• A Regency Romance Novel

    Amanda Sinclair is forced into a loveless marriage with a handsome but brooding earl. James Cavendish is in love with another woman, but no matter how hard he tries, he is unable to resist Amanda's charms. The morning after their wedding night, James returns to London, leaving Amanda at his Sussex estate. Taking the reigns in her hands, Amanda follows her husband, determined to win his heart and claim her status as his wife.
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  • Storm over Sussex Gainsborough Woodcutter's Cottage Sussex Woods in Spring Downsley Hall South Downs Rosewood Manor Rosewood Manor's Drawing Room Ancient Roman villa, mosaic tile floor, Sussex South Down Sheep Bottle feeding lambs

01 – Chapter One

Sussex, England

March 1813

James Cavendish, sixth Earl of Downsley, stood frozen in the doorway of the woodcutter’s cottage. The sight of the young woman undressing struck him with such physical force, he felt the air leave his lungs. He had stumbled upon the small hovel while seeking shelter from a sudden storm, and it was obviously not abandoned, as he had supposed from its neglected exterior.

The girl sat on the earthen floor in front of a stone hearth, unaware of his presence. Holding one shapely leg in the air, she rolled down a serviceable woolen stocking and dropped it beside her mud spattered shoes. The laces of her bodice trailed over her breasts, her wet chemise leaving nothing to the imagination.

Woozy from the large quantity of brandy he’d consumed, the earl swayed on his feet. The storm roiling within him matched the storm raging outside. Sweat beaded his forehead and his heart pounded a painful rhythm. He tried to speak, but could not, any rational thought having fled his brain. All his senses were focused on the girl and his body’s tightening response.

Lightning flashed and thunder followed, shaking the walls of the small cabin. James moved toward the girl as if in a trance, his boots scraping the floor. At the sound, she turned her head and gasped, her pupils dilating with fear.

Then she rose. The girl’s lithe figure nearly matched his own six foot height, and her wet gown clung to her like a second skin, leaving nothing to his imagination.

The earl checked his progress, his mouth instantly dry.

Surveying the homespun, butternut clothes drying by the fire, he classified her as a servant. Or perhaps she was a lady’s maid, since her air was dignified and regal. Her hazel eyes, tawny skin, freckles and damp hair – everything about her – reminded him of simple country pleasures and the earthen colors of autumn.

He smiled when he thought of a name for her. Mouse. A delectable country mouse.
Unlike many of his peers, James had never forced himself on girls of the lower classes, but he was sorely tempted to do so now. Perhaps a short but harmless dalliance with this enticing creature would help him forget why he had resisted returning to this godforsaken region for over seven years. They could pass away the time pleasantly as they waited for the storm to abate.

“What have we here?” he drawled as he stepped forward. “I thought to find this hut deserted.”

The girl backed away, poised for flight.

Desiring her fresh, natural beauty more than anything he ever had in his thirty-seven years, James strode directly to her, his gaze riveted on her splendid body.

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