Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Portrait of Passion at Idyllwild

Portrait of Passion
Idyllwild, Book One
by Lynne Barron
What’s a Viscount to do when a mysterious lady with a secret past and a reputation frayed around the edges suddenly appears in London in hot pursuit of his naive young cousin, setting the gossips’ tongues wagging, stirring his family into pandemonium, and driving him mad with her irreverent ways?

 If the Viscount in question is Simon Easton, the answer is quite simple.  Seduce the beguiling lady.  But Miss Beatrice Morgan isn’t your average tarnished lady.  She lives a slapdash life wandering the globe like a gypsy, painting fantastical portraits of Duchesses as sirens and landscapes featuring a crumbling old fountain, all the while harboring a secret desire to return to Idyllwild, the only home she’s ever known. 

 What Simon does not know is that Beatrice just might be willing to sacrifice her honor, her virtue, her very heart to reclaim Idyllwild.



Chateau De Fontaine

On the outskirts of Paris

March 1827

Beatrice watched him from the shadowy alcove, half-hidden behind a leafy green fern in a tall gilded planter. The handsome young man in a peacock-blue waistcoat and fine gray breeches wandered around the room, stopping to flirt with a pretty young lady here, to chat with a dissolute poet there. His artfully tousled blond curls gleamed in the soft light from a hundred candles. His merry blue eyes twinkled when he laughed. He laughed often.

Just like his father. Everything about him reminded Beatrice of the father. From his tall, muscular frame to his rich voice with its clipped upper-crust English accent, he was his father’s son.

Only the eyes were different. The former Earl of Hastings had possessed the deepest, warmest brown eyes, eyes a sheltered and naïve girl could not help but trust. The young Earl of Hastings’ eyes were a vibrant blue, as blue as the English sky on a cloudless summer day.

Beatrice waited. She waited for her rapid heartbeat to slow, she waited for her sluggish brain to speed up, she waited for her limbs to cease trembling. If there was one thing Miss Beatrice Morgan excelled at, it was waiting. She had been waiting for nearly a decade for the chance to reclaim her life, the life that only this young nobleman could return to her.

Suddenly the earl looked away from the evening’s hostess with whom he was conversing. He looked up and across the room. As if he sensed her presence in the shadows, his eyes found her across the room.

The earl’s eyes widened, drifted over her face, lingered for a moment on her lips, before dropping to sweep down her slender form adorned in flowing gold silk. He raised his eyes to hers, the merest hint of a smile upon his lips, his head tilted slightly, studying her as if she were an exotic creature, an angel dropped down from heaven or perhaps a fairy from an enchanted forest come to entertain him. How many times had Beatrice seen the very same expression on his father’s face?

Beatrice held her breath.

Would he recognize her?

But no. She did not exist in his world. The Earl of Hastings could no more recognize Beatrice than he could recognize a hard day’s work, an honest word or a shilling well-earned. Foolish, naïve aristocrat. Just like his father.

The earl gave a small shake of his head and straightened. He puffed out his chest and pulled at his lace cuffs, his eyes fixed on her, his smile an invitation.

And just like that, Beatrice felt a blanket of calm descend over her. He was just a man. The thought warmed her, steadied her. He would be easily led, just like any other man. She had only to lead him where she wished him to go.

Beatrice stepped from the dim alcove into the soft yellow light of the candles. Her mind was amazingly clear. As she walked across the long marble floor, sweeping gracefully toward the Earl of Hastings, a plan was forming, taking shape. It was a plan born of the desperation and hope she had harbored in her heart for nine long years, born of the obsession that had colored every facet of her life during those lonely, lost years.

Beatrice smiled as she approached the young man, held the smile upon her lips as she dropped into a curtsy so low, so graceful, so perfectly deferential, she might have been bowing before King George himself.



Widow’s Wicked Wish
Idyllwild Series, Book Two

Be careful what you wish for.           

The Countess of Palmerton has lived her life by Society’s rules, marrying the right man, bearing the required heir, and guarding her name at all costs. And what has it gotten her? A loveless union, a cold marriage bed and a reputation for perfect propriety.

Fleeing the whispers of her husband’s scandalous demise, Olivia finds a haven at Idyllwild. Away from the gossip and glitter of London, she dares to cast a wicked wish to the winter sky.

                Jack Bentley has a wish of his own, one he has no intention of leaving to the fickle fates. He will marry the stubborn widow, even if it means using her awakening passion to force her to the altar.


Olivia lay in her bed listening to the sounds of the house settling, the winter wind buffeting the tree branches outside her window, and the fire crackling in the hearth across the room.

Her mind was filled with images of Jack Bentley, most especially the light gleaming in his eyes as he’d wished her a good night in the dim hallway between their two bed-chambers. He’d hesitated, his hand on the door knob, casting a speculative look over his shoulder. For one feverish moment she’d thought he meant to invite her into his room. Instead he’d arched one dark brow, his mouth lifting in a lopsided smile and she’d imagined a silent dare in the gesture.

Olivia rolled to her side, pummeled the pillow beneath her head into submission and let out a sigh of vexation. Her senses were alive with a humming sort of awareness in her body the like of which she’d never known. Her breasts tingled, her nipples almost painfully sensitive to the shift of her nightgown over them. A soft pulse throbbed between her legs, intensifying as she squeezed her thighs together seeking relief.

With a huff of mingled laughter and frustration, she tossed off the covers and scrambled from the bed only to stand beside it unsure what to do next.

She tried to imagine padding barefoot across the hall to Jack’s door and found to her surprise that it took little effort. She could do that much, but what then?

She might knock. Or did a woman bent on seduction simply open the door and enter?

She laughed at her fanciful imagination. What she knew about seduction wouldn’t fill a thimble.

She knew only how to lie quietly beneath her husband, how to submit. But Jack was not her husband and she couldn’t imagine he would welcome into his bed a shy widow without an ounce of feminine wiles.

Not for the first time, she wished Palmerton had desired her, that he’d taken the time to introduce her to the wonders of the marriage bed. Instead he’d come to her solely to produce an heir, seeing to his duty much as her mother had predicted on the eve of her wedding.

Palmerton had come to her wearing a long robe of the finest burgundy silk, tied loosely at his waist. His chest had been bare beneath, which surprised Olivia.

Her mother had clearly said that he would wear his nightshirt when he came to her.

“Come, let’s get rid of your night clothes,” he’d whispered.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Olivia had replied as she sat up. “My mother said I should…”

“Never mind,” he had interrupted, pulling her white night gown over her head. “Mothers don’t always know.”

Olivia’s mother may have been mistaken about the night clothes, but she had been right about everything else.

“He will perhaps kiss you once or twice.” Palmerton had kissed her twice.

“Do not be startled if he puts his tongue into your mouth.” Olivia had still been quite startled, but not unpleasantly so. She rather thought she might like it. Unfortunately, he had stopped kissing her before she could decide.

“Some men will want to squeeze your bosom a bit.” Olivia had enjoyed his soft hand on her breast until he pinched her rather hard right on the sensitive tip. She had not liked the way he laughed deep in his throat when she yelped in pain.

“He will open your legs. I know it will be terribly embarrassing, but you must allow it.” It had been a bit embarrassing but Palmerton was quick to roll between her spread legs so really it was not as if he saw her most womanly place.

“When he puts his member inside you it will hurt. Try not to scream, but do not remain silent lest he think you were not a virgin.” Olivia had expected a bit more pain so she certainly had not screamed, she did however cry out. She might have said “Oh”, or perhaps “Ow”.

“As it is your first time and he is a gentleman, he will be quick about it.” Olivia had barely had time to get used to the feel of him moving inside her before he had let out a small grunt and bucked his body against hers. Then he’d rolled off her and lay on his back beside her, his breath wheezing in his lungs.

That had been the pattern of Olivia’s nights throughout her marriage. Until her husband had stopped coming to her bed altogether.

Olivia very much doubted Jack would be content with hurried fumbling in the dark.

Jack would make love to her. Beatrice had used the term once and Olivia liked the sound of it, the poetry, the image it evoked of two people caught up in their passion for one another.

She had only to march across the hall and make it so. For goodness sake, she’d witnessed men and women traversing hallways in the darkest hours at various country parties over the years. How difficult could it be?

Olivia squared her shoulders and drew in a deep breath. Allowing herself no time to question her decision, she strode across the room, barely hesitating as she pulled the door open and stepped out into the hallway.

She had time only to register the chill in the drafty hall, the cold of the wood floors beneath her feet, before the door to Jack’s chamber was wrenched open and he came storming out.

They collided in the dark, her head smacking against his chin and her legs tangling with his. Only his quick reflexes kept her from falling on her backside.

Hard hands gripped her upper arms, his fingers shockingly hot on her bare skin.

“Whoa, Livy,” he murmured around a huff of laughter. “Where are you running off to?”

Olivia tilted her head, her spine curving with the motion, her belly brushing against the tops of his thighs where the unmistakable evidence of his arousal was hidden beneath a long, black silk robe.

“I thought,” she began only to pause and draw a shuddering breath into her chest, causing her too sensitive nipples to strain against the fabric of her nightgown. “That is…I hoped…”

“You hoped…” he prompted when her voice trailed away.

“Do you… Might you want to…”

She waved one hand, gesturing behind her to the door and her chamber beyond, wishing she could see his expression.

“Are you inviting me to your bed?” Jack’s voice was little more than a raspy whisper. His fingers clenched on her arms, tugging her closer until her breasts brushed his chest.

“If you don’t mind,” she answered, heat rushing over her. “That is…if you want…”

“I want,” he growled just before his lips found hers.

His kiss was both tender and rough, reverent and wild. He wasted no time on gentle persuasion but simply plundered, his lips molding to hers, his tongue delving deep to find hers, to stroke over and around, to circle and dive, invading her mouth.

Olivia moaned, shocked and not a little bit embarrassed by the desperate sound. But if Jack found it surprising or vulgar, he gave no indication. In fact, it seemed to spur him on. He tugged her against him and wrapped his arms around her, his hands landing on her back, skimming down to grip her bottom and pull her flush against him.

Olivia found herself surrounded by him, pressed against him from their joined lips to their bare toes. His scent, exotic and earthy, enveloped her. The heat of his big body enfolded her. His member pulsed low on her belly and she rose to her toes, aligning her hips with his, reveling in the knowledge that he wanted her.

Jack growled low in his throat, his hands squeezing her bottom, lifting her higher still and Olivia wrapped her arms around him, her fingers digging into his muscled back beneath the silk of his robe. Pleasure took hold of her, drawing another dark moan from her.

Then Jack was moving, walking her backward until she came up against the door, their combined weight pushing it open to bang against the wall, the sound ricocheting down the hallway.

They broke apart, stared at one another in the flickering firelight.

“Shh,” she whispered, immediately feeling ten kinds of fool for admonishing him.

“Ah, Livy,” he huffed out around a raspy chuckle, “if that’s the only noise coming from this room tonight, I’ll not have done right by you.”

Olivia blinked in confusion. “Noise?”

“Oh, yes, noise and plenty of it,” he promised, ushering her into the room ahead of him and closing the door.






Lynne Barron always wanted to be a writer, if only she could decide what to write. Everyone told her to write what you know. It wasn’t until she married her extremely romantic and surprisingly sensual husband that she was able to follow that advice. Lynne lives in Florida with her husband, son and a menagerie of rescued pets.



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