Read More From To Tame A Rogue
The dying wish of a cruel father tricks Nicholas Branton into marrying a woman he's never met, a tavern maid named Camille Hardison, to ensure his inheritance. Nicholas vows that it will always be a marriage in name only. What they don't bet on is the raw, awakening passion they both feel for each other...or the sensual touches and aching love that will bind their hearts and souls forever...
When I first started writing novels, I wrote TO TAME A ROGUE and stuck it in a drawer. I was called very strongly to write dark suspense, and DEAD ON was born. I would write two more novels and a collection of short stories before I pulled TO TAME A ROGUE back out of the drawer and published it. I'm glad I shared Nicholas' and Camille's love story with readers--it's now one of my best internationally selling books. I had an amazing time researching Louisiana, New Orleans, and American history in 1816 and visiting out-of-the-way bookstores to find old books with hard-to-find details about both places. And of course I fell in love with my dark, brooding hero Nicholas, so I hope readers will too!
As she settled herself on the velvet-covered seat, squeezing her small form into the corner, Camille wished she had a horse, one that would carry her far away from Nicholas. She was already tired of the ornate carriage with its heavy leather door that carried the bold Branton family crest, the tiny little cushions that matched the maroon trimmings of the carriage.
Camille would not meet Nicholas’ eyes. “I have never been talked to in such a degrading manner, sir, and I find your insolence highly detestable,” she said.
“You would play the lady now? I would not expect your patrons to be quoting Shakespeare or singing you love ballads. And call me Nicholas. You’re my wife, for God’s sake, even if it’s in name only.” He raked his hand through his hair. “I didn’t agree to this marriage so you could saunter about and besmirch my family’s name. We haven't been married but a day and you don't have the decency to honor our agreement?” His eyes narrowed dangerously. “If I’d known you were a whore, I would never have agreed to the marriage.”
Camille felt as if she’d been slapped in the face. First he had thought her a thief. Now he thought her a whore? Just what did he think she was doing at the tavern? A deeper flush crept up her neck and cheeks at the horrid thought, and she couldn’t find her tongue. A great lump was forming in her throat and she felt as if she were choking. He grabbed her hand. The jolted touch was like fire, alarming and mesmerizing at the same time.
“The ring on your finger means you belong to me. We had an agreement. You’re the wife of a Branton. You will come to understand what that means and not to question my authority.”
She nearly laughed in his face, only she didn’t feel in the least like laughing. It seemed, in the short time since they'd met, Nicholas always thought the worst of her.
“I should think, with the vast Branton fortunes at your disposal, you should not need to serve drunks in a wenching establishment.”
Camille turned away from his probing eyes to stare out at the fading city and the darkness. The moon cast a silver-yellow glow over the countryside. She was trying desperately to keep her upper lip from trembling, to keep the tears from spilling down her cheeks.
Everything—the events of the past few days tumbling one upon the other, his accusations, the threat of being beaten by Meletios, what Meletios had done to Meagan, the unplanned wedding ceremony—it was all too much. But she would not correct his misimpressions. She didn’t care what he thought.
The pair was silent; each lost in their own thoughts. After a while, she turned to him.
“Is this what brought you out, to tell me you have a reputation to uphold and that I may have some of your charity if I need it?”
If there was one thing Camille had learned in the past few years, it was that the steps of charity were steep indeed. “I will only say this once. You do not know me at all. I think we have made a grave mistake,” she continued. “I don’t want your charity. I want nothing from you.”
“Do you have any idea what could have happened to you?” Nicholas asked, as if he hadn’t heard her.
“I can take care of myself,” Camille said. "I've worked in the tavern a long time."
“Can you? That’s not what I witnessed tonight. What if that man took his knife and plunged it into you after he was through spreading your legs? Look at me, Camille.”
When she wouldn’t, Nicholas reached over and pulled her onto his lap. His rough fingers cupped her chin, forcing her to look into his eyes. Her bottom was nestled in the hard cradle of his thighs, a much too intimate position.
“Perhaps I had you figured wrong. Do you like the rough sort, Camille? I bet you know how to drive a man to distraction.” His voice was low now, seeming to scrape at the constrained darkness of the carriage.
“I don’t...” Camille said but was silenced by the touch of his lips upon hers, hard, eager, angry. She tried to push him away but his lips were firm, demanding, his breath hot and sweet with the lingering taste of brandy.
His lips searched hers, tasting, teasing, taunting. Despite her best efforts to resist, a shock of warmth flooded her soul. His hard male form was pressed tightly against her, yet his lips were soft and caressing, almost possessive. She found herself wanting to taste him, her body traitorously hungry for some small measure of warmth. His long, lean fingers threaded through her silky, golden hair, scattering pins in their wake.
His lips continued down her throat, weaving a hot trail until they returned to plunder her mouth again, his tongue forcing her lips open to his rough exploration. Camille heard him groan and then, just as suddenly, he released her.
“As I expected,” he said, “you are no innocent.” Camille felt the moment evaporate like the morning mist, and was rendered speechless once more.
“We are alone now. How could you stop me from taking what is rightfully mine, what now belongs to no other man? I am certain you would prefer my lovemaking to that beast of a man who had you on his lap.”
Camille trembled. “You...you said you would not demand your husbandly rights.”
His eyes, a mixture of gold heat and ice, skirted her form. “Do not fear. I am not as callous and cruel as you may think. I do not possess the same sort of morals as one of your tavern patrons. Besides, you are not the type of woman I normally desire.”
It was then that she noticed the bruise and scrape on his left cheek. Instinctively she reached to touch it. "You’re hurt,” she said quietly.
He jerked at her touch, grabbing her hand quickly and moving it aside. “It’s nothing.”
Sternly, he set her away from him and they sat the rest of the trip in silence.Read More