Nicholas: Lord of Secrets (Lonely Lords Series #2) [NOOK Book]

Overview

Nicholas Haddonfield has something to hide...

After a wild youth, Nicholas Haddonfield, Viscount Reston, has promised his ailing father he'll finally take a bride, though doing so will force Nick to make impossible choices and face old, painful wounds.

Leah Lindsey is glad to find refuge from her own desperate situation in a marriage of convenience with the gallant viscount. But soon convenience is not enough,...

See more details below
Nicholas: Lord of Secrets (Lonely Lords Series #2)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$3.99
BN.com price

Overview

Nicholas Haddonfield has something to hide...

After a wild youth, Nicholas Haddonfield, Viscount Reston, has promised his ailing father he'll finally take a bride, though doing so will force Nick to make impossible choices and face old, painful wounds.

Leah Lindsey is glad to find refuge from her own desperate situation in a marriage of convenience with the gallant viscount. But soon convenience is not enough, and Leah can't understand why Nick remains so distant. What is he hiding, and will he never allow her into his heart?

An extraordinary and passionate tale of courage tested and fears overcome. Once you enter the lush Regency world of award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes, you'll never want to leave.

Praise for Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight:

"Lavish and seductive..."—RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Ms. Burrowes' continually presses the bar and goes above and beyond the normal to give her readers phenomenal love stories that keep us manic for more." - Romantic Crush Junkies EZine

"[Burrowes'] eloquent writing style keeps the story flowing well and kept me interested right to the end." - Night Owl Reviews

"I commend Grace Burrowes for not sticking to a conventional historical romance trope. She took a classic damsel in distress story and gave her a hero who needed a bit of saving himself. The characters were compelling, and I never lost interest in their story" - 3 Chicks After Dark

"Grace Burrowes creates characters, that are emotionally damaged in some way but still manage to be the most forgiving and caring and courageous individuals you could possibly imagine... I always find myself wanting to step into the pages of the book, so I can simply hug the dickens out of these characters and I'm betting you will to." - Novels Alive

"Another beautifully written story. The characters are wonderful, and the story definitely holds your interest... Highly recommended. " - Romantic Historical Lovers

"Exquisite... breathtaking and heartwarming. " - Long and Short Reviews

"NICHOLAS makes a great addition to the Lonely Lords series, and I enjoyed this book just as much as DARIUS. Ms. Burrowes has earned a place on my must read list." - Book Lover and Procrastinator

"Yet another wonderful book from Ms. Burrowes and I just have to keep devouring these books as quickly as they come out" - Reviews by Molly

"There were moments in this book that had me laughing and weeping and continuously turning the pages." - The Royal Reviews

"Grace Burrowes pens a very realistic historical romance. She has the ability to bring the scene alive as if we have been set down in the time period" - LaDeetda Reviews

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402278556
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2013
  • Series: Lonely Lords Series , #2
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 19,752
  • File size: 996 KB

Meet the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes' bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and Lady Eve's Indiscretion. The Heir was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010, The Soldier was a PW Best Spring Romance of 2011, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish won Best Historical Romance of the Year in 2011 from RT Reviewers' Choice Awards, Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight was a Library Journal Best Book of 2012, and The Bridegroom Wore Plaid was a PW Best Book of 2012. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

One


The English peerage had come to a sorry pass when the heir to an earldom had to duck up the footmen's stairway to hide from the lovely young women seeking to become his countess.


Nicholas Haddonfield, Viscount Reston, took those steps two at a time.


He emerged on the first floor of the Winterthur mansion, the corridor lit by wall sconces and blessedly devoid of footmen, debutantes, mamas, or other aggravations.


Nick hurried to the first door and found it locked, suggesting the evening's hosts, Lord and Lady Winterthur, were not entirely foolish. Well, no matter, the corridor was long, and there had to be an unlocked sitting room or parlor where a man could hide himself away for a few minutes of peace, quiet, and solitude.


He approached an intersection and froze as he heard a twittering female voice.


"He must have gone this way, Eulie." The tone was indignant. "The gentlemen's retiring room is on this floor, and he's too big to go missing for long."


"Really, Pamela..." The second woman's voice floated around the corner. "I know he'll be an earl, but you can't seriously be thinking of marriage to Reston? I heard him tell Lady Lavinia Gregson he killed his mother."


The voices were coming closer. Nick spotted a door on the left slightly ajar and sent up a prayer of thanks to whatever saint looked after beleaguered bachelors. He slipped inside, finding the room dark, save for weak illumination from a fire in the hearth.


"He's likely hiding," the first woman decided. "Playing hard to get. You know when he said he killed his mother, it was almost as if he were serious."


Nick plastered himself against the wall behind the door while the ladies in the corridor continued their pursuit.


"Pamela, you cannot have thought what the wedding night with such a brute would involve." Just outside the door, the lady's voice dripped with distaste. "Earl or not, he's simply... well, I would fear for you, my dear."


"My mother says they all look the same in the dark."


The door swung open. One of the various ladies who'd been watching Nick ever more closely as the supper waltz approached peered into the gloom, then pulled the door shut again. "Nothing in here. Perhaps he's in the gentlemen's retiring room."


As her voice trailed off down the corridor, Nick considered the intensity of his relief.


Safe-for another hour he was safe, and so damned tired that a cozy, private parlor was inordinately appealing. He moved across the room, intent on stoking up the fire, when his peripheral vision caught a pale shadow to the right of the hearth.


"I beg your pardon," he said. "I did not know the room was occupied."


As his vision adjusted, Nick could make out the soft, billowy shape of a ball gown on a woman seated on a chest or bench along the wall.


"What if we each agree to be alone in here?" the apparition suggested in a voice that carried the slightest rasp.


"Suits me," Nick said, going to the fireplace. "Are you hiding or merely enjoying a quiet respite?"


"Both, I think. And you?"


"Most definitely hiding." Nick's smile was rueful. "Lady Whoever and her faithful dog Lady Simper have that let-me-be-your-countess gleam in their eyes."


"One of them sounded less than enthralled." There was a touch of humor in her voice, though nothing mean.


"I'd wish I were a foot taller, if it would scare away more of the debutantes and their mamas. Do you mind if I sit, as we're each so plainly alone?"


"Please." The lady shifted slightly in her corner. "You are Reston?"


"At your service." Nick bowed toward the shadowy corner. "And apparently tall enough to have no anonymity left whatsoever."


"Or handsome enough. Maybe single enough?"


Nick scrubbed a hand over his face. "That too, for my sins."


He satisfied himself the fire was going to throw off a little more heat, but resisted the urge to build it up to the point where the shadows were illuminated. Without knowing why, he didn't want to intrude on his companion's privacy. Something appealed about having a conversation with a woman whose features he could not clearly see.


He settled back on a sofa facing the hearth, crossed one foot over his knee, pulled off his gloves, and slipped off his dancing pump. His companion was no heavily chaperoned schoolgirl if she could find her way to this little oasis of solitude, and he doubted she'd take offense.


"My poor, lordly, single feet are expiring," Nick muttered, massaging his arch.


"Bride hunting is work," the lady said. "Almost as hard work as being hunted."


Nick's hands paused in their ministrations, and he cocked his head to peer into the dark corner. "So are you a staked goat as well?"


"I am on my way to slaughter, I fear." For the first time, her voice had a careful, controlled quality.


She'd been crying. Nick knew it like any man with four sisters knows such things, like any man who adored women-most women, most of the time-could sense female upset.


"Your intended is not to your liking?" Nick asked, trying not to let himself care. He couldn't even see the woman, for pity's sake, though Nick had the sense she was as weary of the ballroom battleground as he.


"My intended is more than twice my age, and while that alone would not matter, he's spent more years being dissolute than I have breathing."


"Gads." Nick switched feet. "At least I get to do the asking."


"At least."


"Who is this reprobate?" Nick inquired after a moment, stretching out his stockinged feet toward the fire. "Shall I call him out for you? Buy up his markers?"


"I really ought not to be so sensitive," the lady said with a touch of asperity, "but I do not appreciate the levity, my lord."


"Who's joking? Tell me who he is."


"Hellerington," the woman said, a wealth of resignation in her voice.


"And you've accepted him?" Nick asked, leaning back and closing his eyes.


"I have not, but he told me at supper he would be speaking to my father, and once they come to terms, my refusal or consent won't mean anything."


Nick opened his eyes and frowned. The man's name wasn't ringing any particular bells, but then, Nick had spent much of the past few years in the country, dodging his responsibilities and larking about with friends-to hear his father tell it.


He thought of his father, now growing increasingly frail, and wanted to howl at the moon with the weight of his grief and guilt. Rising, he crossed the room to a decanter on a sideboard and poured two glasses.


"Dutch courage." He passed one drink to the lady. "Sip it carefully, though Winterthur will have only decent libation on hand." A graceful bare hand emerged from the shadows and took the drink. No gloves. The lady was making herself quite at home here in the dark little parlor.


"Good lord," the woman gasped, "that is... potent."


"Warms the innards," Nick said, sipping his own drink. "Mind if I join you?"


"Of course not." She tucked her skirts closer to her side and scooted more deeply into her corner.


Nick lowered himself beside her, making the padded bench creak. "Have you no other prospects?"


He leaned back against the wall, savoring the moment. The fire hissed and popped softly beside them, and the lady herself gave off a subtle fragrant heat, such that even sitting beside her was an odd comfort.


"I am barely received," she said. "My debut was eight years ago. I should feel lucky to have any offer at all."


"A fossil then, though not as prehistoric as my handsome self." And no wonder she didn't quail at sharing the parlor with him for a few moments.


Or a drink.


Or a bench in a quiet corner.


"Men do not become fossils. They become distinguished."


Nick sipped his drink. "Good to know."


"How is your father?"


The question surprised him, but if she knew who he was and that he was hunting a bride, she'd likely know why as well.


"Failing," Nick said, surprising himself with his honesty. "He's a tough old boot but hasn't lived an easy life, and seeing me married is all he's asked of me." And Nick had given his promise that before the Season was out, he'd have not just a fiancée, but a bride. The already depressing evening threatened to become downright morose.


"Parents. They excel at the gentle art of unspoken guilt."


Understanding like that was balm to a tired bachelor's soul. "Is that why you're on your way to slaughter?"


"Not parental guilt. Sororal guilt."


"I am one of eight," Nick said, citing the legitimate total because he was in polite company. "Sibling guilt can be powerful."


The guilt of a grown, unmarried son and heir more powerful yet.


"My younger sister will make her come out next year, and I must be safely away from the social scene. One wouldn't want to queer her chances by association with me."


"You are truly so wicked?" He couldn't credit that, because he knew-in every sense-the truly wicked and fast ladies of the polite world, and he did not know this shadowy creature beside him. He could not place her slightly husky voice or her lily of the valley scent.


"I was wicked," she said. "I caused quite a scandal once upon a time."


"All of my dearest friends have at least one scandal to their names." As did he, though he'd endure death by torture before he'd let Society catch a hint of it. Nick put his drink to his lips again, only to find he'd drained his glass. "More brandy?"


"Maybe just a drop. It grows on one."


He brought the decanter to her and poured them each another two fingers.


"You have no brothers or aunties or grandmother who can stay your father's hand?" Nick asked as he settled back down beside her. He wanted to stay close to her scent and to the pleasing melody of her voice in the dark. On a night otherwise devoid of comforts, the impulse was not to be questioned.


"No aunties or grandmother." The lady did not sound forlorn so much as stoic. "Two brothers, and they have done what they could to spare me these past few years. Papa is determined to be rid of me though, so a-marrying I will go."


A-marrying, an ironic reference to a-Maying. Nick appreciated the bravado.


"It's cheering, in a bleak sort of way, to commiserate with somebody else who has so little enthusiasm for wedded bliss."


"Did you really tell that poor woman you killed your mother?" The amusement was there again.


Nick peered at his drink, watching as it caught and reflected the firelight. "I did kill my mother, in a manner of speaking. She did not survive long after my appearance in the world, which I attribute to the rigors of birthing a child who was half the size of a bull calf. Informing my various countesses-in-waiting of this fact cools their heels a bit."


"Naughty of you but not unsporting. Childbed is a dangerous place, irrespective of a lady's wealth or position."


"So I tell myself. How would your papa react were I to pay you my addresses?"


The lady beside him went still in some considering way.


"You're serious. That is very kind of you, my lord."


"Not kind-it's self-serving. If I am seen to choose a prospective fiancée, then at least half of the gaggle following me from ball to soiree to Venetian breakfast will lose heart, and I'll have a little more peace for the next few weeks."


"My lord"-the lady's voice indicated she was looking at him while she spoke-"you don't even know who I am, what I look like, what scandal lies in my past."


Nick shrugged his shoulders, their width causing his arm to brush inadvertently against his companion. "Nor do I care. You are an eligible female, which makes you credible for my purposes, and you are a damsel in distress." She also had a pretty voice, wasn't the least missish, and her scent was luscious and soothing.


"Your rescue could misfire," the lady pointed out. "If Hellerington thinks you're considering me as a potential wife, he might negotiate with my father that much more quickly."


"Suppose he could." Nick felt a passing relief his impulsive offer was not going to be accepted, though it meant more weeks of Lady Simper and her ilk. "It's still a thought."


"Generous of you." The lady touched her glass to his. "To a knight errant of the ballroom. May you find happiness, despite your apparent fate."


Nick saluted with his glass. "And you as well, my lady."


They drank in companionable, thoughtful silence until Nick spoke again.


"What's going to be the worst part? The worst part of being married to this Lord Hellerington?" He occupied himself with such dolorous musings when he contemplated his own impending marriage.


"Besides the loss of hope?" She was silent a long moment, while Nick tried not to let that term-loss of hope-settle too hard in his mind. "It should not bother me, for a wife must do her duty, but the thought of that man kissing me... His teeth-what teeth he has-are not attractive, and he takes snuff... And this is really more than you wanted to know. I am being ridiculous. The man can't have that many years to live, after all."


Nick patted her hand. Kissing, done properly, could be more intimate than coitus.


"I understand. What years you have left, you shouldn't have to spend trying not to gag in the dark as your privacy is violated in the name of marital duty." She went still again, shocked maybe, but Nick wasn't sorry he'd spoken.


"Blunt," she muttered on a soft exhalation, "and bloody accurate."


Bloody. He liked her more and more.


"Shall I kiss you, my lady? I have all my teeth, and I am accounted somewhat skilled in the art. I think I shall. You may consider it a kiss for luck." He set his drink aside and took hers from her hand as well. He kept his movements deliberate, giving her every chance to demur, turn his threat into a joke, or slap him. Nick was no stranger to a woman's palm walloped across his cheek, though it had been awhile.


But she kept her silence-his liking for this woman was becoming considerable-so Nick followed her arm up with his hand until he could anchor both hands on her neck and cradle her jaw. He could find her lips in the dark easily enough, but he wanted to know the feel of her cheekbones under his thumbs, wanted to experience the exact warmth of that special, feminine place where neck and shoulder met.


"You can stop me," he assured her on a whisper. "You need only tell me."


Her breathing had accelerated slightly, though she held still and waited.


Patience in a female is a wonderful quality. Nick let his fingers tunnel carefully into the silky warmth of her hair and his thumbs slide first over her lips. Gads, she was soft, smooth, and warm. A pleasure to stroke, to inhale.


He brushed his lips gently over hers and felt her breath feather over his mouth. When he repeated the caress, her lips closed but stayed unresisting under his.


"Kiss me back, lamb," Nick whispered. "Give me something to dream about too."


She made a little sound in her throat, a groan, and she swayed toward him, but still Nick merely sipped at her mouth, wanting to go slowly, to savor and pleasure and share with her just a few moments against all the years they would both be married to other strangers.


Gently, he eased his tongue over the seam of her lips and tasted the surprise his boldness gave her. He persisted, but at an undemanding pace, one that reassured as it teased. Her lips parted, and Nick felt a lick of desire course down past his gut.


Ah, women... He sampled the plush heat of her mouth and felt a tentative caress of her tongue against his. The sweetness of the brandy lingered, blending with her fragrance and the taste of wonder. Slowly, Nick eased back, lightening the kiss gradually, reluctant to end it but knowing arousal wouldn't serve either of them when the likes of Miss Eulie and Lady What's-Her-Title were patrolling the corridors.


He kissed her eyes and her cheek, then tucked an arm around her back, drawing her to lean against him.


"If that is somewhat skilled," the lady whispered against his side, "then your version of an expert kiss would surely inspire me to swoon." She eased away. Nick dropped his arm and passed her a drink.


His drink, if he weren't mistaken.


"My thanks, my lady." He cradled her brandy in his hands, thinking of the taste of that kiss. "Won't you tell me your name?"


"Are you sure you want to know?" The question was devoid of her characteristic lilt.


"I have been advised one shouldn't go around kissing strangers." Though he'd disregarded the warning often and enthusiastically. "Based on the past few minutes, I must eschew this guidance altogether."


"You are kind, Lord Reston. There is kindness even in your kisses."


He wanted to touch her again, almost as badly as he'd wanted to escape the ballroom.


"Kindness? I can't say that particular descriptor has been applied to me or my kisses." Though there were far worse things a lady could say about a fellow's attentions.


His companion rose, keeping her back to him, a long, graceful back full of resolution and sorrow. He wanted to touch her back too, to learn the contour of those shoulder blades and the curve of her nape. "I am going to leave you here, my lord. You will wait a few minutes before you leave?"


"Of course, but I will miss your company."


He meant it, too, as their odd, partly anonymous interlude had pleasantly surprised him and put warmth into an otherwise bleak and boring night.


"Our paths might one day cross again," the lady said, "but if they don't, I will always be grateful for these few minutes with you."


Nick kept his seat and let her move away without showing him her face in any measurable light. She paused at the door, and just before she opened it and slipped through, she went still again.


"It's Leah," she said softly. "My name is Leah."


Then she was gone, her name reverberating in the room silently, like the aural equivalent of a glass slipper.


***


A man of Nick's proportions did not fit easily into life in many ways, not the least of which was the physical. His horse, Buttercup, was a golden behemoth, her gender overlooked in favor of her ability to carry such a large rider with ease. Nick's beds were built to his measurements, and when he was forced to spend a night between residences, he often chose to sleep on the ground rather than in beds made for much smaller people.


He ate prodigious quantities of food, and could drink more spirits than most mere mortals could safely consume. All of his appetites, in fact, were in proportion to his size. But so too were his conveyances, and thus he frequently took up his friends and acquaintances when they were in need of transportation.


Nick was in the card room, where he'd be safe from all but the oldest females, when Lord Valentine Windham found him lurking in the shadows near a game of whist.


"I am free," Val informed him with a grin. "What say we take ourselves off?"


"None too soon for me," Nick replied, shoving away from the mantel he'd propped his elbow on. "What are you in the mood for?"


They ambled off amid cheery, drunken good-byes, and Nick knew a gut-deep sense of relief to be leaving.


"In truth?"


"No, Valentine. You are my friend, it's well past midnight, and we are both only more or less sober. Why don't you take up lying to me?"


"I'm in the mood to spend some time with that Broadwood of yours," Val said. "Not well done of me, I know, but as the weather moderates, your pianoforte is developing the most gorgeous middle register."


"You are incorrigible, Valentine."


"I am besotted, is what I am. A good instrument is a precious find."


They fell silent as they gained the drive, the April air nippy. Nick's town coach rolled up, to Nick's eye resembling Cinderella's pumpkin carriage. The thing was huge, opulently appointed, and pulled by a foursome of equally gargantuan bay horses. It fit him wonderfully, but rendered any hope of discretion laughable.


"How many women have you seduced in this rolling seraglio?" Val asked, settling onto the well-padded seat.


Nick felt a twinge of irritation that his grand conveyance raised questions only about his equally grand reputation with the demimonde. "Enough. Would you like to borrow it?"


Val glanced around as Nick lowered himself beside him. "I could fit a tidy little cottage piano in here."


"You are not right in the head, Valentine. Or in some other parts."


"I am right enough. When I first came south from wintering with my brother in Yorkshire, I tended to the obvious priorities, and now it's my music that calls to me. What about your other parts? Did you find a prospective bride tonight?"


"What do you know of Lord Hellerington?" Nick ignored Val's question. On first mention, such an inquiry deserved no consideration whatsoever.


Val grimaced. "Unappetizing shift of topics. He is often referred to as Lord Hell-raiser, an epithet he takes pride in. Old as dirt, rackety as hell, and forever trying to knock up his mistresses and trollops. Word is that various social diseases have rendered him incapable of impregnating a female, if not half mad."


Beelzebub's balls, no wonder the woman had been crying. "Wealth?"


"Enough for appearances. Nothing of great merit, or he'd have lured some sweet young thing to the altar by now."


"He's never married?"


"Three times, and wore them all out." Val paused to yawn broadly. "Why the sudden interest?"


"Somebody mentioned him in conversation this evening. Does he gamble?"


Val cocked his head and considered Nick by the passing light of streetlamps and porch lights. "He whores, duels, and drinks to frequent excess. He abuses opium, absinthe, and women, and one hears of children coming to harm in his care. His horses are invariably crazy, or they are when he's done with them. All in all, a stunning exponent of the titled set, and he's a mere baron."


"I want his vowels," Nick said, frowning out the window. The words were unplanned, but they emerged with conviction. "I want his secrets, but I'll start with his gambling markers."


"Has he crossed you?" From a friend, the question was reasonable, for Nick was generally known for a live-and-let-live approach to his fellow man. He'd learned long ago to cultivate such a reputation, lest his peace be constantly shredded by those seeking to challenge him physically. The biblical figure of Sampson had always struck Nick as an upstart pest.


But what should Nick say now, when he felt the stirrings of temper on the strength of a mere passing encounter with a woman named Leah?


Who had the softest skin and kisses that tasted of wonder-and courage.


"You describe Hellerington as an embarrassment to good society in general. Perhaps I'm embarking on a public service."


"Of course. You, who single-handedly-if that's the appropriate appendage-support at least three of the best brothels in London, have taken a notion to torment one old reprobate who wouldn't be allowed through the doors of any of them."


Nick smiled slightly at his companion. "Three brothels, Valentine?"


"For now-according to rumor. You'll not be frequenting the brothels once you're married," Val predicted, crossing his arms. "You won't disgrace your wife that way, and you know it."


"I would not disgrace a woman I loved that way, but I have no intention of acquiring a wife for any romantic purposes whatsoever."


"Then how are you going to get your heirs on the girl?" Val shot back. "Your temperament is such that you at least like the females you bed in such quantity, Nicholas. You aren't capable of treating a woman coldly, and wives, I am told, have a habit of entangling themselves in a man's life."


"I appreciate women, Val," Nick said, but he was fatigued of the topic, of the night, and of much else in life. "That is not the same thing at all as loving one woman."


"So refine your tastes," Val suggested gently. "I know the issue is a sore one, but to see you attempting a calculating approach to your bride search rankles exceedingly."


Rankle-such a delicate term for unbridled loathing. Rather than endure more interrogation, Nick remained silent until the coach rocked to a halt.


"After you." The fewer people in the coach when Nick rose, the more room he had to maneuver. Val obligingly hopped out of the coach and waited for Nick under the porte cochere.


"You were going to finish your thought, Nicholas."


"I am going to listen to you play me a lullaby," Nick informed him, "while we both get sentimental over some of my best brandy."


"Of course. My very thoughts, but, Nick?"


"Hmm?" Nick passed off hat, cape, gloves, and cane to a footman, and Val waited until they were again alone to continue.


"You should marry only for love," Val said, oddly serious. "Another man, even I, might be able to carry off the typical cordial war that passes for a Society marriage, but it will destroy you to make such a compromise."


Nick settled an arm around his friend's shoulders and steered him toward the cozy confines of the family parlor. "Valentine, you are a dear man, with artistic sensibilities and a paucity of single brothers. Spare me your pronouncements about matrimony until the reality looms a little closer to your own experience, hmm? There's a lad. Tell me, how many bottles will it take before you play me some of that stuff you make up on the spot but don't write down? You've a name for it."


"Improvisation," Val said, letting Nick lead him toward the Broadwood. "Because you're being contrary and stubborn, you'll get only Scarlatti from me tonight."


"Scarlatti it is." Nick signaled his butler for an extra bottle of the good stuff anyway.


***


"Darius?" Lady Leah Lindsey stifled a yawn as the horses swung into a trot.


"Hmm?" Darius Lindsey was not so polite and exercised a brother's prerogative by yawning audibly and rolling his neck.


"What do you know of Viscount Reston?" Leah asked, glad for the lack of light in the coach and for a brother who would join her on the forward-facing seat.


"I know he's quite, quite tall, and in vulgarly good physical condition." Darius peered at her with a brother's inconvenient curiosity. "Built like a Viking, and blond like one."


"So you've seen him. But what do you know of him?"


"He's not married," Darius said musingly, "and a certain type of woman lines up to offer him her wares, according to gossip. Some say he was rusticating for the past few years. Others say he was taking the cure for years of mischief. He has friends in odd places, high and low, and he's rumored to be looking for a bride, because old Bellefonte is approaching his last prayers. He doesn't gamble to excess, and there's no mention of public displays of temper or inebriation. Lots of speculation about the man, but little real fact."


Leah said nothing, while she privately concluded Reston must be a decent enough fellow, because as she well knew, vices were pounced upon and dissected by the gossips without mercy.


"Finances?" Leah asked, thinking of Reston's casual offer to buy up Hellerington's markers.


"Finances..." Darius tipped back his head to rest on the squabs-he was in demand as dancing partner, and the night had no doubt been long for him. "Word when we left for Italy was that Bellefonte was all but rolled up, and with all those daughters to launch, the gossip was probably accurate. Reston is rumored to have taken over the reins and set things to rights rather quickly. He isn't seen to be in trade, so one wonders how he's done it."


"You could ask him," Leah said, sinking down a little more against the cushions.


"I could." Darius's tone was sardonic. "Just sidle up to a man who could snap my neck with his bare hands and ask how he's pulled his family out of dun territory with no one the wiser. Do you comprehend what that question implies?"


Smuggling, though an older brother would turn that admission into even more of a scold. "I do, though I would not for anything risk my brothers. Still, it would be nice to know." Nice, too, to have an excuse to converse with the man again-to kiss him again.


The thought was useless-also harmless, because there would be no opportunity to indulge it.


Darius propped a foot on the opposite seat. "So you ask him. He's looking for a bride, you're available, and an acquaintance between you would not be so unusual, at least in proper social settings. I've been introduced to him, so I can see to the proprieties."


"You said he's a womanizer. Is that whom you want me consorting with?"


Darius's tone became lazy. "My dear, I am a womanizer. Every man who can get away with it, practically, is a womanizer. You ladies inspire us to it."


"Blaming the women, Darius?" Leah's tone was cool.


"Oh, now." Darius looped an arm across her shoulders. "Hellerington has rattled you. He's rattled me, too. I cannot bear to think of you with that man, Leah."


"Then don't think of it," she said, letting her head rest on his shoulder. Of all the considerations her brothers showed her, this one-this casual affection-meant the most. She'd felt cast out, judged, unclean, and unforgivably stupid as a younger woman, and Society had done its cruel best to reinforce her opinion. Her brothers, though, had stood by her, and eventually the scandal had been faced down.


There were good men in the world, Leah reassured herself. Her brothers were good men.


Lord Reston... was a puzzle. His kiss lingered in Leah's memory like a bonfire on a hill, a bright, riveting, but isolated event that drew her attention even while she should be figuring out how to tolerate a life as Lady Hellerington.


Reston was kind. She'd felt it in his touch, heard it in his voice, tasted it in his kiss and in the way he'd assumed an unthreatening, companionable honesty with her from the first moment. He was also stunningly, spectacularly masculine in that kindness. He wore some kind of Eastern scent, sturdy like sandalwood but sweetened with an exotic note of spices. His hands had been gentle, for all their size, but they'd also been undeniably knowing.


So he was kind, handsome, and single, but he was also-and most especially-wrong for her.


He would never take from a woman by plunder. He'd seduce instead, and make a lady grateful for the privilege of giving to him what he had not earned and would not treasure past a fleeting moment.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 30 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2013

    Good read (LVR)

    I really enjoy Grace Burrowes' books. She has entertained me for many hours. Her regency romances are a cut above the norm. However, I was a little confused with the plotline of this particular book. The characters have so many " secrets", some of which seem obvious even before they are revealed. The hero's problems that seem to have plagued him for his entire life really could have been cleared up earlier by conversations with the older folks. And the heroine never learns why she is so despised by her father, though it is revealed to the reader.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2013

    Don't judge a book by its cover. While I am not a fan of this co

    Don't judge a book by its cover. While I am not a fan of this cover, I still had to read the book.  I have read and loved all of Grace Burrowes' books and this one did not disappoint. This book has a very sweet love story that is a nice change from  most romance stories. There is no big intrigue going on and no one really trying to thwart the couple, just a nice look into a couple coming to terms with things in the past and learning to love each other. The hero is a gentle giant and the heroine desperately needs someone to love and cherish her. If you are looking for a change in your romances I would highly recommend this book and any others by Grace Burrowes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2013

    why are the three remaining books in this series comes onl






    why are the three remaining books in this series comes only in ebook form? I loved the first one Darious and her other books.. I prefer reading my books on paper.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    I was lucky enough to get a copy of this, the 2nd book book in t

    I was lucky enough to get a copy of this, the 2nd book book in the Lonely Lords series: Nicholas. I loved it. The hero is an Earl-in-waiting who's been taking care of himself, his family, and much of the business of the earldom. When he meets the troubled Leah - he can't help but want to take care of her problems as well. One of the things I enjoy most about Grace Burrowes in this new series is how she weaves characters and plots we've come to know and love from other books and series. This book takes place during the same time frame as "Darius". While this book is great as a stand alone, it should definitely appeal to those who are already enjoying the world of the Windhams and their friends. Can't wait to find out what happens to Ethan in the next Lonely Lords book!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2014

    NICHOLAS: LORD OF SECRETS

    #2 in the lonely lords series...total of nine..Wow...not sure I'll get that far. This is not one of Grace's best books. Very slow,booooring, snd confusing....very disappointing story so far. Not going to purchase any more in this series....why, grace to you feel thst you have to add so many erotic sex parts. More is less and a better story. Thats what mostcof us wanr....less sex and more story. Not really a hard concept. Most of the stories have a great concept.....just give us great stories....SAVE YOUR MONEY. Do not recommend.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 9, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Rachel Book provided by NetGalley for review Review

    Reviewed by Rachel
    Book provided by NetGalley for review
    Review originally posted at Romancing the Book

    Miss Burrowes, you are seriously cutting into all my other activities during the day, including but not limited to, eating, cleaning, doing dishes–you get the picture.

    This book started out a bit slower to me than Darius, the other one I read in this series, but not in a bad way. I really think Miss. Burrowes had to set the story. I kept reading only because I had liked Darius so much that I knew she would pull through with this second installment of the Lonely Lords and let me tell you- I was not disappointed.

    I fell in love-IN LOVE– with Nicholas. He was like a regency Thor. If you are a historical romance fanatic you’ll know that most regency men were quite short, not attractive, and definitely not Thor like. Nicholas was EVERYTHING a girl could want in an English lord, fiercely protective, hilarious, quick witted, rich, and an all around good guy.

    My heart broke for Leah in this book. Several times I caught myself crying over her situation. Here this amazing lord offers his protection by marriage but withholds the one thing she’s wanted her entire life–love and acceptance.

    She loves him despite his ability to give her what she needs and then in the end sacrifices their relationship in order to protect them both.

    I may have bawled. I can’t remember. I think I blacked out from severe emotional trauma.

    The book had an amazing happily ever after and both Nicholas and Leah were beautifully drawn out as living, breathing characters.

    If I could give it more roses, I would.

    I recommend this for anyone who loves a good historical romance. There is some swearing, though minor, and a few love scenes.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 6, 2013

    A hunk!!

    What an absolute hunk! As the story unfolds and Nicholas’s character is developed, Burrows makes you want to take this guy home. Such a big sweetheart! Of course, he is not without his flaws, meeting Leah, with her own share of issues and sorting it all out provides a great read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2013

    Not so good

    This was not one of grace burrows best it was really lacking in everything and the plot just did keep you interested really disapointed!!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 6, 2013

    As posted at THE READING CAFE as a combined review with DARIUS a

    As posted at THE READING CAFE as a combined review with DARIUS and ETHAN 31 Jul 13

    5 out of 5 for this reader folks!

    WOW ... just WOW!  Does Grace Burrowes know how to write a beautiful story with intriguing characters and story lines. Right from the get go I am completely captivated and drawn in. This review consists of the first three books of her new Historical Romance Lonely Lords Series, Darius, Nicholas and Ethan.  Our setting is early 1800's, England (be it city or country) and our story revolves around a gentleman who is lost is many ways and finds his lady (through the usual angst, drama, seduction and action).  Each book is interconnected and you should to read them in order.  As a matter of fact the first and second book run parallel to each other.

    Okay on with the reviews! :)

    REVIEW

    Nicholas is a naughty, slutty, dreamy, flirt, large LARGE built, hilarious Lord.  He took me right in and by the 10th page I was IN LOVE!  LOL  Nicholas comes with many secrets, and many reserves which make him a complex and complicated man. 

    Leah and Nicolas meet in a quiet room as both are trying to escape their prospective futures while attending a ball.  This meeting is brief, honest and ends with a kiss.  They are both quite taken with each other.

    Nicholas is about to inherit an earldom and and has promised his ailing father that he will marry.  Leah is in a desperate situation of her own where her life literally is hanging in the balance.  As the two build the foundation to a beautiful friendship (and falling in love) Nicholas feels protective and responsible for Leah.  This leads to the proposal of marriage.  HOWEVER .. this is to be a "white" marriage.  Meaning, no consummation, no children (Nicholas harbors serious secrets and fears).  While Leah agrees to these terms, she believes she can break him down.

    These two are something else to read.  They are most suited and I loved the bursts of shock and secrets that came out throughout the story.  There was some serious heat between them as well and Nicholas character in general just has so much appeal.  

    We are also introduced to Nicholas's brother Ethan in this story and you can see the set up for book 3.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 15, 2013

    I always enjoy Grace Burrowes books especially when we revisit c

    I always enjoy Grace Burrowes books especially when we revisit characters that have appeared in other books and I have wondered what their story is. Nicholas has either been mentioned or appeared in other books particularly with Val Wyndham. What I like about Nicholas is his desire to reunite his family. They need healing and he very much wants to make that happen. If you like your hearoes with a real sensitive side you will enjoy this story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2013

    Slightly Confused

    I felt as if there was a back story 'missing' from this story. I constantly felt confused. I do recall this character from 'The Virtuoso' but again, the author would refer to things that I was certain I had never heard before, and after she skimmed over certain details, she left us to assume we knew what was happening. I didn't. Although not as good as the 'Windham family' books, this series, (with this book in particular) weren't badly written, they just felt incomplete.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Don't miss.

    Another great series from Grace Burrowes. Can't wait to read the rest of the books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2013

    worst book ever...it took me 4 days to read when i usually read

    worst book ever...it took me 4 days to read when i usually read a book a day...i could have summed the hole thing up in one paragraph...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 30, 2013

    Nicholas    Nicholas is a must for readers of historical romance

    Nicholas 
     
    Nicholas is a must for readers of historical romances, especially those about big, strong, deluded men and the women smart enough to love them long enough for them to come to their senses.  Full review available at BookTrib or RomanticReadsandSuch (dot) wordpress (dot) com

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2013

    Loved it

    Great second story if the series

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    Beautiful story

    I have yet to find a book by Grace Burrows that does not speak to my heart

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 12, 2013

    I love all of Grace Burrows books. I really loved this one! I

    I love all of Grace Burrows books. I really loved this one! I like how this series connects to her other books. Great read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)