Swept Away by a Kiss
Book 1 in the Rogues of the Sea Series
A Secret Identity
When pirates storm Lord Steven Ashford’s ship upon the high seas, it brings him closer than ever to the nefarious criminal he seeks to ruin. Only one seductive detail threatens his victory: the scandalous beauty imprisoned with him, Lady Valerie Monroe. Temptation has never been so intoxicating or so forbidden, for Steven is disguised as a French priest. If they reach the ship alive, to protect her from his enemies, he must never see her again…
An Undeniable Love
Back in England, and under the ton’s scrutiny for a reckless past she hasn’t escaped, Valerie dreams of the breathtaking “man of the cloth” with whom she shared her greatest adventure. Then he reappears in society under his true identity, Viscount Ashford, but despite the danger their consuming passion cannot be denied. Now standing in the way of their desire are Valerie’s wounded heart, Steven’s lone destiny, and a villain that will stop at nothing to crush them both.
“A breathtaking romance”
— Lisa Kleypas
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Swept Away by a Kiss
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Steven placed a steadying hand upon the marble mantle of his bedchamber hearth. An unusual gesture for him, to be sure, but he needed the support. He’d drunk too much brandy after leaving his dinner largely untouched. Insanely foolish of him given the circumstances, but too tempting not to indulge.
Tonight she had been radiant.
Throughout the evening, when he’d managed to tear his gaze away from her, he watched the other men watching her. One after another they sought her attention, finding ways to be near her, to touch her upon pretense of some gallantry or necessity. Even the married men came under her spell, casting her appreciative looks behind their wives’ backs.
Only her brother regarded her with something less than pleasure. He had looked worried. Steven had noticed this and refilled his glass.
Despite the attention she received, Valerie had not shown special interest in any one man. She was friendly with Bramfield, but not markedly so.
Steven’s fingers pressed into the mantle’s edge.
The Honorable Timothy Ramsay, Viscount Bramfield. Genial, stalwart bastion of the English aristocracy with nary a blemish upon his clear white skin or pristine noble lineage. His gaze had followed Valerie all evening. Steven guessed the fellow’s thoughts, how her sea-blue eyes glowing with affection and trust could enchant a man. Once she had looked at him that way, at the priest he pretended to be. Then he betrayed her.
He glanced down at the missive from his solicitor. He must go to town, to leave her again, if only for a day. But it was merely a foretaste of what was to come, a preview of his eternal, unwelcome reprieve from madness.
A metallic click sounded on the other side of the chamber. Steven stilled, his muscles tensing, gaze flickering to the sword propped against a chair, close enough if needed. The bronze doorknob glinted in the firelight as it turned. A crack of light from the corridor lit the threshold. Valerie slipped inside and closed the panel behind her, pressing her back against it and turning the key in the lock.
“You are here,” she said, her voice breathless but level. Of course it was level. She was no shrinking violet, especially not when engaged in a daring escapade.
Steven commanded his racing pulse to steady. Her color was high, her shimmering gown taut across her perfect breasts, her eyes luminous in the firelight. If only he had a knife handy. It would be easier, after all, to cut out his heart right away than to endure the torture he suspected was about to come.
“Indeed I am,” he said coolly, leaning against the mantle. “It is half past one at night and this is my bedchamber. The issue, however, is not whether I am here, but that you are.”
She moved forward a step. Her gaze shifted around the chamber, then to the dressing room door before returning to him squarely. “Are you alone?”
“What are you doing here?” His voice was hard, but Valerie expected that. He stood in his shirtsleeves and trousers, the creased page of a letter in his hand. The fire illumined the chamber with wavering light, gilding his hair and casting his skin in a warm glow. His eyes were icy.
“The door was unlocked.” Her heart slammed against her ribs.
“That hardly gives you leave to enter uninvited.”
“It seems careless of you not to lock it.”
“Your presence here proves it. What do you want?”
Valerie had silently practiced her speech all evening, searching out the opportunity to give it to him. When the party dispersed, she determined to see it through even if it meant this. But now that she was here, with him before her, breathtakingly handsome in the fire-lit intimacy of his bedchamber, her thoughts tangled. The only honest answer she could give was that she wanted to be in his arms.
“I want the same thing you want.”
He hesitated only the briefest moment before replying, “Do not presume to know what I want.”
But the missed beat sufficed for Valerie. Now the Marquess of Hannsley, Alistair Flemming, and the entire underworld of villainy would have to wait. This was not the opportunity she had sought for a day, but the one she had ached for since she first saw Etienne La Marque.
She took a step forward. “I know you do not want Sylvia Sinclaire.”
One brow lifted. “We have been attending to the endeavors of others, have we?”
“Do not use that tone with me.”
“You invade my private chambers in the middle of the night, then hand me orders? Your breeding is not what I imagined, my dear. Nor is your judgment.”
“You don’t care about my breeding. You don’t care about anyone’s breeding.” She moved toward him, pulse pounding in her throat where he must see it. “And my judgment is perfectly clear. I recognize desire in a man’s eyes.”
“Do you also recognize words upon a man’s tongue? Words such as leave now.”
“No.” She gulped in a breath and halted before him. His body was rigid. Steeling herself, she laid a hand upon his chest. Warmth stole through her, exhilarating. She slipped her fingers beneath the loosened laces of his shirt. He did not move.
“Give me what I want,” she said, unsurprised at the husky quality of her voice. Her fingertips were alive with pleasure, darting deep through her. His body, smooth and taut, intoxicated her, his heart beating hard and fast against her palm.
“Ah, I begin to see.” His tone was silken. “The scandalous young maiden has not yet given way to the respectable society matron she hopes to someday become.” He lifted a hand and traced along her jaw to her lower lip, the barest caress.
“You are talking to hear yourself speak,” she gasped as he trailed his fingers to the edge of her bodice, his touch burning her skin with sweet fire even as it remained light. “I do not need words now.”
“What do you need, then, my lady?”
End of Excerpt
Swept Away by a Kiss
is Book 1 in the Rogues of the Sea Series
The full series reading order is as follows:
- Book 1 Swept Away by a Kiss
- Book 1.5 A Lady’s Wish (A Novella)
- Book 2 Captured by a Rogue Lord
- Book 3 In the Arms of a Marquess
A breathtaking romance filled with sensuality and driven by a brisk and thrilling plot. Katharine Ashe writes with eloquence and power.
— Lisa Kleypas, New York Times #1 bestselling author
An incredible romance with enough sexual chemistry to singe your fingers. The characters are complex and highly sensual, the plot riveting and the backdrop vividly detailed. This is both a page-turner and a keeper.
— RT Book Reviews
Ms. Ashe has taken the extra step and given her readers a twist of originality... A breathtaking romance.
— Affaire de Coeur
This unforgettable tale will dazzle you.
— Sabrina Jeffries, New York Times bestselling author
This is on my favorites list, which includes Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn and Eloisa James… The sexual tension between the two is nothing short of amazing, beautiful and steamy.
— The Season for Romance
2010 Best First Historical Romance nominee
— Reviewers' Choice Awards