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Archive for September 26th, 2012

Once upon a time, he was Lord Tristan Easton—now he is Crimson Jack, a notorious privateer beholden to none, whose only mistress is the sea. But all that will change when exquisite Lady Anne Hayworth hires his protection on a trip into danger and seduction. . .

Desperation brought Anne to the bronzed, blue-eyed buccaneer. But after the Captain demands a kiss as his payment, desire will keep her at his side. She has never known temptation like this—but to protect her heart, she knows she must leave him behind. Yet Tristan cannot easily forget the beauty—and when they meet again in a London ballroom, he vows he won’t lose her a second time, as fiery passion reignited takes them into uncharted waters that could lead the second lost lord home. . .

 

~~~~*~~~~*~~~~

I fell in love with men who sailed the seas many moons ago when I read Johanna Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue. Writing as Jade Parker, a few years ago, I wrote a young adult novel about a pirate, James Sterling, and the girl who was out to capture him for stealing a kiss. To Catch a Pirate was fun. I enjoyed writing about the swashbuckling hero.

So it should come as little surprise that when I split up my Pembrook lords, I sent one to sea. The 1840’s and ‘50’s were no longer the heyday of pirates, but there were still dangers aplenty and that was the world in which Lord Tristan Easton, otherwise known as Crimson Jack, grew into manhood. He has seen so much of the world, experienced things that few among the nobility do. He’s seen the worst of men and the best. He has his own ship, his own crew, and he’s far more comfortable on sailing the ocean blue than dancing in a ballroom.

Then Lady Anne Hayworth approaches him. She wants to pay for passage on his ship, a private journey to Scutari, so she can say good-bye to her fiancé who died there. Tristan agrees, but he doesn’t want money; he wants a kiss, a long, slow, leisurely kiss aboard his ship, the moment of his choosing.

Placing two characters within close proximity of each other allows them to get to know each other very quickly, and the sexual tension between these characters began the moment they met. But in close quarters—

It was cool on deck, with the wind whipping around them. She hadn’t considered that, hadn’t thought to grab her pelisse before they left the cabin. She was considering returning for it, when he shrugged out of his jacket and placed it on her shoulders. The warmth from his body was lovely as it enveloped her. She drew the jacket closed as they stared out at the inky blackness of the sea.

He stood near enough to provide a partial buffer from the breeze. She would only have to move a hair’s breadth to be nestled up against him. Perhaps she’d had too much wine, because she felt slightly off-balance and was half tempted to lean into him, to let him hold her up.

Instead she gazed up at the twinkling velvety sky. A star arced across it, quickly followed by another. She released a small laugh. “I’m not certain I’ve ever seen stars so clearly before.”

“Because there’s nothing between us and them. No dirty air, no gaslights, no fog.”

“Do you think it fell into the ocean?”

“I’m certain of it. That’s where starfish come from, you know.”

She peered over at him. “That’s a fanciful thought. You don’t strike me as a man who would have them.”

His white smile flashed. “I’ve seen mermaids.”

“No.”

He tilted his head slightly. “They looked like mermaids. But when they came out of the water they did have two legs instead of a tail.”

“I can’t imagine all the things you’ve seen.”

“None compare to you.”

She laughed. “You are impossible with your flirtation.”

“Why do you not believe me?”

The seriousness of his tone informed her that he was baffled by her reaction, was truly curious regarding her reasoning. “I own a mirror, Captain. Several in fact. My features are not particularly appealing.”

“Did your fiancé never—”

“He told me I was pretty; pretty is not beautiful. I don’t wish to talk of him.” Not tonight. Not when she’d enjoyed dinner with a charming man, when that same man brought her senses to life as they’d not been in a good long while.

A deep mournful moan echoed in the distance.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“A whale.”

“That’s a rather lonely sound, isn’t it?”

“He’s probably searching for his mate.”

She found herself looking at him once again, studying him. “Do you ever get lonely out here?”

He didn’t answer right away, but his gaze was focused on her as though he were striving to determine how much to reveal, how much to trust her. “Sometimes,” he finally said quietly. “But I’m not lonely now.”

She wasn’t certain when, but he had moved closer and the motion of the ship caused them to brush up against one another from time to time. His stance was steadier than hers, but she no longer fought the rolling toward him. They didn’t have much more moon tonight than the night before, but with no fog, the stars stretched into eternity. His face seemed to be lost in fewer shadows, although perhaps it was only that she now knew every mountain and valley that comprised his strong, noble features.

How simple it would be to just lift up on her toes and press her mouth to his. Give him the kiss he demanded. She had no doubt that it would be as slow and leisurely as he’d promised. But she also thought it would be incredibly warm and very, very intoxicating.

She heard another whale, the lowing slightly different from the first. Was it the whale’s mate? Or just another desolate creature? Until this moment, she hadn’t realized how terribly lonely she was, how she longed for this emptiness inside her to be filled.

She had no doubt that the man standing near could fill her to overflowing, but then he would leave and she would once again be empty. Was it better to have the fullness for a little while than to never experience it at all? Was it worth the pain that would surely follow?

She realized that her fingers were clutching his waistcoat and she wondered when she’d released her hold on his jacket and grabbed him instead. They were facing each other, and that, too, she didn’t remember making a conscious decision to accomplish. But here they were, so close again that their breaths were mingling, his warming her cheek. “Are you going to kiss me now?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Anticipation will serve only to make the moment that much more unforgettable.”

“It might also serve to disappoint, to build up expectations that cannot be met.”

“I think that highly unlikely.”

“You do realize that you’re tormenting me.”

He flashed a grin. “Not nearly enough. Not yet. One kiss is all I shall have, Princess. When I claim it, I want you yearning for it so desperately that you hold nothing back.”

“I won’t hold anything back now.”

He lowered his head. She closed her eyes, felt his lips skimming along her cheek.

“Not yet,” he said in a low voice near her ear, sending shivers of pleasure gliding through her.

Inhaling deeply, she opened her eyes. “You’re a cruel man, Captain.”

To her surprise, chuckling low, he turned her to face the sea, stepped behind her, and wound his arms around her. “So I’ve been told.”

She didn’t know why at that moment, protected by the curve of his solid body, she was happier than she’d been in a good long while.

 

Tristan is quite the charmer, and I hope readers will enjoy him as much as I do. Now a question: What is your favorite sea-faring adventure novel? I will email a $20 amazon or B&N gift card, winner’s choice,to one lucky poster today.

www.lorraineheath.com

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