Cecilia finds herself married to the infamous Lord Cromwell, per an arrangement between the duke and her mother. All the countryside whispers about him since he returned from the war severely disfigured after saving his men. Women, and even men, run from him, except for his uncle, servants, and best friend.

Lonely and depressed after moving into his grand home, Cecilia wishes her husband would let her see him, but that is not to be. He sends her away, vowing it is for the best. But when she hears he is near death due to a fall, nothing will keep her from his side. If he pulls through, will he realize she couldn’t care less what he looks like and that she loves him as much as he loves her?

Publisher’s Note: This beautiful romance contains a theme of power exchange.

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Before she had a chance to say anything beyond that, she found herself over his lap, her nightgown pulled up, and a hand that had to be made of oak or some other hardwood began descending viciously onto her bare backside, immediately making her wish that she had kept her mouth shut. “Stop! What do you think you’re doing? Stop that this minute!” she yelled at the top of her lungs, completely without regard to who might hear her doing so. It was much more important—at that moment—that she get him to cease roasting her behind than to save herself from embarrassment!

But her words had about as much effect as her attempts to escape, which was to say none at all. Without hurting her in the least, he was holding her entirely immobile with very little effort as far as she could tell. He was putting all of his effort into spanking her, instead! That hand seared the flesh it connected to the point that she thought she should hear the sound of her own skin sizzling every time his hand forcefully kissed her backside. Cecilia exhausted herself kicking her legs in every possible direction, flailing her arms wildly and trying to squirm out of his hold, but she was unable to budge herself even so much as an inch away from the position in which he was holding her.

“Me? Why, I’m disciplining my wife, which I believe is something that is even sanctioned by the good book.”

“This is barbaric! Unhand me immediately or I’ll—”

She could hardly sic her husband on him, now could she?

The bastard actually paused and questioned, sounding as if he was extremely interested to hear what she was going to say. “You’ll what? Please elaborate. I’m on pins and needles, dying to hear what you think you’re going to do in my house, when you’re my wife?”

“I’ll scream.” She disregarded the fact that she’d already been doing that.

Cecilia actually felt the big man shrug. “Go ahead. There’s no one on my land who will lift a hand to come to your rescue.”

“Robin will,” she said without thinking, only seeking to hurt him in some way, since he was hurting her. She knew her barb had hit its target because she felt him stiffen beneath her, and, yet again, she wished she had learned how to keep her mouth shut.

“Robin is in the west wing. We are in the east wing. He will never hear you, and neither will anyone else,” Asher growled, causing Cecilia to shudder involuntarily.