on June 27th 2018
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London, April 1825
Lord Jakob Radclyffe left his past behind in the Far East. Or so he thinks until a ruthless thief surfaces in London, threatening to ruin his daughter’s reputation. With the clock ticking, Jake needs the scandalous Lady Olivia Montfort’s connections in the art world to protect his daughter’s future.
Olivia, too, has a past she’d like to escape. By purchasing her very own Mayfair townhouse, she’ll be able to start a new life independent from all men. There’s one problem: she needs a powerful man’s name to do so. The Viscount St. Alban is the perfect name.
A bargain is struck.
What Olivia doesn’t anticipate is the temptation of the viscount. The undeniable spark of awareness that races between them undermines her vow to leave love behind. Soon, she has no choice but to rid her system of Jake by surrendering to her craving for a single scorching encounter.
But is once enough? Sometimes once only stokes the flame of desire higher and hotter. And sometimes once is all the heart needs to risk all and follow a mad passion wherever it may lead.
The string quartet struck up the opening notes of a waltz, the crowd raised its voice in a unified cheer, and Lord St. Alban held out his hand to her. “May I have the honor of this dance?”
She should say no. She needed to say no.
She couldn’t. Not without inviting more scandal from the odd curious eye that might be observing them. She’d endured enough scandal these last six months to last her a lifetime.
She stepped a hesitant foot forward and held out her hand, willing herself to look up at him. Most extraordinary were Lord St. Alban’s eyes: arctic blue rimmed in navy. They should be frosty, but they weren’t. They burned with the whitest heat of a blue flame.
She’d never entertained the idea that one could be incinerated by a waltz. But when he took her hand and her pulse jumped, she suspected that she would be lucky to escape this dance entirely unsinged.
She steeled herself and asked, “Shall we begin?”
On a nod, he pulled her toward him and set their bodies into motion. Her gaze remained resolutely fixed over his shoulder in the hope of foiling any attempt at small talk on his part. Her hope was immediately dashed.
“It is a strange sensation,” he began, “to have your body so completely in hand and, yet, the essence of you so far away.”
A shocked laugh escaped her. Words like body and essence could make a lady go speechless. They weren’t words used in polite circles, particularly in the way they’d crossed his lips, as if a promise was located somewhere inside.
Desperate to summon an upright ancestor or two, she said, “You know nothing of my body or my essence.”
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