Lisa Kleypas bestselling fiction writer
Lisa Kleypas, New York Times Bestseller

Seduce Me at Sunrise

New York Times Bestseller

Seduce Me at SunriseThis is a peek at the second in the Hathaways story, titled “Seduce Me At Sunrise.”

Win has been an invalid ever since she suffered a near-fatal case of scarlet fever. Merripen is a Romany Gypsy who was taken in by the Hathaway family when he was a boy. He has always kept his fierce passion for Win a secret, believing a romantic relationship would never be possible.
But Win goes to an exclusive clinic, far away from Merripen and the rest of her family, and makes a remarkable recovery. And when she returns two years later, a changed woman, the explosive passion between these long-denied lovers threatens their family, their future, and even their lives . . .

Third floor, number twenty-one. Win pulled the hood of her cloak farther over her head, concealing her face as she walked along the quiet hallway.

She had to find Merripen, of course. She had come too far. She had crossed miles of earth, an ocean, and come to think of it, she had climbed the equivalent of a thousand ladders in the clinic gymnasium, all to reach him. Now that they were in the same building, she was hardly going to end her journey prematurely.

Glancing at the gilded numbers on each door, Win finally found 21. Her stomach plunged, and every muscle clenched with anxiety. She felt a light sweat break out on her forehead. Fumbling a little with her gloves, she managed to pull them off and tuck them into the pockets of her cloak.

A tremulous knock at the door with her knuckles. And she waited in frozen stillness, hardly able to breathe for nerves. She gripped her arms around herself beneath the concealing cloak.

She was not certain how much time passed, only that it seemed an eternity before the door was unlocked and opened.

Before she could bring herself to look up, she heard Merripen’s voice. She had forgotten how deep and dark it was, how it seemed to reach down to the center of her.

“I didn’t send for a woman tonight.”

That last word forestalled Win’s reply.

Tonight implied that there had been other nights when he had indeed sent for a woman. And although Win was unworldly, she certainly understood what happened when a woman was sent for and received by a man at a hotel.

Her brain swarmed with thoughts. She had no right to object if Merripen wanted a woman to service him. She did not own him. They had made no promises or agreements. He did not owe her fidelity.

But she couldn’t help wondering . . . How many women? How many nights?

“No matter,” he said brusquely. “I can use you. Come in.” A large hand reached out and gripped Win’s shoulder, hauling her past the threshold without giving her the opportunity to object.

I can use you?

Anger and consternation tumbled through her. She had no idea what to do or say. Somehow it didn’t seem appropriate simply to throw back her hood and cry, “Surprise!”

Merripen had mistaken her for a prostitute, and now the reunion she had dreamt of for so long was turning into a farce.

“I assume you were told that I’m a Roma,” he said.

Her face still concealed by the hood, Win nodded.

“And that doesn’t matter to you?”

Win managed a single shake of her head.

There was a soft, humorless laugh that didn’t sound at all like Merripen. “Of course not. As long as the money is good.”

He left her momentarily, striding to the window to close the heavy velvet curtains against the smoke-hazed lights of London. A single lamp strained to illuminate the dimness of the room.

Win glanced at him quickly. It was Merripen . . . but as Amelia had said, he was altered. He had lost weight, perhaps a stone. He was huge, lean, almost rawboned. The neck of his shirt hung open, revealing the brown, hairless chest, the gleaming curve of powerful muscle. She thought at first it was a trick of the light, the immense bulwark of his shoulders and upper arms. Good Lord, how strong he’d become.

But none of that intrigued or startled her as much as his face. He was still as handsome as the devil, with those black eyes and that wicked mouth, the austere angles of nose and jaw, the high planes of his cheekbones. There were new lines, however, deep, bitter grooves that ran from nose to mouth, and the trace of a permanent frown between his thick brows. And most disturbing of all, a hint of cruelty in his expression. He looked capable of things that her Merripen never could have done.

Kev, she thought in despair and wonder, what’s happened to you?

He came to her. Win had forgotten the fluid way he moved, the breathtaking vitality that seemed to charge the air. Hastily she lowered her head.

Merripen reached out for her, and felt her flinch. He must have also detected the tremors that ran through her frame, for he said in a pitiless tone, “You’re new at this.”

She managed a hoarse whisper. “Yes.”

“I won’t hurt you.” Merripen guided her to a nearby table. As she stood facing away from him, he reached around to the fastenings of her cloak. The heavy garment fell away, revealing her straight blonde hair, which was falling from its combs. She heard his breath catch. A moment of stillness. Win closed her eyes as Merripen’s hands skimmed her sides. Her body was fuller, more curved, strong in the places where she had once been frail.

As he leaned over to lay her cloak at the side of the table, Win felt the unyielding surface of his body brush against hers. The scent of him, clean and rich and male, unlocked a flood of memories. He smelled like the outdoors, like dry leaves and clean rain-soaked earth. He smelled like Merripen.

She didn’t want to be so undone by him. And yet it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Something about him had always reached through her composure, down to the vein of purest feeling. This raw exhilaration was terrible and sweet, and no man had ever done this to her except him.

“Don’t you want to see my face?” she asked huskily.

A cold, level reply. “It’s of no concern to me if you’re plain or fair.” But his breath hastened as his hands settled on her, one sliding up her spine, urging her to bend forward. And his next words fell on her ears like black velvet.

“Put your hands on the table.”

Win obeyed blindly, trying to understand herself, the sudden sting of tears, the excitement that throbbed all through her. He stood behind her. His hand continued to move over her back in slow, soothing paths, and she wanted to arch upward like a cat. His touch awakened sensations that had lain dormant for so long. These hands had soothed and cared for her all during her illness, they had pulled her from the very brink of death.

And yet he was not touching her with love, but with impersonal skill. She comprehended that he fully intended to take her, use her, as he had put it. And after an intimate act with a complete stranger, he planned to send her away a stranger still. It was beneath him, the coward. Would he never allow himself to be involved with anyone?

He had closed one hand in her skirts now, easing them upward. Win felt the touch of a cold draft on her ankle, and she couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if she let him go on.

Aroused and panicking, she stared down at her fists and choked out, “Is this how you treat women now, Kev?”

Everything stopped. The world halted on its axis.

Her skirt hem dropped, and she was seized in a fierce, hurtful grip and spun around. Caught helplessly, she looked up into his dark face.

Merripen was expressionless, save for the widening of his eyes. As he stared at her, a flush burned across his cheeks and the bridge of his nose.

“Win.” Her name was carried on a shaken breath.

She tried to smile at him, to say something, but her mouth was trembling, and she was blinded by pleasure-tears. To be with him again . . . it overwhelmed her in every way.

One of his hands came upward. The calloused tip of his thumb smoothed over the gloss of dampness beneath her eye. His hand cradled the side of her face so gently that her lashes fluttered down, and she didn’t resist as she felt him bring her closer. His parted lips touched the salty wake of the tear and followed it along her cheek. And then the gentleness evaporated. With a swift, greedy move, he reached for her back, her hips, clutching her hard against him.

His mouth found hers with hot, urgent pressure. He tasted her . . . she reached up to this cheeks and shaped her fingers over the scrape of bristle. A sound came from low in his throat, a masculine growl of pleasure and need.

 

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REVIEW
Booklist Review:
After surviving a near-fatal bout with scarlet fever, Winnifred Hathaway has two goals in life: to regain some measure of her former health and to find out if Kev Merripen loves her as much as she loves him.

Before she travels to a clinic in France for treatment, she gives Kev one last chance, but he refuses to say the words she longs to hear. Months later she returns with the doctor who treated her at the clinic, Julian Harrow, who clearly would be delighted to take their relationship from professional to personal.

RITA Award-winner Kleypas continues her captivating Hathaway series with a lushly sexy and thoroughly romantic tale of a dark and brooding hero who almost loses the woman he loves because he thinks he isn’t good enough for her. Superbly crafted characters and an intriguing plot blend together brilliantly in this splendid romance.
John Charles

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