Consummate rake Lord Sheridan Zouche is no stranger to scandal. But when his family banishes him as a bad influence until he vows to marry, he inexplicably chooses the one woman he cannot seduce: an Englishwoman born and raised in India, who has been sent home against her will to find a husband.
Arcadia Parks wants nothing more than to return to the peaceful hills of Hyderabad, far from the contrivances and strange moral strictures of the ton. But her aunt is insisting she wed, so she can’t turn down Sheri’s unexpected proposal of convenience. They’ll marry for one year—and consummate the union just once to make it official—after which time he’ll help her return to India.
Alas, the best-laid plans sometimes go awry. Will Sheridan be able to give up the woman staking claim on his heart? And will Arcadia see through to the sensitive heart lurking beneath his glib facade?
Fans of Judith Ivory and Cecilia Grant won’t want to miss this highly anticipated story!
August 1817, London
Lord Sheridan Zouche was having trouble with his linen. A thin, damp fog wreaked havoc with his cravat, to say nothing of the sorry state of his collar. Grimacing, he plucked at the wilting material.
“Devil take it,” he muttered. “Anyone know if Dewhurst carries a looking glass in his
bag?” he called out. “On second thought, no. Perhaps it’s better if I don’t know how shabby I appear.”
“Where the hell do you think you are?” snapped the giant at his side. Norman Wynford-Scott jostled Sheri’s shoulder with an oversized paw. “For once in your life, would you be serious?”
Witnessing the normally unflappable man in a veritable lather did wonders for Sheri’s spirits. “Right you are,” he said, leaving his neckcloth to its fate. He spun sharply on boots freshly blackened and polished with champagne to an immaculate shine and addressed the remaining occupants of his coach. “Step lively, lads. This way. Hop to.”
Henry De Vere clambered out, rubbing sleep from his deep-green eyes. “Shouldn’t be chipper at this ungodly hour. It’s deuced rude.” To their immediate north, the Thames was a hard, steel gray in the pre-dawn gloaming. Henry’s jaw cracked on a yawn.
“The secret is not to go to bed. At least,” Sheri said with a smile, “not to sleep.”
Glowering darkly, Henry muttered invective against the menace of confirmed bachelors. Married just two weeks ago, he’d spent most of the ride through Mayfair and
Chelsea grousing at Sheridan for robbing him of his domestic comforts.
The last occupant of the coach, Harrison Dyer, descended from the carriage with a long, flat box tucked under one arm and a grim set to his stubbled jaw. “Tyrrel is here ahead of us.” He indicated with his chin the black carriage at the far end of Battersea fields.
Two men stood near the vehicle while a third, solitary figure, dim in the gray mist, paced a short distance away. A distinctive limp identified the man as Lord Tyrrel. The orange ember of a cigarillo intensified, then faded, as Tyrrel drew on it.
“I’ll speak to his men.” Harrison clapped Sheri’s back and strode to meet the seconds of the offended party.
It had been deuced bad luck that Tyrrel walked into his wife’s bedchamber two nights ago. The man hadn’t been expected back from his hunting trip for another week, and he’d not made so much as a peep as he entered the house. It was well known that her ladyship had a string of paramours over the last five years, of whom Sheri was just the most recent.
Having already spent several nights together, Sheri and Sybil had moved beyond the fundamentals of coitus and were becoming a little more creative in their bed play. That particular evening had involved various foodstuffs. Sybil had been lying on her stomach, and Sheri had scooped dollops of blancmange in a line down the column of her spine.
Naked and aroused, he’d been poised above her on hands and knees, licking and nibbling his way up her back, at the moment her husband entered the room.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elizabeth Boyce had a lifelong dream: to be an astronaut. She has recently made peace with the fact that this dream is unlikely to come to fruition. Good thing, then, she had another dream: to be an author. This dream comes true every single day, and she couldn’t be more grateful. Ms. Boyce lives in South Carolina with her husband, children, and her personal assistant/cat.