Title: The Highlander’s Forbidden Mistress: The Lairds Most Likely Book 7
Author: Anna Campbell
Genre: Historical Romance
A week to be wicked... Widowed Selina Martin faces another marriage founded on duty, not love. When notorious libertine Lord Bruard invites her to his isolated hunting lodge, he promises discretion – and seven days of hedonistic pleasure before she weds her boorish fiancé. All her life, Selina has done the right thing, but this no-strings-attached chance to discover the handsome rake’s sensual secrets is irresistible. She’ll surrender to her wicked fantasies, seize some brief happiness, then knuckle down to a loveless union. What could possibly go wrong? In a lifetime of seduction, Brock Drummond, the dashing Earl of Bruard, has never wanted a woman the way he wants demure widow Selina Martin. When Selina agrees to become his temporary lover, he soon falls captive to an enchantment unlike any other. He sets out to slake his white hot desire until only ashes remain, but as each day of forbidden delight passes, the idea of saying goodbye to his ardent mistress becomes more and more unbearable. When scandal explodes around them and threatens to destroy Selina, Brock is the only person she can turn to. After so short a time, can she trust a man whose name is a byword for depravity? Will this sizzling liaison prove a mere affair to remember? Or will their week of passion spark a lifetime of happiness for the widow and her dissolute Scottish earl?
Derwent Hall, Essex, December 1823
Selina was too aware that it was late and that she was alone with a man whose reputation was bad enough to send respectable virgins shrieking for their mammas. Lord Bruard's company was the closest thing to satanic temptation that she was ever likely to experience.
Selina swallowed to moisten a dry throat and set the book on the mantel with a shaking hand. "I must go," she said, and cursed the squeak in her voice.
"Must you?" Bruard didn't sound as if he cared whether she stayed or not. He continued as if they were in the middle of a friendly conversation. "You shouldn't let him bully you, you know. If he bullies you now, before he gets his ring on your finger, he'll turn into a domestic tyrant when you marry."
She paused in the act of turning away toward the door. "This is none of your business, sir."
Unfortunately, it was also an accurate assessment of her future. Selina was no fool, and she didn't deceive herself about how life with Cecil would turn out. But what choice did she have?
With a leisurely grace that made her foolish heart skip around inside her tight chest, Bruard sat up. She thought she'd committed her whole self to marrying Cecil, but now it turned out that her heart hadn't signed up to the arrangement. Her heart cried out that she was still young and at last she had the chance to flirt with an attractive man. It insisted that if she ran away now, she was a filthy coward.
"That's true." Again no shame. "But I'm telling you this out of pure altruism. Stand up for yourself now, or he'll crush every ounce of spirit out of you."
"Pure altruism?" She gave a snort of amusement that would have shocked Cecil. "It seems the world is completely wrong about you, Lord Bruard."
The half-smile reappeared, accentuating the creases around Bruard's deep-set eyes. The breath jammed in her lungs. Lord above, no wonder the ladies went insane for him. His appeal was extraordinary. He should have warning signs posted all over him.
Because he was right about her avoiding him, this was closer than she'd ever ventured to the wicked Lord Bruard. This was certainly the longest she'd spent talking to him.
And danger bristled in the air.
So remaining in this room made no sense. Yet remain Selina did.
He fixed a disturbingly assessing gaze on her. "No, my lovely little ghost, the world isn't wrong about me."
The power of his attraction made her stomach cramp with nerves, as she remembered all those depraved fantasies that had worn Lord Bruard's intense dark face. Did he know she'd thought of him in the privacy of the night? She had a sick feeling that he must.
"G-ghost?" she stammered.
He shrugged. How could such a prosaic movement make her heart somersault? Except his shoulders were broad and hard, and she ached to run her hands along them and down those strong arms, displayed to advantage in the best of London tailoring.
He wore black. But then didn't the devil always come in black?
"That's how I think of you. With your neat little gray frocks, and the way you watch every word you say, and never miss anything that goes on around you."
This time, genuine fear spurred her unsteady pulse. She hadn't thought she'd be of the slightest interest to such a libertine. It turned out she was wrong. It seemed that just as she'd watched him, he'd watched her.
She gulped for air to clear a swimming head and raised an unsteady hand to her bosom, before she realized how revealing the movement was. "You shouldn't think of me at all."
His gaze grew more focused, and she faltered back a step. She should flee, pride or no pride, but it was as if her feet were tacked to the parquetry floor.
"Nor should you think of me, when you're marrying that ponderous oaf in a fortnight, and you're obviously a woman who guards her chastity the way a miser guards his gold."
Heat blazed in her cheeks, and she avoided his eyes. How could he make her virtue sound like the worst of sins? "I don't think of you. I…"
Oh, what was the use? All of a sudden, coyness seemed too shabby to countenance. As he uncoiled and rose to his feet, Selina made a helpless gesture. "I don't want to think of you," she mumbled.
His soft purr reeked of satisfaction. Selina raised her gaze to his face, expecting smugness, but he stared at her as if he tracked every beat of her heart. Heaven help her, he probably did.
A man this experienced with women must register her terrified fascination. The fact that she'd tried so hard to keep out of his way told its own story to someone who paid close attention. To her astonished dismay, Bruard had paid close attention.
He was tall and all whipcord strength. She wasn't a small woman, but he towered over her. "That is no doubt true. But sometimes it's impossible to obey common sense, isn't it?"
"How would you know?" she asked with a trace of heat. She started to resent feeling like a butterfly caught on a collector's pin.
"Brava." To her surprise, this time he smiled properly. "I knew there was more to you than, 'Yes, Cecil.'"
What’s the first binge-worthy book you read and why was it a must-read?
These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer which I read when I was about 11. I’ve re-read all Heyer’s works several time since and this has dropped off its perch as my favorite of her works, but honestly, anything by Georgette Heyer is worth reading. The wit sparkles, the plots are so clever, the romance is lovely, the historical detail is fascinating. She’s still a treat to read.
What makes your featured book a binge-worthy read?
This is a really steamy read with a deeply emotional core. It’s about having the courage to take a chance on love.
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Australian Anna Campbell has written 11 multi-award-winning historical romances for Avon HarperCollins and Grand Central Publishing. As an independently published author, she’s released 27 bestselling stories, including seven in her latest series, The Lairds Most Likely. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set stories, including RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence (twice), the Write Touch, the Aspen Gold (twice), and the Australian Romance Readers' favorite historical romance (five times).
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