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.
Today is Book 4: Only Seduction Will Do.
This story had its seeds in the first book of the series, Only Scandal Will Do. In that book, we find out that Lord and Lady Braeton are trying to marry off her cousin, a lady from Ireland who has Titian-red hair and no luck making a match. The Braeton’s introduce her to the Marquess of Dalbury, but he has other interests. Later in Scandal, Katarina’s brother, Jack, comments that he thinks the Braeton’s were playing matchmaker at a house party he attended, attempting to match him with Miss Forsythe. With little bit of history, is it any wonder, when I came to write Jack’s story, that I chose the woman he disliked to pair him with? 🙂
For my fourth hero of the series, I endowed Jack with an overwhelming sense of honor and duty, coupled with supreme skills with the sword and a mouth-watering physique. If anyone is going to do the right thing, it’s Jack–no matter if it kills him.
Alethea Forsythe, my heroine, is a prickly although vulnerable woman, hopelessly in love with Jack from her first meeting with him. She also has the courage, when faced with very bleak odds and the threat of devastating scandal, to take her fate into her own hands and attempt to manipulate it to gain her ultimate happiness.
But as the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for, you may receive it.”
Here’s the blurb and an excerpt from the first meeting (in this book) of the hero and heroine, from Only Seduction Will Do.
“Won’t you come to bed, my lord?”
In a vulnerable moment, Alethea Forsythe allows herself to be seduced by a married peer. Now she is with child—and without recourse. Her reputation will soon be in tatters and she will be forced to wed a stranger—unless she takes matters into her own hands.
When Jack Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Manning, is summoned from the House of Pleasure on a matter of importance, he hardly expects to receive a marriage proposal. He’s long been aware of Alethea’s infatuation with him, but at twenty-three, taking on an expectant bride is not in his plans. Yet the desperation in the lady’s lovely eyes overrides his misgivings.
Alethea would not have believed it possible for a man to be too chivalrous. But though her new husband is perfectly amicable in public, he insists they maintain separate quarters. Desperate to possess his heart and prove herself a wife in every way, she boldly reaches out to Jack. And as their unexpected connection between silken sheets is tested by jealousy and misfortune, Jack must decide where honor ends…and true passion begins . .
“Won’t you please have seat, Lord Manning?” Miss Forsythe indicated the chair nearest the fire. She seated herself opposite him. Perched seemed a better word, on the edge of the brown leather chair. “I do thank you so much for attending me at such an inconvenient time.”
“No inconvenience in the least, Miss Forsythe,” Jack said waving a hand of dismissal. He settled back into the chair. “How may I be of service to you?”
She gripped her lace-edged handkerchief in one hand, the other clenched on the chair’s arm. Raising her chin, her deep blue eyes boring into his, she swallowed hard. “Would you marry me, Lord Manning?”
The outrageousness of the question itself warred with the astounding fact that a woman had the boldness to ask it. He’d certainly been right about Miss Forsythe’s distinctly non-ladylike manner.
As he paused, stunned quite speechless, her face had turned red, a flush that started at her ample breasts and continued to her bright red hairline. She bit her lips, then took a deep breath. “I know this is an exceptional request, my lord, and”—she stared at her lap, her hands shaking—“most forward for a woman to even ask it.” She glanced up at him, her eyes suddenly pleading. “However, my circumstances dictate desperate measures be taken.”
Cautiously, Jack eased forward in his chair. He’d recovered from the broadside hit she’d scored, but didn’t want to give the woman cause for hope. “I am not unaware of the honor you do me, Miss Forsythe, to think I might be able to aid you in your plight. But are things so very extreme? Can the circumstances be remedied only by your marriage to me? Or is there some other, less drastic avenue that may be undertaken to resolve it?”
She let out her breath with a forceful whoosh and her color subsided somewhat.
He was not unaware of the great deal of courage it had taken for the woman to propose to him. His estimation of Miss Forsythe rose, even as he cringed from the idea of marrying her. Not that she wasn’t comely. Rather the reverse. If only she didn’t remind him so much of his sister.
“I fear the only remedy is marriage, my lord, although I will confess it was my choice to ask you.” She looked at him frankly, as though a Rubicon had been crossed.
“I am flattered, Miss Forsythe.” Not really so much flattered as feeling trapped. Still, he had his engagement to Miss Carlton to stand between him and the woman before him. Lord, two damsels in distress in one evening was entirely too much. He should simply put an end to this interview by informing the woman of his betrothal.
Still, something held him back.
Intrigued by Miss Forsythe’s obvious distress, his inner knight sought to rescue this damsel as well. “Can you tell me the circumstances whereby you must marry?”
A deep blush returned to her cheeks, and she pressed the handkerchief there. “I fear I cannot reveal the reason, my lord, unless you agree to accept my proposal.”
“And I cannot accept it without further information, Miss Forsythe. You must see that,” Jack snapped. Did she take him for a fool to jump at her offer without a word of explanation?
“I understand that, my lord.” Her tone had hardened, as had her eyes. They glittered in the firelight like a pair of faceted sapphires. “However, I do have a reputation to maintain.”
“And you believe I would be indiscreet should you place your confidence in me, Miss Forsythe?” The temerity of the chit. Jack shot to his feet. “This alone makes it obvious we would not suit as a couple. Trust, I gather, is one of the most basic foundations of marriage. One that we do not seem to possess between us. I will wish you a good evening.” A curt bow and he headed for the door. Time wasted save for Braeton’s excellent whiskey.
“I am increasing.”
Only Seduction Will Do is available at
During the time I was writing Only Seduction Will Do, another Taylor Swift kept making me thing of Alethea’s longing for Jack. I think “Teardrops on My Guitar” speaks for every woman who has loved a man who did not love her in return. Enjoy!