USA Today bestselling author Jo Goodman delivers the unforgettable story of a beautiful young woman who believes someone wants to kill her. Only one man can reveal if she's truly in peril--or if she's going mad. But will his forbidden kiss lead to a dangerous seduction?
Shy by nature, Emma Hathaway usually leaves the drama to her rebellious cousin, Marisol. But when Emma agrees to meet with her cousin's secret lover to end the affair, she is pulled into a dangerous game. Now Emma is convinced her involvement in the scandal has put her life in jeopardy. The trouble is none of Emma's confidantes believe anyone is trying to harm her. As whispers of madness begin, Emma turns to the only person who might be able to help...
The very handsome, barely respectable Restell Gardner has gained a reputation for helping people out of compromising positions. Never one to turn away a lady in need, Restell agrees to help solve the intrigue. Sensing there is more to the green-eyed beauty than meets the eye, Restell feels himself falling for Emma. But he resists succumbing to his passion...at least until he learns the truth about the danger that is haunting her. For if he gives in to temptation too soon, he could lose Emma forever...
Goodman's latest Regency romance concerns Emmalyn Hathaway, living with her relatives in London since the tragic death of her parents three years earlier. Emma spends her days assisting her artist uncle and her privileged younger cousin, Marisol, until she becomes the victim of a savage attack. Believing that the attack was meant for her cousin, Emma seeks out Restell Gardner, who offers protection and sleuthing services for a price. A confirmed bachelor and notorious rake (or so he wishes), Restell is taken with young Miss Hathaway and her plight. By taking on her case, he soon discovers that all is not as it seems in the Vega household and that Emma may truly be in danger. The attraction between Restell and Emma is hard to deny, and their dialogue sparkles with wit and emotion. Though there's enough intrigue and romantic charm to please any Regency fan, the mystery takes center stage, casting the romance in a secondary role. Regardless, authentic characters and a thrilling story line will keep readers smiling and guessing. (Sept.)
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from If His Kiss is Wicked by Jo Goodman
"Be a dear, won't you, and fetch my bonnet?" Marisol looked past her reflection to where her cousin was standing at the foot of the bed. "You look at sixes and sevens, Emmalyn. It is not at all becoming. Dithering never is. You might at least occupy yourself with some small task."
Emma knew that she had never dithered in her life, but she offered no rejoinder to refute Marisol's observation. Experience taught her that a denial would not serve. Marisol remained firm in her views and such evidence that could be mounted to sway a less rigid mind was regarded as a nuisance.
Emma glanced at the window. The damask drapes were drawn back so they framed a rapidly graying sky above the rooftops. "You realize it is going to rain, don't you?"
"That is of no consequence to me." Marisol shifted her chair closer to the vanity and examined the pearl earbobs she had chosen. "Are these all the thing, do you think? I cannot decide if I prefer the studs or the ones that dangle."
Emma did not offer an opinion. Marisol's discourse was not truly intended to elicit a comment. Her cousin was merely speaking to herself. "Will you want the black leghorn bonnet?"
"What?" Distracted from her fashion dilemma, Marisol frowned. Her perfect bow of a mouth disappeared as she pursed her lips. She regarded Emma, exasperation and impatience bringing her eyebrows together until only a slender crease separated the pair. "My new leghorn? I should think not. Why the satin quilling would be ruined. You said yourself it is going to rain. And the feathers? They will droop to comical effect. That is not done, Emmalyn, even by you."
At this inkling that it would be she, not Marisol, who would be stepping out in the rain, the fine, dark hairs at the back of Emma's neck rose slightly. She touched her nape with her fingertips, gently massaging her hackles. "The satin straw bonnet, then."
"Yes." Marisol's frown eased. "I confess I had been thinking of something else, but the satin straw is the best choice. You are so clever to think of it." She turned away from the mirror entirely and looked up at Emma. "You are always so good to me, Emmalyn. I do not tell you often enough, I'm quite certain of it. I am resolved that I must tell you at least once a day how very dear you are. You'll remind me, won't you?"
"If you like," Emma said, her features perfectly schooled. She hurried into Marisol's dressing room before she surrendered to the almost violent urge to laugh.
The satin straw bonnet was several years out of fashion, although only the most slavish devotees of the Paris style would know. Marisol recently purchased a striped Barcelona handkerchief, which she used to replace the bonnet's original blue satin ribbon. Emma had to admit it was a fetching confection--on Marisol. For herself, Emma preferred something less likely to draw eyes and comments.
Marisol had settled on the delicate, dangling pearl earrings and was admiring their effect when Emma returned with the bonnet. The pearls lightly brushed the slim stem of her neck as she twisted her head to one side, then the other. "It is the most delicious sensation to feel them touch my skin." A small shiver accompanied this observation and she looked immediately to Emma for her reaction. When Emma merely regarded her without expression, Marisol was moved to add, "It puts me in mind of a kiss, you know, just there, against my neck. Do you know such a feeling, Emmalyn?"
"I dare say I do." She held out the bonnet to her cousin, then drew it back as Marisol swiveled on her stool and lifted lambent blue eyes in her direction. The expression was at once sly and curious, and Emma was made wary. A tendril of silky ebon hair fell against Marisol's temple, and the curl lay there unmoving as though painted by a fine hand. The effect relieved the symmetry of Marisol's countenance, but immediately made Emma more aware of the features that lent her cousin an almost doll-like perfection. Marisol's complexion was without blemish and fashionably pale. This porcelain canvas made the pink hue in her cheeks all the more startling, and the rose blush softened or deepened with such charming results that it was as though Marisol had the knack of willing it so.
"Have you been kissed then?" asked Marisol. Her full bottom lip was thrust forward in the first stage of a pretty pout. "Why is it that you have never told me? I will have his name. I must. We are agreed there shall be no secrets between us."
Emma could not recall that she had ever entered into such an agreement with her cousin. It would be such an uncharacteristic lapse in good judgment that it could mean only that she'd been kicked in the head by a horse. "His name was Fitzroy. Are you quite happy that you have it from me?"