Victorian Romance. After five seasons as a wallflower, Lettie Fairchild is resigned to spinsterhood. Mostly. Determined to claim more meaning for her life than seeing her younger sisters married, she seeks a purpose. She finds what she’s looking for when she happens upon a book describing seven curses that plague London.
Nathaniel Hawke is attempting to adjust to civilian life after retiring from the military, but his injured leg and memories of his time in the service prevent an easy transition. On his long walks during London’s darkest hours, Nathaniel is appalled by what he sees taking place on the dirty streets and alleyways. He is determined to take action. Coming upon a proper, if rebellious, lady in the desolate area both intrigues and frustrates him.
Nathaniel’s disregard for his personal safety infuriates Lettie even as her heart is touched by his determination to aid the city’s neglected children.
As the two wounded souls stumble upon each other time and again in slums and ballrooms, they realize they fight a common cause--and share an unbridled passion.
Will the curse they fight be their downfall? Or will love win the day?
“You have no say over me, Mr. Hawke.”
“What would your father say if he knew where you had spent the luncheon hour?”
Lettie gasped. “Are you threatening me?”
“No. I am trying to keep you safe.”
“You don’t know my name. Besides, I am old enough to see to my own safety.”
“And you obviously are quite good at it, since you are now riding in a carriage with a stranger un-chaperoned. Do you have any idea what happens to nice ladies such as yourself in situations like this?” He leaned closer, hoping his presence was enough to frighten her into avoiding such trips in the future.
Her chin went up a notch as she met his gaze. With his next indrawn breath, her sweet scent that held a hint of orchids filled his senses. He’d grown fond of their heady fragrance during his time in India. Why couldn’t she have smelled of roses or something normal like other English misses?
“Nothing untoward ever happens to me.” She said the words with the utmost confidence. Yet they held an underlying hint of something he couldn’t identify. Was it regret?
His gaze dropped to her lips. He could tell the moment awareness of the danger she was in struck her, for she gave a tiny gasp. The pulse just visible at the base of her throat sped. His gaze caught on the dent in her chin before he stared into her eyes once more, telling himself he needed to back away before doing something he’d regret.
But those hazel-green eyes with specks of gold left him no choice. There was a question in their depths. He recognized it as he had one too.
“Damn,” he muttered then took her mouth with his. Any idea of intimidating her fell away the moment his lips met hers. A surge of desire took him under, and he slipped his tongue into her mouth, swirling in its depths.
His entire body quivered at the spicy flavor of her. She tasted as good as she smelled, with a hint of cloves and cinnamon. Then her tongue hesitantly moved against his as though she was unfamiliar with doing so, and he nearly groaned. He tilted his head to deepen the kiss.
Her gloved hand fluttered up to the side of his face, whether to push him away or draw him closer, he didn’t know.
The knock on the carriage door had him jerking back.
“We’re blockin’ traffic,” his footman called out.
Nathaniel shook his head in an attempt to clear it. The woman appeared as startled as he. Indeed, she should be after that potent kiss. He quickly opened the door and exited to assist her in alighting right outside the bookstore she’d named, as promised.
Her hand trembled in his as she stepped down to the street. Rather than please him, as it had been his initial intent to frighten her, it angered him. Now that he’d been successful in scaring her, regret filled him. Somewhere deep inside, he’d wanted her to enjoy that kiss as much as he had.
“Do not venture there again,” he said then cleared his suddenly dry throat. “It’s far too dangerous. Do I make myself clear?”
“Perfectly,” she answered as she looked up at him.
He stared hard at her. Surely that couldn’t be delight in the depths of her eyes or a hint of a smile on those luscious lips. Not when her hand shook so. She pulled it from his grasp.
“Good day, Mr. Hawke.” She turned and walked into the bookstore without a backward glance.