If you are new to TBRG then you need to know that I (Heather) am a Stephanie Laurens addict. I own all of her books and have read them more than once. So when I got to review her new book The Lady Risks All I was super excited. Especially as he was a fairly new character. When Helen and I were planning out the snippets for the rest of the year I insisted that we do a snippet from this book. Roscoe the hero has made an appearance in The Edge of Desire and The Reckless Bride.
An irritating, irrational sense of failure over not being able to ease her agitation, her frustration—her fear—continued to eat at him through the four-course meal, then followed him up the stairs and into the suite’s sitting room.
He’d hoped she would retire, retreat to her room and her bed, so he could retreat to his, but no. She marched to thetrack she was well on her way to wearing in the carpet and fell to pacing once more, back and forth before the twin windows and the table between.
Back and forth; forth and back.
Halting inside the suite’s door, he stood silently watching her.
A small sound escaped her; when next she swung around, she’d raised her fist, pressed her knuckle to her lips.
He stalked forward and, facing her, blocked her path. For an instant he thought she might try to mow him down, but at the last second she came to a quivering halt with no more than six inches between her bodice and his coat.
Raising her head, she frowned at him. “What?”
He looked into hazel eyes awash with anxiety, provoked by nebulous, imagined fears. She was held captive by those lurking terrors. He had to break their hold. “What can I do to distract you?”
She blinked, then her eyes, her whole expression, cleared.
“This.” Like a drowning man reaching for a lifeline, she lifted one hand, cupped his nape, stretched up, set her lips to his, and kissed him.
The pressure of her lips wavered, suddenly unsure.
His restraint collapsed; instinct took over. One hand cupped her face, tipped her lips to his, and he kissed her back.
Holding her steady, he returned the caress, extended it.
She was right; this would distract her. This was possibly the only thing that could, the only interaction sufficiently powerful to cut through her worry and fear, and for however many minutes focus her mind on something else.
On something pleasurable.
So he gave her what she wanted and kissed her again; as before, he found it easy, so easy to dive into the exchange, to feed her demand and satisfy his own, that prowling hunger that rose through him, evoked, provoked by her need.
Her lips were a delight, lush and luscious, pliant and captivating; savoring them, exploring the delectable curves, was a bounty he gladly claimed.
Wits whirling, Miranda clung to the fascinating exchange, to the promise, the allure—to him. She dropped all pretense; this was what she needed, what she craved. What she longed to explore.
This side of life. This side of her.
Only with him had she ever even sensed it—ever seen or felt it enough to be sure of its existence, let alone explore it. Just this, with him, was enough to grow intrigued enough to yearn to discover what it was to be with a man.
He, with this, opened the door to a novel landscape, one to which, for her, only he held the key. With no other man had she ever experienced that telltale frisson, the tug on her senses, that ineluctable focus of awareness.
His lips moved on hers with persuasive command. On a suppressed shudder—of excitement, of sharp anticipation—she parted her lips, shivered to her soul when his tongue cruised the curves, then dipped within. And stroked.
He supped. There was no other word for it; a gentle but inexorable drinking in, an exploration laced with a subtle claiming.
Then he angled his head over hers, snared her senses, and drew them deeper.
Into an exchange that evoked heat, and desire, and a burgeoning more primitive wanting.
To her senses he was all dark heat, masculine strength, and male hardness; she kissed him back, gave him back caress for caress, driven by a swelling compulsion.
And he returned the pleasure.
For uncounted moments the kiss spun on, driven first by him, then by her. Eventually by them both, by the heatedmating of their mouths, the hot mingling of their breaths, the evocative, provocative tangling of their tongues.
She was dimly aware of his arm sliding about her waist, of him drawing her closer . . . a flash of sensation, a flush of warmth cascading through her as her curves met his muscled heat. The blatant strength of him surrounded her, reassured and comforted in some strange way, but also held a wordless promise. A primal one some equally instinctive part of her understood.
Through the hand that had fallen to grip his upper arm she could feel the steel in him, feel the increasing tension that even to her untutored senses spoke of rising desire. Of reined passion.
She sank against him, into him, lured by his heat. His arms tightened, gathering her closer still; the hard ridge of his erection pressed against the soft swell of her stomach.
And some never before recognized part of her sang.
He wanted her.
And she wanted him.
She yearned to know more, all, everything her twenty-nine-year-old self had thought forever denied her.
With no other man had she ever felt like this, would she ever feel like this—emboldened and sure, and so wanting.
And if wishing to hold her worries over Roderick at bay added another dimension to her rising desperation . . . did that matter?
Leaning into his embrace, she raised both hands, framed his face, and held him anchored as she kissed him—as She poured every last ounce of her newfound yearning into issuing a demand, a command . . . a blatant invitation.
He read it, understood it. She felt the leap of his pulse, sensed the flash of tension that turned his body to iron. He kissed her back, hard, with his own far more flagrant, more explicit demand. Accepting her invitation, he devoured her mouth and sent her senses soaring—Abruptly, he reined back.
On a gasp, he broke the kiss and raised his head.
Heart pounding, senses reeling, she stared, stunned, into his shadowed face. He still held her in his arms, locked against him from breast to knees. His back was to the lamplight, his features unreadable, but the sound of his breathing was sharp, harsh, a mirror of her own breathless, giddy state, itself a counterpoint to the rapid cadence of her pulse.
“No.” The word was weak, distant; she wasn’t sure if he was speaking to himself or her. Then his jaw firmed, along with his tone. “We can’t go any further.”
Her wits were disconnected, distracted with need, her thoughts in utter disarray. “Why not?”
His dark eyes fixed on hers. After a moment, he said, “Because I won’t take advantage of you, and that’s what it would be.”
She wanted him and he wanted her. Pressed against him, she couldn’t doubt the latter, and she was perfectly certain about the former. She wanted to go forward and learn more.
“I can’t see why—”
He opened his arms and stepped back, briefly steadied her, then released her and turned away. “I’m no cad.”
She frowned. “I didn’t imagine you were.”
“And what sort of man sets out to rescue a friend and seduces his sister along the way?”
“This has nothing to do with Roderick.” She lifted her chin. “This is about me.” She was somewhat stunned to realize that was true.
Roscoe glanced at her, took in her challenging stance, her aggravated gaze. Absorbing the sincerity in her tone, he reconsidered for all of a second, but. . . . he inclined his head.
“That only makes our position clearer. You are who you are, and I am who I am. There is, therefore, no sense in taking this interaction any further.”
He was as certain of that as he was of his real name.
This couldn’t lead anywhere. Anywhere he wanted to go.
He didn’t want to argue the point. He turned away, toward the door to his room.
“Wait.” Uncertainty and faint disbelief echoed in her voice.
Heaving an inward sigh, he turned back, arched a brow.
Spine poker-straight, she met his eyes. “You’re rejecting my invitation, which you quite clearly understood?”
Lips firming, he held her gaze, let a moment tick by, then stated, “I’m not rejecting you. I’m refusing to be such a cad as to take advantage of you, no matter your offer.” Refusing to become more deeply ensnared by a woman who didn’t fit into his world any more than he fitted into hers.
He saw a pale reflection of the frustration he felt flare in her eyes. Her jaw tightened, her diction tart as she bit off the words, “That wasn’t any senseless offer. It was a deliberate invitation—I know what I’m doing.”
“Indeed?” He studied her face. “So tell me”—he trapped her eyes, her stormy green-gold gaze—“why do you want me in your bed?”
Miranda ached to open her mouth and trump his challenge with a blisteringly irrefutable answer, but her wits re-fused to provide one. Why? Why did he think? Why was he asking? What did he expect her to say?
Miranda Clifford is a lady imprisoned by rigid respectability – until tempted by a passion beyond her power to deny.
Flung together in peril, through danger and intrigue, they discover a love impossible to ignore … or keep.