The Seducer

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Overview

She has captivated fans with unforgettable romance novels filled with suspense, seduction, mystery, and passionate love. Now nationally bestselling author
Madeline Hunter introduces "the Seducer" in a dazzling tale of a powerfully sensual man, a headstrong young innocent, and a scandalously perilous affair as forbidden as it is irresistible....

THE SEDUCER
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Overview

She has captivated fans with unforgettable romance novels filled with suspense, seduction, mystery, and passionate love. Now nationally bestselling author
Madeline Hunter introduces "the Seducer" in a dazzling tale of a powerfully sensual man, a headstrong young innocent, and a scandalously perilous affair as forbidden as it is irresistible....

THE SEDUCER
From the moment he arrived to rescue her, Diane Albret saw more in the darkly handsome, charismatic gentleman than just a guardian. Over the years that had passed since she first saw Daniel St. John, he had become, quite simply, the most dangerously irresistible man she had ever imagined. Diane herself had changed from a bewildered schoolgirl, tragically orphaned, to a determined young woman of alluring charm and beauty. Now, leaving the cloistered life of her school, she has been brought to Daniel's home with dreams of her own amid rumors and hints of scandal. But the legendary seducer seems to have other plans for Diane—and a secret about her lost past that he will do everything to keep: a secret that will put both their lives in jeopardy, even as the passion they have denied for so long threatens to break out of all control.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The roar of the discontented London mob and the edgy atmosphere of Paris following Napoleon's defeat can be felt throughout this darkly seductive, Regency-era romance between orphaned beauty Diane Albret and her mysterious guardian, notorious seducer Daniel St. John. Though an innocent, Diane knows enough upon leaving school in the company of her handsome benefactor to realize that only two paths are open to her: becoming a governess or becoming a mistress. When Daniel begins showering gowns and trips to the opera on her, she believes she's being groomed for the latter, perhaps even for Daniel himself. But Daniel is playing a more subtle game, using the fresh purity of Diane to lure an old enemy within striking distance. Like waltzers locked into the steps of a dance begun 15 years earlier, Diane and Daniel must discover if new love can triumph over old hate. Hunter (Lord of a Thousand Nights, etc.) sweeps both her readers and her characters up in the embrace of history. Lush in detail and thrumming with sensuality, this offering will thrill those looking for a tale as rich and satisfying as a multi-course gourmet meal. (Oct.) Forecast: Though she is best known for her medieval romances, Hunter should have no trouble expanding her readership with this Regency-era romance, which will be followed by The Saint in November and The Charmer in December. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553592740
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/19/2009
  • Series: Seducer Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 4.15 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Madeline Hunter is a New York Times bestselling author of historical romances who lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. In a parallel existence to the one she enjoys as a novelist, she has a Ph.D. in art history and teaches at an East Coast university.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

1818

The Devil Man had come.

Madame Leblanc had threatened to send for him, and it appeared she had done so.

Diane watched the carriage slow to a stop in front of the school's entrance. Green and gold, with abundant carving, it was drawn by four white steeds. A prince might use such a carriage.

He had not always come in such grand style. There were times he rode a horse, and once he had walked. One year he had not visited at all. Madame Leblanc had come close to sending her to the Dominican orphanage for the poor before a woman had arrived instead and paid for her keep for a while longer.

A bilious sensation churned in Diane's stomach. A guardian who only visited annually out of duty would not appreciate being summoned because of a disaster.

The brave plan she had hatched suddenly struck her as hopeless. Facing the inevitable, she had concluded that fate decreed a future that she had been too cowardly to embrace on her own.

Watching the carriage, her fragile courage abandoned her. The sanctuary of this school might be lonely and small, but it was safe. The quest that beckoned her could wait.

Maybe with time it could even be ignored.

The Devil Man stepped out of the carriage, resplendent in a midnight-blue cloak and high boots. The wind blew through his dark hair. He was not wearing a hat. He never did.

He had not always looked so rich. She vaguely remembered years when he had appeared almost rustic. There had been the time, ages ago, when she had thought him ill. Rich or poor, their meetings always followed the same pattern. He would glance at her, barely, and ask his questions.

Are you being treated well? Do you have any complaints? Are you learning your school lessons? How old are you now?

He did not care about the answers. She told him what he wanted to hear. Except once. She had been whipped for a transgression she had not committed and the humiliation was very raw when he visited. She impulsively complained to him. Amazingly, she had never been whipped again. Before he left he forbade it, much to Madame Leblanc's frustration. From then on she could not be physically punished without his permission.

Which was why he had been summoned today.

He strode to the entrance. She barely caught a glimpse of his face, but she saw enough of that severe countenance to know for sure who it was.

"Denounce me and I will kill you."

The sharp whisper pulled Diane out of her thoughts. She spun around.

Madame Oiseau, the music teacher, glared at her from the door, which she blocked with her body. Short and slight in stature, she still made an effective barrier. Her eyes glowed like two tiny coals in her fine-boned face. Her dark hair appeared mussed, as if she had rushed through her morning toilet.

"Do not doubt that I will do it, Diane. Take the punishment, keep your silence, and I will be your friend. Otherwise . . " She raised her eyebrows meaningfully.

A chill slid through Diane, as if evil breathed on her nape.

"No one will believe you," Madame said. "And when it is over, we will both still be here. You are smart enough to make the right choice." She opened the door. "Come down when you are called. I will bring you in."

Stunned, Diane watched her leave.

She glanced around her spartan chamber, seeking reassurance from the familiar objects. She had an odd fondness for the hard bed and old coverlet, for the wood chair and simple desk. The wardrobe needed painting and the pink washbowl had gotten very chipped over the years. The physical comforts were few, but time had made the narrow room the center of her life. It was the only home she could remember.

She pictured herself living in this chamber for a few years more. Not happy, but content. Not such a bad future, even with what she faced today, even with Madame Oiseau nearby. The alternative stretched in front of her like an endless void, dark and unfathomable.

The old questions began intruding, robbing the chamber of its meager comfort. Questions from her childhood, eternally unasked and unanswered. Who am I? Why did I come here? Where is my family? For a few years she had stopped wondering, but recently the questions had returned, louder and more insistently, until they ran in a silent chant echoing in a hollow part of her heart.

The answers were not here. Learning the truth meant abandoning this little world.

She only needed to grab the opportunity that fate had created.

Should she do it? Should she throw herself at the mercy of the Devil Man?

". . . if she goes unpunished, I must insist that she leave. I cannot have the virtue of my girls corrupted. . . ."

Madame Leblanc rambled on in severe tones. Distracted by thoughts of the unfinished business he had left in Paris, Daniel St. John only half-listened.

Something about a book. Of course the girl would have books. It was a school.

He forced his attention to the gray-haired, buxom schoolmistress and broke her incessant flow. "Your summons said that this was serious, madame. I assumed she had taken ill and lay on death's door."

It had been a bizarre stroke of luck that the letter had found him in Paris at all. He certainly had not planned to interrupt his visit there to make this journey. He was annoyed that he had been bothered for such a minor matter. "If she has broken the rules, deal with it as you normally do. As I pay you to do. There was no need to send for me."

Madame lowered her chin and glared at him. "This transgression requires more than bread and water for a few days, m'sieur, and you gave strict orders she was not to be punished with the rod without your permission."

"Did I? When was that?"

"Years ago. I told you that such leniency would lead to grief, and now it has."

Yes, he vaguely remembered the earnest expression on a gamine-faced child, asking him for justice. He could not recall giving instructions about it. If he had known it would prove this damned inconvenient he would not have been so generous.

He straightened in the chair, prepared to rescind the order. His gaze fell on the willow rod lying across the desk. The memory of tearful eyes and a choking voice accusing Madame Leblanc of unwarranted brutality came back to him again.

"You said something about a book. Let me see it."

"M'sieur, that is not necessary. I assure you that it is of a nature to be forbidden, to say the least."

"That could mean it is only a volume of poems by Ovid, or a religious tract by a dissenter. I would like to see it and judge for myself."

"I do not think--"

"The book, madame."

She strode to a cabinet. Using one of several keys on a cord around her neck, she unlocked it and retrieved a small, red volume. She thrust it at him and retreated to a window. She took up a position with her back to him, physically announcing her condemnation of the literature in his hands.

He flipped it open, and immediately saw why.

Not literature. In fact, no words at all. The thin volume contained only engravings that displayed carnal intercourse in all its inventiveness.

He paged through. Things started out simply enough, but got increasingly athletic. Toward the end there were a few representations that struck him as totally unworkable.

"I see," he said, snapping the book closed.

"Indeed." Her tone said he had seen more than was necessary.

"Call for the child, madame."

Satisfaction lit her face. "I would like you to be here when it is done. She should know that you approve."

"Send for her."

Madame Oiseau escorted Diane in.

As expected, a visitor waited in the headmistress's study. The Devil Man lounged in Madame Leblanc's chair behind the fruitwood desk. Madame stood beside him rigidly, a bulwark of censure. Two items lay upon the spotless desk. A willow rod, and the book.

Typically, Daniel St. John barely glanced at her. He appeared a little annoyed and very bored. She half-expected him to yawn and pull out his snuffbox.

He did not really look like a devil. She had given him that name as a young girl because of his eyes. Dark and intense, they were framed by eyebrows that peaked in vague points toward the ends. Those eyes could burn right into you if he paid attention.

Since he never did, she did not find them so frightening anymore.

His mouth was set in a straight, hard, full line, but then it always was. Even when he smiled, it only curved enough to suggest that whatever amused him was a private joke. Along with the eyes and chiseled face, it made him look cruel. Maybe he was. She wouldn't know. Still, she suspected that women thought him very handsome, and maybe even found his harshness attractive. She had seen Madame Oiseau flush and fluster in his presence.

He was not as old as she had once thought. He had grown more youthful as she had matured. She realized now that he could not be more than thirty. That struck her as peculiar. He had been an adult her whole life, and should be older.

It was easy to forget how hard he could appear. Every year the months hazed over her memory. Seeing him now, she knew that her plan had been stupid. He would never take on more inconvenience, and she would be left here to await Madame Oiseau's vengeance.

"M'sieur has learned of your disgraceful behavior," Madame Leblanc intoned. "He is shocked, as one would expect."

He quirked one of his sardonic smiles at the description of his reaction. He tapped the book. "Is there an explanation?"

Madame Oiseau moved closer, a physical reminder of her threat. Madame Leblanc glared, daring her to make excuses. The Devil Man looked indifferent, as always. He wanted this to be done so he could be gone.

Diane made her choice. The safe, cowardly choice. "No explanation, m'sieur."

He glanced up at her, suddenly attentive. It only lasted an instant. He sank back in the chair and gestured impatiently to Madame Leblanc.

The two women readied the chamber for punishment. A prie-dieu was dragged into the center of the room. A chair was pushed in front of it. The headmistress lifted the willow rod and motioned for the sinner to take the position.

The Devil Man just sat there, lost in his thoughts, gazing at the desk, ignoring the activity.

He was going to stay. Madame Leblanc had insisted that he witness it.

Diane had known remaining here would mean punishment. Madame Leblanc firmly believed that sins deserved whipping, and she did not reserve the rod for her students. Several months ago a serving woman of mature years was caught sneaking out to meet a man and the same justice had been meted out to her.

Burning with humiliation and praying that he remained in his daze, Diane approached the prie-dieu. Stepping up on the kneeler, she bent her hips over the raised, cushioned armrest and balanced herself by grasping the seat of the chair.

Madame Oiseau ceremoniously lifted the skirt of her sack dress. Madame Leblanc gave the usual exhortation for her to pray for forgiveness.

The rod fell on her exposed bottom. It fell again. She ground her teeth against the pain, knowing it was futile. They would whip her mercilessly until she begged heaven's pardon.

"Stop." His voice cut through the tension in the room.

Madame Leblanc got one last strike in.

"I said to stop."

"M'sieur, it must--"

"Stop. And leave."

Diane began to push herself up.

Madame Oiseau pressed her back down. "It appears her guardian is so outraged that he feels obliged to mete out the punishment himself, Madame Leblanc," she said in oily tones. "It is appropriate for such a sin, no?"

Madame Leblanc debated in a string of mumbles. Madame Oiseau walked around the prie-dieu. The two women left.

She heard him rise and walk toward her. She hoped that he would be quick about it. She would gladly accept any pain just to be done with the mortification that she felt, positioned there, half-naked.

The skirt fluttered down. A firm grasp took her arm. "Get up."

She righted herself and smoothed the sack gown. Biting back her humiliation, she faced him.

He sat behind the desk again. No longer bored. Definitely paying attention. She squirmed under his dark gaze.

He gestured to the book. "Where did you get it?"

"Does it matter?"

"I should say it does. I put you in a school that is almost cloistered. I find it curious that you came by such a thing."

The threat in her chamber rang in her ears. She could do it. Madame Oiseau could kill someone. And when it happened, the Devil Man would not care at all. He would be grateful to be spared the journey each year.

"I stole it."

"From a bookseller?"

"I stole it and Madame Leblanc found it among my belongings. That is all that matters. Madame says that excuses and explanations only make the sin worse."

"Does she? What nonsense. Do you understand why Madame was so shocked that you had this book?"

"The women are undressed, so I assume that it is about sins of the flesh."

That seemed to amuse him, as if he thought of a clever response but kept it to himself. "I believe that you stole this book, but I think it was from someone here. Madame Leblanc?"

She shook her head.

"I did not think so. It was the other one, wasn't it? The one more than happy to leave you alone with me." He speared her with those eyes. "Tell me now."

She hesitated. He really didn't care about her. This was the first time in years that he had even really looked at her.

He was definitely doing that. Sharply. Deeply. It made her uncomfortable.

He had helped her that time when she complained. Maybe if she told him, he would agree to keep silent and things could continue as before. Or perhaps if he complained, Madame Leblanc would believe him, and Madame Oiseau would be dismissed.

There was something in his expression that indicated he would have the truth, one way or another. Something determined, even ruthless, burned in those devil eyes.

She much preferred him bored and indifferent.

"It belongs to Madame Oiseau, as you guessed," she said. "There is a young girl, no more than fourteen, to whom she has been showing it. The girl told me how Madame Oiseau described the riches to be had for a woman who did such things. I went to Madame's chamber and took it. I was looking for a way to bring it down to the fire, but Madame Oiseau claimed a brooch had gone missing and all the girls' chambers were searched. The book was found in mine."

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

chapter 1


1818


The Devil Man had come.

Madame Leblanc had threatened to send for him, and it appeared she had done so.

Diane watched the carriage slow to a stop in front of the school's entrance. Green and gold, with abundant carving, it was drawn by four white steeds. A prince might use such a carriage.

He had not always come in such grand style. There were times he rode a horse, and once he had walked. One year he had not visited at all. Madame Leblanc had come close to sending her to the Dominican orphanage for the poor before a woman had arrived instead and paid for her keep for a while longer.

A bilious sensation churned in Diane's stomach. A guardian who only visited annually out of duty would not appreciate being summoned because of a disaster.

The brave plan she had hatched suddenly struck her as hopeless. Facing the inevitable, she had concluded that fate decreed a future that she had been too cowardly to embrace on her own.

Watching the carriage, her fragile courage abandoned her. The sanctuary of this school might be lonely and small, but it was safe. The quest that beckoned her could wait.

Maybe with time it could even be ignored.

The Devil Man stepped out of the carriage, resplendent in a midnight-blue cloak and high boots. The wind blew through his dark hair. He was not wearing a hat. He never did.

He had not always looked so rich. She vaguely remembered years when he had appeared almost rustic. There had been the time, ages ago, when she had thought him ill. Rich or poor, their meetings always followed the same pattern. He would glance at her, barely, and ask his questions.

Areyou being treated well? Do you have any complaints? Are you learning your school lessons? How old are you now?

He did not care about the answers. She told him what he wanted to hear. Except once. She had been whipped for a transgression she had not committed and the humiliation was very raw when he visited. She impulsively complained to him. Amazingly, she had never been whipped again. Before he left he forbade it, much to Madame Leblanc's frustration. From then on she could not be physically punished without his permission.

Which was why he had been summoned today.

He strode to the entrance. She barely caught a glimpse of his face, but she saw enough of that severe countenance to know for sure who it was.

"Denounce me and I will kill you."

The sharp whisper pulled Diane out of her thoughts. She spun around.

Madame Oiseau, the music teacher, glared at her from the door, which she blocked with her body. Short and slight in stature, she still made an effective barrier. Her eyes glowed like two tiny coals in her fine-boned face. Her dark hair appeared mussed, as if she had rushed through her morning toilet.

"Do not doubt that I will do it, Diane. Take the punishment, keep your silence, and I will be your friend. Otherwise . . " She raised her eyebrows meaningfully.

A chill slid through Diane, as if evil breathed on her nape.

"No one will believe you," Madame said. "And when it is over, we will both still be here. You are smart enough to make the right choice." She opened the door. "Come down when you are called. I will bring you in."

Stunned, Diane watched her leave.

She glanced around her spartan chamber, seeking reassurance from the familiar objects. She had an odd fondness for the hard bed and old coverlet, for the wood chair and simple desk. The wardrobe needed painting and the pink washbowl had gotten very chipped over the years. The physical comforts were few, but time had made the narrow room the center of her life. It was the only home she could remember.

She pictured herself living in this chamber for a few years more. Not happy, but content. Not such a bad future, even with what she faced today, even with Madame Oiseau nearby. The alternative stretched in front of her like an endless void, dark and unfathomable.

The old questions began intruding, robbing the chamber of its meager comfort. Questions from her childhood, eternally unasked and unanswered. Who am I? Why did I come here? Where is my family? For a few years she had stopped wondering, but recently the questions had returned, louder and more insistently, until they ran in a silent chant echoing in a hollow part of her heart.

The answers were not here. Learning the truth meant abandoning this little world.

She only needed to grab the opportunity that fate had created.

Should she do it? Should she throw herself at the mercy of the Devil Man?



". . . if she goes unpunished, I must insist that she leave. I cannot have the virtue of my girls corrupted. . . ."

Madame Leblanc rambled on in severe tones. Distracted by thoughts of the unfinished business he had left in Paris, Daniel St. John only half-listened.

Something about a book. Of course the girl would have books. It was a school.

He forced his attention to the gray-haired, buxom schoolmistress and broke her incessant flow. "Your summons said that this was serious, madame. I assumed she had taken ill and lay on death's door."

It had been a bizarre stroke of luck that the letter had found him in Paris at all. He certainly had not planned to interrupt his visit there to make this journey. He was annoyed that he had been bothered for such a minor matter. "If she has broken the rules, deal with it as you normally do. As I pay you to do. There was no need to send for me."

Madame lowered her chin and glared at him. "This transgression requires more than bread and water for a few days, m'sieur, and you gave strict orders she was not to be punished with the rod without your permission."

"Did I? When was that?"

"Years ago. I told you that such leniency would lead to grief, and now it has."

Yes, he vaguely remembered the earnest expression on a gamine-faced child, asking him for justice. He could not recall giving instructions about it. If he had known it would prove this damned inconvenient he would not have been so generous.

He straightened in the chair, prepared to rescind the order. His gaze fell on the willow rod lying across the desk. The memory of tearful eyes and a choking voice accusing Madame Leblanc of unwarranted brutality came back to him again.

"You said something about a book. Let me see it."

"M'sieur, that is not necessary. I assure you that it is of a nature to be forbidden, to say the least."

"That could mean it is only a volume of poems by Ovid, or a religious tract by a dissenter. I would like to see it and judge for myself."

"I do not think--"

"The book, madame."

She strode to a cabinet. Using one of several keys on a cord around her neck, she unlocked it and retrieved a small, red volume. She thrust it at him and retreated to a window. She took up a position with her back to him, physically announcing her condemnation of the literature in his hands.

He flipped it open, and immediately saw why.

Not literature. In fact, no words at all. The thin volume contained only engravings that displayed carnal intercourse in all its inventiveness.

He paged through. Things started out simply enough, but got increasingly athletic. Toward the end there were a few representations that struck him as totally unworkable.

"I see," he said, snapping the book closed.

"Indeed." Her tone said he had seen more than was necessary.

"Call for the child, madame."

Satisfaction lit her face. "I would like you to be here when it is done. She should know that you approve."

"Send for her."



Madame Oiseau escorted Diane in.

As expected, a visitor waited in the headmistress's study. The Devil Man lounged in Madame Leblanc's chair behind the fruitwood desk. Madame stood beside him rigidly, a bulwark of censure. Two items lay upon the spotless desk. A willow rod, and the book.

Typically, Daniel St. John barely glanced at her. He appeared a little annoyed and very bored. She half-expected him to yawn and pull out his snuffbox.

He did not really look like a devil. She had given him that name as a young girl because of his eyes. Dark and intense, they were framed by eyebrows that peaked in vague points toward the ends. Those eyes could burn right into you if he paid attention.

Since he never did, she did not find them so frightening anymore.

His mouth was set in a straight, hard, full line, but then it always was. Even when he smiled, it only curved enough to suggest that whatever amused him was a private joke. Along with the eyes and chiseled face, it made him look cruel. Maybe he was. She wouldn't know. Still, she suspected that women thought him very handsome, and maybe even found his harshness attractive. She had seen Madame Oiseau flush and fluster in his presence.

He was not as old as she had once thought. He had grown more youthful as she had matured. She realized now that he could not be more than thirty. That struck her as peculiar. He had been an adult her whole life, and should be older.

It was easy to forget how hard he could appear. Every year the months hazed over her memory. Seeing him now, she knew that her plan had been stupid. He would never take on more inconvenience, and she would be left here to await Madame Oiseau's vengeance.

"M'sieur has learned of your disgraceful behavior," Madame Leblanc intoned. "He is shocked, as one would expect."

He quirked one of his sardonic smiles at the description of his reaction. He tapped the book. "Is there an explanation?"

Madame Oiseau moved closer, a physical reminder of her threat. Madame Leblanc glared, daring her to make excuses. The Devil Man looked indifferent, as always. He wanted this to be done so he could be gone.

Diane made her choice. The safe, cowardly choice. "No explanation, m'sieur."

He glanced up at her, suddenly attentive. It only lasted an instant. He sank back in the chair and gestured impatiently to Madame Leblanc.

The two women readied the chamber for punishment. A prie-dieu was dragged into the center of the room. A chair was pushed in front of it. The headmistress lifted the willow rod and motioned for the sinner to take the position.

The Devil Man just sat there, lost in his thoughts, gazing at the desk, ignoring the activity.

He was going to stay. Madame Leblanc had insisted that he witness it.

Diane had known remaining here would mean punishment. Madame Leblanc firmly believed that sins deserved whipping, and she did not reserve the rod for her students. Several months ago a serving woman of mature years was caught sneaking out to meet a man and the same justice had been meted out to her.

Burning with humiliation and praying that he remained in his daze, Diane approached the prie-dieu. Stepping up on the kneeler, she bent her hips over the raised, cushioned armrest and balanced herself by grasping the seat of the chair.

Madame Oiseau ceremoniously lifted the skirt of her sack dress. Madame Leblanc gave the usual exhortation for her to pray for forgiveness.

The rod fell on her exposed bottom. It fell again. She ground her teeth against the pain, knowing it was futile. They would whip her mercilessly until she begged heaven's pardon.

"Stop." His voice cut through the tension in the room.

Madame Leblanc got one last strike in.

"I said to stop."

"M'sieur, it must--"

"Stop. And leave."

Diane began to push herself up.

Madame Oiseau pressed her back down. "It appears her guardian is so outraged that he feels obliged to mete out the punishment himself, Madame Leblanc," she said in oily tones. "It is appropriate for such a sin, no?"

Madame Leblanc debated in a string of mumbles. Madame Oiseau walked around the prie-dieu. The two women left.

She heard him rise and walk toward her. She hoped that he would be quick about it. She would gladly accept any pain just to be done with the mortification that she felt, positioned there, half-naked.

The skirt fluttered down. A firm grasp took her arm. "Get up."

She righted herself and smoothed the sack gown. Biting back her humiliation, she faced him.

He sat behind the desk again. No longer bored. Definitely paying attention. She squirmed under his dark gaze.

He gestured to the book. "Where did you get it?"

"Does it matter?"

"I should say it does. I put you in a school that is almost cloistered. I find it curious that you came by such a thing."

The threat in her chamber rang in her ears. She could do it. Madame Oiseau could kill someone. And when it happened, the Devil Man would not care at all. He would be grateful to be spared the journey each year.

"I stole it."

"From a bookseller?"

"I stole it and Madame Leblanc found it among my belongings. That is all that matters. Madame says that excuses and explanations only make the sin worse."

"Does she? What nonsense. Do you understand why Madame was so shocked that you had this book?"

"The women are undressed, so I assume that it is about sins of the flesh."

That seemed to amuse him, as if he thought of a clever response but kept it to himself. "I believe that you stole this book, but I think it was from someone here. Madame Leblanc?"

She shook her head.

"I did not think so. It was the other one, wasn't it? The one more than happy to leave you alone with me." He speared her with those eyes. "Tell me now."

She hesitated. He really didn't care about her. This was the first time in years that he had even really looked at her.

He was definitely doing that. Sharply. Deeply. It made her uncomfortable.

He had helped her that time when she complained. Maybe if she told him, he would agree to keep silent and things could continue as before. Or perhaps if he complained, Madame Leblanc would believe him, and Madame Oiseau would be dismissed.

There was something in his expression that indicated he would have the truth, one way or another. Something determined, even ruthless, burned in those devil eyes.

She much preferred him bored and indifferent.

"It belongs to Madame Oiseau, as you guessed," she said. "There is a young girl, no more than fourteen, to whom she has been showing it. The girl told me how Madame Oiseau described the riches to be had for a woman who did such things. I went to Madame's chamber and took it. I was looking for a way to bring it down to the fire, but Madame Oiseau claimed a brooch had gone missing and all the girls' chambers were searched. The book was found in mine."


From the Paperback edition.

Copyright© 2003 by Madeline Hunter
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 37 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

(9)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(2)

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(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good to the Last Drop!

    This book delivered a solid romantic story. I only gave four stars because the love was a tad bit sappy and the story was almost a cliche. The author saved the plot with excellent dialog and an interesting mix of villains and side characters. I highly recommend this author and will gladly purchase more of her books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted January 27, 2005

    Fantastic Book

    This is one of the best books that I have ever read.The subplots were woven into the main plot masterfully. I cannot wait to read the rest of the series. Anyone who loves historical fiction and the Regency Era does not want to miss this.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved this book!!! Couldn't put it down!!

    This was my first Madeline Hunter book. It was a page-turner and I couldn't put it down. I finished it in a couple of days which isn't typical for me.
    The story, as it unfolds with several cliff hangers, kept me totally engrossed and guessing about what would happen or be divulged next. The romance scenes are steamy and riveting. The dialogue between them, combined with Madeline's way of writing snippets of what they're thinking, builds up a great chemistry between them and kept me engrossed in their story. The subplots are equally interesting and the final details in the end ties everything together in ways that I wouldn't have expected. (I was guessing the whole way through and never could've anticipated some of it)
    This book is a keeper and will be in my permanant collection with others that I keep to read again in the future. I highly recommend this book and can't wait to read another by Madeline Hunter.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2014

    Se

    pplsqknudsedea 4 :@

    FrQdtapp

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2014

    Honestly I did not like this book. It was full of dark, depressi

    Honestly I did not like this book. It was full of dark, depressing people. I rarely skim through books but this one I did, just because I wanted to know what happened.The heroin was an empty headed, impulsive girl who never thought anything through and only spoke her mind after he had been seething about it for a while. The hero was a tragic, lovelorn, dandy who never thought of anyone but himself. They never do have any real honest conversations and humor is non existent

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2012

    Great series

    I've enjoyed every one of the Dueling Society members' stories. Underlying mystery continues throughout so it's best to read them in order. Some characters appear in all of the series. Love the suspense, unexpected twists and the unique characters in each story.

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  • Posted May 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Awesome book ~ REPRINT

    I love Diane and St. John. His torment and focused ambition, paired with her innocence and determination. His to take down a conspiracy she has unwittingly been a victim of, and hers to find a place in the world, a family she was sure was lost. Post Napoleon Paris and Georgian London a backdrop to the drama, the author takes us on a heart wrenching and sometimes traumatic journey into who survives tragedy not unscathed but able to love and heal. Two people lost in a world they think they know, and find it only in each other. *Sigh*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2004

    This Author Does Great Series....

    This novel is a subtle, quaint love story essential to the rest of the series. Although it was far from perfect, it was well-written and the characters were interesting. But it does go rather long. Also, I liked Daniel St. John's friends (who end up with their own novels) but the dates were off. This story takes place in 1818. We're introduced to Daniel's friend Vergil, whose story is told in *The Saint*, the second book. But Vergil has supposedly already become involved with his 'heroine' in this book. How can that be? By the time Vergil meets his heroine in his own book, it's 5 years later and Daniel and Diane have children!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2004

    Good Book....but...

    I enjoyed this book, but I thought Diane was very weak, with little personality. What exactly made Daniel fall in love with her? He was too smart and sophisticated to settle for just a pretty face; he was an awesome, perfectly done hero. What bothered me about Diane was that she'd lived a sheltered 'common' life with no servants and no money. She claimed to identify with regular folk, but once she became swept up in St. John's world, she changed. Example: While visiting Lady Pennell, Diane and Daniel's sister, Penelope are sitting in Penelope's chamber while a young girl, a servant, unpacks Penelope's clothes and hangs them. There's only the one girl, and 'Diane's garments wait for attention later.' Rather than just sit there watching this servant work, wouldn't the decent thing have been for Diane to go and hang up her own clothing? A formally common person would have, I think. Other than that, I thought the story itself was really good, mainly because of Daniel St. John.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2004

    Absolutely Loved It!

    This book is full of romance, sensual intimacy and historical intrigue! After I got finished reading it, I got online and ordered the rest of The Seducer series. It's a must - you'll have a great new series to get enthralled in.

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    Posted March 10, 2014

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    Posted January 5, 2010

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    Posted February 19, 2011

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    Posted June 25, 2011

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