Pride & Passion [NOOK Book]

Overview




Lucy Ashton had long ago given up her quest for true love. In the rarified society of Victorian England, Lucy plays the game—flirting, dancing and dabbling in the newly fashionable spiritualism. Even marrying when—and who—she's supposed to. If the stuffy Duke of Sussex cannot spark the passion she craves, he can at least give her a family, a home of her own, and a place to belong. But when her polite marriage reveals a caring and sensual ...
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Pride & Passion

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Overview




Lucy Ashton had long ago given up her quest for true love. In the rarified society of Victorian England, Lucy plays the game—flirting, dancing and dabbling in the newly fashionable spiritualism. Even marrying when—and who—she's supposed to. If the stuffy Duke of Sussex cannot spark the passion she craves, he can at least give her a family, a home of her own, and a place to belong. But when her polite marriage reveals a caring and sensual man, Lucy begins to wonder if she can indeed have it all.

But Lord Sussex is not the man the London ton has come to admire. And Lucy has some ghosts of her own, as well. Thus, when a blackmail scheme turns to threats of danger, the newfound peace of the Sussex marriage is cast upon the rocks. Passion has a price, Lucy learns. And not all ghosts stay buried.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this sensual and intriguing but somewhat perplexing sequel to June 2011’s Victorian Seduction & Scandal, Featherstone tells the story of Lucy, the first heroine’s cousin. Fed up with her staid and lonely life and overwhelmed by her planned marriage to Adrian, the reserved duke of Sussex, Lucy begins dabbling in the occult and learns of the secretive Brethren Guardians. She also pines over the loss of her first lover, Thomas, despite increasing evidence that he’s still alive and involved in nefarious activities. Adrian’s life is likewise shrouded in secrecy, and he resolves to mask his true passionate self. When Lucy and Adrian are alone, however, she is shocked by their simmering chemistry. Lucy’s initial aversion to the supremely likable Adrian and the haziness surrounding the Brethren’s tasks detract from an otherwise engaging and steamy yarn. Agent: Mary Louise Schwartz. (Dec.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459281622
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 12/1/2011
  • Series: Brethren Guardians Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 306,338
  • File size: 413 KB

Meet the Author


Charlotte Featherstone writes erotic historical romance, and historical romance for Harlequin Spice, and HQN Books. Her writing style has been described as beautiful, haunting, emotional and sensual. Charlotte lives on Lake Erie's North Shore in Ontario Canada, with her husband, daughter and two lovable but ill behaved dogs.

Charlotte's website address is charlottefeatherstone.net

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Read an Excerpt




"My dear, you have been looking forlornly out that window for half an hour now. Why do you not go and call on Lady Black?"

Lucy tucked the bit of lace she held in her hand between the voluminous folds of her rose-colored silk and velvet skirts, as she gazed over her shoulder at her father. It was early November, and the day was gray with drizzle that promised to turn to sleet. She pulled the fur shawl a little tighter about her shoulders. The fire that had been laid was crackling, the amber flames flickering with warmth, filling the room with the comfort that only a roaring fire in late autumn could bring. But still Lucy was cold. She had been for months. Nothing seemed to warm her.

"It is early yet, Papa," she answered. "Too early for calls."

"Nonsense, the new Lady Black is your cousin—I daresay almost your sister. It's never too early to call on family. Besides, I'll be leaving now for my club, and I would like to know that you're not at home, hanging about at loose ends."

A wry smile escaped her as she cast her gaze once more out the window, to the mammoth black iron gates that stood across the street. How strange it was, that after all these years—decades, actually—her father cared about what she might—or might not—be doing. Her loneliness, and it had been substantial, had never mattered to him before.

The Marquis of Stonebrook was neither a heartless nor an intentionally cruel man. Lucy could not say that about her father. Only that he wasn't mindful of others and their needs. He was emotionally absent—not mean or quarrelsome. Just.. absent. There was no other word for what her father, and her mother, had been. Although, perhaps uninterested might be a close second. The long-held adage of "seen and not heard" did not pertain to her upbringing. For her parents had seen very little of her, and heard her? Not at all.

Her parents had been more concerned with their own lives than that of their child. She had been of little consequence to them, bringing to them little enjoyment. Her conception had been an obligation to further the title, and when she had turned out to be a girl, and no other children followed her, her parents had resigned themselves to the fact that their legacy would live on through the husband they would choose for her.

And Lucy knew without a doubt who her father wanted her to take for a husband. The passionless and priggish Duke of Sussex.

The duke was a sedate, dull and frightfully proper man—nothing like the man she dreamt of when she imagined a husband. Nothing like those dreams she had entertained when she was younger, when the butcher's boy would come round with his master and keep her company in the kitchen while the butcher haggled with Mrs. Brown, their old housekeeper. Those had been silly, girlish fantasies of what it might be like to follow one's heart and dreams; those fantasies had swiftly been dashed by her father, and she soon learned what being a marriageable woman in her world truly meant.

And such was the essence of her life, until eight months ago when she had taken her future into her own hands, seeking out what she felt her life lacked in the arms of an artist. The warmth and acceptance she had found with him would not exist with the duke. Their union would be an alliance, not a relationship.

"Come, my dear, I've been watching you for a while now, sitting on that window box, lost in thought. Surely whatever it is you're hiding there beneath your skirts isn't so serious for one as young as you?"

A bit of Brussels lace, that's what she had buried beneath the folds of her skirts. It was embroidered with her initials, and given to her lover on the night she had offered herself to him. And then he had died, or at least, she had believed he'd died in the fire that had consumed his rented rooms.

She had grieved, wept and despaired over never feeling alive again, until a fortnight ago, when the lace had been resurrected and delivered to her hand. That it had been his grace, the Duke of Sussex, who had delivered the handkerchief to her never ceased to perturb her. Why he had been the one to return it to her was still something she mulled over during the long, lonely nights spent alone in her father's town house. She did not care for the notion that Sussex knew of her dalliance with another man. She didn't care what he thought of her, or what he made of the handkerchief—or if he thought her fast and immoral, and so far beneath him for indulging in base pleasures.

It did not matter what his grace made of it all, for Lucy cared about only one thing: Thomas was alive, she was sure of it. He had made her promises. He'd spoken to her of their future together. She had believed that future burned to ashes in the fire, but the lace that she rubbed between her fingers told her that everything she believed was about to change.

"You're frowning. Your mama always said it would give you creases about your eyes."

Lucy found herself smiling. "Yes, she did say that. But I haven't gotten the wrinkles yet."

It was her father's turn to frown. "Dare I hope the reason for your deep rumination might be the subject of marriage, especially after you have witnessed the marital felicity between your cousin and her new husband?"

"I am afraid not, Papa."

"I thought not, but one can hope, and I haven't given up yet."

Her father would never give up. It was his desire to see her wed to the duke, and nothing less would do.

"And that is all that you intend to say on the matter, is it? Well, then I shall let it rest for now. Come then, Lucy, I must be off. I shall escort you across the street."

"Really, Papa, there is no need for concern. I am quite all right at home."

"Alone?" he guffawed. "Absolutely not, you're still recovering from your illness."

There was no fighting him on this. A fortnight ago she had been gravely ill—her own stupidity, which she refused to think on—and ever since, her father made certain that she was never left alone, although it was not him who was a constant presence, but Isabella, whose task it now seemed was to hover about and mind Lucy's activities.

Lucy thought back to those months ago, when, in an attempt to appease the loneliness left behind by the imagined loss of her lover, she had turned down many a dark and dangerous path, one of seances and scribing, and bargaining in her dreams if only she could find her lover once again. There had been that awful sense of incompleteness, having never had a chance to say goodbye. To see him one last time before he faded forever onto the other side, where breathing mortals could not follow.

Dabbling in the occult had been a way of idling her time away—and perhaps a somewhat foolish and desperate measure to find him in the ethers of the spiritual realm—it was then that she had come across the mysterious Brethren Guardians and their sacred relics—a relic she had stolen and used for her own purposes. The result had been disastrous, and nearly deadly.

It had terrified her father, and now he was hovering about, foisting her onto her cousin, and generally distrusting her, treating her like a child.

"Come, Lucy. I insist," her father muttered in that voice that would brook no refusal. "There is no moving me on this. You will join Lady Black today and attend to those things that ladies do during morning calls."

"I will just change," Lucy sighed, quite resigned in the matter.

"Balderdash! You are quite appropriately attired. There is no need to waste time on changing your wardrobe."

Her father wouldn't hear of it. He was in something of a hurry to get to his club, and therefore, she was escorted out of the salon, and into the hall, where Jennings, their butler, assisted her with her cloak and umbrella.

"Damn this weather," her father grumbled as he reached for her elbow and ushered her down the stone steps to the waiting carriage. "We'll drive across the street, for there is no telling how long it will take Black's footman to open the gates. I have no desire to wait in the rain for the gates to open. Don't know why he needs them, anyway." Because he was a Brethren Guardian. But she couldn't very well inform her father of such a fact. She herself should know nothing of it. Lucy barely understood this strange Brethren that Sussex and Lord Black belonged to, but it didn't matter. During her study of the occult, she had stumbled across it, discovering not only who the Brethren were, but the relics they kept hidden. She had sworn an oath of silence, promising never to speak of their little group to anyone. And in return, her own shocking secret would be kept from her father, and the microcosm that was their world—the ton.

She knew only bits and pieces of the Brethren Guardians' secrets; it was an esoteric society made up of three influential peers: Black, Sussex and the Marquis of Alynwick.

Their business was mysterious and secretive, and dangerous. From what she knew of their secrets, there existed an onyx pendant, which was the very essence of evil, and some sort of chalice that they protected. But what they represented, she could not say, and could not find out.

Black, who had recently become the husband of Isabella, Lucy's cousin, had been shot a fortnight ago during what was termed Guardian business. Well on the mend, Black pretended that naught had happened, and Isabella, a true and honorable wife, would not speak of it. Lucy had tried, but Isabella had remained stubbornly tight-lipped. And the pendant…it had belonged to Black and his family, and purportedly contained seeds with magical powers. Lucy had taken it, ingested a seed inside the pendant and wished with everything inside her in the hopes she might once more see her lover and say her tearful goodbyes.

Of course, the rash action had caused her days of vomiting, and a strange feeling of possession, not to mention the fact that her actions had both alarmed and angered not only Black but Sussex. But in the end, her goal had been achieved. Thomas was alive…

And the Brethren Guardians were not only looking for him, but watching her as well to see if Thomas would come to her. When Sussex had delivered the lace to her he had also informed her that the man who had dropped it was a man he and the Brethren were hunting. He was their enemy, Sussex had claimed, and that man, Lucy knew, was Thomas. Her lover from the past. And Lucy knew with every cell of her being that she must protect him from the duke and his two fellow Guardians, for they were powerful and influential men, while her lover was an artist, without influence of a title or the power that both peerage and money could wield.

Yes, those iron gates that surrounded his lordship's home, standing sentry like a castle drawbridge against marauding knights, was a security measure—one Black would never abolish.

Her father cleared his throat several times, while glancing sidelong at her, all indications that something was weighing on him, something he felt compelled to speak of. "I'm afraid I cannot allow our previous conservation to lay fallow. I must speak plainly, Lucy. I've noticed, my dear, that Sussex hasn't been by for some time. Two weeks, at least, I believe."

Lucy refused to take her gaze from the rain-streaked carriage window. She would not talk of his grace, and she would not have this conversation with her father.

"I hope you have not had a falling-out."

"I wasn't aware that we had a falling-in."

That quip made her father glare at her. "You don't make it easy on the poor fellow. You hold him at arm's length. He's trying to court you, but you're too obstinate to see it."

"I am well aware of the fact, Father. You have made it too blatant for me to misunderstand. You wish me to marry the duke."

"You say it with such disdain, as though he were a common laborer, when he is the furthest thing from it."

She thought back to her young friend Gabriel, the butcher's boy, and realized that they had shared something remarkable—the same sadness, the same loneliness, despite their stations being so opposite. "I am not at all opposed to a common man, if he were to feel a genuine sense of affection for me."

"Affection!" Her father's thick mutton chops twitched in irritation. "Good God, child, are we back to that?

Those fairy-tale thoughts were amusing when you were twelve, now they are downright mortifying. Marriage is an institution—"

"Rather like one of those asylums for lunatics," she mumbled, unable to help herself. She didn't want an institution. She wanted a marriage. A friendship. A loving partner.

Her father sighed deeply, but did not bother to address her thoughts and instead began to talk to her as he had so many years ago, as she lay on her bed, sobbing into her pillow after he had turned away the only friend she had ever had—Gabriel. Depriving her of that friendship had destroyed her, frozen part of her heart and soul. How wretched her father had been—how horrid it was to see her friend leave, and never, ever return. Internally she had railed against the injustice of it all, but she had been powerless then to take charge of her life, and her future. And now, here she was years later, still just as powerless, still enduring the same lectures on duty and the responsibilities of a female of her class.

"Now, Lucy, must I remind you that every station in life has its obligations, and the daughter of a marquis's obligation is to marry well, furthering their nobility, and riches. You were put on this earth, girl, to marry a duke."

How many times had she heard that particular lecture? Her entire existence in the world was based on matrimony and breeding. A harrowing thought, one that made her feel pity for all the other unborn daughters of the peerage.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 20 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 8, 2012

    I could not wait to get the second book... I need more!!

    I cannot wait to read more from Charlotte Featherstone!!! The way she is able to put to words the feelings she is expressing in her writing is remarkable!! I cannot even think of another author to compare her to, Christine Feehan would be the closest but I have to say Charlotte Featherstone is one author I will read for as long as she writes!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2011

    Anaonymous

    Amazing. Love it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2012

    Delete after skimming

    Read it. Hated it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Loved it!

    Wonderfully passionate. I adore Charlotte Featherstone's tales.

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  • Posted November 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A haunting stay up all night read

    ***original & extended review posted at Romancing Rakes***

    PRIDE:
    Lady Lucy Ashton is dabbling in the occult trying to find her lost lover. He has captured her heart and enthralled her, only to die in a fire, or so she thinks. The Duke of Sussex, the man she is to be engaged to, brings proof in the form of her handkerchief (which she gave to her lover) as proof that he is still alive. She is determined to find him by any means and has branded Sussex as her enemy.

    Being a victim of her time and upbringing, Lucy was the only child born to her parents (no heir) so they ignored her. In turn, she learned to close herself off from others. As a child, she had a friend (the butcher's son) who she spent a lot of time with until her father sends him away. He gifts her with a handmade bed for her dolls, which she has kept as a reminder. Now, she cannot seem to get her childhood friend out of her head. There is something hauntingly familiar about the cold grey eyes she saw during her visit to the mystic.

    Refusing to cave into her father's arrangement of marriage to Sussex, she does everything in her power to dissuade Sussex from marrying her. But as the heavy staring and sultry, thigh clenching words flow and seduce from Sussex's all too kissable mouth do a number to her whole being, Lucy must not allow herself be lured in by that simmering passion underneath the controlled visage of the all too proper duke.

    She must find her lover and prove to Sussex that the man is not in league with Orpheus. She must also find out why her lover did not let her know he was still alive and she had to find out via her handkerchief that Sussex brought to her. But things take a dangerous and unexpected turn. She must decide whether to go back to her lover or allow Sussex's amorous attentions to grow into something more.

    PASSION:
    Lord Adrian York, Duke of Sussex is controlled, scandal-free and on the hunt for the man named Oprheus who has one of the relics that belong to the Brethren Guardians. Under all that control is a secret and a simmering passion for Lucy. He is determined to make Lucy his in every way but to do so, he must convince her that Thomas is the enemy, not him.

    He's held a tendre for Lucy for quite some time now and he wants her. Badly. But he must keep his passions in check so as not to prove to the ton that he is his father's son. At every turn, Lucy tempts him more and more even though, true to her hair color, she's feisty and fights him every step of the way.

    His sister and his father's mistress are the only family he's got left, not counting his fellow Brethren. Keeping them safe from Orpheus is at the top of his list after finding the man himself. Both know what Adrian is and they are willing to help him even if it is too dangerous and could pay with their life.

    He's held a deep dark secret for so long, it could cost him everything and everyone he loves.

    Pride & Passion:
    As Lucy gets closer to finding Thomas, Adrian must keep her from harms way even if it means opening up to her about Brethren business and showing her how he really feels. Together they each must set aside their pride and let their passions rule. Only then, can the truth be revealed and releasing their respective emotional burdens.

    Charlotte Featherstone has created a world of danger, intrigue, betrayal, forgiveness, anticipation, second chances, dark secrets and the occult. Just WOW.

    ***ARC from Netgalley***

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  • Posted October 28, 2011

    Enjoyable, but not for everyone.

    I should not recommend this title. The plot is sex-driven and there is an extraordinary coincidence that is very hard to swallow even for a romance novel. Yet . . . it is a compelling story and I found myself eager to read the story and now I can't wait for the last title in the series. My best advice is that if you have read and enjoyed the author's previous novels, you will enjoy this title. If you have a hard time suspending disbelief for a good tale, then stay away from this book. Overall, I am glad I read it.

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  • Posted October 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Enticing, seductive, hard to put down.

    Lucy was born into society to parents who cared about nothing more than appearances and duty. At the present the duty calls for Lucy to get married, and her father has his sights set on Duke of Sussex. Sussex, in Lucy's eyes, is a passionless pawn to society. Proper and stiff in all the ways of a ton gentleman. Lucy longs for passion and desire, something she had gotten just a brief taste of with her lover, Thomas.

    Adrian wants nothing more than Lucy, will stop at nothing to have her. He was taught to be the Duke, to obey all that is right and proper. He was also trained to be a Brethren Guardian, protecting secret artifacts - a job that has recently become more dangerous. The secrets of his life, of his past and his duties keep bound and distant, but beneath the pompous exterior lies a wealth of feeling and desire that he is finding harder and harder to contain.

    REVIEW: I simply loved this book! Charlotte Featherstone's writing was so beautiful and captivating and seductive. It's funny, because as far as graphic imagery goes, this book was a bit mild compared to some books I've read recently; but the sensations and feelings that are provoked with her writing go far beyond that of exaggerated descriptive words.

    It was so easy to fall into friendship with both Lucy and Adrian. Their voices were so strong and believable. When you were with Lucy, you feel the frustration of being bound to society and all that it means, and the desperation of finding some sort of happiness and escape from it all. You understood her desire to stand up for herself, but also the need to bow to her duties. It was easy to see how Adrian didn't seem like a good match, though he was the obvious one. On the other hand you felt nothing but frustration and fury toward Lucy when you were in Adrian's head. It was so obvious that he loved her, in every breath and every move he was screaming it from the rooftops, and why oh why couldn't she just see it. He had his own trappings in life, his own duties that were keeping him confined. Adrian's emotions were at a constant simmer. He had a dark and almost poetic way about him, and his words. I want so badly to quote the book - to lay some out for you, but alas, I am going to keep it a mystery because half the fun of this book is to watch him torture and be tortured yourself with his brief touches and sexy vocalizations of his feelings and the feelings he'd like to provoke.

    The relationship between Lucy and Adrian played out exactly as I thought - hoped - it would. Even though in the prologue and first chapter I thought for sure Thomas was our hero, in my mind I had started writing the story with Adrian coming out of the box that Lucy placed him in and becoming something so much more. Little did I know (obviously I didn't read the synopsis very well, eh?!) I was in the same mindset as the author - happily so. I saw many of my thoughts on the story's progression come to fruition but am still completely impressed with Charlotte Featherstone's ability to draw out the story line, to hold on to the puzzle piece even when you think the idea is dead and gone. She does nothing but keep you captivated and reading until the very end - and then sets up the final novel in a frustratingly glorious way!

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    Posted February 7, 2012

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