Each reader will react differently to certain events, perhaps drawing on their own lifes experiences and emotions. I am no different and this review will be a collection of my own thoughts. I will start by saying that Anna Campbell did a brilliant job of allowing us a glimpse into Kylemores mind, not only as an adult Updated to add that this review is chock full of spoilers - proceed at your own risk My review: Claiming The Courtesan is one of those novels that is subjective… open to interpretation. My first thoughts of Justin Kinmurrie, Duke of Kylemore were that he was protecting himself. I see The Duke of Kylemore as two separate people; Justin, the innocent, frightened child and Kylemore, the bitter and still frightened man. As a child, Justin had built a wall around himself, a fortress that protected not only his heart, but his very soul.
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Instead it emerged as a sexual invitation. A wolfishly delighted smile lit his face. Because he was right. She braced herself for assault. But the duke was too subtle for that. With tantalizing slowness, he brushed his mouth across hers. Not really. It was like an extension of his gentle nuzzling before. Except now he touched her lips. She tried to pull away but the hand on the back of her head was implacable.
This time when he glanced his mouth across hers, he lingered a second longer, moved his lips into a ghost of a kiss, over before she knew it had begun.
She gave a whimper that held no desire, only fear. She could see that knowledge in his gentian eyes. Knowledge and no real tenderness, although his touch lied and told a different story. She could fight force. But her life had been devoid of tenderness since she was fifteen. Even its false likeness had the power to open a rift in her heart.
Somewhere, though, she found the will to resist. She glanced sideways. At least enough to stop you plaguing me for the moment. He gave another of those soft laughs that made the hairs on her arms rise. He stroked his fingers across her cheek until he held her head in both hands.
An empathy which was absurd. A Cyprian and a duke of the realm could have nothing in common. Every lure he cast her way was a move in the game. Part of her had relished the contest. But no Kinmurrie was ever completely sane. The duke had called her on her bid. And the disaster that little word almost promised sat beside her now, plotting to destroy her.
The Duke of Kylemore needed to learn that. This time when his lips met hers, Verity remained as unrelenting as rock. She closed her eyes and deliberately enumerated all her reasons to hate this man. His arrogance. His selfishness. The hands in her hair began to move in soothing circles, finding and loosening each knot of tension.
And all the time, he kept nipping and nibbling and sucking at her lips. She hated him. Her captive hands clenched as she fought to remain unmoved. He was unmistakably aroused, in spite of her lack of encouragement.
She almost wished he would so she had no choice but to loathe him. At least rape would end this torture that hovered so close to drugging pleasure. She tried to summon disgust. But in truth, he was heartbreakingly gentle. He knew gentleness was his greatest weapon, damn him. And he smelt wonderful. Clean, strong, healthy male, free of the cloying toilet waters so many of his sex used. He smelt of the outdoors. But he, so attuned to her, so close to her in this confined space, noticed her momentary weakening.
He ran his fingers through the tumbled mass, straightening the kinks. Now you look like my mistress. Although I own to finding the seduction of the virtuous widow rather piquant.
We must save it for another occasion. I told you — Soraya has gone forever. Lying promises, she reminded herself. But do you really doubt whose will is stronger? If he shifted those hands an inch, they could be around her throat. She struggled to awaken her fear as a barrier against him, but it was impossible when his touch conveyed only tender possession. Tender possession? Curse her, but she was a fool. He connived endlessly at her destruction while she sat here gulling herself into thinking he had some regard for her.
She deserved to be in this fix if she allowed herself to credit such sentimental drivel. Verity heard Kylemore sigh. Even though his deep voice slid along her veins like warm honey and the motion of the speeding carriage rubbed his body against hers in a ceaseless erotic rhythm.
Kiss me properly and you are safe from my attentions until we reach my hunting box. He laughed. Their protection is spurious, as you should know by now. They both knew she was totally in his power. And unwillingly inhaled his essence. He seemed to have permeated the very fabric of the carriage. Would she ever be free of him, even when this ordeal was over? As surely, one day, it had to be over. His fine-boned face indicated his irritation with her havering.
You have no say in what I do to you. This time, hating him was no effort at all. Take it or leave it. Her inevitable decision. One kiss in exchange for a breathing space? She had no alternative but to agree. Verity met his eyes in the shadowy interior. Although she told herself she should be grateful for any reprieve, however short, his lack of action quickly began to irk her.
Those supercilious eyebrows rose. To think a mere kiss defeated the great Soraya. Or any man. It was an unwelcome and melancholy reflection. He leaned against the padded side of the carriage, angled towards her. It was a simple matter to wriggle closer and balance herself with her bound hands on his thighs. The long muscles in his legs stirred under her fingers. That insight gave her the impetus to continue. She could do this.
She was the notorious Soraya. Surely she could kiss a man and survive the experience. Tentatively, she pressed her mouth against his.
He tasted familiar. He should. He remained impassive as she rubbed her lips across his, testing taste and texture. His lips were firm beneath hers, firm and smooth. And utterly unresponsive. Clearly, he meant to make her work for her reprieve. Of course he did.
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Claiming the Courtesan
Claiming The Courtesan (2007)