A wealthy nabob’s daughter has designs on a handsome young doctor, but not the romantic sort, despite the one kiss he stole from her ages ago. The poor crofters she’s been tending behind her father’s back need more than a rich miss’s potions, they need a real doctor. And fortunately, she has the leverage to provide one.
Ripped from his prestigious London practice to deliver a Highland duke’s heir, a young doctor finds there are more snares awaiting than a risky birth, including a surprise—and worthless—bequest. There’s also his best friend’s cousin, who’s blossomed from mousey to heart-stirringly beautiful, with enough wiles to convince an ambitious man that his heart belongs in the Highlands.
Publisher: Havenlock Press
The weather the next morning had been as weepy as the mourners inside the respectable townhouse that was the home of the late Horace Beecham.
The funeral reception had ended; friends and business associates had left the widow and her large brood to their private grief. They’d all departed, except for himself, Errol Robillard, but then he was more than a friend or business associate. At Beecham’s behest and expense, Errol had attended a day school with the man’s two eldest boys, William and Peter, and, when not studying or laboring at his father’s inn, he’d worked hard at Beecham’s textile warehouse.
William Beecham was his best friend. Whether he was a good enough friend to continue paying Errol’s schooling was a question he hadn’t yet raised, and his university fees were due.READ MORE
He needed to speak to William, later, when Mrs. Beecham and the rest of the family had retired. But first, a breath of air, damp though it might be, was in order, before he made his vulgar but necessary inquiry.
In the garden, the herb-scented air filled his lungs but didn’t clear his head or comfort his heart. Beecham’s death followed too closely on his own father’s passing two years earlier. In fact, he still grieved his mother’s passing several years before that.
A rain-slicked flagstone path snaked through well-tended beds of herbs, vegetables, and flowers to the shed at the back, partially concealed by an overgrown elm tree. He moved toward a sheltered bench on the small patch of grass, passing the raised beds filled with vegetables and the medicinal plants the Beechams’ eccentric cousin, Ann Strachney, raised for her concoctions of tisanes and teas.
A plop of water landed upon his nose, and the heavens suddenly reopened with gusto. Before he could retreat inside a sudden cry from the vicinity of a tall elm had him rushing there.
A ladder teetered, a half-booted foot searching for purchase under a black skirt.
“Stay still.” He reached, but the ladder teetered again, and an armful of skirts plopped onto him, knocking him flat on his back, almost knocking the wind from him.
A grubby hand pushed back a wet tangle of light brown hair. Ann Strachney’s eyes widened, her already pink cheeks darkened, and her lips—just as pink, surprisingly lush—formed a perfect O.
Gad, she was lovely. An oval face, porcelain skin, and eyes the color of a stormy sea. How had he not noticed? Another lock of hair fell, she wriggled, and his male parts stirred. He clamped a hand on her to get her to stop.
“Oh,” she said, getting the word out. “I’m so sorry. I was…” She waved a hand. “The tree branch. The green house…”
He lifted his head and stopped her chatter, his lips soft against her own.
The wind gusted and glass exploded. He yanked her head down and cradled it in his hand and inhaled the scents of flowers and springtime, honey and bees. The hot breaths on his neck, the press of her breasts against his chest roused him more.
She mumbled, tickling him.
“What did you say?” he asked. “Are you alright?”
A battle raged within Ann Strachney, or a strange, unfamiliar mêlée of nerves and blood, tingles and shivers, and a hot pooling of… what was this? She was stretched atop a muscled chest, her nose buried against hot flesh that smelled of starch and shaving soap, and a large weight pressed against her back. A tree branch or… oh. It was a hand and it had started to move, and she didn’t want it to stop. Steam ought to be rising from her wet hair and gown. She ought to be melting.
Errol was holding her. Errol Robillard, the handsome, teasing boy who’d grown into a braw charming man. He was stroking her back. And a minute before he’d looked into her eyes and… what she saw there she didn’t recognize.
But she liked how it felt. She didn’t want it to stop.
“Are you injured?” he asked, sounding more himself.
Was she? How could she possibly tell when she was lying atop a gentleman…
“No,” she said, pushing herself up on her forearms. Errol grinned up at her, eyelids drooping wolfishly over eyes that had gone impossibly black. He’d lost his hat, and his tawny curls stuck out like the start of a lion’s mane.
Heat flooded her cheeks yet again. He was, as usual, impossibly handsome, but this was something more.
“I beg your pardon. But thank you for… for breaking my fall. Are you injured?”
He raised up on his elbows. “How could I be injured by you falling on me, Mouse?”COLLAPSE