Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom
Zebra / April 1, 2014 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital
Some men are born into scandal. Others pursue it with a passion. Griffin Steele, secret son of the Duke of Cumberland, is guilty on both counts. Yet somehow London’s most notorious scoundrel has been saddled with an abandoned baby boy—and with the unflappable, intriguing spinster summoned to nurse him…
Justine Brightmore may be a viscount’s niece, but she’s also a spy’s daughter, determined to safeguard the infant when his suspected royal parentage makes him a target. Yet how to protect herself from the rakish Griffin? Marriage might shield her reputation, but it can only imperil her heart, especially with a groom intent on delicious seduction…
Vanessa Kelly's Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom is a forced marriage romance. Circumstances require Justine and Griffin to marry in order to preserve her reputation and save them both from scandal. He is the illegitimate son of a royal prince and a maid, and has justly earned the reputation as a dangerous scoundrel with a quite cynical view of family, having lived most of his life without one. She is the proper daughter of a spy who longs for stability and an ordinary life. Neither gets what they think they want out of their marriage, but that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the consummation scene. In a book filled with danger and intrigue, Justine and Griffin's first time together is surprisingly sweet and humorous.
He quickly folded his shirt, coat, and neck-cloth, stacking them on top of her riding habit. Justine wanted to giggle, struck by the oddly cozy domesticity of the scene. Who would think that a reprobate like Griffin Steele would so casually undress his inexperienced bride and then fold their clothes in a tidy stack? It made him seem almost like a normal man, as human as anyone else, and not the least bit exotic or dangerous.
When Justine is flustered, she takes refuge in primness, which just amuses Griffin to no end.
Griffin made short work of his breeches and then stood before her dressed only in his smalls, which she suspected he'd kept on to protect her modesty. He needn't have bothered, since his erection pressed thick and long against the fabric, the wide top of it straining up and out of the top like a tempting piece of smooth, forbidden fruit.
“Would you like to touch it?” he asked in a husky rumble.
“Ah, perhaps later,” she said. She did, but she hadn't quite worked up the confidence for that yet. “But it's very kind of you to ask,” she finished, trying not to seem thoroughly flustered.
When he laughed at that spectacular piece of idiocy, she dropped her head in her hands and groaned.
She quickly discovers the joys to be had in the marriage bed—or the stable's tack room cot, in this case—and her surprise brings out an interesting response.
Damp, messy, and dazed beyond measure by the sensations he'd induced in her, Justine slowly collapsed onto Griffin's chest.
“Oh, my goodness,” She panted. She sprawled on him in a clumsy heap of limbs, but didn't have the energy to do anything more than that.
Griffin shifted her a bit, turning her head sideways and easing her legs down to ride low around his hips.
“I’ll take that comment as a sign of approval,” he murmured, stroking his hand down her perspiring back.
“I've never felt anything like it, I can assure you,” she managed, trying to make light of the entirely earth-shattering experience. “If I'd known things would be like that, I would have been a great deal more receptive to your advances on our wedding night.”
His laugh vibrated through her body, making her shiver with pleasure.
And that's just the beginning of the adventures to be had in the tack room. Griffin and Justine's backgrounds would seem to make them incompatible but they fit together with surprising sweetness and heat.
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Cheryl Sneed reviews for Rakehell.com.