Beauty and the Baron

Beauty and the Baron

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by Deborah Hale

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Could She Defeat His Darkness and Bring Him Back to Life?

Handsome rakehell turned scarred recluse Lord Lucius Daventry had returned from battle intent on forgetting the past. Yet once home, Lucius was presented with one final mission: marry Angela Lacewood and grant his ailing grandfather's dying wish. Or at least pretend to marry. But the young


Could She Defeat His Darkness and Bring Him Back to Life?

Handsome rakehell turned scarred recluse Lord Lucius Daventry had returned from battle intent on forgetting the past. Yet once home, Lucius was presented with one final mission: marry Angela Lacewood and grant his ailing grandfather's dying wish. Or at least pretend to marry. But the young beauty he remembered was now an exquisite woman. A woman strong enough to breach the walls he hid behind and steal his heart.

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Beauty And The Baron

By Deborah Hale

Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.

Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-29255-4

Chapter One

Northamptonshire, England, 1818

"Who shut the curtains on such a lovely day?" Angela Lacewood darted into the drawing room at Netherstowe, her bonnet pulled back off her head and a pair of thick gloves in one hand. "It's like a tomb in here!"

She'd been working out in the garden, basking in the lavish sunshine of late May when the butler had summoned her to receive an unexpected visitor. Why anyone would be paying a call at Netherstowe when the family was traveling abroad, Angela could not guess. Nor did she much care, to be truthful.

She would deal with them as quickly as possible, then reclaim her privacy.

As she crossed the darkened room to open the curtains, her eyes not yet accustomed to the dimness of indoors, a deep masculine voice reached out of the shadows, like a foot to trip her up.

"Leave the curtains be! I shut them and I wish them kept that way until I go."

Startled by the brusque order, Angela dropped her gloves and took a stumbling step too near her aunt's favorite footstool. Her foot caught on the low hurdle and she pitched to the floor.

Or would have done, had not a powerful pair of arms unfolded out of the darkness to catch her.

"I beg your pardon. I didn't mean to frighten you." The voice clearly belonged to the same person as the arms, for it wafted into her left ear from so intimate a distance it might almost have been a kiss. But could that voice-smooth, rich and beguiling-be the same gruff one that had frightened her into a humiliating stumble?

Perhaps they did have one thing in common, after all, she decided. Both made her heart flutter and her breath hasten ... for quite different reasons.

"W-who are you, sir, and why have you come to Netherstowe?" The questions had scarcely tumbled from her lips when Angela guessed the answer to the first. Her pulse raced faster still, though from fright ... or something else, she could not be certain.

The visitor set her on her feet again, but not before she felt the moist caress of his breath against her bare throat. For an instant she sensed a hint of reluctance to let her go. Or was it her own reluctance to break from her first time being held in a man's arms?

Even if that man were the devil himself.

"Lord Lucius Daventry, Miss Lacewood." He executed a stiff bow over her hand. "At your service."

Not the devil perhaps, but as close as she was likely to encounter deep in the sleepy countryside of Northamptonshire. Even so isolated from London society, Angela knew her guest had been dubbed "Lord Lucifer" by wags of the tongue. Lately, the village folk had begun to use that name-though never in his lordship's hearing.

"I beg pardon for startling you, and for taking liberties with your domestic arrangements." He gestured toward the window. "My eye is sensitive to bright light."

Could that be the reason he seldom ventured abroad by day? Gossip ascribed far more sinister motives to his lordship's nocturnal habits.

Her own vision had adjusted to the room's dimness enough for Angela to make out the sharp shadow of a curious demimask that gave Lucius Daventry a diabolical appearance to match his reputation. A large patch of black leather concealed half of his upper face, from cheekbone to temple, with a narrow slit to expose his left eye.

Was it only his eye that could no longer abide the light? she wondered. Or was it his pride as well? Before Waterloo, his lordship had been hailed as the handsomest beau in Britain. Though she'd had little experience on which to base a comparison, Angela had thought that reputation scarcely did him justice.

"To what do I owe the honor of your call, sir? Lord and Lady Bulwick and my cousins departed a fortnight ago for their tour of the Continent. I do not expect them back for some months."

Hard as she tried to purge the sweet ring of satisfaction from her voice, Angela could not. Weeks and weeks of lovely spring and summer with the whole house to herself and nobody to criticize or patronize her. That was as near heaven as she was apt to get for some years.

"And my brother is away at school," she added as a hasty afterthought.

Usually Miles was foremost in her mind, but today she'd consciously turned her thoughts in other directions. It did no good to fret about her brother's future when she had no means to help him.

Lord Daventry shook his head. "It is you I've come to see, Miss Lacewood."

"Me? Whatever for?" Too late Angela tried to bottle up her unmannerly question by pressing her fingers to her lips. Really, though, she'd asked the man his business twice, already. And twice he had failed to enlighten her.

Nor did he this time.

"May we sit?" he asked, instead.

"Of course." As Angela sank onto her aunt's favorite chair, her tardy manners caught up with her. "Would you care for some refreshment, my lord? You must excuse me for being such a poor hostess. I've never had company of my own to entertain before."

"Nothing, thank you." His lordship chose a seat some distance from her, and more deeply in shadow. "This is not exactly a social call."

The man was beginning to vex her. First interrupting her jolly afternoon in the garden, then giving her a fright, and finally stirring up all kinds of bewildering feelings she had no desire to experience.

"If not a social call, then, what exactly is it, sir?"

Aunt Hester would have had a fit of the vapors to hear her addressing a gentleman of wealth and title in such a tone, but Lord Daventry did not lose his cool aplomb.

Angela wondered if he ever did.

"All in good time, Miss Lacewood, if you will be so patient as to indulge me. For my grandfather's sake," he added, in a tone that betrayed more emotion than he had shown since ordering her to keep the curtains closed.

"Your grandfather?" Angela surged up from her seat.

"Is something the matter with the earl?"

Her guest motioned for her to resume her seat. "The two of you have become great friends these past few years, have you not?"

Did the man ever answer a direct question when one was put to him? Angela wondered. Perhaps she should demonstrate how to accomplish such a feat.

"I cannot answer for your grandfather, but I am fonder of him than of anyone...except my brother."

The dear Earl of Welland had a knack for making her feel clever and graceful and capable-all the things Angela had given up hoping she would ever be.

"Be assured, Miss Lacewood, my grandfather also holds you in the highest regard. It was good of you to visit him so often while I was ... absent."

On the Continent, serving under the revered Duke of Wellington. Was Lord Daventry aware how much she knew of his service in the cavalry? All his letters she'd read aloud to the earl, marveling at the adventures of which he'd made light with wry, self-deprecating wit.

"I did hate the thought of him over there in that big house," she said, "with no company but the servants."

"My grandfather is rather a pet project of yours, is he not? I gather you have a number of other such persons in the parish."


Excerpted from Beauty And The Baron by Deborah Hale Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Deborah Hale spent a decade tracing her Canadian family to their origins in Georgian-era Britain. In the process, she learned a great deal about that period and uncovered enough fascinating true stories to fuel her romance plots for years to come. At the urging of a friend, Deborah completed her first historical romance novel and went on to publish over fifteen more. Deborah lives in Nova Scotia, a province steeped in history and romance! Visit her website at:

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Beauty and the Baron 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 79 reviews.
literatissima More than 1 year ago
This historical Harlequin romance takes place in the days after Napoleon Bonaparte's fall. It's a twist on the classic tale of Beauty & the Beast (one of my favorite fairy tales of all time) and while the writing was much better than expected, it is still a bodice-ripper, plain & simple. Of course, you'll find the typical cliches of a cheesy romance novel in here, but fortunately there's only one full-on sex scene. This 95% foreplay novel delivers 5% climax. And if you like this sort of thing, then you might enjoy it. As for me, my eyes may have rolled right out of my head at certain points.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This Beauty and the Beast tale will win you over as surely as the lovely Angela Lacewood wins the fiercely guarded heart of Lord Lucius Daventry ('Lord Lucifer'). Expect Deborah Hale's trademark graceful writing and her remarkable ability to wring emotion from the reader.
SourPuss More than 1 year ago
There is a kind of love-hate relationship in this book, but the ratio of hate to love is way out of proportion. There's not enough development of the relationship between the characters! I like tartness between the two main characters as much as anyone else, but there has to be some tenderness/affection at some point. A little too cold for me. It's slightly entertaining. Not horrible, but certainly not even close to being on my favorites list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Beauty and the Baron, Deborah Hale again displays her special talent for taking the comforting themes and settings of age-old romances and transforming them into something new and altogether wonderful. Her heroine, Angela Lacewood, might be compared to Elizabeth Bennet for her charm in confronting an irascible the traditional 'Beauty' of the 'beast' fame...or even to Jane Eyre in her choice of the scarred Rochester over the handsome, appropriate St. John. But Angela goes farther even than these heroines in the depth of her love for Lucius Daventry, a man wounded in spirit as well as in body at Waterloo. Always empathetic for the lonely and the suffering, she forces Lucius to admit her to his night-shadowed world. It is there that both she and Lucius discover that beauty is most truly revealed not by light, but by darkness. Beauty and the Baron does more than make what is old new again. Thanks to Hale's skilled characterizations and deft use of setting and symbolism, it is a story that enchants, bright and vivid and meaningful as a falling star.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The familiar theme of a scarred hero rescued from his tortured past by a warm-hearted heroine has never been more riveting as it is in Deborah Hale¿s Beauty and The Baron. The hero, Lord Lucius Daventry, and the heroine, Angela Lacewood are, the author tells us, as night is to day. With rich, powerful characterization, the seamless weaving of historical detail into the story and elegant writing, Deborah Hale gives you everything you look for in a well written historical romance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Deborah Hale explores the depths of her characters with a keen sense of the human heart, and gives readers exactly what they are looking for: a romantic, feel-good journey into the lives of two fascinating, multi-layered characters. This book is a delightful escape into the Regency period. It kept me turning pages until the end, just to find out how the kind-hearted heroine was going to bring the hero out of his dark existence and into one of joy and light. I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy intelligent writing, and well-drawn characters who stay with you long after you close the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fairly likable characters in a predictable storyline. Probably won't read it again but it was worth reading once
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Sherry Poplin More than 1 year ago
I wished he could have been nicer but the story was good
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