Published by Laura A. Barnes on February 25, 2019
What started as a research project soon became a scandal...
She wanted to prove a theory. He wanted to play a game. Can their schemes lead them towards a kiss of love?
Tired of watching her friends become ruined by the scoundrels of the ton, Sidney Hartridge devises an experiment to reveal their antics. Her plan is to lure three gentlemen to kiss her and see how they would protect her honor. When her research leads her into her own inappropriate scandal, her father agrees to a wedding offer from one of her subjects. As her fiancé blackmails her into a marriage she doesn’t desire, her research becomes exposed. Can Sidney avoid her own scandal with the one she most desires to kiss?
Noah Wildeburg started this season as any other by flirting with the sweet new debutantes. When he rescues a lady off the dance floor, he is unprepared for the emotions she stirs in his soul. As he pursues her, he realizes he must compete for her hand. As he charms her with tokens of affections and stolen kisses, he discovers she plays her own game. Will Noah win Sidney’s love or is she just another scandal to add to his list?
Whom Shall I Kiss… An Earl, A Marquess, or A Duke? is the first book in Laura A. Barnes new historical romance series. If you like lighthearted drama filled courtships set in Regency England, then you’ll love this new foray into the ton.
Buy Whom Shall I Kiss… An Earl, A Marquess, or A Duke? to read Laura’s new Tricking the Scoundrels series today.
Scene with the Duke…
Neither one of them spoke but smiled at each other when their eyes would meet. With their swift pace and the other carriages on the roadway, conversation would have been difficult. Unless they wanted to shout. Soon, Sheffield, had them trotting along Rotten Row at a much slower pace, negotiating his horses in position behind the other riders. He attempted to hold a private conversation many times but the other visitors in the park interrupted him. When he tried for the fifth time to engage her with small talk, only to be disturbed again, he steered them off the path towards the exit. It would seem their ride in the park would end sooner than she thought. Instead, Sheffield turned towards a deserted path and pulled his curricle to a stop. He jumped off and came to her side, pulling her down into his arms, before she questioned his intentions.
As she slid along his body, she became aware of his physical strength. Her hands gripped his arms, so she wouldn’t fall. His arms were tight, hard muscles. His jacket held no padding, unlike most men of the ton. He held her in his embrace for a few seconds longer than he should of, long enough for her to take notice the rest of his body was as firm. It seemed the Duke, was no lightweight dandy but kept himself in top physical condition. Another strong point in Sheffield’s favor. Sidney admired a man who took care of himself and didn’t waste his time on the pursuits of the unsavory. She knew him to be a man with a scholarly mind but didn’t realize he was one of the physical sorts too.
Her hands lingered on his forearms as her fingers traced the cords of his muscles through his coat. Unaware of what she did, Sidney became lost in her thoughts. She tried to understand the chemistry she felt towards Sheffield when she heard him groan. Startled she raised her head to see his eyes watched her hands. For they were no longer on his arms but wandered to his chest and slid across his stomach. Aghast at herself, for her forward nature, she dragged her hands away and stepped out of his grasp. Flustered, she turned away and wandered further along the wooded path. What had come over her? She pressed her gloved hands to her face to cool off the burn of embarrassment. Rushing away, she stumbled over a tree root, only to have her elbow grasped and righted again. Sheffield stopped her and spun her around towards him.
“Alex. Alexander if you like the more proper form, only my grandmother refers to me by my full name.”
“Your Grace,” she began again.
“Alex, say it Sidney,” he stressed in his arrogant tone he used when he expected his demand to be granted.
“As I was saying, Sheffield,” she tried for the third time, but he interrupted her when he drew her into his arms.
“I don’t think you were saying anything as much as you were touching me, my dear,” he whispered.
Alex reached to untie her bonnet from under her chin. He swept the hat off her head and stray curls caressed her face as the wind blew around them. He reached to tuck them behind her ears, his fingers sliding over the silken tresses. When her hands caressed his body, he felt comfort from her touch. It was no blinding attraction, but it felt nice. He could work with nice. Her hands were gentle, and he sensed her curiosity as she explored. He also realized her reaction towards him embarrassed her and he wanted to put her at ease. If along the way he was able to sample a taste of her, to finalize his decision on her being a perfect match for him, all the better. If her kiss satisfied him, then he could proceed with making arrangements with her father and call off the rest of her suitors.
He ran his fingers along her cheek and tipped her face under her chin with his knuckles, for their eyes to meet. He began to lower his head for a kiss when he heard his name being called in the distance. She heard it too, for her eyes grew large and she tried to pull out of his embrace.
“We will finish this another time,” he informed her before releasing her from his grasp.
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~~Reviewed by Lisa~~
As the first book in the series, we meet the heroes for the series and what a trio they are. Competitive, arrogant and manipulative with hints of protectiveness, conscience and the desire to be loved, even if they are not aware of it, all come through in the heroes. Each holds a spot in Lady Sidney Hartridge’s life and project.
Lady Sidney is a fabulous character! She is smart, confident and totally unaware of her appeal. She leaps before she looks, then seems surprised when she lands in a fix. Her family is charming and interesting. She has been afforded liberty and education that is denied a vast majority of her peers. Her father is doting and yet somewhat clueless as a father, but that is part of his charm.
As we travel along with Sidney and her project the heroes and her wonderful best friend, Lady Sophia “Phee” Turlington make our journey fun and keep you wanting to turn the page. The competitive nature of the men and Phee’s protective nature toward Sidney add interesting moments and some giggles. Phee is a force that I can not wait to see unleashed on her hero.
The interactions with Sidney and the Marquess Noah “Wilde” Wildeburg are filled with magnetism. The force drawing them together is palpable and sweet. I appreciated watching Wilde as he came to the realization that Sidney was his one. Seeing him step out of his normal behavior and really work to make a connection was fun.
This is going to be a really great series! I am looking forward to seeing each of our heroes run headlong into their HEA. I will be following this series and Ms Barnes. Thank you for a lovely read.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.