For any of my readers who haven’t picked up my House of Pleasure books, I thought I’d spotlight them this week, one each day. Today I’m starting with the first book of the series, Only Scandal Will Do.
He has the woman of his dreams, but can he find a way to win her heart?
Kidnapped, displayed on the auction block of a notorious brothel, and sold to the highest bidder, Lady Katherine Fitzwilliam is furious and vows to fight her way out. Unfortunately, the rogue who bought her is way too charming and attractive to make that easy. He seduces Kat almost to the point of ruin, but she manages to escape him, although thoughts of him tend to linger long after she’s free.
Duncan, Marquess of Dalbury succumbs to temptation one night and purchases a fiery beauty whose very looks fill him with hot desire. When she insists she’s a lady, he scoffs, but is surprised when she flees before he can claim his pleasure. When he discovers she’s sister to a peer, Duncan is horrified to have compromised her. He offers marriage to scotch the scandal and gain an heir. However, the dazzling charms of the red-haired beauty, coupled with her astonishing skill with a sword, ensnares his heart and soul. If only Katarina didn’t hate him with a fury hotter than three hells…
Can he manage to turn her anger against him into a passion for him? Or will they be doomed to live together, but forever apart?
“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.
“I tell you for the third time, I am Lady Katarina Fitzwilliam!” She all but screamed the words at him. As though making them louder would somehow convince him of their truth.
“I see you would prefer to play a different scenario, my lady?” He smirked as he emphasized the last two words. “I, for one, would fancy seduction rather than force.”
She clenched her hands. “But I am a lady, you oaf! Why will you not believe me?”
“Then convince me, Lady Katarina.” His voice dropped to low, sultry tones. Even worse, his mouth softened from the hard lines of the arrogant master to the soft, sensual half-smile of the practiced rake. A shiver ran through her that had nothing to do with fright.
“As…as I told you, my brother is the Earl of Manning.” Somehow more vulnerable now than when the man had declared himself her master, she eyed the door, wondering if they had locked it behind him.
“How delightful!” The low-pitched words rumbled dangerously close to her ear; her throat closed, stealing her breath. “I am very good friends with the earl.”
“You are?” Dumbfounded, she choked on the words.
“I am sure he will be as astonished as I that his sister has been sold to me.” The man’s full lips twitched in restrained amusement. “Although, I confess, the earl never mentioned you to me.” He stepped closer and laid a hand on one of the chair’s wings, stretched a long finger out, and caressed the side of her hand.
“What!” Katarina jerked it away. Her hand tingled alarmingly with the brief contact. “He most certainly does have a sister.” She tossed her head and raised her chin. Why had Jack not told this man he had a sister? Was the rogue even telling her the truth?
“I am sure I would have remembered you, fair lady, had he described your wondrous charms.” That chuckle sounding in his throat again, the man inched closer, trying to sidle around the back of the chair.
Experienced in these kinds of games from years of chasing and being chased by Jack, Katarina continued around the chair, maintaining a constant distance from him. “I am sure I don’t know why Jack never thought to mention me, but the fact remains that I am his sister.” She advanced another cautious step, surveying his tall form, trying to gauge his next move.
“Jack?” The man’s eyes gleamed. “But surely Manning’s given name is William.”
She stopped. “Uncle William? You knew Uncle William?”
“He died in August last year.” Hope stole through her. He didn’t know about Uncle William. That was why he didn’t believe her. “My father, Colonel Robert Fitzwilliam, his younger brother, inherited the title. We lived in Virginia all our lives but were planning to remove to London when my father died unexpectedly in October, leaving my brother John the earldom. After several months of settling our affairs and a horrific crossing, we finally arrived in England four weeks ago.”
“Oh, my dear, I am so sorry. How dreadful for you.”
At the soothing words laced with sympathy, she sagged with relief. At last, he believed her.
Or does he? Find out in Only Scandal Will Do.