Unraveling the Earl, Book 3 in the Idyllwild series:
The Earl of Hastings’s reputation as London’s greatest gift to the ladies has taken on a life of its own, one he is only too happy to live up to in one Mayfair bedchamber after another. Until he encounters a lady more interested in poking around his country estate than sampling his lauded charms.
Georgiana Buchanan is possessed of murky morals, skewed notions of right and wrong, a talent for dancing around the truth, and a penchant for crashing weddings, funerals and charity balls.
When Georgie catches Henry’s roving eye, she turns the tables on the arrogant scoundrel, introducing him to a world of sensual delights and unraveling his vaunted control before fleeing into the night.
Henry is determined to make the elusive Georgiana his mistress while the lady wants only to use his desire to further her own schemes. When they find themselves marooned at Idyllwild during a summer storm, they will both discover they’ve gotten more than they bargained for.
Henry pushed open the kitchen door and stopped in his tracks. Georgie stood at the stove wearing a white apron over a faded gray muslin dress too short to cover her ankles. One bare foot resting atop the other, her leg cocked out and swinging back and forth, she hummed a familiar lullaby, one he’d heard Olivia singing to Charlie and Fanny.
He deposited her milk just inside the room, leaned against the doorframe and watched the gentle sway of her hips as she systematically flipped thick slices of bacon in a heavy skillet. With her hair braided into two long plaits that hung nearly to her waist, she might have been a kitchen maid diligently cooking her master’s breakfast.
Or a young girl cooking breakfast for her family.
Georgie was barely twenty years of age and for the first time Henry saw the girl she was beneath the trappings of womanhood. He looked at her, truly looked at her and saw beyond her sultry voice and knowing eyes, beyond her irreverent wit and bawdy humor, beyond the temptation she presented, the pleasure she offered.
“Would you rather bathe or break your fast first?” she asked without looking up from her task.
Dragging his eyes away from the complicated woman who was his new mistress, if he hadn’t made too great a muck of things, Henry discovered that the small worktable was set with plates, silver, two glasses waiting for milk, a covered platter and a stack of toasted bread dripping in butter.
And beyond the table, in front of the hearth where a low fire burned, sat an old copper tub filled with steaming water.
“I can keep either one warm for you,” she offered.
“I’d rather make love to you first,” Henry answered.
“I can’t keep both warm,” she chided, shooting him a smile over her shoulder.
“I’ll take a cold bath and eat a cold breakfast.”
Georgie shifted the skillet off the flame and slowly turned around. Henry’s gaze dropped to her breasts, her nipples clearly visible beneath the worn gray muslin, two perfect buds that hardened even as he watched.
“Bath and breakfast,” she said, sweeping a long-handled fork along the curve of her hip. “You needn’t worry, my lord Henry, I’ll keep myself nice and warm for you. Hot even.”
“You are a terrible tease,” he groused playfully, his hands falling to the placket of his wet trousers.
“I am,” she agreed. “Perhaps we ought to negotiate when I might tease and when I ought to restrain myself. So that we both know what is expected of us and there will be no unwelcome surprises along the way.”
Henry’s fingers stilled and he drew in a shaky breath.
“I can’t say that I’ve had much experience with apologies,” she continued, her voice low and soft, curling around him. “But I know enough to know one oughtn’t to apologize if one isn’t truly sorry. I wish I could say that I was truly sorry I snuck into your mother’s chamber and made off with her journal and the portrait of Connie. I’m not sorry, Henry. I would do it again if the need arose. I would, and have, done worse.”
Where to find Lynne: