Welcome to my First Kiss Friday blog. Today I’d like to welcome a new author to me, Emily Royal, who has an excerpt from What the Hart Wants (Headstrong Harts #1). Isn’t the cover just gorgeous? We hope you enjoy this first kiss scene. Happy reading, my lovelies!
Fraser, the hero, has just arrived in London from the Highlands, to take up his newly-inherited dukedom, and he’s stumbled across a woman trespassing in his dilapidated London residence. Delilah, an opinionated, argumentative feminist with a loathing for the aristocracy—and Fraser’s ancestors in particular—has been visiting the house for years, until she’s disturbed by its owner…
“I’m alone, lass,” he said, “if that’s what you fear.”
“I’m not afraid of you.”
He moved toward her and caught the faint aroma of French lavender.
“Perhaps, ye’re more afraid of yourself,” he said.
She tipped her head up to meet his gaze.
She might, to the untrained eye, be described as unremarkable, with hair the color of peat. She had a heart-shaped face and an upturned nose with a determined little mouth which spoke of an interior forged from steel. But her most arresting quality was her almond-shaped eyes, which were the color of whisky.
And whether she knew it or not, they glittered with arousal.
“If you really are the duke,” she said, “then you’re the criminal for letting this house fall to ruin.”
“Bricks and mortar,” he said. “Is that all you care about?”
A spark of anger flashed in her eyes. “Of course not!” she said. “I care nothing for mausoleums. It’s the living souls which depend upon an idle aristocrat that I care for!”
“The birds trapped in the aviary,” she said, gesturing toward the window. “Nobody has tended to them for four years! Should they be left to rot as consequence for the misfortune of being in the power of your cursed family?”
“Birds?” he said. “Is that all?”
“Men like you live to shoot them out of the sky!” she snorted. “And what about the servants and tenants who rely on you for a living? Four years is plenty of time for dismissed servants without a reference to sink into the gutter and die.”
“So you’re laying deaths at my door, now?” he asked.
“Your hand might has well have dealt the blow which killed them,” she said. “But you’ll continue to hide behind your title and abuse the underprivileged.”
“Why in the name of the devil would I do that?”
“Because it’s in your blood! The Molineux line is rotten to the core.”
“You know nothing about me.”
“I don’t need to.”
“Then you’re madwoman.”
She raised her hand and he caught her wrists and drew her hard against his chest.
“Take your hands off me!”
“Ye gods, lass, you’re like a terrier!” he laughed. “All teeth and claws, yapping at a man’s ankles. You need taking in hand!”
He circled an arm round her waist and she drew in a sharp breath as her body molded against his as if it belonged there. A spark of desire flared in her eyes and her cheeks bloomed that delicious pink which a woman in need could never conceal. He dipped his head until their mouths almost met. She grew still and her breath caressed his skin. He lowered his gaze to the smooth, porcelain skin of her neck, where a faint pulse rippled at the base of her throat.
His mouth watered in anticipation. The men of his ancestry would mark such fresh, virgin skin as their own, to lay claim to their women.
There was something to be said for the old ways.
He flicked his tongue out and ran it along the seam of her lips. She let out a soft sigh, and he caught the faint taste of warm honey. He withdrew his tongue and a whimper escaped her throat. She tilted her head, almost imperceptibly, to bring their mouths closer again, an involuntary act driven by need.
“Tell me what ye want, lass…”
Face flushed, she parted her lips and he slipped his tongue inside her warm, welcoming mouth. She curled her fingers round his arms and held him close. A groan reverberated through her body as he took ownership of her mouth, devouring her, savoring the sweet taste of fire and honey.
He broke the kiss and she pressed herself against him, a low groan bubbling in her throat. Face flushed, lips swollen, she looked like a lass in need of pleasuring. She pressed her lips against his mouth, and the tip of her tongue grew insistent as she sought entrance. But he withdrew and a frown crossed her forehead.
Clearly, this was a lass who was used to getting what she wanted, a lass who had no use for words when it came to conveying such a raw need. He placed his lips against the corner of her mouth, then peppered her chin with a line of feather-light kisses, teasing her mouth with his tongue. She parted her lips again and let out a frustrated little mewl when he did not oblige her demand.
He brushed his hand across her breast and little hidden nub hardened beneath the soft fabric. Her breath hitched in her throat and a low groan rumbled in her throat.
He smiled against her lips. “I’ll wager you want my hands on ye now, lass, now ye’ve have a taste of pleasure.”
She stiffened. Her hands, which had clung to him, urging him on, now pushed him away.
He blinked to clear his vision and saw a blur in the corner of his eye before a sharp sting exploded on his face.
“How dare you!” she cried. Hair disheveled, she still bore the look of a woman in need, though she fought to hide it.
“Ye want me, lass,” he said. “I know when a woman’s ready for coupling.”
The indignation at his crude language rippled through her expression, but not before a wild longing glittered in her eyes. What would it be like to bed her properly — to take her against the hard granite of the highlands, among the heather!
She wrenched herself from his grasp.
“You crude creature!”
“You weren’t unwilling, lass.”
“You’re worse than your predecessor. His only desire was to add to his long list of conquests. But I shall not be added to yours. I aspire to better things, and have no time for the baser needs of the savage.”
“Oh, a savage am I?” he said, suppressing the laugh at the struggle so evident in her expression between indignation and need. “Why deny yourself pleasure when you’ve been fashioned for it?”
“There’s more to life than pleasure.”
“That’s not what you were telling me earlier, lass.”
“I said no such thing!”
“Not with your words…” he lowered his voice to a whisper, “…but with your body ye were begging, were ye not?”
She flushed and looked away, instinctively crossing her arms to conceal the twin peaks which had been poking at the muslin of her gown.
“I’ll not dignify that question with an answer.”
He let out a laugh. “You have no need to, lass. I’ve already discovered how to turn that sharp little bark into a purr of pleasure.”
“I see no point in continuing this conversation,” she said. “Rest assured I’ll never darken the doors of this house again, now I’ve had the misfortune of meeting its owner.”
She turned her back and retreated through the door.
“Farewell, my sweet little terrier!”
She increased the pace, uttering a curse as she disappeared through the main doors.
A soon as he established himself in lodgings he’d make enquiries as to the identity of the hellion. The quality of her gown indicated she had money, but her manner was not that of a lady.
A courtesan, perhaps? And one with an intellect beyond that of the usual predatory female.
With such a quarry to be had, perhaps living in London wouldn’t be a hardship after all.
Five lessons in pleasure. One lesson in love.
Fraser MacGregor, thirteenth Duke Molineux, seizes the opportunity to use the title he unexpectedly inherited, to further his whisky business. He leaves his Highland home and heads for London where he’s accosted by a feisty lass, who smashes a vase over his head.
Delilah Hart should be relishing her first London season. But she’d rather be a writer than a bland society wife. Her secret occupation of writing anonymous, inflammatory articles about the notorious Molineux family, is the first step to realizing her dream.
But when the new duke makes her an offer she can’t refuse—to learn about her cause for social justice in exchange for five lessons in the art of pleasure—she begins to question her beliefs and desires. Before long, Delilah realizes that her heart, as well as her career, is at stake.
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Emily Royal grew up in Sussex, England, and has devoured romantic novels for as long as she can remember. A mathematician at heart, Emily has worked in financial services for over twenty years. She indulged in her love of writing after she moved to Scotland, where she lives with her husband, teenage daughters and menagerie of rescue pets including Twinkle, an attention-seeking boa constrictor.
She has a passion for both reading and writing romance with a weakness for Regency rakes, Highland heroes, and Medieval knights. Persuasion is one of her all-time favorite novels which she reads several times each year and she is fortunate enough to live within sight of a Medieval palace.
When not writing, Emily enjoys playing the piano, hiking, and painting landscapes, particularly the Highlands. One of her ambitions is to paint, as well as climb, every mountain in Scotland.
Amazon author link: https://www.amazon.com/Emily-Royal/e/B07NCBKJZ4
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