Published by Entangled Publishing on February 20th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
After a lifetime of rakish behavior, Lord Maxfeld must pretend he’s reformed and find a fake wife. And there is nobody more suitable than Lady Phoebe. Trouble is, Phoebe will not agree to a false engagement and leaves Max no option but to blackmail her into agreeing to his scheme.
Phoebe will go to great lengths to avoid anything remotely dishonourable and blackmails Max right back—directly to the altar. Once married, though, Phoebe wants more than just Max’s ring -- she wants his heart, something he can never give....
“When I sent you to Lady Delamore’s the other evening, my dear, it was not to make a spectacle of yourself. You might be new to Society, but I brought you up far better than that.”
Phoebe, seated at her dressing table where Albina was arranging her hair, looked up from the note she’d been reading—sentiments of congratulations from Isabel. The room was filled with late morning light containing the promise of a beautiful spring day. Her mother, wearing a dove gray muslin, crossed the bedchamber.
Spectacle of herself? “My playing was better than that, I assure you, Mama—on my honor.”
“I’m not talking about music, my dear.” Lady Bennington’s color was high. “The spectacle you made of yourself with Lord Maxfeld.”
What? Phoebe searched her memory. She shook her head, folding the thick sheet of paper and slipping it into a drawer. “You’ve been misinformed. The earl and I didn’t exchange more than six words the whole of the evening through. We were kept quite occupied by other people.”
“Some things don’t need words, my girl.”
What is that supposed to mean?
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. The night of the Huntsford ball, you seemed lighthearted on the subject of my entertaining myself with Lord Maxfeld.”
“But not conspicuously, my dear.”
“Conspicuously? I did nothing conspicuous last night. Except play. And that was at Lady Delamore’s request.” Phoebe twisted in her chair. She refused to believe there were groundless rumors circulating about her and Lord Maxfeld at half eleven the next morning. “On whose authority have you received such intelligence as would lead you to believe that I behaved like anything less than the perfect lady?”
Finished setting every ironed curl just so, Albina quietly retreated to the other side of the room.
“I met Lady Selby in the street, and she told me there were looks between the two of you the like of which she’d never before witnessed in all her years.”
Looks? Well, that was the sort of story a two-penny press would want, surely.
Phoebe’s gaze dropped to the surface of the dressing table where she fiddled with a stray hairpin. To be denounced for nothing more than a few stray glances the gossips decided to willfully misinterpret was a new and not entirely comfortable experience.
Scowling, she sniffed. “Well, those hundred and ten years Lady Selby has lived must have been awfully dull.”
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