29 September 2011

Excerpt Thursday: Flawless by Carrie Lofty

This week on Excerpt Thursday we're welcoming our founder CarrieLofty back to celebrate the release of her latest unusual historical romance, Flawless, set in colonial South Africa. Join us Sunday when Carrie will be here to talk about this exciting new Victorian series from Pocket Books, answer questions, and give away a copy. Here's the blurb:

A passion this seductive is more precious than diamonds. . . .

Sir William Christie, ruthless tycoon and notorious ladies' man, is dead. Now his four grown children have gathered for the reading of his will. What lies in store for half-siblings Vivienne, Alexander, and twins Gareth and Gwyneth? Stunning challenges that will test their fortitude across a royal empire...and lead them to the marvelously passionate adventures of their lives.

Lady Vivienne Bancroft fled England for New York, hoping to shed the confines of her arranged marriage to unrepentant rogue Miles Durham, Viscount Bancroft--though she never forgot the fiery desire he unleashed with his slightest touch. And when the gambling man arrives on her doorstep for a little sensual revenge for her desertion, he is met with Vivienne's dilemma: she must earn her father's inheritance by profitably running a diamond business worth millions in colonial South Africa.

Swept together in an exotic undertaking filled with heated passion and hungry temptation, will Vivienne and Miles discover that the marriage vows they once made are the greatest snare--or the most treasured reward?

**An Excerpt from Flawless**

In this scene, Miles and Viv have just arrived on the docks at Cape Town. Their showdown begins right away, as Miles has claimed possession of Viv's baggage. Let the negotiations begin!

She stood like a silk-encrusted statue. Never a crack, no matter how many whispered rumors. Only his touch had ever revealed the passion lurking beneath. Rare moments when she'd lost control, gasping his name, were more precious than all the diamonds in the Cape.
Miles planned to seduce her, just for the fun of proving that she loved it.
"Make your demand," she said. "I expect I know what you'll say."
"Not at all, my dear. I don't want your money, and I don't desire marital privileges--well, not yet. Not here on the docks."
Rosy lips parted on a quiet sound. Her expression sparked with something very close to hatred. More like a cousin to hatred, perhaps, because he'd seen her well and truly angry. This little farce of a reaction meant they were only getting started.
"Out with it," she said.
"I want you to ask."
After a flicker of surprise, her composure returned. Miles wanted to retrieve his pocket watch and measure the span of time between flustered and restored. He'd place heavy wagers on her abilities, if anyone dared take him up on such a bet.
"That's all. Ask that I instruct Mr. Kato to take your bags to the train station."
"And then?"
"Then we'll take your bags to the train station," he said, as if to a child. "The concept is not a difficult one, Vivie."
"Don't call me that," she snapped.
"Why not?" He touched a lock of shimmering blond hair where it curved along her ear. "Remind you of something?"
"You know it does."
"Yes." So much time had passed, yet her warm floral scent still left him ready to beg. "Nights to remember."
"To forget, you mean."
His ardor chilled. Memories, both fervent and tender, flayed him with the mistakes of their shared past. The intensity of her passion had been the one great surprise of his utterly predictable life, and her constant need to deny it had been the undoing of their marriage. He'd always wanted what she refused to offer.
If any begging were to be done on that morning, it would be her task. 
Miles scraped his gaze down along her body, then climbed into the back of the wagon with Adam and the maid. Every bit of his wife, from her ire to the frown that drew a line between her brows, was busy shocking frozen pieces of him back to life. But he would bend her, bully her, bed her--on his terms, not shaking and frothing like a servile dog.
"Ask, Vivie, or I'll unload it all into the harbor."
"You wouldn't!"
"Indeed, I would." He spread his arms wide. "I don't back down from bets and you know it. Or was it some other Viscount Bancroft who swam naked across the Thames?"
"Then I'll inform the police!"
"They'll only remand you into your husband's custody," he said, feeling giddy and mean. "Oh, wait...that's me. And all the while, your knickers will be floating out to the Atlantic."
"You're disgusting."
"Perhaps, but I'm also a Peer of the Realm. Hard to believe, I know, but I do have influence." He tugged at his bloodied shirt, buttoned his waistcoat, and stared her down. "I can make the success of your daddy's company more likely...or bloody near impossible."