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Scandalous by Night

Scandalous by Night

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by Barbara Pierce
     
 

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Even among that band of rakes known as les sauvages nobles, Lord Everod's reputation is truly wicked. Countless willing partners have enjoyed his sensual prowess, but now one lovely innocent has his undivided attention. The alluring Miss Maura Keighly once lost Everod his family's regard, and almost cost him his life. And no vengeance could be sweeter than

Overview

Even among that band of rakes known as les sauvages nobles, Lord Everod's reputation is truly wicked. Countless willing partners have enjoyed his sensual prowess, but now one lovely innocent has his undivided attention. The alluring Miss Maura Keighly once lost Everod his family's regard, and almost cost him his life. And no vengeance could be sweeter than the delicious seduction he has planned…

Maura is on the verge of marrying another. Yet no sooner has she set foot among the ton than Everod makes himself known, tempting and taunting her by word and deed, filling her days and nights with illicit longing. His wanton invitation is plain, yet Maura's passionate response blindsides them both. For the first time, Everod feels something more potent than lust. Simple surrender will never be enough; Everod must possess Maura completely. But the past cannot be so easily forgotten—and some desires are even more dangerous than revenge…

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A remarkable storyteller, Barbara Pierce pens captivating romances that are not to be missed!”—Lorraine Heath, USA Today bestselling author

“Pierce plays upon our wicked fantasies…sizzling desire.”—Romantic Times BOOKreviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429946254
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
07/29/2008
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
285,824
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Scandalous by Night


By Barbara Pierce

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2008 Barbara Pierce
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-4625-4


CHAPTER 1

February 3, 1811, Worrington Hall


Just as I thought," Georgette Lidsaw, Countess of Worrington, said as she peered at her niece's reflection through the looking glass. "The necklace suits you. Consider it a gift."

Awed by her aunt's generosity, Maura Keighly fingered the silver pendant. It was a beautiful old piece. Composed of two hinged pieces of elaborate silver filigree, the necklace's upper tier had one pearl mounted in the center with two polished silver beads on each side. The bottom portion was in the shape of an upside-down triangle. Three pearls were mounted on each point, the largest at the bottom. Pear-shaped silver beads dangled below the pearls. Shaking her head, Maura reached up to the clasp in an attempt to remove the necklace.

"You spoil me, Georgette, with your generosity. However, I cannot accept your gift." The silver chain slithered through her fingers as she extended her palm to her aunt.

The countess's brow furrowed, reflecting her puzzlement. At six and thirty, Georgette was fourteen years older than her niece. In Maura's opinion, the passing years had only refined the perfection nature had bestowed on her aunt. Georgette had married well, twice. Lord Perton had married her before the end of her aunt's first season in London. The marriage was a happy, albeit brief one. Illness had claimed the lady's beloved lord before her twenty-first birthday.

Maura's mother, Georgette's older sister, had once confessed that her younger sibling had grown reckless in her grief. In a futile attempt to keep pace with the wilder members of the ton, Georgette's lavish spending depleted the funds her late husband had set aside for her. By the age of six and twenty, her gambling debts had ruined her. For a lady in her dire financial predicament, her aunt had two choices: she could retire to the country and rely on the charity of her sister, or she could seek out a wealthy husband. The young dowager turned her attentions to the Earl of Worrington. Thirty years her senior, Lord Worrington was immediately smitten. The earl was no stranger to the marriage bed. There had been three other Lady Worringtons before the earl made Georgette his fourth. After twelve years together, both seemed satisfied with the arrangement.

Georgette waved away Maura's extended hand. "Nonsense. The necklace looks lovely on you. Unless you do not like it. Perhaps one of the others ..." She peered into her case where several other necklaces were coiled like serpents of silver and gold.

"No, Aunt." Maura lightly touched the other woman on the arm. "Georgette, I adore the pendant. Truly." She gazed wistfully at the gleaming silver in her palm. "However, I cannot accept something that is clearly an antique. You can not cast off jewelry that was clearly meant to be worn by the Countess of Worrington."

Georgette tipped her head back and laughed. "Oh, you are a treasure, Maura. This isn't one of the revered Worrington family pieces. The necklace is an old trinket that belonged to a forgotten lady connected to the family. If you do not want it, I suppose we could take it to London with us. We'll visit a silversmith who could melt it down into something more to your liking."

Maura closed her fingers over the pendant. The notion of destroying such a beautiful old piece was abhorrent to her. "That will not be necessary, Aunt. If Lord Worrington does not mind my claiming the necklace, then I will gratefully accept your gift."

She reached up to secure the necklace around her neck. There was little doubt that the earl would approve of his lady's generous actions. During their twelve-year marriage, Lord Worrington had proven himself a most indulgent husband.

"Worrington rarely denies my requests," Georgette said, confirming Maura's suspicions. Her aunt laid her cheek affectionately against Maura's. Side by side, the resemblance between aunt and niece was startling, though Maura considered the attributes more flattering on her aunt. They shared the same nose, and almond-shaped eyes. With her parents' thirst for travel, Maura had adopted many of her aunt's mannerisms, such as how Georgette tipped her chin smugly upward when she was confident she was correct, and the coy way she brought the back of her hand up to her lips to stifle her laughter. It always seemed to charm Lord Worrington whenever he observed Maura emulating his lady's actions.

There were differences between them as well. For instance, her aunt shared the same eye color as her mother, a warm medium blue. Maura had inherited her paternal grandmother's eye color, which was a moody sea-gray.

Maura was taller by several inches. Her frame was pleasantly formed, but nature had been slightly generous, rounding her hips and bosom. Georgette was slender, and often lamented that her bodice would benefit from some plumpness in her bosom.

Both possessed tresses with a natural tendency to curl. However, Maura's hair was a rich brown with a hint of a ripe strawberry hue, while Georgette's thinner shoulder-length tresses were light brown. When Maura was a child, it had been her fervent desire to grow up into the renowned beauty her aunt was.

In truth, she wanted Georgette to be her mother.

The only child of Lord and Lady Courtwill, she had been born of older parents who had little interest in having a child. They were both respected scientists, and their intellectual pursuits had made them soul mates. There was little time for rearing an unwanted child. How disappointing it must have been for her parents when they realized that they had not even managed to produce an heir.

For reasons Maura could not divine, Georgette had taken pity on her sister's lonely daughter. Lord and Lady Courtwill traveled extensively, and Georgette made certain there was always a place for Maura in her household. Georgette was not a paragon of motherhood. After all, there were balls to attend, evenings at the theater, and handsome scoundrels to charm. A governess and the household servants watched over Maura while her aunt enjoyed her adventures.

When Georgette returned, she lavished her niece with attention and humorous stories. In her aunt's household, Maura felt like she had a place. Oh, she loved her parents. In their own way, they returned her affection. They gave her an enviable education for a nobleman's daughter and clothed and fed her. On one or two occasions, she even joined them on one of their research journeys.

And yet, Maura owed her aunt everything. Georgette had recognized a kindred spirit in the lonely child, and had openly embraced her. She had filled Maura's dreary childhood with affection, escapades, and laughter.

Only once, a little more than twelve years ago, her aunt had reminded Maura of her debt.

As a result, someone else had paid a high price for Maura's loyalty.

"Why the frown?" Georgette playfully pinched her niece's cheek. "Still fussing about the necklace, are you? Well, if all goes according to plan, the necklace will remain in the Worrington family."

Ah, yes, Mr. Rowan Lidsaw. He was the second son of Lord Worrington, and the man's current favorite. He was three years older than Maura, and she had known him since they were children. When he was not away at school, he had been her confidant and amiable companion who entertained her at Worrington Hall. Since she had turned sixteen, the earl and her aunt had hinted that a match between the pair would be warmly welcomed. Maura should have suspected when she had agreed to join her aunt and uncle in London that Rowan would be included in their romantic machinations.

"Do you ever cease playing matchmaker, Aunt?" Maura said, exasperated by the subject. She rolled her eyes and stepped away from the looking glass. "Rowan is a fine gentleman, and a considerate friend. Nevertheless, he has not begged for my hand or heart. If you have invited me to London so you and the earl can bully poor Rowan into declaring himself, you might as well order a coach so I may return home."

"And miss London?" Georgette taunted lightly, sensing her niece was anticipating the trip as much as she was. "Why would you want to spend the season in seclusion when you could be visiting museums, attending lectures, balls, card parties —"

Exasperated, Maura raised her hands in a surrendering gesture. "Enough! Your argument is sound. I would be a fool to refuse such a generous invitation."

Feeling a whisper of melancholy, she sank into the nearest chair. How could she explain to her aunt that the notion of being leg- shackled to Rowan dimmed the adventure of visiting London? With Rowan at her side, she might as well already be married. She would not be whiling her nights away dancing till dawn, or coyly flirting with mysterious gentlemen from a theater box. At two and twenty, most ladies her age had enjoyed numerous seasons. Many had already married and birthed their husband's heir. Lord and Lady Courtwill had been too distracted by their scientific pursuits to bother with something as trite as introducing their only daughter to the ton. It was an oversight that Georgette clearly intended to correct.

"Your sadness tears at my heart." Her aunt knelt at Maura's feet. "While Worrington and I would like nothing better than for you and Rowan to announce your betrothal, I understand a young lady's heart. You are young, beautiful, and possess the wealth to indulge your whims. You want not just one gentleman to worship you; you desire all of London to bow at your feet."

Maura giggled at the outrageous suggestion. "Really, Aunt —"

Georgette touched her finger to Maura's lips. "You crave romance. A courtship. No, do not deny it. What lady wants to be bound to a gentleman who has not taken the time to woo her? You are innocence and ripe passion. You deserve to experience the gentle seduction of love poetry and small tokens of affection. To feel the excitement of a lover's unguarded stare across a crowded ballroom, or taste the sweetness of a stolen kiss in the shadows of a garden."

Her aunt used the back of the chair to rise slowly from her cramped position. She placed the palm of her hand on the small of her back. "Rowan has been remiss in courting you properly, and perhaps your uncle and I are to blame. A conquest easily won is never prized as the battle almost lost. Besides, if my stepson cannot withstand a little competition for your heart, then he is undeserving of my niece."

Maura jumped up from her seat and embraced Georgette. Her aunt was a complicated mix of ambition and generosity. When provoked, she could be a formidable enemy. It was a lesson Maura had never forgotten. However, it was appreciation for Georgette's insight and kindness that overwhelmed Maura. "You must think I am an ungrateful wretch for wanting more, when you and Worrington have given me so much."

"Not at all. I want you to be happy, little girl," Georgette murmured into Maura's hair. "Besides, I think you underestimate Rowan's interest. I predict you will lead him on a merry chase this season!"

Satisfied that Maura's fears had been eased, Georgette deftly changed the subject back to their earlier discussion of what jewelry should be taken to London. As her aunt displayed the Worrington emeralds, Maura privately wondered if Georgette had considered that their trip to town would bring them into Everod's realm. Worrington's heir would not be pleased when he learned of their arrival. Maura could only pray that the gentleman's thirst for revenge had waned over the twelve years of silence.

CHAPTER 2

Evenings with les sauvages nobles have become positively mundane," Everod proclaimed as he sipped brandy in Ramscar's town house.

In spite of his sarcasm, he had enjoyed the evening with his friends. Their little gatherings had grown over the years to include Solitea's and Ramscar's wives. The duchess's ten-year-old sister, Gypsy, had also joined them this evening. When he first had encountered the girl two years earlier, she had been mute. At the time, it appeared her fragile mind had been damaged by the sudden loss of her parents, and the cruelty of her abusive older brother. Now that she and her sister Kilby were under Solitea's protection, little Gypsy had gradually become a veritable chatterbox.

Their supper had been excellent, and the conversation stimulating. Still, there had been an unspoken tension hidden beneath their joviality. On several occasions, Everod had noticed a look of concern pass between Solitea and his duchess. Kilby had almost seemed relieved when Ramscar had proposed that the gentlemen continue their friendly arguments in his library where the earl had amassed a collection of antique weapons that would have impressed Nelson.

Sipping his brandy, Everod lazily watched as his host crouched down to tend the coals in the fireplace. Solitea, their designated leader, leaned negligibly against the mantel observing their friend's efforts. Edgy, Cadd had separated himself from the others and stared broodingly out the open window of Ramscar's library.

"I suppose we could abandon the ladies and pay our respects to Moirai's Lust," Solitea said, referring to a gambling hell that was owned by one of his brother-in-law's friends. "Kilby will understand."

Cadd snorted in grim amusement. "Your duchess is likely to sever your bollocks, and Ram's lady, Patience, would ask your butler Scrimm for one of Cook's dullest knives. Ladies have a peculiar notion where a respectable married gent should dally. A notorious hell is not one of them."

Solitea laughed, shaking his head. "Since when have you become an expert on the workings of a lady's mind?"

"I never claimed to be," Cadd retorted, stepping away from the window to join them. "What man can breach such a thorny citadel? However, I have had the sincere pleasure of observing you pathetic rogues bumble your way to wedded bliss."

"Needless to say, both Cadd and I have been extremely amused by your errors and confusion," Everod cheerfully added as he glanced over his shoulder and saluted Cadd with his glass of brandy.

"And let us not forget the substantial profits gained." Cadd clinked his glass against Everod's, and winked.

"When will the pair of you learn that I despise having my personal business reduced to petty wagers?" Solitea nodded at Ramscar. "What say you, Ram? Should we take them into the gardens and thrash some sense into these scoundrels?"

Ramscar sighed wearily as he rose from his haunches. "It hasn't done us much good in the past. However, if you are looking for a fair fight, I am willing."

Although he was shorter, Ramscar's skill with weapons was renowned. Only a fool would believe he was getting a fair fight when the earl was his opponent. "While the notion of seeing Cadd's pretty face pummeled sounds tempting," Everod drawled, his steady gaze studying Solitea's mildly inquisitive expression, "I think we should first discuss the actual reason we were summoned for supper this evening."

"Everod, what the devil are you blathering about?" Cadd demanded. He grabbed the full decanter of brandy on the table and began refilling everyone's glasses.

"Call it instinct, but something is afoot, my friend." Everod carelessly gestured at Solitea. "He and his lady have been exchanging somber looks all evening."

The marquess brushed back the dark brown lock of hair that obscured his vision. "Solitea probably angered his duchess. So how long has it been since she allowed you into her bed?"

"Who says I need a bed to please my lady?" Solitea fired back, though it was obvious he was enjoying the banter.

"I doubt your duchess would be pleased if she knew of this discussion," Ramscar, always the bloody peacemaker, quietly reminded them.

"Really, Cadd. How very provincial of you!" Everod taunted for good measure. The twenty-five-year-old marquess was so easily provoked. "When you find a lady who can tolerate you, I will show you how to pleasure her properly."

"Condescending arse!" Cadd muttered under his breath. "I've noticed your lovers never linger after they've endured your clumsy fumbles."

Everod jumped to his feet, and gave his friend a cocky grin. "They stay long enough for me to satisfy both our needs. And what of your bawdy adventures, my friend? Pray tell us, when was the last time you had a soft, willing female beneath you? Or are males your preference these days?"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Scandalous by Night by Barbara Pierce. Copyright © 2008 Barbara Pierce. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Having a rich English ancestry that can be traced back to the 1500s, BARBARA PIERCE credits her grandmother and the romantic family tales she was told as a child for inspiring her early fascination with English history.
Striving to balance her love of history with the need to tell a compelling story, she debuted in 2000 with A Desperate Game. Since then, she has created two successful family series, the Bedegraynes and the Carlisles.


Having a rich English ancestry that can be traced back to the 1500s, Barbara Pierce credits her grandmother and the romantic family tales she was told as a child for inspiring her early fascination with English history. Striving to balance her love of history with the need to tell a compelling story, she debuted in 2000 with A Desperate Game. Since then, she has created two successful family series, the Bedegraynes and the Carlisles. Barbara currently lives near Atlanta with her husband and three children.

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Scandalous by Night 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i was so dissapointed at the ending the storyline was good loved the two main characters and the steamy sex scenes what else happens it just cut off like that bad soprano ending what happens to the father,the evil stepmother and the brother
Guest More than 1 year ago
Scandalous by Night by Barbara Pierce ¿ To love him would only lead to a broken heart.¿ Everod, the banished son of his father, Lord Worrington still held the pain and brandished the scar on his neck given by his father when he discovered the tryst between his newest wife and his eldest son the heir. While Everod healed from the near fatal attack, he planned his revenge. Maura believed her Aunt, the Countess whole heartedly when she was told that Everod had attacked her in the field, forcing himself upon the unwilling Countess. Maura confessed this tale to her Uncle, only coming to realize some years later that what her Aunt had said was a farce. 12 years later she would come face to face with the man that she helped to seal his fate, he was no longer even mentioned in the Worrington household, but that is soon to change. Vengeance would be sweet. He planned on seducing Maura and ruining her for any man. Little did he know, his younger brother was also vying for the young lady¿s attention, possibly even marriage. Everod attacks his own brother at the ball, publicly humiliating Maura, now that the ton knows of such scandal¿ will she run off with a man that she does not love? Or will the brother that has been named ¿Everhard¿, one of les sauvages nobles, claim what is his her heart? A tale of seduction, scandal, betrayal, and love, Ms. Pierce has captured my heart with her novel, Scandalous by Night. I have been lucky enough to follow the Carlisle series. The author does a spectacular job in penning these historical erotic romances¿ they are tasteful and full of sassy characters that have just enough bite to keep you enthralled with each turn of the page. I can¿t tell you how much I enjoyed reading Scandalous by Night, I just hope that it is not too long before the next book in the series is out on the shelves! 5 Hearts
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1799 his stepmother Lady Worrington arranged his betrayal abetted by her ten year old niece Maura Keighly that left Viscount Everod near dead with a wound to his throat given to him by his dad who wishes he was dead. His younger brother Rowan sides with his father. Over the next decade he lived for vengeance though his reputation for wickedness as a les sauvages nobles comes with his seemingly zillion different women. Now in 1811 he believes he finally has the opportunity. He will seduce and ruin Maura to get back at those who betrayed him. --------------- . Maura is considering strongly accepting the marriage proposal from Rowan. When she meets Everod she hesitates saying yes to Rowan as she feels both guilt for her part in the duplicity and is also attracted to him even before he begins his seduction. However, Everod finds himself caught in his own trap as he begins to fall in love with the expendable chip. He soon realizes his nefarious scheme worked too well as someone, whom he suspects is in the bosom of the Worrington family, apparently is willing to finish the job of a dozen years ago and kill Maura too.-------------- Readers will enjoy this entertaining Regency romantic suspense as the near death experience turns Everod into a rake, but a taste of strawberry jam and other fruits change him into a hero. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this tasty treat as Maura is pulled by her love for the rogue she knows is trying to destroy her, her duty to the aunt who took her out of poverty, and to her beloved¿s brother who has been her best friend. Few writers combine romance and suspense inside a historical as well as Barbara Pierce consistently does.-------------- Harriet Klausner
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just discovered this author and look forward to her next release.