Iliad Lane, Book 0
He wants to study her. Very thoroughly.
London life isn’t for Connor Pall, the sixth Earl of Urving—he’d much rather bury himself in research for his next scholarly essay than attend yet another tedious soirée. But when he’s introduced one night to a young woman he thought existed only on paper, his bookish little world tilts on its axis.
Miss Ava Barry hates being back in London after four years “rusticating” in Edinburgh—more than that, she dreads dealing with her bitter older sister, Valeria. Her outlook changes, however, when she meets the quiet, handsome Lord Urving and sparks begin to fly.
Too bad Valeria has a few devious plans of her own…and at the top of her list is making certain Ava and the earl never reach the altar.
“I’ve always been bookish, I’m afraid.” He sidled closer, until the flowing skirts of her ball gown tangled with his boots. “I’m always researching or writing or doing something incredibly dull that involves sitting behind a desk.”
He heard her breath hitch as she fixed a stare at his chest, so close now that he imagined he felt the puff of each breath seeping into his skin even through the layers of his clothing. The thought aroused him. When could he kiss her again? Now?
“I don’t think there’s anything dull about you, my lord,” she murmured. Her hand slid up her body to settle on her neck, the action so unconsciously sensual Connor had a hard time keeping his hands fisted at his sides.
“My name is Connor. And you don’t?”
Her chin tilted until their eyes met. “No, I don’t. Connor.”
His name on her lips proved too much, and he covered her seductive hand with one of his to pull her flush against him. “That,” he whispered, “is the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.” And in the most suave move of his life, he leaned down to trace his tongue over her parted lips.
He wasted no time in skimming his other hand down her spine to splay over the small of her back while she shifted to clutch at the lapels of his coat. His fingers curved to palm the nape of her neck, shifting her into him to deepen the kiss. She responded beautifully, tasting his mouth with nibbles and licks that took him from hot to burning. His teeth sank into her lower lip and tugged, eliciting the softest, sweetest little moan Connor had ever been fortunate enough to cause.
But this wasn’t the time or the place, no matter how much they may want it to be. As he raised his head, blinking the haze of passion away, he heard her whisper, “Call me Ava.”
God. “Ava,” he repeated, sensing the change between them, the change within him. She made him nervous, yet eased him at the same time; she left him speechless, yet no word he spoke seemed wrong; she caused his entire body to ache, yet still soothed his needs.
Yes, Ava Barry was perfect, and he wanted her.