Sparks are sure to fly when a recovering scoundrel of a second son meets a woman of ill-repute.
Lord Marcus Bowles rides north to cool his heels. Banished to his mother's childhood cottage, he must stay scandal-free until his older brother finds a wealthy bride. One winter ought to be enough.
But every cottage needs a housekeeper. It shouldn't be a problem that his new domestic is pretty, sports high hems, and low necklines. Or that said housekeeper travels under a false name. Miss Genevieve Abbott Turner is good at things like...
Fixing mechanisms better than a man
Putting to rights a run down cottage
Quick with saucy quips
And putting a man in his place
His unusual housekeeper has a soft spot for horses in need, is on the hunt for her grandmother, and has a talent for illicit kisses.
She keeps Lord Marcus on his toes—good thing because he needs to be ready when a man from Genevieve's past hunts her down.
Is she a thief?
A criminal on the run?
The challenge is on...Lord Marcus must save the only woman to steal his heart.
What do the critics have to say?
Lord Bowles angled his face toward her, the corner of his mouth visible over his collar. “I haven’t properly introduced you to Khan, have I?”
“I don’t know, milord. Horses, they frighten me.”
“Weren’t you the one holding the lead horse’s bridle at Devil’s Causeway?”
“Out of necessity… to help the coachman.”
“Exactly.” His eyes glittered with challenge. “You had the courage to leave your old life, bravely traveling alone to find a grandmother you’ve never met. And you’re afraid of a horse?”
“One kicked me when I was a little girl.”
“An unfortunate thing, but you survived. Don’t judge all horses by the one. Come,” he coaxed, extending his hand.
Taking gingered steps, she put her hand in his. Khan’s ears twitched. The four-legged creature had to sense her fear. His long-lashed eyes watched her watching him, and she knew. Silly as it sounded, befriending Khan opened a door to knowing Lord Bowles.
She offered the horse her other hand. Nostrils flaring, his head dipped. A velvety muzzle rubbed her palm. Whiskered lips tickled her skin and she couldn’t help but smile.
“He thinks you’re going to feed him an apple,” Lord Bowles murmured.
Inklings of the old fright thawed. This was new territory being friendly with a creature larger and different than her. “I’m better with mechanisms than people or animals.”
“You’re doing fine.” Lord Bowles inched closer, his pressure warm at her side. “Go ahead. Touch him.”
His quiet words sent a quiver across her backside. “I’m not sure where to start.”
“Here.” He raised their joined hands. “Behind his ear. He loves it.”
Gloved-fingers twined with her hand. Her palm grazed fine hairs behind Khan’s ear, the sensations filling her. Leather and softness. Darkness and candlelight.
Did the master of Pallinsburn have a tender spot?
“If you want to get on his good side, feed him apples and scratch here.”
Rain cascaded from the heavens, pounding the barn. Coat buttons pressed her spine. Her breathing found a rhythm with Lord Bowles, steady and deep. Peaceful and calm.
“Do the same things work for you?”
“A dangerous question.” His voice vibrated against her hood. “Are you sure you want the answer?”
Shutting her eyes, she leaned back. Time could’ve stopped. His strength was a warm blanket, tender and reassuring. The escape north, the hunt for her grandmother…her choices, even choices for the better, wore her down. This new life meant pushing against the grain of old habits and finding a new way to live.
Couldn’t she give in to carnal wants at least once? Who would know? She missed sex.
Khan chortled. Eyes opening, her head tipped forward. Lord Bowles slid his hand down Khan’s neck, along the horse’s ribs, widening the gap between them. She stood alone, her body cooling at the loss. The storm pelted the roof but inside air stirred thickly. The master of Pallinsburn had to feel it, yet he carried on unfolding the blanket.
Heat radiated from Khan. The steed was truly magnificent. A black mane, charcoal muzzle, and four black stockings offset his silver-grey coat.
“He’s not as big as Mr. Beckworth’s horse,” she said, petting Khan’s neck.
“Big doesn’t mean better.”
“You’re telling me size doesn’t matter?”
“Large and hulking can be…ineffective, clumsy.”
Her petting hand slowed. “Or powerful.”
He walked behind her, rustling her clothes and whispering, “If you need a basic plow job, yes.”
Her skin pebbled. She’d known her share of flirts and rough sorts, but only Lord Bowles could touch her with words. Her gaze followed him around Khan as he fixed the blanket.
“Must be I need more riding experience,” she said archly.
Hazel eyes sparked beneath a black cocked hat. “You need a superior riding experience. Agile is more responsive…better and long lasting in my humble opinion.”
“And all this time I thought fast horses tired quickly.”
His raspy chuckle tickled her. A pleasant thrum bounced between them. “You haven’t found the right horse.”
She laughed. Skin flushed and nerves charged she didn’t want their conversation to end.
“Khan is beautiful but his legs are thin as spindles.”
“Shhh,” Lord Bowles put a finger across his lips. “He’s quite proud of his legs.”
“As if horses have such a thing as pride.”
He unlatched the stall. “Oh they do, Khan especially. He’s descended from the Godolphin Arabian, the finest bloodline. Believe me, he knows it.” He slapped the horse’s rump and Khan walked into the stall. “This old boy needs his rest. He’s had a long, hard day.”
Her legs stretched back a step or two until her bottom bumped the post. “Long and hard for you too, I imagine.”
“Part of it.”
Lord Bowles shut the gate, keeping his hand on the top slat. Wind howled outside. Khan drank from a trough. Life went on, yet a curtain could have fallen between them. Khan was a pleasant distraction as was their veiled discussion of horses and riders.
“Why did you go to Learmouth, milord?”
The black hat shaded his eyes and for a moment, she didn’t think he’d answer. He didn’t have to.
“I needed a good, fast ride.”
“Fast horses and fast women,” she mocked, slipping both hands behind her back. “The way Mr. Beckworth said it I guessed you were seeking a woman for sexual favors.”
“Would it matter?” he asked quietly.
The cavernous barn expanded everything. The thrum under her skin. Noises of Khan settling in. Water dripping behind her. Rain hammering overhead. Who was she but another cog in all the goings on?
“It’s not my concern.”
“It isn’t.” He sauntered off the stall. “But I’ll admit, it gets lonely, me and my hand in the bath. Not as satisfying as a woman’s touch.”
She stiffened. “Then I hope you got what you wanted.”
His crudeness didn’t shock her. She’d heard worse. Being near him tonight wasn’t the same as watching him go off with an actress two years past. What he did came at a cost, a cost she couldn’t explain yet the sting was deep. She turned to go, but Lord Bowles closed the distance.“Wait.” He grabbed her arm. “Don’t you want to know what happened?”
Gina Conkle writes lush Viking romance and sensual Georgian romance. Her books offer a fresh, addictive spin on the genre, with the witty banter and sexual tension that readers crave. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she occasionally gardens and cooks.
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