Spotlight on Danelle Harmon and…

‘Lord Of The Sea’

LOTS DH

BOOK BLURB: A Sea Devil Who’s Reckless At Heart. . .

Captain Connor Merrick’s thirst for danger has brought him fame and fortune as one of the most brazenly successful privateers of the War of 1812. But deep beneath his swagger, derring-do and charm, the handsome American captain is hiding a devastating secret, and he’ll go to any lengths to protect it . . .

A Beauty Who Gets More Than She Bargained For. . . .

Rhiannon Evans has longed for an adventure—and a mysterious, dangerous man to sweep her off her feet. While enroute to the tropical paradise of Barbados, she never dreams that her heart will be captured by the dashing American privateer who rescues her from bloodthirsty pirates. Only Rhiannon can see beneath Connor’s reckless façade to the man beneath. But when tragedy strikes, can Rhiannon’s love save Connor from himself? Or will the secret he guards so carefully, end up being the undoing of them both?

Buy Links: Amazon /

EXCERPT: 

And then they heard it.

Footsteps, coming toward them.

“Dear God,” Alannah breathed.

Rhiannon rose, her ankle shrieking in agony. There was nothing in the cabin with which to defend themselves, but on the captain’s desk lay a pair of brass nautical dividers, V-shaped and needle-pointed, which were used to chart a course. She grabbed them and turned to face the door as a fist pounded against it once, twice, three times.

She glanced at Alannah, and the other woman ran toward her, trying in vain to find a weapon.

Suddenly, the door crashed open beneath the force of a powerful male shoulder, shoving the heavy sea chest out of the way with it, and both women screamed.

A man stood there. In the gloom, he was lean and lanky and so tall that he filled the doorway. He wore a short blue pea coat with brass buttons, canvas trousers, and a straw hat. In his hand was a pistol, which, upon seeing the two women, he lowered.

“Well, well,” he said, and with an elegant bow, removed the hat, revealing carelessly tousled chestnut hair that was thick and curling and fashionably cut. His was a face of hard planes, translucent green eyes, and a recklessly smiling mouth. Entering the cabin, he calmly plucked the dividers from Rhiannon’s nerveless hand. “I am Captain Merrick of the American privateer schooner Kestrel, and it would appear that we’ve found a most lucrative prize, indeed.”

Chapter 2

Well, well, indeed, Connor thought, tossing the dividers to a nearby table.

Rum. Sugar. Molasses. Spices. Exotic fruits. Even, God forbid, slaves. Those were the sort of things one normally found when they took a ship in these latitudes, but this was an altogether different sort of cargo, indeed.

Women. Two of them. One dark-haired with flashing blue eyes and a vaguely familiar look about her. She was fair enough, though he suspected she’d like to retrieve the dividers and stab them straight into his heart. The other one . . . .

Keep to the business at hand.

Oh, the other one. . . .

That one was, Connor thought as her huge, long-lashed green eyes lifted to his, was surely the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen in his life. She was young and tall and willowy, with fiery red-gold hair set off by clear, flawless skin, a mischievous tilt to her chin, and smiling lips that drew and held his gaze and made him want to trace their bow, their perfect shape, with his finger. His tongue.

Something stirred in his groin.

This could be a problem.

Ignore her.

He turned away just as the dark-haired one found her voice.

“Privateer? You’re nothing but a pirate! This is an English ship, and I demand that you release us immediately!”

The beauty grabbed the dark-haired one’s elbow. “Alannah, he just saved our lives!”

“Only to rob us! Oh, just wait until my brother hears of this!”

“Better to be robbed than dead!”

“He may well kill us yet! Or God forbid, ravish us!”

Connor shot a glance at the sunset-haired beauty. Don’t give me any ideas, he wanted to say, because she had spunk as well as beauty and she was looking at him the way any damsel in distress might just gaze upon her rescuer, looking at him in a way that made him want to pull himself up a little more and puff out his chest and slay a dragon for her. Though, come to think of it, maybe he just had. At any other time, the besotted look in her eyes and that impish smile  would have been all he needed to follow his baser instincts. At any other time, he might take great delight in pursuing that coy, unspoken invitation farther—preferably in a place that involved a mattress, sheets, and an hour or two of free time. But he had business to conduct here, there was a storm bearing down on them, and he couldn’t let himself be distracted.

Papers. He had to get the ship’s papers.

The other one was still harping on him. “Furthermore, I’ll have you know right now Captain Merrick, that I object most highly to the way you forced yourself into this cabin like some barbarian! Just what do you think you’re doing?”

Ignoring her, Connor sent a conspiring grin the way of the young beauty, went to the captain’s desk and yanking open a drawer, began searching for the merchant ship’s papers.

“Did you hear me? What do you think you’re doing?

Ignore her.

Easy enough.

Ignore the other one, too.

Not so easy. . . .

Rhiannon, feeling her heartbeat skipping, somersaulting and tripping over itself as she watched the Yankee privateer rifling through the desk, had seen that covert, amused glance he’d thrown her and couldn’t take her eyes off him. Footsteps echoed outside and now another man entered the cabin, a sword in his hand. Though not as tall or lean as the captain, he too was handsomely made, with thick, tawny hair that was bleached by the sun, steady brown eyes, a quiet demeanor and a look of solidness and strength about him. He glanced, briefly, at her and Alannah, then turned toward the mahogany-haired god who was cheerfully pulling out a sealed oilskin packet from the desk. “Captain, there are five from this tub who reckon they want to sign aboard with us; the rest, including the master, have resisted, and we’ve got three remaining pirates a’begging for mercy.”

“Begging for mercy, are they? Hmph. Given that they showed this crew none, I’m not inclined to oblige them.” The privateer slammed the drawer shut. “Secure the prisoners in the fo’c’sle, with the pirates separate from the crew so they don’t add to the slaughter. How’s that squall tracking?”

It was then that she remembered his introduction.

Merrick  . . . Kestrel . . . Merrick . . . .

“Veering off, sir, heading north by west. I think it’ll miss us.”

“The devil’s own luck, that,” the American said, slitting open the leather pouch with a small knife and beginning to scan its contents.

“What are you going to do with us?”

The American ignored her.

“I demand to know what will become of us!”

“Do be quiet, madam, I’m trying to think,” the captain snapped, handing the papers to the newcomer with a sound of annoyance. “Read this, would you, Nathan? I don’t have time to sit here and make sense of it.”

“Aye.” The one named Nathan said, looking at the papers. “She’s out of Southampton, bound for Barbados, carrying fine English linens, china, beer, various foodstuffs, and muskets.”

“Muskets! How provident.” The captain reclaimed the papers and stuffed them back into the leather pouch. “Muster a prize crew for this tub. We’ll send her into Mobile, as it’s the closest port from which to auction her off. Jenkins, I think, can command her. Ladies, collect your belongings.”

He tossed the pouch to a nearby table, and it suddenly hit Rhiannon just who this handsome god was.

“You’re Captain Merrick!” she exclaimed excitedly. “Of the schooner Kestrel!”

He just looked at her as though she were daft. “Aye, that’s what I just said.”

“From Portsmouth, England?”

“No, ma’m, from Newburyport, Massachusetts.” He began to stalk toward the door.

“But you were in Portsmouth this past spring! I know you were!”

The American turned, and something glinted in his clear, pale green eyes, something that wasn’t quite amusement, something that belied a memory, perhaps, that he had no wish to recall, before one corner of his mouth—his very firm, very sensual mouth, Rhiannon thought—turned up in the faintest of grins.

“And how might you know that, Miss . . . ?”

“Evans. Rhiannon Evans. You don’t know me, but I’m Gwyneth’s sister!”

He lifted a brow. “Gwyneth’s sister.”

“Yes! We rented a house in Portsmouth together, and it was you who was rescuing French and American prisoners from the hulk Surrey, you who risked your life for them time and time again as the elusive Black Wolf, you who saved my brother-in-law, the marquess of Morninghall, from certain death by snatching him right out from under the guns of a firing squad with this very ship! It was you, wasn’t it? Connor Merrick! You’re the Black Wolf!”

Even the other man had paused to stare at Rhiannon. “Well, this certainly complicates matters, Connor,” he said, his brown eyes amused.

“Only if we let it.” And then, frowning: “What the blazes are you doing all the way out here? You’re a long way from England.”

“My friend Alannah here invited me to accompany her to Barbados, and I wanted an adventure, and so I came along. Oh, I can’t wait to write to Gwyneth and tell her all about what you just did for us; you saved our lives, Captain Merrick! Thank you!” It was all Rhiannon could do not to fling her arms around his neck in relief and gratitude. “Oh, thank you!”

The American’s green eyes crinkled with humor.

And Alannah, seeing the unspoken connection between Rhiannon and this man who had so audaciously taken their ship, and was now looking just a little too long, and with a little too much interest—the wrong kind of interest—at the girl she was charged to protect, wasn’t so forgiving. Especially since there was something disturbingly familiar about him.

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What characteristic/s are you looking for in your ‘book boyfriends’?

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GIVEAWAY INTERNATIONAL!

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Danelle HarmonAUTHOR BIO: Bestselling, multi-award winning and critically acclaimed author Danelle Harmon has written ten books, previously published in print and distributed in many languages throughout the world. Though born and raised in Massachusetts, she and her husband, a native of southwest London, were married and lived in England for several years.

These days, Ms. Harmon and her husband make their home in New England with their daughter Emma and numerous animals including four dogs, an Egyptian Arabian horse, and numerous pet chickens. Danelle welcomes email from her readers and can be reached at her Email or Facebook.

Social Media: Facebook / Tweeter / Website / Blog

Spotlight on Danelle Harmon and…

Taken by Storm

TBS DHBOOK BLURB: Ex-naval captain Colin Lord has had his fill of hot-headed adventure. Now, he wants nothing more than to put his tragic past behind him and pursue his career as a London veterinarian.

Heiress Lady Ariadne St. Aubyn is on the run. She wants nothing more than to get the last of a rare breed of racehorse safely away from her wastrel brother before he and every reward hunter in England can catch her.

But when the fiery noblewoman convinces the reluctant veterinarian to oversee the health of her equally temperamental stallion, both Colin and Ariadne find themselves caught up in a wild chase across Regency England in which love, passion — and the Fastest Horse in the World — are all part of the stakes. A treat for animal lovers everywhere!

EXCERPT:

For some odd reason that he couldn’t explain, Colin wasn’t surprised to find the same young woman who had piqued his curiosity and plagued his thoughts from the moment he’d seen her sitting astride that same stallion, waiting for him outside in the street.

No, not surprised at all.

“Colin Lord,” he said, taking off his hat and bowing. “And whom do I have the pleasure of addressing?”

“How gallant you were today, saving that little boy’s dog as you did!” she said hurriedly, ignoring his question. “I commend your persistence, your skill, and your knowledge. I have never seen anything quite like it in my life. You were magnificent. Simply brilliant!”

Magnificent?

“Where did you learn such a thing, sir? You must be appropriately educated.”

“VeterinaryCollege, London.  I graduated from there, and did an apprenticeship with Delabere Blaine— ”

“Ah yes, the VeterinaryCollege. My father, God rest his soul, had great faith in the future of the veterinary art and gave much money to support that institution. Always said it was a pity that France had a veterinary college before England did . . .  After today, I can certainly see why he harbored such belief in your profession. Your knowledge far surpasses that of the common farrier and I think you’ll do quite nicely.” She smiled nervously, and glanced over her shoulder down the darkened street. “Are you ready to leave, Mr. Lord?”

“Leave?”

“Why, yes, leave. I trust Simon and Daniel told you that I have need of your services, and that there is no time to be lost. We must be on her way, and immediately.”

“To be fair, Madam, your two lackeys here were not entirely forthcoming or persuasive in their attempts to convince me to accompany you. I understand that you want something from me—”

“Yes, but I am willing to pay handsomely for it.”

“And I also assume that you are the ‘employer’ whose whereabouts were unknown to your two friends here.”

“Well, yes, but—”

“They said something about Norfolk, sick horses, and payment. Pray, madam, do not keep me in suspense.”

She was obviously not accustomed to such direct and relentless questioning, and he saw her pause for a moment before she finally tightened her mouth, stood up, and pulled off her cap. In the lantern’s soft glow her hair tumbled down, gleaming rich and red and lustrous, like a warship’s new copper. She drove a hand through it, obliterating the flat imprint left by the cap and making the glossy tresses spring and bounce to life around her shoulders. For the first time, he saw her features in all their glory—the impudent little nose, the high cheekbones, the saucy tilt to her perfect mouth. Her skin was the color of his mother’s finest china, her eyes alight with piquancy. She was more lovely than he’d imagined, and he suddenly found it too hard to breathe.

“What?” Her eyes sparkled, and he caught the challenging, almost teasing, note to her tone. “Have you never seen a lady before?”

“Not . . . garbed so charmingly.”

It was a bold reply, and he saw her brows shoot up, the quick burst of color in her cheeks before she quickly turned her back on him and moved to stand beside the stallion, her hand stroking the horse’s muzzle with rapid, nervous movements.

REVIEW: This story is a revision of the paperback version and the author herself had said that she had “extensively revised” it from the original. As I never read the earlier version, I can only comment on this one, and in my opinion, this is such a heartwarming, sweet and utterly cute romance story.

It truly melted my heart. Our hero Colin is such a mix of Alpha & Beta hero that comes of so human and likable that I just wanted to hug the guy!

Ariadne was a perfect little minx for him and someone with an enthusiastic, flirty and charming nature like hers was the only one that could draw him out of his suppressed state.

Their little adventure is a mix of expected to the unexpected [and no, I’m not going to tell you what that is!].

The author’s knowledge of horses is clear and she makes even someone like me that knows nothing of horses, wishing to learn more of those scary beasts!

This is a lighthearted, fun and entertaining book, yet sensual as well. I loved the adventure, suspense and despite its predictability, it had some surprises and I loved the suspense built with it [not going to tell you that either!].

This should be a fun, fast-paced and steamy summer read and I highly recommend it to all, but animal lovers especially! To buy it, click on the cover!

Danelle HarmonAUTHOR BIO: Bestselling, multi-award winning and critically acclaimed author Danelle Harmon has written ten books, previously published in print and distributed in many languages throughout the world. Though born and raised in Massachusetts, she and her husband, a native of southwest London, were married and lived in England for several years.

These days, Ms. Harmon and her husband make their home in New England with their daughter Emma and numerous animals including four dogs, an Egyptian Arabian horse, and numerous pet chickens. Danelle welcomes email from her readers and can be reached at her Email or Facebook.

‘The Admiral’s Heart’ by Danelle Harmon

TAH DHSTORY: England, 1774. Ten years have elapsed since Lady Philippa Ponsonby Hatfield made a painful sacrifice in giving up the dashing Royal Navy captain with whom she was desperately in love.

In the years since, Sir Elliott Lord has gone on to become a famous admiral and hero of England, and now, fate throws them together once more at a glittering ball hosted by none other than Lucien de Montforte, the mighty duke of Blackheath …

REVIEW: I’m always willing to take a trip with one of Danelle Harmon’s books, and in this story. The Admiral’s Heart, she takes me on a short journey of what once Pippa and Elliot had but lost; young, sweet and innocent love. By pure coincidence [or is it? You can never be sure when Lucien is around], they are presented with a second chance…

Will Pippa find the courage to face Elliot and finally give him an explanation behind her withdrawal of her affections all those years ago?

Is Elliot willing to listen, forgive and embrace the second chance with the woman he always loved and could never forget?

This is a short story a bit shy of 13,000 words and as such I knew that the author was limited in her telling, but if you’re Danelle Harmon, you don’t let that stop you. And while the story is way too short for my taste, the author made sure I was entertained and vested in Pippa and Elliot’s happily ever after.

I enjoyed their interaction as they reunite and awkwardly try to reacquaint themselves with each other, while each is itching to give in temptation.

Oh, and that love scene at the end….just thought to warn you…it’s a scorcher!

EXCERPT: 

“He saw a flash of blue ahead as she rounded a corner, and broke into a run. He would not lose her. Even if he had to chase her from here to London.

And he’d be damned to hell and back if he’d allow Sir Geoffrey, or any of his subordinates to know that he felt dismasted, in irons, as stricken as a brig that had just been smashed beneath a salvo of chain shot, and he damn well didn’t need the young Captain Merrick, whose arm had been so conveniently placed beneath Pippa’s hand when he’d come upon the little group, trying to make himself useful. Elliott was on the distant side of thirty. The far distant side. He had enough aches and pains when he got up in the morning these days, and though his sandy blond hair was still thick and rich and showed no sign of either thinning or gray, the lines that bracketed the corners of his eyes, carved there by sun and salt and the passing of years, were an all too blatant reminder that he was no dashing young buck like the handsome Captain Merrick or even that pink-cheeked pup, Oliver Heathmore.

Pippa. Of all people to encounter here. Of all people to run up against when it had taken him ten years to forget her.

Of all people.

There, ahead, a door, ajar. He pushed it open.

Nothing.

He kept going, moving faster now.

Another door. Closed.

He shoved it open and there she was, standing by a window with one hand anchoring herself on its sill. A candle in a glass globe stood on a small table nearby, striking gold into her beautiful face.

‘Elliott,’ she said weakly.

He stopped in his tracks, one hand still on the door, just looking at her.

She was beautiful. Heartbreakingly so. Certainly, the years had treated her kinder than they had him. But then, the one doing the jilting wasn’t usually the one who did the suffering. And by the looks of her, she hadn’t suffered one bit. Skin that was still clear and smooth. Full, pink lips, now parted in surprise or shock, making him ache to kiss them, and a mouth that used to be able to quirk up just a fraction on one side, as though she found life perpetually amusing and expected others to, as well. Kind, gentle, blue eyes, heavily lashed and slightly down-turned at the corners like those of her de Montforte cousins, and a tiny, nipped waist that just begged him to span it with his hands. She wore a beautiful gown of shimmering cobalt silk, the skirts overlaid with white lace and the fitted bodice embroidered with gold thread that caught the light of the candle.

Blue and white and gold.

Naval colors.

Surely it was a coincidence.

Somewhere off over his shoulder, and coming down the hall toward them, he heard voices. Without a second thought, Elliott kicked the door shut behind him with one foot. The abrupt sound it made as it slammed was immensely satisfying.”

*Book provided by the author.

‘My Lady Pirate’ by Danelle Harmon

BOOK BLURB: Proud Pirate Queen…With her feisty band of warrior women, Maeve Merrick, the notorious Pirate Queen of the Caribbean, commands the seas in her beautiful schooner Kestrel. Burned by the treachery of men and nursing a painful betrayal from her past, Maeve wants for nothing … until the sea delivers a handsome castaway to her remote island.

High Stakes and Betrayal…Nothing is as it appears. Maeve’s prisoner has a dangerous secret – a secret that could very well change the fate of nations … but from the moment the fiery she-pirate lays eyes upon her gift from the sea, she finds her most precious possession – her heart – in danger of becoming a pirate’s plunder in this fast-paced, passionate tale of love set in the summer of 1805.

EXCERPT: In this short excerpt from My Lady Pirate, Maeve Merrick, the beautiful and dangerous Pirate Queen of the Caribbean, has just returned to her hidden tropical island to find her handsome and mysterious castaway escaped from the “jail” in which she’d left him—and sound asleep in her bed. . .

###

Maeve pushed open the door to her room, tossed her scabbard into a chair, and saw the pirate sprawled on her bed, fast asleep and naked as a newborn babe.

She froze.

Then, holding her breath, she slunk backward, flattened herself against the wall outside, and, shutting her eyes, leaned her head back against it, the image of that virile man stamped indelibly on her brain.

Fury at his insolence . . . shock at discovering him in her bed—her bed! . . . joy that he hadn’t fled like the coward she’d thought him to be . . . excitement at the sight of that handsome body. . .

And terror of the broken heart she knew he would give her.

Maeve’s first instinct was to kill him. Her second was to slip into bed with him and have her way with that splendid male body. She decided instead to creep back into the room and gaze at him until she decided between the first and the second.

She found him awake and sitting up, reposing against the pillows heaped at the headboard with his hands linked behind his head and his black hair in disarray across his brow, his arms, her pillows. His shoulders were dark against the lavender satin, his chest a formidable expanse of darkly tanned muscle. His manhood was bared to the world, his amused gaze challenged hers, and there wasn’t the least shred of modesty in those wicked indigo depths—only ripe humor and bold, blatant invitation.

“Care to drop anchor beside me, lass?” He grinned, wolfishly. “Morning is the fairest time for a tryst, you know.”

For the first time in her life Maeve Merrick was at a loss over what to say, do, think. She stared at him, unable to tear her eyes from that magnificent male body that lay so dark against the creamy sheets and violet pillows, her creamy sheets and her violet pillows—

She grabbed up her cutlass and pointed it at him, accusingly. “You—” Her hand was trembling, and she saw humor dancing in his eyes as he looked at the jiggling sword tip. “You escaped. . .”

“Aye.” He gave a lewd, suggestive wink. “Proud of me?”

“Proud?”

“Aye. Your pirate here is smarter than you give him credit for.” He tapped his temple and grinned. “I merely plucked the key from you when you lay senseless in my arms. You really didn’t expect me to berth on that filthy pallet outside, now, did you?”

Her mouth fell open and she could only stare. The rogue! Her skin flushed hot and feverish, flushed hotter still as she noticed that he was beginning to swell and rise and stiffen. Her palms grew sweaty, and she tightened her grip on the sword hilt and forced herself to meet his eyes, admiring his courage and yes, even his insolence. No coward, this man!

“So,” he drawled, taking advantage of her stunned silence. “Did you have a nice meeting with the admiral?”

His words jolted Maeve out of her shock. “My meeting with Lord Nelson is none of your blasted business! And if you think to change my mind about handing you over to him”—she stormed to the window to escape the temptation his virile body offered—“you’re wasting your breath.”

“Ah . . . so you did meet him,” he murmured from behind her. “Quite a remarkable little fellow, isn’t he?”

“In spirit,” she allowed, “but not stature. I make two of him.”

She was staring out at the turquoise sea, gripping the cutlass so fiercely the wire-bound hilt drove itself into her palm. Then she swung back, not liking the feel of that amused gaze nailing her between the shoulder blades, of having her back to an enemy, of knowing his eyes were sliding heatedly over every inch of her spine, her bottom, her legs, her bare calves. . .

“So, you failed to convince him of your mystical powers, eh? Is his lordship’s course a southerly one, after all? Hmmm?”

“I will not answer that. You’re a spy and therefore I shall disclose no information about the British Navy to you.”

“Why this apparent loyalty to the British Navy, eh? By your speech, I’d have thought you an American.”

“I am an American. But I detest the bloody French as much as the British do. And as for Nelson, he’s not only a hero, but the finest sea officer in the world and I happen to admire him, all right? Now shut your damned mouth before I lose my temper and flay that tongue of yours into ribbons!”

His lips twitched, and she bristled at the thought that he was inwardly laughing at her. “Well, you can’t blame a body for trying,” he said mildly, his gaze sliding down the front of her shirt with enough heat to burn the fabric right off her skin. Maeve slapped the flat of the cutlass across her chest, but the action only called further attention to that part of her anatomy. “And Villeneuve? Surely you can tell me about him. . .”

“Villeneuve is north, and that’s all you need to know.”

“Aah, but does Nelson know that?”

“Aye, I told him.”

He smirked. “And did his Lordship believe you?”

“No,” she admitted, her mouth tightening in an angry line. Unbidden, her gaze flickered to his masculinity before she glared up into his smug, amused face. “Damn you, do you have to lie there, all exposed?”

“It’s . . . hot.”

“There’s a fine breeze blowing!”

“I wasn’t referring to the weather.”

In one quick motion, Maeve drew her dagger and flung it at his head, satisfied to see him jerk away so that the vicious blade impaled the wall just above and behind him. “You are disgusting, despicable, and totally without pride!”

“On the contrary, madam.” Without blinking an eye, he reached up, pulled the dagger from the wall, and plucking an orange from the nightstand, began to use it to peel the fruit. “I am quite proud of it, thank you.” Still holding her gaze, he popped a section of the orange into his mouth, eating it with slow, suggestive motions that shortened the breath in Maeve’s lungs and made her realize that he was not the only one who was hot. Her temper and her temperature were rising as well. Had she had her pistol, she probably would’ve shot him. Probably. Maybe. Maybe . . . not.

Her gaze darted from him to the window. From the window to him. From him to the window . . . and each time she looked at him, she saw that he was watching her, fully enjoying her discomfort.

He grinned, and suggestively licked at the juices trailing from the sweet fruit, letting his tongue wrap around each section and making sure she saw him doing it. His eyes were dark, laughing, and half-veiled by heavy, thick lashes that did nothing to conceal the wicked expression that lit them.

The suckling noises increased.

“Stop it!” she hissed.

He dropped the orange section into his mouth, licked his lips with a slow, languorous, circular motion, and slowly peeled off another.

The heat rose in Maeve’s blood.

“Would you like . . . a taste, madam?”

She raised her cutlass. “I’ll give you a taste—”

“No decisive battle was ever fought from afar,” he interrupted on a low murmur, still grinning. “Nay, two vessels must lie alongside of each other in order to best bring their guns to bear.” He bit into the orange, making lewd, evocative noises as the juice trailed from the succulent flesh and dribbled down his chin. There was a dimple in that chin, and Maeve felt her heart skipping, staggering, faltering. “We have a signal for such an engagement in the navy. ’Tis called close action.”

 “You are no longer in the navy, and I am not a ship!”

“Nay, you are not . . .” His voice grew low, dangerously seductive. “But I like the cut of your jib, the taut trim of your sails”—the dark gaze slid over her breasts, the gentle flare of her hips—“the shape of your hull.”

“Get out of my bed.”

“Why? I really am most comfortable. Not as comfortable, of course, as I would be if you were to drop anchor beside me. . .”

Her skin tingled and flushed crimson. “I said, Get out of my bed!

He suckled the juice from his fingers. “What, would you prefer to do it on the floor?”

“I’d prefer that you shut your mouth before I shut it for you!”

“Now that, “ he said, wickedly, “could be interesting.”

“Damn you, I’ve had it with your sly innuendos!”

“Now, Majesty, “ he murmured, affecting a look of mock hurt. Putting the dagger down, he sat up, swung his handsomely muscled legs off the bed, and sat looking at her, charmingly boyish, alarmingly dangerous, and shamelessly naked. “Don’t go getting your guns all primed. I am just a sailor . . . and what sailor doesn’t lust and pant after a beautiful woman? I find you beautiful, and”—he let his gaze rake over her breasts, her hips, her bare ankles—“I want you.”

Maeve swallowed hard.

“Come, now, dear lady.” His hand, a broad, and callused hand—a man’s hand—slid over her silky sheets in a way that was calculated to suggest that same masterful hand roving over her equally silky flesh. He gave a slow, heated grin that sent the temperature of her blood soaring to new heights. “Don’t make me come over there and get you . . .”

His body seemed relaxed, but she sensed the raw power underneath, the ability to spring, wolflike, and bring her down like a helpless hare.

The Pirate Queen took a step backward.

“You fear me,” he murmured, his eyes glinting. He spread his hands, as though in truce, and again she was struck by the power, the strength, in those broad palms, those beautiful, tapered fingers. Shivers coursed through her. She had no trouble imagining them around her throat. No trouble imagining them crushing the life out of her.

And no trouble imagining them caressing her heated flesh.

“I fear nothing!” she snapped, defiantly. “D’you hear me? Nothing!

“No? Your lie is thoroughly unconvincing, I’m afraid. I think you fear me very much.” Rising to his feet, he took a step forward. Another. “You see, Majesty, I have waited all night and half the morning for you. I have waited . . . all my life. Now, be a good lass, and let me pleasure you. . . Love you. . . Stroke your sweet flesh into flame and fire. . . After all”—again, he flashed that disarming grin—“we have so little time left together. . .”

He took another step forward but Maeve stood her ground, gripping the raised cutlass, her gaze locked with his and every muscle in her body strung shroud-tight—

“I’m warning you, pirate!”

Sweat ran down her spine as he moved closer.

“Stay away from me!”

“So little time,” he said again—and reached for her.”

FEATURED AUTHOR: Danelle Harmon

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