Other than a secret that takes too long to reveal, this Victorian romance from James (A Perfect Hero) concerning the troubled union of fiery Annabel McBride and tormented Simon Blackwell is just about perfect: rich, meaty, sexy and honest. Upon meeting, the two immediately set to butting heads, but it isn't long before an instant of weakness finds them in a passionate lip lock. Just like that, their fate is sealed: Anne's reputation is compromised and the two are married. Simon, haunted by unmentionable heartbreak, refuses to consummate the marriage, planning to divorce her after a year or so; Anne is horrified at the prospect and determined to make a genuine husband out of him. Simon thwarts her every attempt until his past catches up with him, and she finds the way to bring him back from self-imposed emotional exile. Simon's dark secret, hinted at throughout, may frustrate readers, but it also lends the book an enticing gothic edge. James's writing is assured, her story moves well, and she has a fine pair of leads in Anne and Simon; their hard-won happily ever after will satisfy any historical romance fan. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwellby Samantha James
A cruel twist of fate changed Simon Blackwell's life irreparably. A man of intense passions, he resolved to deny his emotions and desires forever, taking refuge in the wilds of the moorlands and shutting himself off from the world. But on one extraordinary night, on a rare trip to London, the unthinkable occurs. An intoxicatingly beautiful stranger stirs the… See more details below
A cruel twist of fate changed Simon Blackwell's life irreparably. A man of intense passions, he resolved to deny his emotions and desires forever, taking refuge in the wilds of the moorlands and shutting himself off from the world. But on one extraordinary night, on a rare trip to London, the unthinkable occurs. An intoxicatingly beautiful stranger stirs the sensuous hunger he has sworn to resist. Simon Blackwell believed that no woman could tempt him.
No woman . . . save Annabel McBride.
Annabel knows nothing of Simon's secret pain. But one irresistible kiss plunges her into marriage with a man she scarcely knows, a man who hides a shattered past. She can feel the blistering heat of the fire that smolders within this exquisitely handsome man, making her yearn for much more than the union in name only he has promised her.
But Simon dares not love again—for fragile love can be lost in an instant. And now Annabel must find a way to open his heart to the most glorious risk of all . . .
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Read an Excerpt
The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell
By Samantha James
AvonCopyright © 2007 Samantha James
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIt appears Aunt Leticia desires my presence on the occasion of her seventieth birthday. She and I are the only ones left on my mother's family. Despite the fact I detest London in the summer-indeed I detest London at any time-I am obliged to humor her. I shall depart in the morning. Simon Blackwell
* * *
Lady Annabel McBride slowed her stride as she strolled west through Hyde Park, accompanied by her cousin Caroline and Caro's two young children.
"Lud, but I must look a fright," fretted Caro. "The heat is particularly abominable for July, don't you think, Annie?"
Anne peered at Caro from beneath the round brim of her bonnet. Overhead the sun poured down in brilliant radiance. The hour was well before noon; nonetheless, Anne was aware of droplets of sweat gathering between her breasts. Her striped silk walking gown was de rigueur for the day, the bodice tightly fitted, trimmed with ribbons and lace; of course Mama was to that. But beneath, trussed up in stays, numerous layers of stiff petticoats and ruffled shirts, Anne felt much like a package to be tossed to and fro upon a ship and heaved to the farthest reaches of the sea.
Caro, on theother hand, despite her complaint, appeared fresh as a dew-laden flower, on this, surely the hottest morning of summer thus far.
How Caro managed to maintain her svelte trimness after two births in such close succession was a source of both envy and annoyance among society's ladies-a tiny waist, after all, was a thing much coveted by all.
Anne, of course, knew it had much to do with Isabella and little John, aged three and two respectively; there was but a scant year between them. Both resembled Caro, with sun-gold hair, deep blue eyes, and dimpled cheeks. Lively and vigorous did not even begin to described the pair, known to the family as Izzie and Jack. Add to the mix decidedly impish bent-along with a child's eagerness to explore each nook and cranny of the world within view-the little ones were, in sum, a handful. Many a time their antics dictated that Anne hastily bite back the urge to laugh, lest the two be inclined to repeat whatever mischief had brought it on.
"Oh, pooh," Anne announced with a quirk of her kips and a sidelong glance at her companion. "You are divine, cousin, and well you know it." Anne was reminded of the myriad pins scattered throughout her hair. Already she could feel her coiffure drooping, thick and heavy, down the back of her head. Had she been at home in Scotland, she'd have dispensed with her bonnet, shucked off her petticoat's (in the privacy of her chamber of course), restrained her hair with a simple ribbon at her nape before venturing outside. But this was London after all, and admittedly the heat was much more bearable with her tresses swept high and off her face and neck. Oh, to be back at Gleneden, back in the climes of Scotland with a cool breeze swirling fresh from the waters of the loch.
A carriage clattered nearby as they advanced along the walkway. The warmth of the morning had not kept Londoners behind shutters and doors, closed tight against the heat.
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