Donna Hatch, author of the best-selling âRogue Hearts Series,â is a hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, the force that drove her to write and publish seventeen historical romance titles, to date. She is a multi-award winner, a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles multiple volunteer positions as well as her six children. Also a music lover, she sings and plays the harp, and she loves to ballroom dance. She and her family recently transplanted from her native Arizona to the Pacific Northwest where she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.
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When charming rake Tristan Barrett sweeps Lady Elizabeth off her feet, stealing both her heart and a kiss in a secluded garden, her brother challenges Tristan to a duel.
The only way to save her brother and Tristan from harmânot to mention preserve her reputationâis to get married. But her father refuses to allow his daughter to marry anyone but a titled lord. He demands that Elizabeth marry Tristanâs older brother, Richard, the Earl of Averston.
Now Elizabeth must give up Tristan to marry Richard, a man who loves another, a man sheâll never love.
Moving slowly, as if trying not to frighten off a wild bird, he took her hand. He stepped closer, enfolding her hand inside both of his.
âCome.â He led her to an adjoining room and closed the door.
Stillness enfolded them. Richard brought one of Elizabethâs hands into his chest and smiled down at her with tenderness shining in his eyes. With slow, deliberate movements, he tugged at each fingertip to loosen her evening glove and slid it off her arm. He lowered his head and kissed the back of her hand. His breath, warm and moist, caressed her skin. And his lips. Oh, his lips were so soft. So gentle. The last of her fears scattered as he kissed first her hand, then each finger. He turned over her hand and pressed his lips to her fingers, her palm, her wrist. Pleasure glided along her skin in unexpected sensuality. Her heart thumped and heat built inside. She inhaled his masculine scent and stepped closer. He kissed her palm again before wrapping his fingers around it. Warmth shone in his eyes as he raised his other hand to her face. He traced the curve of her jaw and brushed the back of his fingers across her cheek, up and down.
âSoft. Beautiful.â Tenderness was joined by intensity. âI will never give you cause to fear me, sweet Elizabeth. I count myself fortunate that we shall wed on the morrow. Any man would be proud to have you as his bride.â
Sheâd only ever dreamed of a man saying such lovely words to her and touching her with such gentleness. Light filled the dark places inside, bringing hope and belonging. Tears rose up and spilled down her cheeks.
He carefully wiped the moisture away with the pad of his thumb, tracing her cheek again. âI hope those arenât tears of sadness.â
She let out a half sob, half laugh. âNo, indeed. Your words mean much to me, my lorâ¦Richard.â
He kissed her hand again. âAh. A good sign. You give me hope. Iâd like to enjoy the pleasure of your company more, but I suppose, sadly, we ought to return to our guests now.â
Speechless at the warmth tumbling over her, she nodded.
Richard. A knight in a gentlemanâs clothing.
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