"The true genius of this book lies in the protagonists. Damien and Adele are complex, well-developed characters, torn between their determination to behave honorably and their driving need to be close to each other in every way. You will find yourself believing in their existence and in their emotions, and you will desperately wish for their happiness. My Own Private Hero is a real treasure for readers who love genuine romance.
-Vickie Denney, NewAndUsedBooks.com
"Ms. MacLean has a real knack for making you feel the emotions of her characters..."
-Teresa Henson, RomanceJunkies.com
American Heiress Series Book Three
Could this love nonsense really be worth the trouble?
To Adele Wilson the answer is clear: of course not! She has seen her two sisters dragged through scandal and heartbreak (not to mention every ballroom in London) to find the husbands of their dreams. And that's why she said yes to the first British lord who requested her hand. And why shouldn't she marry him? He is kind, honest, and not sentimental in the least.
Unlike his wilder, taller, more mysterious cousin Damien Renshaw, Baron Alcester. Ignoring Damien altogether would be easy if he were the sort of man intent on seducing his cousin's betrothed. But he is clearly trying to resist her, and his suddenly proper behavior only makes him more tempting to the usually well-behaved Adele. Indeed, Damien seems to be bringing out another side of Adele, a heady, passionate, exhilarating side. It seems that fate is contriving to teach her -- against her best intentions -- exactly what this love nonsense is all about ...
Read an excerpt...
Damien opened the library door, peered inside to ensure it was empty, then brought Adele in and quietly closed the door behind him.
“We shouldn’t be in here,” Adele said, crossing the dark paneled room to stand in front of the window. “Not alone.”
She had to force herself to turn and face him with an appearance of confidence. He had changed into city clothes – a crisp white shirt under a black jacket, and a long overcoat, open in front. Yet, his wavy, black hair was in chaos, and despite the fine clothes, he had that wild, rugged look about him. His chest and shoulders were inconceivably thick and broad. He was a mountain. A windswept mountain.
When he finally spoke, his voice was deep and controlled. “I need to say something to you before I leave.”
He is going to apologize and say it will never happen again, she thought. Then it will be over, and by nightfall, he will be in the arms of his mistress.
She clung to the image of his mistress. It strengthened her will.
He took a step toward her. “Are you absolutely sure you should marry Harold?”
Adele stared at him, dumbfounded. It was not what she’d expected him to say. And why was he asking her this? Did he mean to convince her she should not be sure? Was Damien willing to consider fighting for her himself? She imagined becoming his bride instead of Harold’s, and a part of her basked euphorically in the notion that it could happen, that she could be loved, truly loved, by her wild, black knight.
But no. She bristled. She should not fantasize about him that way. She should not want Damien to fight for her, because he was not the kind of man who could be a monogamous husband, devoted to only one woman. Any bride of his would surely suffer a lifetime of heartache.
“I’m sure,” she replied firmly. She would not let herself be carried away by a childish fantasy that had no basis in reality.
He slowly crossed the room, growing closer and closer until he was standing in front of her with only a foot of empty space between them.
Adele realized she was holding her breath. She had to consciously force herself to let it out slowly.
“I’ve spent the past hour killing myself wondering if I should tell Harold what just happened,” Damien said.
Startled by the suggestion, Adele blinked up at him.
“Don’t panic,” he continued. “I would never hurt him for the sake of easing my conscience. But I would hurt him to protect him.” He began to pace around the room. “He lacks experience with women, Adele. He’s innocent, and he’s naïve. What kind of wife will you be?”
The breath she’d been holding sailed out of her lungs in a single, thunderous heartbeat that shook her. So. He doubted her decency. Though a part of her was having doubts about it herself, her pride nevertheless bucked.
“Damien, I take great pride in my integrity, and I will not take my marriage vows lightly.”
“But when I kissed you, you kissed me back.” Adele raised her chin. “Maybe you’re not as strong as you think you are.” He took another slow and careful step toward her. “And that’s what worries me. My mother was not faithful to my father, and their marriage ended badly.”
He crowded her up against the wainscoting. God, she could smell him. She could see the rough texture of the stubble along his jaw. She could feel the size and the weight of him, as if he were on top of her, which in a way, he was.
“I will never be an unfaithful wife,” she said.
Breathing hard now, she gazed at his lips, so full, so soft-looking. Despite everything, she remembered what they felt like, what his tongue felt like inside her mouth. He was so much of a man. Strong and capable and powerful. He could fight and conquer the world for her if he wanted to.
But she did not want him to.
“You’re too close, Damien,” she said firmly, laboring to stay focused. Think of the mistresses. He’s not the knight of your dreams.
Damien’s eyes softened, and at long last, he stepped back. Adele grabbed hold of the windowsill beside her. He stared at her for a long, excruciating moment.
“Part of me wishes you were not so strong, Adele.”
“Not so strong? Why? So I would betray Harold and you could congratulate yourself for being right? So he would thank you and grovel to you for being his ever-faithful protector?”
Anger stirred within her, while she struggled to understand what didn’t make any sense.
He turned and walked to the door. “No. Because this would all be easier to bear if I could think badly of you.”
He did not look back. He simply walked out.
Adele collapsed into a chair and struggled to catch her breath. Easier to bear if I could think badly of you?
My Own Private Hero