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All in all Mary Brown Callahan would say that the Devil Marquis of Warrick
didn't look a thing like she expected.
Oddly enough, she felt disappointment. Of course, she couldn't see his lordship
all that well what with him sitting upon a bleedin' throne of a chair behind his
bleedin' monstrosity of a desk.
"Please have a seat," he said without looking up, his eyes firmly fixed upon a
document before him, a clock on a mantel behind him tick-tick-ticking in an
annoyingly sterile way. Somewhere off in the distance another clock chimed the
quarter hour, the bong-ding-dong-dong finding its way into the room. Muted
sunlight from the right reflected off the flawless, polished perfection of his
desk. The ink-blotter lay exactly square, almost as if someone had used a
measuring tape to place it. Papers were stacked at perfect right angles. A
fragrant, rather obnoxious-smelling truss of red roses and rosemary squatted in
a fat vase. It made Mary long to reach forward and mess it all up.
Instead, she took a seat, nearly yelping when the plush blue velvet did its best
to swallow her like she were Jonah and the chair a whale. She jerked forward,
lookingup to see if his lordship had noticed. No. The swell were still
engrossed in his work. Hmph.
She waited for him. Then waited some more. Finally, she began to tap her foot
impatiently, her toe ticking on the floor in time with the clock ... quite a
merry beat when one got into the tapping of it.
The scratching of his quill abruptly stopped. His head slowly lifted.
Two things hit Mary at once. One, Alexander Drummond, Marquis of Warrick, had
the prettiest eyes she'd ever seen, blue they were, the color of a seashell when
you turned it upside down.
Two, he was not the ugly ogre she'd been expecting, which just went to show a
body shouldn't believe all the things that are said, especially when those words
came from her silly baboon of a father, Tobias Brown.
His lordship blinked at her, frowned, then said, "I'll be with you in just a
moment," slowly and succinctly-as if she had a whole hide of wool in her
ears-before going back to work.
She narrowed her eyes. Would he now? Well la-de-da. His high-and-mightiness were
right full of himself, wasn't he, in his fitted jacket made of a black wool
woven so tight, the fabric looked as shiny and as soft as a well-bred horse's
coat. His cravat wasn't tied as intricately as some of those she'd seen-those
worn by the dandies who strolled up and down Bond Street with silver-tipped
walking sticks that they jabbed into the ground like the very earth offended
them. No, his lordship's cravat was simply tied, seeming to cup the chin of what
was a very handsome face. No sense in denying it.
Nothing slug-faced about it, which was how most lords looked, to her mind at
least. This cull had a chin that was almost square, his nose not at all large
and aquiline, but rather narrow and-could it be-a bit crooked? Above the eyes
that she'd noted before sprang midnight black hair with strands of gray that
peppered the bulk of it, those strands pulled back in a queue, the whole
combining to form a face that would make a bold woman stare and a shy woman
"Did your daughter give you that?" she found herself asking, more because she
wanted to look into his extraordinary face again, rather than down the edge of
And so once again he looked up. His quill stopped its annoying scratch, the
black jacket he wore tightening as he straightened. Thick, very masculine brows
lowered. "I beg your pardon?"
"The gray hair," she said, pointing with a gloved hand at his hair, and then
motioning to her own carrots in case he needed further clarification.
And now those black brows lifted. "As a matter of fact, no. 'Tis a genetic trait
inherited from my father. All Drummond men have it."
She pursed her lips, liking the way his voice sounded. Low and deep and
perfectly controlled, as if each syllable was measured and weighed before let
loose on the world. "Only the men? What would you do if a woman were born with
it? Strangle the lass?"
His lips parted. His jaw dropped, but he was only struck all-a-mort for a
moment. Too bad.
"No, Mrs...." He looked down, his white cravat all but poking him in the chin
as he pulled sheets of papers toward him. She recognized them as the ones John
Lasker had forged. John had the best penmanship in Hollowbrook. "Mrs. Callahan.
We do not shoot our children."
Got his ballocks in a press, hadn't she? Hah. She almost smiled.
"And," he continued, "Since it would appear as if you're determined to interrupt
me, I suppose we should just begin the interview for the position. That way, you
can be on your way, and I can return to my work."
Mary perked up. At last. Two, maybe three minutes and she'd be out of his
lordship's home. For one thing Mary Callahan didn't want, and that was to nurse
his daughter. No, indeed. She'd sooner let those fancy gents what practiced with
their pistols down by the Thames use her for target practice. She'd only come to
appease her monkey-brained father, a man who'd gone a wee bit crackers with his
plot of revenge against the marquis.
(Although now that she'd met the man, she could well understand her father's
aversion to the cull.) No, indeed.
She'd do everything in her power to thwart that sap-skulled fool, that she
silently vowed. And then she'd return to her real job, which was a fair way from
St. James Square.
"I see you're from Wellburn, Mrs. Callahan." She leaned forward, placing an arm
nonchalantly on his desk as she pretended to look at the papers. He smelled
nice, almost like cinnamon, which made her wonder if he'd used the spice in that
fancy coffee of his, the one whose smell she could still catch if she inhaled
deeply enough, which she did, which he must have heard because his brows lifted
again. Next he looked at her arm, up at her, then at the arm again. Pointedly.
"Is that wha' it says?" she asked, not removing her elbow, and not trying to
smooth her Cockney accent, something she could do, if she had a mind to. She
tilted her head, and Lord knows why, but when their gazes met, she smiled. Mary
Callahan had a bonny smile. Truth be told, she had a lot of bonny traits-or so
she'd been told.
Fine green eyes. Dimples. And an endearing way of looking at a man from beneath
her thick lashes, not that there was any reason to look up at his lordship that
way. The marquis, however, didn't appear fazed. "You're not from Wellburn?" he
asked, his face blank.
He had the composure of a corpse.
"If that's what it says, then I suppose I am." She leaned back, noticing that
his eyes darted down a second.
Quickly. As if he'd glanced at her breasts, found them interesting, then looked
away again because he couldn't believe he'd done something so common. They were
a fine, ripe bushel, though she was surprised his lordship here would be
noticing. She'd have thought that kind of thing was beneath his hoity-toity
She shrugged, one of the seams in the dress Fanny Goodwin had sewn popping a bit
at the shoulder. It was blue with darker blue ribbon trimming the demure, long
sleeves, and yet there was nothing demure about it. The bloody thing was sewn in
such a way as to lift her breasts and hold them out for his lordship's
inspection like they were pudding molds sent up from the kitchen just to suit
his taste. And perhaps they did for she could have sworn he glanced down again,
though he covered it under the guise of moving his gaze to his papers again.
"Been travelin' a lot," she said. "Hard to keep track." "I see." And the words
were clipped out: I. See. Gritted teeth. Stiff jaw. Bayonet up his backside. He
kept his gaze on the papers. "Do you enjoy being a nurse, Mrs. Callahan?"
His head snapped up again. He was going to get a bleedin' neck ache if he kept
that up. Up. Down. Up. Down.
She shook her head. "Can't stand children." She had the rum-eyed pleasure of
seeing his mouth drop open. "But it says here you love them." "Who said that?"
she asked, and she really was curious. Fineas Blackwell, her father's longtime
chum, must have made John write that down. He had a wicked sense of humor, and
saying she liked children was laughable indeed.
"Mrs. Thistlewillow." That explained it. "Mrs. Thistlewillow would claim
Beelzebub loved children."
His lordship had fine teeth, she noticed. And she had occasion to study them
because his mouth hung open again. Not a rotted one in the lot. "Mrs. Callahan.
I get the feeling that you have not read your references."
She snorted. Couldn't help it. She'd no intention of getting hired for the job,
so why read forged references? "I make a point not to read what others say about
me." And she was bloody proud of that fact. She might be a poor smuggler's
daughter. She might be a wee speck on his lordship's boot heel, but Mary
Callahan-lately of the Royal Circus-stood on her own two feet ... literally as
the case may be. Damn the rest of the world.
He shook his head, picked up her references, then tapped the edges of the papers
on the desk as he said, "Mrs. Callahan. Thank you for coming, but it appears as
if a mistake has been ma-"
Mary's arse fair puckered to the chair. Blimey, what a screech. The door swung
open with a resounding boom that rocked all around it, including her eardrums.
She swiveled toward the door. At least, she tried to. The bloody chair held her
backside down like a Scottish bog.
"Papa, Simms says you're interviewing another nurse."
A little girl of about eight ran by, her hair streaming behind her. Black it
was, and in sore need of a good brushing. She landed in a puppyish jumble of
arms and legs in her father's embrace, dust motes circling like buzzards in her
wake. "I don't want a nurse. I told you that." Ah. The little termagant herself.
Mary held her breath as she waited for his lordship to look up, to dismiss her,
which he'd obviously been about to do before the hellion had come in.
"Gabby," the marquis said. "Be polite and say how do you do to Mrs. Callahan."
Polite? Bugger it. Mary wanted to leave. "No," the little girl snapped. "Do it,
The little girl drew back, her face only inches away from her father's. They
were practically nose-to-nose, the marquis' handsome, arrogant face stern and
disapproving. Lord, the man could scare kids on All Hallows' Eve with a look
The bantling wiggled on his lap. Then her face turned resigned. She shimmied
down, landing with that soft shush of leather soles on fine carpet. The gray
dress looked stained with juice, Mary noted, her black slippers that peeked out
beneath white petticoats smudged with dirt. But she was a cute little moppet
with her father's startling blue eyes and dark, curly hair that rustled as she
"How do you do," she said, dropping into a curtsy that somehow seemed, well,
mocking. And then she rose, looked sideways out of her eyes, and that cute
little moppet with the pretty blue eyes stuck out her tongue. Mary stiffened.
And that seemed to be the reaction wanted for the hellion gave her a smug smile.
Mary's eyes narrowed. Never one to be gotten the best of, especially by some
pug-nosed whelp, she stuck her tongue out, too.
"Papa," the little girl breathed without missing a beat. "Did you see that? She
stuck her tongue out at me." Mary looked up at the marquis. What? Wait a
"Gabby," he said. "I know well and good that you stuck your tongue out first.
Apologize to Mrs. Callahan immediately."
"No," the little girl snapped, her tiny hands fisting by her sides.
"Do it," he ordered. "No," she yelled.
Mary covered her ears. "Land's alive, m'lord. Don't argue with her. I'll lose me
hearing. 'Tis plain as carriage wheels that she's not going to apologize."
For the second time that day-the first being the time he'd caught his first
glimpse of the stunning Mrs.
Callahan-Alexander Drummond, marquis of Warrick, felt speechless. It defied
belief, the things that kept coming out of the nurse's mouth. Simply defied. "I
beg your pardon?"
She arched red brows, and was it his imagination, or did those pretty green eyes
of hers narrow? "She's not going to apologize. What's more, I don't want her
bloomin' apology. Fact is, I don't want to be her nurse, either."
Alex thought he'd misheard her again, was even tempted to lift a finger to his
ear to clean it out in the event there was something wrong there, but then Gabby
said, "Good. Leave," verifying that the unexpected words had, indeed, been
"I will," she answered right back, rising from her chair.
"Sit down," Alex ordered. Granted, a minute ago he'd been about to tell the
outspoken lady to leave. Now, oddly, he found himself taking her side.
"Please," he added when-good lord-the woman looked ready to defy him.
She slowly sat, but she didn't look too pleased about it.
"Gabby, you may leave. I will speak with you upstairs."
His daughter's lips pressed together, something he knew from experience meant a
tantrum. "I'm a bastard," she yelled in a last-ditch attempt to put the nurse
Alex winced. He knew the child was inordinately sensitive to the fact that her
mother had left her on his doorstep. He could sympathize, still incensed himself
that a woman could do such a thing.
He looked at Mrs. Callahan to gauge her reaction, but she merely lifted a brow.
"Are you now?"
"Is that the excuse you use for your poor manners?" Gabby sucked in a breath.
"Did you hear that, father? She said I have poor manners." "Well, you do," Mrs.
Callahan said. "Do not."
The nurse snorted, the inelegant sound somehow seeming to fit the redoubtable
nurse perfectly. "You don't even know how to curtsy properly." "Do, too."
"Not by the looks of the one you just gave me." To Alex's absolute and utter
shock, his obstinate daughter took a step back, straightened, and then gave the
nurse a curtsy that would have done her mother proud ... if she'd had one.
"There," she said upon straightening. Mrs. Callahan wrinkled her tilted nose.
"Hmm. I suppose that was a wee bit better, but no proper little girl disobeys
Gabby glared. So did the nurse. Alex decided he'd had enough. "Gabby, go to your
His daughter opened her mouth to give her standard protest. But an odd thing
happened. He saw her stiffen again. Saw her clench her fists. Saw her
straighten. "As you wish, Papa."
Alex just about fell off his chair. She turned, gave him a quick, perfect
curtsy, nodded to Mrs. Callahan-who, of all things, stuck her tongue out
Silence dawned. Alex could only stare.
"If that's the way she behaves, 'tis a wonder someone hasn't given your daughter
a basting." Her full lips pressed together. "Fair wanted to do it meself." He
blinked, found himself clearing his throat. "Mrs.
Excerpted from Tempted
by Pamela Britton
Copyright © 2004 by Pamela Britton-Baer.
Excerpted by permission.
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.
Posted December 14, 2012
a very cheeky saucy heroine with a stuffy but warm-hearted hero. Some unexpected twists and turns...and unexpected characters like a pet monkey...keep this novel engaging with some fun banter. Not a steamy read but an enjoyable one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 26, 2005
Posted January 25, 2004
Set in 1816, Mary is hired to be Gabby's nanny (Alex's daughter). That's where the fun begins. Book has lots of humor and it's fantastic. Can you imagine having a daughter like Gabby? But you can't help but love her. I enjoyed it very much, I liked this one better than the first (Seduced)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 27, 2003
Tempted was great! I love stories with two characters who are so different and who's differences compliment each other and of course I love humor in my reading material which Ms. Britton did as only she can--superbly!!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 15, 2003
I've read all of her books but this book is my favorite so far. That surprises me because I didn't think anything could top Seduced. If you like fairy tales, you'll love the story of Mary and Alex. Mary is a circus performer and you wonder how they'll find their happily ever after but somehow the author carries it off! Wonderful!! Pamela Britton now ranks up there with Judith McNaught (in my book.)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.