The Rake’s Irish Lady
by Barbara Monajem
Series: Scandalous Kisses, #2
Genre: Historical Romance – Regency
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Cover Designer: Anna Spies
Release Date: December 30, 2015
ONE WILD NIGHT . . .
Widowed & lonely, Bridget O’Shaughnessy Black indulges herself in a night of pleasure.
After all, she’s in disguise. And the baby girl? An unexpected blessing…until an old flame claims the child as his own to force Bridget to marry him.
ONE DETERMINED LADY. . .
Many women pursued Colin Warren, but only one climbed in his bedchamber window. When Bridget does it for the second time, she doesn’t have fun in mind. Colin is unfit to be a parent, and yet he has no choice but to acknowledge the little girl.
RISKING EVERYTHING FOR LOVE
Circumstances force Bridget and Colin together, yet grave differences divide them. Can love bridge the chasm that keeps them apart?
Bridget shouldn’t let herself smile at Colin, because that invited a smile in return. The kind with dimples and a hunger that reached his eyes.
Probably reached hers, too, so she sighed and turned away. Yearning to touch him had become a physical ache, and even a brush of his hand, much less a boost on her derriere, made it a thousand times worse.
They wouldn’t catch up to the others tonight, but tomorrow, once the rain was over, they would find an alternate route. One more night of self-control…
She was a fool to want him, but she couldn’t help it. What had come over her? Suddenly, stupidly, she was willing to risk another illegitimate child by him.
They were almost at the inn. She dreaded another restless night. She needed something to distract her. “Where are those apples? The horses deserve a treat.”
Colin passed her the basket. She took four of the wrinkled apples. They pulled up in front of a battered old building with weathered timbers and dormers peeking from under a thatched roof. No eager servant came rushing out of the inn to greet them.
“House!” Colin bellowed, opening the coach door. Without bothering to let down the steps, he took Bridget by the waist and lifted her down into the rain. This time his hands didn’t linger. “Hurry up and give them the damned apples. Let’s get out of this bloody rain.”
“Would you stop fussing?” she cried. “We’ll catch up to Martin eventually.”
“That’s not what I’m fussing about,” he snapped, heading for the rear of the coach. Bridget offered apples to the wheeler and leader on one side and then stalked around to treat the others.
A spare, grizzled man limped out of the inn. “Come in, come in,” he said, but his eyes widened at the sight of Colin, in his wet but obviously costly clothing, unearthing two valises from the boot. “I’m that sorry, sir, but I don’t have accommodation for the likes of you.”
“Does your roof leak?” Colin demanded. “Do the fireplaces smoke?”
“No sir, but—”
“Will the horses be warm and dry too?” Bridget piped up, and suddenly she began to shiver.
“Aye, the stables is fine,” the landlord said.
“Then we’ll do fine, too.” Colin dropped the valises on the doorstep. “Warm and dry is all we ask, and I’ll pay handsomely for it.”
A stout lady in an old-fashioned mobcap appeared in the doorway. “What are you waiting for, Stan? I’ll light a fire in the guest chamber. Let the gentleman and his missus in before they catch their deaths.”
The landlord still seemed uneasy. “I’m sorry, sir, but we’ve only the one small guest room, and not even a private parlor.”
“We’ll do fine,” Bridget and Colin said simultaneously. Their hands touched and twined together. Clung together, as if one or the other of them—or both—was afraid the other would let go. Or as if they were about to plunge off a cliff and holding on for dear life.
Bridget’s heart began to pound. She slid her gaze surreptitiously toward Colin. He wasn’t looking at her but rather straight ahead. A drop of water rolled from his wet hair, over his brow, and down to his upper lip. His tongue flicked out and licked it up.
Desire roared through her. She shuddered. His right dimple appeared, but so briefly she almost didn’t see it.
The landlady bustled away, and the landlord grabbed the valises. “Just you follow me, then. I’m Stan Butterworth, and that’s my rib, Martha.” He led them through the taproom. “You’ll want to change out of them wet clothes first of all, and then we’ll see to your supper.” He preceded them up a narrow flight of stairs. “My Martha’s a right good cook, and we had mutton stew to our dinner, but it won’t be what you’re accustomed to.”
“I’m sure it will be delicious,” Bridget managed. Could food possibly have been farther from her mind?
“It can get right rowdy in here on a fair evening,” Mr. Butterworth said, “but we won’t have much custom tonight, what with the storm and all. You’ll have a peaceful sleep.”
Colin made a sound between a snort and a laugh, but he didn’t let go of her hand.
Winner of the Holt Medallion, Maggie, Daphne du Maurier, Reviewer’s Choice and Epic awards, Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young. When they grew up, she turned to writing for grownups, first the Bayou Gavotte paranormal mysteries and then Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Some of her Regencies have magic in them and some don’t (except for the magic of love, which is in every story she writes).
Barbara loves to cook, especially soups, and is an avid reader. There are only two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding and succeed at knitting socks (or maybe tea cozies). She’ll manage the first but doubts she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth (hence the tea cozies, which she hasn’t tried yet). She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.