The Seduction of Lady Phoebe (Marriage Game Series #1)

The Seduction of Lady Phoebe (Marriage Game Series #1)

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by Ella Quinn
     
 

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Polite society has its rules for marriage. But for Ella Quinn's eligible bachelors, their brides will show them that rules are for the weak of heart...

Phoebe Stanhope is not a typical Lady. As feisty as she is quick witted, no one can catch her, especially when she is driving her dashing phaeton with its perfectly matched horses. And unlike her peers, experience

Overview

Polite society has its rules for marriage. But for Ella Quinn's eligible bachelors, their brides will show them that rules are for the weak of heart...

Phoebe Stanhope is not a typical Lady. As feisty as she is quick witted, no one can catch her, especially when she is driving her dashing phaeton with its perfectly matched horses. And unlike her peers, experience has guarded her against a growing list of would-be suitors. But when she encounters Marcus Finley, what she fears most burns deep within in his blue-eyed gaze...

For Lord Marcus, the spark of recognition is but a moment in the love he has held these many years. Now that he's returned to England, all the happiness he desires rests on Lady Phoebe never finding out that he was the one who turned her heart so cold and distant. He must work fast to gain the advantage-to convince her what she wants is exactly what she denies-but in order to seduce her into his arms, he must be willing to give up more than he can control...

"Lady Phoebe is a heroine Georgette Heyer would adore-plucky, pretty, and well worth the devotion of the dashing Lord Marcus. A marvelous find for Regency romance readers." -Grace Burrowes, New York Times bestselling author

"A passionate tale full of humor, romance, and poignancy. Quinn writes classic Regency romance at its best!" -Shana Galen, author of If You Give a Rake a Ruby

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781601832139
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
09/01/2013
Series:
Marriage Game Series , #1
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
337,135
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.68(d)

Read an Excerpt

THE Seduction of Lady Phoebe


By Ella Quinn

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2013 Ella Quinn
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60183-164-4


CHAPTER 1

Late June 1806, Worthington Hall, England

Lord Marcus Finley poured his third glass of brandy and strolled back to the library window. The sunlit terrace and lawn provided a stark contrast to the dim, wood paneled room in which he stood contemplating his bleak future and imminent banishment to the West Indies.

His gaze was drawn to the petite figure of Lady Phoebe Stanhope. The sun caught her reddish-blond curls, creating a halo effect as she laughed and played with the Worthingtons' young girls. Simply seeing her joy eased some of his pain.

Everything about Lady Phoebe was perfect, from her curls and deep sky-blue eyes to her small feet and neatly turned ankle. There was a connection between them. He'd felt it. She was the only one who had tried to understand him. He wanted to marry her, but it seemed impossible now. Why had he met the only woman he'd ever want just days before he left?

He wondered what their children would have looked like. Another rush of anger swept through him, and he forcibly loosened the fingers he'd tightened around his glass.

"Marcus, there you are."

He turned as his friend, Lord Mattheus Vivers, heir to the Earl of Worthington, strode toward him. Vivers was the only reason Marcus was at the house party.

His friend pointed at the brandy. "That's not going to help, you know."

Marcus stared at the glass for a moment, watching the sun catch the amber shades of the liquid before downing the drink. "I'm going to hell in any case. What does it matter how I do it?"

Vivers rubbed a hand over his face. "When was the last time you were completely sober?"

"When my father told me I was being banished-and to where." Marcus turned back to the window, his anger consuming him. Even his brother, Arthur, hadn't defended Marcus. That had been the worse betrayal.

Vivers joined him at the window. "What's so interesting out there?"

Marcus went back to the view of Lady Phoebe. "My last unshattered dream."

Vivers glanced out. "Lady Phoebe Stanhope? Give it up."

Scowling, Marcus replied, "Why? I may be a second son, but I'm still eligible. Once I reach my majority, I have the inheritance from my mother's aunt."

His friend ran a hand through his hair, disordering its fashionable style. "Very well, I'll list the reasons. You're a minor and need your father's consent to wed, the same father, by the way, who is banishing you to the West Indies before you embroil yourself in a scandal here that can't be smoothed over. The most important is she is not yet out."

Marcus's stomach clenched as if he'd been punched. "What do you mean she's not out?"

"Not. Out. Not old enough to be on the Marriage Mart," Vivers enunciated clearly. "At twenty you're five years too young yourself. Do you really imagine that her father would consent to you marrying her? Ladies marry at twenty, not gentlemen."

Marcus shook his head, trying to clear it. Why was she at this house party then? Was this some joke fate was playing on him? Or was it more punishment? "How old is she?"

"I don't really know," his friend shrugged. "Sixteen or seventeen, maybe. She has a great deal of countenance, so it's hard to be certain. It's a shame you won't be here when she does come out," Vivers mused. "I don't expect she'll last long on the Marriage Mart."

Marcus felt like he was dying. By the time he was five and twenty, she would be married and have children. "Perhaps Lady Phoebe would go with me to the West Indies. God knows I love her."

"We'll have dinner at the tavern and attend the cockfight," Vivers said. "That will put you in a better frame of mind. She leaves early to-morrow. Better if you don't see her."

Marcus poured another glass, tossed it off. "There must be something I can do."

He went to add more brandy to his glass, but Vivers snatched the tumbler from Marcus's hand.

"You've had more than enough to drink. Good God, man. Get it through your head. You cannot marry her. Now go to your chamber, and sleep it off before you do something stupid."

Vivers left, and Marcus went to follow. He wobbled a bit as he took a step.

Lady Phoebe was waving as she made her way to the house. He would intercept her and make his case. This was his last chance to win her. In nine days he'd be on a ship to the West Indies, but first he'd take her to Gretna Green.


Phoebe entered the house through a side door. She'd thought Lord Marcus would join them outside and wondered if he was off with Lord Mattheus. Lord Marcus was so nice—no, better than nice—and handsome. Her stomach felt like it had butterflies whenever she thought of him. He'd touched her hand once and it tingled.

She couldn't even breathe when he was near, his presence filled her with such joy and her heart pounded when they spoke. Phoebe was sure she was in love. Nothing else could be so magical.

She hesitated, remembering what Lady Worthington had said. That Lord Marcus wasn't at all the thing, and that he was being banished before he caused a large scandal. But if that was true, surely Phoebe would not have fallen in love with him. The only thing to do was to ask him about the rumors.

An hour later, dressed in a very pretty gown of sprig muslin, Phoebe made her way toward the drawing room, passing through the picture gallery. The afternoon sun lit one-half of the wide corridor. Long mullioned windows were flanked by red and gold brocade hangings and red velvet-covered benches sat against the outside wall.

Centuries of portraits of somber-faced Vivers hung on the inside paneled walls. As she approached the ancient, carved, double doors leading to the grand staircase, something moved. She stopped.

Lord Marcus staggered slightly as he strolled out from the corner. "I've been looking for you, my dear." His words were slurred as if he was drunk.

"Lord Marcus, have you been drinking?" A chill ran through her as she remembered what Lady W had said.

"Just a mite," he said. "Liquid courage and all that. I have something important to discuss with you."

She raised her chin and moved to go around him. "I have nothing to say to you, my lord."

"But I have a lot to say to you, m'dear." He held out a hand to block her exit. "Come to me, Phoebe."

Her initial trepidation turned to rage. She narrowed her eyes and used her coldest tone. "How dare you address me in such a manner? Out of my way and let me pass." How could she have been so wrong, and now what was she to do?

Lord Marcus's arm snaked out to grab her. "I've a better idea."

Phoebe jumped back and tried to run around him, but he caught her. The strong scent of brandy assailed her nose. Her heart thudded wildly. What a mistake she had made. Lord Marcus was nothing like she'd imagined. She had to get away from him.

His arm tightened around her. He took her jaw in his hand and turned it to face him. "I love you, and I want you to be mine."

His gaze burned hot. She shook her head back and forth, trying to avoid his lips and his fingers brushed her breast. A jolting thrill went through her followed by overwhelming panic. What had he done to her?

For the first time in Phoebe's life, she was truly afraid. Desperate, she broke his hold and drove her fist into his nose.

Blood spurted out. Lord Marcus reeled back and fell to the floor with a grunt.

She stood over him, shaking with anger. "You rogue-you have the privilege and wealth of a gentleman, and what do you use it for? Nothing. I didn't want to believe the stories, but you've proven them true. You treat people with contempt and wonder why you're not respected. Until you learn to put others first and use your power and affluence to help people rather than hurt them, you will remain the poor excuse for a man you are now. Leave this house now. I never want to see you again."

Phoebe turned on her heel then strode swiftly away. She'd not give him the satisfaction of seeing her run—or realizing how much his behavior had devastated her. She'd thought she loved him. How could she ever trust her judgment again?

Once Phoebe reached her room, she rang the bell for her lady's maid.

Rose entered from the dressing room and dropped the garments she was carrying. "Oh, my lady, you're so pale. Why do you have blood on your gown? Are you hurt?"

Phoebe blinked back the tears. She would not cry further over Lord Marcus. He wasn't worth it. "I'm not injured," she said, hating the tremor in her voice, "but I cannot go down to dinner."

"Don't you worry," Rose said. "I'll send a message to her ladyship that you're not joining them and order you some warm milk and toast brought up."

Rose helped her mistress undress and into her nightgown, all the while listening as Phoebe poured out the whole tale.

"My lady," Rose said, "you must tell your mamma what happened. That young man should be punished."

Phoebe shook her head. "No, I don't want anyone else to know. I'm so ashamed. Oh, Rose, what did I do to encourage him to treat me so badly?"

The maid combed Phoebe's hair and made soothing noises. "You didn't do nothing, my lady, and don't you think it. Lord Marcus Finley is young, wild, and headstrong as they come. A bad apple. Heard all about him at the table in the servants' hall. From the tales his groom told, his lordship doesn't have any business being around decent folks until he mends his ways."

The milk and toast came, and Rose made Phoebe drink and eat before finally tucking her desolate mistress into bed and pulling the hangings closed.

Phoebe lay in the darkness trying to push Lord Marcus Finley out of her mind. He was a vile rogue and an arrogant troll. Thank God, he was being sent to the West Indies. She would never have to ever see him again.


Eight years later. June 1814, Newhaven, Sussex, England

Guy, the Seventh Marquis of Dunwood, watched as the Americanmade schooner approached the dock. A tall, tanned, young man in his late twenties stood at the bow, a line in hand ready to throw to one of the dock hands on the pier. He looked more like a seaman than a well-born gentleman.

His youngest son. The one, Guy thought ruefully, he hadn't recognized two years ago, when Marcus had come to visit.

The line sailed through the air and looped perfectly around a piling. After tying it off, Marcus walked back and addressed the captain before disappearing from sight.

Not more than a half an hour later, Dunwood greeted his son. "Welcome home. You could have returned earlier."

The good humor drained from Marcus's eyes. "Not and have made provisions for Lovet's family. They were left in bad straits when he died."

Dunwood would never understand the reason his son saw the need to care for those who were not his dependents. Apparently the West Indies had more of an impact on him than Dunwood thought it would. Well, what Marcus did with his private fortune was no bread and butter of Dunwood's. Rather than argue, he asked, "How is the new steward doing?"

His son's broad shoulders relaxed. "Well indeed. He used to work for the Spencer-Jones family, but when their third oldest son married, the property my new steward was managing went to the son. The man came highly recommended. I made the offer before anyone else could beat me to it."

"Good. I'm glad you were able to find someone." Dunwood started toward the two large coaches near an inn. "Where are your trunks?"

"I've only one. Covey, my man, will see it stowed," Marcus said. "How are Arthur and the girls faring?"

"Your brother is doing as well as can be expected, as are his daughters."

Marcus glanced around to see Covey wave to him. The last time he'd visited his brother, Arthur was hale and hearty. Now he was dying of consumption. His wife had passed a few years ago leaving him two daughters, but no heir.

As a result, Marcus had been recalled from banishment. He wondered how difficult it was going to be, after all the years of being his own master, to live with his father and be under Dunwood's rule.

Glancing around the small town, Marcus felt as if he were in a foreign country, but he'd been gone long enough. He looked at his ship, the Lady Phoebe, tied up at the dock. Perhaps too long.

"After you've spent a few days visiting your brother, I'll take you to London." His father's lips formed a moue. "You need to call on Weston and Hoby to see about your clothing before the Little Season begins. One of your first jobs will be finding a wife."

Marcus nodded. At long last he and his father agreed about something. "I'll make it a priority."


Last week in August 1814, Cranbourne Place, England

Phoebe walked briskly into the large, sunny breakfast room, the train of her pale green nankeen riding habit draped over one arm.

She greeted her brother, Geoffrey, the sixth Earl of Cranbourne. "Good morning."

When he looked up from his news sheet and met her gaze, Phoebe saw the fatigue etched in his face.

"Oh, you poor dear," she said. "Is it the baby?" Miles was Geoffrey and his wife, Amabel's six-month-old son.

"Yes," Geoffrey replied. "He's getting his first tooth. I dare say, had I'd known he would be in this much pain, I would have recommended to him that he not bother."

Grinning, Phoebe said, "I am sure he would have appreciated the advice."

Geoffrey handed her a section of the news sheet, and they sat in companionable silence until her sister-in-law joined them.

After pouring a cup of tea, Amabel asked Phoebe, "When do you leave for Town?"

She swallowed a piece of toast. "Next week."

"I do wish I could go with you," Amabel said.

"What a whisker!" Phoebe smiled. "You have no desire at all to go to London and dance attendance on me, and, indeed, I have no wish for you to have to do so. I am quite content to stay with my aunt St. Eth. I much prefer the political parties the St. Eths attend."

Her sister-in-law pulled a face. "But they are so dry."

Phoebe laughed when Amabel wrinkled her nose. "I know, for you the subject is a dead bore, but I enjoy it extremely."

Her sister-in-law frowned. "My dear, how will you ever find a husband if you are attending only political parties?"

"It is not as if there are no unmarried gentlemen at the parties," Phoebe retorted. "Besides, I daresay I have met every unmarried gentleman the length and breadth of England. Not one has given me the smallest desire to marry. Perhaps I shall set up a salon and become a famous bluestocking."

Her sister-in-law's mouth dropped open in shock. "You cannot mean that!"

Phoebe tried to hide her exasperation. "I know you've tried very hard to bring about a match for me. I wish you would not persist. I shall marry when I find a gentleman I can love and not before."

"But you must marry," Amabel said. "You are almost twenty-four, and you are much too beautiful to become a spinster."

"I am well aware of my age," Phoebe said as mildly as she could. "I'm not on the shelf yet."

After taking a sip of tea, Amabel said airily, "I have invited my brother to visit us."

Phoebe creased her brows. "Evesham? I thought he was too ill to travel."

"No, Arthur is indeed too ill," her sister-in-law said. "I have invited my other brother, Marcus. He shall arrive in three days' time."

"Lord Marcus?"

Amabel hesitated before continuing, "He needs to marry now, and I immediately thought of you."

At the mention of Lord Marcus Finley, Phoebe's stomach clenched, and the humiliation she had not felt in years burbled within her, feeding her anger.

She took a breath and calmly but firmly said, "I have met Lord Marcus, we did not suit. Amabel, pray excuse me. I have just remembered something I must do."

Phoebe rose and left the room. Upon entering her chamber, she closed the door with a snap. The control with which she had been holding herself threatened to unravel. Lord Marcus Finley was back.

Myriad feelings of fear, hurt, and despair assailed her. It confused her to feel almost as raw as she had eight years ago when he'd shattered her childish romantic ideas. She had pushed him out of her mind then and, other than the bad dreams, had not purposely thought of him since.
(Continues...)


Excerpted from THE Seduction of Lady Phoebe by Ella Quinn. Copyright © 2013 Ella Quinn. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.

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The Seduction of Lady Phoebe 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 189 reviews.
celticmaggie More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating read. Ella has a great cast of well developed characters. The story is a bit different from most romances I have read. Young Miss Phoebe has a crush on Lord Marcus who then comes onto her before he is banished to Jamaica. She vows never to see him again. Much later Marcus tries his best to win her love back. Between a lovesick Lord, an obsessive Lord and interfering relatives you will have to read this book to see how it all works out. Once you start it will be hard to put down. Don't let this stop you.
Mirabelle8 More than 1 year ago
Sweet and romantic 4 1/2 stars Ella Quinn is a new author to me and decided to read the story of Phoebe, set in the Regency period. THE SEDUCTION OF LADY PHOEBE is a charming and romantic historical romance! The story starts as Phoebe, a young girl, punches a young man, as he declared his love for her. This strong-minded young person will never forget this moment. Their love/hate relationship started with a bang! This young man in question, Marcus still loves her very much and knows quite well that he will never have her. He then decides to leave the country and starts drinking to forget Phoebe. Eight years after, they meet again and spark flare between the two. However, this time, it will be under Phoebe's conditions. Has she forgotten him? Will she love him again? Will Marcus prove to her that he has really changed? You will have to read this charming story to find the answers. Ms. Quinn skillfully blended romance and intrigue and weaved her characters into her story. If you love historical romances set in the Regency era, you will love reading Phoebe and Marcus's story. It is a delightful story of two characters who gets a second chance in life! Ms. Quinn's next book will be the story of Marcus's friends Anna and Sebastian.
bloomingtonbabe More than 1 year ago
Definitely a Regency romance at it's most classic. If you enjoy a historical romance that is a quick read and somewhat what you might call a guilty pleasure, then you will like this. If a early 19th century British royal romance isn't for you, you won't like it. I did find one thing I didn't like. In this day, couldn't they have published an e-book with crisper formatting? It should look exactly like its paperback version and this one does a poor job it. Everything is in the same font--no highlighting, no bolded type. Maybe it is only me, but I find that irritating, Otherwise, a quick and simple read--classic British royalty romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this book. I love historical romance and strong heroines. But I just couldn't get very far into this book. I even tried to skip ahead, and found that I just didn't care enough about the characters to find out what would happen next. The characters lack real emotional depth. I had to stop reading because it felt like a waste of time. I wish this writer the best of luck, and hope she improves with time and practice. But right now, her work is sophomoric.
ornerylibrarian More than 1 year ago
Lady Phoebe is a sassy, clever heroine who deserves a dashing, handsome hero and Ella Quinn delivers that in spades with Lord Marcus. A tale filled with laughter and passion, Ms. Quinn has hit the mark with this regency story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story was particularly difficult for me to read for several reasons. The writing style seemed off, there was not much of a flow and as such it did not draw you in. The story itself seemed to have gone poorly over to my e-reader, there was odd spacing throughout the book. Also the author for some reason decided that the characters would use short form when describing others, such as Lady W, which seems lazy and was horribly distracting. On a good note, I found the characters interesting and the plot was worth reading. I would not sujest purchasing the book, but as it was free it was worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm about halfway through this book and the best I can say about it is that it is ok. The writing seems rather tedious and the characters lack any emotional depth. The base storyline of Phoebe having nightmares and being upset for 8 years over a stolen kiss is really ridiculous. I am glad this was a free Friday book and I did not pay for it. I think this author shows promise but not quite there yet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Layout problems are the least of this book's problems. The plot is terrible, the speech is akward and at times is not even gramatically correct, and the chapters drag!!! OMG, I just realized I am only 6 chapters in and I have 20 more to go!!! 20 too many. The only positive thing I can say is at least I didn't pay for this, but that is of little comfort. As a reader I feel duped and like I wasted my time giving this book a chance. I was hoping things would get better, but sadly, not. It took me a week and a half, probably more to get through the palrty amount of pages I have read, time better spent reading books written by someone (a. Who knows what a Regency romance is and (b. Knows how to write halfway decently. This author clearly does not. Sorry to those of you who gripe about these ratings and reviews hurting the author, but in this case, it's warranted and necessary. If we, as consumers don't say anything, then BN will continue to offer us digital content, both free and paid that is subpar. I'm already not happy with the fact that Nook's offerings as far as classic literature amounts to CLIFF notes in alot of cases or even worse BN Special Editions with translations or commentary. I don't understand how or why Amazon can seem to offer it's customers so much, and much better, and yet BN is grossly behind in it's offerings as far as quality and timeliness in some cases. I have been a valued BN customer for years, but as far as e-readers go, NOOK is not what I expected it to be. Obviously they are not digitizing in the same way other companies are and it's frustrating!!! The thing is, we've let them get away with giving us less than what other providers give for too long, and because of this, this book is what we get. Agreed?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was difficult to keep track of all the chatacters because she kept switching between their first and last names. I couldn't get interested in the story. She's freaking out because Marcus accosted her-not exactly- 8 years before, but she only thought of that ehen he wasn't around. Then all of a sidden she's over it and the problem is gone. The characters as no depth. Marcus was boring as hell, and Phobe had no personality. Not worth the free I paid for it. Hokey, don't bother.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you've read romance novels before then you will find this one follows the same cookie cutter format. Its not a bad read, but I got 3/4 of the way thru then realized I could spend my time reading something truly enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read worst but it is unnecessarily long, by the time I was halfway through book I really didn't care what happened to characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended! It's nice to see such a strong female lead in a regency book. Well written, very entertaining, and highly amusing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good but not Great! Heroine was a little too much at times. Honest rating is 3.5. Enjoyed story buit it did not WOW me.
Bettylafea67 More than 1 year ago
This was a quick and entertaining read. I would have given it 4 stars but Lady Phoebe was often times annoying. I loved the Hero and his bid at redeeming himself and proving himself worthy of Lady Phoebe. I recommend this book for a nice read on a rainy day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't read this. It is just a sea of words. I need paragraphs.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I did enjoy this story but Phoebe was annoying with her harping on not trusting Marcus. I do enjoy historical romance. I liked Phoebe's interaction with all the children. It was a nice story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Elaine-bookworm More than 1 year ago
Loved it, I fell in love with the characters and I couldn't put it down. I am so glad that she wrote more books involving these characters. Very glad I found her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It starts strong but begins to drag fairly quickly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very likeable characters. Only critisism was that the story carried on a little too long. Should have moved a bit faster.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fun and entertaining story. I loved all the characters and their liberated views for the women of that time. I will definately be reading more of this series by Ella Quinn.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago