Out Of Her League
Ava Archer Payne
AAP Hot Historicals
July 17, 2012
provided by publisher
Captain James Lancaster, formerly one of London’s most notorious rakes, returns to England a broken man after a brutal tour in the Crimea. He is wounded in body and spirit, his badly injured leg leaving him unable to walk without crutches.
Nurse Katherine Riley has spent her entire life caring for others, but lately she finds herself longing for more. On a whim she indulges in a secret cache of provocative lingerie—just a little something to make her feel beautiful beneath her drab gowns, even if no one else can see it.
When James glimpses the erotic beauty hidden beneath Kate’s prim and proper façade, he introduces her to a sensual array of forbidden delights. Healing takes on an entirely new meaning. As Kate nurses James to a full recovery, their liaison opens her eyes to an enticing new world. How will she ever return to the staid life she once knew?
Thunder rumbled and the rain that had been threatening all morning began to pour down in earnest. Kate watched the heavy droplets strike the glass panes, softening and blurring the outside world. She tried to focus on the storm, but that proved impossible. Every fiber of her being was attuned to the overwhelming presence of man beside her. His scent, his height, the broadness of his shoulders, the rich timbre of his voice. Alone with James in the large room, she felt enveloped in a cocoon of strained intimacy, caught in a current that swept her inexorably toward him.
“Something wrong?” His voice was a low murmur in her ear.
“You need drapery,” she blurted inanely, just to have something to say to break the tension that hung between them.
“True.” He cocked his head to one side, considering the room. “I was thinking of scarlet.”
“Scarlet?” she choked out, feeling heat rush to her cheeks. “Surely that’s an odd color to suggest.”
“Is it?” He studied her with a playful smile. “But it’s such a passionate color, don’t you think? Brazen, bold, irresistible. In fact, now that I’ve considered scarlet, I can’t seem to get the color out of my mind. These past few nights, it’s all I could think of as I was falling asleep.”
She squared her shoulders and brought up her chin. Even leaning as he was on his crutches, he was still a full head taller than her. “If you’re referring to what I think you’re referring to, a gentleman wouldn’t refer to it.”
His lips quirked. “That’s a lot of referring. Are you certain I’m not simply inferring?”
“You’re interfering, certainly.”
“Must be infuriating.”
He was teasing her, and she was determined to resist him. Resist his smile. Resist the twinkle in his deep blue eyes. Resist the urge to lift her hand and push back the chestnut curl that fell so appealingly over his forehead.
“A gentleman wouldn’t mention what he saw.”
“True. A gentleman wouldn’t. Therein lies the problem. The glimpse I had of your breasts in that scarlet corset was the loveliest thing I’ve seen since my return to London. Hell, that’s not accurate. The loveliest thing I’ve seen in years.” He watched her for a moment in silence, then reached out and softly stroked her jaw. “It’s not my intention to embarrass you.”
“What are you intending?”
“Damned if I know.”
“This certainly isn’t proper.”
“Damned if I care.”
To her utter astonishment, Kate wasn’t entirely certain she cared, either. She’d played the part of dutiful daughter, dutiful sister, and dutiful nurse her entire life. Now, at the age of three and twenty, she was coming to the realization that the role didn’t entirely suit her. She’d lived her life as though crammed into a pair of shoes that had been pinching and cramping her for years. Here was an opportunity to try something scandalous and new. An invitation to see what she’d been missing, if only she had the courage to reach for it.
She moistened her lips, tipped back her head, and closed her eyes.
For a fraction of a second time stood still. Kate was overwhelmed by the horrifying certainty she’d misread his intentions. Then James’s lips brushed hers. The pressure on her mouth was light and gentle, allowing her the opportunity to change her mind, to slip away if she wanted to. So, a gentleman after all. The gesture, touching as it was, was wasted.
Kate stepped closer.
Q&A with Ava Archer Payne:
Q: What exactly is a ‘Hot Historical’?
A: A ‘Hot Historical’ is a classic historical romance—only shorter and steamier! Hot Historicals are perfect for fans of traditional romance who occasionally like to spice things up. One of my readers calls them a secret indulgence
Q: Many of your novels are set in Victorian England. What attracts you to that time period?
A: I love playing with the exquisite manners of the day. What does our heroine do when she finds herself completely in lust with an utterly unsuitable man? That creates such lovely sexual tension.
Q: How long have you been writing romance?
A: I’ve been writing historical romance for 15 years under a variety of pseudonyms. I’ve been published by several mainstream houses, but with the advent of ebooks, I’m able to place my work directly in the hands of readers. What a fabulous privilege for an author!
Connect With The Author:
I am utterly in love with this book. Sizzling erotic passion, tender heroic characters, and rich historical detail, this book has it all! I was instantly taken to the heart of the story; taken on a whirlwind of innocence, lust, power, and richness. Ms. Payne captured every essence that makes up a wonderfully captivating read!
Katherine Riley’s character is creatively chiseled. An innocent in all ways, I loved how she was portrayed. She lives with her brothers in the top floor of their childhood home, after both parents have been deceased. Her brothers, both surgeons, aren’t the best housekeepers or cooks. But, even though she’s a nurse, she handles the finances, cleaning, mending and cooking. It’s no surprise at all that she’s looking for her 4 week trip abroad as companion to two mature ladies. But, she encounters a problem.
Her older brother, Bertie, has a gambling problem and has acquired a rather large debt. He has the opportunity to pay it off, but it’s in the form of his sister’s nursing skills. He agrees that Kate will be nurse to Dr. Michaelson for Captain James Lancaster. Kate is not pleased when she hears this, for she’s been attracted to Captain Lancaster for 3 years after seeing him at his mother’s ball. But he’s way out of her league.
Captain James Lancaster has returned home from the Crimean war, injured and grouchy. He’s nearly betrothed to a stuffy woman named Vanessa Kittworthy. He knows she won’t leave him because she feels she needs to stay with him, but he’s not in love with her. Then he lays eyes on his nurse. When she bends over to tend his wound, he catches a glimpse of some very sexy-as-sin lingerie beneath her frumpy nursing uniform. Vowing to get to know Nurse Kate, he’s driven with powerful lust after he learns she’s a virgin. Trouble is, after Vanessa Kittworthy breaks off their betrothal, he can’t help but feel the attraction between him and Kate growing. Knowing she’s innocent, he doesn’t want anyone else touching her but him. Can he keep his heart intact? Or will the man that’s way out of her league, fall in love?
Every minute of this book has sparks flying! I loved it! Ms. Payne is super talented, and the characters become friends. The scorching romance between Nurse Kate and Captain James is beyond incredible and definitely deserving of high 5 Book praises. If you are looking for a wonderful lust-filled, hot historical novel, this is most definitely one for you. I am a new fan of Ms. Payne and I am highly anticipating her next book like this! Well done!
Aug 31: http://coffeebeanslovescenes.blogspot.com (Author Interview)
Aug 31: http://blackhippiechick.wordpress.com (Review)
Sept 1: http://ramblingsfromthischick.blogspot.com (Guest Post)