The Forbidden Lord
Jordan Willis, the Earl of Blackmore, is known for his exploits with experienced bedmates and his avoidance of innocents. Having never been in love, he’s well earned the nickname: “Lord of the Granite Heart.” So you could forgive him for being caught off guard when a chance encounter with the prim Emily Fairchild, a rector’s daughter no less, prompts him to steal a kiss. Stunned by her passionate response, Jordan presumes their paths will not cross again when he meets the flirtatious Lady Emma, supposed daughter of a Scottish Earl… and a double for the lovely Emily.
Emily may be fooling society but she doesn’t fool Jordan. Yet her life depends on remaining Lady Emma to the ton. Can the Lord of the Granite Heart be trusted with her secret despite his jaded take on love?
- Romantic Times gave it a KISS Award (Knight in Shining Silver)
- Nominated for the Holt Medallion for Best Long Historical of 2000
- Nominated for the Booksellers Best Award for Best Long Historical of 2000
- Nominated for the Maggie Award for Best Historical of 2000
- Nominated for the Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence for Best Historical of 1999
“This is a fascinating tale of an innocent seductress who captivates the granite heart of an Earl and turns it to dust. Readers will be delighted with the quick-thinking heroine, as she attempts to outwit the villain and teach the hero that life is nothing without love.” —The Old Book Barn Gazette
“If I had to sum up The Forbidden Lord in one word it would be fun. This is a fun book. I cranked through three-quarters of it on a coast-to-coast flight and never once found myself wishing that the stewardess would feed me again.” —The Romance Reader
Of all the wretched luck, Emily Fairchild thought as Jordan, the Earl of Blackmore, waltzed her deftly through the throng of fashionably dressed lords and ladies. He wasn’t supposed to be here. Or recognize her. Or waltz with her. No, definitely not.
How could he remember her after spending less than an hour in her company two months ago? She’d been masked, for goodness sake, except for a few minutes. It had been dark. He shouldn’t remember her. Of course, there’d been that kiss they’d shared—
Goodness gracious, now she was turning red! Please, God, she prayed, don’t let him notice.
She might as well be howling at the moon. His dark eyes seemed to miss nothing, more was the pity. “I like making you blush, Emily.”
“Why do you persist in thinking I’m this Emily person?”
“You can lie to those others, but not to me. Why are you here pretending to be some deuced Scottish lady?”
She hated deceiving him, but she had no choice. “Lord Blackmore, your little joke has grown tedious. I don’t know why you keep confusing me with this Emily Fairfax creature.”
“Fairchild! Her name … your name is Fairchild, not Fairfax, as you damned well know!”
“You needn’t curse at me,” she chided automatically.
The flickering light from the candles overhead played over his gloating expression. “Seems I’ve heard you say that before—that night we were alone in a carriage.”
Dear heavens, she’d slipped up already. “I have no idea what you mean.”
His smug expression stayed firmly in place. “Come now, Emily, tell me what this is all about,” he demanded.
He would never believe her. How could he? He saw through the ridiculous pose they’d forced on her. Deception wasn’t in her nature.
Suddenly, Lady Dundee’s words came to her—Lady Emma is your masquerade, merely an amusement. It doesn’t change Emily Fairchild.
This was a masquerade, not a deception. And why did it matter if she lied to him? That night in the carriage, he’d made it quite clear she was nothing but a fleeting diversion. He too had played a role with her, saying sweet things to her when he knew all the time he never intended to see her again.
“I grow weary of this game, Lord Blackmore.” She cast him a frosty look. “Please find another.”
He glowered at her, but when she said nothing more, he set his lips into a determined line. “Very well. You force me to take more drastic action.”
She laughed coyly. “What shall you do to me? Torture me? Throw me in a dungeon until I say what you wish?”
For the first time that evening, he smiled, though most devilishly. Angels must cry every time he loosed that smile on unsuspecting women. “I can think of more pleasant ways to get the truth from you.”
Too late, she realized they were dancing along the edge of the room, where doors of cut crystal opened onto wide, marble balconies. Somehow he had maneuvered her there without her even noticing.
He danced her onto the balcony, then stopped. She tried to wriggle away, but he merely snaked his arm more tightly about her waist and dragged her toward the steps that led down into the garden.
“I thought you wanted to dance,” she bit out, though her heart was pounding loudly enough to be heard in China. “You behaved in a most rude manner to gain a waltz with me.”
“I require more than a waltz from you, as you well know. And for what I intend, we need privacy.”
Privacy. The last time they’d had privacy, he’d kissed her senseless. If he kissed her again, she was likely to fall apart and confess everything.
But Lady Emma wouldn’t balk at going into the garden with him. She was much too sure of herself to do such a ninny thing. Indeed, the woman would probably delight in a private assignation with an unmarried earl of Jordan’s consequence.
Centering her mind on that thought, she let him draw her down the stairs, her legs moving mechanically beside him. When they halted behind an oak that hid them from prying eyes, however, she nearly panicked. This was private.
“Now then, Emily.” He released her arm and faced her with the expression of an older brother chastising a child. “What do you have to tell me?”
The condescension in his voice provided her with a jolt of courage. How dared he treat her like some simpleton?
“I’m sure I wouldn’t know what to tell you. This is your little fantasy, Lord Blackmore.” Flipping open the ivory fan attached to her wrist by a slender cord, she worked it with languid motions. “A rector’s daughter? Is that who I’m supposed to be? I don’t guess you’d settle for a gypsy girl, would you? A rector’s daughter is such a tiresome role.”
Her reward was the stunned look on his face. “Deuce take it, woman,” he growled, grasping her shoulders roughly. “Stop this pretense! I know who you are!”
“Oh, I don’t think you do.” Casting him a flirtatious smile despite the somersaults in her stomach, she walked her fingers up his silky coat lapel. “If you really knew anything about me, you’d lose interest in this Emily person at once.”
He blinked, then scanned her again, as if to ascertain where he’d made his mistake. Then his face cleared, and his eyes narrowed dangerously. “You won’t mind if I determine the truth in the only way I can think of.”
“Oh? And how is that?”
His hands closed about her waist, drawing her hard against him. “Like this.” He lowered his head to hers. “By kissing you as I kissed her.”
She had no time to prepare herself before his mouth caught hers. Though she’d already half expected it, the touch of his lips came as a shock. It was exactly like that night in his carriage … the same dizzy pleasure stampeding over her restraints, the same hot, hard thrill linking her to the man forbidden to her. She melted and sizzled against him like butter in a hot pan.
But when his mouth left hers and he murmured “my sweet Emily” in a tone that left no doubt of his certainty, her heart sank. She was doing this all wrong. Emily Fairchild melted. Emma Campbell burned.
“It’s Emma,” she whispered to correct him. Then she boldly slid her arms about his neck and drew his head forcefully back for another kiss.
He went rigid at once, though he didn’t pull away. Remembering how he’d kissed her in the carriage, she opened her mouth and ever so lightly touched her tongue to his, then smoothed it along his unyielding lips in a repetition of his actions that night.
For a moment, she feared she’d gone too far. His body was rigid, frozen, as unyielding as an iceberg as she stood there on tiptoe, her mouth joined to his with embarrassing intimacy.
Then a growl erupted from his throat as he opened his mouth over hers, hungering, needy. Grasping hands anchored her against his taut, lean body, and his mouth began an assault so wild and furious it stunned her.
She rose to his kiss, a fever gripping her blood. It was easy to become Lady Emma, the bold half-Scottish lass. Forgotten was Emily Fairchild’s shy uncertainty and virgin manner, blown into the distance like a bit of goose down. He’d primed her for more, and it took only a tiny shove to thrust her over the edge into passion.
So when he drove his tongue deeply, she tangled her own with it, then went further, slipping her tongue between his open lips to explore the warm, silken dangers of his mouth. His kiss grew almost brutal, as if he couldn’t get enough of her. Over and over he devoured her mouth, and when that no longer seemed to satisfy him, he stamped hard, possessive kisses along her cheek and down her neck. His rough skin rasped against her, and his musky scent mingled with the flowery perfumes dancing in the garden air.
His hands roamed where they wished, gliding down her ribs and over the contours of her hips. No longer bound by any restraint, he left off kissing her neck to scatter kisses along her collar bone, then lower, along the neckline of her bodice until he reached the dip between her breasts.
She nearly pushed him away, surprised by his forwardness. Then she caught herself. Forcing herself to arch back, she allowed him to explore the inner curves of her breasts with his firm, knowing lips.
Pleasure pooled low in her belly like warm honey. Goodness gracious, why must wickedness be so delicious? The more his hot mouth caressed her, the more she wanted it against parts of her body that only some unnameable future husband should be allowed to touch. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. She was rapidly losing control of this battle.
Then his hand tugged at the ribbon-trimmed neck of her gown, edging it down the slope of one breast and shocking her to the core. Shoving hard against him, she backed out of his embrace and crossed her arms protectively over her bodice.
A thousand reproaches sprang to her lips as his gaze shot to hers, hard, male, and ravenous. Then she caught herself. Lady Emma wouldn’t reproach a man for being a man.
It took all her will to paste a coy smile on her lips and lower her hands from her chest. “I doubt your Emily could ever kiss like that, Lord Blackmore.”
She fervently prayed that the dim light dappling the garden walks hid the full effects of their encounter. If he could hear her pulse beating triple-time or see her desperate attempts to draw air into her lungs, he’d know at once she wasn’t truly a flirt.
Thankfully, he didn’t seem to notice. As he stepped toward her, his expression slid from hot desire to pure astonishment.
Quickly, she caught up her fan. Brandishing it playfully in front of her, she danced away. “That’s enough of that, my lord. I think I’ve proven sufficiently that I’m not this rector’s daughter of yours.” When he merely continued to gape at her, she added, warming to her role, “If you’ll excuse me, I’d best return to the ball before my mother finds me being naughty again.”
“Again?” he choked out.
“Surely you don’t think you’re the first man I’ve kissed, do you? I may be half-English, but I’m half-Scottish, too. And in Scotland, ladies are much more free to…um…enjoy themselves.”
The look on his face was priceless. Lady Dundee was right. Flirting with a man—especially one who’d once nearly tossed her out of a carriage in his eagerness to get rid of her—was enormously satisfying.
Turning her back to him, she cast him one last teasing look over her shoulders. “But don’t worry. You rank with the best of the men I’ve kissed, I assure you.” Then she strolled away, smiling to herself in triumph.