Too Sinful To Deny: Susan & Evan

It’s my birthday–well, tomorrow is–and to celebrate, I’d like to post a sneak peek from the upcoming TOO SINFUL TO DENY, starring Mr. Evan Bothwick and Miss Susan Stanton. They seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot, so let’s eavesdrop a bit to see just how badly things are going…:

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“Well, I’m afraid I must be off. I do appreciate your many kindnesses this morning, Mr. . .”

Incredible. Twice in his arms and she didn’t even know his name.

“Bothwick,” he supplied helpfully. “Marquess of Gower, Earl of Huntington, Viscount Rockham.”

“What?” There was no such—

“Just bamming you.” His grin was infectious. “Evan Bothwick.” He rose to his feet and held out his hand. “Plain old ‘mister.’”

Right. Susan shook his hand without a word.

Now that he had a name and a personality—and no pistol—he was a little less frightening and a little more. . . well, not normal, given the grains of sand caught in his hair (although that was her fault) or the drinking habit (possibly her fault as well) or the missing stockings (God only knew whose fault that was). He seemed approachable. Uncouth, but good-spirited. The sort who never had a problem making friends.

What on earth was he doing in Bournemouth?

“Have you lived here long?” she found herself asking.

“Longer than you. What brings a proper London miss to this great metropolis?”

Stalemate. Neither one of them was eager to discuss their past. The best plan, she decided, was to keep him talking. He’d reveal himself naturally, during the course of conversation.

“I must admit,” she said casually, “the ‘city’ ambience here in Bournemouth isn’t quite the same as back home.”

“Oh?” He swirled his brandy glass and played along. “Is something lacking?”

“It may be the case that I haven’t explored the entire shopping district yet,” she allowed magnanimously, “but I didn’t seem to come across jewelers, frozen ices, modistes, and the like. Nor did I notice any theatres, pleasure gardens, racing tracks. . . not even a church.”

“Which explains what our man of the cloth was doing in Sully’s tavern. Poor sap has nowhere else to be.”

This gave Susan pause. “Does anyone here have somewhere to be?”

Something in her voice made him lean forward, elbows on knees, and ask, “Truthfully?”

She nodded.

He appeared to ponder the question. “No.”

That’s what she was afraid of. She wasn’t sure how long her parents expected her to remain here (they’d surely said “forever” out of anger) but Susan didn’t intend to stay one more day.

“You may have noticed the beach,” Mr. Bothwick continued slowly, appearing to give her question much thought. “But I wouldn’t recommend bathing in it.”

“Too cold?”

He plucked a piece of seaweed from his breeches. “I can assure you.”

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YOUR TURN: There’s love at first sight, and then there’s getting sand all over a gun-toting stranger. What are some of your favorite (or at least memorable!) ways two people have met? Real life, books, or movies, it all counts. Please share!

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Erica Ridley
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