In the sequel to What a Scoundrel Wants, Meg of Keyworth’s troubled sister Ada travels to exotic Spain.
December 23, 2009
When it comes to temptation…
Turning his back on his old life as a rogue, Gavriel de Marqueda has joined a monastic order in Spain and taken a vow of chastity. Before he becomes a monk, he must pass one final test: help a woman who has lost her way. But when he lays eyes on Ada of Keyworth, he is tempted beyond measure by her sultry beauty and dangerous curves…
Rules are meant to be broken…
Far from her home in England, Ada has been battling inner demons for more than a year. When she discovers that her only friend has abandoned her, she has no choice but to grudgingly accept Gavriel’s help. But Ada is not fooled. Though Gavriel wears the robes of a monk, Ada sees that he is a virile man who looks at her with a hunger that matches her own–one that begs to be satisfied again and again….
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~ RT Book Reviews
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~ Wendy Crutcher, 2011 RWA Librarian of the Year
Gavriel knelt and caught her shoulders, steadying her. He said nothing, only met her eyes and slowly shook his head. She looked away, a silent acquiescence. He lifted her foot to rest on his thighs, making short work of the puzzle that had thwarted her so completely. He urged her to lie back, her feet bare. Only when he went to replace the sheepskin mantle over her lower body did he notice the long, matching scars on her soles.
A vice pinched his chest. She flinched when he traced one silvery scar, heel to toe. He needed to swallow twice before finding his voice, an unsteady one at that. “Inglesa, what happened to your feet?”
“He cut me,” she said, her voice faraway.
“The man who held you captive?”
She sighed. “Yes. And now he’s dead.”
“Who was he?”
The door to her room clanked opened to reveal a slim man and a stout, whey-faced nun. The man held more in common with a bird than a person, all sharp angles and quick movements. A hummingbird, perhaps. Agitated. And all without an introduction.
“What seems to be the concern, señorita?” he asked.
Ada burrowed deeper within the shelter of the sheepskin. “What do they want?”
Gavriel glared when the man pushed him aside, the nun bumping into place beside him. “This is the physician, I assume. Here to help.”
Ada would not look at the newcomers. She worried her chapped lower lip and pinned Gavriel with a look of wild fear. “I hardly want you here, let alone strangers.”
The bird puffed up the feathers of his dark robes. “I’m no stranger,” he said. “I’m a physician, a servant of God sent to tend your sickness.”
“I’ve been hearing that entirely too often,” she said.
When the physician put a hand to her forehead, she drew back with a hiss. Gavriel watched with growing irritation as the man treated her with less consideration than would a shepherd inspecting his livestock. Ada withstood the curt appraisal longer than he would have imagined—that is, longer than a breath or two.
“Stop touching me!”
The physician blanched at her ear-splitting command and jerked his hand away. “She is clearly disturbed and suffering from a fever. Her humors are out of balance and must be corrected.”
Gavriel curled a fist to his mouth. “Corrected how?”
“We would make an incision—”
“Cut me?” Ada’s face turned the color of ash.
“No, no, no. Nonsense.” The physician waved his arms to placate her distress, flapping the wings of his waist-long sleeves. “A bloodletting is healthful and restorative, not at all to be feared.”
“No!” Ada tried to jump clear, but with the stout build of a peasant farmhand, the nun seized her shoulders and pinned her to the pallet. “Let go of me! You can’t do this!”
The nun glanced over to Gavriel, her veiled headdress set askew by Ada’s violent struggles. “I’ll need your help to hold her steady.”
He shook his head tightly, his gut in a knot. “Por favor, wait a moment—”
“Young man,” the doctor said, his voice reeking of condescension. “No matter the origin of her illness, she is not at all like herself. Do not expect her to react sensibly to proven techniques.”
Frowning, Gavriel tossed his gaze between Ada’s wild panic and the dispassionate duo. “Why shouldn’t the origin of her illness matter?”
“I am the physician to the Archbishop of Toledo, and I do not appreciate—”
Ada cuffed her female foe and stumbled from the bed, pushing past the startled physician. The nun lunged after her, fleeter of foot than Gavriel would have guessed, but she landed on her side, arms empty. He caught Ada and twirled her down to the floor. She hugged closer, a mass of shaking limbs and sobs.
“Give her to me,” the nun said, standing and rubbing her hip. “Or I shall call in the guards.”
Gavriel denied her demand with a dark glare. “Wait. Both of you.”
“Don’t let them,” Ada whispered. He had a difficult time understanding her, between the shivering and her unusual accent, but her fear was tangible. The sweat on her skin even smelled different—potent, almost corrosive. “I would rather die tonight than bear his cure.”
“Inglesa, if it’s for the best.”
Feverish eyes met his. She panted, briefly managing to quell the tremors. “Have I begged anything of you? I’m begging now. Please.”
He closed an arm around her shoulders, angling his body between her and the red-faced physician. The nun stood as tall as she could muster and looked ready to pounce. Whatever frustration or confusion he had felt only moments before was replaced by a single, instinctual demand: protect.
“I want you out of this room,” he said quietly.
“You cannot be in earnest,” the physic said. “This woman’s humors must be balanced or she will suffer the consequences. They are a threat to her health.”
“And to the health of others.” The nun’s face had squished into a mask of displeasure beneath her crooked headdress.
Gavriel glanced down at Ada. She had curled into herself, clinging to his arm as if to a branch in a raging stream. “Can that be done without the bloodletting?” he asked.
“Bloodletting is the most effective—”
“Out,” Gavriel said. “Now. Before I assist you.”
“Cutting her is unacceptable. I asked for alternatives, and you provided none.”
The physician sputtered, his eyebrows twitching like dun-colored caterpillars. But the nun found voice enough to speak for both of them. “We will inform Señor Latorre about this, as well as your novice master. This disrespect will not be tolerated.”
“I will not be intimidated by your threats. Now get out.”