Cold, arrogant, and demanding Henry Eldridge, Marquess of Riverton, would never dally with a mere servant. But when Henry is injured in a horrible fire, his pretty housekeeper Cassandra nurses him back to health, throwing them together day and night. As he slowly heals from his burns, their friendship blossoms, and the class walls between them start to crumble. Cassandra is surprised by glimpses of a kind and thoughtful man beneath her employer’s hard façade—and even more surprised when she develops tender feelings for him. But anything between lord and servant is impossible…and besides, as a widow, she knows love only leads to heartbreak.
Henry is changing, as well. His close brush with death has opened his eyes to his self-imposed emotional isolation…and has urgently reminded him of his duty to marry a well-bred lady and produce an heir. Determined to do right by his family name, he immediately begins searching for a suitable bride. But Cassandra is the only woman who is never far from his mind or his heart. Contrary to everything he’s been taught to believe, he realizes his lovely housekeeper might just be his perfect match. Now, if only he could convince everyone else of that. Especially Cassandra…
“Good advice,” she said. “But I’m not as hard as you.”
“I’m not hard,” he protested.
She giggled and jabbed her finger into his chest.
“No,” she agreed. “There’s more give to you than you want people to think. But sometimes you’re hard.” She trailed her finger down his chest, her smile turning mischievous.
“You’re going to make me hard,” he muttered.
She clucked her tongue. “So vulgar. Whatever am I to do with you?”
“I can think of a few things.” He paused. “Alas, they’re all related to my hardness.”
She laughed and reached her hand up lazily to touch his jaw, on his good side. He stilled, barely breathing. In the snow their collision had been an accident. This was the first time she’d touched him like this of her own accord. The whole world stopped, and he waited, waited, poised on the edge of a cliff. Even the smallest movement would carry him over.
Two of her fingers brushed over his lips, softly, barely a whisper of touch. But the contact sparked fire through his veins. He was dry tinder and she was all heat.
“I like…your mouth,” she murmured. Her hand slowly swept across his cheek bone. He leaned into the caress like a dog seeking affection, like a damned beggar pleading for sustenance.
“And I like this,” she continued. “And…”
She let her hand slip lower, down over his throat and his chest. Her knuckles brushed against him, through the fabric of his clothes, as her hand drifted to his stomach. He breathed in sharply as she hovered there, as his mind willed her luscious hand to continue its journey.
“And I absolutely love—”
His breath caught.
Lily Maxton grew up in the Midwest, reading, writing, and daydreaming amidst cornfields. After graduating with a degree in English, she decided to put her natural inclinations to good use and embark on a career as a writer. When she’s not working on a new story, she likes to tour old houses, add to her tea stash, and think of reasons to avoid housework.