Winning the King is the second book in Nicole Murphy's Jorda trilogy. It's a fabulous science fiction romance that I recommend to sci-fi lovers as well as romance readers who might want to try a little science fiction for the first time. You can read my full review here.
Nicole has been kind enough to share a little excerpt with us. The scene below takes place shortly after Gareth first turns Diana down...
Blue eyes, golden curls, a body songs are composed about, and part of
one of the most powerful families in the colonies, Diana Wiltmore is not
used to ever hearing the word ‘no’. So when she sets her sights on a
fling with the gorgeous, potent and single King of Angonia, Gareth, she
is shocked when he turns her down flat. In an effort to put the
rejection behind her, she agrees to her sister’s plan to gain some
political leverage by cosying up to a rival planetary ruler.
Gareth has responsibilities and no time for a woman like Diana. She is
all temptation and distraction, but Gareth wants more from a woman than
decoration. But it is Diana standing by his side as his beloved home of
Angonia is attacked and he starts to see that underneath the surface is a
strong woman even more beautiful than her picture-perfect exterior.
Gareth’s people need him and to be there for them, he needs Diana. But has he ruined every chance he has of winning her heart?
At home, she had to pass Gareth’s room to get to her own. As she approached his door, Diana briefly considered making another play for him but pushed it aside. He didn’t want her — fine, she didn’t want him either.
Liar, her inner voice said as she opened the door to her bedroom. She undressed and lay in her bed and waited for sleep to come.
She lay for long, long moments, trying to stop her mind from sending thoughts to her. Visions of what she and Gareth could have been doing right now. Ghostly sensations of how amazing it would feel to have him push inside her.
Dammit, she needed to relax, and there was one place to do that. She grabbed her robe, tied it securely around her and headed up to the roof.
There, she pulled out one of the sun lounges and lay down on it, staring up at the night sky through the curve of the Ricmin City dome. Above her, millions, billions of stars twinkled and smiled.
She’d always loved the night. When they’d been little, she and Cassandra would sneak up here and lie on the roof, giggling and telling each other secrets. They’d been so close, and then had become such close enemies. Now, that first relationship was blossoming again, and Diana was happy. It was a lovely situation when your best friend was also your twin sister.
She slowed her breathing, stared up at the stars, and peace stole over her. Her mind stopped fussing and worrying and her limbs softened. She felt sleep call at the edges of her mind and wondered if she should just sleep here, or go back to bed.
The door to the roof opened and Diana sat up. Her parents didn’t come up here during the night, and as far as she knew Castina and Telamon, her brother and sister, weren’t back yet. That meant …
Yes. Gareth of Angonia stepped onto the roof. The sight of the soft light of Rica on his golden head brought anew Diana’s shock at his rejection and with it a strong desire to know exactly why.
She stood and Gareth stopped. They looked at each other, and Diana couldn’t see his face to read his emotions.
‘My apologies, Miss Wiltmore,’ he said in that honey whiskey voice. ‘I didn’t realise I’d be disturbing someone. I’ll go.’
‘No, don’t,’ Diana said. ‘If you can’t sleep, it’s really rather soothing up here.’
‘I had a call from Angonia. Easily dealt with but now I’m wide awake.’
‘Then come sit and stare at the stars,’ Diana said. ‘But first, you can tell me why you don’t want to sleep with me.’
Gareth blinked and his shoulders jerked. Score. ‘I’m sorry if my refusal of your very generous offer has upset you.’
‘I’m not upset. I want to learn what I did wrong, so I can be assured of not making the same mistake with other potential lovers.’
Gareth stepped forward and his face became easier to see. His mouth was tight, his forehead furrowed. ‘Maybe that is the problem,’ he said. ‘Maybe you should be less focussed on who will be the next man in your bed and more focussed on doing something with your life.’
It was something she’d heard many times in the past from her parents — not as baldly said as that, but the sentiment was shared. Lately, the opposite was true. Her parents were very proud of the changes she’d made in her life.
Why was Gareth saying it?
Diana crossed her arms over her chest. ‘Explain yourself.’
Gareth shook his head. ‘I believe I’ve said enough.’
‘No, you haven’t. What gives you the impression that I care more for sex than for accomplishing something with my life?’
Gareth took a deep breath. ‘You’re not going to give up until I tell you, are you?’
‘I am a Wiltmore.’
‘Are you? Wiltmore’s are amazing people — dedicated, hard-working, dutiful. Whereas all I’ve seen from you in the time I’ve been here has been a not very subtle attempt to get me into bed.’
Diana had to clamp her jaw shut to stop it dropping open. She’d never heard anything like this.
‘Add that to all I’ve heard of you from Cassandra over the years and there was never any doubt in my mind that despite your physical attributes, I was not going to sleep with you. I prefer my lovers to be as beautiful on the inside as they are on the out.’
Rage rushed over Diana. How dare he judge her like this, based on a few hours’ observation and old gossip?
‘Well,’ she said, ice dripping from every syllable, ‘I had no idea that Angonians travelled with prejudices clinging to their every move.’
Gareth’s body stiffened. ‘If you did not want to hear the truth, you should not have asked for it.’
‘Except you’ve not given me truth. You’ve given me your very prejudiced view. Well, let me show you something.’
She reached for the belt on her robe, undid it and pushed the material from her shoulders so it pooled at her feet. She knew her pale skin would glitter in the soft light, making her look otherworldly and delectable.
‘If you’d had the decency to talk to me, get to know me, find that you are living in a darkness of falsehood, you could have had this. And you should know that spending the night with me isn’t just about my beauty. I love sex. I love the taste and smell of a man. I love touching him, stroking him until he is panting and wild. Most of all, I love that moment when he enters me, spreading me, filling me, making me delirious. If you weren’t so caught up in your stupid prejudices, you could have spent the night doing that instead of worrying about Angonia and growing old before your time.’
Diana bent and picked up the robe. ‘Good night, Your Majesty,’ she said and then she glided away with the grace and dignity of a queen, for all that she was naked.
Fuck Gareth Palmerton, Diana thought as she went to bed. Fuck him to the end of the universe.
Well, at least she’d guaranteed it would be a long time before he went back to sleep.
Gareth stood alone on the darkened roof of the Wiltmore house and tried to make sense of what had just happened.
He shouldn’t have let Diana goad him into speaking his mind, but he just couldn’t stand seeing her there, calling herself a Wiltmore when she was that in name only. He admired and respected Andar, Venus and Cassandra too much to have their name besmirched.
Diana’s calling him prejudiced hadn’t shocked him. He’d known she’d bite back against his allegations. What had shocked him had been the impact her naked body had on him.
She was perfection. Her breasts just the right size to cup in his hand. The curve of her hips touchable. The blonde curls at the top of her legs glistened, as though she were wet and ready for him.
His body had roared into readiness.
The chill had brought her nipples out and he’d wanted desperately to take them in his mouth and suckle her until she was begging for his penetration.
And then her words — Peace, hearing her talk about making love was almost as potent as actually feeling her hands on his body. By the time she bent, picked up her robe and walked away, Gareth had been rock hard.
Damn her desirable hide. And thank Peace she had walked away because if she’d offered herself to him again, he was sure that this time he wouldn’t be able to say no.
Gareth sat down on the sunlounge and took a deep breath, fighting to regain control of his body. Never had he lost it so completely.
Diana Wiltmore was a dangerous woman.
When his erection finally eased, Gareth had made two decisions. The first was that there was no point waiting until the arranged time for departure — he was awake and he wasn’t going to sleep any time soon, so he might as well get going.
The second was that when he got back to Angonia, he was going to contact one of his old lovers and have some wild, rampant sex. Immediately. The negotiations could wait. Then once his libido was cooled, he was going to put serious thought into getting married.
That way, women like Diana would never tempt him again.
Winning The King by Nicole Murphy is a science fiction romance from Escape Publishing, released January 22 2015.
Find this book at: Amazon | Amazon AUS | The Publisher | Goodreads
About the Author:
Nicole Murphy is the author of the Dream of Asarlai trilogy, published by HarperCollins (and re-launched as an electronic omnibus in April 2014), and a couple dozen speculative fiction shorts. As Elizabeth Dunk she’s published contemporary romance with Escape Publishing and in July released a collection of paranormal erotic novellas, also with Escape. She lives in Queanbeyan, near Canberra, with her husband, Tim, and their beloved budgie, Freddie.
Winning the King is the second book in the Jorda trilogy, published by Escape Publishing. The first book, Loving the Prince, was released in August 2014.
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More from Nicole Murphy on Love Reading Romance:
Loving The Prince by Nicole Murphy - Book Review
Winning The King by Nicole Murphy - Book Review
Nicole Murphy writing as Elizabeth Dunk:
Five challenges I faced writing ‘Release’ by Elizabeth Dunk - Guest Post
Release by Elizabeth Dunk - Book Review
Release by Elizabeth Dunk - Excerpt