Still working through these edits and glad not to pick up too many things – though I’m sure my editor will:)
Earlier today I posted the extract from the start of the book. Now I pick up a short while later, just as my hero, Stephen, agrees to an unlikely wager. Stephen is a lovely young man who’s been summoned by a distant cousin to be looked over as the new heir to The Grange, a large, rich estate in Wiltshire, England.
There’s a lot of subterfuge going on in the background, so if you like intrigue in your erotic historicals, and over-confident rakes or arrogant upstarts getting their just desserts, you might like this.
There was certainly a lot of intrigue and a sting in the tail of my first erotic Regency Historical, Rake’s Honour, which has just been shortlisted Favourite Historical in 2012 by Australian Romance Writers Association.
EXCERPT FROM HER GILDED PRISON
“I do love an unusual wager.” Lady Julia adopted a pose of rare solidarity beside her husband. “So this big, bold, female spider—obviously a prime article in the arachnid world—has just suffered the amorous attentions of her tiny, boring, timid, ineffectual husband.” Her knowing smile broadened and her words were heavy with emphasis as she enunciated each one. It was impossible to miss her meaning and Stephen could only wonder that Archie didn’t bristle at the obvious allusion to their own marital situation. She stroked Archie’s arm while asking Stephen in silky tones, “You’re the celebrated man of science in the room, Mr Cranbourne. Please explain in…explicit terms…the courting rituals of the spider world.”
Stephen flicked a glance at Archie. Fortunately he appeared to be his usual selfand just as keen for information as his wife.
He cleared his throat. “The male spider will court the female and…and then after he…”
“Impregnates her?” Lady Julia supplied with an i smile.
“That’s correct, yes, the female will devour him.” Stephen let out his breath in a low whistle as his erection finally subsided. God, he hoped Archie hadn’t noticed. Lady Julia was a diamond of the first water but she was dangerous and Stephen wasn’t in a position to alienate the few advantageous connections he’d made since his unexpected elevation in the world.
“Nonsense!” Archie let out a guffaw. “The male of every species is infinitely superior in every respect and I’ll wager the insect world is no exception. Cranbourne, if this pretty boy spider is still safely in his love lair, gazing raptly at his lady love in two hours, then I’ve won the wager.”
Stephen quirked an eyebrow, the fog which clouded his brain finally clearing. He’d not what he’d agreed to. Honesty and fair play won over though the temptation to take advantage of Sir Archie was great. “I’m happy to call off the wager, old chap.
It was foolishly done in the heat of the moment, for one can’t bet against the laws of nature. The study of spiders was my childhood hobby. As sure as the sun rises in the east this puny male will have been devoured by his mate by .”
“The wager stands.” Archie grinned. “I’m willing to bet that a female is no match for a malein any arena.” He glanced at his wife. “Don’t I prove that time and time again, dearest?”
Lady Julia’s smile for her husband was limpid but when she slid her eyes across to Stephen he read calculation in their depths. Arousal slammed through him and he lowered his head to hide the guilt that burned his cheeks. If Archie were to intercept the silent messages she was sending him, the young baronet would go wild. Particularly if he knew the effect they were having on Stephen.
Stephen had drunk more than usual yet he was not addle witted. When he rose from his bow his three companions were looking at him. He shrugged helplessly. Tomorrow he was to meet Lord Partington, his new benefactor. He wanted to be in top form.
On the other hand, he’d need to stay to see his wager translate into a thousand pounds, an enormous sum but one that seemed neither here nor there to Archie.
Archie was now bending over again, peering at the web beneath the table. “Can’t say the housemaids are up to snuff in this place but it’s good for a lark. Nothing’s happening. Reckon the old boy’s going to turn tail and run in a sec. Now, ’nother drink, old chap?”
“Thank you,” Stephen replied, though his bladder was full to bursting. He moved to the door. “Call of nature,” he mumbled. “Please excuse me.”
He drew in a lungful of air as he headed up the passageway to the privy. He’d have to return in the next few minutes to keep an eye on his booty though he’d much rather have gone to bed. Still, he couldn’t afford to lose the wager. It would be some time before he became the next Viscount Partington, with all that came with it.
He was just returning, issuing into the corridor and bending to adjust his breeches, when a whiff of familiar orange-water scent assailed his nostrils.
“Good Lord, I beg your pardon.” He stepped back as if stung from the connection of his forehead with Lady Julia’s pert breasts as he straightened.
Half expecting an outraged slap, he was astonished by the warmth of her expression as she raised her candle.
“You are a very handsome man, Stephen.” There was no mistaking the intention, conveyed by the calculating gleam in her eye and husky whisper.
Her delicate fingers curved around his wrist and she gave a gentle tug. Obediently he followed her, not knowing what to expect.
And certainly not expecting the door of a small closet to be closed behind him, plunging them into almost total darkness save for the candle she set upon the windowsill.
His words were cut short by the touch of her lips, soft yet demanding as they covered his open mouth. Surprise coalesced into desire, fierce and potent as her deft little fingers fumbled with the buttons of his breeches and closed around his pulsing cock.
End of Extract
I don’t have a release date but I expect it’ll be in April and just in time for the Romantic Times Convention where I’ll be meeting with my three wonderful publishers, Ellora’s Cave, Total-e-Bound and Choc-Lit.
If you’d like to know more, you can visit my website.