“I don’t give a damn about that. Everyone in this cesspool knows I’m a cold-blooded villain. What’s one more sin attributed to my name?”
“Rather dramatic, Mr. Colton.”
He shook his head. “To the contrary. The London press hailed me as the devil incarnate during my trial. Many in the Yard felt deprived of the opportunity to watch me swing. They’ll find a way. Sooner or later.”
His statement struck her like a physical blow. Matthew hadn’t been able to conceal the depth of feeling in his gravel-edged words. Guilt? Or another form of regret?
She lowered her gaze, studying the textured carpet beneath her toes. “And yet, you expect me to trust you.”
“I’m the last man on the planet you should trust. You pretend to be a woman of the world, but you’re not.” He raked a hand through his dark strands. “I should not have touched you.”
“So you’ve gone noble on me, have you, Mr. Colton? It doesn’t suit you in the least.”
“A woman like you deserves better than what I can give. I’ve neither the time nor the patience for gentle wooing. I’ll leave that to the man who speaks his vows at your side.”
“By all accounts, gentle wooing is highly overrated.”
He studied her beneath hooded lids. His mouth crooked into a sly smile. Oh, how she loved the taste of that full mouth.
“I must say, I rather liked you better as a scoundrel,” she said, tempting him. And fate.
He prowled toward her. “You’re enough to drive a man to Bedlam.”
“You say the most romantic things.”
“My talent for whispering sweet words is even less developed than my patience. You’re too beautiful to resist. God knows I’ve tried.”
He kissed her again. Slowly. Deliciously. Mercilessly. She coiled her arms around his neck. His clean male scent awakened her to new temptations.
His breath tickled her earlobe. “I need you, Jennie.”
“Yes.” The whisper sounded decadent on her lips. Utterly, positively so, and yet, she could not stop herself. Closing her eyes, she savored every sensation as he opened her blouse with a gentle touch. Anticipation surged through her veins. Finally, he slipped the garment from her body.
“Much better.” His hands moved lower, freeing the closure of her skirt. The heavy wool slid easily to the Oriental carpet. His deft fingers glided her camisole over her skin, and then, he peeled away her corset.
Covered only by the thin gauze of her chemise, she stood before him. Cool air prickled her bare flesh. He freed her upswept hair. Uncensored desire flickered in his eyes.
Her senses were now fully in command. Emboldened, she whispered against his ear. “I want to feel you. I want to see you.”
She slid her fingers under his collar, eased his shirt from his shoulders, and smiled to herself as it drifted to the floor.
Light flowed through the amber-tinted sconce, casting a soft glow over the crisp dark hair on his chest. His skin was rough and velvet beneath her fingertips, his torso a superb melding of lean muscle and flesh and bone.
She drew her thumb over a scar below his right collarbone, a near-perfect circle the size of a shilling. “You’ve been shot.”
“I trusted the wrong person.”
Title: When a Lady Deceives
Author: Tara Kingston
Genre: Historical Romance
A woman with a secret and a dangerous man forge an undeniable passion.
In Victorian London, reporter Jennie Quinn employs deception as a weapon. Going undercover to seek justice for a murdered informant, she’s drawn into a powerful criminal’s seductive game of cat and mouse. Enigmatic former lawman Matthew Colton is as dangerous as he is clever, but the passion in his kiss is too tempting to resist. She aches to trust him, but she will not abandon her quest for the truth.
Colton is a man with secrets of his own. Thirsting for vengeance, the disgraced Scotland Yard detective has infiltrated the criminal world he’s vowed to destroy. Jennie intrigues him, even as she breaks down the barriers around his heart. He yearns to uncover her secrets—in and out of his bed. Driven to shield her, he’ll risk everything to protect the woman whose love heals his soul.
Award-winning author Tara Kingston writes historical romance laced with intrigue, danger, and adventures of the heart. A Southern-belle-out-of-water in a quaint Pennsylvania town, she lives her own love story with her real-life hero and a pair of deceptively innocent-looking kitties in a cozy Victorian. The mother of two sons, Tara’s a former librarian whose love of books is evident in her popping-at-the-seams bookcases. It goes without saying that Tara’s husband is thankful for the invention of digital books, thereby eliminating the need for yet another set of shelves. When she’s not writing, reading, or burning dinner, Tara enjoys movie nights, cycling, hiking, DIY projects, collecting dolls, and cheering on her favorite football team.