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Tag: Friends to Lovers Page 2 of 3

Keeping Secrets

Julius Caesar Ibbotson, Skating on the Serpentine, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1796, watercolour, pen and grey ink (Eton College Collections)

Lady Prudence Danvers watched her sister Abigail from across the frozen Serpentine. Pouting, she skated her way over to a bench and plopped herself down. Tears blurred her vision. It was so unfair, she fumed. Why did Abigail constantly get the attention of all the eligible men?

She continued watching her sister and her companion skating side by side. Lieutenant Abernathy had all the qualifications of what made for a proper match. Handsome, well-mannered, and obviously he had enough money to attend all of Society’s most popular events despite his military career.

She followed him as he skated ahead of Abigail who began a conversation with some friends. Her laughter echoed on the wind causing Prudence’s mood to sour. The Lieutenant continued on without Abigail until he came close enough to Lady Constance Whittles to make her teeter on the edges of her skates. Lord Osgood took the lady’s arm to steady her even as the Lieutenant gave her a wicked grin and a tip of his cap. What appeared even more interesting was Lady Constance’s reaction as the lieutenant skated away.

Abigail was too occupied to notice the slight diversion of the Lieutenant’s affection but beamed at him when he rejoined her. The silly fool, Prudence mused even as her eyes narrowed with a devious thought. She began taking off her skates.

This tiny bit of tittle tattle was just the thing Mr. Clemens liked to receive for his Teatime Tattler. Prudence would receive a nice stipend for the information of this possible love triangle and this time she would not have to share the coins with Abigail. Giving no further thought of the disservice she might be doing to her sister, Prudence left the ice and made her way home to pen her missive to the editor.


This is an original piece with minor characters is Belle Sherry Ewing’s A Second Chance At Love that will release in the Belles’ box set, Fire & Frost on February 4th. Read on for the first encounter of Lord Osgood and Lady Constance:

Excerpt:

A rush of air left his lips as though he had been holding his breath while awaiting her answer. He stepped up to the desk and reached for her hand, kissing the air between his lips and her knuckles as any proper gentleman would. “You are very gracious, Constance. I must admit I was afraid you would hate me, considering how I left things between us.”

She gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “I could never hate you, Digby.” A blush rushed to her cheeks at the tone of her voice. They had been on a first name basis two years ago and somehow it seemed right to call him by his given name. My word, she had missed this man.

“Then perhaps you would allow me to escort you to a meeting at the Duchess of Haverford’s residence next week on the third. I understand she is in the process of forming several committees to organize an event for The Ladies’ Society for the Care of the Widows and Orphans of Fallen Heroes and the Children of Wounded Veterans.”

Constance laughed. “You must be joking? Why, you will never get all that on any kind of a banner.”

Digby joined her and laughed. “I would never make up such a tall tale, my lady.”

“No one in their right mind would, although it does sound like a worthy cause.”

“I could not agree more, which is why I have offered my services to the gentleman’s auxiliary, whose responsibilities will include making sure you ladies are able to do your work in this dreadful weather. I knew this was just the sort of event that would be of interest to you.”

“You know me so well. I would be happy to accompany you, Digby.”

“Wonderful,” he replied with a smile. “If your aunt could join us and act as chaperone, then I could pick you both up around noon, if that is acceptable.”

“I will eagerly await next week, my lord.”

Digby took her hand again and bowed over it. “As will I, my lady.”

His gloved hand felt warm in hers. When Digby’s thumb gently caressed the back in a small circular motion, Constance’s heart leapt at the possibility that all was not lost. Her eyes went to his in a long lingering glance as pleasure swept across her entire being. She smiled, and he returned it with a smile of his own. Constance could not remember when she had ever been this happy… until the spell was interrupted. They quickly broke apart.

“I say, Lady Constance, is this gentleman bothering you?” Lieutenant Abernathy bellowed as he left the tearoom and rushed to her side. The few patrons who escaped the fog outside looked up from their books at the disturbance he was causing.

“Not at all and please lower your voice,” Constance advised sternly before remembering her manners. “My apologies. Lieutenant Abernathy may I present Lord Osgood, who is an old friend.”

The two men shook hands but, from the looks they exchanged, neither cared for the other.


A Second Chance At Love in
Fire & Frost: A Bluestocking Belles Collection
Pre-order now for only $0.99!

Can the bittersweet frost of lost love be rekindled into a burning flame?

Viscount Digby Osgood returns to London after a two-year absence, planning to avoid the woman he courted and then left. Surely she has moved on with her life; even married by now. A bit of encouragement from a friend, however, pushes him to seek the lady out. Can she ever forgiven him and give them a second chance at love?

Lady Constance Whittles has only cared for one man in her life. Even after he broke her heart, it remains fixed on him. Another man tries to replace him, but she soon learns she can never feel for him a shadow of what she still feels for Digby. One brief encounter with Digby confirms it; she is more than willing to forgive him. Can they truly take up where they left off?

Charity projects and a Frost Fair on the Thames bring them together, but another stands in their way. Will he tear them apart?

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About Bluestocking Belle Sherry Ewing:

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. When not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist.

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A Wager Between Siblings

Lord Roland de Wolfe burst into his sister’s bedchamber, sword drawn to meet whatever peril she was facing. A frown quickly marred his brow to see her calmly sitting by the fire reading a book.

“You said ’twas urgent,” he muttered placing the blade in the scabbard strapped to his side. “I thought mayhap you were in danger.”

Livinia gave a light laugh. “I am perfectly fine.” She pointed to his attire or lack thereof. “You could have at least put on a tunic. Obviously, I interrupted your bath with my summons.”

“Aye, you did, among other things,” he replied with a sly grin, not that his sister needed to know of the woman waiting for him back in his own chamber. “What was of such import that it could not wait ’til the morn?”

“I have an idea that could be of mutual benefit to us. A wager if you would care to take a chance,” she said with sparkling eyes. She reached over for a cup and took a sip. “Are you game?”

His eyes narrowed as he pondered her. Livinia had always been mischievous in her youth. In the past, Roland had been more than willing to be an accomplice for whatever she had in mind as long as no one was hurt in her games. She was used to getting her way and Roland supposed he was much to blame since he had been left to raise her.

He came to sit opposite her, leaning his forearms on his legs. “What did you have in mind, my dear?”

“Our cousin Catherine arrived this morn. She brings with her Sir Charles…”

“Nay!”

“… along with her husband’s sister, Lady Freya,” Livinia continued with a smirk.

His brow rose. Now his sister had his attention. Roland knew of his Livinia’s infatuation with Sir Charles since she was a young girl. He had hoped she had outgrown those feelings but apparently not. “Laird Douglas has a sister?”

“Aye, he does, and he has brought her with them to Wolverhampton. I was introduced to them a short while ago, although I am expected to return to the great hall shortly.”

“Go on,” Roland said sitting back in his chair as he began tapping the wooden arms with his fingertips.

“You worm your way into Lady Freya’s affections. I do not care how you do it, only that it drives a wedge between the woman and Sir Charles,” Livinia answered.

“How exactly do you know Charles cares for the woman and why does this matter to you?”

“I am not blind, Roland. Suffice to say I would like to see just how far we can push them, tear them apart, or bring them together. I only care to make Charles suffer a bit for not returning my affections in our youth,” she lifted her nose a bit higher causing Roland to laugh at her antics.

“What is in it for me?” he said mockingly. He just may enjoy this challenge if only to see what depths his sister might go to try and finally win Sir Charles.

“Why, you get the company of a lovely young woman who no doubt has a hefty dowry that could be yours if you play this game right. Have you not said that we both should marry soon to replenish your coffers?”

“And you finally get Charles.” He let his comment fill the space between them ’til he watched Livinia shrug.

“That is the whole point of this, Roland. Are you in?”

“This seems like an easy bet to make with you, sister. You will fail, of course, and would never be happy with Charles as your husband. If he and Lady Freya ended up as husband and wife, our wager will be that you agree to marry the man of my choosing. Agreed?” he smirked knowing Livinia would agree before she thought out her plan in greater detail. Generally, she could charm anyone to bend to her will, Charles being the exception.

“Agreed!” she said clapping her hands.

“’Tis a wager then.” Roland stood and bent down to place a kiss on her sister’s cheek. “Now if you will excuse me, I shall see to making myself presentable.” He also needed to get rid of the woman currently waiting for him in his chamber. As he left Livinia, he began mentally composing a list of eligible noblemen whom he might consider worthy enough to marry his sister.


This is an original piece with secondary characters from Belle Sherry Ewing’s novella, To Love An English Knight: De Wolfe Pack Connected World, that released today. Read on to learn more about her medieval romance.

Excerpt:

Sir Charles de Grey read the missive he held from Wolverhampton Castle a second time. Disbelief changed to anger, filling his soul that perchance the outcome may have been different had he been with Lady Catherine’s brother and his family. But, nay… he was Catherine’s guardsman, sworn to protect her. He knew his duty to her and what was required of him. She may have been born Catherine de Wolfe, but she was now the lady of Berwyck.

Knowing the heartbreak this would cause Lady Catherine, Charles knew he must quickly locate her husband so he could reveal the news from the missive. Charles would like nothing better than to crush the parchment beneath his feet than to deliver such horrible news to someone he cared for.

He gave a heavy sigh as he left the stable area after seeing the runner was sent to the kitchens to fill his belly after his trip. Memories flitted unbidden across his mind, and he shook his head remembering how he had once been in love with Lady Catherine. Aye! ’Twas foolish on his part he knew, but the months he had been at Berwyck had dispelled such feelings. She was happy in her marriage to the Lord of Berwyck. Thankfully, Charles and Douglas fell into a common accord to keep the lady safe at all costs. Her happiness was all that mattered. Charles’s heart would mend one day, or so he supposed.

As he came into the inner bailey, he saw a flash of fabric as a woman ran behind the healer’s hut. A hint of a grin lit his face. Lady Freya, the laird’s sister, had been a bit of an annoyance when he had first met her while traveling to Caen. When he had first captured the woman who had been following him through camp, he had thought her one of the whores who tended to show up at such events. ’Twas hardly his fault for the mistake.

Fire had blazed in her blue-green eyes, and for the briefest moment when their lips touched, he was reminded how long it had been since he had a woman beneath him. His fingers had skimmed her brown hair with blonde streaks lightened from the sun. She was beautiful, but at the time, his heart had been clouded by another.

She had continued to shadow him throughout their time at the tournament and even on their travels to Berwyck last year. He had strange feelings for the young woman who could be no more than a score of years. Considering he had been thrown into Berwyck’s dungeon because of the jealousy she felt toward Lady Catherine, he supposed he could forgive. She was young and sometimes foolish. Charles’s heart had become bitter from the ordeal, and the wound that Catherine loved another was part to blame.

As he neared the hut, she came around the corner carrying a basket as though she had not a care in the world. Her eyes sparkled when they met his while she hummed a merry tune. But this was no time to tarry with whatever antics she was up to today. He must find Douglas without haste.

“Sir Charles,” she called out. She offered him a smile, and he gave the briefest nod of his head. “’Tis a lovely morn, is it not?”

He was momentarily startled by her comment when he looked about at the cloudy sky above. “I suppose if you care for the possibility of rain,” he murmured.

“I love the rain. ’Tis fun tae dance in. Have ye never tried it?”

“I have hardly had time for such amusement. Your brother keeps us busy with our training. Once it rains, I am too busy trying to keep upright from slipping in the mud.”

“Ye should make the effort sometime. Ye might enjoy it as long as ye have the right partner.” She fell into step with him when he continued on his way toward the keep.

To Love An English Knight:
De Wolfe Pack Connected World
By Sherry Ewing
$0.99 or #FREE in Kindle Unlimited

Can a chance encounter lead to love?

Sir Charles de Grey is in turmoil. He cannot forget the Scottish lass he kissed in Caen, but her jealous spite toward the lady he was sworn to guard infuriated him. Living at Berwyck Castle, he is torn between his desire for Lady Freya and his need to rebuke her sometimes reckless behavior. Leaving her almost tears him apart, but it might give him time to recover some balance.

Lady Freya of Clan MacLaren didn’t expect to become blinded by love until she became quickly besotted on first seeing the English knight in Caen. How quickly everything fell apart when she defies him! Even worse, when he begins to show signs of returning her feelings, he receives a message from home that will tear them apart. Defying him again may put an end to any chance they may have together, but what other choice does she have when he leaves her?

Can the fragile love they found blossom into something more or will circumstances beyond their control continue to provoke behavior that keeps them apart?

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About Bluestocking Belle Sherry Ewing:

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. When not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist.

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Website & Books: www.SherryEwing.com

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A truly scandalous liaison discovered!

A delicious bit of news recently came across this editor’s desk from a most reliable source. Knowing our readers at the Teatime Tattler, I had to rush to get this out for the morning edition that involved the upper ton!

I have it on the highest authority that a certain young Lady C, who recently made her debut just this season, was caught in a compromising situation at a house party with none other than Lord d C. Not only did half the ton witness their indiscretion as they frolicked at the entrance to a maze, but Lady C’s father, the Duke of A, watched in horror as his youngest daughter was all but ruined right before his eyes.

Lady C can say goodbye to her hopes of one day becoming a duchess. After this fiasco, she’ll have to settle on being a Countess instead.

scottish

Excerpt:

“I suspect, before long, we shall all be family, if Grace and your uncle have anything to say on the matter.” Adrian assumed there would be a wedding celebration in the near future.

“Do you think so?” she whispered, her eyes bright with excitement. “We would see each other often if they were to marry.”

Adrian cleared his throat, stepping several paces backwards to distance himself. She, in turn, advanced. “Yes, well… I suppose such may be the case. Time will tell.”

“Time… yes… time is all we need. Will you wait for me Lord de Courtenay… Adrian?”

“W-wait for you?” he stammered. “Where the devil is your chaperon?” Good Lord, what had he gotten himself into? This situation had gotten out of hand faster than he ever expected. He went around her to open the door, but the key was missing. Turning back, she waved what he needed.

“Looking for this?” she laughed.

The little scamp! “Lady Celia,” Adrian began, holding his palm upward. “The key, if you please.”

She laughed. “Oh, very well,” she replied, handing the shiny brass object over; it was still warm from her touch. “You do not have to be so formal. As you said, we might be related one day.”

Adrian turned the key in the lock and opened the door. “All the more reason to adhere to the rules of Society. You are the daughter of a duke and should not be alone with a single male, especially me.”

A giggle of girlish delight burst from her lips. “I am certain I am perfectly safe in your company, Adrian,” she said, dropping all formality between them.


The Earl Takes A Wife:
A de Courtenay Novella

Release date October 29, 2019
Pre-order for $0.99

It began with a memory etched in the heart.

Lady Celia Lacey is too young for a husband, especially man-about-town Lord Adrian de Courtenay. But when she meets him at a house party, she falls in love and cannot get him out of her mind. Will he ever think she is old enough to become his wife?

Adrian finds appealing innocent Lady Celia Lacey impossible to forget, though she is barely out of the schoolroom and a relative by marriage. If they are constantly in each other’s company, then how can he move on without her?

His sister’s deceptions bring them together but destroys their happiness. Can they reach past the hurt to the love that still burns?

The Earl Takes A Wife first appeared in the Bluestocking Belles’ box set, Valentines From Bath. It’s now available for individual sale.

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More about Sherry:

Sherry is proud to be one of the Bluestocking Belles. Sherry picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. When not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist.

You can learn more about her on the tab above or visit her on one of these social media outlets:

Website & Books 
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Freya’s Folly

Gentle Reader:

The Teatime Tattler received this aged parchment yesterday. While we puzzle over its delivery to our office, we are pleased to know brazen wenches are not new in 1815.

S. Clemens


Freya peaked around the canvas of a tent to watch the English knight as he made his way through the crowd. She had first seen him leaving his own tent this morn and on impulse she asked a nearby squire for the knight’s name. Sir Charles de Grey, she had been told, and a small smile had lit her face upon hearing it while she began following him through camp.

Heart pounding, she continued to dodge people and other obstacles in her pursuit to stay near Sir Charles. She was unprepared when he suddenly turned as though he felt her presence. She quickly ducked behind another tent in the hopes he had not caught her following him. She could not say why she was so drawn to this handsome stranger but he had certainly held her interest from afar. No harm could come from a closer look, could it?

With her chest heaving at the near thought of being found out, she dared another look only to find him gone! She stepped from her hiding place in order to once more continue her search for him. She was unprepared when her arm was taken in a fierce grip. Forced backwards against the canvas that had obviously not provided any source of concealment, she stared into the eyes of the very person who had momentarily escaped her. He was taller up close than she expected for she barely reached to his chest. With his blond hair and vivid blue eyes, she almost sighed at how handsome he was now that he stood before her. And then he spoke, and her world crashed down around her.

“Why are you following me?” he asked in an amused tone. Before she could answer, he continued, much to her dismay. “If you are looking for a bit of sport, I do not have time to dally at the moment. Perchance later, although I must admit you are prettier than most of the wenches who meander about.” He took hold of her chin as though to examine her closer before he gave her a quick kiss upon her lips.

“H-how d-dare ye kiss me?” Freya sputtered.

He began fumbling at a leather pouch upon his belt. Drawing out a coin, he held out the meager offering for her to take. “For your troubles…”

A gasp escaped her. “Do ye ken who ye are speaking tae?”

A chuckle escaped him. “Given you have been dodging my every move this morn, I assumed you were one of the women camp followers who earn their way at such events. Was I mistaken?”

He thought her a whore! His insult stung even as she knew her brother Douglas would be mortified to learn she had been following the man in the first place. Swinging her arm to smack the smirk off his face, he easily caught her hand before pulling her closer. Her breath left her while she tried to think clearly.

She began to struggle in his arms. “Ye braying arse! I am Lady Freya of Berwyck,” she shouted. He let go of her so quickly she stumbled to right herself and not land in the dirt.

“As in the sister to Laird Douglas of Clan MacLaren?” A look passed across his features showing her that he was not pleased she was associated with her brother.

“Aye. I will tell him of yer insult tae me,” she hissed.

“Tell him anything you like but for your own sake, and mine, stay away from me. I have had all I can handle from a MacLaren for one day.”

Freya continued to stare at him while he stomp away and as she watched him go, she was uncertain if she was happy or sad at his leaving.

scottish

Freya and Charles are secondary characters in Belle Sherry Ewing’s latest release: To Love A Scottish Laird: De Wolfe Pack Connected World. This novella has become a prequel to Sherry’s debut novel If My Heart Can See You. It combines the worlds of Katheryn Le Veque’s De Wolfe Pack series and Sherry’s Knights of Berwyck.

Sometimes you really can fall in love at first sight…

Lady Catherine de Wolfe knows she must find a husband before her brother chooses one for her. A tournament to celebrate the wedding of the Duke of Normandy might be her answer. She does not expect to fall for a man after just one touch.

Laird Douglas MacLaren of Berwyck is invited to the tournament by the Duke of Normandy. He goes to ensure Berwyck’s safety once Henry takes the throne. He does not expect to become entranced by a woman who bumps into him.

Yet, nothing is ever quite that simple. Not everyone is happy with the union of this English lady and a Scottish laird. From the shores of France, to Berwyck Castle on the border between their countries, Douglas and Catherine must find their way to protect their newfound love.

Excerpt:

“You can let go of me now,” she said softly, not wanting to appear ungrateful for his help. His arms dropped to his sides, and she swore she felt a loss she had never experienced before.

“Aye, of course,” he said a little too gruffly. “Mayhap we should introduce ourselves since I all but caused ye tae fall.”

“’Twas hardly your fault,” Catherine said with a small smile. “I must apologize for my clumsiness.”

“No harm was done as long as ye were not injured.”

“Nay… I am well, as you can see for yourself.”

“Ye appear very well.” A grin split his lips. He gave a short bow. “I am Douglas of Clan MacLaren and laird of Berwyck Castle. And ye are…”

She curtsied. “Lady Catherine de Wolfe.”

His brow lifted, giving evidence of his surprise. “de Wolfe?”

Catherine raised her chin. “Aye. You have perchance heard of us?” she asked. Although proud of her heritage, ’twas sometimes an inconvenience when it came to men, their ambitions, and her dowry. Dowry? When had Lord Douglas become a possibility for her husband?

He chuckled. “I would have tae be living in a hole in the ground tae have not heard of the de Wolfe family.”

Buy it on Amazon or read it now with Kindle Unlimited.

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More about Sherry:

Sherry is proud to be one of the Bluestocking Belles. Sherry picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. When not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist.

You can learn more about her on the tab above or visit her on one of these social media outlets:

Website & Books 
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Bookbub 
Facebook
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Pinterest
Twitter

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OVERHEARD AT THE COURTESANS’ BALL

Michael, Viscount Laidley, Brent’s best friend and distant cousin, fretted that Brent would never agree to reenter society. Hence his determination to push his cousin into attending this ball, where Brent was now hiding behind a life-size statue of a well-endowed male. Michael pointed at the marble man’s appendage and laughed. ‘Hoping the ladies will compare your equipment favorably to his if you stand beside him?’ Brent snorted.

Michael could always tease Brent into seeing the humorous side of situations, but tonight he was also going to push Brent back into society, even if it involved a couple of white lies and some scandalous women.  He pointed down the dance floor. ‘That’s Lady Templeton in the orange mask and feathers and…I say, a very transparent gown. You know what that means? Melissa will have already wheedled out the names of any men or ladies with titles who are on the guest list from her weak-willed lover.’

‘Weren’t you her lover once?’

‘Briefly. Never again. She eats green men for lunch.’ He pointed at Melissa again. ‘Watch. She’ll try to match people to names. And I know from personal experience that she’s not above blackmail when she’s short of funds.’

‘She tried to extort money from you? Why didn’t you tell me?’

Michael shrugged. ‘I was young and green and humiliated by my own ignorance. And she’ll target any man who has refused her, which means you Brent. and your friends.”

Brent groaned. ‘Hell. I need to find Lillian.’

When his cousin rushed onto the crowded dance floor, Michael smirked and silently toasted himself on a job well done.

PLEASURE HOUSE BALL  

By Suzi Love

Love revealed at a courtesan’s ball.

Brenton, Lord Mallory, attends his first courtesan’s ball in ten years to appease his concerned friends, though he’d rather stay home and read to his motherless daughters.

Though mortified that Brenton unmasks her at a scandalous ball, Lady Lillian Armstrong doesn’t regret their night together.

But will the object of her girlish adoration still treat her as his best friend’s little sister, or will he now see her as a mature and willing woman?

Universal buy link

EXCERPT:-

Lillian was his best friend, plus a beautiful woman with a seductive feminine form and, right at this moment and in his direct line of sight, a pair of familiar bountiful breasts spilled over the top of a too-small red bodice. He blinked, and looked again. Heaven help him, it was Lillian. His friend who’d been targeted by unscrupulous women who, wanting to pull her down a peg or two, had blamed her for her husband’s impetuous nature. A titled lady who, according to convention, should be secluded from society while she mourned her husband. Lillian, his Lillian, stood before him drawing the eye of every discerning gentleman at a courtesan’s ball. Shock robbed him of breath and froze him in place. His head spun as he tried to imagine why she’d come here, and with whom.

As a duke’s daughter, she’d been taught the rules for mourning and for the behavior of widows all her life. A minimum of six months wearing black and withdrawing from society, followed by another six months wearing mauve and lavender and socializing only with family and close friends. Brent could think of no reason why she’d be here, flaunting herself in that red slip of a gown. What had possessed her to attend a ball, any ball, so soon after her husband’s demise?

More importantly, Brent’s mind was so numb that he couldn’t formulate a plan to smuggle her away from the dance floor before masks were removed and she was recognized. Or before one of the lecherous men present realized that those were Lillian’s breasts squeezing past them.

First step was to uncover the identity of her companion, a woman insensitive enough to introduce an innocent to this sort of event. Couples were finding quiet corners and getting to know each other better, much better. Some of the ladies, and he used that term loosely, had already shed layers of clothing and their remaining garments were so thin that they revealed rather than concealed their shapes. Personally, he preferred to unwrap his presents, piece by piece, and he liked to do it in private rather than in an overcrowded room full of peers he didn’t particularly like and took great pains to avoid.

Looking towards Lillian’s position, Brent cursed his inattentiveness. The lady in red and her companion had disappeared. He pushed between companionable couples, past clutches of leering youths, and dodged ladies of the night who were advertising their wares so blatantly that the slightest movement would topple their breasts out of their bodices and into full view. Hell, if that green buck on his right peered any further down the neckline of that redhead’s gown, they’d need to haul him out by his boots.

There, a laugh that sounded almost right for Lillian apart from a strange high-pitched trill at the end of every sentence, as if the speaker was deliberately leaving a question mark at the end of each speech. Nervousness? If it was Lillian, she had good reason to be nervous. And when Brent caught up with the two women, they’d have good reason to be nervous because he was furious with Lillian’s unknown companion, and her.

Yes, he’d wanted his best friend to find happiness, but he’d envisaged her slowly renewing friendships next year in London, chaperoning her sister, and perhaps sometime in the future accepting a marriage proposal. The idea of any man making advances to her when her emotions were still raw after her husband’s demise and the pain of the appalling rumors that said she’d urged her husband to his death, made his blood boil. Though he couldn’t put his finger on why he was so incensed.

Lillian was his friend, nothing more, and she knew his feelings about marrying again any time soon. She was also one of the few people who knew of his first wife’s numerous affairs and what he’d done afterwards. As he wove a path through the crowd, he listened for Lillian’s voice and tried to smell her particular scent, though the air in the ballroom was thick with heavy scents from both females and males. The smell of desire, and arousal, swamped him as he squeezed around several couples in the final stages of negotiating the terms of their associations, with the women listing what they’d like their protectors to provide. The air reeked of sexual awareness, not something he’d been surrounded by for quite a long time and a smell he’d have gladly avoided for many more years.

The push and shove, and the manipulation and capitulation made him inwardly shudder. Though he’d visited his share of brothels and indulged himself at wild house parties in his younger years, he’d never employed a mistress.  More recently, he’d simply felt jaded after one unhappy marriage and he couldn’t dredge up excitement over two hundred primped and primed gentlemen and the equivalent number of ladies of the night playing games of intrigue and seduction.

There were many parts of married life he missed, desperately. Lust, desire, and passion he understood and, to be perfectly honest, yearned to experience again. The shared intimacy of conversations in bed after a bout of rigorous sex. Waking to a woman’s soft body wrapped around him and taking his time rousing her from sleep and then making sweet slow love to her. That he missed. Fake relationships, the sort formed here, left him cold, yet he yearned for the connection and sense of belonging that came with having a lover, or being in love.

There! That voice. That was the voice he knew as well as his own, and the scent that had often tempted him to rethink his views on marriage. Maneuvering around the dozen men and six women surrounding her, Brent eased into the lady’s intimate circle and stood at her shoulder. He sniffed. Oh, yes!

His senses hadn’t led him astray, nor had his sanity deteriorated and tumbled into madness, where his imaginings spiraled out of control and his fantasies sprang to life. Lady Armstrong, Lillian, was truly here in the midst of this decadence and debauchery. He shifted so they stood shoulder to shoulder, their arms touching.

Leaning in, Brent whispered in Lillian’s ear. ‘Well, well, well. I certainly didn’t expect to find you in attendance.’

Meet Suzi Love:-

I am Suzi Love, an Australian author of historical romances set mainly in the late Regency and early Victorian eras, and ranging from sexy to erotic. With a bit of Australia thrown in.

I now live in a sunny part of Australia after spending many years in developing countries in the South Pacific. My greatest loves are traveling, anywhere and everywhere, meeting crazy characters, and visiting the Australian outback. I adore history, especially the many-layered society of the late Regency to early Victorian eras.

My titled heroes and heroines live a privileged life in and around London, but my stories also dig deeper into the grittier and seamier levels of British life. I love heroes and heroines who challenge traditional manners, morals, and occupations, either through necessity or desire.

I hope my romances bring history alive for you and that you have fun alongside my roguish heroes and feisty heroines.

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