Today on First Kiss Friday, we welcome romance author, Sandra Masters, and an excerpt from her Historical Romance novel, “Once Upon A Duke,” the first book in ‘The Duke’ series.
Serena, an artist and widow, has no desire for another husband. When she meets Geoffrey Austen, attraction sizzles to a scorch. Stolen days and nights ignite forbidden passion. Geoffrey asks Serena to be his mistress, but she wants commitment, love, and marriage, not an affair with a notorious rake.
Geoffrey realizes Serena might be the one woman who can care for his tortured soul, and maybe release his demons. The magic they shared is shattered when he learns she has been forced into an engagement with another. He vows to save her even at the cost of his own life.
First Kiss Excerpt
Lord Austen’s stance was presumptive with his feet wide apart, one hand held his riding crop at his hip. “I do not know which of us you mean.”
“Perhaps you will figure it out,” she flirted back.
Serena noted the twinkle in his blue eyes, as his full dimpled smile emerged. She had a sudden desire to touch that arrogant face. What was it about this man? Her gaze centered on a straight scar down his right cheek. It intrigued her.
“Allow me to explain,” Lord Austen laughed. “You see, I am considered quite unsuitable for marriage to most respectable ladies. My reputation precedes me, in part because I allow it. The rest is a fabrication of gossip I refuse to dispel.”
“You are a true rogue? Should I be worried? Are you good at your craft? I am told that a man with a rake’s soul can be a dangerous excitement.”
“So many questions, my lady, which require a thoughtful response. Let me say I have had no complaints.”
“It grieves me to wound you, but since I have not heard about you or your notoriety, could it be possible we do not travel in the same social circles? Should I swoon and fall at your feet? Perhaps I do not find you irresistible.”
Her stomach tightened when he strode toward her in lightning-fast motion. Her breath quickened. His arms uprooted her from the seat, his finger rested under her chin with just enough pressure to tilt it upward.
“Have you not been unattached long enough? Do you desire a man in your bed? If so, I could be persuaded.”
“Perhaps I am the one who needs persuasion.” Against the warning bell in her head, she opened to him when his lips claimed hers. Their tongues teased and the kiss lingered, laced with intimacy. Her body swayed, and made Serena aware of her heartbeat against his chest.
She traced the scar at his cheek, curious how he’d sustained such an injury. Perhaps her heated fingertips would erase the memory of pain to fade away. Serena knew too much about such marks. Her uncharacteristic response, in spite of her fear, confused her. His allure difficult to resist.
She embraced him, pressed her breasts against his chest and experienced a pleasurable frisson that warmed her, his spice and clove cologne an additional attraction. Serena again enjoyed how his mouth plundered and tasted her lips. His skillful tongue flicked in erotic foreplay, something she had heard of but never experienced. She quivered when he pulled his mouth from hers.
“My reckless lady, your kisses are the sweetest I have tasted. I must have more.” He again crushed her against him. Seeking. Tasting. Wanting. Taking. Demanding.
Lord Austen set her body afire as he explored, tantalized. An odd sensation stirred within her and caused a tingle in her lower body. Strange, to her it had no name, but it delighted.
He untied her hair ribbon, released the untamed dark curls that fell free against her shoulders. The red band lay unheeded on the pine-needled ground.
“I like you this way,” he whispered, his breath warm against her ear. “Do my lips satisfy your desire, my lady? You look wild and wanton, an eager beauty I must possess.”
“I am no man’s possession.”
She reeled from Lord Austen’s sensual assault. His blatant arousal pressed against her and rather than desire, it filled her with fear. His nearness too intimate. His touch too hot. His desire too obvious.
A sinful leer crossed his face. He took her hand and placed her palm against his hardened manhood. “This is the kind of rake I am.”
She yanked away from him, and sent a hard slap to his face. “You assume too much. I do not play this game.”
“I think you are well-practiced in such games, dear lady.”
“How dare you tarnish me so? You go too far.” She chastised herself for her role in fanning the flames, but she’d never admit it to him. Serena raised her chin in defiance, looked away, and pointed an accusing finger toward the fall of his breeches. “A mild flirtation does not cause that. I suggest you swim in the cool lake water to ease your discomfort.”
She reached for her large canvas bag of art supplies, marched straight to her horse, and attached the bag to the custom-made leather strap on her saddle. She mounted Sheba and reined her horse to face the man who stood with his mouth agape. “Do not visit this place again if I am here. This is not a request, Lord Austen. If you do not abide my wishes, I will report your transgression to my brother. Do I make myself clear?”
Lady Serena lightly touched her horse’s rump with her whip and cantered off without a backward glance.
Lord Austen rubbed his cheek, ran his finger down the welt that would soon bruise….He recalled the pleasure when her generous breasts pressed against his chest and he’d envisioned his body above hers. In his mind, he saw her writhe in ecstasy beneath him. She would beg him to make her his own.
Lord Austen closed his eyes and imagined the pleasure of touching her most intimately, inch by inch, and time and time again, until they were both exhausted and sated. He would wager she wouldn’t slap him then.
He mounted his stallion and gave another hearty laugh. “Solomon, I am tempted to place a bet in the White’s Club books that she will be mine by week’s end, perhaps even sooner. He guided his horse along the well-worn path to his host’s large manor house whistling a bawdy tune.
“Once Upon A Duke” is available through: