CAPTIVATED BY HIS KISS
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Cheryl Bolen and USA Today Bestselling Author Bronwen Evans are joined by Barbara Monajem, Collette Cameron, Wendy Vella, Heather Boyd, and Lauren Smith in this exciting collection of regency romances. Be CAPTIVATED BY HIS KISS in these seven emotional stories of second chances, scandalous wagers, and the quest for true love. Lose yourself again and again in beautifully written romance.
CAPTIVATED BY HIS KISS
Published January 2015
Cover Design by Seductive Musings
Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/captivated-by-his-kiss-cheryl-bolen/1120817962?ean=2940046290073
Cheryl Bolen ~ His Lordship’s Vow
Bronwen Evans ~ To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone
Barbara Monajem ~ The Christmas Knot
Collette Cameron ~ Bride of Falcon
Wendy Vella ~ Christmas Wishes
Heather Boyd ~ Miss Watson’s First Scandal
Lauren Smith ~ The Duelist’s Seduction
HIS LORDSHIP’S VOW
Bereft of beauty as well as fortune, the exceedingly plain Miss Jane Featherstone has failed to attract any suitor during her three Seasons. Rather than be a burden to her brother and his obnoxious wife, Miss Featherstone vows to accept the first man who asks—even though she’s always worshipped a lord who’s far above her touch. . .
Lord Slade must marry an heiress in order to honor the deathbed vow he made to his father, and he needs Miss Featherstone’s help in wooing her beautiful cousin. After her initial anger, Miss Featherstone agrees to his scheme, telling him she’s doing so because she admires his Parliamentary record of humanitarian legislation and his reverence for truth. But the more he’s with the two cousins, the more attracted he becomes to Miss Featherstone. What’s a man of his word to do? Break a vow to a beloved father—or follow his heart with Miss Featherstone?
ABOUT CHERYL BOLEN
Since her first book was published to acclaim by Harlequin Historical in 1998, Cheryl Bolen has written more than 20 books, mostly historical romances. Several of her books have won Best Historical awards, and she's been a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.
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TO WAGER THE MARQUIS OF WOLVERSTONE
Marcus Danvers, the Marquis of Wolverstone, is renowned for his cynical demeanor. It's rumored that long ago, a beautiful woman broke his heart. Now he lives life for pleasure. That is, until the beautiful, as she is deceitful, Contessa Orsini re-enters his life with a wager he cannot resist.
ABOUT BRONWEN EVANS
USA Today Bestselling Author Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes.
Her debut Regency romance, Invitation to Ruin won the RomCon Readers’ Crown Best Historical 2012, and was an RT Reviewers’ Choice Nominee Best First Historical 2011. Her first self-published novella, To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield, was a FINALIST in the Kindle Book Review Indie Romance Book of the Year 201,2 and a finalist in the RomCon Readers’ Crown Best Historical 2013. Her first contemporary released December 2012, The Reluctant Wife, won the RomCon Readers’ Crown Best Category 2013.
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THE CHRISTMAS KNOT
Widowed and destitute, Edwina White takes a position as governess in a remote village in the north of England—in a haunted house. She’s so desperate that she’ll take anything, and besides, she doesn’t believe in ghosts. Little does she know that her new employer is the seducer who lied and deceived her many years ago.
Sir Richard Ballister inherited an estate with a ghost and a curse, and every governess he hires leaves within a week. Finally, a woman desperate enough to stay arrives on his doorstep—but she’s the seductress who dropped him many years earlier for a richer man.
The last thing Richard and Edwina want is to work together, but they have no choice. Can they overcome the bitterness of the past in time to unravel a centuries-old knot and end the Christmas curse?
ABOUT BARBARA MONAJEM
Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. After dabbling in neighborhood musicals and teen melodrama, she published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young. Now her kids are adults, and she's writing for grownups. Her Bayou Gavotte series of paranormal mystery and romance takes place near New Orleans and features hereditary vampires, a Native American telepathic rock star, and other characters with paranormal abilities. She also writes sexy Regency romances with bold, passionate heroes, spirited, adventurous heroines, and the occasional touch of magic. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.
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BRIDE OF FALCON
After five Seasons, Ivonne Wimpleton has accepted she’s a haute ton undesirable. Always a bit ungraceful, her suitors are men desperate to get their hands on her marriage settlement. Guarded and aloof, she’s resigned herself to spinsterhood. She doesn’t mind her fate, since Chancy Faulkenhurst, the man who once held her heart, left for India years ago without an explanation.
When Ivonne’s father, Viscount Wimpleton, refuses Chaz’s request for her hand in marriage, he transfers to the East India Troops. Chaz’s dreams of making Ivonne his wife are soundly dashed. Ignoring her letters, he closes the door on his heart and Ivonne and remains in India.
Six years later, severely injured during a battle, Chaz returns to England physically and emotionally scarred. His love for Ivonne remains just as strong. When he learns due to a whim of Prinny’s she must choose one of the despots whose offered for her hand, Chaz is determined that none should have her but him. Except, not only is she infuriated he made no effort to contact her, in Chaz’s absence, his father arranged a marriage for him and fully expects Chaz to honor the agreement.
ABOUT COLLETTE CAMERON
Award winning, Amazon best-selling author, Collette Cameron, has a BS in Liberal Studies and a Master's in Teaching. Author of the Castle Brides Series and Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, Collette writes Regency and Scottish historicals and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and five mini dachshunds. Mother to three and a self-proclaimed Cadbury Chocolate chocoholic, Collette loves a good joke, inspirational quotes, flowers, trivia, and all things shabby chic. You'll always find dogs, birds, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels. Her motto for life? You can’t have too much chocolate, too many hugs, or too many flowers. She’s thinking about adding shoes to that list.
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Past experiences have taught Miss Hero Appleby to distrust noblemen, especially self-indulgent rakes like Lord Caruthers. However she was desperate for money to support the orphans in her care this Christmas, so it is to him she must go. Perhaps it had been wrong of her to point out his many faults so boldly, but the man had reeked of last nights over indulgences, and that coupled with his indolent lifestyle, drove her to distraction and all thoughts of lady-like behaviour disappeared in his infuriating presence.
Max didn't remember much of his first meeting with the annoying Miss Appleby, thanks to the after effects of one good drink too many. But he vaguely recalled he'd promised her something, just to get her out of his house so he could suffer in peace. Unfortunately peaceful was the last word to describe her as he found out the next day. She was unlike any woman he knew - opinionated and rude certainly, but she worked selflessly to provide for children that were not even of her blood. Max had believed himself incapable of emotion yet Hero was making him feel things that he had believed were long dead. Could his long forgotten Christmas wish really come true?
ABOUT WENDY VELLA
Wendy Vella is a lover of all things romantic. Her novels are sensual with just a touch of wicked and set in the often intriguing backdrop Regency England. Writing is something she has always found time for; and penned her first novel at eighteen, though she is adamant it will never make an appearance further than the closet in which it currently resides.
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MISS WATSON’S FIRST SCANDAL
Overworked London banker David Hawke has two goals for his week in the seaside town of Brighton: one, recover an overdue debt from a good friend and neighbor and two, relax for the remaining holiday without any further distractions. When his friend’s impulsive younger sister barges into his home to beg his aid, he’s drawn deeper into her life and scrambling to keep their relationship on a professional level.
Abigail Watson may be considered too young to have the cares of the world on her shoulders but her brother is in financial trouble and she’s desperate to help him recover. Despite the impropriety, she appeals to the bachelor next door for an extension on the debt and his help to secure her brother a wealthy wife. However, matchmaking never runs smoothly and falling in love is something neither one counted on.
ABOUT HEATHER BOYD
Bestselling historical author Heather Boyd believes every character she creates deserves their own happily-ever-after, no matter how much trouble she puts them through. With that goal in mind, she writes sizzling regency romance stories that skirt the boundaries of propriety to keep readers enthralled until the wee hours of the morning. Heather has published over twenty novels and shorter works. She lives north of Sydney, Australia, and does her best to wrangle her testosterone-fuelled family (including cat Morpheus) into submission.
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THE DUELIST’S SEDUCTION
Helen Banks is going to die. There is no other option: either fight a duel in her twin brother’s place or see him die. But Helen never counted on the man she was to duel with being the same man she admired from afar for so long, Gareth Fairfax, a wealthy lord and the man sworn to exact his payment from the Banks twins through any means.
When Gareth discovers his opponent is a woman and more importantly, the sister of the man he means to kill, he demands satisfaction of some kind. He gives her two choices. She can return to his estate and become his mistress, or he can send her home and settle the matter with her brother by finishing the duel. Helen, unable to ignore the secret longing she’s had for Gareth, decides to accept his proposal and go with him back to his estate, thankful that her desire for him also saves her brother’s life.
Helen accepts the devil’s bargain and agrees to stay with Gareth, at his beck and call, putting more than her innocence in danger as Gareth begins his slow seduction. With each passing hour, she sees the tortured heart of a man who’d once loved and lost. Helen fears she may lose her own heart to him, and believing she can never lay claim to his heart. But as they challenge the limits of their passion and the sensual delight they find in each other’s arms, they may find that love is within their reach.
ABOUT LAUREN SMITH
Lauren Smith is an attorney by day, author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets—a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat and dapper little schnauzer. She's won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being an Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award.
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Excerpt from The Duelist’s Seduction
The predawn sky shone brightly with flickering stars as Helen Banks readied herself for the duel. Her hair was coiled and pinned tightly against her head, concealing its thick mass and giving her a boyish look—a disguise she prayed would last. Checking the black mask covering her face, she resumed walking. She took a deep, steadying breath as she adjusted her breeches and the black coat she’d pinched from her brother’s wardrobe.
The open field near the spa city of Bath was quiet. Two coaches waited in the distance along the roadside, and ahead of her, two men waited, watching her approach. Not even a breeze dared rustle the knee-high grass as Helen walked up to her enemy and his second. Both men also wore masks to conceal their identities should someone witness the illegal duel. The paling skies played with the retreating shadows of night, lending a melancholy air to the moment she stopped inches from the men.
“You are late, Mr. Banks,” the taller of the two men announced coldly.
With his broad shoulders and muscular body, Gareth Fairfax cut an imposing figure. He seemed perpetually tense, as though ready to strike out at anyone who might offend him. Dark hair framed his chiseled features, and the eyes that glowered from between the spaces of his mask were a fathomless blue. They were the sort of eyes a woman lost herself in, like gazing into a dark pool of water that seemed to sink endlessly, drawing her in until she can’t find her way back to the surface. She recognized the sensual, full lips, now thinned by anger, and the gleam of his eyes on her. She was never more thankful that the early morning’s pale light did not expose her as being a woman.
Helen hated knowing that even now, faced with possible death at his hands, she still desired him. Having seen him from afar over the past few months, she’d been enchanted. Gareth—for that was the way she’d dreamt about him, not as Mr. Fairfax—had a way about him, an animal magnetism that drew her in, with his smoky gaze and relaxed movements. Sin personified—she’d once heard a woman describe him thus at a dance and it was true. Even angels would be tempted to stray to hell for one glance, one lingering, seductive look. He smiled so rarely, she’d glimpsed it but twice in the months she’d seen him. Both times it had fairly knocked her off her feet with the sheer force of its power.
He’d never noticed her at the social engagements. She had stood close to the wall, quiet and lost in dreams as she watched him through her heavy lashes. Foolish, too, she knew, to look at him and feel such hunger for the things his brooding demeanor promised. He had passed her by on numerous occasions, but his head never turned and his eyes never alighted on her. Even now, as she stood before him, ready to die at his hands, she knew he thought her to be her twin brother, Martin.
If he ever discovered she was a woman, he would be appalled and furious. Especially given that she was only dueling him to save her brother’s life.
She briefly studied her opponent’s second. He was just as tall, his features nearly as striking as Gareth’s.
Helen choked down a shaky breath. “I was waylaid.” She prayed her voice sounded gruff and masculine.
Gareth’s eyes were dark orbs, burning with thinly controlled anger. He shifted restlessly on his feet, his imposing form momentarily revealed by the dark blue coat that contoured to his shape.
“Is this your second?” His growl sent shivers down her spine as his glaze flicked to the squat man in his mid-thirties standing behind her. She glanced over her shoulder, widening her eyes in silent encouragement for her second to come closer.
“I am,” Mr. Rodney Bennett replied and bowed.
“Mr. Banks, I am Mr. Ambrose Worthing,” Gareth’s second announced politely.
Well, finally someone was acting like a gentleman. “Mr. Worthing,” Helen said, making sure to keep her voice low. “Allow me to introduce my second, Mr. Rodney Bennett.”
Bennett passed by Helen, and he and Worthing shook hands. Bennett offered the pistols to Worthing for inspection. Since Gareth and Worthing had not brought the weapons, that duty fell to her as the challenged party. As the two men drew apart from her and Gareth, she tried not to stare at him. He was impossibly handsome, in that dark, mysterious sort of way that a woman simply couldn’t ignore. Like gazing upon a visage of an angry god, all fire and might, ready to burn her to ash with passion.
Her opponent glowered at her. “I suppose I should trust that you’ve not tampered with my pistol?”
His icy tone made her bristle with indignation. “You have my word it shoots fair,” Helen snapped. The nerve of the man to accuse her of cheating!
“Your word? We would not be here if I could trust your word. A man who does not honor his debts may not find it necessary to honor the rules of a duel,” Gareth retorted.
She wanted to scream. Her fists clenched at her sides. Her nails dug painfully into her palms as she struggled to calm down. She wanted to throttle her brother, whose rash and inconsiderate behavior had gotten her into this mess.
“Easy, Fairfax. Both pistols appear to be in working order,” Worthing announced as he and Bennett rejoined them.
Helen breathed a sigh of relief as Bennett resumed his position behind her. She’d paid him the last bit of money she’d had for him to appear as her second. She didn’t really know the man, having only met him briefly when she’d had to drag her brother away from the card tables a few nights ago. When she first approached Bennett with her plan, he had tried to talk her out of it, but when she offered money, he couldn’t refuse and had agreed to help her take her brother’s place in the duel. Even though he was a gentleman, the gambler inside him craved any bit of money he could get his hands on to return to the tables. She was lucky he hadn’t gambled away his pair of pistols, or else she would have been completely humiliated to turn up at a duel without weapons.
“Now,” Mr. Worthing said, “before we settle this, is it possible that you and Mr. Banks can reconcile the dispute?”
Helen started to nod, wanting desperately to find a way to settle the problem without bloodshed, but Gareth spoke up, stilling the bobbing of her head.
“Mr. Banks has run up a debt to me of over a thousand pounds. He has not been able to pay it back to me over the last three months. Furthermore, he created an additional liability of five hundred pounds last evening when he played with money he did not have.”
Helen swallowed hard, a painful lump in her throat choking her. Martin, you damned fool…
“Why did you accept his vouchers then?” Rodney spoke up. “I saw you agree to play with him. You didn’t have to.”
“Banks had money on him. I assumed he’d replenished his funds and would settle his debts to me.” Gareth shot a withering look in Helen’s direction. “Shooting him will be a bonus.”
Helen held his stare for a moment, feeling the regret deep in her belly that she hadn’t known better than to trust her twin brother—too childish for a gentleman of one-and-twenty—to be more responsible. Instead of helping to secure her a position as a governess—their finances dim after the death of their parents and no good marriages likely—he had been losing what meager fortune they had to men like Gareth Fairfax, who had plenty to spare.
A man who would now take her life as payment for a debt she didn’t owe. But what else could she do? She couldn’t let Martin die. A man had options to survive, a woman did not, at least not one that wouldn’t make her despise herself for the rest of her life.
Her memory of the previous night was tinged with fury and disappointment in Martin. Her heart had plummeted into the pit of her stomach when she’d retired for the evening and found his room empty. All of her hopes were dashed the moment she’d learned he’d gone back to the gambling tables.
She’d hidden in the shadows outside the gambling hell, trying not to be seen by anyone passing by. The smell of alcohol stung her nose, and the raucous laughter echoing from the entrance sent chills of trepidation down her spine. It would ruin her completely if she were witnessed outside such an establishment. Bennett had promised to bring Martin out to her, but when Martin emerged, he was being roughly hauled out by a dark-haired gentleman, a man she recognized, a man she’d admired for the last few months from afar.
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