Harlequin Historical #768
Out of print. Available as e-book.
Half-breed scout Troy Price does not need another white woman in his life. The last time he tangled with one, he ended up with a broken heart. But when the steamer arrives, he learns that a cholera epidemic has whittled his party of artists and scientists down to one stubborn female.
Eleanor Hart is the socialite daughter of a wealthy industrialist who is unaccustomed to being thwarted.
Looks like a battle of wills on the Yellowstone.
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"Kernan's engaging characters, a colorful backdrop and Eleanor's personal growth make this classic western romance something special."
Romantic Times BookCLUB
“Classic Western Romance”
Romantic Times Book Reviews
Fort Union, Missouri River, 1840
Eleanor eyed the trunk of her personal belongings. Certainly he would not delve there. Would he?
“Those are my clothes.” She tried to press the lid closed before he had his hands on her unmentionables but was too late. He held her bodkin in one hand.
“What’s this?” He gripped the center insert for her corset in his large hand.
“None of your business, Mr. Price.” She extended her hand.
He pointed to the elaborate scrimshaw etched on the whalebone depicting London sights. “Looks like a picture book.”
“That is not its intended use.” Her cheeks burned with mortification of which he was blissfully unaware. One large finger traced London Bridge and she twitched as if he stroked her.
“This near your home?”
Her breath caught and she only managed shake her head. Her hand remained open and hopeful before her. “That is a scene of London and the piece is called a bodkin. May I have it now please?”
With reluctance he laid it across her palm. For just an instant the heat of his hand scorched her. He must have felt it as well, that tingling sensation that raced up her arm from point of contact, for his gaze snapped to hers. She stood motionless, his hand blanketed hers and the bodkin pressed between them. Her breathing came in shallow little gasps and his eyes widened as he withdrew, stepping back two paces.
With trembling fingers she tucked away the ivory board, wondering at her strange reaction to this man. When she straightened, she found him poking in a crate of her shoes.
He reached for a bag containing her undergarments.
“No, Mr. Price. You will not open that.”
He hesitated only an instant then a devilish smile appeared. She lunged and missed as he flipped open the latch. There on the top was the white lace and silk robe she wore this morning when she clung to him like a climbing rose. She thanked God that was on the top and not her corset or bloomers. He paused as if stunned by a simple glance at her sleeping garments then lifted the robe before him.
His gaze flicked from the robe to her and she felt the heat rise in her from his scorching regard. Her heart accelerated its beating until she could not hear past the staccato rhythm.
She extended her hand silently demanding the return of her attire. He pressing his face into the white silk and inhaling deeply.
Her breathing stopped. She stood shocked to immobility by the sensuality of the simple gesture. It was as if he held her in his firm embrace instead of her dressing gown. His eyes never left her and she trembled beneath his regard.
“Please,” she whispered.
He stepped closer until his breath fell upon her flushed face.
She stood speechless.
He leaned in, inhaling the air about her neck and she closed her eyes at the quickening that urged her to step forward and draw his mouth down to meet her exposed neck.
“What is it you want, Lena?”
Lena? Her mother called her Nora, her father Eleanor, but she liked the way he said it, like an endearment.
“My robe,” she whispered.
“You smell like roses.” Another intake of breath and the air rushed cool about her and then hot as he exhaled, lifting the small hairs at her neck. Her body tingled with excitement as she realized what she really wanted. A kiss – his kiss.
As if reading her thoughts, one hand closed on the column of her throat and stroked until he held her jaw, lifting to bring her mouth close to his. She came alive under his touch. The simple brush of his thumb sent her insides all atremble.
“Have you ever been kissed?” he asked.
“Certainly.” Several men had pulled her away from the dancing to steal a kiss.
His words brushed her lips. “What did you think of it?”
“I rather found dancing more invigorating.”
He chuckled. “Did they kiss you like this?”
He dipped to brush his lips gently to hers.
She nodded, thinking he rather had a better hang of it then the others.
“I thought so. That’s not how I want to kiss you.”
She did not understand the thrill of excitement but rather sensed that something unexpected would happen. Her body trembled like a plucked violin string as she waited for him to come to her. It took every ounce of her upbringing to wait.
“Do you want me to kiss you, Lena?”
A lady would never say yes.
“Yes,” she murmured.
His lips touched hers then pressed firmly. His hand moved to cradle the back of her head as he leaned over her. Their torsos met and sharp shafts of pleasure radiated from her unexpectedly sensitive breast to the center of her belly.
She gasped in surprise and his tongue entered her mouth. She stiffened at the unexpected intrusion, while his fingers tightened in the hair at her scalp. He had control of her and she discovered that realization as potent as his kiss. His tongue made darting little thrust that drove her nearly to distraction. All she could do was cling to this man as his kiss filled her with desire, sharp as the stab of tiny needles. All the strength in her arms were not sufficient to draw him close enough to fill the aching need tearing through her quaking body.
She pressed against him as he withdrew denying her need as he pulled at her clasping arms now encircling his neck.
Bewildered she released him and stood staring up at this stranger whose touch awakened this terrible monster of need.
“What did you do?” she asked.
“Kissed you the way a woman is meant to be kissed.”
She pressed her hands flat over her trembling belly where the worst of her desire now screamed for her to reach out to him again.
"I didn’t know.”
His voice rumbled in an animal growl that lifted her skin to gooseflesh once more. “Now you do.”