I thought I’d take this week to highlight my House of Pleasure series, which is actually coming to an end this fall. The final book will be released in late October/early November. So I thought I’d show off the first four books, one each day of this week, and then give a little preview of the final one on Friday.
So Book 1 is Only Scandal Will Do.
This story was inspired by the works of two authors, Jo Beverley and Mary Balogh. One book I read by Mary Balogh had a gentleman using the services of a prostitute, then regretting it and helping the woman out financially. Which got me to thinking about how a gentleman might react if he mistakenly took a woman’s virginity when he thought she was a prostitute but she wasn’t. That was the germ that sprouted my plot, which ended up including a kidnapping, an auction in a brothel, and several bouts of swordplay.
My hero in Scandal is an homage to Jo Beverley’s Dark Marquess, Beowulf Malloren, Lord Rothgar–for me the most swoon-worthy of all her heroes. And my heroine in Scandal is pretty much my own wish fulfilment: I gave Kat flowing auburn hair, a quick wit, and wonderful fencing skills–all traits I admire but sadly lack. 🙂
Here’s the blurb and an excerpt from the first meeting of the hero and heroine, from Only Scandal Will Do.
He has the woman of his dreams, but what price will he have to pay to win her heart?
Kidnapped and sold at auction in a London brothel, Lady Katarina Fitzwilliam squelches an undeniable attraction to the masked stranger who purchased her, pits her wits against him, and escapes him and the scandal that would ruin her life.
Unable to resist temptation in a London brothel, Duncan Ferrers, Marquess of Dalbury, purchases a fiery beauty. She claims she’s a lady, but how can she be? No lady of his acquaintance in polite society is anything like her. Then he discovers she is who she says, and that this latest romp has compromised her reputation. He knows how that is. One more scandal and he’ll be cast out of London society, but he needs a wife who’ll provide an heir to carry on his illustrious family’s name. He seeks out Katarina, intending only to scotch the scandal, but instead finds his heart ensnared. He’s betting their future he’ll capture her heart, but does he have what it takes to win the wager?
Content warning: A blade-wielding heroine who crosses swords with a master of sensuality.
“Who are you, sir?”
“Your master, slave.”
Harsh words cloaked in a voice of deep velvet. A shiver of dread raced down Katarina’s body, as much from the words as from his tone. She gathered her courage and replied, “I am nobody’s slave. There has been a dreadful mistake.”
“I think not, my lovely. I paid a small fortune for your ownership this evening. Make no mistake about that.” He continued to stroke her hair and she twisted her head to the side. His mouth below the half mask twitched into an insolent smile. “I am pleased, however, that you possess courage as well as beauty.” His fingers touched her cheek. “The mask hid the slave’s wealth well.”
She jerked away. “You may have paid for a slave, sir, but what you find in this room is a lady in distress. Will you prove a gentleman or a rogue?”
“A lady in distress?” He laughed and straightened. “How did a lady come to find herself on display at an auction, scandalously clad in a transparent Greek costume, in Madame Vestry’s House of Pleasure?”
“House of Pleasure?” she squeaked.
“Where else would such a thing occur?” The man’s amusement seemed to deepen at her indignation. “And there will certainly be pleasure here tonight, slave.” He ran a hand slowly down her arm, fingers trailing silkily against her bare flesh.
Mouth agape at such a liberty, she slapped the hand away and ran for the door. With a long arm, he snared the diaphanous folds of her gown. The material strained against her body. Kat froze lest it rip, exposing her completely. Cursing her own folly for choosing such a costume, she swung around to face her captor.
“Please release me, sir,” she demanded, trying to keep her temper in check. She needed to woo this man to her cause. And though it galled her, she could only do so with soft words, not blows. Perhaps the blows could come later. “I beg you to aid me in my hour of need.” She put every ounce of charm into her smile; she could cajole him, as long as he couldn’t read her mind.
“Ah, but I have needs too, slave.” His hands were in her hair again, as though he could not help himself.
Well aware from his husky tone what needs the man likely had, Kat winced. If only she could see all of his face. It was so difficult to judge the man under that golden mask. She forced herself to relax, though the thought of his hands on her raised gooseflesh everywhere. It was only her hair, after all. No great sin. Perhaps if she softened her demeanor, she could convince him of her plight. She could offer honeyed tones for a little while.
“Will you hear my story of how a lady ended up in this House of Pleasure, sir?” Even to her own ears, her innocent tone sounded false. How would it sound to–
Releasing her hair, the stranger grabbed her hand. “We both know how you will end up, my slave. Come.” He pulled her toward the fourposter and she dug her toes into the rough, worn carpeting.
Honey be damned. She had no intention of going anywhere near that bed.
“Let me tell you my story, sir. ’Tis truly enlightening.” She snapped her wrist down, freeing herself from his grasp, then turned and raced across the room, searching in vain for weapons once more. Frustration mounting, she seized the wingback chair. At least it presented a barrier of sorts. She thrust it in front of her. “Sir, you must hear me. I truly am not what you think.”
His skeptical stare was bearable. But when he pursed his lips and made a “tsk tsking” sound, he might as well have shouted the word “whore.”
“I am not!” Katarina clutched the chair’s golden upholstery to keep from launching herself at him and wrapping her fingers around his arrogant throat. “I am Lady Katarina Fitzwilliam, sister to the Earl of Manning. I was kidnapped and brought here tonight against my will.”
He cocked his head. Then his mouth twitched. “Truly? What an exciting life you must lead…Lady Katarina, was it?” He chuckled deep in his chest, and took a step toward the chair.
She glared at him. “I am Lady Katarina Fitzwilliam, you dullard.”
“And true ladies always run around London at night scandalously underdressed as Greek slaves?”
“My brother and I were on our way to a masquerade ball when I was abducted.”
“As was I, fair lady,” he bowed with an exaggerated flourish, “when I decided to come to this charming establishment instead. Perhaps if we had continued on our ways uninterrupted, we would even now be dancing together at the ball.”
That nasty laugh grated against her nerves worse than the screech of rusty nails, making her contemplate murder. If the scoundrel didn’t believe her story, killing him might be her only means of escape.
Only Scandal Will Do is available at
And here’s the trailer for Scandal, created by Danielle Fine. Enjoy!