Erin Grace's love of collecting and reproducing antique lace lead to a deep connection with the past. She felt every snippet of the precious fabric held a unique story - one Erin longed to tell. But, as no two pieces of lace are the same, neither are Erin's stories. Escaping from her 'real world' of sales and marketing, she emerses herself in unfolding tales of dire circumstance, brave heroines, unscrupulous villians and, of course, passionate hot-blooded men. When not writing, Erin indulges in her love of home-style food by teaching her children to cook. Erin lives with her husband and three sons in the beautiful Blue Mountains of Australia.
Historical Romance's Best Kept Secret is Erin Grace's
"Secrets", November 4, 2009 - Rated 5 Stars!
By Alissa Huelsman-bell (Athens, GA USA)
Erin Grace's descriptions of settings and characters in 'Secrets' took my breath away. Isabelle and Charles, the hero and heroine, really came to life, but the secondary characters were equally as well drawn (my personal favorite was the despicable but sexy Sebastian St. James :-). Plenty of conflict and tension throughout kept my attention and made me eager for more. Even if you're not into historicals, 'Secrets' is definitely worth the read!
A husky, masculine voice startled her from the daydream. She turned and looked up into a pair of deep, penetrating brown eyes.
The tiny hairs on the back of her neck stood up.
The critical gaze seemed not to look at her, but into her, and reached uninvited into places even she'd never dared explore. She stood still, stunned by the ruthless intimacy. And despite the brilliant flecks of gold that sparked from their inky depths, the eyes showed no warmth. Nothing. They burned cold, as if wary of her in some way, waiting for her to make a wrong move.
With her heartbeat pounding in her ears, she managed a step back. The dark ebony stones pinning her to the spot belonged to a man.
If she could picture what an avenging angel looked like, he would be standing before her now. Tall and disturbingly handsome, he was the most powerful man she had ever seen. His very presence commanded attention.
An undeniable energy radiated from him, a fierce attraction unlike anything she'd ever experienced before. Something frightening, primal, that made her legs quiver beneath her, threatening to send her to the floor.
Intense waves of sensation swept through her, shocking her, and made her breath catch. Not the thoughts and feelings of a lady, but a harlot. She would keep them to herself. A dangerous commodity, these desires, especially for a woman. They left her emotional, vulnerable, a target for the likes of Grimes and St. James.
"Oh, grand," exclaimed Lord MacGreggor as he came from the library holding several papers in his hand, and approached them. "I see, sir, you have already met our lovely guest."
The air rushed back into her lungs with a gasp he must have heard.
The dark angel grimaced, his expression like stone, more annoyed than embarrassed. He evidently didn't like to make mistakes. As his gaze relented and fell upon the rest of her, she felt exposed. His eyes gleamed, as if discovering she wasn't his lordship's daughter after all pleased him.
Whatever his thoughts, he remained composed. "Not entirely, my laird. I was just about to introduce myself."
The old laird smiled. "Allow me then. I was hoping the two of ye would meet. My dear, please allow me ta introduce Major Charles Avisford Gainnes, the new Laird of Hawthorne."
The owner of the dark, imposing manor she'd seen on their arrival. Perhaps the figure she'd noticed in the window had been he. A cold shiver ran down her spine. Afraid her eyes would betray her feelings, she reached for her fan, only to realize she wasn't carrying one.
"Laird Gainnes, I am honoured ta introduce our dear guest, Isabelle Barclay, who has come all the way from London."
She smiled gingerly and curtseyed low before the pair, the weight of the Major's stare making her stomach twist into burning knots. Not knowing what to say, she said nothing.
Charles bowed, grasped her hand rather firmly and gave it the briefest of cursory kisses.
She gasped and cradled her wrist. Pain radiated from her gloved hand, bruised from Grimes's vicious grasp, and she winced. She didn't offer any explanations, and no one asked. How would she explain being in a room alone with a scoundrel like Grimes? Who would believe she hadn't drawn him in somehow?
The thought of Grimes's sickening frame against hers made her shudder, cross her arms and clutch them against her.
"Laird Gainnes," Lord Mac Greggor said, "I have a few matters to attend to in the library before you go. Perhaps you'd like to escort Miss Barclay out into the gardens for a stroll? It's a pleasant morning for a walk."
She glared at the old laird as Charles sighed and slowly offered her his arm. She didn't want to go anywhere with the annoying man. Lord. What could she do?
"Madam? Would you care to join me for a stroll?" His request was stiff, no trace of emotion to be found.
She had almost declined, but the hopeful expression in Lord Mac Greggor's eyes made her choose not to. Good grief. Trapped. Forcing a pursed smile, she dipped a small curtsey before the Major and placed her arm in his. The warmth of his touch sent a tingling sensation rippling along her arm and her mouth turned suddenly dry.
Her lips parted in surprise and eyes widened. He wasn't supposed to affect her this way. Attraction? Not possible. Hell. Her thoughts were in turmoil. It was though she'd no control of her emotions.
Walking out amongst the flower beds alone with him, the conversation stalled. The burning sensation in her stomach grew, and she glanced back toward the safety of the doorway. Why? She could take care of herself, but his presence made her feel vulnerable.
"London?" Charles enquired dryly. A hint of a smile crept to his face as he stole a glance, his gaze meeting hers. "You must find Inverness rather dull compared to the excitement of the city, madam."
"Not at all, my lord." His masculine profile looked stern. Rugged. Beautiful. Her innards twisted in tiny spasms and her cheeks flushed with heat. For Heaven's sake, what was wrong with her? She acted like some foolish young girl, not a woman of twenty five, but she couldn't help it. Without resistance her arm relaxed in his. Subtle warmth seeped into her skin.
Though the morning air blew cool, she was remarkably hot. Just the blush? Or perhaps the warmth pooling in her belly meant more. Unlike Sebastian this man wasn't perfect, but each little imperfection-a tiny scar above his eyebrow, another marking his lower lip-made him more real than any man she'd ever met.
Despite these pleasing attributes, a sudden disappointment took hold.
Real or not, she could never trust a gentleman again. She'd no desire to be burnt, and this man with his solid muscular physique, broad shoulders and penetrating brown eyes was nothing short of oiled kindling.