Mary Taylor abandoned her silk gowns and sparkling jewels when she quit her position as one of London’s highly prized courtesans. She’s determined to earn her living with a paintbrush rather than between the sheets. Starting fresh in a new country, she masquerades as a widow running a tearoom in Halifax while perfecting her art. But when she’s hired to finish the portrait of a handsome judge, she risks everything by surrendering to her lustful craving.
Finton Morash, youngest judge on the Queen’s bench, believes people are either good or bad. The dowdy widow painting his portrait is surely one of the former. After discovering the sensual beauty hiding beneath shapeless gowns, he wonders at her other secrets.
When whispers circulate about Mary’s nefarious past, she must find the courage to face the consequences. And Finton must decide whether love is worth the risk.
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Mary glanced around before leaning closer still. "You are the most exciting thing to happen here in quite some time."
"Am I indeed? Exciting?"
She silently cursed her fair skin, surely bright pink. One would think that after earning her living by flirting, teasing, and more, she would be comfortable with such talk. This man wasn’t paying for the privilege of her company, though, and there lay the difference. She stared at the painting as if she'd never seen it before. "Back to important matters. Please don't feel—"
"I want to purchase this painting. It will brighten a corner of my library. Every time I weary of opinions and laws I'll look at this and imagine myself at ease surrounded by the beauty of nature." He carefully lifted the small canvas from the wall. "I see you've signed it with only your surname. Why is that?"
"I believe it will be easier to make my way in the artistic world if I keep my sex hidden. Women are often judged to be idly pursuing a hobby and are seldom taken seriously."
"Hm...Would you mind signing your full name on the back? That way my heirs will know they have one of the first by a famous artist."
She chuckled. "Where is the honesty you hold so dear?"
Though his expression remained unchanged she detected a twinkle in his eye. Unbidden came the wish that she was indeed a respectable widow, able to pursue a friendship with this exciting man without fear of discovery.
Enough. Her "if only's" would soon fill her largest tea urn. She had much to be grateful for. She'd come to Halifax to start anew. If that meant leaving behind physical desire then so be it. Celibacy was a small price to pay for a life free of shame.
A bit about our Focus Author:
Luanna Stewart has been creating adventures for her imaginary friends since childhood. As soon as she discovered her grandmother's stash of romance novels, all plots had to lead to a happily-ever-after.
Luanna writes full time, concentrating on sexy romantic suspense, steamy paranormal romance, and spicy historical romance.
Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Luanna has recently returned to the land of her birth with her dear husband and two spoiled cats. When she's not torturing her heroes and heroines, she’s in her kitchen baking something delicious.
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Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/luanna_stewart