Two Weeks with a Stranger

Avon
February 2007
ISBN: 978-0060799243

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The stranger in her bed...

Wedded and bedded, Lucy is devastated when she's abandoned by her new husband the very next day. Though it was a marriage of convenience, their heated wedding night gave her hope that it would turn into something more. But she refuses to be the demure bride left behind on a country estate while the stranger she married goes gailvanting about London--even if she has to create a scandal of her own.

Simon, the Earl of Devingham, would prefer his exquisite young bride rermain at home where he left her. Instead, she follows him to London. . .seducing him with her fiery kisses, enchanting him with her scorching touches, and awakening in him an insatiable hunger. His duty to the Crown demands that he remain in town, but Lucy has entered a most perilous game--and she will not forfeit without Simon's total surrender.

 

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AWARDS AND REVIEWS

"Sparkling Regency romance is engaging and irresistible." - Freshfiction.com

"I highly recommend you read TWO WEEKS WITH A STRANGER. With its original storyline, fine characterization, and perfect blend of romance and humor it’s a keeper." - Romance Reviews Today

"The passion between Lucy and Simon can only be described as HOT. I sometimes felt like my fingertips were going to catch fire from the heat generated between the two characters. This is an exciting and sexy book and one you don’t want to miss." - Romance Junkies

"I have been a long time fan of Ms. Mullins for years. She never disappoints when it comes to reading a romantic story with enough twists and turns to set her stories apart from other authors." - CK2's Kwips and Kritiques

4 1/2 stars! "TWO WEEKS WITH A STRANGER is a delightful romp set against the back-drop of regency England. Marriage-of-convenience stories are always fun and this one is no exception. Lucy and Simon are a wonderful couple that must let go of the phobias and misconstrued ideas that permeated marriages during the Regency era. There is a secondary couple that adds extra flavor to the story and I'd love to see their tale expanded. This reviewer very rarely reads historicals of any kind unless they come highly recommended. Reading TWO WEEKS WITH A STRANGER for review was a whim that led to a wonderful experience. I highly recommend this book!" - Livia Holton, The Romance Readers Connection

 

Excerpt from Two Weeks with a Stranger

Lucy opened the door to the study and slipped inside. As expected, the warmth embraced her like a welcome lover, and she hurried closer to the fireplace. As she passed Simon’s desk, the rush of her movement blew a letter to the floor. She reached down to pick it up.

Pink, scented paper. Feminine writing. My dearest Simon, I am moved to express my gratitude for your kindness to a lost and lonely visitor in your country. . .

She dropped the letter as if it had singed her fingers. It floated down to the desk even as Simon’s footsteps sounded in the hallway. She backed away, coldness curling in her belly despite the warmth of the fire. That coldness solidified into icy dread as she spotted her own letter, unopened on the pile of post.

Her husband had read another woman’s letter before hers.

Her stomach clenched into a knot as a shard of pain pierced her vulnerable heart.

Dear God, the rumors were true.

Trembling, she turned toward the fire, seeking some hint of warmth, some inkling of life to combat the deadness that had settled inside her.

Simon entered the room behind her, shutting the door. They were alone, the three of them—-she and Simon, and the seething secret that hissed from the shadows like a cornered snake.

Panic flared as his carpet-muffled footsteps approached. He must not guess. He must not know. His pity would rip asunder the fragile threads of her pride. And if that happened, there was nothing she could ever do to make him fall in love with her and be the husband she so desired.

Simon laid a hand at the small of her back, a gesture so sweet that it nearly brought her to tears. “Lucy, you’re shaking.”

“It’s chilly outside.” She managed to flash him a half-smile, but didn’t dare let her gaze linger on his beloved face lest her true feelings betray her. “The fire is helping.”

“I’ve sent for tea, but you should really go upstairs and change out of your traveling clothes. I imagine you’re tired.”

“Not really.” She gathered her churning emotions and held them tightly within the firm grip of dignity. “I cannot believe you did not receive my letter. I sent it days before I left Devingham.”

“I did receive a missive from you just this morning, but I have not yet read it.” Simon glanced at the desk. She felt him stiffen, saw the trace of alarm chase across his face. Then he casually stepped over to the pile of post and rummaged through the letters.

She knew hers was on top, but said nothing. Had she not been watching for it, she would have missed the swift twist of his wrist that slid that dreadful pink piece of paper out of sight, beneath the pile.

And with that subtle motion, the ice in her heart melted and steamed beneath the burning force of red-hot anger. Did he think her a simpleton? She was not a woman to be set aside mere hours after the vows were spoken, while her husband dallied with another!

He stepped away from the desk, her own letter in his hand and an innocent smile on his lips. “Here it is. I assume this is the note you sent to tell me that you were coming to London.”

“More than likely.” She dug her fingers into her arms and looked into the fire. She had to play this game and play it well, if she wanted to keep her husband from another woman’s bed. “The last few days have been difficult. I don’t even remember what I wrote.”

“What’s happened?” He took her by the shoulders and turned her to face him. The concern in his eyes seemed genuine, though how could she judge? “Is everyone well?”

She managed to remain calm, though his casual touch made her want more. “Mrs. Wolcott has died, Simon. Just last week.”

“Good Lord.” He dropped his hands, his expression dull with shock. “I’m terribly sorry to hear that. My steward usually writes to inform me about the death of a tenant.”

“I wrote to you myself.” She glanced at the unopened letter. “I used to visit Arminda before you and I were even betrothed. I met her at the Thursday night social, and we became fast friends.” Just like that, grief swelled, and she fought it back. Not here. Not now. Not with her shaky emotions barely under control.

“I didn’t know her well, but I can see that you did.” He stroked a hand over her shoulder. “She was getting on in years, and I know she was feeling poorly these past few months. Please accept my condolences, Lucy, on the loss of your friend.”

His compassion was more than she could bear. Soft, hiccupping sobs bubbled up from deep inside her. Tears burned her eyes, then slid slowly down her cheeks as the bleak reality of Arminda’s passing crashed over her.

With her mother long dead, and unable to talk of intimate matters with her unwed sisters, Lucy had found in Arminda Wolcott a friend and confidante. The loss of that lady at this crucial time crippled her resolve when she needed to be strong to save her marriage.

Simon caught her to him as her knees weakened beneath her sorrow, and he held her securely in his strong arms, her face buried in the hollow beneath his shoulder as she wept out her raw grief. He murmured comforting words, his embrace sheltering her in her moment of vulnerability.

Her heart squeezed in her chest. He treated her like she mattered, but how could she believe that, knowing what she did?

“Hush now,” he whispered and brushed a kiss to her temple.

I dare not love you. The thought nearly broke her.


Copyright © 2007 Debra Mullins
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