Published by Grace Callaway on October 20th 2016
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
A Wallflower Who Guards Her Secrets
Miss Polly Kent has no illusions about finding love. Not only is she a wallflower, but her freakish ability to read others’ emotions has led to devastating rejection time and again. When it comes to her future, she knows that a marriage of convenience, one in which she can keep her secret affliction hidden, is the only safe choice. Yet when fate throws her into the path of the ton’s wildest rake, she discovers that desire can jeopardize the most carefully laid plans…
A Rake Who Makes No Apologies for His Past
Sinjin Pelham, the Earl of Revelstoke and heir to a duke, has a reputation darker than London’s fog. His exploits have made him the envy of men and the desire of women, but behind his wild and jaded façade lies a painful secret. He knows that no woman can love the devil inside him, yet when he is accused of a ghastly crime, the only one who stands by him is a beautiful virgin, one whose wanton innocence makes him long for the one thing he cannot have…
When Good and Wicked Make Perfect
A marriage that begins with smoldering passion soon deepens into something more. All the while, a dangerous enemy lurks, waiting to strike. As Sinjin and Polly untangle the threads of mystery to clear his name, they must confront their greatest fears, risking all for their love—and their very lives.
(in which we join our hero, Sinjin, Earl of Revelstoke, who has inadvertently intruded upon the birthday supper of our heroine, Miss Polly Kent…)
“Ah, here comes the dessert,” Mrs. Kent said. “We are in for a treat. Not only do we have Emma’s lovely cake, but Chef Lenôtre has prepared les petites duchesses for us tonight.”
As the footmen arranged the desserts on the table, which included a large cake covered in fluffy white icing and a silver tier of pastries, Kent said with an Englishman’s suspicion of all things foreign, “A do-shess? What’s that?”
“A roll of pastry filled with cream. It’s delicious. Do try,” Mrs. Kent said.
“None for me, thank you.” Miss Primrose gave Sinjin a coquettish look. “A lady must watch her figure, after all.”
“I’ll have cake and a pastry,” Miss Polly said. “Where are the serving tongs?”
“A duchesse is meant to be eaten with one’s fingers. That’s why Chef has wrapped them in paper for us,” Mrs. Kent explained.
With a shrug, Miss Polly reached out and selected one of the baked confections. It was about six inches long, and positively—there was no better way to describe it—phallic. With morbid fascination, Sinjin watched as she brought the icing-glazed length to her mouth. The tip of the pastry lingered on her bottom lip for the briefest moment—as he’d suspected, that luscious ledge made for the perfect resting place—before she slid it inside.
Goddamn. Sweat gathered beneath his collar.
She bit down, and before his disbelieving eyes, whipped cream squirted out the end. It splattered in thick, milky gobs on the tablecloth. When her tongue swiped out to catch a spot of filling clinging to her upper lip, he barely stifled a groan.
His trousers were suddenly, excruciatingly tight.
“Is it good?” the Duchess of Strathaven asked.
When Miss Polly gave an enthusiastic nod, the duchess and marchioness both reached for a pastry. As they nibbled away, their respective husbands watched on with transfixed gazes. Strathaven adjusted his collar repeatedly, his color high, whilst Tremont’s eyes had glazed over.
Thankfully, the delicious torture of dessert ended before anyone unmanned himself, and Miss Primrose said merrily, “Time for presents!”
Brightly wrapped packages were duly brought in and placed in front of Miss Polly. As she carefully unwrapped each one to the smiles and exclamations of her kin, Sinjin felt his earlier awkwardness return. Not only was he intruding upon a family celebration, he had no prior experience with such affairs. His father and stepmama had never marked the occasion of his birth; in fact, that day was less than a month away, and he doubted that they would even remember.
Hell, sometimes he even forgot.
Now, watching Miss Polly’s genuine joy as she thanked the Tremonts for a pretty music box, Sinjin felt a strange longing to… participate. To not be the uninvited outsider watching on.
“Let me guess who that is from.”
Miss Primrose’s dry comment made him look at the last of the gifts that Miss Polly had unwrapped. A door-stopper of a volume on… fossils? Egad. He might be a novice at birthdays, but even he… wait. He could do better than that.
“Miss Kent,” he said impulsively, “I have a little something for you as well.”
She blinked at him. “You, um, do?”
He reached into his pocket, dug out the locket. Slid it eagerly across the table.
“This is for me?” She picked up the necklace, the simple filigreed pendant gleaming in the light of the candelabra. Her brow furrowed. “But how did you know to get me anything?”
Heat crept up his jaw. You didn’t think this through, you idiot.
In the past, women had never questioned his gifts, but they’d been light-skirts and lovers, and Miss Kent was neither of those things. She fell in a category of female that he’d steered clear of—and obviously for good reason. Chits like her were naught but trouble. Faced with her question, he couldn’t very well admit the truth: he’d given her a trinket that he’d happened to have in his pocket, a memento sent by some woman he’d tupped, whose identity he couldn’t even recall.
“It was my mother’s,” he heard himself lie.
“Then I couldn’t possibly—”
“It’s a trifle,” he said brusquely.
“But if it belonged to—”
“Just take it.” The words emerged filtered through his teeth.
Her eyes narrowed upon him… as if they could see through him. His face heated like that of a schoolboy caught cheating on a test. After a tense moment, during which he wished with every part of his benighted soul that he’d never given her the stupid thing, she slid his offering beneath her other gifts. As if she couldn’t stand the sight of it.
You can follow the books by Grace Callaway on Goodreads.
Grace is giving away a digital copy of Never Say Never to an Earl.
She is curious….