Teresa Medeiros is my choice for this Saturday's Spotlight.
“It takes three things to be a success, both in writing and in
life–talent, luck and perseverance. Out of those three, perseverance
will take you the farthest.”
New York Times bestseller Teresa Medeiros wrote her first novel at the
age of twenty-one, introducing readers to one of the most beloved and
versatile voices in romantic fiction. She has appeared on every national
bestseller list, including the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers
Weekly lists. She currently has over seven million books in print and
is published in over seventeen languages.
She was chosen one of the "Top Ten Favorite Romance Authors" by
Affaire de Coeur magazine and won the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice
Award for "Best Historical Love and Laughter". She is a seven-time Rita
finalist, two-time PRISM winner, and two-time recipient of the
Waldenbooks Award for bestselling fiction.
Teresa is a charter member of the Romance Writers of America Honor
Roll, Kentucky Romance Writers, and Novelists, Inc. She lives in
Kentucky with her husband and her cats Willow and Buffy the Mouse
Slayer. THE DEVIL WEARS PLAID, her 20th novel and most recent New York
Times bestseller, was released in August 2010. Her first contemporary
women's fiction novel GOODNIGHT TWEETHEART, a book about a man and woman
who meet and fall in love on Twitter, was released by Gallery Books in
Some Like It Wicked
When Highland beauty Catriona Kincaid storms Newgate Prison to seek
the help of disgraced nobleman and notorious rogue Simon Wescott, she is
prepared to offer him both wealth and freedom. She never dreams the
wicked rake will be bold enough to demand a far more sensual prize.
Some like it seductive...
Simon is shocked to discover the tomboy he met long ago has blossomed
into a headstrong temptress. Although he's sworn off being a hero, he
can't resist striking a devil's bargain that may very well end up
costing him his heart.
Some like it wicked...
Catriona comes looking for a hero. What she finds is a man...
In this scene, our intrepid heroine Catriona Kincaid visits Newgate
Prison in the hopes of hiring a hero to escort her to the Highlands to
find her missing brother...
By the time she followed the gaoler through the far door, it was all
Catriona could do not to collapse in relief. But her relief was
short-lived. The tunnel sloping down into the shadows was even danker
and narrower than the one that had come before it.
She cleared her throat to mask the faint quaver in her voice. "Is this where you lock away the most incorrigible prisoners?"
The gaoler cast her a sly glance over his shoulder. "There's some that might say that."
By the time they reached the thick oak door at the foot of the tunnel,
Catriona was beginning to question anew the wisdom of her quest. An
iron grate was set high in the door, too high for her to peep through
even if she stood on her tiptoes.
She reached into her reticule with shaking hands and handed the gaoler
her crumpled permit. "I was promised an hour alone with my brother."
Holding the permit upside down, the gaoler squinted at it, his lips
moving as he pretended to read. Catriona slipped a guinea from her
reticule and waved it in front of his eyes, confident that its universal
language would be understood.
He beamed at her, pocketed the coin, then unhooked a clanking loop of
iron keys from his belt and slid the largest, most forbidding-looking
one into the keyhole. As the door creaked outward on its massive hinges,
Catriona drew in a deep breath, steeling herself for the worst.
That breath escaped her in a disbelieving puff as her gaze swept the
interior of the cell. If it could indeed be called a cell. The room
might not possess all the comforts of home, but it certainly possessed
all the comforts of a lavishly decorated bawdy house. Or at least the
comforts Catriona imagined a bawdy house might possess, having never
visited such an establishment.
There was no bed in the chamber, but the overstuffed settee would
doubtlessly serve just as well. As was proved by its current occupant.
All Catriona could see from the doorway was a pair of shiny black
Hessians crossed at the ankle and a graceful curlicue of smoke drifting
up to join the faint cloud hovering near the ceiling.
"That you, Barney?" the settee's occupant drawled without even
bothering to uncross his boots, much less rise to greet his guests. "Did
Mrs. Terwilliger send over that girl I requested? You can't begin to
imagine how bloody lonely it gets in here with nothing but your
imagination to keep you company."
The gaoler scratched his head, giving Catriona an abashed look. "I'm
afraid not, sir. But I 'ave brought you some company to ease your
loneliness. It's your dear sister, come to bring you a dose o' Christian
The boots didn't budge. A thoughtful puff of smoke drifted toward the
ceiling. Just as Catriona was seriously considering bolting and taking
her chances with the men in the common cell, the prisoner sat up and
swung his long, muscled legs over the edge of the settee.
As he came into full view, Catriona barely managed to swallow her gasp.
Simon Wescott was no longer a pretty boy.
His hair was in desperate want of a cut, spilling to a spot just past
his shoulders. It was a shade darker than the honeyed hue she
remembered, as if those silken strands had seen more of midnight than
sunlight in the past five years. A day's growth of beard shadowed his
jaw, accentuating its strong cut and the Slavic hollows beneath his high
cheekbones. Dissipation had taken its toll around his eyes, carving a
fine web of lines that gave his face more character than he probably
possessed. A jagged white scar bisected his left eyebrow, as if he'd
finally been punished for daring to fly too close to the sun by a
lightning bolt hurled from the fist of a jealous god.
He stubbed out his thin cigar with deliberate care, then peered at her
through the lingering haze of smoke, wariness darkening his eyes to the
color of a forest glade in the breathless lull just before a storm
Catriona was about to open her mouth to stammer something—anything at
all—when he spread his arms wide, his lips curving in the dazzling smile
that had no doubt charmed countless young women out of their
undergarments and into his arms. "Why, hello, sweeting! Why don't you
come over here and let me bounce you on my knee as I used to when you
were but a wee poppet?"
Given no choice but to play along with her own charade, Catriona edged
toward him, clutching her reticule in white-knuckled hands. "Hello,
brother, dear," she said stiffly. "I do hope they've been treating you
"Not as well as you always did, pumpkin," he replied, reaching around
to give her rump a playful swat. Her outraged glare only deepened the
sparkle of mischief in his eyes.
"Given your grim circumstances," she said, "I'm glad to find you in
such high spirits." Her lips pressed into a rigid pucker, Catriona
leaned down to brush a chaste kiss over his cheek. But he turned his
head at the last second so that her lips grazed the corner of his mouth
Blushing furiously, she straightened and stepped out of his reach.
Moved by their tender reunion, the grizzled gaoler drew a filthy
handkerchief from his pocket and began to dab at his eyes. "Your sister
wishes to have some time alone with you, sir, so I'll let the two o' you
get reacquainted while I take my tea."
"No!" Realizing that she had made a terrible mistake, Catriona made a
frantic lunge for the door. But it was too late. The gaoler had already
slipped from the cell and was turning the key from the outside, leaving
her locked in the tiger's cage.
And unless she wanted to become his dinner, she knew she had best try to repair her crumbling composure.
As she slowly turned to face him, Simon rose from the settee. He was
taller than she remembered. Broader in the shoulders, leaner in the
hips. He wore no coat or waistcoat, just a pair of doeskin trousers and a
white lawn shirt with full sleeves laid open at the throat to reveal a
wedge of muscular chest lightly sprinkled with golden hair. In her
boldest imaginings, she had never dreamed that his charms would grow
even more lethal with time, honed by that mysterious masculine alchemy
of age and experience.
"I'm a wretched liar," she confessed.
"I know. That must be why Mummy always loved me best." At her
reproachful look, he cocked his head to the side. "If you're not another
one of my father's bastards, then why are you here? Did you come to
assassinate me or"—his skeptical gaze dipped to the slender waist
revealed by the flattering princesse-cut of her redingote—"to accuse me
of siring your future progeny?"
"Why, I-I—" she sputtered before curiosity got the best of her. "Does that happen frequently?"
He shrugged. "At least once a week. Sometimes twice on Tuesdays." The
wry twist of his lips made it impossible to tell if he was mocking her
or his own reputation. "If you've come to assassinate me, then I'm
afraid I'm at your mercy. I'd offer you my cravat so you could strangle
me, but they took it away so I wouldn't hang myself. Wouldn't want to
deprive the executioner of the pleasure."
"The last time I checked, getting oneself nearly seven thousand pounds
in debt and seducing a magistrate's daughter wasn't a hanging offense."
"You haven't met the magistrate." He sank back down on the edge of the settee and reached beneath it.
Half expecting him to whip out a weapon of some sort, Catriona took a
nervous step backward. But when his hand reemerged, it was brandishing a
half-empty bottle of port.
He whisked two glasses out from under the settee with equal aplomb.
"I've been remiss in my manners. Would you care to join me?"
"No, thank you." Watching him pour a generous splash of the ruby
liquor into one of the glasses, she said, "I forgot that you were
expecting company of a different sort altogether. You must be very
He slanted her an unreadable look from beneath his gilt-tipped lashes.
"I wouldn't say that. Surprised, perhaps, but not disappointed."
"We've met before, although I can hardly expect you to remember me."
Just as she could never expect herself to forget him.
"Then you do me a grave disservice"—Simon's gently chiding look could have melted an ice floe—"Miss Kincaid."
Catriona's mouth fell open in shock.
He lifted the glass in a mocking toast. "I never forget a lovely face."
Her mouth snapped shut. "You thought I was a boy."
His lips twitched with amusement as he glanced ever so briefly, yet
boldly, at the generous swell of her bosom. "A mistake I can assure you I
won't make again." He took a sip of the port, a teasing lilt infusing
his voice. "Surely you didn't think I'd forget a bonny Scottish lass who
smelled of fresh-cut hay and cinnamon biscuits and whose only champion
was a savage orange kitten named Bonnie Prince Charlie."
"Robert the Bruce. I suppose you remember my cousin as well?" she could not resist asking.
He blinked at her, all doe-eyed innocence. "You had a cousin?"
"You really should remember Alice. You were about to complete your
seduction of her when I tumbled out of the hayloft onto your back."
"Ah, yes, how could I forget dear sweet..." He frowned. "What was her name again?"
"Ah, yes, dear sweet Amelia." He clapped a hand to his heart. "I've
thought of her fondly nearly every day since the cruel hand of fate tore
Biting back a reluctant smile, Catriona reached out to flick the end
of one of the scarves that draped the stone walls. "What sort of prison
affords you the luxuries of wine, tobacco and women of easy virtue?"
"I hate to corrupt your delicate sensibilities, my dear, but
incarcerated men of means have always honored the age-old tradition of
bribing the gaoler." He hefted the glass in another toast, giving him a
valid excuse to drain it dry. "God bless his money-grubbing little
She frowned. "I don't understand. If you have means, then why are you locked up as a debtor?"
He winced. "Perhaps I should have said the illusion of means. Everyone
here knows that the Duke of Bolingbroke is my father. And they believe
that surely not even the most icy-hearted of noblemen would be so cruel
as to allow his bastard son to rot away in Newgate. They expect him to
charge up to the gates in his coach-and-four at any minute, tossing
coins from his overflowing purse to the slavering peasants."
"Is that what you expect as well?" she asked lightly, trying to hide how critical his answer might be to her plans.
The ghost of a bitter smile tugged at his lips. "I expect him to
provide the rope for my hanging. I'm afraid I've always been a dreadful
disappointment to him. My most recent transgression was to survive my
encounter with Napoleon while my brother Richard died an ignoble death
from dysentery on a mud-soaked battlefield in Malta, leaving him with no
"I'm sorry," Catriona said softly.
"That my brother died? Or that I survived?" He leaned back on the
settee and patted the cushion next to him. "Enough about the rot in my
family tree. Why don't you trot over here, rest your pretty head on my
shoulder and tell me just how word of my sordid crimes reached ears as
refined and lovely as yours?"
Ignoring his audacious invitation, Catriona gingerly settled herself
on a rickety three-legged stool a few feet away. The thing tottered
wildly, nearly upending her before she recovered her balance. She sought
to reclaim her dignity by briskly removing her bonnet and resting it on
the floor next to the stool.
"As I'm sure you're well aware, your most recent incarceration is the
talk of every drawing room in London." She drew off her gloves and
placed them on top of the bonnet. "But you really shouldn't be so modest
about your accomplishments, Mr. Wescott. Or should I call you Sir
Simon? You didn't just survive Napoleon. You were knighted for valor
after Trafalgar because you saved the life of your captain on the
Belleisle by throwing yourself in front of a musket ball intended for
him. Upon your return from Spain, you were hailed as a hero before all
He snorted. "This city has always been quick to embrace any fool with a
handful of shiny medals and a bit of braid on his shoulders."
"Oh, but it wasn't your rise to glory that truly captured the city's
imagination. It was your rather spectacular fall from grace. Or should I
call it a plunge? Instead of accepting the promotion to commander that
the navy offered you, you resigned your commission and proceeded to
wench, drink, and gamble away every ounce of respectability your valor
had earned you."
He stretched out on the settee and folded his hands behind his head,
looking thoroughly bored. "You left off brawling and dueling. I haven't
killed a man yet, but I've winged several."
She continued as if he hadn't spoken. "Not a fortnight has gone by
since then without some torrid mention of you in the scandal sheets."
"Which you no doubt pore over every night in your virginal white
nightdress before you slide between the cold sheets of your lonely bed."
His taunt struck uncomfortably close to home. He would never know how
many times his memory had warmed both those sheets and her dreams.
She lifted her chin. "How do you know I sleep alone?"
"Because you look like you're in desperate need of a good—" He met her
unwavering gaze for a long moment, then finished softly, "Husband."
Catriona rose to pace the cell, avoiding his eyes. "I've heard other
rumors about you since your return as well. Rumors not printed in the
scandal sheets but whispered in drawing rooms and back alleys. They say
that you're willing to use the skills you acquired in the navy to
provide certain services for those in need of them—protection,
transportation, retrieval of lost items." She paused before one of the
plaster statues, running one finger lightly along the nymph's dimpled
cheek. "All for a price, of course."
"Devoting oneself to a life of debauchery doesn't come cheap, you know."
Behind her, she heard the settee creak as Simon sat up. "Is that why
you came here today, Miss Kincaid? Because you wish to hire me?"
"No, Mr. Wescott," she replied coolly, turning to face him. "I came here today because I wish to marry you."