Silk Is for Seduction (Dressmakers Series #1)by Loretta Chase
From the Design Book of Marcelline Noirot:
The allure of the perfect gown should be twofold:
ladies would die to wear it . . .
and gentlemen would kill to remove it!
Brilliant and ambitious dressmaker Marcelline Noirotis London's rising star. And who better to benefitfrom her talent than the worst-dressed lady in the ton,the Duke of Clevedon's
From the Design Book of Marcelline Noirot:
The allure of the perfect gown should be twofold:
ladies would die to wear it . . .
and gentlemen would kill to remove it!
Brilliant and ambitious dressmaker Marcelline Noirotis London's rising star. And who better to benefitfrom her talent than the worst-dressed lady in the ton,the Duke of Clevedon's intended bride? Winning thefuture duchess's patronage means prestige and fortunefor Marcelline and her sisters. To get to the lady,though, Marcelline must win over Clevedon, whosestandards are as high as his morals are . . . not.
The prize seems well worth the risk—but this timeMarcelline's met her match. Clevedon candesign a seduction as irresistible as her dresses;and what begins as a flicker of desire between twoof the most passionately stubborn charmersin London soon ignites into a delicious inferno . . .and a blazing scandal.
And now both their futures hang by anexquisite thread of silk . . .
Read an Excerpt
Silk is for Seduction
By Loretta Chase
AvonCopyright © 2011 Loretta Chase
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE LADIES' DRESS-MAKER. Under this head
we shall include not only the business of a Mantua
Maker, but also of a Milliner . . . In the Milliner,
taste and fancy are required; with a quickness
in discerning, imitating, and improving upon
various fashions, which are perpetually changing
among the higher circles.
The Book of English Trades,
and Library of the Useful Arts, 1818
Marcelline, Sophia, and Leonie Noirot, sisters and
proprietresses of Maison Noirot, Fleet Street,
West Chancery Lane, were all present when Lady Renfrew,
wife of Sir Joseph Renfrew, dropped her bombshell.
Dark-haired Marcelline was shaping a papillon bow
meant to entice her ladyship into purchasing Marcelline's
latest creation. Fair-haired Sophia was restoring to order
one of the drawers ransacked earlier for one of their more
demanding customers. Leonie, the redhead, was adjusting
the hem of the lady's intimate friend, Mrs. Sharp.
Though it was merely a piece of gossip dropped casually
into the conversation, Mrs. Sharp shriekedquite as
though a bomb had gone offand stumbled and stepped
on Leonie's hand.
Leonie did not swear aloud, but Marcelline saw her
lips form a word she doubted their patrons were accustomed
Oblivious to any bodily injury done to insignificant
dressmakers, Mrs. Sharp said, "The Duke of Clevedon
"Yes," said Lady Renfrew, looking smug.
"Yes," said Lady Renfrew. "I have it on the very best
"What happened? Did Lord Longmore threaten to
Any dressmaker aspiring to clothe ladies of the upper
orders stayed au courant with the latter's doings.
Consequently, Marcelline and her sisters were familiar with all
the details of this story. They knew that Gervaise Angier,
the seventh Duke of Clevedon, had once been the ward
of the Marquess of Warford, the Earl of Longmore's
father. They knew that Longmore and Clevedon were the
best of friends. They knew that Clevedon and Lady Clara
Fairfax, the eldest of Longmore's three sisters, had been
intended for each other since birth. Clevedon had doted
on her since they were children. He'd never shown any
inclination to court anyone else, though he'd certainly
had liaisons aplenty of the other sort, especially during
his three years on the Continent.
While the pair had never been officially engaged, that
was regarded as a mere technicality. All the world had
assumed the duke would marry her as soon as he returned
with Longmore from their Grand Tour. All the world had
been shocked when Longmore came back alone a year
ago, and Clevedon continued his life of dissipation on the
Apparently, someone in the family had run out of
patience, because Lord Longmore had traveled to Paris a
fortnight ago. Rumor agreed he'd done so specifically to
confront his friend about the long-delayed nuptials.
"I believe he threatened to horsewhip him, but of that
one cannot be certain," said Lady Renfrew. "I was told
only that Lord Longmore went to Paris, that he said or
threatened something, with the result that his grace promised
to return to London before the King's Birthday."
Though His Majesty had been born in August, his birthday
was to be celebrated this year on the 28th of May.
Since none of the Noirot sisters did anything so
obvious as shriek or stumble or even raise an eyebrow, no
onlooker would have guessed they regarded this news as
They went on about their business, attending to the
two ladies and the others who entered their establishment.
That evening, they sent the seamstresses home at
the usual hour and closed the shop. They went upstairs
to their snug lodgings and ate their usual light supper.
Marcelline told her six-year-old daughter, Lucie Cordelia,
a story before putting her to bed at her usual bedtime.
Lucie was sleeping the sleep of the innocentor as
innocent as was possible for any child born into their
ramshackle familywhen the three sisters crept down the
stairs to the workroom of their shop.
Everyday, a grubby little boy delivered the latest set
of scandal sheets as soon as they were printedusually
before the ink was dryto the shop's back door. Leonie
collected today's lot and spread them out on the work
table. The sisters began to scan the columns.
"Here it is," Marcelline said after a moment. " 'Earl
of L____ returned from Paris last night . . . We're
informed that a certain duke, currently residing in the
French capital, has been told in no uncertain terms
that Lady C_____ was done awaiting his pleasure . . .
his grace expected to return to London in time for the
King's Birthday . . . engagement to be announced at a
ball at Warford House at the end of the Season . . .
wedding before summer's end.' "
She passed the report to Leonie, who read, "'Should
the gentleman fail to keep his appointment, the lady will
consider their 'understanding' a misunderstanding.' " She
laughed. "Then follow some interesting surmises regarding
which gentleman will be favored in his place."
She pushed the periodical toward Sophia, who was
shaking her head. "She'd be a fool to give him up," she
said. "A dukedom, for heaven's sake. How many are
there? And an unmarried duke who's young, handsome,
and healthy? I can count them on one finger." She stabbed
her index finger at the column. "Him."
"I wonder what the hurry is about," Marcelline said.
"She's only one and twenty."
"And what's she got to do but go to plays, operas,
balls, dinners, routs, and so on?" said Leonie. "An aristocratic
girl who's got looks, rank, and a respectable dowry
wouldn't ever have to worry about attracting suitors. This
girl . . ."
She didn't have to complete the sentence.
They'd seen Lady Clara Fairfax on several occasions.
She was stunningly beautiful: fair-haired and blue-eyed
in the classic English rose mode. Since her numerous
endowments included high rank, impeccable lineage, and a
splendid dowry, men threw themselves at her, right and
"Never again in her life will that girl wield so much
power over men," Marcelline said. "I say she might wait
until her late twenties to settle down."
"I reckon Lord Warford never expected the duke to
stay away for so long," said Sophy.
"He always was under the marquess's thumb, they
say," Leonie said. "Ever since his father drank himself to
death. One can't blame his grace for bolting."
"I wonder if Lady Clara was growing restless," Sophy
said. "No one seemed worried about Clevedon's absence,
even when Longmore came home without him."
"Why worry?" said Marcelline. "To all intents and
purposes, they're betrothed. Breaking with Lady Clara
would mean breaking with the whole family."
"Maybe another beau appeared on the sceneone
Lord Warford doesn't care for," said Leonie.
"More likely Lady Warford doesn't care for other
beaux," said Sophy. "She wouldn't want to let a dukedom
slip through her hands."
"I wonder what threat Longmore used," Sophy said.
"They're both reputed to be wild and violent. He couldn't
have threatened pistols at dawn. Killing the duke would
be antithetical to his purpose. Maybe he simply offered to
pummel his grace into oblivion."
"That I should like to see," Marcelline said.
"And I" said Sophy.
"And I" said Leonie.
"A pair of good-looking aristocratic men fighting,"
Marcelline said, grinning. Since Clevedon had left
London several weeks before she and her sisters had
arrived from Paris, they hadn't, to date, clapped eyes on
him. They were aware, though, that all the world deemed
him a handsome man. "There's a sight not to be missed.
Too bad we shan't see it."
"On the other hand, a duke's wedding doesn't happen
every dayand I'd begun to think this one wouldn't
happen in our lifetime," Sophy said.
"It'll be the wedding of the year, if not the decade,"
Leonie said. "The bridal dress is only the beginning.
She'll want a trousseau and a completely new wardrobe
befitting her position. Everything will be of superior quality.
Reams of blond lace. The finest silks. Muslin as light
as air. She'll spend thousands upon thousands."
For a moment, the three sisters sat quietly contemplating
this vision, in the way pious souls contemplated Paradise.
Marcelline knew Leonie was calculating those thousands
down to the last farthing. Under the untamable
mane of red hair was a hardheaded businesswoman. She
had a fierce love of money and all the machinations
involving it. She labored lovingly over her ledgers and
accounts and such. Marcelline would rather clean privies
than look at a column of figures.
But each sister had her strengths. Marcelline, the eldest,
was the only one who physically resembled her father. For
all she knew, she was the only one of them who truly was
his daughter. She had certainly inherited his fashion sense,
imagination, and skill in drawing. She'd inherited as well
his passion for fine things, but thanks to the years spent in
Paris learning the dressmaking trade from Cousin Emma,
hers and her sisters' feelings in this regard went deeper.
What had begun as drudgerya trade learned in childhood,
purely for survivalhad become Marcelline's life
and her love. She was not only Maison Noirot's designer
but its soul.
Sophia, meanwhile, had a flair for drama, which she
turned to profitable account. A fair-haired, blue-eyed
innocent on the outside and a shark on the inside, Sophy
could sell sand to Bedouins. She made stonyhearted
moneylenders weep and stingy matrons buy the shop's
most expensive creations.
"Only think of the prestige," Sophy said. "The Duchess
of Clevedon will be a leader of fashion. Where she
goes, everyone will follow."
"She'll be a leader of fashion in the right hands,"
Marcelline said. "At present . . ."
A chorus of sighs filled the pause.
"Her taste is unfortunate," said Leonie.
"Her mother," said Sophy.
"Her mother's dressmaker, to be precise," said Leonie.
"Hortense the Horrible," they said in grim unison.
Hortense Downes was the proprietress of Downes's,
the single greatest obstacle to their planned domination
of the London dressmaking trade.
At Maison Noirot, the hated rival's shop was known
"Stealing her from Dowdy's would be an act of charity,
really," said Marcelline.
Silence followed while they dreamed their dreams.
Once they stole one customer, others would follow.
The women of the beau monde were sheep. That could
work to one's advantage, if only one could get the sheep
moving in the right direction. The trouble was, not nearly
enough high-ranking women patronized Maison Noirot
because none of their friends did. Very few were ready to
try something new.
In the course of the shop's nearly three-year existence,
they'd lured a number of ladies, like Lady Renfrew. But
she was merely the wife of a recently knighted gentleman,
and the others of their customers were, like her, gentry or
newly rich. The highest echelons of the tonthe
duchesses and marchionesses and countesses and suchstill
went to more established shops like Dowdy's.
Though their work was superior to anything their
London rivals produced, Maison Noirot still lacked the
prestige to draw the ladies at the top of the list of precedence.
"It took ten months to pry Lady Renfrew out of
Dowdy's clutches," said Sophy.
They'd succeeded because her ladyship had overheard
Dowdy's forewoman, Miss Oakes, say the eldest daughter's
bodices were difficult to fit correctly, because her
breasts were shockingly mismatched.
An indignant Lady Renfrew had canceled a huge order
for mourning and come straight to Maison Noirot, which
her friend Lady Sharp had recommended.
During the fitting, Sophy had told the weeping eldest
daughter that no woman in the world had perfectly matching
breasts. She also told Miss Renfrew that her skin was
like satin, and half the ladies of the beau monde would envy
her décolleté. When the Noirot sisters were done dressing
the young lady, she nearly swooned with happiness. It was
reported that her handsomely displayed figure caused several
young men to exhibit signs of swooning, too.
"We don't have ten months this time," Leonie said.
"And we can't rely on that vicious cat at Dowdy's to insult
Lady Warford. She's a marchioness, after all, not the
lowly wife of a mere knight."
"We have to catch her quickly, or the chance is gone
forever," said Sophy. "If Dowdy's get the Duchess of
Clevedon's wedding dress, they'll get everything else."
"Not if I get there first," Marcelline said.
Excerpted from Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase Copyright © 2011 by Loretta Chase. Excerpted by permission of Avon. 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
Loretta Chase has worked in academe, retail, and the visual arts, as well as on the street—as a meter maid—and in video, as a scriptwriter. She might have developed an excitingly checkered career had her spouse not nagged her into writing fiction. Her bestselling historical romances, set in the Regency and Romantic eras of the early nineteenth century, have won a number of awards, including the Romance Writers of America's RITA®.
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This book is so good! So refreshing! I read alot of romance novels and this one is one of the best and a favorite of mine. The heroine is so very interesting, its nice to read a historical romance that isnt about a devil duke who ravishes the virginal miss but rather a woman who knows herself and is confident and brings more to the story than blushes and outrage. It kept me riveted throught the entire story!
This was a great read. The story line was a departure from the usual and as a result really held my interest. I loved the whole aspect of the heroine not being a "good girl" but rather someone with flaws but not annoying so. I would love to read about the other two sisters. I highly recommend this book.
A breath-holding air of expectancy ripples through Silk is for Seduction. Like the subtle whisper of silk brushing against a trouser leg, the hum of sexual tension charges the atmosphere around Marcelline Noirot and the Duke of Clevedon. The Duke, known as a seducer of only the crème de la crème of aristocratic beauties, gets blindsided by "of all things" a dressmaker, albeit a dressmaker that turns heads and snarls traffic during Passion Week in Paris. Jaded and knowing he must return to England and take up his responsibilities as Duke, Clevedon finds he is fascinated by the plain-spoken, beautiful, gambling businesswoman who is in Paris to promote her dress shop in London, even though she is the most aggravating woman he has ever met. The Noirot sisters: Marcelline, Leonie, and Sophy as well as six-year-old Lucie are born manipulators and hone that talent regularly. Leonie is their money manager and organizer. Sophy does public relations and writes enticing advertising, while Marcelline designs out-of-this-world clothing for ladies and brings in business in a most unique manner. Marcelline's primary mission in Paris is to snare the Duke's attention so he will want the Noirot Shop to dress his duchess-supposedly Lady Clara Warford who has waited patiently in England while Clevedon sowed his wild oats all over the continent. He has bedded the "best" but finds Marcelline's grace, beauty, and style unforgettable. She is a tempestuous masterpiece who tells him upfront her intent is mercenary. She runs a business to support her family and has no designs on him other than to lighten his pocketbook as he pays for his duchess's style-setting attire from the Noirot Shop. She even tells him that he has no purpose in life. He just drifts along looking for entertainment. Yet, in her heart she feels he is not a "mean-spirited" man. The stir and magic they create, the delightful humor, and the guessing of who is "outfoxing" whom swirls the reader along through the pitfalls of Paris and London Society, churns up the stomach with a savage sea storm, and makes adrenaline pump with a thief and a fire. However, the bond that forms and binds Marcelline and the Duke is the centerpiece of the story. There is nothing boring about these two special people that ultimately unleash the best in each other. The secondary characters function for the most part to highlight the hero and heroine. However, the indomitable little Lucie, aka Erroll, wraps everyone around her little finger, more especially the Duke of Clevedon. She brings out the very best in him and awakens true feelings that had be crammed deep down ever since the death of his mother and sister. Lucie is indeed a little minx-a chip off the old block. With her beautiful blue eyes, she charms in such a manner that she just might be a princess. Loretta Chases descriptions, metaphors, and characterizations make the story sparkle and her love scenes are earth-shattering. I invite you to read and see how silk seduces--exciting. Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
Great book! Read it twice.
I loved the main characters in this book and thought about them a lot after finishing the book. I am looking forward to the other two sisters books.
Started out pretty slow read and I thought Oh No Loretta Chase has lost her touch. But it picked up. So stay with it and the story gets better.
The chemistry between these two was irresistable.
Read it in one night . Characters were interesting and strong.Would recommen it to anyone who enjoys romance with substances
I liked Lord of Scoundrels for her great storyline, BUT this was SUPER predictable.
This book starts out strong. However, it fizzles half way through.
This is now in my top five favorites book collection! I couldn't put it down from the start.
Lively, exciting, sexy read and the narrator does a superb This is my first book and audio book by Loretta Chase and another first is Narrator Kate Reading. I want to start out first by saying WOW! This is a lively, exciting, sexy read and the narrator does a superb realistic interpretation of all the different characters and languages while keeping the tempo of the book perfect for the readers interest. I got this series because my profession is custom dressmaking and costumes. Even better I was listening to it while I worked at a theatre and I would start to laugh at various spots of the book and of course the other seamstresses had to know what was so funny. The use of the dress descriptions was perfect in fact quite understandable for us and I could actually see the dresses as we have made costumes like those referred to. This books deals in a bunch of, in my opinion, funny and at time hysterical situations that Marcelline would get in with the Duke of Clevedon. Don't get the wrong idea. This is not a comedy but a well written articulate book. I loved the minute detail the author gives of every scene and action. Clevedon and Marcelline banter with each other while dealing with personal trauma and professional industry sabatoge which adds another element to the storyline making it richer for the reader. I recommend this book for all readers and give the Author and the Narrator both 5 STARS
About 150 pages in and bored to death. The Duke and hid intended are so in love but have some sort of boring love where neither cares what the other does but they write like prison pen pals. Oh, and it's been years since they saw each other because he is busy sleeping his way across the continent. Of course the Duke and the seamstress will fall in love and the nefarious subplot will be uncovered and thwarted at the last minute. Tha fiance will realize she deserves more or loves someone else, or whatever, and all these nice people will be happy at the end. I'm just trying to muster up the will to care what happens and actually read the rest of the book.
I don’t know why I waited so long to read something by Ms. Chase. I’ve bought most of her books and have saved them for my retirement days when I couldn’t afford to buy many books anymore. But I took the plunge and dug out the earliest one of hers I could find. And all of the accolades I’ve read about her writing are true. If you like historical romance, don’t wait to read her books like I did. Ms. Chase’s flair for description and her ability to bring you into the lives of her characters will keep you entranced. I fell in love with Marcelline and the Duke of Clevedon’s story and you will too.
Read this one and you'll pick up the next in the series.
This was one of my favorite Loretta Chase stories ! Gervase and Marcelinne were simply perfect for eachother and i hope the author continues these characters into the lives of Lucia and any siblings she ends up with ! More of the Duchess and Duke