” he replied, walked away and sat in the chair. He reached for a book on the side table and began reading.
Beatrix watched him for a moment then took a seat as well.
Halfway into the first chapter of her book she glanced up, noticing that Lord Neville was not across from her any longer.
“Lesson one… never let your guard down,” he whispered from beside her.
“How did you do that?” she asked, startled that she had missed his movement.
“Shouldn’t you be more concerned with why?” he asked.
Beatrix swallowed, trying not to notice how his nearness radiated comforting warmth or how the very air was permeated with a masculine spicy scent that called to her. “Why?”
“In this case… it was the only way I could get close enough to do this,” he whispered as he leaned in slightly. His hand reached up and gently placed a lock of hair behind her ear.
“What if… if I don’t want you to?” Beatrix asked, knowing full well how much she did want him too; however, the last thing she wanted was for him to know that!
“Then simply say no,” he murmured, his gaze darting from her lips to her eyes once more. “Are you… going to say no?”
Beatrix blinked, unable to break the swirling fog of desire that wound around them like mist from the sea. “No.”
He leaned away, and Beatrix realized the misunderstanding. He had thought she’d meant she didn’t welcome his affection!
Quickly, she reached up and placed her hand against his cheek, immediately feeling his warm skin through her glove.
Hope dawned in his expression, and immediately he closed the distance and pressed his lips to hers, caressing them softly.
He withdrew slightly, but only to tilt his head further before placing another kiss to her lips, sliding his across hers softly, invitingly. She reached up and placed her hand at his shoulder, pulling him in closer, a request he immediately obeyed. His kiss deepened, and Beatrix lost herself in the thousands of blissful sensations that were all awakening each moment. She almost gasped when his velvet tongue slid across her lower lip a second before his teeth playfully nipped at it.
Not wanting to be outdone, she tentatively mimicked his actions, glorying in his reaction as her hand at his shoulder felt the telling bunching of his musculature as he leaned in deeper to their shared kiss. With each nip and caress, she gave and took, a constant partner in the dance, moving with the music of desire awakening.
The sound of voices, angry voices, interrupted Beatrix’s blissful state and shook her back to the reality of her situation.
She was alone.
With an unmarried gentleman.
Which was enough to consider her compromised, not to mention she had been willingly participating in a far-more-than-chaste kiss.
Kristin’s inspiration for the romance she writes comes from her tall, dark and handsome husband with killer blue eyes. With five children to chase, she is never at a loss for someone to kiss, something to cook or some mess to clean but she loves every moment of it! She loves to make soap, sauerkraut, sourdough bread and gluten free muffins. Life is full of blessings and she praises God for the blessed and abundant life He’s given her.
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