Further than Passion
Cheryl Holt has thrilled both critics and fans with her wam, lushly sensual tales. Now, the queen of erotic romance presents her most highly charged novel yet — an extraordinary story of forbidden passion that spins wildly out of control...
Reviews for Further than Passion
"...FANTASTIC... A KEEPER ... "Holt has finely tuned the art of delving into secret fantasies and drawing out what women want. In this deliciously sensual story, she keeps readers glued to the pages by infusing every one with plenty of sizzle. VERY SENSUAL."
— Kathe Robin, Romantic Times Magazine
"Let the March winds howl, while you stay snug and warm, cuddling up to this hero. The ultimate bad boy of the season is brought to life with Cheryl Holt's, Marcus Pelham. His adventures and sensuality will make your heart beat faster."
— Romantic Times Magazine
"...OUR HIGHEST RATING... "Not only is FURTHER THAN PASSION highly erotic, but it is also a poignant and emotional love story. The loneliness of both Kate and Marcus is so sorrowful, and yet their passion and the love which grows between them is so profound, it touches the reader deeply."
"Only Cheryl Holt can write such sweet erotic romances that touch the heart, body , and soul."
— Ingela Hyatt, Historical Romance Club
"Cheryl Holt pens a compelling erotic tale in FURTHER THAN PASSION. A sensual feast of love, betrayal, and sensual pleasure, FURTHER THAN PASSION takes the reader beyond the typical consequences of the desire for happily ever after. Indeed, illicit desire has unexpected consequences as complexities and complications clash in this powerful story that readers will find impossible to put down. Each characters springs vibrantly alive,living in the reader's imagination long after the last page is turned."
— Cynthia Penn, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer, Senior Editor, Wordweaving.com
"I have read all of Cheryl Holt's books and I have to say this is her most exciting story of all. FURTHER THAN PASSION is an intriguing and spellbinding love story."
— Briana, Fallen Angel Reviews
"Ms. Holt is an extremely talented author. Every book she writes is so sexy, the characters so real, that I'm sorry when the story comes to an end."
— Tammie Ard, Fresh Fiction.com
"You have the most incredible flair for drama, pacing, and timing. This book is fabulous!"
— a quote from my editor, Jennifer Enderlin, on her reading the finished manuscript.
What fans are saying about Further than Passion
"Oh my God! I couldn't put it down and finished it in one day! I give it a 10 ++++++!!!"
"I purchased it today and have just finished it this evening, with my husband lucky he had any dinner! All I can say is you've done it again. Now I have to wait until September for the next one. Thanks again for the terrific read!"
"Thank you for transporting me into a little piece of heaven..."
— Patti from Connecticut
"WOW!! This book was awesome. This is one of the best books I have ever read, if not the best!."
"I enjoyed every page."
"I've never been disappointed reading one of your books, and I'm happy to say the streak still lives! I became so engrossed and couldn't put it down, afraid that I would miss something, like the characters would have moved on without me. Lord! But you ripped my heart out. I cried until I fogged up my contact lenses!"
— Charina from Brooklyn
"This book was so good! I couldn't put it down, and I'm looking forward to many more!"
Awards for Further than Passion
March, 2005, Romantic Times Magazine
K.I.S.S. Award Winner, March 2005, Romantic Times Magazine
Top Ten Bestseller
Further than Passion Sneak Preview
CHAPTER ONE London, England 1813
"A love potion?" Kate Duncan scoffed. "Tell me that you're joking. Please."
"For what could you possibly hope to use it?"
Her distant cousin, sixteen-year-old Lady Melanie Lewis, was mutinous. "What would you suppose? I intend to make Lord Stamford fall in love with me."
Kate could barely keep from laughing aloud. "Lord Stamford? Fall in love?"
Struggling for calm, she took a deep breath. "Where did you obtain it?"
"From an apothecary." Melanie leaned in and whispered, "The man swears it's extremely potent, so I have to be careful that I administer it appropriately, lest I set off unforeseen consequences."
"What sort of consequences might that be?"
"Well, if I was careless, two unsuitable people could be brought together. It would be a disaster."
Kate rolled her eyes. "Melanie, you can't believe this tonic is real."
"Why would you say it isn't?"
"There's no such thing as a magic potion."
"Hah! That shows how little you know. I paid a fortune for it. It must be genuine." Kate raised the vial and tipped it toward the lamp. It was filled with a dark liquid, and she'd bet her last penny that it was red wine. "What — precisely — am I to do with it?"
"You're to administer it, right before I'm scheduled to meet him. You'll slip it in his brandy or his soup. When he's not looking, of course." "Oh, of course." "Tomorrow evening might be best, when we're first introduced. I want him smitten from the start."
Kate sighed. Over the years, she'd served as Melanie's companion, tutor, governess, and chaperone. The girl had instituted a gaggle of nonsense, had developed numerous silly and bizarre ideas, but this was the most outrageous by far.
By all accounts, Marcus Pelham, the thirty-year-old Earl of Stamford, was a cold, dissolute, aloof scoundrel, and Melanie's yearning for him to be besotted was folly. Nay, beyond folly. It was lunacy. Was she off her rocker?
Marcus Pelham would never love Melanie. Despite what type of concoction she added to his supper entree, he wouldn't grow infatuated. Surely, Melanie understood the boundaries and ramifications of an aristocratic marriage! Her mother, Regina, had been tedious in expounding on the details. If Lord Stamford chose Melanie for his bride, it would be for the accepted reasons: money, property, familial alliances.
Affection would play no part.
"The timing is critical," Melanie continued. "You must talk with the staff, to learn when and where he'll be most likely to — "
"Melanie, listen to me." Kate grabbed her by the upper arms and shook her. "We're not going to do this. I am not going to do this."
"Stamford is an intelligent, shrewd, and clever gentleman. What if he caught me? How would I explain myself?"
"Honestly, Kate. You have no imagination." Melanie shoved her away. "You have to invent a story before you begin. That way, if you're discovered, you'll know in advance what your excuse should be. Now, when should we try it?"
Kate counted to ten, praying for patience. Melanie had always been intractable, and Kate was so weary of her moods. "Let me be more clear: I forbid you to attempt this. If you persist, I will speak to your mother and have her stop you."
Upon the mention of Melanie's mother, Regina Lewis, the Dowager Countess of Doncaster, Melanie's temper flared, her blond ringlets bouncing with fury. "If you dare," she threatened loudly, "I'll spend the rest of my life making you sorry."
"Be silent, before you waken the entire house," Kate answered, just as furiously. She'd lived with Melanie much too long, and had endured too many tantrums, to brook one with any grace. Especially in the middle of the night. She set the vial on the dresser, prepared to leave in a huff. "It's very late, and on the morrow, we have a busy day."
"Take the potion with you!" Melanie commanded, and she snatched up the vial, wielding it like a weapon.
"You can't order me about."
"If you won't take it, I'll do something drastic. I'll... I'll... "
Apparently, on the spur of the moment, she couldn't devise a reprehensible behavior, but from her mottled countenance, she was on the verge of throwing a major fit.
"For pity's sake," Kate grumbled. "Give it to me."
She marched over and retrieved it, as Melanie glowered in triumph, having been confident that she could coerce Kate into whatever conduct she demanded.
Gnashing her teeth, Kate stomped out and closed the door. Their hostess, Lady Pamela -- Lord Stamford's glamorous stepmother -- was free with her coin, so a lamp burned next to the landing, illuminating her route. She trudged toward the stairs, ready to climb to her bedchamber, but she was fatigued, exhausted from traveling to London, from dealing with Regina and Melanie. By the third step, she plopped down, her head in her hands.
There was no need to rush. Her room was tidy, clean, comfortably furnished, but it was sparse and quiet, at the end of a deserted corridor. The isolated location only underscored how alone she'd recently been feeling.
At least she hadn't been lodged in the attic with the servants! Since she'd been orphaned at age eight, she'd suffered many slights, but her pride couldn't have borne that one.
It had been so many years since her father had reigned as Earl of Doncaster, since he'd passed away and Regina's son, Christopher, had been elevated from modest means and obscurity to assume the title. Kate could hardly remember that period of wealth and privilege.
Had she really been born the daughter of an earl? Had her mother really been the most beautiful female in England? Had she lived like a princess? Or was it all some odd, recurring dream?
Her mother had been wed too young. She'd been restless, unhappy in her marriage, and ultimately, she'd fled to Italy with a lover. The shame had been too much for Kate's father, and he committed suicide, leaving Kate unprotected, with no funds, no dowry, and no guardian designated to watch over her.
Before the shock of events had fully registered, the indomitable Regina had moved to Doncaster and seized the reins of power. For a few brief weeks, her ailing husband had inherited the earldom, but he'd conveniently died, so she was a widow, her baby son the new lord. Ever since, she'd ruled the property like a despotic queen, managing with an iron fist, and bullying everyone until they ceded to her mandates.
She never let Kate forget that she was an aging, irksome burden, that her selfish parents had declined to see to her welfare and had abandoned her to the vagaries of Fate. Regina constantly harangued as to how weak and crazed Kate's parents had been, how their tainted blood flowed through Kate's veins. She berated so vociferously and so often that Kate had taken the criticisms to heart and, in case others learn of her appalling lineage and judge her harshly, she rarely told anyone her last name.
There was a mirror on the wall, and she studied her reflection. In the dim light, she didn't look anywhere near twenty-five, even though she was.
Her auburn hair was luxurious and rich, and not an indicator of a hedonistic temperament as Regina regularly proclaimed. Regina maintained it was witch's hair, that the color was an enticement to wild ways, and had been the ruination of Kate's mother. For fear that she be deemed loose of character, as her mother had been, Kate kept it concealed under caps and hoods.
In the shadows, her green eyes were sparkling and alive, her face pretty and appealing. Her thin figure was feminine, her curves defined and alluring, and she could detect no hint of the pathetic creature Regina had dubbed her. It was as if she was staring at the woman she yearned to be, rather than the woman she was.
Glancing down, she scrutinized the vial she still held.
"A love potion," she muttered. "What next?"
Early on, she'd ascertained the idiocy of succumbing to ardor. As her parents had proven, an excess of zeal led to misfortune and tragedy, and Kate wasn't about to assist Melanie in any recklessness.
She pulled the cork from the vial, intending to dump the liquid into the dirt of a potted plant, when a strange impulse — puckishness? madness? boredom? — forestalled her. Instead, she raised it and drank down the contents.
CAN LONDON'S MOST NOTORIOUS ROGUE...
Kate Duncan agrees to help her young cousin land a husband though she draws the line when he learns the foolish girl wants to use an apothecary's love potion to snag the notorious Marcus Pelham! To prove the elixer a fake, Kate drinks it herself — and experiences the most erotic moment of her life when she stumbles upon Marcus in a most compromising position. Every nerve in Kate's body sings as she watches from the shadows, but is her response a result of the potion... or the man? Luckily, Marcus is far too busy to notice Kate's spying... or so she thinks...
FIND SATISFACTION IN THE ARMS OF JUST ONE WOMAN?
As the Earl of Stamford, Marcus has his choice of willing ladies to share his bed. Yet nothing has ever aroused him as much as the image of Kate watching him. Marcus tries to have a little fun with Kate by drinking the elixir — and them appearing to lose all control every time she's near. But the prank goes awry when Marcus finds himself wildly and truly attracted to the innocent Kate. As he teaches her the passionate art of seduction, will he lose his heart for the very first time?