Philomena Davenport is shocked at her first sight of Breckenhill Keep, the monstrous ruin she had inherited from the father who had deserted her as a child. Even more shocking was the mysterious stipulation in the will that required her to remain at the Keep for three months, before she could claim her inheritance. How could she do that when the Guardian of the Keep, the handsomely daunting Byron Carstairs, wants her gone, and the spine chilling howls echoing up from the bowels of the ruin urge her to escape while she still can? But Phil is made of firmer stuff than that. She will take on the denizens of this dark domain, and make the place her own. No monster or man would keep her from it, and only love could drive her away.
For Byron, Phil is a light in the darkness of his duty-bound life. He had never expected to meet someone as beautiful, courageous or compassionate as she. In only days, she manages to spin her magic around the hearts of all who dwell within the sanctuary. But no matter how much they needed her, it is no kindness to keep her there. She deserved far better than a burdened man and a castle filled with monsters. For her own good, he must drive her light from his dark life.
>>>Recommended for readers who enjoy steamy but wholly romantic love scenes
‘You will find everything you need in this room. There’s a chamber pot under the bed and there will be fresh water to wash with in the morning. Not before. Do not, under any circumstances, try to leave your room until I come for you in the morning. Keep your door locked at all times. There is a key on the inside. Use it.’
She stood in the doorway of her new room and stared up at him. He had the strongest desire to tear off her bonnet and loosen her hair so he could see what colour it actually was. At the moment, in the glow from the lamp, it looked like burnished copper. He wanted to feel the silky texture of it between his fingers. He wanted to brush the stray locks back from her pale face.
As they stared at one another, it seemed as if time had stopped. He watched in bemused delight as her cheeks darkened with a blush and her eyes sparkled. Her breasts, so tightly cocooned beneath the sober bodice, rose upward and seemed to struggle to escape their bondage. She swallowed and sucked in her lush lower lip, chewing on it nervously. Something had shifted between them and he could see that she was as affected by it as he was.
‘You…You are still trying to frighten me away. Can you not see that such a ploy will not work with me?’ she asked softly, brushing back the errant lock he had wanted to touch.
‘I am not trying to frighten you. I am trying to protect you. You have no idea what your pride has led you into.’ His voice was little more than a whisper, and she shifted forward slightly to catch his words.
‘Who are you?’ Her mouth formed a moue, as if caught on the last word. ‘Why would you want to protect me?’
Byron lifted his hand and let his fingers touch those pouting lips. Like a sea anemone, they withdrew from his invasion.
He grunted at his own lack of restraint. He had more pressing matters with which to concern himself than this pretty Miss. Yet he regretted her rejection of his touch. It stung.
‘I am Byron Carstairs. I was your father’s assistant.’
Her eyes lit with amusement. ‘You had a poetry lover for a parent, I assume?’
Byron groaned. His mother’s love of Lord Byron’s poetry had indeed been the reason for his name. He had been teased mercilessly throughout his school years for it, and he had never liked his namesake’s writing. It was highly unrealistic in its romanticism.
‘Good night, Miss Davenport. I will see you in the morning.’ He tried to maintain his fierce persona but she had dislodged it with her amusement, and though he knew it was no time for frivolity, he felt lightness in the moment.
She smiled a slow and knowing smile that created dimples in her flushed cheeks. ‘Goodnight to you, Mr Carstairs. I will look forward to it.’
His pulse raced and, for one daring moment, he thought of dragging her into his arms and kissing those smiling lips. She was like nothing he had ever known. In this dark place, with its horror and pain, she was a glimpse of light that shone brighter than the sun. He wanted to bath in it, soak up the warmth of it, and let it drive the darkness away…
If only for a few precious moments.