portiadacosta.com : portia blog : portia's harlequin books

IN THE FLESH by Portia Da Costa

Please be aware that this excerpt contains sensual content that is only suitable for adult readers who are comfortable with frank language and descriptions of erotic scenarios

In The Flesh UK cover - click for larger versionBlurb

Indecent Proposal - 1890 style...

When headstrong and impoverished gentlewoman Beatrice Weatherly accidentally poses naked for the camera of the man she thought was her fiancé, her conventional Victorian world is turned upside down. Abandoned, reputation in tatters, and with her own debts and her brother's to contend with, she accepts a radical solution offered by a notoriously attractive and fiendishly wealthy man.

Successful man of business and noted womanizer Edmund Ellsworth Ritchie is stunned and beguiled by the lush sensuality of a model he espies in a series of erotic cabinet cards. Used to having any woman he wants, he sets out to possess the beautiful Siren of South Mulberry Street and make her his own for the duration of a hot affair. The fact that Beatrice Weatherly needs money, and he has plenty to offer, only makes ensuring her compliance all the easier.

Embarking on a mutually advantageous and pleasurable liaison that's only supposed to last a month, both parties quickly realize that the best laid plans of sirens and seducers can quickly and easily go awry. Beatrice's resolution to be sensible and practical and just enjoy the experience is rocked by her fast growing feelings for the sexy, enigmatic Ritchie, and Ritchie too experiences a new level of tenderness and emotion that he thought he'd put behind him with his dark and painful past.

So, with both their hearts in jeopardy despite their best intentions, can two strong-willed lovers with issues and secrets a-plenty navigate their way to a future together beyond the boundaries of their month long 'indecent proposal'? Or at its end will they kiss and go their separate ways?

New UK print version available from Amazon.co.uk

New UK version available for Kindle from Amazon.co.uk

New UK print version available from Mills and Boon

Available in Kindle format from Amazon.com

Also available in epub format from eHarlequin, Mills and Boon Ebooks, All Romance Ebooks and Diesel Ebooks

In the Flesh was originally published in print on 20th March 2012 by HQN.

Available in the US as a mass market paperback Amazon.com and Harlequin

Available from Barnes and Noble in both print and epub formats

 

Excerpt: Chapter One - Eyes of the Devil

London, 1890

"Who is that man over there?" demanded Charlie, "See the one I mean? The tall impertinent looking fellow by the ballroom door, talking to Sir Horace Rumbelow."

Beatrice Weatherly suppressed a sigh. Her brother always got peevish when he drank too fast, and the champagne was disappearing down his throat at an alarming rate.

"I advised you to wear a more conservative dress. Something dark and modest," Charlie went on "and now look what's happened. I swear that if he doesn't stop ogling you this minute, I'll go across there and box his ears for him!"

I'd like to see you try, brother dear. He looks as if he could swat you like a gadfly with just one hand.

"Please, ignore him, Charlie. He isn't bothering me in the slightest, so I don't see why he should bother you." Keeping her face carefully averted, Beatrice sipped her own champagne. She was determined to make every glass last as long as she could tonight. Just look what had happened the last time she'd drunk it.

But, truth be told, her bold scrutinizer across the reception room did bother her and it wasn't an urge to box his ears she felt. No, it was something far more alarming. Her heart pounded and her entire body felt deliciously strange every time she caught his hot gaze on her. Something that seemed to happen every few moments or so because try as she might, she couldn't help looking back at him. And he hadn't taken his eyes off her since they'd entered the room.

Of course, when she and Charlie had been announced, almost everybody had swiveled around stare at them. "Oh look," she imaged them all saying, "There she is, Beatrice Weatherly, the 'Siren of South Mulberry Street'… the shameless hussy who posed naked for those dreadful cabinet cards…" Men who probably owned copies of the said cards had eyed her with salacious interest when their wives weren't looking. Their wives had frowned and pursed their lips as if worried that their men would be so overcome with lust that they'd flock around the indecent Siren, unable to help themselves. Even the discreet servants circulating with their trays had seemed to study her covertly.

But now the first shocked silence that had followed their announcement was over, the hubbub of gossip was back to its normal, clattering level. Although some wives had won the battle for propriety and few groups had self consciously cut her and Charlie, most of other guests seemed far more free and easy.

I suppose a fast set like this is more forgiving of transgression, sexual or otherwise.

But nobody had stared at her in quite the way the tall man with dark eyes and blond hair did.

The temptation to glance around at him again was like a physical force. It bore down on her chest, making her breathless, and it seemed to be affecting other parts of her anatomy too. She felt as if she'd suddenly appeared in Lady Southern's salon dressed exactly as she'd been in one of her ex-fiancé Eustace's racy photographs.

That was, in nothing but her birthday suit.

Trying to appear not to be moving it, she inched her head around, then blushed crimson when he nodded his head in acknowledgement.

Hateful man! I've had enough of this!

Beatrice glared back at him, but added a curt nod of her own for courtesy's sake. He looked vaguely familiar to her somehow, as if she'd seen his image recently too. Obviously not a nude one though. Her face and chest turned rosy pink at the thought of that idea. Especially as the elegant cut of his suit couldn't entirely mask the rangy power of his body, making the job of her imagination dangerously easy.

Her oppressor gave her a smile. A dazzling, daring smile, so much more arresting than a mortal man's should be. A smile that had her sipping her champagne as if it were lemonade, regardless of her resolve to be cautious.

His lips were sultry. In a face neither young, nor older, yet somehow strangely both, they looked strong and firmly-outlined, hinting at voracious appetites he never denied. She imagined him savoring rich food and fine wine, but always in moderation, appreciating every pleasure without going to excess. Lips like that would kiss a woman just as hungrily and with equal calculation. Lips like that would kiss a woman until she gasped.

Lips like that would kiss a woman into doing anything.

Across the room, it was impossible to see the color of the man's eyes, but they were dark, dark as night, dark with mystery and menace, glittering as he stared at her unwaveringly.


New UK print version available from Amazon.co.uk

New UK version available for Kindle from Amazon.co.uk

New UK print version available from Mills and Boon

Available in Kindle format from Amazon.com

Also available in epub format from eHarlequin, Mills and Boon Ebooks, All Romance Ebooks and Diesel Ebooks

In the Flesh was originally published in print on 20th March 2012 by HQN.

Available in the US as a mass market paperback Amazon.com and Harlequin

Available from Barnes and Noble in both print and epub formats

In the Flesh by Portia Da Costa
Harlequin Spice ® 2010   ISBN 0373777167
© 2010 Portia Da Costa
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher


portiadacosta.com : portia blog : portia's harlequin books