Sunday, May 6, 2012

Excerpt II: A Measured Risk by Natahsa Blackthorne, EROTIC Regency, NC17

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Copyright © Natasha Blackthorne, 2012
All Rights Reserved, Total-E-Ntwined Limited, T/A Total-E-Bound.

Reader Advisory: This book contains anal sex, spanking, light bondage, D/s themes and brief F/F touching. This is a work of historical fiction, it is not meant to be an accurate portrayal of or guide to how people recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As a work of historical erotic romance, it is also not intended to portray modern BDSM or D/s lifestyles.

What people are saying about A Measured Risk:
Close Encounters With The Night Kind gives A Measured Risk 5 stars:
"I love erotic historical romances. This is by far my favorite book in her collection. Ever since the horrid accident that had taken her husband's life, she had lived in an unrelenting grasp of fear. But what Anne never realised was that she had been stuffed into a box long before her husband's death. For lurking inside this studious lady's cold facade was a passionate woman screaming to get out. And it took one look at The Earl of Ruel to know he was the man that would help free her, she just didn't realize it meant freeing all of her. Even the parts of her that she hid from herself.

Johnathan was used to getting exactly what he wanted, and he knew from experience that the society ladies rarely offered it. But Anne had his attention long before he came to another one of these dull parties. She had an air about her that was intriguing and Jon couldn't help being reeled in. Especially when he realized she was more than willing to play his game.

Anne came to Jon at first for help. But something sparked between the two of them that left Anne breathless and Jon grasping for control. Neither were prepared for where their games would lead them, and these games in question were unbelievably hot!!! You'll need one of those hand-fans yourself for a large part of this book! If you enjoy light BDSM, tied in with a sensuous romance then this is the book for you!!! Who knew a little rope and spanking could be soooo delicious? Hat's off to Natasha!!"

My Book Addictions gives A Measured Risk 4.5 stars:
"'A Measured Risk' is a must read for anyone who enjoys erotic romance,and/or historical romance,although,it does have some explicit sexual encounters you will not go wrong by reading this intriguing story of two people who find each other and learn to love,and trust again.Oh and what sexual pleasure they find with each other. I have enjoyed this author’s work,she knows how to pull the reader into the characters lives,and into the story from page one to the last page and will have you carving more. I can hardly wait for the next installment in the “Regency Risks” series. A really hot,sexy,quick read! " ~ April

Warning this excerpt contains violent aspects.

Excerpt II:

Chapter One

Suffolk, England

August 1819

She wanted to be brave. She wanted to be herself again. The warmth of the sun on her face was pleasant; strengthening for one who had spent so many months secluded indoors. The green scents of August mingled with the pungent odour of horses blowing on the wind from the stables. As she reached the entrance, the rustle of the horses carried to her ears and her feet seemed to stall. One more step. She’d done this before…and failed. But it would really be so easy to take just one more step.

She swallowed against a throat gone dry. No, she couldn’t. Not just yet. But today, she would look inside. At least once before she left.

Richard Bourchier, the new Earl of Cranfield, William’s cousin and life-long bitter rival, was holding a two week long hunting party and the gentlemen were all out on their mounts. But her beloved Neroli would be in the stable. She closed her eyes and pictured the mare, a glossy chestnut beauty, calmly chewing her oats. The mild eyes that always glinted with affection.

How could she fear such a gentle creature?

All right—the time had come. With her resolution to action came a trembling all over, making her question her resolve. No, she had to do this. Just one glance, then she could leave and return to the house and ring for a cup of chamomile tea.

Such a silly fear for a woman; a widow about to turn twenty-three. Even a simpleton should be able to overcome this fear. And she would overcome it. Her chest grew tight and she fisted her hands at her side, digging her nails into her palms. She looked into the stable.

Her eyes fell on the first horse inside its stall. Dust motes floated on the air as a shaft of light outlined its sleek lines; shards of white light zigzagged in the periphery of her vision. William’s black stallion, Zeus, lifted his head and snorted.

Her chest grew tighter. He bumped his stall door and her legs went weak. She gripped the doorway. Whether here at Whitecross Hall or in Mayfair, William had always ridden Zeus every day. Now the grooms kept him exercised. What a powerful animal he was, his well-muscled legs capable of doing so much damage. She’d never have thought twice about that in the past. She would have walked right up to his stall and fed him an apple and petted his glossy coat before going to see Neroli. Now, such trust was unthinkable. He began to stomp, his iron shoes ringing on the stall floor. Her heart leapt into her throat and a strong urge to run jolted into her legs.

He kicked and bucked against the stall door, intent on getting her attention, and panic slammed into her. She jerked her eyes away and pulled back. All she could see was the hoof coming down.

Cracking William’s skull.

Splattering her with his life’s blood.

Oh God, oh God, oh God…

Cold sweat poured from her brow and she shivered as nausea overtook her. Her vision grew dim and she dropped to her knees. Moments of quaking passed as her stomach rebelled against her.

Once it was over, she crawled along the wall, away from the stable entrance. She flung herself back to the outside stable wall, her back slamming into the wood.

The further away she managed to get, the more her heart slowed. She swallowed convulsively, trying to rid her mouth of the lingering, acrid taste of vomit. Oh, what if someone should happen along and find her in this condition? She had to get control of herself. She pressed a hand to her lurching stomach and forced herself to take slow, measured breaths. As soon as she was able, she stood on her shaking legs.

What a dismal and complete failure.

She hadn’t even managed to see her beloved mare.

This terror—this weakness—was so intolerable. Logic she could handle. She could beat any man she knew at chess. She knew the contents of all the books in the study. But something like this fear, she didn’t know how to fix.

She was about to turn twenty-three, yet found her world ruled by fears as if she were a girl. Found herself forced to live with her late husband’s cousin and his wife as an unwanted relic.

Her father, the Duke of Saxby, a man of wavering interests, had at one time, early in her childhood, become fascinated by racehorses. He’d purchased a sizable horse farm with a luxurious hall in Ireland. Though her father had eventually lost interest in the venture and her parents had spent most of their time in Mayfair or in Norfolk on their ducal estate, Anne had grown up at the Irish hall.

Anne had inherited it when her father had died three years ago. As part of her jointure, upon William’s death it had reverted to her. If not for her incapacitating fear of horses and riding in a closed carriage, she would already be living there. The lady of the manor, her days filled with purpose once more. Foremost, she’d be independent. She hated being obligated to others in any way. People couldn’t be counted on—except maybe for servants, and then only because they were paid to serve and feared to lose their position.

Behind her, the hard drum of hooves sounded on the ground; the jingle of a bit and the heavy snort of a well-worked horse. She jerked her head up.

Flashing hooves and wide, snorting nostrils dominated her vision. The creature was huge; as black as death and headed straight towards her.

Everything went dark.

“Lady Cranfield?”

Her eyes fluttered open and she glanced about, her heart racing with unnamed fear. Then she recognised the cream and blue d├ęcor of the morning room. She was safe inside Whitecross Hall. Intense blue eyes met hers. Slowly, the face above her came into focus. The high forehead with its permanent vertical lines between the eyes, the strong jaw, the long, narrow nose. Jonathon Lloyd, the Earl of Ruel. He was rubbing her wrists. His large, long-fingered hands were hard and smooth, just as she’d imagined. Yet his touch was by far gentler than she would have expected for such a fierce-looking gentleman. A thrill chased up her arms and through her whole being. The feeling fascinated her. She’d never known its like. Part of her wanted to stay still and allow him to continue caressing that sensitive area of her wrists.

The more practical side of her won. She moved to sit.

He ceased his massage and placed his hands on her shoulders.

“Slowly, now.” The note of command in his deep voice comforted her.

She allowed him to press her back to the settee.

“I must have become overheated.”

He studied her for a moment, his expression revealing nothing. “Undoubtedly.”

“You mustn’t miss today’s hunt on my account. I shall be fine.”

“I don’t care to hunt for pure sport. If I need something to eat, then I’ll do it, but in the most efficient way possible. I can’t abide gathering in the woods like a gaggle of geese and spending the day aimlessly wandering, while hissing and honking over the latest gossip. I was taking a morning ride but it’s a good thing I returned when I did, my lady.” A smile softened his hard-looking mouth.

Flutters took up residence in her stomach and her palms began to sweat. He always did that to her. People in general made her edgy, but this man in particular made her a ball of pure nerves. He was no classically handsome Lancelot, but a hard-boned Viking warrior. He’d intimidated her from the moment they’d met. But right now he fascinated her. Of course he was the one who had ridden up on the black monster. Logic told her that. Why else would he be the one concerning himself with her now? Where did a man find the courage to ride a beast like that?

“My lady?”

Anne turned her head. Her abigail stood in the doorway, her apple-cheeked face contorted with concern.

“I am fine, Nellie.” Anne turned back to Ruel.

He nodded, his eyes strangely intense for a moment. “Good day, Lady Cranfield.”

He stood and walked away with his characteristic erect posture and purposeful stride. Sunlight from the windows glinted on his ash-blond hair.

“I was waiting for you, my lady, and becoming quite worried by your lateness.” Nellie’s voice broke into Anne’s observation of Ruel.

It was a gentle reproach from a favoured servant, for Anne usually napped in the afternoons. The emotionally fragile widow who must be coddled. Just how vulnerable and pathetic she’d become, even in her servant’s eyes, hit her as it never had before, and it wasn’t a very comfortable realisation.

The weak were despised in this world. They had no place—neither ruler nor servant.

She was currently a person without a place. And it was a wholly intolerable position to be in.

“I feel fine.” Oh, what an atrocious fib. She hadn’t felt fine in almost a year.

“You mustn’t push yourself, my lady. You must remember what the doctor said…”

Her servant’s words faded as Anne’s gaze returned to follow Ruel’s departure, tracing every line of his tall, broad-shouldered frame, his long, powerful-looking legs. Such strength, such tenderness, such intensity in his azure eyes. It surprised her. Richard and Francesca were so sharp tongued and witty, and those who surrounded them were a fast, fashionable crowd—almost to the point of being scandalous. They seemed to care about nothing but pleasure. She’d previously dismissed Ruel as yet another of their ilk.

Who the devil is he really?

It was a question she pondered over the next few days as every morning, from the safe vantage of her bedchamber window, she watched him ride off on that monster of a warhorse. Watched him interact so comfortably with Richard and his circle, his wits sharper—and at times more painful—than a rapier. She found herself studying him from the corner of her eye, tracing every inch of his strong jaw and grateful not to be the focus of his attention.

He would turn, suddenly, and fix that beautiful yet formidable blue gaze upon her. The intensity took her breath away and every particle of her being came alive, as if attuned to him. Unable to stop herself, she’d face him, gazing into his eyes…well, it was absolutely the most unnerving thing, yet she found herself transfixed, incapable of breaking the spell.

Then someone would speak, stealing his attention, and he’d turn away…

Today, however, he had not turned away. They were in the music chamber. Richard’s wife, Francesca, was playing piano, accompanied by her constant shadow, the irritatingly girlish Lady Scott—or Cherry, as she was known to her friends. The other ladies were positioned by the large picture windows, busy painting watercolours of the large oak outside. The other men were nowhere to be seen.

Ruel’s stare pierced into her. There was something predatory and hot in that stare. It came to her, slowly, that he was pursuing her; challenging her.

Yes, her. Anne Bourchier, the Countess of Cranfield. The awkward, somewhat chubby girl who had hidden in the shadows during her season. The woman with the ice-cold embrace that had repulsed her husband, a wholly oversexed gentleman who never turned down a chance to roll in the sheets.

It was unthinkable that man like Ruel could possibly be interested in her.

He knew something about living and being brave. Something she wanted desperately to know.

The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.

Spinoza’s words echoed in her head. Yes, if she could gain better understanding of what true, natural bravery was, she could grasp hold of it and free herself.

An only child left alone by her parents and always separated from others by her rank and her social awkwardness, she’d found all her answers about life from reading. One could read and study people just like books, surely. If she could speak to him and analyse his responses, she could distil that knowledge into something she could use.

He continued to stare, as if daring her to make the move that would either end the game…or take it to the next step.

A giddy sense of power washed over her. For once, she had something someone else wanted, besides her wealth. She could use it to get closer to him. To observe and learn from him. Should she just give the signal and be done with it?

She knew nothing of such matters. What if she did it wrong, made herself look a fool? Gripping her open fan in her right hand, she lifted it in front of her face.

Follow me.

She intoned the words in her mind with all the power of her intention.

How long should she leave it there? She closed her eyes and silently counted to thirty, each number echoed by her pulse. Then she let her hand drop, her stomach bottoming out.

She’d done it.

Oh God, she’d actually done it.

Gooseflesh rose all over her body and an itchy, twitching sensation raced down her spine to energise her legs and feet. Without daring to check his reaction, she snapped her fan closed and fled the chamber, leaving behind the others and their merrymaking.

Once safely down the corridor, she leaned against the wall, whipped her fan open and fluttered it rapidly in front of her overheated face.

Boot falls echoed in the empty passage way. Her hand froze. One quick glance took in his customary fierce expression.

Oh Lord. Now what?

Her heart pounded into life. She picked up her skirts, flew down the corridor and dashed into the study.

It was empty but for the odour of cigars lingering in the air.

She stared at the doorway, still filled with edgy energy.

What would he say or do once he found she wasn’t playing quite the game he thought she was? But how else to speak to Jonathon Lloyd, the seventh Earl of Ruel, away from the bevy of hangers-on he attracted?

She turned to stare out of the window, watching the wind toss the mighty oak as if it were but a willow.

The door closed softly.

Be sure to read the prologue, posted at this Goddess Fish Party event, click here:

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Book Details:

Number of pages233
GenreHistorical/ BDSM/ Rubenesque
Book LengthSuper Novel
Erotic RatingTotal-e-burning
eBook FormatePub/HTML/PDF/MSReader(lit)/Mobipocket(prc)
eReaders SupportedAll current eReaders
Send direct to Kindle?Yes
Cover art byPosh Gosh

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Shadow said...

A Measured Risk sounds very good! Beautiful cover! Thank you for sharing it!

Natasha Blackthorne said...

Thank you so much Shadow for the lovely comment. :) I hope you're having a great Sunday.

Shadow said...

Im having a great Sunday. Thank you! I hope your having a wonderful one! ;)

Debby said...

Great excerpt. Your heart goes out to her.
debby236 at gmail dot com