Three brothers--each as wickedly handsome and scandalous as the next--must wed or surrender their fortunes. They're the Rayborne men, and their quest for the perfect woman will send them on an unforgettable excursion of pleasure and excitement...
Her Thirst For Passion...
Lily Winthrop's marriage to her recently deceased husband was a loveless one. She wishes to never wed again. But when she meets the devilishly charming Victor Rayborne, he stirs a scorching hunger deep within her. She yearns to be taken by him, to feel the heat of his body entwined with hers...
His Irresistible Desire...
The fact that Lily is older than him does not deter Victor from seeking out her lovely company. Instead, he finds the alluring woman a welcome breath of fresh air amid the insufferably dull prospects paraded before him in the ton. And when he kisses Lily, an overwhelming lust is ignited--one that begs to consume them beyond all control.
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March 29, 2010
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Excerpt from Victor by Julia Templeton
Victor Rayborne looked out over the grounds of his family's country estate. It had been a fortnight since his mother had made the announcement that he and his brothers must find brides or lose everything. His eldest sibling, Sinjin, had succeeded in winning the hand of the beautiful Katelyn Davenport, a woman who at the beginning of said party had been engaged to another man.
A man who now lay dead by his own hand.
Releasing a sigh, he scrubbed a hand over his face. Unlike his brother who had fallen in love so quickly, Victor had not found a woman who caught his fancy among the young debutantes that his mother had brought to Claymoore Hall. However, he had found a chaperone who intrigued him.
Lillith Winthrop, Lady Nordland, widow and aunt to Katelyn and her sister, Marilyn, was a beautiful blonde with striking hazel eyes and a body built for pleasure. The attraction had been instantaneous, and yet everything he'd heard about Lillith revolved around her virtuous reputation for being the very picture of decorum, an example of what every young lady should aspire to be.
In short, she was the opposite of what kind of woman he usually was attracted to. Actresses and dancers had always been his type, much like his last mistress, the beautiful twenty-five-year- old Selene.
The door to his chamber opened and his brother Rory appeared, his messy dark hair and rumpled appearance saying he'd just come from a liaison. Rory had been gifted with striking good looks that women found irresistible. When he entered a room, men held tight to their wives, daughters, and mistresses.
"You look like hell. Where have you been?"
Rory flashed a wolfish smile. "With the incomparable Lady Anna."
Lady Anna had entertained both Victor and Rory in her chamber just days into the party. Since that event he had steered clear of the woman, but apparently Rory could not get enough of the sexually voracious young lady. "I'm surprised her chaperone has not caught on yet."
"Yes, well, there is something to be said about having a chaperone who is hard of hearing and has weak eyesight." Rory fell into a chair beside the fireplace.
"Perhaps you should ask Lady Anna to marry you?"
Rory snorted. "Anna is an excellent lover, to be sure, but I cannot imagine her as a wife. I could never trust her."
"Isn't that a bit like the pot calling the kettle black?"
"Yes, well . . ." Rory brushed his hands through his hair and yawned loudly. "What of you? I noticed you dancing with a certain widow last night. Do I sense interest on your part?"
His brothers knew him better than anyone, so it was no use denying it. "Yes, I find Lillith intriguing."
"She's lovely. Hard to believe she's the aunt. I would have taken her more as the sister, especially given that remarkable figure," Rory said, a smile on his face. "Oh, and you'll love this; Lady Anna says that Lillith is unattainable."
Unattainable? Ironically, the news fascinated him even more. A woman as beautiful as Lillith, and a wealthy, titled widow at that, should have men beating down her door. Chances were she wasn't interested. Little wonder given what he now knew of her husband.
Every time he approached Lillith she looked ready to bolt-- until last night. Last night he had sensed a change in her when they danced. She had laughed and smiled the entire time. He did take into account that said happiness could have been more about the fact that her niece had become engaged and less about her dancing partner, but he'd felt elated nonetheless.
"Oh my God, you really like her." Rory sat up straight now. "I'll wager you one hundred pounds that you can't get her into bed."
A part of Victor rebelled at making such a wager, yet the rake in him couldn't resist the challenge. He and Rory had always had a strange rivalry, and it's not like this would be the first time they'd bet on getting a woman into bed. "Make it your gold pocket watch and we have a deal."
Rory frowned. "The one Grandfather gave me?"
"Yes, the very one, which you never wear." Victor had secretly coveted the piece for years. When Rory had received the treasured antique after their grandfather's passing, he had been crushed. He shouldn't have been so surprised since Rory had always been their grandfather's golden boy.
Rory's eyes narrowed as he contemplated the wager, and Victor had a sneaking suspicion he would not go for it, when finally Rory released an exasperated sigh, stood, and extended his hand. "Very well, you shall have the pocket watch, but only if you seduce Lady Nordland. And you will not just bed her and be done with it, but rather captivate her completely and make her your mistress."
Victor wasn't sure about his ability to "captivate her completely" and make her his mistress, but bedding her he could do, despite the fact her flawless reputation suggested otherwise.
He shook Rory's hand. "Done," he said with more confidence than he felt.
Lillith lifted her face to the sun. It was a glorious day, and she felt extremely gratified as she watched her niece Katelyn and her fianc? Sinjin walk hand in hand along the grounds under the watchful eye of Sinjin's proud mother, Lady Rochester.
Any misgivings the countess might have had about her eldest son marrying Katelyn had apparently been put aside, for she positively beamed as she took tea with her friends.
If only Marilyn had found love with one of the Rayborne brothers or one of their male guests, then the party would have been an even greater success. For a short while Lillith thought her niece had fallen in love with Victor, especially when she had happened upon them kissing in the labyrinth.
However, Marilyn had assured her that Victor was nothing more than a friend. Lillith didn't push for more answers, as a part of her honestly didn't want to know the truth. Admittedly, she'd been more than a little jealous when she'd witnessed the kiss, and worried that both she and her niece had feelings for the renowned rakehell.
Victor was a decade younger than Lillith, in his prime, and he made her feel small and feminine, and yes, even desired-- something she had not felt for many, many years. True, she had been pursued by older gentlemen intent on taking a well- respected widow as their wife, but none of those men thrilled her the way Victor Rayborne did.
Victor brought out something in her that made her feel like a girl again. Indeed, he made her wonder what it would be like to behave badly; a new concept given she had spent the past two decades playing the elegant, loyal, ever virtuous wife to a detestable man who paraded his many male lovers before her.
She had hoped to have children of her own, but her fifteen- year marriage had yielded no such blessing. Little wonder given her husband had rarely visited her bed. The night of her wedding had been the stuff of nightmares, and she had come to hate Winfred's drunken visits. What a fantastic actor he had been during their courtship. If she could have only guessed that behind the sheep's clothing lay a malicious wolf, she would have run for her life.
But there was no use in crying over what had happened. Those days were long behind her. She could only move on to what could be.
"Lady Nordland," a deep voice said from behind her, and she turned slowly.
Victor's brilliant blue eyes slid down her body and up again. His dark, wavy hair fell to his broad shoulders in wild disarray, and he had the most arresting features: square jaw, jutting cheekbones, and lovely full lips. He was dressed in black from his shirt and snug trousers that hugged muscular thighs to the slightly worn Hessians. The dark attire made his light eyes even more vivid, she realized.
"Lord Graston, good afternoon." She managed to keep her tone casual; a difficult feat when exhilaration rushed through her veins, making her heart pound as if she'd run a race.
"May I?" he asked, motioning to the chair beside her.
She nodded, "Of course."
He sat in the chair, his long legs stretching out before him. He made her thoughts turn positively scandalous, and she wondered if the rumors she had heard this past week were true: Lord Graston was a gracious, extremely well-endowed lover with incredible stamina and skill. A flash of what he must look like naked came to mind and Lillith shifted in her seat. Truth be told, she had never been so attracted to a man in all her thirty- eight years.
Nearby, someone laughed aloud and Lillith straightened her spine. She glanced at a nearby table to see a young woman and her chaperone watching her closely and talking behind their fans. The chaperone lifted a brow as though to say, "Who do you think you are, you old maid?" Indeed, were they laughing at her because Victor was showing interest, or that she was so obviously taken with him?
"Lily, Lily, Lily, when will you stop worrying about what others are thinking or saying?" Victor whispered, his voice far too intimate.
"I am a chaperone, Lord Graston. And people talk if said chaperone, and a widow at that, spends too much time in the company of a single, young man."
He sighed heavily. "Who cares what they say? Let them speculate."