Blurb for Caribbean Heat (coming soon from Cobblestone Press) www.cobblestone-press.com
He needs control. She needs to lose it.
It’s Carnival season on Tobago and everyone is playing out their fantasies.
Felicity Hartsford lives a sheltered life on Tobago, a tiny British protectorate in the Caribbean. The daughter of a sugarcane plantation owner, she feels stifled under the threefold bonds of running the estate, her father’s illness, and her less-than-ideal engagement to a man she hardly knows.
Nathaniel Donovan’s estate is a well-oiled machine compared to others on the island. Haunted by the death of his wife and child, the last thing he wants is to be caught up in the parties of the Carnival season, let alone a new relationship.
But the magic of Carnival can’t be denied. Passions ignite and blaze into an inferno of need sparked by the warm, sultry nights of the Caribbean. Before they can stop it, Felicity and Nathaniel are swept away on a tide of desire and love. Can their budding love burn brighter than religious tensions and humanity’s angst in order to survive the storm?
Excerpt from Chapter 1
“I apologize…” Her mumbled excuse became swallowed in the general cacophony of the room as she tipped her head up to meet his gaze. Steely, swimming in multi-hues of gray like a storm at sea, his eyes twinkled back from behind his half-mask. Her stomach clenched, and a flutter of pure desire made itself known between her thighs. “I—”
“I’d say the bulk of this collision is my fault.” The unmistakable twang of an American accent rang through his voice. His lips curved in a sensuous grin that promised dark whispers and forbidden kisses even as his grip on her arms tightened. “Forgive me.”
“I would be delighted to but only for your name.” Shocked at her boldness, Felicity drank in his appearance.
The requisite black evening clothes and white shirt were a tad more relaxed in their cut than the European style—definitely favoring an American influence. From the way he held her in the scant embrace, she could feel his tensed muscles. He wasn’t a stranger to hard work, yet he was here, mingling with the upper crust of society. Not merely an estate worker. She lifted her gaze, taking in the golden waves of his hair that didn’t quite reach his starched collar.
Frowning because the mask obscured part of his features, she would happily do many things for his eyes alone if she could only see them sparkle again.
“My name, huh?” As the orchestra began a new tune, he shifted his grasp, sliding one hand to the small of her back as the other claimed her hand in the classic stance of a waltz. Her fan slipped unheeded to the floor. “To hear you say it with the lips of an angel, I would gladly tell you.”
Heat flooded her cheeks, and she found herself doing the unthinkable. She entered without regret into the bantering game. “Ah, if that were true, I would have had to fall from the heavens, so why then would I spend time here with these people?”
“You do not like your contemporaries?”
Shivers raced up and down her spine, over her skin, as he led them gracefully through the steps of the dance. “That is not the issue. Being here at all is.”
“I see. Perhaps the festivities are what you find fault with?” As they made it to the back half of the ballroom, he pulled her closer to his body by inches; the warmth of his breath fluttered a tendril of hair at her brow.
Felicity panted, partially due to the exerting dance coupled with the constricting corset and partially because his nearness brought out an intense hunger in her. “Carnival is fascinating, especially away from the structured affairs of the privileged. Their customs infect the blood, prod me to do impermissible things.”
“Intriguing.” With fleeting grace, he drew his lips over her temple. “I’d love to see you in the grips of abandon.”
“Oh.” Her earlier thoughts came rushing back with the strength and heat of a thousand suns. Trails of flame licked over her limbs, and she pressed closer on the next turn, so close now she felt the power in his legs, the tensile strength of his muscles beneath her fingers as they rested on his shoulder. Perhaps this man could be the one she could experiment on. “What is your name, or shall I call you a prince of the shadows?”
A flicker of something dark veiled his eyes for a second, so quick it vanished before she could ponder its existence. “My name is Nathaniel Donovan.”
Ah, the reclusive Mr. Donovan. She relaxed, boldly holding his gaze. If the rumors around the island were to be believed, this man never socialized, preferring to remain on his estate. Rarely was he seen in public, and it was rarer still that he went anywhere except the shore near his property. There was something about him being haunted by the death of his wife. She’d never paid much attention. “Hello, Mr. Donovan. I’m Felicity Hartsford, but please, leave off the formality and call me Felicity. Our subject matter is intimate enough.”
“It would be my honor and pleasure.” Another few dizzying turns passed until he spoke again. “I’m in the mood for quieter conversation. You have the air of a woman who is a thousand miles away.” His fingers on her back traced a line on her spine. It almost branded her for the heat he left behind. “Would you indulge me in a stroll through the gardens? From all the bragging the owner does, I feel compelled to see them.”
She teetered on the edge of a precipice between doing what was proper and what was wickedly forbidden. As if he sensed her hesitation, he pulled her into him another delicious inch. The swell of her breasts brushed his chest, sending a host of urgent pulses through her veins. Her nipples tightened in anticipation. With this man, in their masks, some amount of anonymity was at play, and she didn’t need to be concerned about impropriety. He was the perfect choice to gain what she desired while keeping her name intact.
“I must tell you these soirees hold no interest for me. I would much rather spend my time in rapt devotion of one beautiful woman instead of a room full of false praise and predatory females.” Another few turns put them very near the line of open doors.
The crowded dance floor coupled with the oppressive heat, and Nathaniel’s proximity finally broke down the last vestiges of her reserve. She nodded. “Only if there is a promise of a kiss at night’s end.” She gasped at her boldness then blushed furiously as his eyes darkened with interest and poorly disguised desire. It was heady, powerful, that she could affect a man in such a way and gave her courage to continue the game.
“This I can most definitely give you.”
Her core throbbed at the blatant invitation for much more than a stolen kiss. Everything existed in this one moment as if the culmination of her dreams hovered so close she could reach out and grasp them. If she did, maybe then she could be happy and make peace with her life.
She licked her dry lips, shivering when he followed the small action. “Um…” Perhaps it was time to try her wings and make the one decision she had total control over. “I’ve heard the night-blooming plants within the heart of the maze are prizewinning.”
“Indeed. Being able to look upon the secret folds of a delicate flower for the first time is truly an exquisite experience.” With gentle pressure on her back, he whisked them through one of the doors and onto the patio, leaning into her so his lips tickled the delicate shell of her ear. “Drinking in a bloom’s unique fragrance, feeling its softness on my fingertips, coaxing out its sweet nectar is its own reward.”
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