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Sexy book excerpt: A scene from The Prince and I by Karen Hawkins

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Widow seeks revenge for husband's death and but meets a handsome prince who derails her plans

When Lady Murian, a young widow out for revenge against the powerful earl who killed her husband and stole his birthright, ambushes the Prince of Oxenburg’s golden coach, she gets far more than she expected. For when the prince uncovers her true identity, she's afraid that he might be the real thief… of her heart.

Excerpt from The Prince and I by Karen Hawkins:

The late-morning sun slanted through the shutters as Murian sank deeper into the tub, warm water sloshing over her shoulders. The large brass tub was another prize she'd stolen from Rowallen, and she still took great delight in thinking of the earl having to use one of the small tubs she'd left behind. He'd barely be able to sit in one, his legs folded in front of him, which would be most uncomfortable.

Grinning, she slid farther down in the water so that it encircled her face and her hair fanned around her. She'd been singing her favorite song, one her mother had taught her when she was a child, about maidens and knights. With her ears underwater, her voice was muffled and — to be honest — much improved.

The warm water felt heavenly, her cares dissolving into the thick curls of lavender-scented steam that rose from the tub. It had been a long few weeks and she’d needed some time to let her cares go.

Yet try as she would, she hadn't been able to stop thinking about the prince, wondering why he'd taken such an interest in her. Was it mere pride, because she'd bested him at a sword fight? She didn't think so, seeing as how he'd turned the tables at the end. Though if she hadn't slipped — No, it was better not to dwell on might-haves. Life had taught her that lesson far too well.

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At one time, she'd had a new, adoring husband, a beautiful castle for a home, and a future that had seemed endless. In one day, she'd lost it all. The only way she'd been able to come to terms with such devastation was to move forward and keep moving. She missed Robert dearly and knew that a part of her always would. But as time passed and she heard stories from the widows who'd been wed for years before being parted from their husbands, she'd realized her and Robert’s relationship had only just begun to grow roots. She was certain it would have become a towering tree, had they been allowed the luxury of time. As it was, she was left with an empty heart and many sweet memories, which had been enough until now. Somehow, meeting the prince had awakened her imagination and made her wonder what if?

She shouldn't even be thinking about the prince; she'd only met him three times, anyway. Which was three times too many. Still... there was something about him that stirred her curiosity. She felt as if she knew him in some way, which made no sense, for they had nothing in common. She should just forget him.

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And she would, for she had many things that needed her attention far more. Like how to get the supplies to repair their cottages, and when Loudan might ease his guard and she could slip back into Rowallen.

She reached up and grasped the high sides of the tub, pulling herself into a sitting position. The water lapped at her shoulders as she leaned back against the elegant slant of the tub, her hair clinging to her neck and shoulders before floating around her in the water in red silken waves.

She sighed happily and closed her eyes. Life was always surprising. Who would have ever thought she'd meet a prince? "Prince Max," she said aloud. "Mighty, oh-so-sure-of-himself Prince Max."

"You called, dorogaya moya?" came a deep voice.

Her eyes flew open. Surely... that couldn't have been.

Heart pounding, she lifted her head and peered over the edge of the tub.

The prince stood just inside her window, re-closing the shutters. When he finished, he faced her and said in a polite voice, "Good morning, Murian."

About the author: Karen Hawkins is a USA TODAY and The New York Times bestselling author of some of the funniest and freshest fairytale-based Scottish romances. When not stalking hot Australian actors, getting kicked out of West Virginia thanks to the antics of her extended family or adding to her considerable shoe collection, Karen is getting chocolate on her keyboard while writing her next delightfully fun and sexy historical romance! Find more of Karen Hawkins on XOXO After Dark.

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