Invitation To Passion is book #3 in my Invitation To series and pairs Richard Craven, twin brother of Anthony Craven, Earl of Wickham in Invitation To Ruin, (Book#1), with Madeline Knight, Rufus Knight, Lord Strathmore, the hero in Invitation to Scandal’s, younger sister. Pair is actually too tame a word. Richard and Maddy are best friends, unusual in the Regency era, however, they are caught in a compromising situation and find themselves suddenly facing the consequences.Unfortunately, Richard falls into and out of relationships very quickly. He’s never sure whether he’s in love or not. He freely admits he loves women, and usually only engages in one relationship at a time. Now that he has to marry his best-friend, how will he know if the feelings he’s developing for Maddy will last? He doesn’t want to hurt her.
Here’s the blurb:
Consummate rake, Lord Richard Craven, has his heartbroken when the woman he loves is forced into an arranged marriage to a violent brute. To make matters worse, circumstances force him to marry Lady Madeline Knight—a woman he views more like a sister-only for fate to play the cruelest of tricks. Shortly after his wedding his former lover is widowed, and Richard learns she could be pregnant with his child.
Madeline Knight thought she was doing the right thing when she saved Richard Craven from his lover’s irate husband. Now her silly schoolgirl crush has left her married to a man who’s in love with another woman. Consumed with guilt over trapping Richard, she tries her best to be the perfect wife and win his heart. Failure is not an option. For if she fails she loses everything, she loves him too much not to set him free…
While Richard and Madeline confront the reality of their marriage, Madeline’s life comes under threat. A family enemy is set on revenge. Will Richard learn the truth of his heart, and what is truly precious to him, before the unknown enemy destroys their world?
Here is a snippet from Invitation To Passion – July 2014.
Richard tiptoed nearer in order to remove the book. As he picked it up off the sheets he noted a dark mark on the whiteness of Maddy’s neck. He leaned in closer until her scent filled his nostrils, and the book in his hand was forgotten when he saw more black marks—bruises. It looked as though someone had accosted his wife and tried to choke her!
Fury erupted, quickly followed by guilt. He dropped the book and it slammed loudly onto the floor, instantly waking Maddy. She sat bolt upright; the look in her eyes flayed him. It was intense fear…
He’d left her alone at a ball. In his defense, he’d thought his brother would have seen to her safety. Once he’d dealt with whoever had accosted her, Anthony was in for a thrashing too.
“What happened?” His anger and guilt made the words come out more harshly than he’d meant. How could he have let this happen?
She struggled to sit up, swiping her tangled tresses off her face. “Richard? You’re home. What time is it?”
“It’s late, or early depending on how you look at it.” He sat down on the bed next to her and ran a finger over the bruising on her neck. “Who did this to you?” his voice was rough with emotion. He’d kill the man who’d touched her…
A look of hurt flashed in her eyes. “You never returned.”
He swallowed back his guilt and deflected her statement. “Who was it, Maddy? I will have their name.”
“There is no need. The perpetrator was dealt with.”
“If you won’t tell me, I shall get the name from Anthony.”
“Anthony knows nothing.”
“I know you’re angry at me, Mads, but I can’t let this assault on your person go unpunished.”
“But you can leave me to the viciousness of the ton, whose derision, I have to say, was worse than the few bruises on my neck.”
“Please, Maddy. You promised no lies.”
“I haven’t lied. I simply haven’t answered your question. Just like you haven’t told me where you’ve been for the last four hours, or what was so important that you left me for so long at the mercy of the ton.” She leaned forward and sniffed. “Although from the scent clinging to you, I know very well who you’ve been with.”
“Well, that’s more than I can say. Who did this to you?” he fairly yelled, his guilt feeding his anger.
“My, it’s as if you really care.”
He grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her to him. “Christ, Maddy. Someone hurt you. Of course I care.”
She clung to him, a sob escaping. “But not enough to pick me over her.”
He stiffened. He pushed her gently away from his body. “I will always pick you over Sarah. You’re my wife. God damn it, I gave you my word. I thought you knew me better.”
“Then how could you leave me there? You should have left her with Stephen and returned to the ball. I waited.” He hung his head. “You knew how important this night was to me. To us…” She wiped the tears from her face with an angry swipe. “Tell me that?”
She was right. He had made that promise and he knew he wanted her to tell him truthfully who had dared to lay a hand on her. Why should she not expect the same from him?
“Sarah was so upset I worried for her health and that of the babe. I stayed until she calmed down.” He hurried on when her eyes widened. “I didn’t know what else to do. But I shouldn’t have left you alone.” He pulled her back into his arms and hugged her closely. “If anything had happened to you…”
“I needed you too. I was so scared.”
“Then imagine how scared Sarah is? Timothy Chesterton is a cold hearted bastard.” He felt Maddy jerk in his arms. “Timothy is not pleased about her condition. If the child is a boy, Timothy will no longer inherit the title or the wealth.”
“I can certainly believe that Timothy is capable of hurting Sarah and the child she carries.”
“The man who gains from Charles’s death is Timothy. He is the likely culprit.” He stroked her hair, the silky feel, along with the softness of her body vanquished his exhaustion, and he felt his groin stir. “But I’m more concerned about who dared manhandle you. I will have his name…”
She hugged him tighter. “Timothy Chesterton.”
He closed his eyes and drew in a breath, trying to control his rage and fear. “Christ. What were you doing alone with him?” Chesterton could be on to them. Was this a warning? He hugged her tighter, desperate to protect her.
Reviews are already flowing in:
INVITATION TO PASSION by Bronwen Evans is a face-paced thrill of a ride. Lord Richard Craven has been put on on a pedestal by the naive Madeline from a young age, but with age,comes wisdom. Although a rake, Richard is a good man, who promises to never intentionally hurt his Maddy, but intentions fall short sometimes. The couple must work through their issues, if only outside forces weren’t always against them. This third installment of the INVITATION TO series is a strong story with passionate budding romance. Bronwen Evans has cemented her place as one of my favorite authors and I eagerly await each and every word she puts to pen. I strongly recommend INVITATION TO PASSION as it is a wonderful book.