Another erotic romance from Cheryl Holt & St. Martin's Press.
Reviews for Complete Abandon
"As a blossoming queen of erotic romance, Cheryl Holt comes to full flower in this enticing, sizzling combination of erotic passion, strong characterization and a finely tuned plot. Readers will see themselves and their secret longings on each page and shiver with delicious delight."
— Kathe Robin
"You can fall for this hero and know you'll be caught in strong arms. The ultimate, sexy, bad-bad boy, John Clayton, finds that lessons in passion can become lessons in love..."
— Romantic Times
"I fell in love with this story and hated for it to end. Emma and John are magnificent characters, and I loved watching them change and grow as love winds its tentacles around their hearts...This is a masterpiece of storytelling. A sensual delight scattered with rose petals that are divinely arousing. Oh my, yes indeedy!"
— Suzanne Coleburn, Reader to Reader Reviews
What fans are saying about Complete Abandon
"What a book! I loved it!"
— Danielle, USA
"It made me laugh, and cry. I only wish you could write as fast as I can read..."
— Mary, USA
"...the best book I've read in YEARS! Thank you."
— Denise, USA
"I absolutely love COMPLETE ABANDON. You are the greatest!!!"
— Karen, London
"Please, please, please tell me that your next book will be about Ian and Caroline...I'll just die if I don't know what happens with them!!!!"
— Amy, USA
"...a wonderful story."
— Ruth, USA
"I absolutely loved COMPLETE ABANDON. I've read all your novels and I think this is the best by far."
— Zorica, USA
"...virginal heroines with lots of spunk and spirit, alpha alpha heroes, lots of steamy scenes, and lots of emotion. Girl, you are AWEWOME!!!!!!!!!
— Mary, New York City
— Annice, USA
"I read it in one day!"
— Diane, USA
"Thank God the air conditioner was on, or I would have overheated! My best friend and I are still trying to recover from ABSOLUTE PLEASURE and now I have to cool off from this!"
— Charina, Brooklyn
"This is a great book! Can't wait for the next one!"
— Sandi, Oregon
"Please keep writing, and I promise I'll keep reading!"
— Mary, USA
Awards for Complete Abandon
"Fantastic, A keeper..." says Romantic Times Magazine.
Best Sensual Historical Novel of 2003
Scarlett Letter Award
Best Historical Romance 2003
Reviewers' Choice Award Nominee
Best Sensual Novel of 2003
Best Erotic Novel of the Year
Historical Romance Book Club
Complete Abandon Sneak Preview
John Clayton, Viscount Wakefield, is a gambler and a scoundrel who's recently inherited a title he never wanted, and he's begrudingly traveled to the Wakefield estate to deal with its financial crisis. His first order of business is to initiate the eviction of several tenants who are behind in their rents.
The local vicar's daughter, Emma Fitzgerald, has taken offense, claiming the evictions are dastardly actions against poor people. She's boldly barged into the manor, where she's proceeded to give him a horrendous scolding for what she views as his insensitive behavior.
He's been carousing all night. He's tired, grouchy, and hungover, and he wants her gone, but short of bodily tossing her out on the lawn, he can't figure out how to be shed of her. He decides to try and scare her-so that she runs away and never dares to return.
Unfortunately for him, with Miss Fitzgerald, he may have finally met his match.
AN EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER TWO...
The answer to his dilemma, when it dawned on him, was so naughty — but so ingenious — that he didn't know why he hadn't thought of it sooner. He must be more fatigued than he'd suspected.
Though Ian was the bastard by birth, John was the one who'd deserved the designation. His comportment was regularly deplorable; his father had maintained that he went out of his way to be exasperating, which he did. Ninety-nine percent of the time, he was an unrepentant, unremitting blackguard.
He had the very mode by which to scare her off, and her egress wouldn't be difficult to achieve. Obviously, she'd heard stories about his reputation and repute. If he acted heinously, she wouldn't be surprised. Monstrous behavior was exactly what she would expect from him. A flagrant proposal, that she would be honor-bound to refuse and would never accept in a thousand years, would goad her into a maidenly swoon, and he would promptly have her fleeing in terror.
If he was sufficiently vulgar, she'd be too mortified to ever return, so he'd never again have to be confronted by her righteous opinions or condescending disposition.
This was going to be so simple. And so amusing.
Poor Miss Fitzgerald. She was about to be shocked senseless.
"Well," he echoed, pensively tapping a finger to his lip, and assessing her as a cat might study a canary trapped in a cage. A calculated grin creased his cheeks.
Instantly, she noticed the transformation in his demeanor and took a reflexive step back, but he wasn't about to let her escape. Not when he'd courteously weathered her diatribe. He vacated his perch on the desk, and approached until he was so indecently close that the toes of his boots slipped under the hem of her skirt.
Amazingly, she retreated no further, bravely standing her ground.
"I might be persuaded to alter my course," he said.
"How?" Hesitantly, she smiled, eager to hope that her arguments had been effective.
He gazed into her brown eyes, momentarily distracted by how limpid they were, how penetrating. Her skin was smooth as silk, her cheeks rosy and delicate, and...
Vicar's daughter! The alarm rang again, and he visibly snapped himself back to the successful culmination of his machination.
He was a master at effrontery — he'd had his entire life to practice — so the unsophisticated, wholesome Miss Fitzgerald hadn't a chance against his rehearsed insolence.
"My decision was fiscal, not personal. So if I'm to change it, you'd have to provide me with a special remuneration."
"What do you mean?"
She was so guileless, so innocent and sincere. He almost hated to deceive her, but he was an indisputable cad and always had been. "If I let your friends stay," he cajoled, luring her in for the kill, "you'd have to reimburse me for my troubles."
"What troubles do they cause you?" she huffed. "They're old, sick, and overburdened."
"I would sustain a financial loss if they remain" — he fought to appear contemplative, then earnest — "but I'd be amenable to foregoing the income if you could do something to make it worth my while — so to speak."
"Me? I don't have any money."
"Well, I wasn't referring to money."
"What then?" She was still without a clue as to where he was deliberately and crassly leading her.
"A reparation that would be more likely to" — he paused, winked — "tickle my fancy."
Over in the corner, he could see Ian stir, uneasy with the sudden tenor of the conversation, but he knew his brother. If Ian had any qualms about what John was doing, he'd voice his misgivings when they were alone.
Unfortunately for Miss Fitzgerald, she wasn't familiar with John's penchant for mischief, nor did she realize how adept he was at impudence. Her face was an open book, and he could effortlessly read what was written there: It was gradually occurring to her that he was making an inappropriate advance.
Impertinent as any princess, she inquired, "What — precisely — are you suggesting?"
"You have only one asset that might be of any value to a man such as myself."
Shamefully, he let his prurient regard travel over her torso, lingering on every delightful spot, then he meandered back up till their stormy gazes locked.
"Lord Wakefield, you're making a...a...lewd proposition to me."
"Naturally. What else do you have to offer?"
As he'd anticipated, she gasped. "You would steal my virtue, in order to...to...erase the debts of my neighbors?"
"You're quite fetching," he said bluntly, as if he seduced chaste women as a hobby, "and it's been a long while since I've had a country lass. I imagine I'll be enormously entertained."
Horridly affronted, she scowled. "I do believe that's the most offensive comment anyone has ever uttered in my presence."
"I'm sure it is." He shrugged, laughed facilely. "I'm renowned for my reprehensible conduct. I have a base character, I'm afraid."
"You are an unmitigated lecher."
"Without a doubt."
He'd presumed that she'd be unnerved, outraged, or aghast, but she wasn 't eliciting anywhere near the indignation he might have predicted. His Miss Fitzgerald was made of stern stuff. Time to raise the stakes. To have her running from the room in a cloud of repugnance and loathing.
"I don't know how well-versed you are at dalliance, but I'm infamous for my abilities as a lover. I can guarantee that you'll be satisfied."
He imbued the word with as much inflection as he could, drawing it out so that even the most sheltered virgin couldn't help but get the general drift of his intent.
"Are you planning for us to lie down together as man and wife?"
"Yes. But not just once. I'd have to require numerous assignations before I'd be fully compensated." Furrowing his brow, he pretended to mull a commensurate recompense. "How about one tryst for each person on your list? That ought to make us come out about even."
"You're actually saying...you deem me to be the sort of woman who would...you assume that I might acquiesce in..."
He smiled. She was so unschooled that she had no vocabulary to describe his sordid overture. This was going much better than he'd conjectured. A few more deftly delivered insults, and he'd be shed of her forever.
"And don't forget: I'm very rich. If you please me, there'll be little extra in it for you. Any of my mistresses can tell you that I'm generous when contented. I especially like to give gifts of jewelry."
The last statement was a bit much, but he wanted to send her into a frenzy of moral wrath. He braced for a furious slap, or a shriek of disgust, or a sob of despair, but to his out-and-out consternation, she did nothing of what he'd foreseen.
Instead, she initiated an intimate survey of her own, and it was much more torrid, and much more thorough than the visual tour he'd just taken of her anatomy.
She journeyed down to his chest, to his stomach. Lower, to his groin, where his unruly phallus had the audacity to swell under her examination, enough so to bulge and make his trousers unaccountably tight.
Boldly, she tarried there, evaluating length and girth, then her ardent appraisal rolled back up, fixating on his mouth, giving it such an avid inspection that he flushed.
Roaming those final few inches, her eyes linked with his, once again, and she smiled, too, a sly, shrewd feminine smile that had him frantically questioning what he'd set in motion.
"Why not?" she consented, out of the blue. "How vile could it be? And if you're half as good as you claim, it might even be fun."
NO BARGAIN IS AS ENTICING AS...
When Emma Fitzgerald storms the manor home of the new Viscount Wakefield, she feels more than justified fury. Having just inadvertently witnessed His Lordship in scandalous dishabille with his London mistress, her blood pounds with outrage...and with the delicious secrets of his flesh.
She has come to demand better treatment for his tenants, to seek some compassion, a shred of decency from this dastardly rake whose reputation for sin and debauchery precedes him. Now, the erotic image of his powerful flesh only heightens her determination to make this wicked rogue accountable for his actions.
ONE SEALED WITH A KISS...
Certainly no woman has ever dared to take John Clayton to task as though he is a naughty schoolboy, and no woman, especially one as enticing as Emma, ever has refused to be baited by his bold, assessing gaze. Instead she seems to look beneath his skin to see more than a scandalous rake. But this prim and proper vicar's daughter leaves him speechless when she proposes a bargain worthy of his insolence. In return for his kindness to others, she offers herself. Vowing to regain the upper hand, John brazenly sets out to introduce Emma to the art of love heedless of the consequences to his own heart...