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Never Trust a Scoundrel

Never Trust a Scoundrel

4.1 26
by Gayle Callen

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A pact with the devil . . .

Miss Grace Banbury was in shock. Her mother put her up as a prize in a high stakes card game, and now the gentleman who won is ready to claim her! But Grace has other plans. She just needs the dastardly rogue to go along with it . . .

A notorious rake from a scandalous family, Daniel Throckmorten has no use for blushing virgins. Yet


A pact with the devil . . .

Miss Grace Banbury was in shock. Her mother put her up as a prize in a high stakes card game, and now the gentleman who won is ready to claim her! But Grace has other plans. She just needs the dastardly rogue to go along with it . . .

A notorious rake from a scandalous family, Daniel Throckmorten has no use for blushing virgins. Yet there's no denying the attraction for the beauty standing before him, proposing an enticing wager: He will use all his charm and wit to seduce her into his bed . . . and she only has to resist. If she succeeds, she wins enough funds to secure her own future. If he wins . . . she'll be his. Daniel has never been so tempted—and he has no intention of losing . . .

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Avon Romantic Treasure Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt

Never Trust a Scoundrel

Chapter One

London, 1845

Grace Banbury, out of breath, her heart pounding, slammed closed the front door of her brother's town house. She'd been knocking for many minutes in the darkness, hoping a servant would let her in. And when that hadn't happened, she'd tried the door, and as if God had answered her prayers, she found it unlocked. Now she locked it quickly behind her and put her back against it, dropping her portmanteau to the marble floor, struggling with the enormity of what she'd done.

She'd run from her village home without even the company of her maid, traveling by public coach for the first time in her life. In her reckless fury, she'd barely remembered to take the coins she'd been so frugally saving.

She told herself she was safe—for now. But what would Edward do when she told him that their mother had gambled away the ownership of both this town house and their little country manor? In humiliation, her mother had fled just last night, leaving no clue to her whereabouts, except a note promising to earn back enough money to recover what she'd lost.

Earn back money with more gambling, Grace thought furiously. As if that ever worked.

Nausea threatened again, but she forced it back down. The future was a yawning, frightening blackness that would swallow her if she let it. Better to think of one thing at a time.

How could their mother betray them? She was supposed to be a lady, the widow of a gentleman, but for most of Grace's life, she'd conducted herself as a woman who could not long be separated from the risks and excitement of cards.

And now astranger had dared her to risk everything.

Grace had a small dowry that her father had legally kept from her mother, with no access to it except through marriage. She had always wanted to marry for love, had hoped that she could succeed where her parents had not, but just last year she'd badly tarnished her own expectations. If necessary, she supposed she could seek security as a companion.

But what about her brother? He was a gentleman; these two small homes were his inheritance. How would he live now? Who would marry him?

The house was eerily silent, with an empty echo that felt wrong. No one had come to the door, and obviously Edward was out for the evening. She could only assume that not even a servant was at home. But how could that be?

There was a lamp burning on a solitary table in the entrance hall, and it cast flickering shadows on the bare walls. Now that Grace had gotten over her useless emotions, she realized something was wrong. Bare walls? She lifted the lamp and walked through the first door, only to find a dining table and chairs, an empty sideboard, and more bare walls. What had happened to all their possessions, the china, the paintings Papa had collected on his trips to Europe? She might think that the house had been ransacked, but it didn't have a feeling of violation. What it had was neglect, a light coating of dust on the large table, as if no one could be bothered to clean it.

Or as if no servants lived here anymore.

What had Edward done? Her feelings of worry, waiting with patience in the deep recesses of her mind, now surged back to tighten her throat.

No, panic would not help. In the morning, she would tell Edward everything their mother had done. He would explain why the town house was so bare. Together, they would come up with a plan. They'd only ever had each other, and now that bond was all they had.

But some part of her knew that Edward would have no good explanation for the condition of their home. For several years, she'd been seeing the signs of the gambling fever he'd caught from their mother, his restlessness, his need to be in London. She had tried to distract him, to lecture him, and finally to plead with him. He had always laughed off her concerns, swore that all gentlemen gambled, and that he was in command of himself. But the condition of the town house said otherwise.

She checked the kitchens and found no one, then moved to the small pantry that had been converted into a bedroom for the cook, whose gout prevented her from negotiating the stairs. But even that room was empty. She ran up the stairs to the third floor and found every servant's room just as deserted.

She'd never spent a single night of her life alone, though that wasn't nearly as frightening as the gaping uncertainty that was her future.

She walked back down a flight to the family bedrooms. To her relief, Edward had left hers alone. There was still her favorite painting of the sea at Brighton on the wall, and a little vase that her father had brought her from France.

When her stomach growled, she went down to the kitchen but only found biscuits and apples. After lighting a candle and leaving the lamp in the front hall for her brother, she carried the food back to her room and ate in silence, trying to ignore the tight heaviness in her stomach.

As she changed into her nightgown, she was glad that she'd worn clothing she could remove herself. She had wanted to bring her lady's maid, Ruby, but how would Grace be able to pay her wages? But oh, she missed her cheerful company. Ruby somehow managed to walk the line between servant and friend in a way that made Grace feel perfectly comfortable.

Of course, there was no water in the pitcher, and she was not about to pump from the well in the garden at this time of night. It was summer, so she could do without coal burning in the grate. But still, she wrapped her dressing gown about her and climbed into bed with her journal. A chill moved through her, making her shiver.

Never Trust a Scoundrel. Copyright © by Gayle Callen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, Gayle Callen found the life she'd always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers' Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown children, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog, Uma, and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane.

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Never Trust a Scoundrel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1845 in a game of cards, Lady Banbury assured of her hand raises the stake by anteing up her daughter. However, to her chagrin, Daniel Throckmorten takes the pot, which includes the virtue of Miss Grace Banbury. --- Grace is stunned as not only is this out of character for her prim and proper mom she lost to a noted rake whose family is always embroiled in scandal. However, Daniel may be amused by the affair, but he will never force a female into his bed. Instead his plan is to seduce Grace so that she voluntarily graces his bed. Grace assumes she can ignore his seduction and regain her freedom, but Daniel¿s kisses are hard to resist as she has fallen in love with the scoundrel who keeps raising the ante. --- The ¿introduction¿ between the lead couple is a wonderful unique concept (unless you¿re Grace) that brings a distinct freshness to the nineteenth century tale of the romance between a rake and an innocent. Daniel and Grace prove to be much more than the stereotypes as they gamble on love while the eccentric support cast especially her gambler of a mother and his out of control family enhance this entertainingly brisk early Victorian romance. --- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
The beautiful Miss Grace Banbury has not only been the beauty, but the brains in her highly dysfunctional family of gamblers and has always found a way to get her brother and mother out of their waging messes. But this time, her mother has done the ultimate insult and has not only gambled away the family's homes, property, and a priceless violin, which is one of Grace's most important possessions, but her along with it! The handsome Daniel Throckmorten has always turned everything he touches into gold and has a knack for recognizing a good gamble and business deal that will pay off well, but he discovers the shock at winning the beautiful Grace, especially when he is in the market for a new mistress. Upon seeing her beauty and intelligence, he is taken with her and his feelings begin to somewhat soften. How can he keep up his image of being a scoundrel and rake that has kept his image of success within society in business and bed going if he turns soft on Miss Banbury and allows her to win the wager? Suddenly Grace finds herself in a position that she never thought she would be in: a wager with a scoundrel no less! If Daniel cannot seduce her into his bed within two weeks she will lose all, but most of all she wants the priceless violin so that she can sell it and save her brother. And this is indeed a sacrifice, because Grace loves music and that violin, but she loves her brother Edward more and wants to save him before he becomes as bad as her mother, has no property and will never find a wife. As Daniel begins his seduction of Grace he begins to see her beauty is more than skin deep. And as Grace feels her passion weakening and giving into Daniel, she realizes that it is the violin and music that is between them more than the wager, and that this scoundrel is really a gentleman. Desire blazes and mysteries are uncovered regarding Daniel and Grace's family. When Grace discovers Daniel is training Edward in how to choose good business deals that pay off other than gambling, she soon begins to realize that maybe a scoundrel can be trusted, but most of all both Grace and Daniel realize that all along the wager is not as important as family and love. Gayle Callen in her usually sensual style has written another romance that is about a rake, rogue and/or scoundrel that romance readers love to hate and end up loving even more! Once again Ms. Callen has written another book that readers will absorb and lose all track of time. She cannot write fast enough!
2_PMVH More than 1 year ago
I thought I read all of Gayle Callen¿'s books but I seem to have missed 2. This book was funny, crafty, quirky, sexy, has great characters and it answered so many questions for me about this series. I have read about Mr. Throckmorton winning his bride in a game of cards and now I know the story. Daniel is a man who holds himself closed up so he is never hurt again. Grace just wants to live a life without GAMBLING ruling her life. Her mom has such a gambling problem and now her brother does too. Not only is Daniel helping Grace but also her brother Edward. This book I give 5 fingers up and 8 toes.
CodyCelest More than 1 year ago
I'll admit it took me a little to get into this book, but it did have a rather interesting plot element. Plus everything the Hero does to try and win over the Heroine was quite hot. At the same time, there was a bit of humor in the ways the Heroine managed to resist him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book I was not able to put it down. So enjoyable. One of my favorites from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book that I read by Gayle Callen and it was a bit of a let down. I had decided to read this when I saw that it was on sale and bought it on a whim. Grace Banbury goes to London to try to salvage what is left of their inheritance when her mother gambles away everything in a card game. When she arrives in London, she discovers that their town house is empty and devoid of any servants and she also meets Daniel Throckmorten, the newest owner. Daniel, thinking that she is her brother's mistress, starts to make a proposition. When he finds out that she is Miss Banbury, he still persists and proposes that he seduce her to become his mistress. If she wins, she gets all her property back and if he wins, he gets her as his mistress and keeps the violin that was his fathers'. Grace agrees and then the seducing starts. Personally, I thought the romance was a bit bleh. I loved both characters and was able to relate to them but I thought the whole proposition was a bit ridiculous. I would have thought the proposition would be that she become his mistress for two weeks, considering the stakes. But whatever. We also get to read about Daniel's backstory and we meet his family when Daniel and Grace visit his manor. I actually liked Daniel and thought that his personality was very surprising considering his background and his reputation. Although I thought the spats and encounters between the two were very interesting and there was a chemistry between them, but the story just fell flat for me. The ending did not have the impact that I had expected.
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