Captain Lord Darington is accustomed to commanding his ship as a much renowned and feared privateer. Who would have thought it would be on English soil that he would be attacked by brigands and seriously wounded? Had it not been for the lovely Miss Emma St. James he would be dead. Though he has always been more comfortable in a naval battle than in a ballroom, he is determined to exert himself and make a proper proposal of marriage to Emma. In this excerpt he struggles to choose just the right words…
Dare leaned back against the wall to rest. He wanted to sit down, but he feared someone would turn the corner of the hall and see the master of the house sitting on the floor. Emma might be alerted to the situation, and that was last thing he wanted.
As he rested, he thought about how best to conduct the proposal. What would be the best words?
Miss St. James, you are the loveliest creature ever born. You have saved my life and I am forever in your debt. Would you do me the great honor of becoming my wife?
That was good. Or maybe…
My dear Miss St. James. With your own blessed hands, you have healed me and given me back my life. I am forever in your debt, and my deepest desire is to spend the rest of my days, repaying this debt as your devoted husband and slave.
Hmmm…maybe too much. How about…
Miss St. James. You are eminently practical, reliable, and levelheaded in a crisis. Your beauty is beyond compare. You stand as a shining exemplary of womanhood. Your hair is golden, your mouth like rosebuds, your eyes deep pools of timeless beauty. You are like the sirens of myth. Your breasts alone could drive a man into madness…
No. No. NO.
Dare took a few more steps and leaned against the wall once more, though this time it was his mind he needed to get into better regulation, not just his body. He wished to propose marriage, not terrify the girl. He had done this before. How could it be so difficult now? Of course, his previous attempts had been flatly refused, so perhaps it was best not to try to replicate a failed offer. Still, it didn’t seem like it should be so difficult. He just needed to propose sensibly. And yet, he could not shake the fear sparked by his past rejections.
He did not want to fail.
Really, truly did not want to fail.
Young, unmarried females typically terrified him, but he felt comfortable when he was with Emma—and desperately uncomfortable, but never in a manner that made him want to run away. No, he only wanted to see her more.
She was beautiful, intelligent, kind, skilled, beautiful, sensible, practical, cheerful, beautiful…really, really beautiful. Maybe her breasts had driven him to madness. They quivered when she walked. Or laughed. Or breathed. Quivered! How was a man supposed to think when something so tempting was trembling right under his nose? It was impossible.
If he could pull himself together enough to make an offer she would accept, he would be allowed the opportunity to introduce himself more formally—or more importantly, informally—to her breasts. He could actually touch them. Cup them. Hold them.
“You all right, my lord?”
Dare was brought forcibly back to reality and realized he was leaning on the wall his hands outstretched, fondling the air. He dropped his arms immediately and stood upright no matter how it pained him to regard his housekeeper.
“I…I was just… I’m not myself.” He ended in a mutter. There was no way to explain his actions.
“It is the laudanum, I warrant,” she said kindly. “When Jonathan the footman hurt his ankle, he took a goodly amount. Helped with the pain, but he also had an entire conversation with a set of fire irons. Later, he said he was sure they were talking back.”
“Yes. Laudanum. Very bad. Not in my right mind.” Dare was relieved for a plausible explanation.
“You ought to be upstairs. I warrant Lady Kate will be quite irritated by you walking about. And Miss St. James as well. They seem very attentive.”
“Cannot stay in bed. Just catching my breath before going to the library.”
“I’ll call Jonathan to help you, then.”
“No, I’m perfectly fine. Do not trouble yourself.” But the housekeeper was gone, and before he had reached his destination, the footman appeared and offered to help. The assistance was helpful, but Dare’s grand entrance was rather marred by being assisted into a chair by a ruddy-faced footman.
Emma sat in a narrow block of sunlight from the one open window drape. She smiled when they entered, the pale winter light illuminating her golden hair and giving her an ethereal presence.
This was the woman he would marry. If only he could get her to say yes.
Captain Robert Ashton, Earl of Darington, knows finding a bride in London will not be easy—not since he has been notoriously dubbed as the “Pirate Earl”. What he didn’t expect was to get abducted—and to have his escape go horribly awry when an innocent lady gets caught in the crossfire.
Amateur physician Emma St. James is on her way to meet her betrothed when she is rescued by an injured gentleman. Despite her shock after discovering he is the Pirate Earl, Emma feels drawn to the man who saved her life. Duty forces them apart, but when they meet again on the high seas, Darington will risk all—his fortune, his name, and even his life to keep her safe.
Romance Historical [Sourcebooks Casablanca, On Sale: January 2, 2018, Mass Market Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781492605522 / eISBN: 9781492605539]
About Amanda Forester
Amanda Forester holds a PhD in clinical psychology and a Masters degree in theology. As a psychologist, she has worked as a clinical researcher and a university instructor (what they call you when they don’t want to give you tenure). None of which has anything to do with writing romance novels. After trying for many years to stop the internal storylines floating around her head, she finally gave up and wrote one down. Now when she is caught daydreaming and talking to herself she can just say, “I’m plotting a scene for my next novel,” which sounds so much better than, “I’m hallucinating and responding to internal stimuli.”
Amanda lives in the Pacific Northwest with her officer and a gentleman husband and their two remarkably active, naturally brilliant children. They share their home with two fiendishly destructive cats and one lazy dog.