Till Dawn with the Devil (Lords of Vice Series #2)by Alexandra Hawkins
Few women can resist a man like Gabriel "Reign" Housely, the Earl of Rainecourt. With divine good looks, delectable charms, and delicious wealth, he would seem to be every marriage-minded mother's dream match for their daughters. But not so, given the mysterious death of his first wife. Fortunately for Gabriel, he has no plans to seriously court any of the London
Few women can resist a man like Gabriel "Reign" Housely, the Earl of Rainecourt. With divine good looks, delectable charms, and delicious wealth, he would seem to be every marriage-minded mother's dream match for their daughters. But not so, given the mysterious death of his first wife. Fortunately for Gabriel, he has no plans to seriously court any of the London ladies ever again. That is, until he shares one unforgettable dance with a mysterious stranger…
Exquisitely beautiful though decidedly modest, Lady Sophia usually shuns the festive ballrooms of London society. But when a man who calls himself "Reign" enters her lifeseemingly from out of nowhereand shows her true kindness, her wary young heart begins to melt. Of course, Sophia would be shocked to learn the truth about Reign's past. But when scandal strikes, this devilish stranger may be her only salvation…
“Hawkins' latest dark and highly sensual Lords of Vice installment is riveting. Filled with mystery and desire, gothic overtones and grand passions, here is a tale Victoria Holt would have loved to have written. Hawkins cements her reputation for bringing compelling, unique and lush romances to fans eager for fresh storytelling.” RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars!)
“Ms. Hawkins weaves a fantastic tale threaded heavily with scandals, secrets, and sins, yet gentled with blossoming friendships and budding romance. TILL DAWN WITH THE DEVIL promises an intoxicating journey, and delivers with an exciting series of twists and turns that leave the reader disoriented and begging for more.” Fresh Fiction
“There is no doubt that Alexandra Hawkins is making a splash in historical romance and fans of the genre who haven't read the Lords of Vice series should sit up and take notice.” The Season on Till Dawn with the Devil
“Alexandra Hawkins does the Regency era as no other!” Detra Fitch on All Night With a Rogue, Huntress Book Reviews
“Even if you have never read a regency romance before, you really have to read this one, it is one of the best I have had the pleasure to read.” Regina Paul on All Night With a Rogue, Coffee Time Romance
“All Night With A Rogue was simply one of those 'can't put it down' reads, and wow, was it ever a hot and sexy!” Marilyn Rondeau for CK2S Kwips and Kritiques
“Hawkins' first Lords of Vice tale calls to mind the highly sensual reads of Beatrice Small and Susan Johnson.” RT Book Reviews on All Night With a Rogue
“This sexy debut from Alexandra Hawkins begins what promises to be a great series full of sensually decadent heroes. And wow, does this one start off with a bang!” Andrea Williamson, The Romance Dish, on All Night With a Rogue
“All Night With A Rogue has a plot that is full of twists and turns creating a story that will hold your attention and keep you turning the pages.” Heather's Reading Romance
“A very nice start to an intriguing series.” Sandy Marlow, The Good, The Bad, and The Unread, on All Night With a Rogue
“Hawkins "All Night with a Rogue" is written in a beautiful style; all events flow smoothly along, contributing to the plot and showing off the characters with clarity.” Long and Short Reviews
“A truly fantastic debut novel! ALL NIGHT WITH A ROGUE is one of the best Regency romances that I have read for quite awhile.” Loves Romances & More
“Rich with emotion and brimming with noticeably diverse characters. ALL NIGHT WITH A ROGUE will keep you thoroughly entertained.” Amelia Richard, Single Titles
“Brimming with witty repartee, well-drawn characters, an intriguing plot, sizzling sensual love scenes and innocence, this story is a delight.” Romance Junkies on All Night With a Rogue
“ALL NIGHT WITH A ROGUE is a slightly more risqué historical novel that is sure to hold your interest all the way through and pull your heartstrings” Carolyn Crisher, Romance Reviews Today
“With unforgettable, (unrepentant) characters, super villains, intrigue, and scenes filled with marvelously mean dialog, ALL NIGHT WITH A ROGUE had me up all night!” Shannon Johnson, Romance Reader at Heart
“Sizzling, smart, and sophisticated.” Gaelen Foley, New York Times bestselling author of My Wicked Marquess, on All Night With a Rogue
“Wickedly sensual and entertaining! Alexandra Hawkins is an exceptional talent.” Lorraine Heath, New York Times bestselling author of Surrender to the Devil, on All Night With a Rogue
“A romantic and erotic tale of social intrigue vs. steadfast hearts. This first story in the Lords of Vice series is hot enough to curl your toes!” Celeste Bradley, New York Times bestselling author of Devil in My Bed, on All Night With a Rogue
Read an Excerpt
Spring 1821, London
“I predict this evening will end in ruin.”
Lady Frances Lloyd, or simply Fanny to her friends, stifled a giggle. “What an utterly outrageous thing to say,” she murmured under her breath.
Perhaps she was being a trifle dramatic, Sophia privately reflected. However, during her brief stay in London, she had come to dread Town balls. And she absolutely loathed being announced. In that moment, there were too many gazes judging her choice of evening dress and watching every gesture. There were too many opportunities for her to humiliate herself.
“Chin up, my girl,” Griffin said, patting her gloved hand that gripped his forearm. “We are almost through.”
“I detest this,” Sophia hissed softly.
“Hush.” Fanny held on to Sophia’s right arm as if she expected her friend to flee. “It is time.”
“Presenting the Lady Sophia Northam . . . the Lady Frances Lloyd . . . Mr. Derrick Griffin.”
Head held high, Sophia stared at the confusing landscape of shadow and color that usually made little sense to her brain. Had the din in the ballroom diminished as they were announced? Were people staring? The unspoken questions only heightened her apprehension.
“Stairs,” Fanny murmured, reminding Sophia to pay attention. “Six steps.”
Earlier, Fanny and Griffin had described the layout of the ballroom in detail. With her friends’ assistance and the stylish white-and-gold walking stick that matched her dress to steady her, Sophia prayed she would not disgrace herself by tripping down the remaining three steps.
“Smile, Lady Sophia,” Griffin coaxed; his warm, steady arm was a source of great comfort. “You are stiff enough to crack into pieces. Do not tell me that you are afraid to face the ton?”
Crowds frustrated her more than frightened her.
“I fear no one,” Sophia said fiercely.
“An intelligent response,” Griffin said, sounding amused. “What say you, Fanny?”
Her friend sighed. “Sophia, your brothers were boorish to abandon you on your first evening in Town. If they dare show their faces this evening, I intend to let them feel the sting of my displeasure.”
Her connection to Fanny and Griffin could be traced back to childhood. Both families had been close friends of the Northams, and they had remained steadfast even after her parents had died in what had appeared to be a tragic murder-suicide.
Sophia’s smile was genuine as she cocked her head in Fanny’s direction. Above the shadows and annoying mist of her faulty eyes, she glimpsed that her friend had pinned up her dark hair for the ball. Sophia peered closer. “Did you curl your hair?”
“Yes.” Fanny heavily exhaled. “You will not dissuade me from speaking my mind to your wastrel brothers, Sophia. They would have happily left you to rot in the country again if they had not been persuaded by Griffin’s parents and my own.”
It was true. Her brothers, Stephan and Henry, had not been pleased that Sophia had joined them in London this season. She had overheard her brothers cursing Fanny’s father and debating which one of them would be saddled with the burden of escorting her about Town. Henry, in particular, lamented the expense of a sister who would never attract a husband. As far as her brother was concerned, Sophia was doomed to spend the rest of her days as a spinster.
“Most brothers look upon their younger sisters as an inconvenience,” Sophia said lightly. “Stephan was just annoyed that my presence would keep him out of the card rooms.”
“Ravenshaw is an arse,” Griffin muttered in her ear. “Henry, doubly so. If they do anything to upset you, let me know and I will beat them bloody on your behalf.”
Sophia affectionately leaned into Griffin. “It is one of the many reasons why I adore you.” She felt Griffin stiffen as she straightened. “Something amiss?”
“Miss Roberts has arrived with her parents,” he said breathlessly.
Ah, yes, the mysterious Miss Roberts. The lady was Viscount Burrard’s daughter. Griffin had been introduced to the eighteen-year-old young woman several days ago, and according to her friend he was smitten. At seven-and-twenty and the second son of a viscount, Griffin’s family had high hopes that he would secure the affections of an heiress this season. Sophia did not know if Miss Roberts was an heiress, but she had certainly captivated Griffin’s interest.
“You should go and pay your respects.”
His hand tightened briefly over hers. “You do not mind?”
Sophia wrinkled her nose and waved away his concerns. “I do not expect you and Fanny to watch over me all evening. I am not a helpless child.”
She focused on his face and gave him a reassuring smile.
“Very well.” Griffin slipped from her grasp. He lifted her hand to his lips and kissed her delicately on the knuckles before moving on to Fanny. “Wish me luck, Fanny?”
Fanny snatched her hand out of his grasp. “With your roguish charm, I should be wishing Miss Roberts luck,” she said wryly.
Griffin took several steps in Miss Roberts’s direction before he stopped, pivoted, and returned. “Sophia, if Ravenshaw and Henry do not make an appearance—”
Sophia’s face softened at his concern. “Fanny’s parents should arrive later this evening. They will see to it that I have a way home.”
With an abrupt bow, Griffin disappeared into the crowd.
Fanny was quiet for several minutes, making-Sophia wonder if her friend was watching Griffin’s exchange with Miss Roberts. “Does he know?”
“I beg your pardon?” Fanny absently replied.
“Is Griffin aware that you have feelings for him?” Sophia clarified.
Her friend laughed. “I doubt it. Most gentlemen are blind when it comes to love.” Fanny sounded resigned and a little sad.
“If you would prefer, we could find a quiet room—”
“Oh, no,” Fanny said, cutting Sophia off in mid-sentence. “You are not going to hide away the entire evening. You are going to meet people, and perhaps even dance.”
“Dance? Here?” Sophia said, trying to hide her anxiety at the notion of dancing in front of strangers. She and Fanny had taken dance lessons together, but she had only practiced with their instructor and once with Griffin. “If I humiliated myself by falling, I would never hear the end of it from Stephan and Henry.”
“I do not give a farthing about your brothers’ feelings. Like most gentlemen, they both can be insensitive twits!” Fanny said heatedly; she was always ready to battle Stephan and Henry on Sophia’s behalf.
“You are a good friend, Fanny.”
The compliment seemed to drain her friend’s anger. “I love you, too.” Fanny sighed. “Oh, come along. I see Lord and Lady Howland up ahead. We should go pay our respects. It will not be as amusing as yelling at your brothers, but it will have to do.”
With a discerning eye, Reign surveyed the crowded ballroom and found it lacking. “Tell me, my friend, why are we not at Nox? At the club, we have the opportunity of increasing the weight of our purses, imbibing decent brandy, and—”
“Flirting with immodest wenches,” Vane added, his blue-green eyes twinkling with humor.
Reign could always count on the Earl of Vanewright to focus on the essential needs of the merry group the ton had dubbed the Lords of Vice. “Precisely! Instead we have agreed to join Sin and his marchioness at Lord and Lady Harper’s rather staid gathering this evening.”
Nicolas Towers, Duke of Huntsley, or Hunter as he was called, overheard Reign’s remark as he joined the two gentlemen. Side by side, Hunter and Vane could have passed for cousins. Similar in height and build, they both had straight, dark hair, though Vane preferred to wear his short, while Hunter wore his long enough to cover the nape of his neck. There was enough resemblance between the two men that Reign would not have been surprised if his friends shared a distant ancestor.
Hunter grinned at his friends. “Come now, gents, you both are made of sterner stuff. An evening of dance and conversation will not cause any permanent damage. Besides, Sin is merely indulging his marchioness. Lady Sinclair’s mother, Lady Duncombe, is good friends with Lady Harper. It would be rude to slip out too early.”
Vane’s gaze warmed with sensual heat as a fetching blonde in green strolled by the trio. The lady glanced back at them, but her elderly companion swiftly urged her charge in the opposite direction. “I can stomach the insult.”
“As can I. You are only amendable to this tedious evening, Hunter, because Sin bribed you with Lord Harper’s fine brandy,” Reign grumbled, annoyed that his friend had the audacity to flaunt his prize in front of them.
“True,” Hunter said, smiling as he brought the glass of brandy to his lips. “If you behave, perhaps Sin can persuade Harper into unlocking his cabinet for you as well.”
“I doubt Harper’s excellent stock is worth more than an hour,” Reign said, feeling that he was being generous.
More than eight years had passed since his wife’s tragic accident. Since that fateful morning when the servants had found Beatrice’s cold, unresponsive body at the foot of her bed, Reign had been subjected to endless speculation about his part in his wife’s demise. It mattered little to the ton that the magistrate had declared Beatrice’s death an unfortunate accident. His selfish wife had apparently tripped and broken her neck when her head had struck one of the bedposts. Polite society, on the other hand, thrived on rumors and scandal, and his brief marriage to his countess had provided plenty of fodder. It was one of the reasons why he avoided such gatherings. After his disastrous marriage to Beatrice, he had no desire to seek out another bride.
“I concur,” Vane said, clapping Reign on the shoulder. “If Sin had any sense, he should—” The earl paused as something or someone caught his attention. His fingers bit into Reign’s shoulder as the man cursed.
“What is wrong with you?” Hunter asked, leaning back as he tried to guess the source of Vane’s agitation. “Did one of your irate mistresses enter the room, or perhaps the lady’s husband?”
“Burrard,” Vane said tersely.
Reign flinched as he recognized the name. Viscount Burrard was Beatrice’s father. He assumed Lady Burrard was attending the Harpers’ ball as well. “This is another reason why I abhor these quaint gatherings. There is always the chance that I will encounter my former in-laws.”
Hunter grimaced in sympathy. “It has been eight years, Reign. How long are you supposed to pay for what the magistrate deduced was an accident?”
Reign met Hunter’s somber gaze. “The Burrards believe that I murdered their daughter. I highly doubt an eternity will satisfy them.”
From across the room, Lord Burrard greeted a male companion. Together they disappeared through the open doorway that led into the card room. Reign had been so focused on the viscount’s departure that he had not noticed Lady Burrard. She stood only twenty yards from Reign and his friends.
Out of respect for their loss, Reign had taken great care to avoid Beatrice’s family. He had been aware of the Burrards’ low opinion of him, and assumed the couple was the source of the speculation that whirled about him. However, any hope of slipping unnoticed from the Harpers’ ballroom evaporated as Lady Burrard’s horrified gaze remained on his face.
The viscountess shook her head as if she had glimpsed a terrifying apparition. Several ladies circled around her in a futile attempt to calm their distressed friend.
“Forget Harper’s brandy,” Vane said, nudging Reign toward the closest door. “Sin will understand.”
“Perhaps. It depends on the mischief,” said Alexius Braverton, Marquess of Sinclair, as he and his wife approached.
Excerpted from Till Dawn with the Devil by Alexandra Hawkins.
Copyright © 2010 by Alexandra Hawkins.
Published in 2010 by St. Martin's Paperbacks.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
Meet the Author
Alexandra Hawkins is the author of the Lords of Vice Novels, including All Night with a Rogue and After Dark with a Scoundrel. An unrepentant Anglophile, she discovered romance novels as a teenager, and knew that one day she would be writing her own stories. She has combined her love of English history, mythology, and romance to create sensual character-driven stories that she hopes will touch readers' hearts. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three children.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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It's one of those books, you just can't seem to put down. So much is going on, and yet I'm able to follow every turning point. Nice Job A. Hawkins. I'd recommend reading the entire Lord of Vice Series. You won't be disappointed.
Great book cant wait to start the third book in the series!!!! I couldnt put it down, once I started to read it.
I loved the book and could not put it down. I wish there were people like him in real life
Reign Housely, is a man of charm and wealth, and he enjoys the pleasures of London, but there is a scandal attached to his name. Reign once fell in love with his first wife, who broke his heart, betrayed him, and was killed in a accident, but the Ton believes him to be involved somehow. Lady Sophia, is beautiful, and has finally been able to make it to London, despite the protests from her brothers. Sophia suffered from a accident as a child, when her parents were killed, and has suffered from partial blindness, and blurred vision. While at a ballroom, she meets Reign, who treats her differently than others with her certain struggles. He treats her as a real human being, and shows her kindness and desire. But when they are involved in a scandal ,they marry, but Reign may be the key to saving Sophia from a horrible fate. Till Dawn With The Devil is a wildly entertaining read that sucked me into the story from the first page. Not many authors can pull me in like Alexandra Hawkins. This is a newer author for me, and when I read the first book in the series a few months ago, I fell in love with her writing. Her style is very compelling and endearing, and you can’t help but admire the sizzling chemistry she implements in her stories. In Till Dawn With The Devil, the second book of Lords Of Vice, we have Reign’s story. This story encompasses a variety of issues. In the beginning of the story, we see how strong our heroine is. She is beautiful and passionate, and stubborn, she is determined to make her own way and fight her battles. She isn’t afraid of what others think of her, especially Reign. Reign is addicted to Sophia, he can’t resist her, and for the first time since his first wife’s betrayal, he feels desire and can’t stay away from her. I loved how these two came together, and their story was sweet and romantic, and such a lovely story of true love and how one night of desire and passion can change your life forever. I found that Till Dawn With The Devil a stunning romance set in the regency period, a time of balls and parties, of scandal and formal parties, of a love found in a ballroom…a tale of intrigue and mystery, a romance that is sexy and smart….EXCEPTIONAL!!!
A nice easy read with a reluctant hero and brave heroine Nice twist as the story is ending
Love the series...can't wait for #3
This book was wonderful and sooooooo much better than the first, which I liked well enough. Loved loved loved Reign! Read it!!!
The heroine is not physically perfect which I love, as she made the hero look even more dashing, especially as he was falling in love with her. Definitely a re-read and a keeper!