Newly widowed and desperate to protect her estate and beloved servants from her malevolent brother-in-law, Martha Russell conceives a daring plan. Or rather, a daring plan to conceive. After all, if she has an heir on the way, her future will be secured. Forsaking all she knows of propriety, Martha approaches her neighbor, a London exile with a wicked reputation, and offers a strictly business proposition: a month of illicit interludes . . . for a fee. Theophilus Mirkwood ought to be insulted. Should be appalled. But how can he resist this siren in widow's weeds, whose offer is simply too outrageously tempting to decline? Determined she'll get her money's worth, Theo endeavors to awaken this shamefully neglected beauty to the pleasures of the flesh-only to find her dead set against taking any enjoyment in the scandalous bargain. Surely she can't resist him forever. But could a lady's sweet surrender open their hearts to the most unexpected arrival of all . . . love?
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December 27, 2011
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Excerpt from A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant
Not once in ten months of marriage had she wished for her husband's demise. Nor would she be glad of the occurrence even for a moment. Even for this moment. To do so would ill become her.
Martha sat straighter in her chair, smoothing her black skirts. One's conduct might owe more to principle than to sentiment at times, admittedly. But principle could be relied upon. Principle steadied a person; braced her up through those same occasions, in fact, where sentiment made only a sluggish kind of mire to sink into.
She finished with her skirts and folded her hands on the tabletop. "Well," she said into the silence of her sunlit parlor. "This is all legally sound, I don't doubt."
Mr. Keene gave a little bow from his place at the table's foot, affording her a glimpse of the bald spot atop his head. He did not meet her eyes and had not done so since beginning to read. A faint sifting sound came from the papers before him, as his hands lined up the corners and made other adjustments of no particular purpose. Really, he ought to stop that.
Across the table her brother sat tight-?lipped, his jaw working as if to swallow something of fearsome dimension. His temper, that would be. To his credit, he always did try.