The Devil in Winter
New York Times Bestseller
A devil's bargain
Easily the shyest Wallflower, Evangeline Jenner stands to become the wealthiest, once her inheritance comes due. Because she must first escape the clutches of her unscrupulous relatives, Evie has approached the rake Viscount St. Vincent with a most outrageous proposition: marriage!
Sebastian's reputation is so dangerous that thirty seconds alone with him will ruin any maiden's good name. Still, this bewitching chit appeared, unchaperoned, on his doorstep to offer her hand. Certainly an aristocrat with a fine eye for beauty could do far worse.
But Evie's proposal comes with a condition: no lovemaking after their wedding night. She will never become just another of the dashing libertine's callously discarded broken hearts -- which means Sebastian will simply have to work harder at his seductions...or perhaps surrender his own heart for the very first time in the name of true love.
Here's an excerpt:
Evie Jenner has entered into a marriage of convenience with the notoriously promiscuous rake Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. Despite their agreement to maintain separate beds, St. Vincent finds it nearly impossible to stay away from his shy but stubborn wife. Not long after their wedding, he tries to bargain with Evie for her favors . .
"All right," Sebastian said huskily. "I agree to your terms. I'll be . . . monogamous." He seemed to have a bit of difficulty with the last word, as if he were trying to speak a foreign language.
"I don't believe you."
"Good God, Evie! Do you know how many women have tried to obtain such a promise from me? And now, the first time I'm willing to take a stab at fidelity, you throw it back in my face. I admit I've had a prolific history with women--"
"Promiscuous," Evie corrected.
"Promiscuous, debauched, whatever you want to call it. I've had a hell of a good time and I'll be damned if I say I'm sorry for it. I've never bedded an unwilling woman. Nor, to my knowledge, did I leave anyone unsatisfied."
"That's not the point." A frown creased her forehead. "I don't blame you for your past . . . or, at least . . . I'm not trying to punish you for it." Ignoring his skeptical snort, she continued, "But it doesn't make you an especially good candidate for fidelity, does it?"
His tone was surly as he replied. "What do you want of me? An apology for being a man? A vow of celibacy until you've decided I'm worthy of your favors?
Struck by the question, Evie stared at him.
Women had always come far too easily to Sebastian. If she made him wait for her, would he lose interest? Or was it possible they might come to know each other, understand each other, in an entirely new way? She longed to find out if he could come to value her in ways beyond the physical. She wanted the chance to be something more than a mere bed partner to him.
"Sebastian . . ." she asked carefully, "have you ever made a sacrifice for a woman?"
He looked like a sullen angel as he turned to face her, leaning his broad shoulders against the wall, one knee slightly bent. "What kind of sacrifice?"
"Any kind at all."
"What is the longest period of time you've ever gone without . . . without . . ." She floundered for an acceptable phrase. ". . . making love?"
"I never call it that," he said. "Love has nothing to do with it."
"How long?" she persisted.
"A month, perhaps."
She thought for a moment. "Then . . . if you would forswear intercourse with all women for six months . . . I would sleep with you afterward."
"Six months?" Sebastian's eyes widened, and then he threw her a scornful glance. "Sweetheart, what gives you the idea that you're worth a half-year of celibacy?"
"I may not be," Evie said. "You're the only one who can answer that."
It was obvious that Sebastian would have loved to have informed her that she wasn't worth waiting for. However, as his gaze traveled over her, Evie saw the unmistakable glow of lust in his eyes. He wanted her badly.
"It's impossible," he snapped.
"Because I'm Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. I can't be celibate. Everyone knows that."
He was so arrogant, and indignant, that Evie had to gnaw on the insides of her lips to keep from laughing. She struggled to master her amusement, and finally managed to say calmly, "Surely it wouldn't harm you to try."
"Oh, yes it would!" His jaw hardened as he labored to explain. "You're too inexperienced to understand, but . . . some men are possessed of a far greater sexual drive than others. I happen to be one of them. I can't go for long periods of time without--" He broke off impatiently as he saw her expression. "Damn it, Evie, it's unhealthy for a man not to release his seed regularly."
"Three months," she said, "and that's my final offer."
"Then go find another woman," she said flatly.
"I want you. Only you. The devil knows why." Sebastian glared at her, his eyes narrowing into hot, brilliant slits. "I should force you. You have no legal right to refuse me your bed."
Evie's heart stopped, and she felt herself blanch. But she would not shrink from him. Something inside demanded that she stand up to him as an equal. "Go on, then," she challenged coolly. "Force me." She saw the flicker of surprise in his eyes. His throat worked, but he remained silent. And then . . . she understood. "You can't," she said in wonder. "You would never have raped Lillian. You were only bluffing. You could never force a woman." A faint smile rose to her lips. "You're not nearly the villain you pretend to be."
"Yes I am!" Sebastian seized her and kissed her angrily, stabbing his tongue inside her, assaulting her mouth with his own. Evie didn't resist him. She closed her eyes and let him do as he wished, and soon he was groaning and kissing her with a tender passion that wrung pleasure from every nerve. By the time he lifted his head, they were both shaking.
"Evie . . ." His voice was hoarse. "Don't ask this of me."
Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas. Avon, $7.99 (384p) ISBN 006056251X
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