Nov 28 2012 6:00pm
His Family or His Heart — One of Them Will Be Betrayed...
Ian MacGregor is wooing a woman who's wrong for him in every way. As the new Earl of Balfour, though, he must marry an English heiress to repair the family fortunes.
But in his intended's penniless chaperone, Augusta, Ian is finding everything he's ever wanted in a wife.
Get a sneak peek at Grace Burrowes's The Bridegroom Wore Plaid (available December 4, 2012) with an excerpt of Chapter 8.
Augusta tried not to think, not to feel as she and Ian made their way down the hillside. Going down was in some ways trickier than coming up—a metaphor for having said too much and implied even more with the man moving along in front of her.
She could love him. She ought to find some consolation in knowing she was capable of loving a man, any man. She had wondered, after all.
Ian turned to speak over his shoulder. “Watch your step. The footing is loose and tricky here. I’ve landed on my backside more than once.”
Watch your step. Going up, it had been easy to ignore the sheer drop on her left, the way the track was carved out of the hillside so the slope rose on her right almost like a wall. A shower of pebbles rained down from above, causing Ian to stop and turn to her.
“Best we keep moving.” He held out a hand, but Augusta hesitated one instant before allowing herself the pleasure and torment of joining her hand to his.
In that instant, several things happened in rapid succession. Another shower of pebbles rained down, this one also containing more sizable rocks. Instinctively, Augusta ducked her head and shrank back against the slope beside her.
Then a peculiar, dull thud from above. Her first thought was thunder, except the sound had a different resonance than thunder, made the earth shake in a different way.
Ian shouting her name.
The impact of his body against hers as he plastered them to the vertical wall of earth and rock.
The feel of him surrounding her, solid rock at her back, solid man everywhere else, as earth, pebbles, and rocks went bouncing down the slope around them.
“Don’t move.” His voice, a harsh rasp right in her ear.
And the feel of him so close to her they were breathing as one, as if they’d just been erotically intimate.
“Are you all right? Augusta, talk to me.” Still, he didn’t move, and the warmth of him contrasted starkly to the chill and shock moving through Augusta’s body.
“I am unharmed.” Her voice was calm, detached even. “You?”
“The blanket in the rucksack spared me the worst of it.”
She ought to be saying prayers of thanksgiving. She should be so grateful they hadn’t been killed she could think of nothing else. Though what would a life of ought-to-be and should-be get her, but more years, more decades tending her chickens in Oxfordshire?
She kissed him. Found his mouth with hers and anchored her hand in his thick, silky hair to keep him from turning his head. A young girl purporting to be a wealthy heiress got kissed from time to time—Augusta wasn’t a complete tyro—but kissing Ian mattered. This kiss had no pretensions to it about comfort, goodwill, incipient familial affection, or anything else polite and excusable.
She was desperate for him to kiss her back.
He growled, and she panicked, twining an arm around his waist to prevent him from leaving her. She drew back only long enough to pant two words.
“Augusta, love, we shouldn’t.”
And then she was giving thanks after all. His mouth settled on hers gently but firmly. Her desperation became something else entirely, and she realized she was going to be well and thoroughly kissed by a man who knew exactly how to go about it.
His mouth explored hers, moved over her lips slowly, like a weather front passing over the land, then moving on. She felt his nose grazing over her cheeks and forehead, her eyebrows, her jaw. She’d never been nose-kissed before, and it made her insides flutter wonderfully.
Then he was back to business, his mouth on hers, his tongue greeting her lips.
This was novel and more wonderful still, to taste the tea-sweet essence of him, to feel a part of him making its way delicately into her awareness and into her body.
Between them, she felt a rising ridge of male flesh against her belly, felt it pressing against her in a way that aroused wanting in places female and secret. She moved into him, felt his hand cradling the back of her head, felt sealed to him and still not as close as she wanted to be.
“Kiss me back, Augusta.”
His voice, low, harsh, and so very male, sent the wanting out from her depths to her breasts and her mouth and even the palms of her hands. She used her tongue as he had, to trace the contours of his mouth, to learn the taste of him, to join them in a way that felt so right, she wanted to weep with the beauty of it.
And still, it was not enough. Augusta kept one arm lashed around Ian’s waist and used her free hand to stroke the wool of his kilt. The fabric was smooth and soft beneath her palm, his hip a lean, elegant curve. He widened his stance, and Augusta realized that a man in a kilt was a man who might be intimately explored. She slid the kilt up along his thigh, bunching the material between their bodies.
His mouth went still on hers while Augusta raised the fabric higher.
Copyright © 2012 by Grace Burrowes
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Grace Burrowes hit the bestseller lists with both her debut, The Heir, and her second book in The Duke’s Obsession trilogy, The Soldier. Both books received extensive praise and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and The Heir was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of the Year for 2010. Grace is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.