Title: A Gentleman’s Game
Author: Theresa Romain
Series: Romance of the Turf, #1
Pubdate: February 2, 2016
In Book One of Romance of the Turf, a refreshing new Regency series from rising star Theresa Romain, a mystery demanding to be solved brings unlikely allies together in more ways than one...
How far will a man go
Talented but troubled, the Chandler family seems cursed by bad luck—and so Nathaniel Chandler has learned to trade on his charm. He can broker a deal with anyone from a turf-mad English noble to an Irish horse breeder. But Nathaniel’s skills are tested when his stable of trained Thoroughbreds become suspiciously ill just before the Epsom Derby, and he begins to suspect his father’s new secretary is not as innocent as she seems.
To win a woman’s secretive heart?
Nathaniel would be very surprised if he knew why Rosalind Agate was really helping his family in their quest for a Derby victory. But for the sake of both their livelihoods, Rosalind and Nathaniel must set aside their suspicions. As Derby Day draws near, her wit and his charm make for a successful investigative team…and light the fires of growing desire. But Rosalind’s life is built on secrets and Nathaniel’s on charisma, and neither defense will serve them once they lose their hearts…
When the farmer had led his chestnut away again, Nathaniel dangled the medal before Rosalind’s face. “Look there, Rosalind Agate. I’ve finally won a medal, and I didn’t even have to tidy myself up for a meal.”
“Or arise early.” At the end of its white ribbon, the medal turned in a slow breeze. It was a small circle of some silver metal, maybe tin, buffed to shine and catch the eye. “It’s pretty,” she said. “I’m glad he gave it to you. He wouldn’t have won without your help at the right moment.”
“Oh—well.” He shrugged this off, then stuffed the medal into the pocket of his waistcoat, from which the ribbon poked out alongside his fob. “This is a pleasant village, isn’t it? If home felt like this, I mightn’t be so eager to take to the road.”
“And how does it feel to you?” She couldn’t seem to stop asking questions. Her tidy control was packed away. Today she was a woman who danced, and who owned a ribbon so green it would bring a man to his knees.
The thought made her smile as she blinked up at Nathaniel. His eyes were blue, as blue as the Suffolk sky in springtime. She had learned the shade of their brightness.
Slowly, he smiled. “It feels,” he said, “like the sort of place where a man might kiss a woman with a crown of red flowers in her hair.”
Her heart thudded a bit faster; her knees went watery. “It does feel that way,” she whispered. “To me too.”
He tipped up her chin, his hand strong yet gentle along the line of her jaw. “Thank God for that.” And there in the shadow of a building once devoured by flame, he lowered his lips to hers.
* * *
Once their lips met, Nathaniel could not imagine how he had waited so long to kiss her.
Oh, there were reasons on reasons not to. She was his father’s secretary, and he had some sort of business arrangement with her about…something…
Honestly, who cared about the reasons why not? There were even more reasons why this was right.
The soft, almost hesitant curve of her mouth before he covered it with his own.
The surprised inhale that smoothed into a of pleasure.
The sweet-spiced taste of her as her lips parted, letting them fit together more deeply with his. As the tip of his tongue brushed hers, setting them both to shivering, he tasted the candied almonds. He tasted the heat of her and breathed in her scent. She was flowers and laughter and all the joys of a muddled morning. Of a race won. A medal for doing what was right.
Her hands wound around his neck, nails trailing lightly through his short-cropped hair. He could have groaned at the feeling, gentle and intimate, and he bent to wrap her more closely within his embrace. His hand trailed from her face to her shoulder to her back to fit her close to him. To press against her, solid and smiling and crimson-crowned and lovely.
She made another little, and he went tense as a bowstring at the erotic sound. He laced his fingers into her plaited hair beneath its wreath of blooms. Feeling the shape of her head through her sleek hair was intimate. He almost felt as though he were holding her thoughts. Could he tell what was on her mind? How could he understand her, a woman so eager for sweetness but who had never yet claimed it?
Theresa Romain’s Road Trip Tip: If herded by an overzealous sheepdog, get him to accompany the slowpoke of your traveling party. As my heroine Rosalind found, this is a win-win: everyone moves along a little more quickly and cheerfully.
Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest.