I am really excited about this one, so fair warning.
On November 22nd, The Other Guy’s Bride, the long, long, long(!) awaited sequel to As You Desire will finally hit your Kindle, with the print version following one month later. I’ve read the book and it’s fair to say that’s one of the reasons I’m so excited. I’ll have more to say later, but this new book is a worthy successor to a book so fondly remembered by so very many of us.
You know, there was so much controversy over how this book is being published and now we’re down to what really matters.
We’ll be back in a few weeks with a giveaway, but, in the meantime, Connie offered us an exclusive excerpt from the book to whet your appetite. So, read it, enjoy – and leave a question or your reaction for Connie in the comments.
– Sandy AAR
Ginesse struggled out from the depths of an uncomfortable dream featuring a tall, disreputable looking outlaw and blinked, her eyes adjusting to the darkened hotel room. She shook her head. She must still be dreaming because there was no other explanation for why James Owens would be sitting on the side of her hotel bed.
“What are you doing here?” she mumbled, looking around. Her window stood wide open to the terrace.
“We have to go. Now.”
“What are you doing here?” she repeated. She gathered the bedsheets high under her chin, scrambling back on her heels until she banged into the bed’s elaborately carved headboard. She could barely make him out. Just enough to see that he’d changed his shirt for a zaboot, the native tunic of the lower classes. It was not much of an improvement.
The garment stank of tobacco. And liquor, too. She sniffed. Yes, he definitely smelled of liquor. She peered at him over the linen’s laced edge. She’d read that some men became capable of terrible things while under the influence of liquor.
“What are you doing here?” Her voice rose an octave.
“I’m taking you to your fiancé.”
His tone was definitely not lecherous. She relaxed slightly. “To my fiancé?”
“Yes,” he said. “We have to go. Now.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” she said. “Please remove yourself from my room at once, Mr. Owens.”
“Miss Whimpelhall, I’m not asking—”
“Good. Because I’m not going.” Good heavens. Did he really think she would go tromping off with him in the dead of night? She hoped she was made of sterner stuff than that.
“Listen, miss.” He set one large fist beside her thigh and leaned forward. The white zaboot fell open nearly to his waist revealing a chest heavy with muscle, hard and contoured, the dark hair covering it glinting in the chance light. Quickly, she looked away, heat flooding her face. This was ridiculous. She’d read some extremely provocative Egyptian love poems without a blush. Dry words about dead lovers, an inner voice mocked. Nothing at all like this. He was real, so close that if she lifted her hand she could touch that wide, sculpted chest—
“No,” she said. “I will not listen. Now, must I ring for an attendant or will you leave?”
“You’re not calling anyone. Not until you listen,” he said. He shifted, bringing his face into the light.
She forgot her apprehension and embarrassment. “Good heavens! What happened to you?”
He looked awful. His left eye was swollen, his lip was split, and a bruise darkened the already beard-stubbled angle of his jaw.
Enlightenment dawned on her. “You’ve been in a brawl! A saloon brawl,” she breathed, recalling countless vivid descriptions of similarly battered men from her Western dime novels. She leaned forward to get a better look, the sheet slipping unheeded from her shoulder. “You have, haven’t you?” A tantalizing, horrifying thought occurred to her. “Was it over a woman?”
“What?” He jerked back, a brief expression of bewilderment appearing on his stern countenance. She was having none of it.
“It was!” she declared. “You got into a barroom brawl over some…” she scrambled for the right word, “some floozy! Don’t deny it.”
Whatever had Colonel Lord Pomfrey been thinking to send such a man to escort as delicate and timid a lady as Miss Whimpelhall? It was unconscionable. James Owens would have terrified Miss Whimpelhall. Luckily, Ginesse was neither delicate nor timid.
With an impatient gesture, he reached out and flicked the sheet back over her shoulder. “There are no saloons in Cairo,” he said.
“You know perfectly well what I mean. Some squalid establishment that caters to men’s lowest impulses.”
“You…you should be ashamed of yourself,” she said. Something deep within him would surely respond with innate decency to a gently bred lady. It always did in her novels. “You didn’t start out as a desperado. You should…try to be a better man. I am sure you have it in you.” She hoped she sounded more confident than she felt. “Somewhere.”
For a moment he just stared at her and then abruptly stood up, looming over her, his eyes glittering in the dim room.
“You seen through me, miss,” he growled, in a rich Western drawl.
It was delicious.
“I was in a saloon brawl,” he admitted. “I ain’t proud if it, but when demon liquor has his way with a feller, there’s no telling what he might do.”
“I knew it!” Ginesse breathed.
“You were right. And now that I’m coming clean, I reckon it’s only fair to warn you, miss. I ain’t one of your English lapdogs.”
No, she thought, twining the sheets more tightly around her shoulders, he most definitely was not. She blinked up at him, uncertain what he meant, her heart racing wildly in her throat.
She frowned. “Pardon me?”
“So, when I say we’re going, we’re going. I’m the ramrod, got it?”
Ramrod…ramrod… Oh! The boss! She nodded.
“And whatever else I tell you to do in regards to our trek, you’re gonna do it and you ain’t gonna argue.”
“I would never argue. It’s unladylike.”
“You’re arguing now.”
She opened her mouth to— She closed it, swallowing hard. He sounded quite ruthless, and she felt a little frightened.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he said. “You ain’t got nothin’ to fear from me as long as you do as you’re told. I got one aim, and that’s to get you safe to your sweetheart’s arms. He entrusted me with your care, and I,” he looked away, his lips trembling ever so slightly, obviously moved by some great emotion, “and I live by the Code of the West. I aim to get you to him even if I have to carry you kicking and screaming the whole way.”