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LOVE IN THE LIBRARY by CHERYL BOLEN
The Beauty and the Scholar. . .
The Brides of Bath are Back! Book 5 in The Brides of Bath series.
Certain the “smart” Steffington twin is the person who can help her recover her late husband’s nearly priceless stolen Chaucer manuscript, Catherine Bexley tearfully persuades the scholar to assist her. A deal is struck. She’s particularly pleased that the Doctor of Letters is not interested in seducing her because she’s finished with men (owing to her late husband’s multitude of unfortunate alliances with. . .doxies). Regaining the manuscript and its subsequent sale will give her independence to ensure she never has to marry again.
Once he learns the poor, delicate widow is in danger of losing her heavily mortgaged home if they cannot find the valuable hologram, Dr. Melvin Steffington vows to do everything in his power to restore the rare Canterbury Tales to her. It’s obvious the pretty little thing needs a man to help her. Not normally the twin to take note of pretty little things, Melvin can’t help but to observe that Mrs. Bexley’s physical appearance is much like the beauties so admired by his twin brother.
He hadn’t counted on the fact he would have to pose as her husband as they race against the banker’s ticking clock. He hadn’t counted on the mysterious thief attempting to kill him. Most of all, he hadn’t counted on how close he would become to the lovely widow or how the kissing of said widow would become the most pleasant experience in his entire seven and twenty years. . .
LOVE IN THE LIBRARY
A new Brides of Bath novel by CHERYL BOLEN
“But you are mistaken, Airy. I wasn’t actually your sister at Duke’s Arms.”
“You know what I mean.” Her gave her an I’d-like-to-gag-your-mouth-with-a-used-handkerchief look.
Catherine attempted to out stare him.
Mumbling something incoherent beneath his breath, he looked away. Her gaze followed his to the four-poster bed.
“Of course, I shall sleep on the floor,” he said.
“Of course.” She shrugged. “It does look softer than most floors. And I shall insist you take the counterpane to fold into a little mattress.”
“Can’t take your blanket.”
“Oh, yes. I shall have the bed curtains closed to hold in the warmth.”
“They will also give you privacy.”
“True. I shouldn’t like you to see me sleeping. What if my mouth gapes open like a moron—meaning no disparagement to those poor afflicted souls.”
“I cannot imagine you ever looking anything but ladylike.”
“Oh, Airy, that is so kind of you.” That he was incapable of staying angry with her, endeared him to her. The girl who would one day capture his heart would be very fortunate. Very fortunate, indeed.
As she directed a smile at him, his lashes lowered. She was certain his compliment now embarrassed him. He was not the smooth-talking, bed hopper she’d wager his twin brother was. She rather pitied the girl who married that twin. Reflecting over her own smooth-talking, bed-hopping late husband, she was now happy that he’d been possessed of those traits. Otherwise, his demise would have been too, too painful.
She sighed. Yes, the girl who married Mr. Steffington would be most fortunate.
“You must allow me to make your bed,” she said. “I am ever so experienced. Whenever my little nephews visit me, I make them a pallet on the floor of my bedchamber.” She set about to remove the quilt from the bed, fold it lengthwise, and place it on the floor beside her own bed.
Then her gaze traveled over him from head to toe. “I fear you may be too tall.”
“My feet won’t mind hanging off.”
She started to giggle.
He cracked a smile. “Allow me to guess. You are now imagining my feet talking.”
Still giggling, she nodded.
“You are possessed of the silliest sense of humor.” He eyed the pallet. “Perhaps you shouldn’t put it so close to your bed. What if I snore?”
“I am accustomed to men snoring.” Her hand clapped around her mouth. “I didn’t mean to imply I’ve slept with multiple men. Only one, actually.”
His dark eyes flashed with mirth.
And they both laughed.
“Why did you not warm to Lord Seacrest?” she asked. “I thought he was charming.”
Mr. Steffington frowned. “You would. He shamelessly flirted with a married woman!”
“Well. . .I’m not actually a married woman.”
“He doesn’t know that!”
Mr. Steffington’s deep sense of morality touched her. She gave him a puzzled look. “I hadn’t noticed Lord Seacrest flirting. He was merely being friendly.”
“Only to you. He was jealous of me.”
“Why would he be jealous of you?”
“Because I had the good fortune to marry you.” He shrugged. “At least, that’s what the man thinks.”
“Oh, Airy, that is so sweet that you think being married to me is a good thing.”
“I didn’t say that.”
Seconds later, she feigned a yawn. “I suppose I am rather tired.”
His glance flicked to her valise, then to his beside it. He cleared his throat. She was coming to learn that he cleared his throat every time he was about to say something he thought might be construed as too intimate. “Would you like me to leave the room whilst you dress for bed?” He was unable to meet her gaze.
“You don’t have to leave the room.”
His gaze absently lowered to her bodice, then whipped away. “Then I vow to turn my back and close and my eyes whilst you . . . ah, remove your. . . well, you know.”
“You don’t have to close your eyes.”
Those dark eyes of his rounded. “Oh, but I must. You’re a lady, and I’m a gentleman.”
She stood. “That won’t be necessary. I’ll pull the curtains around my bed and then disrobe.”
“Capital idea!” He looked exceedingly relieved.
She went to her valise, removed her night shift, then crossed the room and climbed on top the big bed.
“Here,” he said. “I’ll close the bed curtains for you.” It was much easier for him because of his height.
When he finished, she sat on the side of the bed and listened to his footsteps move away.”Thank you, Airy. Good night, sleep tight—”
“And don’t let the bedbugs bite,” he finished.
Once she had changed into her night shift and got beneath the covers she called out to him. “I’m decent now, but I find I don’t like the dark. If you weren’t in the chamber with me, I would be terrified.”
“Should you like for me to crack open your bed curtains?”
“I, ah, shall need to restore my shirt first.”
How she would love to see him without his shirt. “Don’t bother. I’ll close my eyes.”
“Are you sure?”
He needn’t know if she peeked. After all, it was quite dark within the cubicle of her bed. “Certainly!”
“Forgive me. I didn’t mean to imply. . .”
“Of course you wouldn’t.”
He quietly moved across the carpet. “Where should you like the sliver of light?”
“The foot of the bed will do nicely, thank you.” And would afford a glimpse of him.
Seconds later, a buttery vertical light striped the foot of her bed, and she watched as he moved back to his pallet with the powerful majesty of a panther. Firelight glanced along the tawny length of his long, lean, and wonderfully bare torso.
Yes, she thought to herself, her breath a bit ragged, the girl who snared dear Mr. Steffington would indeed be fortunate.
Cheryl Bolen is the acclaimed author of more than 20 romance books, both historical and mystery. Many of her books have placed in writing contests, including the Daphne du Maurier for romantic suspense. They have been translated into 11 languages and have become Barnes & Noble and Amazon bestsellers. She was named Notable New Author in 1999. In 2006 she won the Holt Medallion (Honoring Outstanding Literary Talent) for Best Historical, and in 2012 she won Best Historical in the International Digital Awards for ebooks published the prior year. Her 2011 novella was named Best Novella in the Romance Through the Ages competition.
A former journalist, she holds a dual degree in English and journalism from the University of Texas, and she earned a master’s degree from the University of Houston. She and her professor husband are the parents of two sons, one who is an attorney, and the other a journalist. Her favorite things to do are watching the Longhorns, reading letters and diaries of Georgian Englishmen, and traveling to England. She invites readers to her website, www.CherylBolen.com, or her blog, www.cherylsregencyramblings.wordpress.co.
Links to Cheryl’s website, blog, books, etc.
**SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Cheryl will give away a print copy of her book MARRIAGE OF INCONVENIENCE or any of her ebooks (winner’s choice) to one of her lucky readers who comments on her Monday Interview or Wednesday Book Bench blogs!! Don’t miss this chance to read this story!! Thanks, Cheryl, for sharing your stories with us!!