SHE LOVED AND LOST HIM ONCE.
Amelia Benbridge and the Earl of Ware are the most anticipated match of the Season. Lord Ware is handsome, wealthy, and kind, and he understands that her love will always belong to her childhood sweetheart, Colin. When Colin died, Amelia believed she would never feel such passion again. But her primal reaction to the brooding stranger who approaches her at a masquerade, coaxing her into a moonlit minuet and a single, sensual kiss, proves otherwise...
Colin Mitchell knew a pairing between a peer's daughter and a gypsy stable boy was impossible. Amerlia's mistaken belief in his demise afforded him the opportunity to return to her as a man of means. But time has slipped through his fingers. She is preparing to wed another and danger prevents him from revealing the truth. Colin can only bid her a secret farewell, but he underestimates her determination to unmask her phantom admirer. A forbidden kiss leads to her ardent pursuit and a soul-scorching affair. Amelia is perfectly attuned to his every desire, every thought-and hungry for stability he can't offer her. For deception lies at the heart of their love, waiting to drive them apart once again...
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A Passion For Him
By SYLVIA DAY
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2007 Sylvia Day
All rights reserved.
The man in the white mask was following her.
Amelia Benbridge was uncertain of how long he had been moving surreptitiously behind her, but he most definitely was.
She strolled carefully around the perimeter of the Langston ballroom, her senses attuned to his movements, her head turning with feigned interest in her surroundings so that she might study him further.
Every covert glance took her breath away.
In such a crush of people, another woman most likely would not have noted the avid interest. It was far too easy to be overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and smells of a masquerade. The dazzling array of vibrant fabrics and frothy lace ... the multitude of voices attempting to be heard over an industrious orchestra ... the mingling scents of various perfumes and burnt wax from the massive chandeliers ...
But Amelia was not like other women. She had lived the first sixteen years of her life under guard, her every movement watched with precision. It was a unique sensation to be examined so closely. She could not mistake the feeling for anything else.
However, she could say with some certainty that she had never been so closely scrutinized by a man quite so ... compelling.
For he was compelling, despite the distance between them and the concealment of the upper half of his face. His form alone arrested her attention. He stood tall and well proportioned, his garments beautifully tailored to cling to muscular thighs and broad shoulders.
She reached a corner and turned, setting their respective positions at an angle. Amelia paused there, taking the opportunity to raise her mask to surround her eyes, the gaily colored ribbons that adorned the stick falling down her gloved arm. Pretending to watch the dancers, she was in truth watching him and cataloguing his person. It was only fair, in her opinion. If he could enjoy an unhindered view, so could she.
He was drenched in black, the only relief being his snowy white stockings, cravat, and shirt. And the mask. So plain. Unadorned by paint or feathers. Secured to his head with black satin ribbon. While the other gentlemen in attendance were dressed in an endless range of colors to attract attention, this man's stark severity seemed designed to blend into the shadows. To make him unremarkable, which he could never be. Beneath the light of hundreds of candles, his dark hair gleamed with vitality and begged a woman to run her fingers through it.
And then there was his mouth ...
Amelia inhaled sharply at the sight of it. His mouth was sin incarnate. Sculpted by a master hand, the lips neither full nor thin, but firm. Shamelessly sensual. Framed by a strong chin, chiseled jaw, and swarthy skin. A foreigner, perhaps. She could only imagine how the face would look as a whole. Devastating to a woman's equanimity, she suspected.
But it was more than his physical attributes that intrigued her. It was the way he moved, like a predator, his gait purposeful and yet seductive, his attention sharply focused. He did not mince his steps or affect the veneer of boredom so esteemed by Society. This man knew what he wanted and lacked the patience to pretend otherwise.
At present it appeared that what he wanted was to follow her. He watched Amelia with a gaze so intensely hot, she felt it move across her body, felt it run through the unpowdered strands of her hair and dance across her bared nape. Felt it glide across her bared shoulders and down the length of her spine. Coveting.
She could not begin to guess how she had attracted his attention. While she knew she was pretty enough, she was not any more attractive than most of the other women here. Her gown, while lovely with its elaborate silver lace underskirts and delicate flowers made of pink and green ribbon, was not the most riveting on display. And she was usually disregarded by those seeking a romantic connection, because her long-standing friendship with the popular Earl of Ware was widely assumed to be leading to the altar. Albeit very slowly.
So what did this man want with her? Why didn't he approach her?
Amelia canted her body to face him and lowered her mask, staring at him directly so he would not have to wonder if she was looking at him. She left him no doubt, hoping his long legs would resume their deliberate stride and bring him to her. She wanted to experience all the details of him — the sound of his voice, the scent of his cologne, the impact of proximity to his powerful frame.
Then she wished to know what he wanted. Amelia had lived the entirety of her motherless childhood being secreted from place to place, her governesses changed often so that no emotional attachment could form, she was cut off from her sibling and anyone who might care for her. Because of this, she distrusted the unknown. This man's interest was an anomaly, and it needed to be explained.
Her silent challenge caused a sudden, visible tension to grip his body. He stared back, his eyes glittering from the shadows of the mask. Long moments passed, time she barely registered because she was so focused on his response to her. Guests walked past him, momentarily obstructing her view and then revealing him again. His fists clenched along with his jaw. She saw his chest expand with a deep breath —
— just as she was bumped roughly from behind.
"Excuse me, Miss Benbridge."
Startled, her gaze turned to identify the offending individual and found a wigged man wearing puce satin. She muttered a quick dismissal of his concern, managed a brief smile, and swiftly returned her attention to the masked man.
Who was gone.
She blinked rapidly. Gone. Lifting to her tiptoes, Amelia frantically searched the sea of people. He was tall and blessed with an impressive breadth of shoulder. His lack of a wig provided an additional means of identification, but she could not find him.
Where did he go?
The low, cultured drawl at her shoulder was dearly familiar, and she shot a quick, distracted glance at the handsome man who drew abreast of her. "Yes, my lord?"
"What are you looking for?" The Earl of Ware mimicked her pose, craning his neck in much the same fashion. Any other man would have looked ridiculous, but not Ware. It was impossible for him to appear anything less than perfect from the top of his wigged head down to his diamond-studded heels six feet below. "Would it be too much to hope that you were looking for me?"
Smiling sheepishly, Amelia abandoned her visual hunt and linked her arm with his. "I was seeking a phantom."
"A phantom?" Through the eyeholes of his painted mask, his blue eyes laughed at her. Ware had two expressions — one of dangerous boredom and one of warm amusement. She was the only person in his life capable of inspiring the latter. "Was this a frightening specter? Or something more interesting?"
"I am not certain. He was following me."
"All men follow you, love," he said with a faint curve to his lips. "At the very least with their gazes, if not with their legs."
Amelia squeezed his arm in gentle admonishment. "You tease me."
"Not at all." He arched one arrogant brow. "You often appear lost in a world of your own making. It is supremely appealing to men to see a woman content with herself. We long to slip inside her and join her."
The intimate timbre of Ware's voice was not lost on Amelia. She glanced up at him from beneath her lashes. "Naughty man."
He laughed, and the guests around them stared. So did she. Merriment transformed the earl from the epitome of an ennui afflicted aristocrat to a vibrantly attractive man.
Ware began to stroll, expertly carrying her along with him. She had known him for six years now, having met him when he was ten and eight. She'd watched him grow into the man he was today, watched him take his first steps into liaisons and the way relations with women had changed him, although none of his inamoratas held his attention long. They saw only his exterior and the marquessate he would rule upon his father's passing. Perhaps he could have lived with that depth of interest, if he had not met her first. But they had met, and become the closest of friends. Now lesser connections displeased him. He kept mistresses to relieve his physical needs, but he kept her close to see to his emotional ones.
They would marry, she knew. It was unspoken between them, yet understood. Ware simply waited for the day when she would finally be ready to step beyond the boundaries of friendship and into his bed. She loved him for that patience, even though she was not in love with him. Amelia wished she could be; she wished it every day. But she loved another, and while death had stolen him from her, her heart stayed true.
"Where are your thoughts now?" Ware asked, his head tilting in acknowledgment of another guest's greeting.
"Ah, lovely," he purred, his eyes lit with pleasure. "Tell me everything."
"I am thinking that I shall enjoy being married to you."
"Is that a proposal?"
"I'm not certain."
"Hmmm ... well, we are getting closer. I take some comfort in that."
She studied him carefully. "Are you growing impatient?"
"I can wait."
The answer was vague, and Amelia frowned.
"No fretting," Ware admonished gently, leading her out a pair of open French doors to a crowded terrace. "I am content for now, so long as you are."
The cool evening breeze blew across her skin, and she inhaled deeply. "You are not being entirely truthful."
Amelia came to a halt at the wide marble railing and faced him. Several couples stood nearby, engaging in various conversations, but all were casting curious glances in their direction. Despite the shadows created by the cloud-covered moon, Ware's cream-colored jacket and breeches gleamed like ivory and enticed admiring perusals.
"This is not the place to discuss something as auspicious as our future," he said, reaching up to untie his mask. He removed it, revealing a profile so noble it should have graced a coin.
"You know that will not dissuade me."
"And you know that is why I like you so well." His slow smile teased her. "My life is regimented and compartmentalized. Everything is orderly and firmly in its place. I know my role and I fulfill the expectations of Society exactly."
"Except for courting me."
"Except for courting you," he agreed. His gloved hand found hers and held it. He adjusted his stance to hide the scandalous contact from the curious. "You are my fair princess, rescued from her turret tower by an infamous pirate. The daughter of a viscount hanged for treason and sister to a true femme fatale, a woman widely considered to have murdered two husbands before marrying one too dangerous to kill. You are my folly, my aberration, my peccadillo."
He brushed his thumb across her palm, making her shiver. "But I serve the opposite purpose in your life. I am your anchor. You cling to me because I am safe and comfortable." His gaze lifted to look over her head at the others who shared the terrace with them. He bent closer and murmured, "But on occasion, I remember the young girl who so boldly demanded a first kiss from me, and I wish I had responded differently."
"Have I changed so much since then?"
With his mask dangling from one hand and her hand captured in the other, he turned abruptly and led her down the nearby flight of stairs to the garden. A gravel pathway bordered low yew hedges, which in turn bordered a lush center lawn and impressive fountain.
"The passing of time changes all of us," he said. "But I think it was the passing of your dear Colin that changed you the most."
The sound of Colin's name affected Amelia deeply, provoking feelings of overwhelming sadness and regret. He had been her dearest friend, who later became the love of her heart. He was the nephew of her coachman and a Gypsy, but in her sheltered world they were equals. They had been playmates as children, then found their interest in each other changing. Deepening. Becoming less innocent.
Colin had matured into a young man whose exotic beauty and quiet strength of character had stirred her in ways she had not been prepared for. Thoughts of him had ruled her days, and dreams of stolen kisses had tormented her nights. He had been wiser than she, understanding that it was impossible for a peer's daughter and a stableboy to ever be together. He had pushed her away, pretended to feel nothing for her, and broken her adolescent heart.
But in the end he had died for her.
Her silent exhale was shaky. Sometimes, just before she drifted into sleep, she permitted herself to think of him. She opened her heart and let the memories out — stolen kisses in the woods, passionate longing and budding desire. She had never felt that depth of emotion again and knew she never would. Some childish infatuations faded away. Her love for Colin had been built with firmer stuff, and it stayed with her. No longer a raging fire, but a softer warmth. Adoration enhanced by gratefulness for his sacrifice. Trapped between her father's men and agents of the Crown, she could have been killed had Colin not spirited her away. A reckless, love-fueled rescue that had delivered her to safety at the cost of his precious life.
"You are thinking of him again," Ware murmured.
"Am I so transparent?"
"As clear as glass." He squeezed her hand, and she smiled fondly.
"Perhaps you think my reticence stems from my lingering affection for Colin, but it is my affection for you that restrains me."
Amelia could see that she had surprised him. They turned back toward the manse, following the subtle urging of the path. Brilliant light and the glorious strains of stringed instruments spilled out in abundance from the many open doorways, enticing strolling guests to linger close to the festivities. Others wended their way through the rear garden as they did, but all resisted straying too far.
"Yes, my lord. I worry that perhaps I will steal you from your great love."
Ware laughed softly. "How fanciful you are." He grinned and looked so handsome, she gazed a moment longer to admire him. "I admit to curious musings when you wear that faraway look, but that is the extent of my interest in affairs of the heart."
"You have no notion of what you are missing."
"Forgive me for being callous, but if what I am missing is the melancholy that clings to you, I want none of it. It is attractive on you and lends you an air of mystery that I find irresistible. Sadly, I fear I would not fare so well. I suspect I would appear wretched, and we cannot have that."
"The Earl of Ware wretched?"
He gave a mock shudder. "Quite impossible, of course."
"So you see, you are perfect for me, Amelia. I enjoy your company. I enjoy your honesty and our ability to converse freely about nearly everything. There is no uncertainty or fear of reprisal for a careless act. You cannot hurt me, and I cannot hurt you, because we do not attribute actions to emotions that are not there. If I am thoughtless, it is not because I seek to injure you, and you know this. Our association is one I will appreciate and value until I take my last breath."
Ware paused when they reached the bottom step that would lead them back up to the terrace. Their brief spell of privacy was nearly at an end. Her desire to spend unhindered time with him was an added impetus to marriage. It was only the sexual congress that would end their evenings that she resisted.
The memory of feverishly exchanged kisses with Colin haunted her, and she could not bring herself to risk disappointment with Ware. She dreaded the possibility of awkwardness intruding on their closeness. The earl was comely and charming and perfect. How would he look when he was flushed and disheveled? What sounds would he make? How would he move? What would he expect of her?
It was apprehension that goaded these ponderings, not anticipation.
"And what of the sex?" she asked.
His head swiveled toward her, and he froze with his foot poised above the step. The depth of his blue eyes sparkled with merriment. Ware backed down from the stair and faced her directly. "What of it?"
"Do you not worry that it will be ... ?" She struggled to find the correct word.
"No." There was a wealth of assurance in the negation.
"When I think about sex with you there is no worry involved. Eagerness, yes. Anxiety, no." He closed the small gap between them and bent over her. His voice came as an intimate whisper. "Do not hesitate for that reason. We are young. We can wed and wait, or we can wait and then wed. Even with my ring on your finger, I will not ask you to do anything you do not wish to. Not yet." His mouth twitched. "In a few years, however, I may not be so accommodating. I must reproduce eventually, and I do find you supremely alluring."
Excerpted from A Passion For Him by SYLVIA DAY. Copyright © 2007 Sylvia Day. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Raised by an uncaring father in loneliness except for her friend the gypsy stable boy Colin, six years ago, Amelia Benbridge life turned upside down when her odious father was proven to be a criminal and her beloved Colin died saving her life. The only good to come out of that tragic period was Amelia was reunited with her long lost assumed dead sister Marie and her brother-in-law, a pirate, Christopher St. John (see A PASSION FOR THE GAME for their love story). Now in 1780 Amelia is expected to marry the kindhearted Lord Ware, but her heart remains with Colin. However, to her shock at a gala she finds herself attracted to a white masked man who seems to only stare at her regardless of where she is in the ballroom. When they meet he remains secretive, but steals a kiss, which ignites her long ebbed passion as she tingles like she did when Colin kissed her. What she does not know is who the masked man is as Colin survived the incident and has since become a spy who still dreams of being forever with his Amelia. He also knows that is not possible as he remains beneath her so he rationalizes to himself that he stays near her to protect her from an enemy who has a score to settle with the Benbridge family, but cannot stop himself from kissing her and more. --- This is a terrific Georgian romance starring an interesting woman who has known much tragedy and loneliness in her life and the man who she loved with all her soul. Colin is a hero as he risked his life for her once before and willingly places himself in danger and risks his undercover espionage mission to keep his beloved safe. Readers will have a passion for Sylvia Day¿s fine historicals. --- Harriet Klausner
This reminded a teensy bit of Wuthering Heights (of course much more erotic) but the brooding stable boy theme did it for me as it always does. I am a new Sylvia day fan and hope she contnues to put our stories like this.
This book was GREAT!!!! IT GRABS YOU BY THE HEART AND WON'T LET GO!!!!!!!!!!! What are you waiting for????? Buy it!!! (FRG)
You must read this book!!!! Amazing
By: Sylvia Day Published By: Kensington Age Recommended: Adult Review By: Arlena Dean Rating: 5 Book Blog For: GMTA Series: Georgian #3 Review: "A Passion For Him" by Sylvia Day was quite a historical, erotic romance novel that turned out to be some emotional roller coaster ride. This novel was a third in the 'Georgian' series. It starts out ...Stranger...he is wearing a mask and is following her...just like Colin would do but he was dead and Amelia believes she will never again shiver with pleasure, never again sign his name.' Lover...'Until her masked pursuer lures her into a moonlit garden and a single, reckless kiss. Now she is obsessed with discovering his identity. Perfectly attuned to his every desire, his every thought, she will not stop until she knows his every secret.' And this is where I way you must pick up this read to find out what happens as Amelia notices the stranger who is watching her. This author will take you into this historical mystery romance only leaving you to say Wow! You will find all of the characters in the novel so well depicted, well depicted and well portrayed. "A Passion For Him" was well written and a easy read of: 'Lovers Lost, Lovers Found, Betrayal, Murder and Deception' sums up this good read. Would I recommend this read? YES!
Hey im here
A PASSION FOR HIM by Sylvia Day is another exciting Erotic Historical Romance set in 1780 England. #3 in the "Georgian" series,but can be read as a stand alone. I must admit,I have read this one out of sequence in the series,but had no problems following the storyline. Follow, Amelia Benbridge,the Earl of Ware and Colin Mitchell on a journey of not only passion but also one of fear. "A Passion For Him" is filled with passion,desire,secrets,and danger. Fear,desire and passion is what drove Colin and Amelia apart all those years ago, and the need for Colin to be more than a Gypsy stable boy. He wanted to make something of himself before offering for Amelia's hand in marriage. But alas,that was not to be, for when Colin's death was reported, Amelia must continue with her young life,enter the Earl of Ware,but things change. A remarkable story of love once lost but found again. We all have a dark side,but with the right person one can find happiness and peace. Colin has a dark and deadly side,Amelia is his light in the darkness and his happiness. An intriguing story with a spy or two,danger,passion,a pirate, and a woman's young and forbidden love. Fast paced with love,passion,explicit sensual scenes,and danger. Another not to miss in this exciting "Georgian" series. I can hardly wait for another episode of the "Georgian" series,yes,#2 in this amazing,fast paced series. Again, Ms. Day has written a story that will pull the reader in and hold them there,with her engaging characters and intriguing plots. A must read and one I would highly recommend to any historical romance readers,erotic romance readers and the readers of Georgian England. While, "A Passion For Him" has explicit sensual scenes they are done tactfully and does not distract from the story,but adds to it. Received for an honest review from the publisher and Net Galley. RATING: 4.5 HEAT RATING: HOT REVIEWED BY: AprilR, My Book Addiction Reviews
Very good read
After her true loves died, Amelia settles for marrying her friend the Earl of Ware. During a dance, she feels that she is being watched and followed. However, her first instinct is not to flee but to find out who this stranger is behind the mask. The masked man turn out to be the same man Amelia thought dead. The man that haunts her dreams, Colin. I liked Amelia's strong, independent side, it was this aspect of her personality that helped me connect to her. Because even after all the things she has been through she's still her own person. I loved Colin. He has been enamored with Amelia ever since he saved her life and returned to be with her only to find other obstacles in his way. But he continues with his plan of keeping her safe and then making her his. I especially enjoyed the Earl's attitude towards his relationship with Amelia. He knew she didn't love him, but he didn't care but assured her nonetheless that she would enjoy sex with him. And anyway, he was getting his from his mistress, so all was good on that account. The author, Sylvia Day, does a great job of keeping the reader engaged in the story by adding twist and turns into this emotionally charged tale. This in turn helped me understand where each character was coming from in this love triangle between Colin, Amelia and the Earl. From the betrayal Amelia felt to Colin's need to make things right with Amelia, Sylvia Day managed to bring a great range of emotions to the page. Although A Passion for Him is the third book in the Georgian series, it could be read as a stand alone. This is the first book by Sylvia Day that I have read, but I'm fairly sure that it won't be the last. I enjoyed the chemistry between the characters, the dialogue and the overall story. I'm usually not a fan of historical fiction but the author managed to keep me entertained and my attention focused on the outcome of the story so kudos to her. I received this title from Kensington Books through NetGalley in exchange of my honest opinion. Related articles
Really loved this one. Although historical romance is not my forte, there is something unique about the way Sylvia Day writes romance that defies time periods. She develops her characters and love stories beautifully and you connect with them regardless of when the story is set. This one is no exception.
Reviewed by Guest Reviewer/Kimberly& posted at Under the Covers Book Blog “Sylvia Day is a brilliant writer with a unique gift for storytelling.” ~ Under the Covers Amelia Benbridge still mourns for her childhood sweetheart, Colin Mitchell, who died protecting her. Years later she is practically betrothed to the Earl of Ware, who knows Amelia is still in love with Colin, but also knows they are the suited for one another, even if it’s not a love match he is determined to have her. Ware bides his time until Amelia is ready for marriage. He stands by as a friend to her as she continues to pine over her lost love, day by day attempting to convince her they are meant to be because no one knows Ware like Amelia does. When Amelia comes face to face with a tall dark and masked stranger at a party, she is intrigued and drawn to him. Count Reynaldo Montoya approaches the beauty and Amelia’s world goes off-kilter. She struggles with her attraction to him, her guilt over possibly betraying the Earl of Ware and her memory of her true love, Colin. Ware is patient with Amelia, as he has been for years, but he doesn’t want to be an after-thought to her. Colin Mitchell, AKA Count Reynaldo Montoya did not die all those years ago, he did in fact disappear to make his fortune. Colin was a gypsy stable boy and believed himself far below Amelia’s station. All the time with Amelia in his mind and his heart, Colin believed he was doing what’s best for her, for he has never and will never love another, but Colin has trouble following him from France. While attempting to find his way back to Amelia, Colin is accused of murder and is now being pursued for retribution. He knows well that there cane be no future for him and Amelia with this hanging over his head. Colin is not even sure that Amelia will accept him when she discovers that he did not die and has purposely stayed away, allowing her to remain in a perpetual state of grief. A Passion For Him by Sylvia Day is the third book in the Georgian series that was previously released beginning in 2006. Sylvia Day is a brilliant writer with a unique gift for storytelling. A Passion For Him is a tale of devotion that survives time and even becomes more-so with each passing day. I enjoyed Sylvia Day’s A Passion For Him, and I highly recommend it. *ARC provided by publisher