Tess Darent’s world is unravelling. Danger threatens her stepchildren and she is about to be unmasked as a radical political cartoonist and thrown into gaol. The only thing that can save her is a respectable marriage. But when it comes to tying the knot Tess requires a very special husband – one who has neither the desire nor the ability to consummate their marriage.

Owen Purchase, Viscount Rothbury cannot resist Tess when she asks for the protection of his name. But he has no intention of making a marriage in name only. Will the handsome sea captain be able to persuade the notorious widow to give her heart as well as her reputation into his safekeeping?

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Desired has been awarded second place in the 2012 Laurel Wreath Award of Excellence!”

— Volusia County Romance Writers

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He took her arm and steered her into the library. The double oak doors shut behind her with a stealthy snap and it felt like another trap closing.

“I apologise if you think me high-handed.” His smile stole her breath, something that happened so rarely to her that for a moment Tess wondered if the tightness in her chest meant that she was ailing. The charm of handsome men generally left her utterly cold.

Rothbury leaned back against the library doors, arms crossed, broad shoulders resting against the panels, another barrier to her escape.

“I am at your service,” he murmured. “Whenever you are ready to acquaint me with this business proposition you have.”

Tess’s throat dried. “I wanted…”She groped for the words that had scattered like petals in the breeze. “That is, I thought…”

One dark brow rose quizzically as Rothbury surveyed her confusion.
“I came here-” Gracious, she had lost all her town bronze. This would never do.

“I came here to ask you to marry me,” she finished, with all the finesse of a tongue-tied schoolgirl. “In name only, that is. I wish for a marriage of convenience.”

Mortified, she stood pinned to the spot whilst a burning blush seemed to creep up from her toes to engulf her entire body. It was difficult to see how matters could have gone more painfully awry. She had wanted to be so cool, so composed. She had wanted to be herself, Teresa, Dowager Marchioness of Darent, poised and self-assured. Instead, this man had taken all her confidence and turned it inside out. She should have realised how he would affect her after their encounter earlier. She should have remembered the way in which he had made her nerves sing and her pulse trip. She should have had the sense not to come here with her ridiculous suggestion of marriage. She should have known not to engage in this dangerous game of using Rothbury for his name and his protection because any moment now he would call her bluff, accuse her of sedition and very like have her thrown in the Tower of London.

Rothbury was silent for a very long moment. Finally, when Tess was about to stammer an apology and climb out of the window in her desperation to escape, his shoulders came away from the door and he started to move towards her. Panic gripped her by the throat as he drew closer to her. There was something about his physical presence that was so powerful, so authoritative, that it made her supremely uncomfortable. She did not feel threatened by him in the same way that she had done by Brokeby with that terrible fear that had made her skin crawl. Rothbury, she knew instinctively, was not a man who would ever hurt a woman. Even so his physical proximity filled her with unease.

Rothbury took her chin in his hand and turned her face to the faint light that penetrated the room from the long windows. Tess tried to remain still beneath his touch although the impulse to break away from him was strong. No one touched her. Ever. She hated it. Her sisters Joanna and Merryn hugged her sometimes but she felt awkward even with them. She never allowed anyone physically close. Her skin prickled when she even thought of it. Now, with Rothbury actually touching her, she felt an urge to pull violently away.

Besides, on a more practical level, even pale late autumn light would show up the imperfections of her skin and she did not want Rothbury dwelling on her shortcomings before they were even betrothed.

“An extraordinary suggestion,” he murmured. “A marriage in name only. Why would you wish for that?” He allowed his hand to fall and Tess felt the relief swamp her, heady as wine, enough to turn her dizzy for a brief moment. Rothbury took a step away from her and then turned sharply back on his heel.

“It was not a rhetorical question,” he said.

Tess jumped. “Oh!” Her mind was a blank. Why had she not anticipated that Rothbury might ask that question – and a great many more difficult questions besides?  She had hurried off to proposition him without laying the groundwork first. She should have realised that he was not the kind of man, like Darent before him, to accept such an arrangement without debate.

Rothbury was still watching her with one eyebrow raised in an odiously quizzical manner. And her mind was still blanker than a blank canvas.

“No doubt you will share your reasons with me before too long,” he said, still in the same gentle drawl.“Meanwhile, I have another question. This may seem impertinent, Lady Darent – vulgar even - but I have to ask it.” He smiled. “What exactly is in this for me?”

End of Excerpt


is available in the following formats:
North American Edition
UK Edition

September 4, 2012 · Harlequin · ISBN 13: 978-0373775903 · ISBN 10: 0373775903

Behind the Book

I loved writing Desired for many reasons but one of the most important was that I adored the character of Tess Darent. Tess has a big secret – she is a female cartoonist drawing caricatures of the government in support of the radical party. She wants political reform and she uses her pen to try to achieve it. Unfortunately her work could well land her in gaol…

Political satire was rife in Georgian and Regency England. William Hogarth’s drawings had a moral tone to them. Artist and cartoonist Thomas Rowlandson’s work was witty but he was also making strong and influential comment on the politics of the time. He would highlight the flaws of political leaders and he could influence the popularity and reputations of those in power through offering clever criticisms of social and political trends. George Cruickshank, another cartoonist of the period achieved notoriety with political prints satirising the Royal family and those in power until he was paid off with a bribe of £100 in 1820.


Reviews for Desired
More awards for Desired!

Desired has been awarded second place in the 2012 Laurel Wreath Award of Excellence!”

“When you look for a romantic read and dream of magical endings Nicola Cornick delivers with every book.”

5 stars

“A powerful and sensual love story - Highly Recommended.”

I Loved this Book!

“The characters are fantastic, the conflict is well established and the romance is both sweet and sexy.”

Five Stars and now nominated - VOTE NOW!

“DESIRED is a powerful and sensual love story with a hero you are sure to fall in love with and a heroine who will tug at your heartstrings. I am now eagerly awaiting the issue of the final book in this series next year”

five stars!

“Nicola Cornick, you stay away from my nose! Remember how last October I inhaled Notorious because it was as addictive as dark chocolate? Well, I should have known better because Desired totally has this reader hooked on Nicola Cornick!”

“If you're in a mood for a truly entertaining, interesting, fascinating and thoroughly sensual romance, this one will fit the bill to a tee”

“There is a reason why Nicola Cornick is one of my MUST READ authors. Her sassy characters, stimulating plots and tangible emotion keeps me sucked in and wanting more.”

A plot .. A REAL plot!

“Sometimes I have found romance books with a lot of sex and no plot to make the story interesting. Well, with Desired I didn't have this problem. Thanks Nicola! ”

4 paws!

“If you are a lover of this genre you will like Desired and Mrs. Cornick books in general, she is one of those authors with a very beautiful and unique writing voice”

4 Stars!

“As with other Nicola Cornick books, the writing in Desired is faultless. It flows effortlessly and the interactions between characters are amusing and enjoyable.”

I so liked the love story in this book

“Tess and Owen are characters I truly enjoyed discovering. As I read the novel's moving last words, I found it wonderfully easy to imagine somewhere, in a time long ago, Tess and Owen living - as the fairy tales say - happily ever after”

“Possibly one of the most interesting first encounters in any romance book!”

“When you look for a romantic read and dream of magical endings Nicola Cornick delivers with every book. This series has moved flawlessly from one amazing story to the next with characters rich with mystery and beaming with the love of life.”

I recommend Desired as a must read

“Desired is a beautiful Historical Romance. Nicola Cornick penned a heart-melting love story that's captivating. Cornick created a fantastic historical world. The storyline will take you into a world of radicals, abuse, healing and so much more. Teresa and Owen's love had me laughing and crying”

five stars!

DESIRED is a powerful and sensual love story with a hero you are sure to fall in love with and a heroine who will tug at your heartstrings. I am now eagerly awaiting the issue of the final book in this series next year”

4.5 stars!

“An incredible tale of a damaged woman learning to trust not only her husband but also herself, and of a hardened man realizing that sometimes it's not only acceptable, but marvelous to allow yourself to lose control”

Nicola Cornick never disappoints!

“I loved the way these characters interacted with each other. Both have forthright natures that clash consistently, but create the most wonderful romantically charged moments”

A Fantastic Romance

“Desired is a character driven romance with enough political and interpersonal intrigue to get the characters where they need to be in order for their maturation and growth to occur. It also doesn't hurt that the political sagas are super interesting, and written about subjects I have rarely seen in these types of Regency Romances”

“I enjoy Nicola Cornick's writing style and consider her an author that will always be on my TBR list. I would recommend this book for those die hard romance fans, who believes in HEA”

“Cornick ably manoeuvres the engaging characters through an intricate plot with her trademark lively narrative style”

A wonderfully sensual and entertaining romp

“A wonderfully sensual and entertaining romp. Cornick is a master at creating sexy historicals with original characters, witty banter and explosive situations in which love always triumphs”

I read this in a day!

“Lovely, sensual and biting, Desired is a romantic addition to her Scandalous Women of the Ton series”

“An enchanting story that engaged me from the very beginning. A very original tale that had a strong and smart female heroine, Teresa.”

Danger, suspense, betrayal, lies, spies, desire, lust and sacrifice. Whoa!

“This book hooked me from the first mention of Tess escaping capture by rappelling out a brothel window to the happily ever after on the last page.”

“An absolutely charming and delightful read”

“Any lover of historical romance will enjoy this sexy, fun, unique novel that enchants the reader at every turn”

“The heroines well and truly steal the show with Nicola Cornick!”

A wonderfully entertaining read - 4.5 stars

“Desired is chock full of delightful and revealing dialogue, subtle humor, and bit-by-bit falling in love scenes that carry the reader along on a tantalizing and sometime scary journey toward a happy-ever-after for the hero and heroine. The unexpected twists and turns keeps one turning pages. A wonderfully entertaining read”