Pleasure of Her Kiss

Pleasure of Her Kiss

by Linda Needham

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback)



The dashing rogue is finally coming home to claim the exquisite stranger who is living there, a willful beauty he barely knows…his bride.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060514112
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/28/2003
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

Linda Needham credits her bachelor's degree in Theatre Arts, support from her fellow writers, and her hero-husband for her publishing achievements. Winning the RWA's Golden Heart as an unpublished author and joining Avon Books two months later are among the highlights of her Fabulous Forties. Seven books, two stageplays, three musical revues and the USA Today and Waldenbooks bestseller lists later, Linda has entered her Fantastic Fifties with brazenness, exaltation, and an RWA Top Ten Favorite Book of the Year award!

First Chapter

The Pleasure of Her Kiss

Chapter One

The Huntsman, Gentleman's Club
London, 1848

"One whining, overripe Hapsburg prince delivered safely to the cellar door at Buckingham Palace," Ross said, loosening his neck cloth as he slid a leather packet across the map table.

"At great risk to our personal fortunes," Drew added with a wry smile as he dropped into a wing chair. "Gad, Jared, the man's a bloody card sharp."

"You did leave him with a quid or two, Drew," Jared, earl of Hawkesly, asked, certain that the surly prince wouldn't soon forget his card game with Drew.

"Two quid and his hat," Drew said, propping his polished boots on the edge of the brass hearth fender.

"Good work, man." Jared gave Drew's shoulder an affable cuff, pleased to be home and in familiar company, and to have the matter of the prince finished so neatly.

Neatly enough to finally have time to take care of some long-neglected personal business.

Brushing off the glint of a perfumed memory, a moment's guilt, Jared handed a report to each of them. "Fortunately we're finished with rebellions and insolent monarchs for the moment. A routine gun-running investigation."

"Ah, that American merchant ship," Ross said, flipping through the pages. "The Pickering. Impounded in Portsmouth."

"Customs found two thousand rifles," Jared said, pulling a map tube out of his saddlebag, "and countless crates of ammunition, all of it hidden beneath a shipment of Indian cornmeal."

"Guns and grain," Drew said, shaking his head, sobered considerably. "I'll wager they're bound for Limerick or Cork."

"My thoughts exactly." Word of the potato crop failure had reached Jared months ago in the China Sea, a blight that seemed to have only intensified. "Doubtless it's the Young Irelanders."

Ross tossed the report to the middle of the table. "Damn fools, if they mean to rise again. With martial law and another seventeen thousand of Her Majesty's troops on their way to Dublin."

"In any case," Jared said, adding Lord Grey's note to the report, "the Home Office has given me charge of coastal inquiries during the trouble in Ireland. We're to investigate the captain of the Pickering, his politics, the shipping company, the receiver, the warehouses. A simple, domestic inquiry --"

"Domestic?" Drew asked, a jaunty brow cocked at Jared. "An interesting choice of words, don't you think, Ross?"

"Absolutely," Ross said, his smile scheming and wry as he stood. Hazardous to the unsuspecting. "Because, as I recall, Jared leaves this morning on a domestic mission of his own."

So that was it, the blighters.

"Possibly the most dangerous mission of his life." Drew's dark eyes glinted like knife points, an expression as familiar as the easy drone of voices coming from the club room beyond.

"A lot you two blackguards know of marriage." Jared went to the map case beneath the bow window and yanked open a drawer. "Think what you will; I know what I'm doing."

Ross laughed, pouring himself a cup of coffee from the samovar. "But we also know what you haven't done, Jared."

"Couldn't possibly have done," Drew said.

"To the devil with both of you." Grateful that he was no longer prone to blushing like a callow lad, Jared lifted out the stash of maps and dropped them onto the top of the case.

"How long has it been since Hawkesly got married, Ross?" Drew asked. "Two years?"

"Longer than that, by my counting."

"Eighteen months, you bloody pair of magpies." Doing a lousy job of ignoring their usual blathering, Jared found the map of the western England coastline and set it aside.

"Still, it's a loooong time to leave your bride unattended."

His bride.

The thought always stopped him in motion, left only the briefest image, burned into his memory, impossible to shake.

The blue-eyed mist of her, the silky promise of fire and smoke and long summer evenings. Or had she only been a mirage, heat shimmering off the harbor, the deep cerulean Egyptian sky?

"An eternity, Jared," Ross said, joining him at the map case, coffee cup in hand. "Especially for a bride that you didn't know ... that you married in haste on the deck of your ship in Alexandria, and then left at the altar a minute later."

It had been at least five minutes later, Jared thought but thankfully didn't say aloud, because it would have been a ridiculous point to press. They all knew the reason that he'd had to leave Miss Trafford in Alexandria.

A convenient wedding at an inconvenient moment. As damnably inconvenient as this one.

"You'll have to begin the gun-running investigation without me. I'll be spending the next few weeks at Hawkesly Hall."

"Is that wise, Jared? Going home? What if, instead, Ross and I send word to your lovely bride that you died at sea in the service of your queen? That we tossed your rotting body reverently, but irretrievably, overboard --"

"Thanks anyway, Drew, but I'm fully capable of making my own peace with Miss Trafford without --"

Drew sputtered. "Miss Trafford? Good Lord, Jared, you're in worse trouble than I'd imagined!"

Bloody hell, Drew never missed a slip of the tongue. And yet this was more than a slip -- he'd been thinking of the woman as "Miss Trafford" all this time.

Kathryn Trafford, heiress and only child of the late Victor Trafford of Trafford Shipping. He knew little more of her than that.

Light eyes, bright as the sky, as blue as the sea. Sun-gold hair and ribbons and a bonnet that had fought the wind with all its might.

A deep memory of her mouth, softly red and full and firmly bowed. And frowning up at him, furiously working with resentment. Tugged at by her perfectly straight, white teeth ...

The Pleasure of Her Kiss. Copyright © by Linda Needham. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Pleasure of Her Kiss 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story contradicted itself in a lot of levels. The heroine is described as independent but married a guy that she never met without even complaining. He was supposedly a spy but he didn't realized what the wife was up to until the almost the final page. I found that she was selfish and didn't care one whit about him, always trying to get her way without caring about the possible consequences. Don't know what he found on her. She is highhanded and uncompromising, always thinking that she know what's best. It doesn't make any sense that a guy who had been working for his country suddenly decides to be a criminal just to please her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1848 Earl Jared Westbrooke decides to take a breather form his work at the Home Office to go home to see his wife Alexandria. The day after her father died, he married her eighteen months ago in Alexandria and left her five minutes after exchanging vows. He expects to make love with her for the first time because he needs an heir. Once he is through with her, he will go on his next mission, making inquiries on the coast involving smuggling of guns into famine-ravaged Ireland.

When he reaches his home, he finds paying guests staying at his lodge. His wife apparently is hosting a fishing tournament and making a lot of money from her customers. He wonders what she is doing with the money. When she fails to recognize him, he goes underground to learn if she is helping the smugglers take weapons to the Irish.

Though the audience will have some problems with Jared¿s neglectful behavior, fans will gain much pleasure form this delightful Victorian romance. The lead protagonists are an interesting couple as he hides the truth of his identity while she keeps secret her activities. With a fine story line, THE PLEASURE OF HER KISS is a warm historical novel that readers will enjoy.

Harriet Klausner