Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on November 7th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Ewan Mostyn thinks a job as a duke's daughter's bodyguard will be easy―but Lady Lorraine has a few tricks up her sleeve that spark an undeniable passion...
Fiercely loyal to his friends and comrades, Ewan Mostyn is the toughest in a group of younger sons of nobility who met as soldiers and are now trying desperately to settle back into peaceful Society. Ewan trusts his brawn more than his brains, but when he's offered a job watching the Duke of Ridlington's stubbornly independent daughter, he finds both are challenged.
Lady Lorraine wants none of her father's high-handed ways, and she'll do everything in her power to avoid her distressingly attractive bodyguard―until she lands herself in real trouble. Lorraine begins to see Ewan's protectiveness in a new light, and she can only hope that her stoic guardian will do for her what he's always done―fight for what he wants.
In this excerpt, Lady Lorraine is attempting to sneak out of her family’s town house to see the man she wants to run away with in order to elope. But things don’t go as planned…
Lorrie hiked up her skirts and placed one leg over the window ledge. “Don’t look down,” she told herself. That was easier said than done. She reached for the tree whose branches brushed against the windowpane and woke her with their tapping on stormy nights. The tree limb was wide enough that she might crawl or scoot on it without any fear that it would break. But that would require releasing the window and grabbing the tree.
“Dratted Viking,” she muttered to herself as she attempted to muster the courage.
She’d spent the past seven days trying to escape the Viking with absolutely no success whatsoever. She woke in the morning thinking of the kiss they’d shared. She went to sleep cursing him because despite the fact that she and Francis had attended more than half a dozen of the same events over the past week—two musicales, three dinner parties, a ball, and a garden party—they had not been able to do more than nod at each other. Every time Francis approached her or she passed near to him, the Viking stepped between them and whisked her away.
He was very good at whisking, that Viking. Somehow he managed to snake his arm through hers and ferry her away without making it look as though she were being dragged unwillingly.
Which she was. Mostly. And she had wanted to protest each and every time he acted so impertinently, but she quite forgot her objections when he was close to her. This led to difficulty falling asleep. She felt horribly guilty for the way her body betrayed her when the Viking was near. If she had really loved Francis, would she keep wishing his cousin would kiss her again?
Lorrie felt certain if Francis would simply kiss her again—really kiss her—she would not think quite so much about the Viking. And if Francis were to bed her, she would not think about the Viking at all.
That meant she needed to marry sooner rather than later. She could not wait until Francis saw reason. And the more they were apart, the more unlikely Francis was to see things her way. She could blame that on the Viking as well!
She would certainly blame him if she fell to her death climbing out the window. Lorrie took a deep breath and closed her hands around the tree limb. Behind her, Wellington yipped. Lorrie twisted her head around and glared at the puppy. “Shh! No!”
Welly yipped again and laid his paws on the windowsill, clawing and tugging at her skirts. Normally she would have found this invitation to play irresistible, but at the moment, she wished she had sent the dog to sleep in the kitchen as she had before he had been mostly housebroken. The Viking seemed to have ears like an owl. He was bound to hear Welly’s barks. He seemed to hear everything, including her whispered curses about him.
Her only hope was the Viking had not chosen to sleep at the town house tonight. He didn’t always sleep under her father’s roof. The family had returned home relatively early tonight, and she had gone straight to bed. Hopefully, the Viking had seen no reason to remain in Berkeley Square.
Lorrie shushed the dog again then eased her way off the window and onto the tree limb. Her heart pounded almost painfully in her chest until she was firmly planted on the tree branch. Now she only had to climb down the tree.
Fortunately, her brothers had often climbed the tree when they’d been younger, and they’d nailed small pieces of wood to the trunk to give them a better foothold. The makeshift steps hadn’t been used in years, but Lorrie had surreptitiously tested the strength of the bottommost one this afternoon. It had been as sturdy as ever.
She scooted along the branch, moving closer to the trunk and avoiding looking down. Her only regret was she did not possess a pair of trousers. The skirts tended to tangle in her legs and about her ankles. She’d elected to go without petticoats in order to lessen the material that might entrap her, but the dress was still cumbersome.
Not to mention it was a cold night, and she was already shivering. She still had to make it halfway across London in order to reach Francis’s lodging and speak to him. She had coin and planned to hire a hackney to transport her—she was not so foolish as to attempt to walk across London by herself in the dark of night—but she had no hopes that the hackney would be any warmer than she was right now. If only she had thought to drop a cloak at the bottom of the tree…
Lorrie finally reached the trunk. With wobbly legs, she stood and carefully placed her feet. Now she would have to step down, backward, and find the foothold. She had spotted it in the day. It was a good three feet down. She could not see it at all in the dark of night.
Gripping the trunk until the bark dug into her flesh, she eased one foot down, feeling blindly for the piece of wood. She didn’t find it. She lowered herself more and moved her foot all around the trunk. Finally, she touched the foothold, and just as she did, her hands slipped. For a moment, her world went dark as she panicked, but then she caught hold of the trunk again and hugged the tree fiercely.
Lorrie laid her forehead on the trunk, momentarily debating whether Francis—whether any man—was worth this. Unfortunately, she’d come too far now to go back. It would be easier to go down than back across.
Still holding the tree trunk, Lorrie placed her right foot beside her left on the little piece of wood. Then she began the arduous task of finding the next rung. And so it went. Little by little, she climbed down the tree until she had gone far enough that she felt safe in glancing down.
Immediately, she wished she hadn’t.
Standing below the tree, arms crossed and brows creased into a vee, was the Viking. With a little squeal, Lorrie began climbing back up the tree, but the dratted giant reached up and grasped her about the waist, hauling her down into the garden beside him.
Shana Galen is giving away her entire Jewels of the Ton series–When You Give a Duke a Diamond, If You Give a Rake a Ruby, and Sapphires Are an Earl’s Best Friend. Open internationally; print or digital.
To be in with a chance to win, just comment with your answer to this question:
What 7 events did Lorrie and her ‘Viking’ attend where they did nothing except nod at each other?
(Answer in excerpt)
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Lady Lorraine Caldwell is too headstrong for her own good, which prompted her father, the Duke of Ridlington, to find a way to eliminate unwanted fortune hunters. When he witnesses Ewan Mostyn take care of brawlers in a club, the duke requests a meeting with the former soldier. Ewan doesn’t want to act as chaperone, but when he learns the name of the man Lorraine has set her sights on, he accepts. Lorraine is trouble; she is attracted to danger, and while she deeply resents having someone follow her every footstep, it could be worse than the big, brawny man who looks like a Viking.
Lorraine is a great heroine, I found her relatable: she is kind, generous, and resents having to subdue her sensual nature because of the established moral codes. Her attraction to Ewan is realistic, as they are both very physical people and in need of attention and affection. Ewan is the (very) strong, (very) quiet type; he is a bit of a Neanderthal, really, and his conversational skills left so much to be desired that, honestly, I found him a bit dull. His propensity to violence did not endear him to me either.
The world of The Survivors is quite an intriguing one, and the various former soldiers who comprised the Draven special unit seem interesting chaps; the combination of their talents should provide entertainment for the next instalments. I am looking forward to Rafe’s story, and especially Jasper, who was the one who really captured my imagination.
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.