Wild, Wild Rake is the next emotional and witty romance in Janna MacGregor’s Cavensham Heiresses series. Here is an exclusive excerpt that shows why we are excited about this book.
About Wild, Wild Rake:
Lady Avalon Warwyk never did love her husband, who was arrogant, selfish and cruel. It was a blessing when she was widowed and left to raise her son all by herself. Now finally, Avalon can live freely and do the work she loves, which is helping fallen women become businesswomen. She’s lived these past ten years with no desire to remarry.
Devan Farris is a charming vicar, reputed rake and the brother of Avalon’s son’s guardian. He has been reluctantly sent to town to keep tabs on Avalon and her son. Devan wishes he didn’t have to meddle in her affairs — he’s not one to tread on a woman’s independent nature and keen sense of convictions. And she’ll have nothing to do with a vicar with a wild reputation — even though he’s never given his heart and body to another. If only he could find a way to show her who he really is on the inside — a good, true soul looking for its other half.
“Let’s not make this any more uncomfortable than it currently is.” Avalon pasted a slight smile on her lips. “I received a letter from your brother today, along with some unsettling news.”
“I see. How may I assist you?”
He didn’t blink or smile. The seriousness of his countenance caused her to momentarily consider fleeing the study. But that wouldn’t serve anyone’s interests.
“I’ll come right to the point. I don’t approve of you as the new parish vicar.”
His eyes blazed for a moment, but she’d not back down.
“Let me explain. The Warwyk marquisate has invested heavily in building the parish and community. Your renowned talent for helping troubled parishes would be wasted here. Personally, I’m committed to the care and safekeeping of these people and have done so for the last ten years. This is an idyllic place with bright prospects for all the residents. Frankly, we just don’t need someone like you here.”
His eyes softened and he nodded his head, giving her hope that convincing him to do her bidding wouldn’t be difficult. “I can understand how unsettling this must be for you.”
The empathy in his voice emboldened her. “Even the church must see your time should be devoted to another parish, one that needs firm guidance.” She released a pent-up breath. “We’ve a lovely women’s auxiliary group which meets weekly to find ways of helping those who need a hand. We’re a close community who pride ourselves on helping those who have fallen on hard times.”
He nodded again, and a slight grin creased his lips. His green eyes had darkened in color.
“Pride is a dangerous trait, my lady.” The words sounded harmless, but she heard the threat in his mellifluous baritone. It was a warning shot to take heed. She stiffened her spine just as the vicar stood and then walked to the fireplace. With his back turned, he fed another log into the fire, then adjusted the burning ones with a poker.
While he tended the fire, her gaze traveled the length of his breeches as she studied his long and muscular legs. The remarkable definition in his calves resulted from hard physical work and not just walking from one parishioner’s home to another. What could he possibly work on that would cause his muscles to be so defined?
His legs fascinated her, and her fingers itched to touch them.
Her palms grew wet while her pulse pounded at the sight of his body. It was simply sinful on her part to ogle him. Long ago, she’d put aside her cravings for the physical touch of a man. Now those cravings roared to life at the most inopportune time. She was practically salivating over the new vicar’s haunches — she closed her eyes — their soon-to-be former vicar — that’s all she had to remember.
Normally, she’d always thought of the vicar’s study as a comfy and cozy place whenever she’d visited Mr. Knightley. However, with Mr. Farris in the room, it had shrunk in space, and everything within it set her on edge.
He set her on edge.
“Are you warm enough, Lady Warwyk?” He had turned from tending the fire and stood staring at her. Slowly, that devilish smile of his spread across his full lips. He taunted her as if he knew exactly what she was thinking.
She schooled her unease as best as she could. “Indeed. I’m not cold.”
“I never thought you were,” he practically purred like a large cat playing with its prey.
She would not let him unsettle her any further. “Mr. Farris, we’re God-fearing people in this village. We’ve enough trials and tribulations to handle on a daily basis. Your placement in the community is simply a poor match. I’m sure you understand.”
“I do,” he soothed.
When he walked back to his chair, she couldn’t help but notice the exquisite cut of his morning coat. It fit him like a glove, and the buttons reflected the firelight as if gleaming in approval of him.
Avalon took a sip of her tea in a desperate attempt to regain her bearings. No matter how handsome Mr. Farris was, she couldn’t let her thoughts drift anymore. “I’m a fair person, and I won’t let you go away empty-handed. I’ll give you a cash settlement to leave and provide a stipend until you acquire another parish better suited to you.”
Mr. Farris’s brow drew into neat lines. “But I’ve been appointed to lead this parish. Only my brother and the bishop can change my appointment.”
“I’ll write the bishop and explain the circumstances. I have little doubt you’ll be assigned a new parish within the month. Since I’m in a generous mood, I’ll pay your stipend for two years. You could use the money and hire a curate to take your place until you’re ready. Perhaps you could travel or” — she waved her hand in the air — “something.”
“Or something?” Resting his arm on the back of the chair, he studied the fire.
Eventually, a tenuous but somewhat peaceable quiet enveloped the room, occasionally interrupted by the crack of a log breaking in the fire. Avalon allowed herself to relax. The vicar had never made it a secret that he wanted to marry an heiress, which meant he was motivated by money.
“My offer is generous. As soon as you accept, I’ll contact my solicitor and have the papers drawn up.”
He turned to her and flashed a brilliant smile. One that bespoke his ready acceptance. Avalon smiled in return.
“Your generosity knows no bounds, my lady.” He leaned toward her as if to speak with her intimately.
She matched his movements, anxious for his agreement. When their gazes caught, he studied her with such an intensity that she believed he could see every fear, hope and want she possessed. Something tugged deep inside her chest, and she tried to ignore it, but the pull became more powerful, more resolute. Perhaps it represented the constant loneliness that shadowed her every day of her adult life.
But she feared it was more. This man might have the power to peel a layer from her very essence, one that she’d carefully cultivated to protect herself. Never again would she allow herself to be manipulated in the name of other people’s wants and desires. She’d fight Devan Farris with every power she possessed. He’d never discover her secrets. The quicker he left their village, the better it was for all, including her.
He nodded once, and she allowed herself to relax for the first time this morning.
It was done.
“How could I refuse?” He smiled.
Such a simple act emphasized his angular cheekbones and the perfect set of those wide green eyes. Sophia and Penelope had declared him handsome. Unfortunately, Avalon completely agreed.
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About the Author:
Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the boot-heel of Missouri. She is the author of the Cavensham Heiresses series, which begins with The Bad Luck Bride. Janna credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs.
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