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Violet Musgrave is used to getting her heart broken. At aged ten Thomas Mackenzie told her he could not court her as his father said they were too young. At four and ten Violet was told she kissed like a slimy fish. Men had let her down for too long so the last thing she was going to do was fall for her dearest friend.
And an utter rake.
Duke Cameron makes no apologies for the way he lives his life. No one ever gets hurt so long as they all know his rule—one night and nothing more. He’s no fool. He knows he cannot give Violet what she deserves.
The trouble is, Violet makes him want to tear that rule asunder.
After danger brings them closer than ever to one another, he finds himself questioning that rule. But is it really worth risking their friendship over an attraction that could prove far too distracting and maybe even fatal?
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Excerpt from Loves Of An Earl’s Daughter by Samantha Holt
Despite her romantic tendencies, Violet was never one for admiring the male form.
Until it was up on a ladder and wearing only trousers and a shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbow.
Her mouth dried. It wasn’t that she did not find men attractive—it was just that she had counselled herself long ago to ignore any advantages of their outer appearance. It was too easy to believe they might be just as wonderful inside as they were outside. Unfortunately, she couldn’t quite recall her strict rules about admiring men right now.
Duke hadn’t spotted her. He tussled with the long length of greenery that had been carefully threaded with ribbons and dried berries. She caught the tentativeness of his movement whilst he fought to drape it over the huge painting of a sunset in Venice. There were no endless paintings of ancestors in the Musgrave household due to Violet’s father growing up poor, but her father had made up for it by purchasing many paintings from artists he reckoned would be exceedingly popular one day. He was usually never wrong.
She caught herself staring at his rear and flicked her gaze upward. Who knew if that was better. As he moved, muscles flexed against his shirt, and she fought the very real need to sigh. This was dangerous. If she continued down this path, their friendship would be in tatters by the time Christmas was over.
As would her heart. Marmaduke Cameron was not the sort of man to stay, and she was the sort of woman to remain loyal to the core.
He grunted and flung the greenery over the corner of the gilded frame, but it dropped, and he cursed under his breath.
“Do you really think you should be doing such a thing in your condition?”
He jolted, wavered for a moment, and gripped the final rung of the ladder. “Good Lord, woman, are you trying to kill me?”
“Not at all. We both know you are invincible.”
He twisted to eye her and smirked. His dimple emerged and that awful desire to sigh bubbled up again. After this, she would need to give herself a stern talking to.
“We do have servants to do that you know.” She motioned to the decoration in his hand. “And none of them just suffered broken ribs.”
“The majority were bruises I believe,” Duke pointed out. “And if I sit around any longer, I may well go mad.”
“I thought your correspondence had been delivered here. Surely you have work you can do?”
He scowled and the dimple vanished. “I’m waiting for word from one of the many investigators I have contacted. I can hardly focus on work.”
“Well, you could just let me continue with my investigation…” Violet gripped the ladder to stabilize it and focused on the worn wooden rungs.
How interesting that there were so many chips and scratches in it. Supremely interesting. Far more interesting than, say, the man above her. Where had Duke even found it? She pictured the servants scurrying around in search of a ladder with a smile.
Then she looked up again. Warmth rose in her chest. Blast, what a mistake. The ladder…all she had to do was look at it and think about the ladder.
“It’s too damned dangerous.” He took a step down and she shifted aside.
“You need to cease cursing. My mother has but one rule.”
“I told you, this situation warrants cursing over.” He stepped down another few rungs. “Most especially when you are insisting upon—” He stumbled as he took the last step down and Violet released her grip on the ladder and moved to steady him.
He got there first, turning and latching his hands around her waist to prevent a fall. She froze. They stood mere inches apart and where his hands connected with her bodice felt like fire. Or maybe ice. That strange sensation between that could be ice cold or burning hot perhaps.
Either way, it made her dizzy with desire. All it would take is another step and she would be able to kiss him. Why did he have to be so beautiful? Why did she hunger for him to crush her to him more than anything? Even if he were not her dearest friend, he would be wrong for her.
Meet The Author
USA TODAY Bestselling Author Samantha Holt is known for fun, witty, and usually steamy historical romances. She’s been a full-time writer for longer than she ever thought possible having originally trained as a nurse and an archaeologist. A champion napper, owner of too many animals, and mum to twins, she lives in a small village near the very middle of England.
She’s usually writing (or napping) but when she’s not, Samantha is plotting (books of course!) with her husband, drinking coffee, climbing hills that are far too high for her fitness levels or visiting stately homes and pretending she’s posh.
Interview with Samantha Holt
Q: Thanks so much for joining us, Samantha. Can you start by telling us about your publishing journey? Did you always want to be an author?
SH: I always enjoyed writing and reading so I’m not sure why but it was never my plan! I went through a few career paths before rediscovering my love of reading when my twin girls were a little more independent and I took a random shot at writing a book. It seemed to snowball from there and I’ve been a published author for over ten years now!
Q: What is your favorite trope to write and why?
SH: I love a good enemies-to-lovers and the sunshine/grump trope. My favourite heroes have always been of the grump variety!
Q: What is one thing you hope readers will take away from your book?
SH: I don’t write epic books or stories with some sort of moral tale. I’m just want to transport my readers to a different, romantic world for a while and hopefully give them an escape from real life.
Q: What is a typical writing day like for you? What inspires you?
SH: I’m pretty strict about my writing day and try to write five days a week. It usually starts early and I write in chunks of an hour between life and mum stuff. It’s hard to say where my inspiration comes from, though! It’s very often just one tiny thing or snippet and it snowballs from there.
Q: What are you reading right now?
SH: The Housekeeper’s Tale by Tessa Boase. It’s a glimpse into the lives of several women who ran the big country houses in the Regency and Victorian era.
Q: Are you a fan of podcasts? Recommend a podcast to readers.
SH: I get really enthusiastic about podcasts at random times of the year then forget to listen to any of them for a while but I’m fascinated by anything to do with nutrition and health as well as interviews with interesting people. One of my most recent favourites is Happy Place with Fern Cotton. She’s talked to some great, inspiring people.
This Or That Questions:
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Morning or Night? Night!
City or Country? Country
Spiders or Snakes? Spiders. I have a real phobia of snakes.
Early or Late? Early. Usually horribly early!
Haunted Mansion or Un-haunted Shack? Definitely un-haunted. I’m a scaredy-cat!
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