Published by Night Shift Publishing on January 30th 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
When a lady bent on ruining rogues and a duke set on revenge attempt to derail each other's plans, passion erupts into a love for the ages.
After being left brokenhearted by a duplicitous rake, Anne Adair no longer desires a husband—she wants justice. She's traded in her foolish dream of happily-ever-after for the much more sensible one of thwarting the blackhearted lords who prey on innocent debutantes. But her first mission proves rather complicated when the dashing, devilish Duke of Kilmartin comes to the aid of her target.
Simon Sedgewick, the newly titled Duke of Kilmartin, never thought he would return to England, let alone attend a ball full of simpering lords. But when his oldest friend's reputation is being smeared, and Simon discovers that the perpetrator is none other than his enemy's granddaughter, his long-festering desire for vengeance flares to life.
The moment Simon spies Miss Anne Adair across the glittering ballroom, he knows that the ravishing beauty is the perfect instrument for the retribution he thought lost to him. He does not know, however, that Anne has devised a scheme of her own. And soon, these two wary hearts will discover that the best laid plans are no match for love.
When Simon stepped onto the near empty terrace after Anne, cool air swept over him, evoking a grin. The scent of lilac trailed after her in an enticing swirl. He noted she gave a little shiver, and he had to restrain the urge to laugh. He was a Scot, and as such, this cold that the English likely burrowed under mounds of blankets and layers upon layers of clothing to escape was merely a bit of chill in the air to him. These English would die if hit by a Scottish winter wind. In Scotland, the air was so bitterly frigid at this time of year that it made one’s teeth and bones ache.
He could take a naked swim in this paltry frost and never even get a chill. Not so for Anne. Already, her shivering increased under his fingertips that rested against the small of her back. A perfectly curved spot, he could not help but note. Her fine silk dress could not be providing much warmth, and the stubborn lass had rejected his suggestion that she have the servant fetch her mantle. Her pride would be her downfall, except it happened to provide a well-needed reason, if he planned correctly, for her to come see him tomorrow.
He almost chuckled when he thought about her cheeky reply to his suggestion that she get her mantle. She’d said the cold did not bother a hale and hearty English lady, such as herself. He detected a strange accent in her speech that made him suspect she’d not been raised entirely in England and also made him curious about her. Too curious. This was a purposeful seduction for revenge, not a courtship.
She was, he had to admit, not exactly as he had assumed she’d be after watching her from across the ballroom. He’d thought she’d be haughty and acerbic, perhaps even coldly aloof—rare beauties who were aware of it so often were—yet she seemed almost vulnerable and bumbling, as if easily embarrassed and fearful that she had somehow hurt him with her words. Odd, indeed, given her self-professed campaign to destroy Rutledge.
He guided her toward the far end of the terrace to a corner lit only by one flickering torch. It was well away from the other couple so he could speak to Anne in private. He came to a stop, and she immediately stepped away and turned, leaving a respectable distance between them. He took one brief second to allow the wave of shock that her beauty, illuminated by the moonlight above, caused him. It would not serve to become entranced by a woman merely because she was stunning. Anne was almost certainly cut from the same cloth as her grandfather, and Simon would, therefore, be seducing her as intended.
He could see gooseflesh had risen on her chest, and her lips were pressed firmly together, likely to keep her teeth from chattering. He resisted the urge to offer her his topcoat. He suspected she would need to be unbearably cold before she would take it anyway, and he could not afford a misstep with his topcoat. It was key to seeing her again. “Tell me, Anne—”
“Miss Adair,” she corrected, though a conflicted look passed over her face.
“In private, I will call ye Anne,” he said, purposely holding her gaze.
She narrowed her eyes. “What makes you believe the occasion will ever arise again that we shall be in private together?”
“Instinct,” he replied.
“I daresay your instincts need some sharpening,” she replied archly.
The lady before him now, this feline with her claws out, was more akin to the woman he’d expected to encounter.
“Perhaps,” he said easily enough. He’d learned long ago when building his timber empire that one of the surest and quickest ways to best your competition was to set them off their guard.
Act in precisely the opposite way they would expect, given the situation.
She blinked, the only hint of his surprising her, but it was enough to bolster him. She set her hands to her hips and cocked her head. “I do not have the patience or time for games, Your Grace.”
“Simon,” he insisted, knowing full well she’d likely rebut him.
“Your Grace will do,” she said, each word punctuated.
“Not for me,” he replied. “In private, I insist ye call me Simon. However, I will abide by foolish English rules at all other times, as I’d never wish to do anything to draw yer reputation into question.”
She surprised him by chuckling. “Come,” she said, “let us dispense with your weaving of deceits, shall we?”
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She is curious….
Have you ever hatched a plan of revenge?
~~Reviewed by Lisa~~
It all started with betrayals, lead to a lies and the desire to right wrongs…
This was a wonderful story about friends wanting to stand up for what is right, unfortunately there is a lie involved and that leads to massive misunderstandings.
The passion that Anne Adair, granddaughter of the Duke of Rowen, approaches life and her desire to right the wrong done to one of her friends is delightful. She is steadfast, loyal and refuses to let another debutante on the marriage mart be taken for a fool. Her passion is nicely tempered by her intellect and need for truth. She has a quick ad agile mind and is not afraid to offer a set down.
Simon Sedgwick, newly titled Duke of Kilmartin, has come to the aid of his best friend. He has been hurt by a marriage minded debutante and has no love for the ton. He is also steadfast in his desire to right the wrong done to his friend and to try to help him fix a mess not of his making. He is also set on revenge and approaches it all wrong.
Both Anne and Simon find themselves thrown together as they approach the same problem from different sides and in the end, find they are right for each other. Simon’s need to right a wrong done to him adds another layer to tension between them. Their verbal battles are fun and spirited. The ah-ha moments they each have are delightful and insightful. These moments add great depth to their characters.
The secondary characters, Lady Fanny, Lady Mary, Lady Honora and Lord Rutledge are remarkable. Three wallflowers trying to repair a reputation and a lord trying to repair his estate and care for his mother and sisters. They add so much to the story with moments of tenderness, some snarkiness and vulnerability. I found myself truly disliking Lady Mary and in the end felt totally justified in my feeling. Ms. Johnstone continues to weave stories that pull at your heart strings, well done.