Scandal of the Year (Heiress in London Series #3)

Scandal of the Year (Heiress in London Series #3)

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by Olivia Drake, Barbara Dawson Smith

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Barbara Dawson Smith writing as Olivia Drake

The youngest of the Crompton heiresses, Blythe yearns to marry into the aristocracy to bolster her family's place in society. The widowed Duke of Savoy seems to be the perfect choice, yet it's another man who sets her heart to pounding: the new footman, James. He's devilishly handsome and far more fascinating than


Barbara Dawson Smith writing as Olivia Drake

The youngest of the Crompton heiresses, Blythe yearns to marry into the aristocracy to bolster her family's place in society. The widowed Duke of Savoy seems to be the perfect choice, yet it's another man who sets her heart to pounding: the new footman, James. He's devilishly handsome and far more fascinating than any of her noble suitors. And he alone has the power to stir her romantic dreams.

Little does she know, however, James Ryding is the true heir to the Crompton fortune. He's posing as a servant in order to find evidence to prove her parents are imposters. By charming Blythe, he hopes to use her to regain his rightful inheritance. But as heat flares between them, he realizes that fulfilling his quest will mean ruining the beautiful, spirited woman who has captured his heart.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This book has it all: a fabulous hero, a wonderful heroine, and sizzling passion. Read it and watch the sparks fly!” —Christina Dodd on SEDUCING THE HEIRESS

“Guaranteed to seduce readers everywhere. This book is something truly special, an unforgettable story filled with passion, intrigue, and sweep-you-away romance.” —Susan Wiggs on SEDUCING THE HEIRESS

“This decadent Regency romance is carried along by a spunky heroine and sumptuous descriptions of upper-class life…there's enough glitz to keep readers coming back.” —Publishers Weekly on SEDUCING THE HEIRESS

“Drake entices readers [and] twists the traditional with an unconventional heroine and a bad-boy hero that readers will adore.” —Romantic Times BOOKreviews on SEDUCING THE HEIRESS

“Superb.” —Genre Go Round Reviews on SEDUCING THE HEIRESS

“I absolutely adored this story! Witty, hilarious…[like] reading a Julia Quinn novel. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in this series!” —The Season Blog on SEDUCING THE HEIRESS

“Thoroughly entertaining.” —Book Binge on SEDUCING THE HEIRESS

“Olivia Drake's Seducing the Heiress will land on your keeper shelf. The author takes what could be a been-there, read-that story of a scheming scoundrel and a headstrong hoyden, and weaves a tale of wit, seduction, secrets, and sensuality that's as vibrant as it is refreshing.” —Michelle Buonfiglio's Romance: B(u)y the Book® on SEDUCING THE HEIRESS

“Drake weaves a sensual tale, full of intrigue and true romance…guaranteed to seduce, and leave the reader breathless.” —South Bend Romance Novel Examiner on SEDUCING THE HEIRESS

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Heiress in London Series , #3
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Chapter 1
From his seat on the floor with the general audience, James Ryding lifted the opera glasses and studied the balcony that stretched in a semicircle around the theater. The dimness of the gas lamps suited his covert purpose. While the actors traded witticisms on the stage, drawing laughter from the spectators, James scanned the aristocratic guests until he spied his quarry.
A small party occupied one of the private boxes reserved for the upper crust. In the front sat a middle-aged man and woman, along with a young lady. Although the girl was not the object of his scrutiny, James found himself pausing to observe her through the magnifiers.
She was strikingly pretty in a low-cut yellow gown that displayed her voluptuous charms. Coppery curls tumbled down to one of her shoulders. As she turned her head to whisper to a pair of gentlemen sitting to the rear, her lips formed a laughing curve.
The sight of that flirtatious smile sparked a visceral heat in James. He imagined them entwined in each other’s arms while he kissed her. He craved to know her scent and her taste, the feel of her curves beneath his hands. The fantasy was so vivid that heat rushed to his loins.
A tug on his sleeve yanked James back to the crowded theater. Clamping his teeth around an irritated growl, he lowered the opera glasses and frowned at the elderly man seated beside him on the bench.
Percy Thornton had bony shoulders hunched inside an ill-fitting brown coat. His gray eyebrows were raised in inquiry above his pale blue eyes. “Do you see them, sir?” Thornton whispered anxiously. “Arethey your cousins?”
James cudgeled his thoughts back to the present. “I can’t say for certain just yet.”
He peered through the glasses again, this time studiously ignoring the girl and focusing on the older couple beside her. A stout gentleman with thinning brown hair, George Crompton wore a crisp white cravat and a tailored blue coat. His wife, Edith, looked rather youthful in a bronze gown with the sparkle of a diamond tiara nestled in her upswept russet hair.
James struggled to reconcile the picture of husband and wife with the memory of his last visit with them more than two decades earlier. Alas, the mists of time had blurred their images. The only clear picture from the past that he’d retained was of playing with Edith’s pet spaniels.
“Are you sure you don’t recognize either of them?” Thornton prodded.
“I’m afraid not. They’re too far away. And kindly keep in mind, the last time I laid eyes on them I was a mere lad of ten.”
James kept his voice low even though the laughter of the audience masked their conversation. Everyone around him was engrossed in the play. Besides, no one would be expecting a gentleman to be seated down here with the common folk. Not when he was connected to the finest families in England. And not when he’d been away in Barbados for so many years.
There, he’d been master of a thriving plantation, the largest on the island, until a massive storm had flattened his ripening crop of sugar cane and reduced his house and outbuildings to kindling. Rebuilding would necessitate an influx of cash, but he’d sunk all his spare money into expanding his acreage. The notion of taking out a bank loan left a bad taste in his mouth. After witnessing his father being hounded by creditors all those years ago, James had vowed never to sign any IOUs.
For that reason, the arrival of the letter from Thornton had been a godsend. The old man had once been manager of the estate in Lancashire belonging to George Crompton. A trusted employee, Thornton had stayed on to watch over the place while the Cromptons had moved to India long ago.
In the letter, Thornton wrote that when he’d called on George Crompton to settle the matter of a neglected pension, Thornton had made a shocking discovery. The couple living in the Berkeley Square mansion were not the same people who had once employed Thornton.
George and Edith Crompton were imposters.
At first, James had dismissed the wild notion. Such a deception seemed impossible to accomplish. How could two criminals take over the lives of his cousins without anyone noticing?
Yet when a second letter had arrived from Thornton, urging James to take action, he’d paid closer attention. George Crompton had amassed great wealth during his twenty-year sojourn in India. His extensive holdings were rumored to rival the riches of the royal family. If Thornton was correct, and the man sitting up there in the box seat was not James’s cousin, then foul play had been committed.
Assuming George Crompton’s wealth had been embezzled, at what point had it happened? Years ago or only recently? The woman must be privy to the crime, too. Somehow, they’d managed to pull off the bold scheme with no one the wiser. Yet surely someone, a coworker or an acquaintance in India, would have sounded the alarm.
And the bigger question was, What had happened to the real Cromptons? Had they been murdered?
James intended to find out. If the story was true, then justice must be done on behalf of his cousin. James also acknowledged that in the process he himself would reap a king’s ransom for exposing them as criminals. As the only male relative, James was heir to the Crompton estate in Lancashire and much of the family holdings.
Few people knew his full name was James Ryding Crompton. Dropping the use of his surname had been an act of defiance against a father he’d despised.
His gaze flitted again to the young lady sitting in the box seat. She was still flirting over her shoulder with the two gentleman seated behind her. The spring social season had barely begun, but already she had acquired an entourage of admirers.
“Which daughter is the girl with them?” he asked Thornton.
“The youngest … I believe her name is Miss Blythe Crompton. There are two older sisters, but they’ve already married into the aristocracy.”
James narrowed his eyes at the laughing girl. Wealth had bought her acceptance into the highest circles. How much did Miss Blythe Crompton know of the swindle perpetrated by her parents? Was she a full-fledged party to the deception? Or had it happened when she was too young to remember?
The answer didn’t signify. If George Crompton was a charlatan, he must suffer the full force of the law.
“What will you do?” Thornton whispered. “Will you join society and call on them?”
James glanced over at his companion. “No. That would only serve to put them on their guard.”
“But you must do something, sir. Those two mustn’t be allowed to get away with such an offense.”
“I quite agree. However, it would be best if I could observe them for a time without their knowledge. To study them closely and find proof of their crime.”
And James knew the perfect way to do so.

Copyright © 2011 by Barbara Dawson Smith

Meet the Author

OLIVIA DRAKE is a New York Times bestselling author who lives in Texas. Her novels have won critical acclaim and numerous industry awards, including the prestigious RITA.

Olivia Drake is the author of Seducing the Heiress, Never Trust a Rogue, and Scandal of the Year. She has been a member of Romance Writers of America since 1981, and her novels have won the Golden Heart Award, Best Historical Romantic Suspense and Best Regency Historical from Romantic Times, and the prestigious RITA award. She lives in Houston, Texas.

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Scandal of the Year (Heiress in London Series #3) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Blythe Crompton sees how happily married her sisters are (see Seducing the Heiress and Never Trust a Rogue), and want the same for herself. Although she prefers a love match like those of her siblings, Blythe will wed a title to please her parents as well as making her dream come true. Her choice is the middle aged Widower the Duke of Savoy whose only fault is his "sweet concerned but acrimonious adult daughter Lady Davina. However, when Blythe meets James the footman, her aspirations change. She is falling in love with James, but he conceals who he is from her and her family. James Ryding (Crompton) is the heir to the Crompton fortune, who believes her parents stole what is rightfully his and plans to expose them as frauds. Instead Blythe persuades him to pretend to be a foreign prince who is in England to court the duke's daughter so that Savoy can seek Blythe. However, one kiss leaves the plans of mice, footmen and ladies astray. The third Heiress in London historical romance is another wonderful Compton romp as Blythe figures if she is attracted to James so will be her nemesis. The ploy fails miserably as does that of an avenging James; love proves an inconvenient truth to both. Fans of the series will relish the final tale especially the powerful climatic twist as what happened years ago in India comes home to roost. Harriet Klausner
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AAR More than 1 year ago
SCANDAL OF THE YEAR(An Heiress in London Novel) by Olivia Drake is a historical romance set in Regency England. The plot is easy to follow with a few twists and turns.The characters are believable,engaging and enchanting. While this is the third in "An Heiress in London" novel,it can be read as a stand alone. You will see some of the previous characters reappear. Book One "Seducing The Heirness",Book Two "Never Trust a Rogue".It has deceit,betrayal,love,romance,sweet sensuality,witty banter between the hero and heroine, web of deceit,and finding the truth.When expected love meets with a undeniable passion,only the truth can prevail. While the hero,James Ryding pretends to be a lowly servant,he is really looking for the truth of what happened to his cousins Charles and Edith Crompton.He is out to prove the Crompton's are imposters and what they did with his cousins and regain his rightful inheritance.What he meets is the beautiful,spirited, capable Crompton heiresses,Blythe,who yearns to marry well and into the aristocracy to help further her parents standing in society.Although,he is falling in love with Blythe,he is determined to prove her parents imposters.Blythe,in the meantime as a plan to capture a Duke.This plan involves James,as a Prince.But Blythe in falling in love with the lowly servant.When she learns his true identiy she is devastistated,for everything and everyone she throught she knew turns out to be a lie.EXCEPT,one thing James truly loves her and she him. This another great read from Olivia Drake.If you love stories with imposters,web of deceit,passion,finding justice and the truth you will enjoy this one.This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher and details can be find at St.Martin's Paperbacks, published by St. Martin's Press and My Book Addiction and More.