Saving Lord Verwood
Book #3 of “The Three Disgraces”
Penelope Talcott distrusts Lord Verwood, a notorious rake who’s meddled in the lives of her friends. But she accidentally saves his life and becomes entangled in his affairs. Someone is trying to kill Verwood. Despite herself, Pen is impelled to help. Scandal forces them to marry and return to his estate in Cornwall, where Pen must solve the mystery of the tortured man she has come to love.
Verwood got up from the chair and took a position next to Pen on the sofa, deliberately allowing his knee to brush hers before she repositioned herself.
“Perhaps you wish to hit me, since your priggish suitor did not. I deserve it, do I not, for blighting all your hopes?”
“You are ridiculous. I disapprove of any sort of violence,” she said, anger threading her voice.
“Come. You wish to hit me. Do I not deserve at least that much punishment?” he said. He leaned down, bringing his face scandalously close to hers. Close enough to hit. Or kiss. No, she was not ready for that.
“Please leave me now, or I will hit you,” she said, her voice unsteady.
He could sense her passion very near the surface now.
“I don’t wish to leave. You are angry, and rightfully so. Hit me,” he said, with a smile calculated to infuriate her.
“Stop making a game of me!” she cried.
Her eyes were brighter and the color had returned to her cheeks. Good, she was coming back to life again. She was too much the lady to hit him, but still—
A small, determined fist connected with his nose. The sharp, familiar pain was a surprise, but a most welcome one.
“Oh dear, what have I done?” she exclaimed, staring down at her fist and sounding quite like herself again.
Verwood was just congratulating himself on his strategy when he saw her shocked expression and felt a small, warm trickle of blood run down his lip.
“Well done, Miss Talcott!” He grinned as he pulled out his handkerchief to stop the flow.
“Lean back, before you stain everything in sight,” she scolded, jumping up from her seat and heading toward the doorway.
“Sit down. My handkerchief will suffice. The bleeding has nearly stopped already.”
She remained standing, looking adorably contrite. “I am sorry, but if you had not taunted me so—”
“There is no need to apologize.” The guilt lodged in his chest softened at the sight of the renewed color in her sweet, rounded cheeks. At the same time desire for her stirred again. What a tempting piece she was…
He cleared his throat and straightened up, checking with his handkerchief to make sure the blood had stopped flowing.
“I trust you are feeling better now,” he said, smiling up at Miss Talcott, hoping to coax an answering smile out of her.
She stared down at him for a moment, then her shoulders began to shake. For an instant he thought she was crying, but no, she was laughing, a delightful gurgle of much-needed release. Feeling his own heart lighten, he joined her, glad she had recovered enough to laugh.
Still, he was not surprised when she suddenly covered her face with her hands, her laughter giving way to sobs. An entirely natural reaction to all that had happened, and he knew how to deal with that, too.
He arose and quickly put his arms around her, thinking she would now find comfort in his embrace. Women loved to have a man hold them; he didn’t know why more gentlemen didn’t take advantage of that useful fact. She did not push him away. She even put her slender arms around him, so he held her, relieved that he could give her solace.
Gradually, she grew calmer but still made no signs of wishing to leave his arms. So he continued to hold her, a guilty pleasure now mingling with his nobler intentions. He was a scoundrel, no doubt, but he couldn’t help enjoying the way her head nestled on his chest, the way her warm, softly curving body felt against his. As long as he kept his arms firmly and comfortingly around her back, as long as he didn’t allow his hands to stray elsewhere, all would be well.
So he resisted temptation until she lifted her head from his chest to look up at him. Her eyes were huge, pupils darkened like onyxes set in aquamarines. He’d seen that dreamy expression far too many times to be mistaken. Demure little Miss Talcott felt a spark of answering desire for him. Most promising!
Then her plump lips parted, just slightly. Lord, it was just not his way to resist temptation. He lowered his face to hers. When she did not pull away, he brushed her lips with his. Still she did not move, so he tasted her more deeply. Shyly, she opened to him, then impetuously began returning his kiss, pressing herself against him, mimicking the movements of his tongue and making little moaning sounds deep in her throat.
She was merely overwrought, he reminded himself. She’d undergone so much terror, anger and betrayal that this was just another natural outlet for her passion. One he was happy to provide. He would not take advantage of her fragile state. Not too much, anyway.
Yet his senses screamed at him, threatening revolt. Her breath was sweet, tasting of tea and biscuits, her scent that of lavender soap and freshly bathed woman, her mouth a bit clumsy, eager and delicious.
No. He could wait, despite his protesting body which reminded him he’d not enjoyed such pleasures in far too long.
It would be so easy to carry her to the sofa and proceed to offer her more potent distractions from her woes.
No. It was too soon.
She clutched at him as if she were once again drowning, and her vital, warm, sweet-smelling body drove him to distraction. Oh, how he longed to run his hand down the curve of her back, to feel her rounded, luscious…
Damn. He cursed the errant hand that had followed his thoughts all too precisely. Miss Talcott was already pulling away from his embrace, already staring at him from outraged, stormy eyes.
He was in for the devil of a scold.
An RT Book Reviews Top Pick
Phoenix Desert Rose Golden Quill
“Saving Lord Verwood is an exciting and amusing romance, with a delightful blend of wit and mystery. Highly recommended.“ — Rendezvous
“Elena Greene writes an intriguing tale of hope, love and joy. In this clever story of just who rescues whom, the political intrigue and developing passion between the main characters neatly blend together to make a highly pleasurable read.” — RT Book Reviews (4 and 1/2 stars, Top Pick)
“I highly recommend Saving Lord Verwood. Regency fans will adore this story, as will all readers who enjoy entertaining, well-written romances with marvelous characters and a dollop of mystery and intrigue.” — Susan Lantz, for Romance Reviews Today
“Saving Lord Verwood is a most enjoyable read — one that calls up the ambiance of the Regency and offers a page-turner of a story.” — Barbara Hume, for Rakehell
“Saving Lord Verwood is a thoroughly enjoyable Regency.” —Cathy Sova, for The Romance Reader (4 Hearts)
Penelope and Verwood’s story begins in the seaside resort of Brighton made famous by the Prince Regent. Although Pen, a vicar’s daughter, is rather appalled by the extravagance of Prinny’s Royal Pavilion, it does make for a fun setting. Visit the Royal Pavilion website to learn more about Prinny’s pleasure palace.
While in Brighton, Pen goes sea-bathing. Below is a depiction of sea-bathing in Brighton, showing the bathing-machines (kind of like dressing-rooms on wheels), women in their bathing costumes and the “dippers’ who assisted them, willing or unwilling, into the water.
Once they are married, Verwood takes Pen to his home on the rugged northern coast of Cornwall. Their home, Tregaron House, is somewhat modeled after the very beautiful Trerice House, pictured below.
The fictional Tregaron House is located somewhere on the rugged western coast of Cornwall, within carriage driving distance of the ruins of Tintagel, said to be the birthplace of King Arthur.
I have a fascination with ancient stone structures, of which there are many in Cornwall. Two that I used in this story are the fogou, an underground structure, and the quoit, a structure of standing stones supporting a horizontal capstone.
Pen rescues an orphaned seal pup on a nearby beach. For the purposes of my story, “Tegen” was healthy at the time of rescue — basically because I like happy endings and Pen would have been miserable if the pup had not survived. In real life, rescued seal pups are often suffering from injuries or disease. Sometimes even antibiotics and modern medicine cannot save them. Happily, the Cornish Seal Sanctuary has many success stories to relate. I visited there years ago whilst living in the United Kingdom and had a wonderful time. I also recommend the nearby Trengilly Wartha Inn for lunch or dinner. The atmosphere, the food and the ale are all excellent!
Portrait by Oakdale Images
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Copyright © 2015, Elena Greene. All rights reserved.