Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Natasha Blackthorne Stops by With White Lace and Promises
Book two in the Carte Blanche Series
Here's a little snippet from Natasha Blackthorne's latest novel, White Lace and Promises. Enjoy!
Beth and Grey’s passionate battle of wills continues...
New York Merchant Prince Grey Sexton loves the audacious, spirited young temptress who seduced him in a Philadelphia bookseller’s and made passionate love to him in his carriage. Her fiery nature broke through his cold self-protection. But in a time of war and trade disruption, he cannot allow himself to be distracted. He vows to put business above all else in his life, including his bride.
Shocked and hurt by Grey's distance, Beth wonders whether he truly returns the burning love she feels for him. Beth demands that Grey prove he can truly change once and for all or else she will not start a family with him. But will the dark, sensual secrets she yet keeps repel this arrogant, self-controlled gentleman she has married?
Read the rest of the chapter: http://dreneebagbypresentsfirstchapters.blogspot.com/search/label/Natasha%20Blackthorne
Read reviews: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13058116-white-lace-and-promises
Buy Link: http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=1476
And Here's an Excerpt!!!
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Copyright © Natasha Blackthorne, 2011
All Rights Reserved, Total-E-Ntwined Limited, T/A Total-E-Bound.
Excerpt From: White Lace and Promises
Philadelphia, PA, June 1812
“You’re going to have to behave.”
His cool tone, with its undercurrent of tolerant amusement, made her bristle. She forced herself to relax and smile at him. Seductively. Dazzlingly.
Grey Sexton remained unmoved, his silver eyes distant, the skin over his angular cheekbones taut, his strong jaw jutting with as much arrogance as ever. Tension poured off him, making her own neck muscles tighten. She’d known him in many moods but never so completely unresponsive.
Silence fell between them. As the carriage clattered towards Third Street along the pebble stones, her stomach fluttered. What had happened to the uncontrollable passion that had always flared between them? For weeks he’d been so warm, so attentive, so affectionate, the way she’d only suspected he could be. That warm affection had melted the very last of her defences and made her fall utterly in love with him.
Now, his handsome, hard-boned features remained closed, controlled.
Like a stranger.
Maybe the attentive lover had been a façade on his part, designed to gain her trust and secure her commitment? Or maybe it was a dream she had conjured from her own imagination.
Maybe the man she had fallen in love with had disappeared forever. No, she couldn’t accept that. She simply had to try to break through his icy exterior to the warmth beneath. Warmth she needed. She put her hand on his leg, whence he had so recently removed it, and traced her fingers over the fine, soft wool of his pantaloons. His powerful thigh muscles tensed. She glanced up.
His gaze was fixed on her moving hand, his pupils dilated and the skin taut over his cheekbones. How well she knew that expression. She smiled and laughed softly. What a ninny she was to worry. Nothing had changed. He would not be able to resist twice.
She reached the growing swell at his groin. Dear God, he was so huge and hard—as he was always. Heat flooded her veins and a tingling ache spread into her loins. She pressed her thighs tightly together.
His hand swept down and clamped hers. She caught her breath and a shiver raced through her, making her nipples pebble and her breasts swell. His hands were so large and strong, his skin so deeply tanned against hers. She couldn’t glance at his hands without recalling how they felt, so sure and skilled on her body. Wetness flowed from her core. She crossed her legs more tightly, turned and leaned closer to him.
He lifted her hand away, not gently as just a moment earlier but with determination. At the terse gesture, her heart leapt into her throat. She glanced up at him. “Why?”
He kept his hand wrapped around her wrist, holding her hand to her thigh. “You’re not listening to me.”
Her spine stiffened. “Well, this is a chilly reception after a week’s separation. A whole week without—”
A muscle twitched in his jaw. “I sent you a message, explaining why.”
Her stomach began aching like the first indication that something she’d eaten had begun to sour. “Yes, and I am certain you put more warmth into your bank drafts.”
He tapped his fingers on her hand. “Beth, I was preoccupied. I shall often be engaged with business matters. You shall have to accustom yourself.”
A hot retort rushed to her tongue. She gritted her teeth to stop it. Yes, he was a man of business. He had important things to do, places to go and people to see. But surely he could have spared her an hour or two somewhere in those seven days to pen a decent lover’s letter. She had ached for his company—she hated to admit how much. She ached right now for his hard body, pressing hers down on the plush velvet seat cushions. She ached even more for the reassurance of his lips on hers, his soft words in her ear.
Why must he deny them? What had changed? He’d said he was over the issue with the money. He’d said it that night before he’d left the shop. And now again this evening.
All right, he was no longer angry over their quarrel. He was over it. Then so was she.
Only, he didn’t truly seem to be over it.
With her free hand, she cracked open her fan and drew it in front of her face. Then she threw him a deadly gaze over the painted yellow silk. “I don’t see why you must enforce this hypocritical chastity upon us.”
He laughed, low and sensual, the first real warmth he’d shown since he’d come for her at her brother’s Southwark cobbler shop that evening. “You will not arrive at the house of your former benefactress—at the ball where we shall announce our engagement to society—smelling like a brothel.”
The mention of the ball cooled her blood—considerably. She was dreading tonight, when they would announce their engagement. Yes, others certainly suspected, but she feared the grudging tolerance with which society had accepted her into its midst would suddenly evaporate when those suspicions were confirmed. She sighed and fanned her face. “I don’t see why we must make such a huge fuss over our engagement.”
“You wanted a proper courtship and marriage.”
She couldn’t deny that. At first he’d wanted her for a mistress, but she’d refused his carte blanche. Vexed he couldn’t gain her commitment, he’d cast their attachment aside. Thrown her over. But he’d returned within a matter of weeks and asked her brother’s permission to court her.
In the weeks of their courtship he’d been unbelievably generous with his time and money—and his body. Oh, definitely generous with his body. But maybe now the formality of becoming engaged had chilled their affaire. Changed it from something rooted in the most heated passion to something proper.
The word echoed in her mind, a mocking refrain. She feared she could no more transform herself into a proper lady than she could reinstate her virginity.
If he wanted a proper wife, then she had nothing to offer him. The thought made her blood freeze.
He took her left hand and lifted it. On her ring finger, a sizable sapphire on a gold band, along with its attendant circle of smaller diamonds, glittered in a shaft of light entering through a crack between the curtains. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it lingeringly. A flare of fire melted the ice in her veins. Then he met her eyes and the severity in his piercing, silver gaze froze her anew. “You didn’t want to be my mistress. You wanted to be my wife. You must accept the responsibility that comes with your new status.”
His harsh tone cut into her. Why was he behaving like this? To hide her dismay, she curled her lip. “I am surprised you haven’t insisted on a chaperone for us.”
“There’s no need to ape a European’s ostentatious manners. It is just that I have an important place in the world. A reputation to protect. A certain level of conduct is expected of me. You shall have to adapt and adhere to it.” He dropped her hand back into her lap and the ache in her stomach increased.
Adapt. Adhere. Behave. Hurry.
He’d done nothing this evening but lecture her. She’d feared all along that letting him slip that expensive ring on her finger would bring out the tyrant in him.
“Where are your gloves?”
His deep voice held a slightly vexed note.
“Your gloves, you must have them,” he said with the same implacable authority she could imagine him using when one of his clerks misplaced a decimal point that might cost him thousands.
“Oh, yes…” She hated wearing evening gloves, hated the way they rode up high on her arms, the tight silk stifling her skin. She’d jammed them in her reticule right before leaving her brother’s cobbler shop… But where was her reticule now? Heart racing, she darted her gaze all about the carriage seat. No sign of it.
Wait. She’d put it down on the front counter when she’d stopped to give her two nieces a kiss goodbye. And then Grey had been so impatient to leave… She’d forgotten all about it.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
Why couldn’t she remember these details? Especially on a night like tonight when the stakes were so high. More proof that she’d never measure up as a lady.
He sighed, a long sound of exaggerated exasperation as he shifted in the seat and reached inside his dark blue cutaway coat. With an ironic expression, he unrolled two long, white silk gloves and handed them to her. “Why do I suspect this is going to become a habit with you?”
“It shan’t. I promise.”
He smiled thinly. The smile’s very thinness vexed her.
“I shan’t make it a habit,” she repeated forcefully.
“You needn’t get on high ropes with me, Beth.”
“But it is such a little thing…forgetting gloves.”
“Details are exceedingly important in society.” Sunlight from the window glinted bluish lights on his coal-black hair as he studied her for several moments. “You don’t seem very committed to learning how to get along in society.”
“I am committed. I am.”
“You refuse to attend to even the smallest detail.” His expression grew so stern that the hastily consumed dinner in her stomach turned to lead. “Beth, you must be sure you want to be married to me. In a matter of weeks, we shall be tied to each other for life.”
How could he even ask such a thing? Her mouth dropped open. “You are the one who wants to call off—all over missing gloves!”
He gave another exasperated sigh and shook his head slowly. “Good God, the things you say—your methods of reasoning are truly astonishing.”
“Don’t try to deny it. Your feelings towards me have cooled and you want to cry off.”
“I’ve committed myself—I wouldn’t cry off even if I wanted to. But I do not want to. However, I am afraid you are not ready for what is to come.” His gaze flickered over her. “I wonder if I haven’t done you a disservice in my greed to possess you.”
She turned away from him, flipped the curtain back and stared at the passing high, stone garden walls painted in rose-gold tones by the setting sun. “I didn’t know I was to be a possession. I thought I would be a wife.”
His long pause spoke volumes. She had managed to vex him. “It’s a turn of phrase, Beth, nothing more.”
“Well, it wasn’t so very long ago you did indeed want to buy me.” She kept her focus on the street, watching a small boy lead a puppy on a leash in front of one of the open gates.
How different the city looked from a carriage window. One did not notice the filthy gutters between the pebble streets and the brick sidewalks—nor the free-roaming pigs rooting there for scraps. One only saw the lines of trees shading the elegant mansions and neat little storefronts. Yet wasn’t it quite chilly in his elegant world? If she were outside, free and on foot, she would be able to feel the sun’s warmth on her face.
However, if Grey had committed himself in his pledge, she had committed herself in heart. Blood, bone and flesh. She loved him completely. She had known it would be that way with him. She would never be free now. But what if this cold stranger was the real Grey?
Oh, dear Lord, then she was so lost…
“Beth, why are you doing this?” Grey’s tone could have made snow fall on this June evening.
“Attempting to place a wedge between us.”
“You are the one who has insisted on placing a wedge between us, with your terse notes and your sudden penchant for propriety.”
In the silence, her heart thumped in her ears. Why wasn’t he replying? Had she finally pushed too hard?
“You’re nervous about tonight? Is that what this is about?” His voice sounded incrementally less chilly.
“I am nervous about us. What are we to each other now?”
“What the devil kind of question is that?”
Beneath his controlled tones rang real passion—what a pity it had to be ire.
Her dismal mood deepened. “We are no longer lovers and we haven’t known each other long enough to be friends.”
His breath caught slightly. She’d wounded him. She was beyond caring.
“We’re still lovers and we are friends.” His tone was severe, as if she were a naughty child he was reprimanding. “And, most importantly, we are soon to be husband and wife.”
“It seems so cold. I could face it all—all the things you shall expect of me and the changes I must make—but that was before, when I had the warmth of our passion. Now everything has grown so cold, I don’t know where I stand…” Her throat burnt like fire with suppressed tears. A whole week when he couldn’t be bothered to spare her more than the time it took to pen a curt note. A whole week full of the fear he’d become bored or displeased with her.
God, she hated herself for spilling her feelings and thoughts out. How pathetic and weak. Well, she certainly wasn’t going to make it worse by weeping.
He tried to take her hand but she jerked it away.
“I’d better get into these gloves, hadn’t I?” She busied herself donning them.
She wanted to be a good wife to him—the best of wives. She wanted to be worthy of him. But how could she ever be? He epitomised a New England merchant prince. He was one of the wealthiest men in the United States. Blue-blooded. Highly educated. Extensively travelled. Cultured. Handsome in an arrogantly patrician fashion. Heaven help her, he was leagues above her in every way.
One couldn’t turn a bastard-born, soiled dove into a lady just by putting her into a fancy ball gown and elegant silk gloves with pearlescent buttons.
“You are still vexed about the money I gave Charlie.” She took a fast gulp of air. “Charlie got himself into trouble. You don’t understand; he can’t help himself. I couldn’t tell him no.”
He raised a forestalling hand. “The less said about Charlie the better.”
“You are still vexed.”
He sighed—a deep, rumbling sound, pure masculine exasperation. “How many times must I say it tonight? At least three times and counting. Here’s the fourth. I am not vexed over the money. Not anymore.”
She released a breath she hadn’t even realised she’d been holding. Yet he still didn’t understand how hard it was for her to say no to her half-siblings. And her McConnell relations had never had much before now. They didn’t understand how to handle their new access to money. Well, pray God this was an end to it. She smoothed one gloved hand over her skirts and her heart raced in a hectic little scattering of beats. Oh Lord, if Grey should find out about—
“Beth, it’s going to be fine. You’ll do fine.” His voice cut into her fretting. “We’ll make the announcement tonight and things will be official. You’ll feel better, more secure.”
Wary of his sudden change, she shrugged a shoulder to feign nonchalance. “I suppose.”
“You are so very agitated…” He touched her face. “I should remedy that.” His tone went all tender and intimate, almost coaxing, making her heart melt. He bent towards her.
Heart racing, she closed her eyes and accepted the touch of his lips to hers, expecting a chaste if somewhat condescending peck. But he moved his lips over hers with languid, sensual intensity.
God, he was relenting.
He reached down, a crisp rustling sounded and air rushed over her legs. He touched her knees, gently easing his way between.
He had relented.
She had broken through. She had won.