We have two fabulous New York Times bestselling authors nominated for RITA Awards, taking place tomorrow at the RWA Annual Conference in San Diego! In honor of Jennifer Probst’s Searching for Beautiful being nominated for Best Contemporary Romance and Sabrina Jeffries’ If the Viscount Falls for Best Historical Romance, we’re giving you excerpts from each of these amazing titles! Both are on sale now.
SEARCHING FOR BEAUTIFUL
Genevieve looked up as the car pulled into the driveway. A ghostly fog floated around her, almost as if she was stuck halfway on Earth and the other at a higher plane. She hoped much higher, since Catholic guilt from her mother was steeped in her soul. She didn’t mind the numbness though. Much better than the panic attack dancing on the edge of her sanity.
No more mirrors. Keep busy. Don’t think.
The three new rules of survival.
She jumped up from the porch and helped him haul in the bags. “You okay?” His sharp gaze traveled over every part of her, as if in the hour he’d left her alone she’d grown a few inches. Past her five-foot Hobbit status. He gently pushed her out of the way and scooped up the rest of the bags, allowing her to carry only the bread.
“Fine. You know I can lift a three-hundred-pound patient, right?”
“In that case, take this.” He gave her a bag of eggs.
“Wouldn’t want you to get out of shape.”
Their familiar banter soothed her nerves as she followed him inside and set the bags on the counter. “Do you want me to make dinner?” she asked.
He lifted a brow. “You hungry?”
Between the candy diet and her nerves, she doubted any morsel of food would stay down. “No. But I’ll make you something.”
He chuckled and wrestled out two six-packs of Sam Adams Summer Ale from the bag. “How about we get drunk instead?”
She followed impulse and threw herself into his arms for a hug. David would’ve insisted on taking care of her health, frowning over alcohol intake, and watching exactly what she ate. She missed having no rules again. She missed Wolfe.
Hard muscle and sheer power closed around her. Her head hit his chest halfway, but his arms held her with a tenderness that made an odd longing clutch at her throat. Treasured, yet not owned. Why had she never noticed the difference? The scent of cotton and soap filled her nostrils, clean and pure. She breathed in to savor the moment, then stepped away.
“Hey.” He tugged at her hair. “If I knew you’d be this nice to me, I’d offer you alcohol all the time.”
She snorted. “I’m always nice to you.”
Wolfe uncapped the bottle and handed it over. The icy brew slid down her throat and warmed her belly. The subtle taste of lemon danced on her tongue.
“Not. You have a sick sense of humor. You enjoy torturing me. What about the time you set me up with your friend Molly?”
A giggle threatened but she tamped it down at his accusing expression. “I was trying to find you a nice girl.”
“I guess a dominatrix is considered nice in today’s society, huh? She brought her whip. And some scary-ass equipment that made me skip dessert. And I never skip dessert.”
Gen bit her tongue and tried for seriousness. “I didn’t know it was that bad, I swear. She’s a nurse in the NIC unit and complained she couldn’t meet a cool guy. She said she enjoyed a bit of kink, not hard-core dungeon stuff.”
IF THE VISCOUNT FALLS
“But how could she see you with an heiress when you don’t even go out into society anymore?”
He stared hard at her. “It would have to be an heiress who was in on the plan. Who understood what I was trying to do and knew the importance of it.”
Nancy caught his stare and froze. “Me?” At his terse nod, she said, “Oh no, Dom, I could never . . . Jane would never forgive me!”
“She would if she thought I was forcing a kiss on you. If you were protesting. We could make it seem as if I’d cornered you and was trying to seduce you.”
“No!” Nancy stared off into the ballroom, her lower lip trembling. “No, it would destroy her.”
An ache rose in his chest. Ruthlessly he ignored it. “For a time, she would be . . . hurt. But she’d get over it. She’d rail against me, and you’d support her outrage with your own, and eventually she’d come to see herself as better off without me.”
“Good Lord, Dom. Is there no other way?”
“I can see none. We must use Jane’s fixed principles against her. It’s for her own good.”
“I doubt she would see it that way,” Nancy mumbled.
“But surely you do.”
She sighed. “Yes. Still, it shan’t be easy. I’ll need someone to help me. Jane will get suspicious if I tell her to meet me in the library, and then you’re there kissing me.”
“True. But whomever you find must not drag anyone else into it. We don’t want to inadvertently spawn rumors that would ruin you. Whomever you choose must keep the truth of it secret once the deed is done, or it will all be for naught. ”
She paced the terrace. “Samuel Barlow will do. He fancies me—or so he says, not that I believe a word of it.” She gave a dismissive wave belied by her coquettish smile. “He’s a shameless flirt.”
So was she, from all accounts. Dom searched her face. “Are you hoping he’ll marry you?”
“Good heavens, no!” Her laugh rang false. “Samuel is only eighteen; he certainly isn’t ready to set up house. Besides, can you imagine me married to a sailor I only got to see once every great while? I think not. I want a husband who will make me the toast of London, not the toast of some dirty wardroom.”
And typically shallow, though not surprising. Nancy’s father had pots of money, all of which had been settled on her. She could easily catch a high-ranking husband. She needn’t marry a mere midshipman.
“Do you think Barlow would help us?” Dom asked.
“Of course. I can get him to do whatever I want.” She sobered. “If you’re sure about this, that is.”
Dom scanned the ballroom for Jane. She stood alone now, drumming her fingers on a table in a decidedly unladylike fashion. He could practically hear the rhythm, feel it beat in his blood the way she beat in his blood.
A soft, absent smile crossed her face, the one she always got when listening to a new piece of music, and the familiarity of it stabbed deep into his heart. Could he really do this? Make her hate him? Make her cut him out of her life forever?
“Dom?” Nancy prodded. “Is this really what you want?”
He numbed himself to the pain. “No.” It would never be what he wanted. “But it has to be done.”