The Scandal Series Book 5
by Pamela Gibson
Genre: Historical Regency Romance
Jocelyn Stafford desperately needs a husband to repair her tarnished
reputation. Her obvious choice is her neighbor James, a man who once
fancied her. If only she hadn’t cruelly rejected his attentions
when she found herself wooed by a scandalous rake with a better
James Margrave, Earl of Seaton, must have an heir to keep his estate from falling into the hands of his cousin, which means he has to marry. Lady Jocelyn, who still beguiles him, would be perfect if only he could forget old slights. Instead, James asks Jocelyn to help him find a suitable wife, a task she agrees to perform, hoping to redeem herself in his eyes.
When a series of attacks put James’s life in danger, an immediate marriage becomes critical. Jocelyn is willing and available. But can he trust a woman who once broke his heart and is it fair to wed her when she might become the next victim?
“Do you still play the harp? As I recall, you were fond of the instrument.”
Her face lit up with true animation. “I do, and I brought it with me. Would you like to accompany me to the music room for a demonstration? You can tell me if I have improved.”
“I would be honored to give you my opinion.” He swallowed the last of his tea and followed Jocelyn into an adjoining chamber. Roberts did not move from her place in the corner.
Jocelyn seated herself behind the instrument, patting the chair beside her. He repositioned the chair slightly so he could watch her fingers pluck the strings and, at the same time, view the expression on her face as she played. When the dulcet tones of Mozart filled the room, Jocelyn closed her eyes and seemed to be letting the music carry her into another time and place where gentle sounds and subtle movements reached the soul.
She had improved, indeed. Beguiled by the melodious tones, he couldn’t keep his eyes off the subtle movements of her shoulders, the way she stroked the strings of the harp with knowing fingers, and the dreamy expression on her face, as if she were one with the music. Her breasts seem to spill over the top of her gown as she leaned forward to reach the farthest strings, and he was mesmerized by the candlelight, the music, and the subtle scent of the flowers on a table behind him.
When she finished, she stopped, opened her eyes, and stared into his as if willing him to move, to put his hands on her and bring her close. He complied, as if drawn by a song that was only in his head, one of yearning and need for human connection. He leaned in, took her face between his palms, and kissed her deeply, running his tongue along the seam of her lips until she opened for him. It was a kiss he’d only dreamed about, her subtle perfume teasing his nose as he left her lips and dropped kisses along her cheek and her neck. Spurred by her soft sounds of encouragement, he kissed her bare shoulder and the tops of her breasts and drew her up as he stood so he could wrap his arms around her.
Her mother wants her to seduce you.
The memory brought him back to his senses, and instead of covering that luscious mouth with his own once again, he placed a chaste kiss on her forehead and dropped his hands.
He swallowed hard. His body was not reacting as a gentleman’s should. He wanted to feel her soft breasts against his chest and kiss her like she’d never been kissed before. He wanted to run his tongue along the lobe of her ear and drop gentle kisses down her neck and along her collarbone. He wanted to move lower and place kisses in the center of her cleavage. He wanted his hands on her. God, he wanted her. Desperately.
I have to leave. Now.
“Forgive me, my dear. I’m afraid your divine music made me lose control.”
She stared at him, her lips parted, her breathing rapid. She clenched her hands and held his gaze, as if forcing herself to remain still.
“Your music was mesmerizing, Jocelyn. I mean that sincerely. I look forward to future musicales where you are the featured artist.” He reached out and took her stiff fingers in his hand, bringing them to his lips. He turned his back so she couldn’t see how aroused he was, then strode into the sitting room, nodded at Roberts, and asked her to tell the butler he was ready to depart.
Jocelyn had followed him into the room and had a crimson flush on her cheeks. Hopefully Roberts wouldn’t notice, but if she’d done a proper job of chaperoning—well, he wouldn’t think about that now.
“I am so glad you found time to dine with us.” If Joss had been affected by their encounter, she gave no hint. The perfect hostess was his Joss. No, not his Joss. He must keep reminding himself. She had dismissed him—cruelly. He was going to marry someone else.
“As I said, invite me any time. I adore your cook. I may try to steal her.”
“You cannot do that, milord. My mother pays her well.”
“Your mother does have a way with getting what she wants, does she not?” He hoped his tone did not sound disingenuous.
The butler arrived with James’s outerwear and led him to the door where his carriage awaited. Jocelyn followed. “Please send a note around when Lady Longley returns.”
“I shall.” He turned, bowed, and kissed her hand as a proper gentleman should. Entering his carriage, he turned and waved then headed home.
Lord, how was he going to get through this farce? His feelings for Jocelyn seemed to grow each time he saw her. Perhaps proximity generated lust.
It is more than lust, and you know it.
Slaking his needs might help him forget that he’d once wanted Jocelyn Stafford more than anything in the world and was cruelly denied.
He could visit a brothel.
He needed to forget Jocelyn, forget someone was trying to kill him, and forget the fact that he was about to saddle himself to someone he didn’t love.
But could he?
**Don't miss the rest of the series here!**
The Scandal Series Book 1
(recently just got it's 1000th review on Goodreads!)
The Scandal Series Book 2
The Scandal Series Book 3
The Scandal Series Book 4
Author of eight books on California history and eighteen romance novels, Pamela Gibson is a former City Manager who lives in the Nevada desert. Having spent the last few years messing about in boats, a hobby that included a five-thousand-mile trip in a 32-foot Nordic Tug, she now spends most of her time indoors happily reading, writing, cooking and keeping up with the antics of Ralph, the Rescue Cat. She loves dry red wine, all kinds of chocolate, old Jimmy Buffet sailing songs, and curling up with a good book.