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Sexy book excerpt: A war hero meets a criminal he can't resist

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British nobleman witnesses a crime that may lead to tense passion — and some danger

Born to a family of infamous criminals, Lilah Marshall has left behind her past and made herself into the perfect lady. All her dreams are within reach — until a gorgeous and enigmatic viscount, Christian “Kit” Stratton, catches her in the act of one last, very reluctant theft at Everleigh’s Auction Rooms where she works as a hostess. Kit had come to the house on business — a business that might just get both him and Lilah killed — but, once he’s there, he might not be able to resist some pleasure on the side.

Read the excerpt from Lady Be Good by Meredith Duran:

Flirt, evade, parry, giggle, flatter... The moment his mouth touched hers, these desperate tactics fell away like so much irrelevant fluff.

Kiss.

He tasted like Champagne. His lips were warm and soft. He sucked on her lower lip, leisurely, testing, and God help her but the pit of her stomach dropped away. She realized her arms were around him. Only to placate him, of course — and to test a theory.

His suit was not padded. This broad, hard muscle was all his by effort and training. A soldier. Well, she should have known. Not a gentleman after all, with apologies to Fiona. He had not saved her as an act of chivalry. He meant to press his advantage.

He pressed it now as he stepped into her fully, and she felt the size of him, his height and the muscled brawn of his thighs and the... distinct protuberance hardening against her skirts. Large, everywhere. Think. A brute. A bully, to catch her in this hall and harass her. She knew how to handle a bully. She—

He opened her mouth with his own. Ah, God, his tongue was clever; the kiss was skillful and gentle in the way that a spider was gentle; as he teased her, as he tasted her tongue and lured it, he wove a snare to trap her. And her body liked it. A delicious heat curled through her; she sagged back and his arm tightened around her waist to hold her against him, keeping her compliant to the ministrations of his clever, clever mouth.

A dozen gentlemen had kissed her. She knew how to handle this. Keep his interest at bay, accept the kiss and then break free, with every show of flustered flattery —

He angled his head. Oh yes, he was clever. Go deeper.

Appalled at herself, she turned her face aside. What was wrong with her?

He made some noise in his throat, a growling sound like approval. Like she’d done something wonderful. He kissed the corner of her mouth, then kissed his way down her jaw. He nuzzled her throat — ah, he smelled of some brand far rarer than Pearson’s. He smelled expensively clean, like foreign spices and Christmas wreaths.

He bit her neck lightly. A sound escaped her. She opened her eyes, goggling at the empty hall over his shoulder. What was she doing?

Perhaps he sensed her distraction. His hand pressed harder at the small of her back, reminding her of the raw power of his large, hard body. Instincts like a predator. Ah, heaven help her, a man who knew how to read a woman’s signals... How solidly his muscular thighs cradled her. She could intuit, as though her hand had already pressed against his belly, the hard planes of muscle that knit him together.

She had to stop this. She grasped his shoulder, ready to push him away. But the unyielding bulk fascinated her fingertips. She squeezed, amazed, as his hand slid down her arm, cupping the point of her elbow. His callused fingers stroked her, soothing and then gripping harder as they massaged her forearm, testing her strength as she tested his.

He kissed her mouth again. So sweetly. Had she ever been kissed like this? Pray to God this would not be the last time —

“Wait.” That wasn’t the right thought. “I —”

“Shh.” He looked into her eyes, his own the shade of tarnished gold, intent and sharp. He placed a fingertip very lightly against her lips.

She stared at him, ensorcelled.

“Someone will hear,” he told her.

Yes, someone would hear. It made a very good reason to stand quietly, passively as he laid his thumb on the wing of her collarbone. His gaze dropped to follow the trailing stroke of his thumb. The backs of his knuckles brushed her breastbone. He seemed only curious. Harmless. Intent on following the slope of her breast.

She licked her dry lips. Someone will hear. She could call out —

The neckline of her gown conspired with him. The tightness with which she’d laced, to compress her waist that extra inch — it caused her bodice to gape, slightly. He reached beneath her neckline, beneath her corset and chemise. His thumb, it knew what it was doing. He found her nipple. Rubbed gently.

This throb between her legs...

His next kiss felt like approval, a reward. His tongue played with hers as he stroked her nipple. He was…dangerous.

About the author: Meredith Duran is the author of eight previous novels, including The Duke of Shadows (winner of the Gather.com First Chapters Romance Writing Competition); Wicked Becomes You (included on the Woman’s World List of Best Beach Reads for Summer 2010), and the USA TODAY bestseller Fool Me Twice. She blames Anne Boleyn for sparking her lifelong obsession with British history, and for convincing her that princely love is no prize if it doesn’t come with a happily-ever-after. She enjoys collecting old etiquette manuals, guidebooks to nineteenth-century London, and travelogues by intrepid Victorian women. Visit her at MeredithDuran.com, xoxoafterdark.com or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

You can buy the full book here.

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