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Suiters and Scoundrels
by Karen Woods

It is December 1810. The family's expectation, and the rumor of society, is that Sarah Elham will marry George Blake, the Duke of Chishom. Sarah continues to hope that the man whom she once loved, Marc Lewis, the Earl of Barrow, will return from India. Honor, however, demands that she marry George, and no other.

Marc's return heralds more than just the beginning of Sarah's struggle to choose between love and honor. A grievously injured Marc brings with him a danger that will threaten everyone whom Sarah cherishes.

The situation challenges all of them. It's far more than one woman's separation of Suitors and Scoundrels.

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Karen Woods
Twenty years ago, if anyone had told me that I would be making my living as a fiction writer, I would have told him that he had the wrong woman. Oh, I had stories and characters dancing in my head, clamoring to get out. Writing, however, was something I did strictly for my own amusement, as I had done since I had written my first short story at the age of five. I simply had plans for my life other than writing. I was quite happy teaching undergraduates. Hey, I had to use my Master's degree in Math/Computer Science for something, didn't I? I do quite enjoy teaching. But, it dawned on me that I could and did write tales that were as good or better than the ones I read in my leisure time.

As for me at this stage of my life, I tease that I live a quiet life. Well, maybe it's quiet in comparison to a Category Four hurricane. I've been married to my best friend since 1979. Often, my house is filled with the sounds of young people, friends of my youngest child. I spend a good deal of my time being Mom's Taxi Service hauling the youngest to sports, scouts, 4-H, and other activities. My firstborn is a college student, no longer a child, and not quite an adult. I'm exceptionally proud of both of my children.

It's fun to make a living at what I'd do for amusement, anyway.


Reviews

"There is a good deal of suspense in SUITORS AND SCOUNDRELS. It isn't provided by the Secret Service work, which, for Sarah's family, is just part of the daily routine. The suspense is, which of her suitors will she choose? Both have Sarah's long-time friendship, both seem honorable men in different ways. Different readers will root for different men. The one I guessed would win, didn't, but that didn't ruin my enjoyment. It's unusual, in a Regency, not to know which is the right man...What is important is the interesting plot, the pleasure of watching how effectively Sarah handles her life and the unpredictability of her marriage arrangements. This is the kind of book that gets by-passed by publishers who are looking to republish last month's book in disguise. The ebook format proves its value yet again, by giving us something out of the standard pattern." Reviewed by Joy Calderwood for Reviewer's Choice


Excerpt

Sarah sighed. "A lady has little choice in life. Marriage is the only honorable choice open to a gentlewoman. Making a selection of a husband is the only time that a lady really has any choice in her life."

"So, would you marry me?"

Sarah felt her face grow warm. "Of course not!"

"Why not? Most females would quite fancy being a duchess."

"I am not 'most' females. You need to find someone who can love you the way that you deserve to be loved, the way that Jane loved you. I can't think of anything that would be more ghastly for you and the children than for you to marry a woman who merely fancies being a duchess. The children need someone to love them in a motherly way. Jane wanted nothing less than happiness for the people whom she loved so well. She had asked me to look out for you and for the babies if anything were to happen to her, to make certain that you were both happy and well."

George picked up his glass and drained it.

"How do you see me?" he asked, his voice serious.

"You are my friend. You always have been."

"Do you love my children?"

"Young George and Anne are extremely precious to me," Sarah replied, her voice low and earnest. "You should be aware of that. I will do the best that I can for them as their godmama."

"There are worse things that could happen than for us to marry, are there not?"

"You are intoxicated. We both will regret this conversation in the light of day. Or rather, I will. You, quite likely, will not remember it in the least. Goodnight," she said as she rose from the chair.

He took her hand and pulled her towards him. "I am not all that firmly in my cups, Sweet Sarah," he said as he pulled her into his lap. Without giving her a chance to protest, he kissed her. He held her firmly with one arm. The other hand had a firm, but gentle, hold on her head.

George kissed her deeply, as though he had every right to her mouth. The kisses were hot and demanding. He tilted her head slightly to gain even fuller access to her mouth. His kisses were lightning, while she was like a dead tree. Desire swept through her as easily as fire would catch in a dead tree after a lightning strike. Just as that tree would burn from the heart outward, so was she burning with the desire that flamed, licking and swirling, through her. She had been kissed once before, but that had been nothing like this.

As the kiss deepened even further, she simply wrapped her arms around his neck and hung on as the world spun away. George filled her senses, leaving room only for the elemental reality of man and woman. The honesty of the need in his kiss totally undid her. Nothing else mattered at the moment to her, nothing except the passion she felt building up within her at his touch and kiss. Sarah gloried in the feeling, wanting nothing other than to be exactly where she was--in his arms.

The hot, demanding pressure of his mouth made her dizzy. The stroking of his tongue against hers filled her with almost unbearable pleasure.

A moment, or a century, later he sank to his knees, placing her on the floor before him. Then he lay atop her, kissing her hungrily once more.