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Carina Guest: Alice Gaines

 From Miss Foster’s Folly, by Alice Gaines ( available now from Carina Press ( 

      David Winslow, the Marquis of Derrington has arrived at the home of American heiress, Juliet Foster, to ask her to become his wife… 

      Miss Juliet Foster rose when he entered, but she hardly resembled the Juliet Foster he’d encountered before. Instead of a dress in mourning black, buttoned up nearly to her chin, she wore a ball gown in crimson silk. The bodice dipped low, scarcely covering more than the tips of her breasts. And what magnificent breasts they were. Not overly large as you sometimes saw among women who liked to wear low-cut dresses. Juliet’s were small pillows of flesh and sweetly rounded. Even from across the room, they looked powder soft.

      “Do you approve, Lord Derrington?” she said.

      He finally managed to move his gaze to her face. She wore an odd expression, more like steely resolve than anything else, with the uplifted chin and the determined set to her jaw.

      “‘Approve’ is inadequate to describe how I feel about how you look in that dress.”

      “I’m sure you can think of another one, then.”

      “I doubt it,” he said. “You’ve rendered me quite speechless, Miss Foster.”

      “It’s early yet,” she answered. “Whiskey?”

      “Now, I hardly know what to think.”

      “A man who has no opinion on spirits?” she said. “You’re not a teetotaler, I hope.”

      “Of course not.”

      “Good. Let’s have a drink.” She walked to a side table that held a silver tray with tumblers and several decanters. “Irish, Scotch, or American bourbon?”

      “Scotch, thank you.”

      She poured a generous amount from one of the decanters and then selected a second. From that, she splashed a tiny bit into a glass and drank it in one swallow. The look of determination returned to her features as she served herself a more substantial portion. Then, both glasses in hand, she approached him, and gave him his drink. “Please, sit down.”

      He took a seat on the settee, as that seemed the best place to launch a formal courtship. If she selected a separate chair, he’d have to figure a way to deal with the distance. She didn’t, though. She joined him, neither perching at the opposite end nor snuggling up next to him.

      “My dear Miss Foster, I believe you know I’ve come to admire you.”

      “Try the whiskey,” she said. “It’s very good.”

      Ah, yes. The whiskey. He might as well. He’d never launched a campaign to win a woman’s heart before. He’d always been strictly honest with his lovers, letting them expect a jolly good frigging and nothing more. A few had become friends, but he’d never lied to a woman about his intentions to gain access to her bed. He was exploring new territory here, and a little fortification might help.

      He took a swallow of his Scotch. Enough to burn the back of his throat and make him cough.

      Miss Foster slapped his back. “Are you all right?”

      “Quite.” He coughed once more and then cleared his throat. “It’s excellent Scotch.”

      “Good, then let’s talk for a while.”

      He took another sip of his drink, more carefully this time. “Miss Foster, you have me at a disadvantage.”

      She blinked. “I do?”

      “You don’t seem to realize how your presence affects me.”

      “Well, how could I if you don’t tell me about it?” she said.

      “It’s delicate to speak of.”

      “You don’t look very delicate to me, Lord Derrington.”

      Curse the woman. Why didn’t she play the game? Flutter her eyelashes at him. Swoon. At the very least, blush. That way he could watch a flush cover her breasts. Her small, firm breasts, now close enough that he only needed to reach out a hand to stroke them. He swallowed more of his Scotch.

      “It’s a matter of my heart,” he said. Surely, she couldn’t miss that message.

      “Oh, dear.” She pursed her lips for a moment. The same way she’d done the other night and made Priapus stand to attention. “That isn’t the organ I was interested in at all.”

      He gaped at her for a long second. “I beg your pardon.”

      “You see, there’s a favor I need.” She did blush, finally. And the flesh of her bosom did turn a delightful pink. And his body responded.

      “I’ve thought long and hard about this,” she said. “And I think you’re the right man.”

      “I certainly hope so,” he said.

      She took a big gulp of her whiskey and looked him in the eye. “I want you to take my virginity.”

      “What?” His drink fell to the floor, where the glass rolled around on the carpet, spilling what little Scotch was left in it. He pulled his handkerchief from his jacket and bent to blot up the liquid. Miss Foster appeared, kneeling over the spill. Now, he could look down directly at her bosom and the lovely rose color that covered it. She tugged at the handkerchief to take it from him and used it to pick up the last drop of whiskey.

      “Now, you see, if I’d served tea, that would have stained,” she said.

      “What did you say?”

      She looked up at him. “Hmm?”

      “A moment ago. What did you say?”

      “Oh, that.” She stared at his handkerchief for a moment. It was soaked with Scotch. She stuffed it into his glass, rose and took the whole to the table that held the decanters. “Would you like another drink?”

      “I’d like an explanation.”

      “I asked you to take my virginity. I assume you know what that means.”

      “My dear Miss Foster…”

      “Oh, please, don’t sound like that.” She came back and resumed her seat on the settee. “You can’t possibly be shocked.”

      “I’ve had women offer me the pleasures of their bodies, but none have ever done it so bluntly.”

      “I made my decision very rationally, Lord Derrington. Honestly, I should have lost my virginity years ago.”

      “And you chose me.”

      “You have quite a reputation,” she said. “I’m sure you’ll do a wonderful job.”