New York Times bestselling author Jane Feather is sharing an exclusive excerpt with XOXOAD from her latest Regency romance, TRAPPED BY SCANDAL! And boy, is it a passionate tale that will take you on an adventure from the dangerous streets of Paris to the glittering ballrooms of London. Download your copy today!
When Lady Hero Fanshawe’s brother disappears in Paris at the height of the Terror, she has no hesitation in disguising herself as a boy and risking her life to find him—or in joining forces with a chance-met ally, the enigmatic William Ducasse, Viscount St. Aubrey. And when she beings a passionate affair with the dangerously handsome stranger, she has no idea where it will lead them…
Hero stripped to her skin, wondering whether William was so honorable that he would refuse a little love play if it were offered him. It was a shocking reflection, she thought, surprising even herself with its lack of modesty. But then, nothing about her present circumstances could be anything but shocking. She probed the idea as delicately as if it were a nagging tooth. Perhaps just telling him about Tom had released in her some kind of pent-up need, because she certainly found the idea exciting. The thought of such love play sent little prickles of arousal across her skin and caused a familiar sinking jolt in the base of her belly. And why not? she thought defiantly, although whom she was defying she didn’t know. The one thing she did know was that Tom would not mind. He had had far too generous a soul to condemn her to a life of chastity.
The hot water and harsh lye soap felt wonderful as she scrubbed her body vigorously with a scrap of toweling until her skin glowed red. She rubbed herself dry as best she could with the only dry corner of a towel she could find and then returned to the chest. She found a clean shirt of coarse linen. It swamped her as expected, but it smelled fresh. The trousers were more of a problem; the waist was too big, and they slid to her hips while the legs flapped off her feet.
The door opened on a brisk knock while she was contemplating her swamped lower limbs somewhat plaintively. William burst into laughter as he came in. “Even worse than I thought,” he said, setting down the mug of coffee he held. “Let’s see what we can do to improve matters.”
“I was using a strip of cloth before.” Hero indicated the strip she’d discarded with her old clothes. She couldn’t move to get it herself without tripping over her feet or letting go of the waist of the britches.
“I think we can do better than that.” William looked through the chest. “Here.” He took out a narrow belt and wrapped it around Hero’s waist, pulling it tight. “I’ll put a new hole in it . . . about here, I think.” Marking the place with his finger, he drew his knife from the sheath at his waist and punctured the leather. “Now try it.” He buckled the belt and stood back.
Hero sighed with relief. “Thank you. But what do I do about this?” She flapped a leg in illustration.
“Sit on the bed, and I’ll roll them up. I don’t want to cut them, because you’re not going to be wearing them for very long.”
Hero assumed he meant that she would have her own washed soon enough. She sat on the bed while he knelt and rolled the britches up to her mid-calves. This easy intimacy was making her feel rather strange. When his fingers brushed over her bare legs as he worked, she had to control a little jump of wholly pleasurable sensation. She recognized the feeling and knew it for what it was: a pure, simple jolt of lust. With a surge of embarrassment, she hoped that William couldn’t sense it. But he looked up at her suddenly, and his tawny gold eyes held a look of startled recognition.
Then he smiled slowly, sitting back on his heels, looking at her with a quizzical gleam, his hands encircling her bare ankles. “I suspect that my lady is something of an adventuress,” he said, running his hands up her calves.
“Perhaps,” Hero replied, holding herself very still, fighting the urge to brush that errant lock of hair from his forehead. “We live in adventurous times.”
“Hazardous, certainly,” he agreed, releasing his hold and standing up in one easy movement. He leaned over her and tilted her chin with his finger, bringing his mouth to hers. It was a light touch, a promise of a kiss, but it sent her blood thrilling through her body like a bolt of lightning. He straightened. “We’ll continue this later.”
Hero remained sitting on the bed after the door had closed softly behind him, wondering what exactly had just happened.