July 23, 2008
Buy Now From The Wild Rose Press
Regency Historical Romance
Blurb: Lord Anthony Darby is determined to marry a wife with an exemplary reputation. Then he sees his childhood companion, gorgeous, scandalous, Lily Kennyon again. And all he wants is her in his bed. He decides to avoid her. Until her father makes him an irresistible offer: he'll sponsor Anthony's entry into an exclusive club, if Anthony will accompany his outcast daughter to society events. Can Anthony resist Lily's sensual lure? Or will his hunger make him lose control?
Lily has always rued her impulsive nature. Never more than when her defiance led to an accident, which paralyzed her sister. Afterward, she decided if her sister would never marry, neither would she. Yet she wants to experience lovemaking. So, when Anthony courts her, she devises a plan to seduce him. But she fears she's falling in love. Then she discovers Anthony's attentions were all part of a pact with her father…
A line of hot desire raced from Anthony’s fingertips, up the length of his arms and down his spine. There was something vibrant and enticing about her. Her movements were spontaneous, not forced. She was so different from the lifeless ladies he’d been forced to dance with lately.
And, devil take it! She was Lily Kennyon. Little Lily Kennyon, whom he’d carried to the manor when she was three and had scraped her knee at one of his mother’s garden parties. Who used to chase frogs and put them under her sister’s pillow at night and pay the devil for it in the morning.
Apparently she still courted trouble. What had he been thinking to engage her in a dance? According to Hartwell, she’d quite a scandalous past.
But the pain in Lily’s eyes when the countess had insulted her had crippled him. He hadn’t seen her in eight years, yet he still felt the need to come to her rescue.
Although, as his hand held hers and his temperature rose, he thought perhaps he was the one who needed rescuing.
“You don’t have to do this,” she said. “We’re not children anymore. I can take care of myself.”
“It would appear that I do.” He twirled her. “Seems your fondness for causing havoc hasn’t diminished with time.”
She stiffened in his arms. “Then why concern yourself? I would have found a way to diffuse the situation.”
“I had no desire to see my sister’s assemblage become a spectacle.” Anthony tightened his hold on her waist.
Her gaze narrowed. “You do yourself a great disservice in dancing with me, my lord.”
“You will tarnish your own reputation. Although perhaps a charity dance won’t be held against you.”
He couldn’t resist the urge to smile at her wit, but that only seemed to inflame her further.
Her eyes sparked. “What the devil are you smiling at?”
“A charity dance? Maybe I merely wanted to discover why you would challenge Lady Fairchild-Darben? From what I’ve heard you’ve been playing fast with your reputation. Why invite further scandal?” He whirled her with the steps of the dance, his breath coming fast.
Anthony was patently trying to ignore the brush of her skirts against his limbs, and the warmth of her skin radiating through the layers of her dress.
“If anyone should know the consequences of scandal,” she said, “it would be me. I’ve lived it.”
“As have I, Lily.” For years he’d lived with rumors of his mother’s unfaithfulness.
Anthony searched her eyes. “Perhaps you’d like to tell me the reason you’ve fallen out of favor with the ton? We could compare notes, Little Fleur.”
“Still calling me by that juvenile name?”
“I have a weakness for them. As I do for the truth. Why did the countess make such a cruel remark to you?”
She bit her lip and glanced away. “It’s a long story.”
“Seems I’m a captive audience.”
“It appears—” she took in the crowd “—that I have more of an audience than you.”
As he spun Lily, he noticed several people were indeed staring, among them a sneering Lord Chamberlain, and Lily’s father, Colonel Kennyon.
Damn and blast. Had he spoiled his chances with the colonel?
His alarm must have played out on his face, because Lily huffed and tried to pull away. “You’re as stubborn as ever, Anthony Victor. You fed me sermons when I was a child, but I’ve no intention of being lectured any more this night.”
Anthony held on, a tight smile pasted on his lips.
“Countess or not, she had no right to be so cruel to me.”
“Perhaps, Lily. But she could ruin you with a word.”
The music stopped. A sad, sardonic smile played at the corners of Lily’s mouth, belying the sheen that had come into her eyes. “Then I have nothing to worry about, Anthony. For I am already ruined.”
© Renee Knowles 2008
Sensual, Sassy and Slightly Sinful
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