on November 21st 2017
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All a lady wants for Christmastide is a Rogue of her own...
Seven Rogues find the love of their lives in this historical holiday collection. Follow each rogue as they learn how enticing love can be and that sometimes even the wickedest rogues can find their happy-ever-after.
"Jewel of Winter" by Kirsten S. BlacketerWhen a trio of thieves arrive at her inn during a snowstorm, Jessamine must submit to their leader, Edmund. She never expected to spend Christmas as a captive.
"Christmas Seduction" by Samantha HoltAfter a rocky start to their arranged nuptials, the Duke of Fenhurst must make a success of his marriage somehow. Alex returns to his wife for Christmas to celebrate...and seduce.
"How to Kiss a Rogue" by Amanda MarielLady Natalie's betrothal is ended and frees her to pursue the man of her dreams. During a holiday party she discovers the lord she desires in attendance. So hatches a plan to snare him.
"A Wallflower's Christmas Kiss" by Dawn BrowerAn arranged betrothal has Lady Juliette Brooks seeking out her former childhood friend, the Duke of Kissinger to beg him to honor his long ago promise. Grayson Abbot has no desire to marry, but he always keeps his word. As they race to Scotland they rediscover the joy of friendship and a passion neither planned on.
"The Rogue's Seduction" by Lauren SmithWhen a darling of the ton is targeted by a man who wishes to marry her and break her spirit, she seeks the help of London's most notorious devil in pretending that she's already engaged. What begins as a dangerous game soon turns to seduction over a Christmas neither of them will forget.
"Tamed for Christmas" by Sandra SookooWhen a confirmed bachelor and a headmistress literally crash into each other at a boarding school for young ladies, an unexpected Christmas romance begins, proving love isn't just a game for young people.
"The St Nicholas Day Wager" by Em TaylorWhen her childhood friend wins a wager against her brother for her hand in marriage, Gabriella is horrified. She knows he finds her looks hideous. Her marriage is surely doomed?
“The Rogue’s Seduction” by Lauren Smith
This is a terrible idea. Unfortunately, Perdita had no other option. Only Lord Darlington could help her. She was prepared to do just about anything to escape her situation.
“Madam.” The butler appeared at the top of the stairs. “His Lordship will see you now.”
Perdita stared up at him, startled. “Upstairs? Not the drawing room?”
The old codger had the audacity to grin at her. “He insisted you meet upstairs, or I was to show you out.”
The nerve of the man, demanding she meet him upstairs! Did he treat all gentle-bred ladies like this? Or, knowing who was paying a call upon him, he was perhaps doing his best to frighten her off. Yes, that must be it. He thought she would be too afraid to go upstairs.
I’m not afraid. Well, I am, but I’ll be damned if I let him know that.
She lifted her skirts and ascended the stairs, her heart hammering. She followed the butler to a room where the door was slightly ajar. She glanced at the servant, but he was already departing.
Perdita pushed the door open and froze when she realized it was a bedchamber. Darlington had the audacity to call her to his bedchamber? Did he believe she had come for amorous reasons, or that she would condone such a brazen attempt at seduction? It was entirely possible, given the scandalous hour and the fact she was without a chaperone, but she would set him straight if he dared to try to seduce her.
She wished for the hundredth time it would have been possible to visit him during the day, but there had been no alternative. People would have seen her enter his home, and that would be the end of her carefully kept reputation. She tensed when a dark, rich voice spoke.
“Fleeing so soon? I would have wagered you were braver than that, Miss Darby. Or perhaps, given the lateness of the hour and the method of this meeting, I should call you Perdita?”
She bristled and pushed the hood of her cloak back to better peer around the room. There was a four-poster bed against one wall and a fire crackling in the hearth. The wood floor showed dusty outlines of where carpets had recently been. The dark-green brocaded curtains about the bed were faded, and a few rings were missing, letting the fabric gape in odd places. Worn and peeling silk wallpapers depicting men hunting in the forest covered the walls. A once beautiful wardrobe stood in one corner, a door missing. The shaving stand held a white china basin with a large crack down its side.
The masculine air of the room was overpowering, just as the man himself was, but the circumstances and the condition of his rooms filled her with a strange pity that made her go still as she turned her focus on the man himself.
Leaning against one worn, ancient chair was Lord Darlington. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and had a dangerous look about his all too beautiful face. With piercing blue eyes and light-blond hair, Darlington could have passed for an angel if it weren’t for the sensual, wicked curve of his lips. He wore buff trousers and a white lawn shirt, with a dark-blue waistcoat. His cravat had been untied and lay loose over the back of one chair.
Perdita’s heart quickened. She had never stood in a room with a man in a state of partial undress like this. She forced herself to rally to the task at hand.
“Lord Darlington, I come here with a proposal.” Her tone was brusque with a manner of business about it. This was not about seduction, no matter how sinful he made her feel. Though she’d rehearsed this speech a dozen times on her own, she had not been prepared for the strange and frightening feelings that assaulted her now as she spoke to him alone.
He crossed his arms as he studied her with that wicked twist of his lips, making her breath quicken. She shifted in place, and her boots scraped softly against the wood floor.
“Do go on.” He chuckled, seeming to enjoy her discomfort.
“Well, you see…” She spoke haltingly, still mortified that she was here begging him for his help. “I need to stop an unwanted marriage proposal.” She twined her fingers nervously as she removed her gloves. “My mother has convinced a certain gentleman that I am willing to consider his offer, when I most certainly am not.”
She tried not to think of Mr. Samuel Milburn and how that man had made it clear he would imprison her in a life that would slowly kill her. She could still see him leaning in close to her and whispering: “The women I care for know better than to seek the company of others, when I should be enough. My home has all you will need, so I will hear no talk of travel or nights out. They would only distract you from your duty, which would be pleasing me.”
He was a brute and a tyrant and worse, but Perdita’s mother, despite her ambitious nature, didn’t usually believe in society gossip.
Perdita did. She’d heard that Milburn had thrown a woman to her death from a window, but because the woman was his mistress, no questions were asked. It had been dismissed as an unfortunate accident. All Perdita knew for sure was that this man was a monster. She had tried to tell her father and mother what she’d heard, but her words had been dismissed as idle talk. If her older brother Thomas hadn’t been away at sea serving in His Majesty’s royal navy, she would have sought his help.
In Perdita’s experience, being a wealthy heiress was a terrible burden. It put a mark on her. She’d fought off fortune hunters for the last few years, but a man like Milburn was dangerous in other ways. He didn’t care about her money—he cared about breaking her spirit and possibly even killing her if she didn’t give him what he desired. She was sport.
She’d made the mistake of meeting him at a dinner party last fall, and he had immediately shown an interest in her once he’d learned she was none other than Miss Darby, the beloved lady of the ton who all sought to please with their praise and their many invitations.
Perdita had not wished to cultivate such a favored reputation on purpose, but it had happened quite naturally. But to Milburn she became a prize he wished to win—and then suffocate and destroy. Once he had her in his sights, he had been able to contrive a scheme that could destroy her family and blackmail her into accepting his proposal.
“What does this have to do with me? Or did you merely wish to tumble in my sheets to avoid marrying some silly young buck? I don’t care much for ruining innocents, but in your case, I might make an exception,” Darlington said, his sharp gaze on her.
Perdita considered reminding him he had in fact attempted to ruin her innocent friend over a wager, but she thought better of it. Quarreling with him now would not aid her in acquiring his help.
“I wish to engage your services.” She still couldn’t say the words. It was too humiliating.
“My services?” He shifted slightly, a frown curving his lips. “What services do you require?” When Darlington said services, it sounded sinful, wicked.
“I wish to hire your cooperation in appearing to be engaged to me, publicly. Not a true engagement, just for a few months, to deter the other gentleman so he will leave me be.” She glanced down, playing with her gloves. She was betting that Milburn would lose interest if he believed he had another challenger for her hand.
His eyes turned wintry, almost chilling as they settled on her fidgeting hands. “So I’m to play your fiancé? What’s to be my reward in scaring the bounder off?” Darlington still leaned against the side of the chair, but Perdita was more aware of him than ever. The small distance between them seemed to shrink every second.
Lauren is giving away the winners choice of a digital book from her backlist.
Comment to have a chance of winning with the answer to this question:
What is your favourite Chrismas Carol?
(please also state that it’s Lauren’s prize you want to win)
“Tamed for Christmas” by Sandra Sookoo
So lost in thought was he that when he rounded a corner, he ran right into a woman.
“I beg your pardon.” Instinctively, he put his arms around her to prevent her from tumbling to the floor, and then he became aware of how pleasant it was to actually hold a woman—a woman to whom he wasn’t related, and he tightened his grasp. A subtle, floral scent invaded his nose, and soft curves gave way beneath his fingers as he moved his hands to her waist to steady her. The pleasing flare of rounded hips urged him to further explore, but he was frozen, his fingers still as her body heat seeped into his hands through his gloves. “I should have paid more attention to where I walked.” As he held her at arm’s length, he stifled a gasp of surprise.
The woman he’d run into was none other than the school’s headmistress. And, God help him, she was more attractive in the flesh than she was on canvas. Once more his member stirred.
“That you should have, sir. I expect wool-gathering from my students. I do not expect it from adults who should know better.” Chastisement rang in her voice—a strong, forceful voice needed to demand order and attention in the classroom as well as from the teachers under her command. “And your appearance certainly leaves something to be desired.” She demanded his immediate focus and pinned him to the floor with her direct, blue-eyed gaze. Not one hair on her blonde head was out of place. Not one tendril escaped the confines of its severe bun.
Cecil had the wicked urge to tug a few strands free merely to see how she’d react to such disorder. “I cannot help the weather or the abysmal state of the roads due to the same.” He would gladly do whatever she asked if only a smile would touch those eyes. Would they dance with amusement or would they remain frosty cool? How to make that happen?
“That is not an excuse.” She quirked an arched eyebrow. “Also, you are still holding me. For no reason that I can ascertain.”
He was indeed. His mouth opened and closed like a fresh-caught trout. It was as if he’d been caught up in a whirlwind that had his mind in a fog. Shaking his head and hoping like mad his common sense would return post haste, Cecil cleared his throat and released her as if she were on fire. Immediately, he mourned the warmth of her. “I apologize.”
“You already said that.” Not a hint of amusement entered her slightly annoyed expression. She stood rigid with her back ramrod straight as if she didn’t know how, or had never had the opportunity, to relax. Her dress of plain, long-sleeved navy wool didn’t compliment her figure and looked very much like the one she’d worn for the portrait in the hall. Even the lace at her bosom remained in place. The one flair of personality was the bit of merry holly pinned upon the lace.
How different would she appear if she wore jewel-toned silks or satins that would give personality and vibrancy to her face?
“It does not make it any less true for the repetition.” He dared to grin at this mystifying woman.
She rested an assessing gaze on him and heat crept up the back of his neck. “Is there something I can do for you?” She didn’t return his grin.
Besides doing me the honor of walking through the park, sharing dinner, perhaps allowing a kiss so that I may try to melt the ice surrounding you? Apparently, his common sense had taken a holiday along with the students at the school.
Sandra is giving away a digital copy of Disenchanted Christmas.
Comment to have a chance of winning with the answer to this question:
Which is your least favourite Christmas Carol?
(please also state that it’s Sandra’s prize you want to win)