Elizabeth Thornton is left all alone in Georgian England after losing her parents in a tragic accident, so she travels to Cornwall to live with her kindly, older, and very proper Aunt Judith. Soon, however, she begins to suspect her aunt of hiding something nefarious. Determined to learn the truth behind the strange goings on, she sets out on a quest for the truth. A quest that leads to danger, and trouble with the law, and a very handsome smuggler with a firm hand and smoldering, sexy eyes who is as determined to keep Elizabeth safe as she seems to be to put herself in harm’s way.
William is growing tired of the smuggler’s life of danger and instability. If he can just finish his last run, he can give it all up and finally settle down, find love, and start a family. But he already has a preventative officer hot on his heels who is determined to end his career and throw him in jail – or worse. The beautiful, headstrong Elizabeth is a complication he does not need. But she, too, is hot on his heels – and irresistible. Now he must avoid capture, and find time to discipline this woman with an appetite for adventure, who seems determined to steal his heart.
When these two are together passions ignite, sparks fly, and danger lurks around every corner. Can Elizabeth and William avoid the law? Will they finally find the happiness that has so long eluded them both?
****Excerpts from Smuggler’s Bounty****
She closed the library door and immediately went over to the fireplace with her lantern.
She managed to light the candle in it with the tinder box she’d been given and then pulled on the fire poker once more. The entrance slid open and she ducked down to go inside. She was so keen to explore that she didn’t consider that it might be dangerous, and simply stepped into the tunnel. There was a catch just inside the tunnel that closed the door behind her.
Elizabeth took a deep breath and walked forward with her lantern lighting the way. The tunnel was all wooden paneling at first and so she thought she must still be inside the house. But she soon came to some steps that led a long way down. Then she had to be careful, holding the lantern and her skirts up around her as she made her way carefully down them. When she reached the bottom, the walls were roughly hewn rock and she felt that thrill of adventure again as she realized that she must be underground somewhere.
Elizabeth was so preoccupied with her thoughts that it was a complete shock when she was suddenly grabbed from the side. She dropped her lantern with a shriek and the glass casing smashed. The candle sputtered out and she was left in complete darkness with the man who had grabbed her. He covered her mouth to stop her cries and held her tightly against him.
Elizabeth kicked and struggled in panic before biting hard into the hand that covered her mouth. The man swore but held onto her.
“Curiosity killed the cat, sweetness,” the man purred into her ear, causing her neck hairs to stand on end. “And if you bite me again you little hell cat, I’ll bite back.”
She shivered in fear, and something else she’d rather not admit to, at the sound of that voice. It was the handsome smuggler from last night – the leader. Although Elizabeth was scared of what he might do with her for meddling, she hoped that she could reason with him, especially if she let him know who her aunt was. However, all coherent thought stopped as he ran a hand over her body.
“I’d better check you for weapons.” It was whispered into her ear and she gasped as her nipples tightened in response to him. His hand ran quickly over her chest, briefly squeezing her full breasts through her gown and she was almost disappointed that it didn’t linger. Instead it moved quickly down, over her stomach and then back up over each of her arms.
“Do I need to check under your skirts, girl? Do you have a weapon strapped to a shapely leg perhaps?”
Elizabeth gulped and shook her head violently. Please don’t let him check there.
He removed his hand from her mouth so that she could speak.
“No.” Her voice came out as a squeak. “Please… I haven’t got any weapons.”
For a moment the man just held her against his hard chest and she felt like swooning.
He was so overwhelming. But then he pulled her into a strange little niche in the rocks that had been converted into a small room. He let her go while he shut the door behind him. The room was well lit by candles and she saw a desk strewn with papers in front of her before she whirled around to face him. She looked at him defiantly then almost gasped aloud at the devastating effect of the man up close. He really was gorgeously made.
“What are you going to do with me?” she asked nervously, licking her lips and unintentionally drawing his eyes to their moist softness.
“What are you doing?” she asked alarmed. She stepped back.
William relished the uncertainty in her voice and followed her. “Satisfying my curiosity about something.” And suddenly he pulled her hard against his chest.
“Oh.” She squeaked breathlessly, and he enjoyed the little sound before he crushed her lips with his. He kissed her hard and hungrily to punish her for making him want her, capturing her surprised and indignant moans into his mouth. One hand held her chin and he used it to angle her face better, so that he could kiss her more thoroughly. William gathered her tighter against him and his mouth softened. He sipped at her sweet mouth before his tongue slowly delved inside and he groaned at the taste of her. His cock hardened and demanded release, but William managed to pull back. He had to stop this before it got out of control and he really did end up tupping the girl. He didn’t want that. She was Judith’s niece for Christ’s sake, not some servant.
“Now I know what those lips of yours taste like,” he told her huskily. “You taste of the sweetest strawberries.”
Elizabeth was sagged against him still, her small hands flat on his open shirted chest. She looked dazed, pupils large in her eyes, her face flushed and her lips swollen and ripe from being thoroughly kissed by him. If she kept looking at him like that with an innocent passion, William would take up where he left off.
Then she came to her senses and pulled back, stepping away from him in horror. She wiped at her mouth in disgust. “How dare you touch me like that!”
He grinned unrepentantly. “You deserved it, you meddlesome wench. You shouldn’t have such a kissable mouth.”
Elizabeth blushed and glared furiously at him. “I’ve had better kisses off gentlemen.”
William narrowed his eyes. He was quite sure she hadn’t and was merely trying to deflate his ego. However, she had issued a challenge he couldn’t ignore. He reached out and pulled her back against his chest, loving how her soft curves molded to him. “I’m never one to let the lady go unsatisfied.”
“Your niece doesn’t mind you being involved with smuggling then?”
“No. She’s a very open minded and intelligent young lady.”
“And she’s aware of the danger – willing to lie to preventative men on our behalf?”
Judith smiled. “Nothing fazes my niece. In fact, we hope to get the name of the informer for you. Elizabeth and I have been invited to a dance at Squire Croft’s four night’s hence and Captain Albury is certain to attend. Elizabeth loathed him on sight but she’s bravely volunteered to flirt and dance with him and try to discover the informant’s name.”
Had she indeed? Judith looked so pleased at the fact that Elizabeth was trying to help him, whereas William could barely stop from growling at the thought of her in somebody else’s arms. He didn’t want her flirting with that bastard. “And where is your niece?” he asked deceptively softly. “I’d like to thank her for her efforts.”
“Oh, she’s gone down to look at the caves.” Judith was blissfully unaware of his rising temper. “I mentioned them last night and she headed towards the cliff path that leads down to the beach after breakfast. She’s so inquisitive.”
Yes, too inquisitive.
“Would you mind if I went and met her?”
What had he told the disobedient beauty would happen if she ventured into the tunnel and the smuggler’s domain again? Clearly the bold chit didn’t believe him and he was furious at her defiance. This time she was going to be punished.
Judith, clearly hopeful of a romantic connection between her niece and William smiled eagerly at him. “Yes. You go and introduce yourself, William. I don’t want her alone in those caves anyway.”
He felt a bit guilty that he was going to be the danger to her niece that she was worried about but by god the girl needed to know that she couldn’t just go where she wanted with smugglers about. William clenched his jaw. “Leave it to me, Judith. I’ll take good care of her.” He walked over to the fireplace and pulled the poker to open the hidden entrance. Then he grabbed the lantern he’d come with and headed into the dark tunnel.
William looked all around the small beach and then he saw a pile of clothing at one end. Where the hell was the annoying girl? And then he saw her in the water and his heart stopped. “God’s teeth!” Was she trying to drown herself? What person would voluntarily go into the sea like that? “I’d better fetch her out.” Obviously, she didn’t know what powerful under currents there were around this cove. He ran to the water’s edge, but then she emerged from the waves in just a long sleeved shift clinging to her lovely body and his eyes greedily took in the sight.
Merciful Zeus. The soaking wet and sheer material offered her no cover whatsoever and he sighed at the sight of long shapely limbs before his eyes travelled up to see the raven curls between her legs, her womanly hips, small waist, and lush breasts. The fact that she was wearing the totally inadequate shift as some ridiculous attempt to preserve her modesty was somehow more arousing for him than if she was naked.
“I thought I told you what I’d do to you if I caught you down here again, Elizabeth?” he rasped out and watched in satisfaction as she jumped at the sound of his voice. She looked up with wide eyes and vainly tried to cover her breasts and sex with her hands. “William!” Her voice was breathless in surprise, embarrassment and more than a little dismay.
Good. The chit realized that she was in deep trouble.
“I’m waiting,” he growled. “What did I say would happen?”
Despite her vulnerable state, her chin came up and her blue eyes glared defiantly at him. “You didn’t mention the beach specifically. And I shall go where I like.”
God, she was provoking. He clenched his teeth. “Come here, Elizabeth.”
She simply glared back at him. “No.” And she continued to stand in the shallows, one arm crossed over her breasts and her other hand placed over her sex.
“No?” William was incredulous. How dare she ignore his command?
“You have no right to lay your hands on me,” she told him. “So just go away and let me dress in peace.” Blue eyes continued to glare defiantly at him.
“You think I will not come in the water after you, girl?”
Elizabeth blinked at him but then looked at his pristine boots and must have thought she was safe. “And ruin your boots?”
It was her scoffing that did it. William smiled, before he surged into the water and grabbed her. He slung her over his shoulder before she had time to react. Then he turned and strode out of the water with her, gripping her thighs firmly when she began to struggle and pummel his back with her fists.
“Let me go. You can’t do this!” she cried.
Too late. She’d had fair warning.
William left the water and walked up the beach with her. “I can,” he told her and slapped her bottom when she continued to hit him. “Stop hitting me, Elizabeth and I might go easy on you.”
Her response was an indignant squawk when he smacked her. Then she hit him harder and kicked more fiercely. “Go to hell!”
William gritted his teeth. By god, she was going to get some extra strokes for this. He looked around the deserted little beach. Should he do it here? Sit on a rock and put her over his knee? No. He was better off taking her to his room in the tunnel – for some privacy.
Smuggler’s Bounty available here.
Taming the Spy is next in the quartet.