Samantha Kane and me at RomantiCon 2009
Thanks, Kris, for having me at Fierce Romance today. ;-)
I thought I’d whet everyone’s appetite today with a taste of my upcoming release, Love’s Fortress, which will be Book Seven in my Regency series Brothers In Arms. Love’s Fortress is about Gideon North, a veteran of the Peninsular War who had his face and hand horribly burned and scarred in the war, and lost his left leg above the knee. Gideon has been in love with his estate manager, Charles Borden, since the war when Charles was his sergeant. But, because of his disfigurement, Gideon has denied that love in spite of the fact that Charles returns his feelings. Gideon advertises for a wife because he wants to have as normal a life as possible. Sarah Whitley answers the advertisement and both Gideon and Charles know immediately that she is the perfect wife for Gideon.
Love’s Fortress will be released from Ellora’s Cave on Friday, July 23.
Love’s Fortress, Brothers In Arms Book Seven
Gideon North wants a wife. She must be practical and hardworking. But above all she must have a hearty constitution. Horribly injured and scarred from his Peninsular War service, Gideon does not want to deal with a wife who flinches every time she sees him.
Gideon’s estate manager Charles Borden was his sergeant in the war. Inseparable, but almost always at odds, the two men agree that Sarah Whitley is the perfect wife for Gideon. Strong, beautiful, and intelligent with a dry sense of humor, Sarah bears her own marks from a life spent in the shadows.
When Sarah learns to let go of her past fears she frees both men to acknowledge the love and attraction that has always existed between them. The three become intimate immediately but the eroticism of their encounters in the bedroom does not guarantee happiness. Gideon’s defenses mire them in the past. Only together can Sarah and Charles break through to build a future with Gideon.
“Jesus bloody wept, Gideon!” Charles exclaimed in frustration. “She’s your wife. I won’t do it.”
They were standing on the veranda that looked out over the gardens of Ashton Park, watching laughing guests attempt to find their way through the maze. Charles had gone through it with Mrs. North and Mrs. Westridge earlier. Gideon wouldn’t attempt it because of the uneven ground, so Charles volunteered.
Mrs. North was quiet and so serious with her honey hair and pretty brown eyes that saw too much. She made him nervous and self-conscious, which was quite out of the ordinary for him. He’d let the two women chat as they got to know one another. Watching Leah Westridge dance around her relationship with Valentine and Kurt had been highly amusing. But one thing had become clear—Gideon’s new bride was as innocent as a newborn foal.
“It is precisely because she is my wife that you will.” Gideon’s calm only fueled Charles’ ire.
“I will not interfere between you two on your wedding night,” he spit out between gritted teeth. “She is so innocent that to do so would surely cause her distress.”
“And this won’t?” For the first time in the conversation Gideon lost his control, holding his ruined hand up to scars on his face. “If you were a young, innocent bride would you want this to be what you found in your marriage bed?”
“Yes.” Charles answered without thinking it through, and then winced. Gideon’s face immediately closed down.
“You knew me before Badajoz.” Gideon turned away to look out at the garden again.
“Yes, I did,” Charles said softly, a wealth of meaning in those three words.
Gideon took a deep breath and Charles saw his nostrils flare in irritation.
“She deserves her first time with someone…perfect.”
Gideon’s observation was both reluctant and sincere. Charles wasn’t sure whether or not to be pleased. “I am not perfect.”
Gideon turned a baleful eye on him. “Do not play coy, Charles. Physically you are perfect. You are fit and strong, attractive, a male in his prime.”
Charles was amused in spite of his anger. “Shall I let her check my teeth?”
Gideon snorted. “If she wishes to, yes.”
“And while the perfectly fit and attractive me is divesting your new wife of her virginity, where will you be?”
“I do not want you to f*** her.” Gideon slowly turned to face him. “I am not a complete idiot. She is my wife. And I am able to perform my duties. I simply want you there so that she has something pleasant to occupy her while I am, as you so aptly put it, divesting her of her virginity.”
“Bloody hell, Gideon,” Charles whispered. He had to turn away. His anger was gone, replaced by despair. “You ask too much of me. You want me to be a…a plaything. Is that my value, then? After all these years? To amuse your wife, but not to touch her?”
Gideon moved closer on his crutches. “It is because I value you so much that I ask.” He spoke right over Charles shoulder, so that he felt Gideon’s breath against his neck. It made him shiver. “I would ask no other to do this. But you have seen me at my weakest, Charles, and at my best. You know me. You know I cannot do this without you.” Gideon gripped his upper arm and it was then Charles realized how stiff his arm was, how tightly he was holding himself in check. He fought his grief over the memories Gideon pulled forth. “Why is this different than the other times we have done it? It does not have to be different.”
Charles spun around to face him. “But it does have to be different, Gideon. It must be different. She is your wife. So much depends on this night.” Charles wiped his hand across his mouth and chin. “She is not like the others. She is not a whore. She is an innocent woman who has entrusted you with her future.”
“I know that. I know.” Gideon sounded as distressed as Charles felt. For the first time in a very long time he did not try to control his emotions. Charles would have rejoiced in any other situation. But not here, not now. “It is different for me. But it need not be different for you. You don’t have to care for her. But surely you can see she is beautiful? It would not be a hardship, to help me bed her.”
“Not care for her? Gideon have you gone mad?” Charles tried to keep his voice down. “Of course I care for her! She is your wife. As such, I will care for and protect her to my dying breath. And that includes protecting her from you and your idiotic notions.” He ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “She does not find you offensive, Gideon. I’ve seen her watching you. She is fascinated by you. Every word you utter is gospel to her ears. Trust me, bedding you will be no burden for her.”
“If you watched her so closely, then you saw her shudder today when I took her hand in mine.” He raised his scarred left hand. “In this one.”
Charles was taken aback. “No, I did not see that. You are being overly sensitive.”
Gideon’s laugh was bitter. “You call me insensitive twenty times a day. Now I am overly sensitive.” He turned away. “What if I can’t do it?” Gideon’s whisper was harsh. “It has happened before.”
He didn’t have to explain. Charles knew how difficult it was for Gideon to talk about that. Gideon hated to show his weaknesses. But he had them. His lack of confidence with women was one of the worst scars he carried from the war. Once again Charles silently cursed the French defenders at the fortress of Badajoz. “That was with a whore. An uneducated, coarse girl who knew nothing. It was my fault, really. I chose unwisely. Neither of us performed that night, and you know it.”
Gideon waved away his assurances and moved over to a chair against the wall. He sank into it and then leaned his head against his crutch. He looked so defeated. Charles’ hands began to shake.
“Please,” was all Gideon said. And Charles knew he was going to say yes.
You can find Samantha at her website: http://samanthakane.us