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The Viscount in Her Bedroom

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ISBN 0-06-078413-3

Featured Alternate
for Rhapsody and Doubleday Bookclubs

Romantic Times Magazine
K.I.S.S. award for 
Simon Wade as
the "Knight in Shining Silver"





 



The Viscount In Her Bedroom
by Gayle Callen

Book 3 of the "Sisters of Willow Pond" trilogy
(The books do not have to be read in order.)

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Louisa Shelby's carefree life of elegant balls and beautiful frocks ended when her father died, leaving her penniless. With no hope of securing a proper marriage, the vivacious young miss accepts a position as a companion to an elderly viscountess. But temptation in a most unexpected guise awaits Louisa in the dowager's home...

Once, Simon Wade was London's most eligible bachelor and most able seducer. But a tragic accident forced him into seclusion, away from prying eyes and questions. He thought he'd never again experience the tender touch of a beautiful woman. But wshile he yearns to hold the enchanting Louisa and taste the intoxicating nectar of her kisss, he will accept no woman's pity.

Louisa never desired a man the way she burns for Simon. And now her chance at happiness may rest in her ability to convince the stubborn viscount that her passion is real...and her love is true.
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REVIEWS

"The conclusion to the Sisters of Willow Pond trilogy is a masterful, emotional love story that revolves around the impact blindness can have on a family, from physical limitations to emotional fallout. With sensitivity and compassion, Callen crafts a beautiful story with memorable characters."
Romantic Times Magazine"

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Excerpt

(The following is the property of the author and Avon Books, and cannot be copied or reprinted without permission.)

(Story set-up: Louisa Shelby has come to work as a companion to Lady Wade, grandmother to Viscount Simon Wade. Simon was blinded when he was thrown from his horse six months before. They knew each other in London, and Simon heard rumors of Louisa’s fast reputation with men. Louisa wants to help Simon’s sister, Georgie, become a success after a disastrous first Season.)

 

Enfield, England, 1845

        That night, Louisa couldn't sleep. Even Mr. Dickens's novel held no allure. Her thoughts were scattered and restless, and after midnight, she finally donned a dressing gown. She would go down to the kitchen for some warm milk. She could have rung for a maid, but even back home, she'd hated to awaken a hard-working servant in the middle of the night. She couldn't do it here, when she was barely more than a servant herself.
        She held a candle before her as she walked, and the manor stretched away into dark shadows like a cave. She could hear the faint creaks of an old house settling, and she was comforted by the sounds.
        She entered the dining room, meaning to pass through on her way to the kitchen. Before she was even halfway down the table, the kitchen door ahead of her opened. She gave a start and froze, but in the gloom, the candlelight reflected off the blond hair of Lord Wade.
        He was alone. To her surprise he moved confidently, straight toward the table. She was about to call out a warning, but he turned before his cane even hit the end chair, and came around the table.
        She backed against the wall and remained quiet, feeling like she was intruding on the man's privacy. She knew he didn't like to be stared at. And she was stunned at how easily he moved about alone.
        She held her breath as he passed, then grimaced when he paused.
        "Miss Shelby?" he said.
        Letting her breath out, she softly answered, "Yes, my lord?"
         He turned to face her, and as was her usual habit, she drank in the beauty of his face, the way his dimples etched deep shadows in his cheeks by candlelight.
        He frowned. "You have a distinctive perfume. We seem to keep running into each other in the night. Were you following me?"
        "No, my lord. I couldn't sleep, and I came down for milk. I didn't mean to disturb you—I would have just let you walk on by—"
        "Leaving me ignorant and foolish," he said, an edge to his voice.
        "You're twisting my words," she said firmly. "You're walking down here alone. It is obvious you want no one to know. It wasn't my place to intrude."
        "I don't care who knows."
        Though mindful of her place in this household, she couldn't help her curiosity. "If you don't care, then why don't you walk alone by day?"
        An ironic smile touched his face. "Because they'll want to help me, to follow me to make sure I don't hurt myself. But I don't need help—and neither does Georgie."
        He protested far too much.
        "It's not just concern about people helping you," she said, feeling bolder.
        He cocked an eyebrow. "Reading my mind now?"
        "You don't want them to see you looking unsure, or looking lost."
        He scowled.
        "Or you don't want people coming on you unawares when you can't see them. You care very much what people think about you."
        He took a step closer to her and raised a hand, passing it slowly before her. She watched in surprise and curiosity. When he neared the heat of her candle, she almost called out a warning. But he leaned toward it and blew out the flame.
        Because she was so startled, a small gasp escaped her. She knew she shouldn't have betrayed herself, because a reaction must be what he wanted. Her eyes, unaccustomed to the dark, could not see him.
        "Is the candle out?" he asked.
        "Yes." She whispered, as if things were too intimate in the dark with him.
        In the tense silence, she remained still, knowing he was before her—or was he?
        When he spoke, he was behind her, and she jumped.
        "This is my world, Miss Shelby," he murmured.
        It was her turn to feel his breath, and it bathed her neck with a heat so very foreign. She didn't know what he meant to do; he might as well have been a stranger—or one of the relatives of her last employer, who had always kept trying to come upon her alone.
        But it was strangely thrilling to be sharing the darkness with Lord Wade.
        "Right now you don't know where I am," he continued.
        This time he was on her right side, a solid presence.
        "Or what I'll do. This is what I live with every day. You'll have to pardon me if my behavior doesn't suit your expectations."
        She lifted her chin. "Why aren't you telling this to your family? They want to share your feelings. Instead you pretend that things haven't changed, all in an attempt to keep them from being hurt. But it's all right to make a stranger uncomfortable?"
        "You're not a stranger."
        He was in front of her again, closer this time. Though she wore but a nightdress and dressing gown, her skin buzzed with awareness, and surely the folds of the gown seemed to move, as if something brushed against it near her feet. Her breath was coming far too fast, but it wasn't in fear.
        She licked her lips. "I'm almost a stranger. We had only conversed a few times."
        "I still remember what you look like."
        She was startled, intrigued, flattered. "Of all the women who gathered around you everywhere you went, how could you remember me?"
        "You have red hair, blue eyes, and the whitest skin that shows every blush."
        She was blushing now—she was hot with it. She kept expecting him to touch her; she admitted to herself that she wanted him to. The expectation was maddening, confusing.
        He made a sound she could not place. "And there were always admirers gathered around you, too," he said.
        Her eyes were adjusting; faint moonlight shone through the tall windows, and she could see the outline of him dark before her, too close, as she'd known he was. A shadow man. She closed her eyes to be one with him in the darkness again.
        Simon knew she had not moved since he'd begun to tease her. He thought he could hear her heart pounding; he could definitely hear the sound of her breath, moving rapidly in and out of her lungs. He imagined her breasts rising and falling with it.

        She couldn't be wearing much. If he could see, he might be able to tell if her nipples were erect, if her lips were parted. Surely she was experiencing desire; she wasn't afraid of him.
        Or was she? Was he misunderstanding this whole confrontation? He knew he should be angry with her, with her assumptions that she understood him. Instead he was powerfully aroused. Did she not feel the same? It was agonizing not to be able to tell, not to read her expressions. He had never known until he was blind how much his sight really told him about a person's thoughts.
        "If you knew I had gentlemen around me," she said, "then you were aware of me—as if you were an admirer, too."
        He knew she was trying to be bold, but her voice trembled. For a moment, she didn't sound like a woman who knew how to lead on a man.
        He told himself she was not new to this flirtation. He could kiss her, and he would not be the first.
        But something held him back, and it wasn't fear of rejection, or fear of looking foolish. Not with this woman who so bravely stood alone in the night with him.
        Why did she allow this to happen? What did she hope to gain with a blind man?
        But he played along with it, knowing it was dangerous, but just not to which one of them. "Every man was your admirer," he said. "Wasn't that what you wanted?"
        He slowly reached forward, and his fingers touched her trembling stomach. For just a moment, he imagined he could feel the softness of it, covered so temptingly, so barely, in the silk of her nightclothes. No plain cotton for Louisa Shelby.
        Then she backed up so suddenly that he could hear her hit the wall.
        "I must go," she whispered.
        "But you can't see."
        "My eyes have adjusted to the moonlight."
        "But some of the corridors have no windows."
        She didn't ask him to escort her—just as he wouldn't have asked in her place.
        "There's still a small fire in the kitchen," he said. "I'll light your candle. Hand it to me."
        He put his palm out, and she set the heavy candleholder in it. There was no fumbling on her part. The moonlight really must be helping her.
         Once again they were on unequal ground.
        "Wait here," he said.
        She had been right earlier; he didn't want her to watch him. When he brought the candle back out to her, she took it from him, said good-night, and hurried away.
        He was left alone with his frustration.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Order it from Amazon ~ Order it from Barnes & Noble
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