Friday, June 20, 2008

Oldie, but still a goodie!

I received an amazing surprise today. One of my older books with Champagne Books, was reviewed by Enchanting Reviews. I was thrilled to see my story is still getting 5-STAR ratings!! WOO-HOO

5-Enchantments!!! This is an intriguing story of betrayal and love, with a beautiful happy ever after ending. This is a fabulous story; I loved it! I thought Ms. Campbell combined mystery, history, and intrigue beautifully to create a tale that was well worth the read. Her characters came together nicely, even though each had such a strong personality. If you like Romance, this is a must read. Excellent job, Ms. Campbell.

Here is a yummy excerpt, too...

“I should.” Judith scowled. “No, perhaps I shouldn’t.”

She glanced at the bedroom door of the inn, willing it to open just as the floor would push her across the hall to Andrew’s room. But no matter how long she stalled, the ground was not going to move her.

Wiping her moist palms against her robe, she growled and walked to the window. She parted the dingy curtain enough to look down onto the street. Darkness covered the land, and the half-moon didn’t light the road very well. A few carriages parked out front, their drivers waiting atop for the occupants.

Although not the best inn in town, it would do. Then again, nothing so far on this trip had satisfied her. Andrew’s company gnawed on her already frayed nerves. Not that he’d been mean or degrading. On the contrary. Most of the time they conversed on a solid level--almost as if she had been talking to a true gentlemen of the realm.

That could be the problem. He wasn’t a nobleman, but a stable hand. She’d really hit rock bottom this time and ignored everything she’d ever been taught. Traipsing around the countryside with a man without a proper escort, pretending he was her husband was not only scandalous, it was a criminal act since they had a forged marriage certificate.

Nobody could know about her deceitful ways, and she’d move Heaven and Earth to make certain that happened. But what worried her more was the man portraying her husband. What he’d told her about his past disturbed her a great deal. Would he try and steal from her? Although he may not pick her pockets, there were other ways of stealing money.

Blackmail, for one.

She glanced at the door again. No matter what, she needed to talk to Andrew. Grasping the sides of her robe, she cursed. Did she dare go to his room and talk to him wearing her nightclothes?

But she couldn’t put it off another moment if she expected to get any sleep tonight. This must be done.

With her heart thumping in a wild rhythm against her ribs, she opened the door and took the few steps across the hall to Andrew’s room. Breathing deeply for courage, she rapped softly.

Hurried footsteps from behind the door padded across the floor, then the knob turned. Within seconds, Andrew’s body came into view. Oh good Lord! He had a bed sheet wrapped around his waist and his chest was bare...and he was probably naked underneath the sheet, also.

He scanned her attire, his eyes widening. “Lady Judith? Why are you about this time of night?”

Her breathing turned irregular. Why didn’t he excuse himself to get dressed? But of course she stood before him in her nightclothes and robe, so she didn’t have room to criticize.

Andrew glanced up the hall. “Is something amiss?”

She couldn’t breathe. Yet she was breathing much too fast as it was. Must be the tightness in her chest making her feel this way. “I...I...” She swallowed to moisten her dry throat. “I must speak with you.”

Voices floated from down the hall, and she swung her head in that direction. I’m going to get caught in my nightclothes. Without another thought, she pushed past Andrew and closed the door behind her.

His forehead creased. “Where is Pearl?”

“The same place I should be--asleep in bed,” she grumbled.

He scanned over her body again, his face relaxing as a grin touched his chiseled features. Underneath her gown, her nipples rose from his heated gaze, so she crossed her arms over her chest to hide them.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

“No, I’m not. I’m very nervous about tomorrow.”

He nodded. “Worried about when we see your father, eh? What would you like me to do about it?”

“Promise me something.” She stepped closer to him and placed her hand lightly on his bare arm, trying not to enjoy the warmth seeping into her skin...and especially the tingling in her body. “Promise me you will not tell my family about our arrangement.”

He glanced at her hand. When his gaze lifted, they appeared darker than before. A lazy smile touched his mouth. A knot formed in her throat, and her heartbeat quickened.

“Why would I tell,” he asked in a low voice.

“Well, for one, I know you do not like me very much and I hope you will not try to punish me because of your feelings for me. And of course, if you are trying to get more money somehow...”

His brows drew together and he blinked several times. “What are you talking about?”

“Didn’t you tell me you used to take money from wealthy people and always wanted more?”

His face relaxed and he chuckled. “Your father will pay more?”

“Andrew, please.” She stepped closer and placed both hands on his chest. “Please do not do this to me.”

She held her breath, hoping he would stick to their arrangement and not try to blackmail her. So far, his expression didn’t look vindictive at all. The laugh lines in his face had disappeared, and he became serious as his gaze moved over her face.

He took hold of her hands, but still held them near his heart. “I promise not to tell your family, Judith.”

“Indeed? Do you give your solemn oath...on your parents’ grave?”

“I don’t know where they are buried, but yes. I swear to you upon their graves.”

Relief flooded through her and she released a heavy sigh. She dropped her stare from his eyes and focused on his chest...a torso sprinkled lightly with hairs, narrowing to a line before dipping underneath the sheet.

Oh, my! What had she been doing? Touching him while he was indisposed like this? According to the soft expression on his face, he appeared as if he didn’t mind the improper way she had laid her hands on his bare skin.

“Judith? Is that the reason you have been so unreasonable and on edge today?”

Slowly, she retraced the path her gaze had traveled over his powerfully, muscular chest, up his sculptured face to meet his eyes. She heard his words, but didn’t quite understand them. “What?”

His lips twitched, but he didn’t laugh. “Have you been worried I would back out on our bargain?”

She nodded, his dark eyes hypnotizing her. The room felt suddenly smaller as she stood closer to him than before. The heat from his body touched her skin and melted her insides.

She nodded. “That was the reason. I thought my father’s money might tempt you to confess our deal.”

“Don’t worry any longer, my dove. You are paying me more than I deserve or ever expected. I promised you something, and I never break my promises.”

Why was he saying the words she wanted to hear? Even the tone of his voice seduced her, giving her the urge to cuddle next to him and stay there for the rest of her life.

One of his hands released hers, but she kept it to his chest. He caressed her cheek, then his hand slid down the column of her neck and he took a lock of her hair that rested near her breast.

Again, her throat turned dry. Her heart thundered in a fierce rhythm, and her body boiled with desire. What was he doing to her?

“The only way your father could tempt me is if he were a woman. More beautiful, in fact, than the one standing before me now.” His gaze lowered to her mouth.

He did it again. Did he know how excited he made her? If he kept this up, she’d be under his control. Right now, that was not a good idea...especially in her state of undress.

She licked her dry lips, noticing his gaze darkened when she did this.

“You know,” he said as he moved closer until their legs touched, “you should not look at a man like that. He might get the impression you want to be kissed good and hard.”

She hitched a breath, her heart pounding too hard for her to breathe normally. “I’m...” She swallowed. “Forgive me?”

He slipped his other hand around her waist and pulled her body fully against his. Another gasp escaped her, sounding too much like a moan from the pleasure spiraling through her. Both hands were on his chest again, the quick rhythm of his heartbeat knocking against her palms.

“There is nothing to forgive,” he whispered.

His warm breath fanned her face, and she couldn’t keep her eyes off his lips, even through her half-closed lids.

“Judith? I think we should practice looking married so your family doesn’t get suspicious.” His mouth descended toward hers. “Would you like that? Should we practice acting married?”

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