In the third in Katharine Ashe’s Prince Catchers series, the eldest of three very different sisters must fulfill a prophecy to discover their birthright. But if Eleanor is destined to marry a prince, why can’t she resist the scoundrel who seduced her?
She can pour tea, manage a household, and sew a modest gown. In short, Eleanor Caulfield is the perfect vicar’s daughter. Yet there was a time when she’d risked everything for a black-eyed gypsy who left her brokenhearted. Now he stands before her-dark, virile, and ready to escort her on a journey to find the truth about her heritage.
Leaving eleven years ago should have given Taliesin freedom. Instead he’s returned to Eleanor, determined to have her all to himself, tempting her with kisses and promising her a passion she’s so long denied herself. But if he was infatuated before, he’s utterly unprepared for what will happen when Eleanor decides to abandon convention-and truly live . . .
“There is a shallow rocky shoal a few yards ahead,” she called back, her ankles entirely submerged, steps fumbling. Her lips were pulled back from her teeth. “You can see it from the inn.” Her skirts dipped into the ocean. She grappled with them and her knees peeked out. “Since the tide is now low, I’m going to stand on it. I’ve never waded in the ocean before.” Her voice pitched high. The frozen water, no doubt. “I have gotten very close. I’ve sat on beaches for hours. But never once in my twenty-seven years have I waded.” She cast him a glance of wide-eyed mischief that went straight to his gut. “And now you must too.”
“Yet I have waded in the ocean before, and in fact I mustn’t now. It’s February.” Pleasure collected in his chest. This was the girl he’d known, the girl of erratic modesty and absolute delight.
“Oh.” She took another unsteady step deeper into the frigid sea. “You poor thing. I suppose you’re only brave when it comes to safe little ponds.”
His throat caught. Safe little pond. Years ago. Temptation and torture and pleasure so acute he could practically feel it again now. Safe? No. Not with her. Never with her, he was beginning to see.
Clearly she was not shy today of the wager they’d struck.
“The climate is somewhat different now than on that occasion.” That occasion that had changed his life. And now she teased, as though it had meant nothing to her. But he’d long since known that.
“Don’t tell me you’re worried that I will take a chill and perish?” she said without turning. “You never were before.”
Before, she hadn’t been curved in every place he wanted to put his hands. Some. But not all. And there hadn’t been tiny lines of laughter at the corners of her eyes. Before, he’d been a boy, driven by a boy’s devotion. Now a man’s desire drove him. God’s blood, she was beautiful with the wind whipping at her tightly bound hair, threatening to tear it free of its bonds.
She stood like a flame, vibrating with daring, the gentle waves lapping around her knees. “Frightened?”
The same taunt he’d thrown at her eleven years ago.
“Not on your life.” He pulled off a boot, then the other, then his stockings. By God, even the rocks were cold. But she had never shied from a challenge. He’d known that when he goaded her last night on the moor. He had known, and he’d done it anyway.
The icy water bit at him like pins. She had reached the shoal and was climbing onto it, her feet sinking deep into the rocky sand that abraded the soles of feet. He went swiftly into the surf, soaking his breeches and biting back on the pain.
She slipped and yelped again, louder-in fear-releasing her skirts as her arms flailed.
He reached forward and caught her. She gasped. Grabbed for him. He dragged her against his chest.
For eleven years he had been wanting this: her face uplifted to his, her body pressed to his, her lips parted and his hands on her. Often he’d told himself that his memory exaggerated how good it had felt to hold her.
It felt infinitely better.
He held a woman now, her full breasts crushed to his chest and long legs trapped between his. Frigid water and frozen feet be damned. If he stood here with her hips and thighs pressed to his for long, she would swiftly discover how decidedly cold he was not.
But he couldn’t release her. Not yet. Her wide eyes, green from the ocean’s reflection, stared at him as though she had never seen him before. Her hands clutched his shoulders and her breaths came fast. Gilded silk whirled about her cheeks.
“It-” Her throat constricted, a ripple of smooth ivory. “It hurts,” she groaned, and hopped up on one foot. “I cannot bear it another moment.” She broke away. Grabbing up her skirts, she splashed through the water toward the sand.
Yes, it hurt. But not his feet.
He followed slowly. On the beach she ran to her shoes and threw herself onto the sand to tug them over her soaked stockings. She hadn’t removed her stockings that time long ago either, and he’d seen a gentlewoman’s stockings for the first time in his life. Now sodden skirts tangled about her shapely calves, clinging, revealing, and he stared like the boy he’d been. She struggled with the shoes.
He pulled off his coat, knelt, and snatched the shoes from her hands.
“St-stop that. Wh-what are you doing?” The words came from lips the color of wax, trembling and caught between her teeth. “Give them back.”
He wrapped his coat around her legs and feet. “Accept this gracefully, pirani,” he said, holding her feet between his hands and willing the wool to do swift work. He’d seen his cousins lose toes. The winter of 1799 had been especially brutal on Rom living in caravans. If not for the Reverend Caulfield’s barn and the warmth of the goats and horse, he might not be whole now. Or alive.
“Look what you have done to your fine coat,” she said. But she wasn’t looking at his coat around her legs. She was staring at his shoulders.
“It’s nothing.” His voice sounded hoarse. Her ankles were so narrow, his fingers spanning them even through the coat. The fabric of her skirts encased her knees haphazardly. Without allowing himself to think, he let his hands follow his gaze upward.
“There are other coats.” But there were no other women. No women like this. No women he wanted to both goad into daring and rescue from danger, and touch everywhere…
Wow! Talk About an amazing powerful novel filled with adventure and romance! I am happy that I decided to get this novel. Before this one I didn’t know who this author was. She has created a story line that will keep you turning pages until you find yourself sadly at the end. The plot is flawlessly written and a jewel among this genre!! I loved the mixture of how our main characters seem to have grown up together and developed feelings yet one decided to leave. Why? It made it that much more swoon worthy when he came back all grown and filled up years later!! This is part of a series but can be read as a standalone, trust me though once you read them out of order you will want to read the others I NOW DO!! The sisters are interwoven within this story and Eleanor has felt left out so she is the adventurous and daredevil in disguise out of all of them. I can’t blame her because she wants answers I would to. Talieson has always been there through sickness and when it was a hard time on everyone. His characters made me love the story more because he has a big heart yet for his own reasons kept it hidden. The truth all comes out in a few twists that the author throws at us. Trust me once I picked up this novel I didn’t want to put it down!! Lets just say this author will be joining my home bookshelf soon! AMAZING story that will make you fall in love!
Katharine Ashe is the award-winning author of historical romances that reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including How to Be a Proper Lady, an Amazon Editors’ Choice for the 10 Best Romances of the Year, and How to Marry a Highlander, a 2014 RITA® Award finalist. She lives in the wonderfully warm southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of History, she writes romance because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too. Please write to her at PO Box 51702, Durham, NC 27717-1702 or visit www.katharineashe.com
Katharine is givng away two signed sets of I Married A Duke and I Married A Lord