Borderland Beauty by Samantha Holt
I’m pleased to feature the talented and prolific Samantha Holt today. Samantha writes medieval romances, including the delightful Borderland Legacy series. Borderland Beauty is book 2 in the series:
Lord Dominic is in need of a wife. With the reivers, the wild and dangerous criminals that haunt the borderlands, breathing down his neck and his brother now married, he needs a strong woman by his side. So when he finds out about an old marriage contract between him and his neighbour’s daughter, he vows to give the mysterious woman a chance. Upon meeting the beautiful, feisty maiden, he vows to make her his wife.
Lucy Montgomery wants nothing to do with the arrogant lord. She doesn’t understand his interest in her. Surely a man like Dominic could never fall for a woman like her. Hurt by the past, she refuses to believe that she is anything more than a game to him. If only she didn’t find him quite so charming.
Can Dominic persuade Lucy that she is more than just another woman to him? And with the reivers growing bolder, are there worse dangers than Lucy saying ‘Nay’?
Running a finger over the leather spines, she studied the titles. Dominic went back to his ledger, the faint sound of his quill scratching against the parchment setting her senses on edge. Some were well worn and she pictured Dominic thumbing through them. How odd that she could never have imagined him as a man that enjoyed scholarly pursuits before, but now the image suited him perfectly. Now she knew him better.
“Tristan and Iseult…” she murmured. “I did not take you for a romantic soul.”
“You think it a romance? I think it a tragedy.”
Lucy stared at him. “A tragedy? Nay, dying for love must surely be the most romantic act of all.”
“And here I did not think you a romantic soul. But now I know the key to your heart.” Dominic regarded her with a twist of his lips. “I should die to secure it.”
“I cannot deny I would wish to secure your body along with it, but I should very much like to capture your heart first.”
She gulped. Her heart? Could he hear it pounding with his every word? First he wanted her to believe that he lusted after her body — a stretch of the imagination, aye, but mayhap he really did — and now he expected her to believe he wanted her heart?
“You-you are mocking me?”
He sighed but his grin remained. “Do I look like I am jesting?”
Grabbing the book, she clutched it to her chest as she studied him, as if the book could offer some form of protection against his bold stare. Indeed, in spite of the twitch of his lips, his eyes remained deadly serious.
“Think you that I shall fall into your bed when you speak of my heart?”
Releasing a mocking laugh, Dominic threw down his quill. She jolted back as his chair screeched and he stood abruptly, but he didn’t approach. Instead he came around the desk and perched on it, his arms crossed across his chest.
“Nay, Lucy, I do not think you so simple as to come to my bed because of a few artless words. Indeed, I would prefer it you came to me without coercion or seduction. I would tear up our contract if I did not fear it would put an end to the scant hold I have over you.”
She quivered at his words. Why did Dominic having a ‘hold’ over her seem so appealing all of a sudden? Mayhap because she was weak and foolish. After all he had put her through, the self-doubt, the taunts…did they count for nothing?
Pulling her chin up, she affected a cool look. “I will be bound to no man.”
“‘Tis a shame, lass, for I am bound to you. The hold you have over me is surely far more than that of a marriage contract.”
Shaking her head, she drew back toward the door. “I thank you for the book,” she mumbled.
Leaping forward, Dominic strode over and snatched at her arm before she could escape. She sucked in a sharp breath as his fingers seared through her sleeve.
“Is that all you have to say?”
“What more can I say? I remain here at my mother’s behest. I know not what your fascination is with me, for you have surely met more beautiful, more accomplished women, so I can only assume that it is the thrill of the chase that drives you. I’d wager many women succumb to your charms readily, but let me assure you Lord Dominic, I am not one of them. I will not marry you. You would do better to forget this ridiculous contract and pursue another.”
Dominic cast his gaze over her, apparently considering her words. A sharp jolt of disappointment speared through her as he released his grip on her and stepped back.
Shaking his head, he chuckled unexpectedly. “You speak these words well, my lady, but your eyes betray you. I shall have you as my wife, Lucy Montgomery.”