Thursday, July 7, 2016

Read an #Excerpt from Rose Bride by Elizabeth Moss + #Giveaway

27015383Rose Bride 
(Lust in the Tudor Court #3)
by Elizabeth Moss 
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published May 22nd 2014 by Hodder & Stoughton
Hilary Mantel meets Sylvia Day: the final installment in a deliciously erotic trilogy begun in Wolf Bride, set against the sumptuous backdrop of the scandal-ridden Tudor Court by Elizabeth Moss.

Margerie Croft yielded her virginity before her wedding night, and then fled King Henry VIII's court, knowing she couldn't marry a man she did not love. Now she is viewed as soiled goods, fit only for the role of a courtier's plaything.

Virgil Elton has heard the wicked rumors, but something about Margerie calls to him. Drawn close despite himself, he invites her to help in his work to restore the king's flagging health. But as he comes to know her, Virgil discovers beneath the layers of protective reserve a woman who is as intelligent and passionate as she is beautiful. He will stop at nothing to heal the damage the court has inflicted, even if it means falling himself...


His bedchamber was warm, a fire still glowing in the hearth. Master Elton locked the door, then set his bag carefully aside. He swung the cloak from his shoulders, and she saw that he was wearing a plain doublet and hose beneath, the clothes of a hard-working man. Even his codpiece was starkly functional, a black leather bulge at the head of long muscular thighs. 
The court physician was no wealthy noble like Lord Munro, she thought, a man who donned lavish vestments, gold chains and a glistening red codpiece to draw the eye to his youthful form. Yet there was something equally powerful about Master Elton. A quiet authority which excited her in some way she did not entirely understand.
Ridiculously nervous, Margerie stood in the middle of the room and watched while he lit a candle from the fire and set it on the mantel. The bedchamber was empty but neatly swept, and when she stumbled towards the rough cot which clearly served as his bed, she noticed a faint scent of something sweet. Fresh-culled herbs perhaps, strewn under the pillows to improve sleep and ward off bad dreams, just as he had suggested to avert her problem.
The doctor came up behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders. Her body tingled with awareness under his touch and she knew he could feel it.
‘Margerie,’ he said quietly. ‘Are you afraid?’
‘Not afraid, no.’
Yet she shivered when he bent his head, smoothing her heavy mass of hair to one side, and she felt his lips brush the nape of her neck.
‘What then?’
‘I am not ...’ She paused, unwilling to admit that she was not as experienced in the amorous arts as so many at court believed.
He would think she was lying to gain some kind of power over him, perhaps to make him feel guilty for wanting to seduce her. And although her whole being rebelled at the idea of dishonesty between them, part of her also feared that disclosure. For Master Elton might act the gentleman and stop kissing her if she told him her experience in the bedchamber was limited to one night.
‘You are not ... what?’
She turned in his arms, and found herself locked to the hungry expression in his dark eyes, unable to look away.
‘Not sure if this is what you truly want,’ she lied, wishing she was not so breathless. ‘I thought you wanted to speak with me privately. That was why you brought me here, after all. Not to seduce me.’
‘Is that what I’m doing, Margerie? Seducing you?’
His gaze seemed to hold hers for an eternity before she managed to break the spell, looking away.
‘Sir, I do not blame you for thinking me a loose woman. The way I behaved last time we were alone together was not customary for me. That is, I do not rightly know what came over me. I must have been out of my senses. But now my head is straight, and we both know this cannot happen. You are one of the king’s physicians, Master Elton, and I am a lady whose name is not high in His Majesty’s favour at the moment.’ She ended firmly, ‘I would not want your reputation to suffer by entertaining me alone in your chamber.’
‘I have never known a woman talk more nonsense than you,’ he said roughly.
Her eyes widened on his face. He was not smiling.
‘I like the way you call me sir,’ he whispered, then drew a sharp breath. ‘Your nightmares, your wanderings ... What is it that makes you wander the palace in your sleep, Mistress Croft?’
‘I do not know.’
‘I keep thinking of Dido, alone and weeping in Carthage.’
Margerie looked at him blankly.
‘You do not know the story of Dido and the Trojan Aeneas?’ he asked, and she shook her head, bewildered.
‘With the help of Venus,’ he explained softly, ‘Aeneas escaped from Troy after it burnt and voyaged across the seas. It was his destiny to found the city of Rome, you see. Only he came to Carthage first, after his ships were wrecked in a storm. And he fell in love with the queen there, Dido.’ His smile was almost bitter. ‘Venus was furious. She was Aeneas’s mother, and did not want Dido ruining her son’s destiny. So she sent Aeneas away on his travels, and poor weeping Dido was left alone again.’
He cupped her face between his hands, then ran a thumb across her mouth, pressing her lips apart. ‘The poet Virgil wrote of their sad love, est mollis flamma medullas interea et tactitum vivit sub pectore vulnus. Which is in Latin, fire burns in her soft marrow, and a silent wound lives beneath her breast.’ His eyes were intent on her face. ‘What silent wound do you harbour beneath your breast, Margerie? What hurt makes you wander in your sleep, crying over the past?’
That was too close to the truth, and Margerie shuddered beneath his searching look, thinking of her lost reputation, the stares and whispers of the court, and how her past mistakes had left her achingly empty and afraid of her own shadow.
‘Call me sir again,’ he murmured. ‘It is strange, but I enjoy hearing that word on your tongue.’
The desire in his voice had kindled the long-suppressed fire smouldering in her belly. This was madness, she thought. She was perfectly right to be cautious, she told herself, her senses drugged by the sweet pressure of his thumb against her mouth. What if they were discovered together? No lie in the world could conceal the intimacy between them.
‘Obey me, Margerie.’
She drew a shaky breath at his arrogance, yet could not seem to deny him. There was something in that authoritative tone that made her melt, all at once his servant.
‘Sir,’ she whispered.
Virgil Elton made a noise under his breath, staring into her eyes, his face suddenly tense. ‘Now call me master,’ he commanded her, ‘and mean it.’
Margerie stared back at him, her lips burning where his thumb was stroking back and forth, not quite pushing inside. She knew it was time to pull away, to make him say his piece so she could leave, fleeing back to her own chamber unscathed.
Instead she did a foolish thing.
Unable to resist the tug of his body any longer, Margerie turned her head slightly and brushed her lips against his wrist, just lightly, where the skin showed below the cuff of his sleeve.
She had intended it to be only a momentary caress. Her eyes closed though, and she swayed there, caught in the heady spell cast by his presence, her heartbeat drumming almost painfully.
Everything in her body narrowed to that one inch of warm skin where she could taste him: the veriest salt-tang on her lips, the veins in his wrist begging for her tongue, for the erratic thud of his pulse to be traced to its source. And as Margerie stood there, unable to stop herself from wanting this man, a wave of helpless desire crashed through her body, and she knew it was flooding him too.
‘Master,’ she mumbled against his wrist, her voice thick with lust, unrecognisable. What was the matter with her? she thought. Could she not resist this man even for a moment?
With a groan, Virgil dragged down her lower lip, then bent and kissed her, pushing his tongue deep between her parted lips.

Lust in the Tudor Court Series

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