The Countess Takes a Lover

The Countess if finally out at Samhain. If you've managed to miss all my promo, here's the blurb to give you a taste of what the story is about.

Countess Meredith du Chevalier, a widow with a reputation for being sexually adventurous, is intrigued when she is approached by a gentleman who wishes her to “make a man” of his son. Sensing a passionate man beneath Christopher Whitby’s reserved exterior, Meredith takes on the challenge, inviting the botanist to her country home to revitalize her abandoned greenhouse.

Chris finds people to be a chaotic, animalistic species, and has chosen to devote his life to the study of plants. One kiss from the vivacious countess, however, and his inner animal is aroused. But lust is only a fraction of what he feels for the vulnerable woman hiding behind a brittle fa├žade. He resolves to coax her to grow until her petals unfurl in a glorious bloom.

To her surprise, Meredith finds Chris brings much more to life than just fallow soil. But just as their love begins to thrive, he learns about the secret arrangement. Meredith must risk her heart for the most dangerous lesson of all—love.

See the book trailer at my site:

Early reviews are in:
All About Romance--Desert Isle Keeper, Reviewer Abi Bishop:
"Meredith and Chris’s relationship, based as it is on lust and sexual awakening, demanded a focus on the physical that would have become repetitive if not for the unique quality to each of their meetings, and Dee’s almost poetic attention to detail. In addition, the scenes weren’t there so we readers could get our jollies. Character and relationship development was happening there. I’m serious."

Mrs. Giggles, 84
Ooh, now this is a story to stoke your inner cougar ...The role-reversal does some most amusing wonders for this story, I must say, because I find myself tickled at times as to how these characters can play so beautifully into the roles normally reserved for the opposite sex.

Karen Scott's blog, Reviewer Azteclady:
"A welcome change from the usual run of romantic stories is that the hero is both the socially awkward and the inexperienced one in the relationship. It’s true that this doesn’t last very long, for one of the things that attracts Meredith to Christopher is the fact that behind his bookishness hides a strong and passionate personality. During their first lovemaking, Christopher’s reactions are lovely rendered. He is insecure and scared, surprised, amazed, moved, grateful. I could very well see him there."

Excerpt (first kiss):
The onslaught of sensations, the racing pulse, ragged breathing, prickling skin, heightened senses and burgeoning heat in his cock took Chris completely by surprise. It wasn’t as though he’d never felt any of these things. He was an adult male with a man’s lust and yearning when he caught sight of a pretty face, deep cleavage or a flash of ankle, but he’d never felt such a tumult of emotion all at once. All because Countess du Chevalier had touched his lips and peered into his very thoughts with her wise gray eyes.

He couldn’t be imagining this, could he? Perhaps he’d fallen asleep during the professor’s lecture and was dreaming this erotic encounter. But the solidity of the cool stone bench beneath his trousers and the warmth of the lady’s hand in his assured him the moment was very real.

Once seated on the bench, she turned her body toward his and again reached to stroke the side of his face. Her fingers were cool and soft as silk, and his eyes closed part way in response to her touch. She slid her hand around the back of his neck and encouraged him to lean toward her. It was actually happening—a kiss, something he’d fantasized but had pushed to the back of his mind because it didn’t fit into his plans for a life devoted to academic study.

Tilting his head slightly, he closed his eyes completely as her face loomed closer. Sightless, his mouth found and covered hers. Their lips pressed together and he couldn’t suppress the quiet moan that rose in his throat. Her lips were soft and yielding. He pressed hard against them. A kiss. His first kiss—embarrassing to admit at age twenty-five, but there’d been no opportunity before now. He wouldn’t steal favors from a housemaid as some men did, and young ladies didn’t bestow kisses until an engagement ring was offered. The one chance he’d had to experience mindless pleasure was with a prostitute, a gift from his father that Chris simply couldn’t accept.

Ah, but he would indulge now with a woman he barely knew. A friend of his mother’s no less. What kind of woman was the countess that she bestowed kisses on strange men on a whim? Christopher stopped thinking and focused on the moment, the feel of her waist beneath his hand as he slipped it around her, the yielding softness of her mouth beneath his and the mounting pressure in his cock as it strained against his breeches.
The countess pressed a hand against his chest and pulled away. Chris wanted to reach for her blindly and pull her back again. He nearly whined at the interruption, but instead opened his eyes to look into her face. “I-I’m sorry. I was wrong to…”

“No. Sh.” She covered his lips with her finger, then stroked them with her fingertip.
“Not that. I want to show you a little something about kissing.

“Oh.” He resisted the impulse to suck her finger right into his mouth and waited while she slid the tip back and forth across his lips until they tingled.

“When you kiss a woman, you must think of her lips as a flower, a bud which you’re seducing into opening for you. Light, delicate strokes of the tongue, soft pressure of the lips are the keys to making that flower bloom. Understand?”

Her analogy was wrong. There was nothing a person could do to make a flower open. It happened when it was time. But he understood her meaning and blushed, realizing his technique had been off. Mashing his mouth hard against hers clearly hadn’t been satisfying for her. He nodded.

Her shining eyes continued to gaze into his and her hypnotic finger to stroke his parted lips and dip just barely between them. He dared to touch it with the tip of his tongue and a ripple of something passed over the countess’s eyes. She made a small sound.

“Yes. Keep your lips relaxed, moist but not wet, and tease mine into opening for you. Then we shall see what will follow.” Her thick, dark lashes swept her cheeks in lush fans as her eyes closed and her face lifted toward his.

Chris took his time. He touched her face as she had his, stroking her soft cheek and jaw, caressing her mouth until her pink lips parted. Then he rested his hand on her throat and felt the pulse beating in it like butterfly wings. He slid his hand around her neck and let it rest under the base of her skull, supporting her. The hairs at her nape tickled the back of his hand. He inclined his head and kissed her again.

This time he followed her instruction, feeding at her lips as a hummingbird sips nectar. Closing his mouth over her pouting lower lip, he pulled on it lightly. He pressed little nibbling kisses to the corners of her mouth and then slipped his tongue over the seam of her lips. They opened as she gave a small gasp of pleasure. His tongue slipped inside the heat and moisture of her mouth and encountered her tongue, slippery and sinuous. The percolating heat in his belly flared to an inferno from this simple touch. A raging beast was awakened, which Chris recognized as the primitive animal inside every man. He ached to devour her, to kiss her until she couldn’t breathe, to throw her down on the ground and ravish her.

His soft, exploratory kiss grew harder and more demanding. His tongue swept inside her mouth, tasting her and filling her just as his cock ached to fill her body. The powerful intensity of animal emotion was overwhelming. His penis throbbed with each beat of his heart and he was afraid it would explode into his drawers. With a low groan, he released her waist and the back of her neck, gripped her shoulders and pushed her away.

Gasping, he gazed into her suddenly wide-open eyes. “We must stop now.” He rose abruptly from the bench, stumbling backward and treading on a sample of Floribunda segunda before quickly stepping away from it.

“This is too…” He trailed off, not knowing how to express his thoughts. Too powerful. Too intense and real. Too dangerous.

She smiled up at him. “Christopher, don’t be alarmed. I’m a widow. In our society, widows may take their pleasure where they wish, as long as they’re discreet.”
He waved a hand at the bower of trees and flowers around them. “This is hardly discreet. We’re in the Royal Botanical Gardens.”

The countess stood, and he took another step back. “Would you feel more comfortable elsewhere?” she asked. “We could go to my house.”

“I…” Good Christ! The woman was stunning, regal, elegant, beautiful, and asking him to come to her home. Her invitation left little to the imagination. What could possibly hold him back? Any man would jump at the chance to share the Countess du Chevalier’s bed. “I must go now.” His voice was a hoarse mutter.

Without another word, he turned and walked away, buttoning his jacket over the bulge in his breeches. A torrent of emotions, which he tried to tame into submission, raged through him. Science and reason had always been the guiding forces of his life. Animal impulses were for uneducated, unthinking louts. There must be more to life than satisfying base lust with bestial coupling; otherwise the whole of society might as well run about in animal skins cooking shanks of meat over open fires.

Besides, if he once gave into passion, Chris didn’t know if he’d ever be able to return to the person he’d been before. And if he wasn’t that man, the quiet, reserved man who studied and raised plants, then who was he?

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