WINNER of the Romantic Times Bookclub Reviewers Choice Award for 2005.
WINNER of the Bookbuyers' Best Award for 2005.
WINNER of the Booksellers' Best Award for 2005.
"It takes a talented author to segue from a lighthearted tale of seduction to an emotionally powerful romance that plays a darker tune on your heartstrings. MacLean is more than up to the task with this very special, powerful read."
4½ stars - Top Pick - Kathe Robin, Romantic Times Magazine
"Sweeps you off your emotional feet." Stella MacLean, The Chronicle Herald
American Heiress Series Book Four
Being raised in a strict, humorless household did nothing to dampen Lady Lily Langdon's romantic nature -- nor cool her lifelong affection for Edward Wallis, Earl of Whitby, her elder brother's oldest, dearest friend. But Edward cannot see the lovely woman she's become for the wild schoolgirl she once was. So with lessons in flirtation from her American sister-in-law, Duchess Sophia, Lily means to open Edward's eyes and win his heart.
But just when her seduction begins to take hold, tragedy strikes. Edward has lived a rakish life, believing he would never grow old -- and a terrible twist of fate threatens to prove him right. Yet adversity only strengthens Lily's resolve to find the ecstasy she knows is waiting in Edward's arms -- and to prove to the handsome, haunted earl that it is never too late to fall desperately in love.
Read an excerpt...
(Lily has just tiptoed into Lord Whitby's bedchamber, and has taken a seat next to his bed... )
She continued to hold his warm hand in hers, running her thumb over his firm knuckles, relishing again the simple fact that she was here alone with him, gazing into his eyes. She had never felt a greater longing in all her life. She felt as if her insides were being pulled painfully from her body. She wanted so desperately to touch all of him.
He stroked her hand in return and sat up slightly, still waiting with curious eyes. "Whitby," she whispered.
Something in his eyes changed. He knew what she was feeling, he could see it, and apprehension passed like a cold breeze over his face.
"No, Lily," he said, and she heard a gentle warning in his voice. He was telling her not to do this. Not to express what she was about to express. Not just that. He was telling her not to feel it.
Tears filled her eyes, and when she looked into the depths of his, she saw only his continuing warning, telling her no.
"I can't help it," she said firmly. "I've never been able to help it. I've tried. Honestly I have."
"I'm not the man for you," he said. "I'm a worthless rake."
"You're not worthless."
"Yes, I am. I've never been faithful to any one woman, I drink too much and gamble too much. I neglect my duties as a landlord, my estate is a bloody mess - and now I'm probably dying. I'm not the one for you, Lily. You deserve better."
She lowered her head to rest on his hand. "I don't want anyone else."
She couldn't believe she was saying it. His fingers moved over her hair. She could feel the apology in his touch.
"Why did you never tell me this?"
She lifted her head to look at him. "I couldn't. You always considered me a child, and you were always with other women and barely ever noticed my presence."
"That's not true. I've always cared for you."
"Like a sister," she said, her heart burning in her chest.
"Yes." His tone was firm.
She was breathing hard now, as if she were climbing a steep hill. But she would not give up. "Even this week? When we spoke in the drawing room? I sensed there was something more than a brotherly regard. I began to hope..."
"No," he replied, cutting her off.
For a long moment she sat there, trying to accept this, but she could not. She loved him. She breathed deeply, working hard to calm the ferocity of her emotions and the violence of her need for him. She closed her eyes and laid her cheek on his hand again, realizing that love combined with sexual desire was a fierce and potent thing. It was pummeling her standards and morals. Right now, she would settle for being one of the many women he would casually bed. But she knew he would never treat her that way.
As she sat there with her cheek on his hand, stroking his index finger with her thumb, her whole body pounded and quaked with a fiery, passionate yearning. Then she remembered what she had originally planned to say to him, but hadn't. She had wanted to offer to give him an heir.
It seemed impossible now. And foolish. He would never agree. Feeling all hope slip away like a flower floating downstream, she touched her lips to the back of his hand. She kissed it slowly, achingly, again and again until she heard herself make a sound - a sigh, a tiny breath of sensual pleasure.
She continued to kiss his hand, making a trail to his wrist, then slowly up the firm bands of muscle on his forearm. He did not stop her, which surprised her, so she continued to take all she could from this strange, desperate joy... from kissing him at last, after all these years dreaming of it.
"Lily," he whispered gently.
But she did not want to listen. She loved him.
Her hungry mouth reached the inside of his elbow, and she slid her hands up to push the loose cuff of his nightshirt upward and out of the way. Eyes closed, she kissed the soft skin there and felt gooseflesh beneath her fingertips on his forearm. She waited for the word "stop" to come, and when it did, she would obey. She would put all this foolishness to rest and accept that he did not return her feelings. Because she could not force him to love her. But he did not say stop. He said nothing.
When the rejection did not come, she felt as if she'd been given a gift - another moment of this bliss. Her body, feeling warm and supple, tingled all over with a sensual delight she had known only when she was alone in her bed, dreaming of him. Dreaming of doing this and so much more.
She daringly parted her lips and tasted the inside of his arm with the tip of her tongue. She kissed and gently suckled the tendons in the juncture between his forearm and upper arm. Then she heard him whisper: "God, Lily, you really need to stop doing that."
Love According to Lily