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Lady Lavinia Cashin arrives in Regency London with one purpose -- to find a wealthy husband. With her rich, dark curls, fair skin, and enchanting silver eyes, Lavinia could have her pick of suitors. She'd always imagined she'd marry for love, but her family's desperate plight has turned her into a fortune hunter. Now she hopes to barter her beauty for their security. Yet the first man she meets is impossibly unsuitable -- although her stirs her passion in ways she never imagined...
Lady Lavinia Cashin arrives in Regency London with one purpose -- to find a wealthy husband. With her rich, dark curls, fair skin, and enchanting silver eyes, Lavinia could have her pick of suitors. She'd always imagined she'd marry for love, but her family's desperate plight has turned her into a fortune hunter. Now she hopes to barter her beauty for their security. Yet the first man she meets is impossibly unsuitable -- although her stirs her passion in ways she never imagined possible...
Lord Garrick Armitage is a gambler with a notorious past. A devastatingly handsome philanderer, he uses his intoxicating presence to survive in a society that shuns him. He's only wanted two things in life that he couldn't have...and one of them is Lavinia. For beneath her schemes he recognizes a woman of rare honesty and sensuality who he could spend his life with. He's determined not to let her marry for money, not when she can experience the wild joy that love can offer. Garrick has a plan to make her his bride, and it all begins with a kiss...
London, October 1793
A stream of pedestrians crossing Bond Street brought Lavinia's coach to a standstill. Watching them pass by, she marveled anew at the prosperity and assurance of London's residents. People of all classes were well dressed and adequately shod. On her small and impoverished island, only the richest could afford fine fabrics. Everyone else wore plain and serviceable woollens and primitive shoes, and were often unruly from strong drink.
English horses bore no resemblance to the stunted, rough-coated working animals kept by Manx crofters. They were uniformly large and perfectly groomed, whether pulling a gentleman's carriage, a brewers cart, or a hired vehicle like the one returning her to her father"s rented townhouse in Cork Street.
And the buildings! In fashionable Mayfair, dwellings of honeyed stone and warm brick lined the streets, testimony to the wealth of their occupants and the talents of English architects. Each time Lavinia passed a towering classical edifice supported by columns, she recalled the engravings in her brother Kerron's Greek and Roman texts. Pointed church steeples were visible in all directions.
Her gaze shifted from the busy street scene to the oblong box balanced on her maidservant's lap. It held a garment of surpassing elegance, worthy of a princess — if not a queen — and would join a growing collection of gossamer gowns, plumy hats, smart jackets, and heeled shoes. Today she'd been measured for a proper riding habit. A necessary expense, her father declared, for she couldn't hack about Hyde Park wearing her siblings' castoffs.
The carriage's progress alongCork Street was slow, and a sedan chair speeded past it to appropriate a highly desirable space at the curb. Shouting curses at the pair of liveried chairmen, the jarvey accused them of piracy. Ignoring the lively exchange of insults and threats, Lavinia climbed carefully down from the coach, hampered by tight sleeves, confining stays, and layer upon layer of muslin.
The chair's passenger exited his conveyance at the same moment. Facing her, he cried, "0, mio Dio!" His fair hair was tied behind with a wide satin bow, and he had deep brown eyes. The dramatic burgundy coat and green breeches offered a counterpoint to the pure whiteness of Lavinia's gown.
"Never did I expect to see so glorious a sight in this damp, gray city," he told her, coming even closer. "You belong in sunny Italy, bella signorina."
His bold appraisal was unnerving and flattering at the same time. Ignorance of town manners put her at a disadvantage, but she knew better than to encourage a man who flirted with her in the street, however handsome he might be.
Beaming down at her from an immense height, he said, "I well know how people of your country greet one another."' He captured her chin in his long, strong fingers and poked his head under her hat brim to kiss each of her cheeks. Then, very lightly, he brushed his lips against her mouth.
Who was this madman?
Possibly sensing her desire to bolt, he captured her forearms with strong hands. Lavinia, now thoroughly alarmed and incapable of speech, stared helplessly up at him. His grin was so infectious that for a moment she had a mad desire to smile back at him. Then her senses returned, and she shook him off. When he stepped toward her again she glared fiercely and edged away.
His chairmen snickered. Her surly hackney driver let out a braying laugh and called, "Catch her and buss her again, guv'nor!"
Before the stranger could repeat his assault, Lavinia raced for the front door. As impudent as he was handsome, she fumed, face flaming after her very public mortification. He'd been making sport of her. A man so exquisitely and richly dressedand so amazingly good-looking — couldn't possibly be sincere in his admiration. At first glance he'd realized she was a provincial, despite her modish finery, and therefore had mocked her most cruelly. Not all Englishmen, it seemed, were coldly reserved and stiffly correct in their behavior.
"He's a devil, that one," Polly grumbled, struggling with the cumbersome box.
A most dashing devil, thought Lavinia.
As they entered the narrow brick dwelling, the servant warned, "'He's up to no good, m'lady. Prob'ly he's payin' back Widow Bruce for playin' him false." With a derisive sniff, she added, "This mornin' I saw her other lover creepin' up to her door again. In broad daylight!"
Lavinia had also witnessed the comings and goings of her neighbor's most regular caller — older, shorter, and fatter than the fair-haired libertine. Taking her box from Polly, she carried it into the parlor, eager to show off her latest and most splendid acquisition. To her surprise, her father was not alone.
"Here's my daughter now," he to. Id the visitor, which indicated that she had been the topic of discussion. "Lavinia, this is Attorney Webb."
A swarthy man wearing a black suit and a wig stood up in polite acknowledgment. Keen, dark eyes assessed her face and form. Whether he admired them as much as the man who had accosted her in the street was impossible to tell.
"Honored to meet you." Mr. Webb frowned when she placed her burden on the sofa, saying reproachfully, "Lord Ballacraine, you had better curtail your daughters shopping expeditions."
"I've resolved to limit my own purchases," the earl replied. "But I cannot be parsimonious where Lavinia is concerned. That would be false economy — "
The attorney looked skeptical. "In that case, you should accept a loan from our mutual acquaintance Mr. Solomon."
The earl shook his head so violently that his...
Posted December 23, 2009
"Kissing A Stranger" is a book good for a one time read, but that's pretty much it. It is a very cliche love story that does succeed in holding the reader's interest, but overall, not a book to keep permanently after the first read.
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