Lessons of Love by Jolynn Raymond at Amazon.com
Do you remember the bodice rippers of the 1970′s? If you loved them, then you should check out Lessons of Love. Cole Jameson never claimed to be a gentleman, at least to the women he seduced. He is a Southern rogue with seemingly no redeeming qualities, that is until he meets Jolie Dupree. Forced into marriage with a man who has a hardened heart, Jolie struggles to cope with the horrible hand life has dealt her. Cole is a beast, a frightening man who only wanted her for her respectable name and her delicious body. Though his touch makes her body come alive, her heart breaks each time he is callous and cruel. She has two choices, fight tooth and nail for the rest of her life with the man who she must honor and obey, or struggle to ignite the flame of love in his cold heart.
Excerpt from Lessons of Love
Jolie Dupree stripped down to her chemise and slowly stepped into the stream. A small sigh escaped her as she waded deeper, relishing the feel of the refreshing water on her fevered skin. It had been stifling hot for the past two weeks, and her body yearned for a cooling swim. That yearning had been denied her however, because of the ever-watchful eyes of her stepfather Hank. But today was different. Today she was finally free from his critical gaze. He had gone into New Orleans on business, leaving her to do as she pleased.
As soon as his carriage had disappeared around the far turn in the road she had run from the main house to her secret spot at the stream. It was a secluded place, a green and shadowed glade, where the willows draped over the water and the stream formed a small pool. The branches concealed her within their long hanging leaves, and provided privacy from the outside world, allowing only the dappling of sunlight to skip along the surface of the water creating a safe haven. Here she could strip off the stifling layers of her gown and petticoats and let the cold water envelop her. Here, for just a while, she could be free.
Jolie splashed forward into the refreshing pool, immersing her entire body. She swam across the length of it and back, blissfully happy, totally engrossed in the feeling of relief the water provided. She floated on her back, her beautiful golden hair flowing around her head like a silken halo. Her green eyes held a look of merriment and rapture. She hated the stifling gowns that clung to her body and draped her from head to toe. How did anyone think a woman could survive in the smothering folds? To make matters worse, her stepfather insisted she wear high neck gowns even in the summer’s blistering heat.
Thinking about her stepfather caused a grimace of distaste to come over her beautiful face. Her eyes narrowed as she scrunched up her nose, her mouth puckered and turned down in a frown. The thought of Hank always had this effect on Jolie. Hank was a hard man who ruled his household with an iron fist. Jolie knew she would be punished if he ever found out about her trip to the stream. He would tell her it was sinful to strip down and swim in the water, but at the moment, Jolie didn’t care. He was long gone, and she simply couldn’t pass up this rare opportunity.
Jolie knew Hank had gone into the city to conduct business, and wondered idly if he was meeting with Monsieur Jameson. Her stepfather held the title to several properties in New Orleans along with the plantation where they lived, and he was always busy dealing with the various men who came and went from their home. Jolie had met Monsieur Cole Jameson when he had dined with them a few days ago. The type of business the two men conducted was something Jolie knew nothing about, but she did know there were rumors about the dashing and handsome man who had graced their table.
When her friends came to call a few weeks ago, they had gone on and on about the elegant and mysterious man with the dark good looks whom their mothers had warned them about. He had purchased a large plantation in the area and was trying to establish himself in the community as a prosperous and respected man, but there were stories about his seduction of innocent ladies, and even tales of girls disappearing after being seen with him. Any young woman who allowed herself to be associated with him without a proper chaperone or a wedding band would be ruined. Her stepfather had warned her to remain silent during his visit to their home.
Hank knew it would be considered very rude if Jolie were kept from the table, so he’d had no choice but to allow her to be present. He had a lucrative property deal with Monsieur Jameson, and he did not want to offend him, but Hank had given Jolie strict instructions about her behavior. She was to remain mute with her eyes downcast unless asked a direct question. Hank was of the opinion that his stepdaughter was sinful because of her beauty, and any attention she received was intolerable. He felt it was the work of the devil in her that made her enticing to men. Jolie knew that if Monsieur Jameson displayed any interest in her, Hank would place the blame squarely on her shoulders.
Jolie had done her best to follow the orders of her stepfather. She remained silent and only looked up when they were first introduced, but that one glance caused her heart to beat a little faster. It was as if a hummingbird had taken up flight in her breast at just the sight of him. The Monsieur was a handsome man with wavy black hair that curled just below his collar and high fine cheekbones. His eyes were a deep shade of cobalt blue and held an air of mystery, and his form was strong and lean. His shoulders were wide and his breeches accented the powerful muscles in his thighs. He loomed over Jolie’s tiny frame, and when he’d looked down on her, she felt like a mouse being pounced upon by a cat. Just having him glance at her caused butterflies to flutter in her belly.
He was refined, and his manners were impeccable throughout dinner. He hadn’t even spoken to her, much to Jolie’s relief. The last thing she wanted to do was incite her stepfather’s ire. The dinner went without incident until they were finished, and then it happened. When Hank rose to go to the study for brandy and cigars, Jolie had chanced a glance upward and had found her gaze captured by Monsieur Jameson. His eyes had sparkled wickedly, and he’d blown her a kiss before curling his tongue lewdly behind his top teeth.
Jolie had been mortified. If her stepfather had seen the Monsieur’s actions, he would have punished her severely. Thank goodness his back had been turned. The kiss had embarrassed her, but it had also made her insides tingle and caused a flush to rise up upon her cheeks. The memory of it had stayed with her in her dreams, causing her to wake up with an odd feeling of warmth in her belly.
Jolie was pulled from her dreamy musings by a rustling in the bushes. She froze in fear; listening, praying it was a small animal, but to her horror, the very man she’d been daydreaming about stepped through the fronds of the willow tree. She dropped to her knees in the water, hiding her body from his piercing gaze, but it was clear by his expression that he’d gotten quite an eyeful. His sensuous lips turned upward in a wicked smile, his eyes twinkling with amusement at her innocent modesty.
“I believe I’ve stumbled upon a bewitching water nymph. Do you remember me, little one?” Jolie didn’t answer him. Her mind was racing, trying to think of a way she could flee. Her heart was pounding with fear as Cole Jameson’s eyes bore into her.
“What’s the matter sweet? Have you lost your voice? I’m not going to hurt you, Jolie.”
“A gentleman would leave if he found a lady in such a predicament.”
“I never claimed to be a gentleman, my dear. Come out of the water, Jolie. I promise I won’t hurt you.”
Jolie didn’t believe that for one second. She recognized the look in his eyes all too well. It was the same look she’d seen on the faces of so many men since she’d developed into a woman. It was the look of lust, and at that moment Monsieur Jameson looked as though he would like to devour her.
“I was wondering where you were running off to when I caught sight of you racing into the woods. I admit my curiosity got the better of me. Seems to me that I’ve caught you in a mighty fine predicament. Wet, near naked, and all alone. I don’t think your daddy would approve of your little swim.” He picked her petticoat up from where she had folded it on the bank of the stream, and ran the silky material through his fingers as he gazed at Jolie with undisguised desire. “I think your daddy would be very interested in what I have to tell him little one. He strikes me as a man who takes discipline very seriously. Tell me Jolie, how does Hank punish you when you’ve been a very bad girl?”
Jolie did her best to appear cold and unafraid but his words made her cheeks flush crimson and caused a knot of fear to form in her belly. Hank was very quick with the strap to punish her. He had been since her mother died. All the caring and love had seeped out of him once his wife was gone. Jolie knew Hank didn’t love her. He treated her harshly and somehow this man knew it. She did her best to summon up a haughty gaze and a brusque response.
“Leave me be, Monsieur. Your presence here is not wanted. If my father found out you were trying to take advantage of me, he would shoot you at once. Go away so I may get dressed.”
“Somehow I don’t think that’s the truth, Jolie. I saw the way you behaved at supper. All meek, prim and proper, Hank glowering at every move you made, the way your eyes opened wide in terror, afraid he’d seen me blowing you that kiss. It leads me to believe that he is very strict with you. I don’t think it would be in my best interest to leave now. In fact, I think finding you here, near naked and vulnerable, has solved a little problem of mine.
“You see, love, I am in need of a proper wife even though the thought of marriage is abhorrent, and I believe you will fill that role perfectly. I need a showpiece, a symbol of respectability, so I can continue with my unsavory business dealings. If I have a wife with a reputable family name, one who is from gentry, then I will gain a position in society. My work must remain a secret, hidden under the guise of propriety, and you Miss Dupree will be the perfect lady to give me what I need.
“Most fathers wouldn’t dream of letting their precious angels near me, but you are different. Hank seems to have little or no affection for you, thus he would probably agree with my plans for a quick marriage. He gets you out of his hair while inheriting a very wealthy son-in-law, and I get the benefit of the respected Dupree name associated with mine.”
“My father would do no such thing. He may be harsh at times but he loves me. “I’d much prefer his lashing to any association with you. Leave me be or I’ll scream.”
“You put on airs and bravado little one, but you are fooling yourself. For the right price he will willingly hand you over, and unless there happens to be someone on the road right now your screams will go unnoticed. Your secret swimming spot is too far from the main house for anyone to hear you.”
Jolie watched wide-eyed as Monsieur Jameson striped the leaves from a willow frond and walked into the stream. She paddled backward but there was no place to go. The bank behind her was steep and slippery. Cole lunged for her and she screamed, fighting against the grip he managed to get on her wrist. “Come here you little hellion.”
Though she fought him, Cole easily overpowered her. He quickly wound the makeshift rope around her wrists, effectively binding them behind her and held her wiggling body to his. Jolie could feel something hard pressing against her bottom through the thin wet material of her shift, and it terrified her. Cole thrust forward, holding her tightly around the waist.
“Do you feel that Jolie? Do you feel my shaft against your bottom? It’s my manhood little one, and it’s hard and ready to take you. Tell me sweet, do you know what a wife’s duties to her husband are? How she is to pleasure him?” Jolie twisted and cried, kicking and thrashing in an attempt to free herself, but Cole had muscles of steel and held her fast. He brought a hand up and assaulted her tender nipples. They were stiff from the cold water and rose into hard little peaks. He pinched them roughly, causing Jolie to squirm and make little mewling noises. Cole laughed at her response, and moved his other hand down between her legs. He pulled up the material of her chemise, touching her between the lips of her womanhood, probing with his finger. He began to slide them up and down between her soft netherlips, pausing to rub her sensitive nub on each stroke while the other hand maintained his tight hold on her nipple. She was a fiery little thing and he was determined to make the little witch’s body respond, and it wasn’t long before he felt a flood of her silken moisture running over his fingers.
He rubbed against her writhing body pressing his hard shaft into her bottom as his fingers massaged her sensitive breasts and slid up and down in the folds of her womanhood. Jolie fought him but it just excited him further. She thrashed against him as his finger rubbed her nub over and over, frightened by the sensation she felt building between her legs. How could something so crude feel so pleasurable? A warm tingling was seeping through her body and though it scared her, part of her didn’t want him to ever stop.
God she was beautiful Cole thought, all soft delicate curves, and silky skin. His body ached to take her, to feel her wiggling beneath him as he buried himself between her thighs. The feel and smell of her inflamed him to the brink of madness, every cry from Jolie’s lips made him want her even more. Cole turned her around to face him, placing his body between her legs. He grabbed her hips and pushed her down against his shaft. The tip strained against the material of his breeches, aching to enter her. He moved his hands to her bare bottom, squeezing and groaning. All he had to do was unfasten his pants and she would be his.
“Leave me alone you beast! Get your hands off me.”
Jolie arched her body back and Cole took a nipple into his mouth. He sucked greedily through the thin wet material of her shift and Jolie squirmed, causing more friction between his cock and her womanhood as warmth radiated out from her breast. His shaft tip rubbed her now throbbing nub and Jolie squeaked in terror as the odd sensation in her loins increased.
“You want it little one, I know you want me.” Jolie shook her head but her body trembled with waves of desire in his arms. “Your words tell me no but your body tells the truth, Jolie.” Cole hissed the words into her ear as he thrust against her. Her body quivered though she tried to stop it as the scratchy material of his breeches massaged her nub of pleasure. He moved her against him, deliberately building the heat inside her and she moaned. Cole laughed, delighted by her reaction. “Yes you do you little witch.”
Jolie cried out and bucked her hips when his hand shot down between her legs and his lips began to assault her mouth. He found her sensitive nub and circled it gently until he felt her body tremble. Her woman’s dew flowed over his hand attesting to her body’s need as he drove her to the peak of desire with his hand. She was so soft and wet, her body ready for the taking, but Cole knew he couldn’t have her now. He would have to wait until her stepfather agreed for the girl to marry him.
He needed a suitable wife and things had to be done properly. If he were lucky he would marry the girl before the day was through, then he would savor the delights she had to offer. The sanctity of marriage may be abhorrent, but it did have its rewards. The squirming little spitfire in his arms was proof of that. Hearing her moan, feeling her womanhood throb under his hand, knowing she was on the brink of release, he suddenly pinched her nub cruelly, denying her satisfaction, wanting her to suffer for his own aching need. Jolie threw her head back and cried out at the pain and at the loss of the delicious feelings his fingers had created between her legs.
“Tell me Jolie, are you screaming because I’m touching you, or because I stopped?” Jolie furiously shook her head in protest while the disturbing sensations flowed through her virginal body. Her breath was coming in great gasps as she tried to orient herself and calm her beating heart.
“Monsieur please. Please.” Jolie struggled against his iron grip, but her hands were bound and his chest was hard as steel.
“Please what Jolie? Please don’t tell your daddy, or please lay you down and give you what you want and deserve?” Jolie shook her head again and fought his hold on her, denying his words and her traitorous body. Cole laughed, knowing the confusion that was overtaking her. He easily picked up her petite frame and held her writhing body under one arm while he stripped off his shirt. Wrapping her in it, he hoisted her over his shoulder, giving her bottom a stinging slap as he headed back to his mount. He would take the wench back to the plantation and tell her father he’d stopped the near rape of the man’s daughter and was willing to marry her now that she had been compromised. If things went well he would have her in his bed that night.
Yes, it would work out well. She would be a respectable little wife on his arm in public and a desirable plaything in his bed at night, or during the day for that matter. He would take her whenever he wanted. She would be his to do with as he pleased without the messy infringement of a woman’s emotions to worry about. Love was for fools, only money and title mattered. He had the money already but needed the respectability this woman could provide. In all honesty he had to admit that he had been extremely intrigued by Jolie since he first laid eyes on her. He couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful woman to adorn his arm and his bed, and this one had fire too. Her body had responded to him whether she’d liked it or not.
Miss Jolie Dupree was going to make a wonderful wife. The girl had no mother and she couldn’t run complaining and crying to her stepfather if she felt mistreated. Hank wouldn’t care as long as the money flowed in. Cole’s smile widened as he imagined the numerous nights he would spend bending this little hellion to his will. He would mold her with a hard hand until she lived to serve him. She would service his every need while being a beautiful showpiece on his arm as he ensconced his way into New Orleans society.