Sharon Ihle is the best-selling author of more than a dozen award-winning historical romances set in the American West. A lifelong Californian, Sharon recently moved from the sunny beaches of San Diego to the frozen plains of North Dakota. As someone who hates winter, hates snow, has had the same winter boots for 30 years…I find that not only hard to believe, but…weird LOL
Hi everyone! I’m Sharon Ihle, author of fourteen historical romance novels set in the American West. All of the books feature the nineteenth century from the 1850’s to the 1880’s. I feel very passionate about this time in our history, and loved researching the western towns of old and the very colorful characters that played such a big part in settling the West. Who isn’t fascinated by Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane (featured in WILD CAT) or Jesse James and his gang (featured in GYPSY JEWEL)? And what about Wyatt Earp?
Now that I’ve mentioned him, I should tell you that Earp plays a small role in the book Marsha is featuring today, MARRYING MISS SHYLO. Even though this novel is a western, it actually begins in 1888 New York City. The heroine, Shylo McBride has passed herself off as the non-existent niece of President Grover Cleveland in order to learn the whereabouts of her mother. When she meets the devilishly handsome Dimitri Adonis, a man with a few deceptions of his own, Shylo sees in him the means to travel to San Diego, where her mother has relocated. While writing this novel, not only did I get to enjoy researching the past in my hometown of San Diego, I traveled to Greece where I met the perfectly yummy hero for my deceptive heroine.
Here’s an excerpt from MARRYING MISS SHYLO:
In this scene, Shylo, who is basically penniless, and Dimitri are on the observation deck at the back of the train that is heading for San Diego. Bandits have blocked the track and brought the train to a screeching halt. This interrupts Shylo’s plan to get Dimitri interested enough in her to continue paying her way during the trip…
Out on the deck of the observation car, a stunned Shylo found herself face-down on the floor, the iron leg of an overturned chair tangled up in the folds of her skirt. She leaned up on her elbows, shaking her head to clear it, and realized that her hair had come free and her straw hat had fallen off. Then she glanced up and spotted it tumbling brim over feathers across the desert sands. A moment later it was gone.
“What the hell happened?” she said, forgetting herself again.
Beside her, Dimitri climbed to his feet. “I don’t know, but I couldn’t have said it better myself.” “Hell,” an extremely versatile word, had become one of his favorites since coming to America, although to be honest this was the first time he’d heard the expletive uttered by a lady. Dimitri didn’t concern himself about the lapse in manners, though. He was far more interested in Shylo’s physical condition. “Are you able to stand?”
“I don’t know.” It was the truth. She didn’t have to pretend coquettish reticence or fake a helpless demeanor this time. Shylo had no idea why the train had come to such an abrupt halt, how she’d wound up on the floor wrapped around a metal chair, or if she was in need of medical care. She only knew that her bottom was sore and one of her elbows burned as if on fire. Struggling to raise her hand to Dimitri’s, she winced in pain.
“Wait. Don’t move.” He dropped to her side and removed the chair from beneath her, tearing a wide gash in her skirt in the process, and then carefully lifted her to her feet. “Better now?”
Shylo swayed against him, testing her limbs hesitantly. Other than a bruised bottom and an aching funny bone, everything seemed to be in working order. She almost told him so, too, but stopped herself as she suddenly recognized the opportunity before her. For whatever reason, the train had stopped, and because of that, Dimitri was finally where she wanted him— holding her in his arms. There was no way she intended to let him go now.
Tilting her head back just enough to look up at him, she fell into her role as a pampered heiress and lied through her teeth. “I’m afraid I may have sprained my ankle a little, and isn’t it just my bad luck that it turns out to be the same one I hurt back in New York?” She leaned into Dimitri’s chest, her lashes fluttering out of control. “Maybe if you just hang on to me for a minute, the pain will go away.”
He adjusted his grip, holding her up on tiptoes. “Is that better?”
“Tons,” she said, sighing heavily. “But now … oh, I don’t know why, but I seem to be feeling a little dizzy, too.” She burrowed her head beneath his chin.
“You are hurt.” Dimitri lifted her feet off the ground and carried her toward one of the chairs that hadn’t fallen over. “I’m going to sit you down and go see if I can’t find a doctor on board to come look at you.”
“No,” she said, her voice too loud and much too unladylike. Shylo planted her feet, including the one with the “injury,” and softened her voice. “I mean, thanks for the thought, but that won’t be necessary. I’m feeling a little better already.”
Dimitri cocked one thick black eyebrow. “Are you sure?”
Her eyes were blinking furiously, struggling to come into focus, he assumed, and Dimitri was sure that she was more badly injured than she admitted. Was she so afraid of doctors or just trying to be brave? Perhaps he should be a little more discreet about rounding one up. “All right. Why don’t you sit down anyway. I’m going inside to at least find out what happened to make the train stop so suddenly. We may be in some danger.”
“Oh, I doubt that.” She slapped his chest lightly. “I’m sure we only stopped to take on coal or water. The engineer probably blew a warning whistle, and we were just too distracted by all this”—she waved her arm toward the barren countryside, frowning as she forced herself to say—”beautiful scenery to notice.”
“I won’t be a moment.”
“Fine,” she snapped, unable to control her temper any more than she could control Dimitri. “Go ahead if you must, but a real gentleman would stay here to help me put myself together.”
Until she turned away from him and bent over to retrieve her hairpins, Dimitri hadn’t paid much attention to the fact that Shylo’s coiffure had slipped loose of its bonds, freeing her tresses to tumble down her back and shoulders. Sunlight highlighted her thick honey-colored locks as she plucked the pins off the deck, confirming his suspicions about the touch of fire he thought he’d once noticed.
He’d been expecting that hint of red, but he was in no way prepared for the impact of observing such a glorious sight. It stirred him to watch her hair fall this way and that, a few lengths covering her shoulders and plunging down to her waist, others curling around the collar of her jacket or draped along her magnificent cheekbones. Even her eyes, now framed by the abundance of those lush, shimmering tresses, seemed to brighten and deepen to a more irresistible shade of blue.
Never had Dimitri seen anything quite like Shylo ringed in sunlight, and the spectacle of her standing there was a match to Aphrodite if ever there was one. He’d thought her reasonably attractive the day they’d met, but now her beauty stunned him, awakening his nether regions with a painful jolt. The sudden physical discomfort was as surprising as it was troubling, but that was nothing compared to the disturbing idea as it occurred to him that he might be losing his careful control—a control he’d worked a lifetime to achieve.
In a voice gruffer than he’d intended, Dimitri said, “I really ought to go find the conductor.”
Shylo whirled on him, frustrated over her continuing ineptness when it came to tempting this man, but before she could blurt out something she’d regret, she realized a change had come over him. She had no practical experience in such matters, but something in his dark eyes and in the tense set of his jaw told her he was fascinated with her. Even though he had threatened to go inside, his gaze remained on her face and her unruly curls, and there was a certain longing in his expression, giving her the impression that he wanted nothing more than to touch them, to touch her.
He would come to her now, kiss her, or do anything she asked of him. Shylo was suddenly sure of that, if nothing else. All she need do was ask.
“Looking for the conductor may be a good idea,” she said, slowly turning her back to him. “But would you mind helping me with my hair first? I’d hate to have the others see me in such a state, and it’s too much for me to lift by myself.” Another lie, but one that worked.
Although he suspected that he would be challenging his control more than he had in a long, long time, Dimitri could do no less than comply. “All right, but I warn you—this isn’t exactly my area of expertise. What is it you want me to do?”
“Oh,” she said breezily, pleased to hear the strain in his voice, “just bundle it all up and try to twist it into a pile at the top of my head. I’ll take over from there.”
With hands eager to take on the dangerous assignment, Dimitri plunged into her hair, lifting the bulk of those silken strands, and then staring at them as if he’d unearthed a cache of ancient jewels. He had every intention of doing exactly as Shylo had instructed, but once he had her mane in his grasp he could not resist burying his face in the flame-kissed curls.
He breathed deeply, loving the fresh clean smell, the scent of springtime devoid of the artificial perfumes so overused by most women of privilege. Several of those strands had curled around his fingers, trapping his hands in a silken web, and he impulsively brought them to his cheek, indulging himself with the warm, satiny feel of her hair brushing his skin. Against his better judgment, he imagined what it would be like if he were to wrap those soft locks around his entire naked body.
At the thought, he grew hard, more painfully engorged than he could ever remember being at any time in his life. He doubted this response, or the utterly carnal thoughts he was having about Shylo, were exactly what Ari had had in mind when he’d told him to “test the young lady” and “see what happens.”
Digging deep within himself for the strength to drive the lust from his body, Dimitri quickly formed Shylo’s hair into a pile, a rather sloppy one at that, and positioned it at the top of her head. Then he held it there, his traitorous body still raging with desire, and waited in agony for her to fasten her runaway tresses into place.
After she slipped the final hairpin into the knot, Shylo turned to face Dimitri again. He still wore that look of fascination, but something else had drifted across his handsome features, darkening them. Something that told Shylo her plan was working extremely well.
“Are you all right?” she asked, moving closer. “You look a little flushed and”—she pressed her fingers against Dimitri’s brow—”not only warm, but damp. Is the heat getting to you?”
Dimitri clutched her arms, intending to set her away from him again, but instead found himself pulling her up tight against his body. “It appears that it is,” he admitted, fighting the urge to rip the pins from her hair and let it tumble back over his hands. “The heat is definitely getting to me.”
Dimitri’s voice had gone all husky, and his rejoinder was rife with unmistakable innuendo. Did it all mean what she hoped it did—that he was as ready for this moment as she? “If I can help cool you off, or something, just tell me how. It’s the least I can do after all you’ve done for me. What do you have in mind?”
“Kiss her a little, test her,” Ari had suggested. God knew Dimitri wanted that more than anything right now. So why not proceed with those plans? What did he have to lose at this point? “What I have in mind,” he whispered darkly, forging ahead, “will not cool either of us. In fact, the heat may even intensify. This is all right with you?”
“It is if you mean you want to court me.”
This, of course, was what he’d hoped for, but Dimitri was surprised. Were all American women so aggressive in matters of courtship? “I suppose you could say that, among other things, is what I have in mind. Does this meet with your approval, Miss Folsom?”
“It does.” She tilted her chin, offering her mouth in case he hadn’t caught on. “What other things did you have in mind?”
Dimitri lowered his head and brushed her lips with his, lingering over them for just a moment. “Something like that. Do you still approve?”
She swayed slightly, her lashes fluttering of their own volition, and was surprised to hear her own voice come out in a breathless whisper as she said, “I sure do, and I think it’s high time you got around to it. If I’da known it was going to be so much trouble getting you to kiss me, I’da just sat down and wrote you a letter.”
Dimitri kind of froze up when she said that, and his expression was unreadable. Thinking nothing of it, she took hold of his hand and shook it. “Thanks for deciding to court me. I’ll try to make sure you don’t regret it.” Although she could still feel the spot where his lips had touched hers, she tried not to sound too impressed as she added, “Oh, and thanks for the kiss, too.
Sharon Ihle E-Books available for download at:
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