To Sin With A Scoundrel

( 34 )

Overview

A reclusive widow known for her scientific scholarship, Lady Ciara Sheffield is shadowed by rumors that she poisoned her husband . . . A rakehell rogue notorious for his devil-may-care antics, Lucas Bingham—the Earl of Hadley—is not accused of murdering anything—save for the rules of Polite Society. The only thing they have in common is seeing their names featured in the lurid gossip columns of London's newspapers. Until an ancient manuscript draws them together.

Ciara needs a ...

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To Sin With A Scoundrel

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Overview

A reclusive widow known for her scientific scholarship, Lady Ciara Sheffield is shadowed by rumors that she poisoned her husband . . . A rakehell rogue notorious for his devil-may-care antics, Lucas Bingham—the Earl of Hadley—is not accused of murdering anything—save for the rules of Polite Society. The only thing they have in common is seeing their names featured in the lurid gossip columns of London's newspapers. Until an ancient manuscript draws them together.

Ciara needs a titled fiancé to quell the slanderous speculations which may send her to the gallows. Lucas needs brilliant scholar to help his elderly uncle decipher the secrets of the mysterious manuscript. So when her friends urge her to accept the earl's proposal of a temporary alliance, Ciara decides that she has no choice but to make a deal with the Devil. And so begins a seductive dance of sinful pleasures and hidden desires as the two of them waltz through the mansions of Mayfair. Lies, intrigue, treachery, sex. They find themselves facing slanderous whispers, unscrupulous relatives-not to speak of their own simmering passions, which quickly ignite into dangerous flames. It's a potent mix and the result may be explosive-and perhaps deadly-if they don't watch their step.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this nicely steamy debut, ...the romance is well drawn and intriguing."—Publishers Weekly

RAVES FOR To Sin With A Scoundrel:

"A well-constructed novel of relationships and suspense. Great character development, plentiful dialogue often touched with humor, spicy sexual tension, and exciting plotlines combine to make it a winner."—Jane Bowers, Romance Reviews Today

"The first in the Circle of Sin series by talented author Cara Elliott...this story had everything a reader could desire in a book, adventure, humor, mystery, romance, and a very naughty rake."—Singletitles.com

"4 1/2 stars! Author Cara Elliott has created a magnificently compelling read! She has paired a scholar and a scoundrel...and I had a wonderful time watching the chemistry of these two characters mix."—Dietra Fitch, Huntress Book Reviews, huntressreviews.com

<b>Jane Bowers</b> - Romance Reviews Today
RAVES FOR To Sin With A Scoundrel:

"A well-constructed novel of relationships and suspense. Great character development, plentiful dialogue often touched with humor, spicy sexual tension, and exciting plotlines combine to make it a winner."

SingleTitle.com
The first in the Circle of Sin series by talented author Cara Elliott...this story had everything a reader could desire in a book, adventure, humor, mystery, romance, and a very naughty rake.
Singletitles.com
"The first in the Circle of Sin series by talented author Cara Elliott...this story had everything a reader could desire in a book, adventure, humor, mystery, romance, and a very naughty rake."
Dietra Fitch, Huntress Book Reviews - huntressreviews.com
"4 1/2 stars! Author Cara Elliott has created a magnificently compelling read! She has paired a scholar and a scoundrel...and I had a wonderful time watching the chemistry of these two characters mix."
Publishers Weekly
Lady Ciara Sheffield joins the crowd of Regency bluestockings in this serviceable and nicely steamy debut romance. Ciara's knowledge of herbs and the unfortunate death of her extremely unpleasant husband has led to society labeling her “Lady Murder,” a slander encouraged by her husband's grieving family, who want custody of Ciara's son. In order to redeem her position in society, Ciara forms a sham alliance with a notorious but politically powerful rake, the earl of Hadley. While Ciara is a somewhat two-dimensional character, the romance with Hadley, which involves smugglers, kidnappers, and—even worse—gossip of the ton, is well drawn and intriguing. Glimpses of Ciara's circle of scholarly female friends promise that further Circle of Sin titles will share this one's intellectual bent. (Mar.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446541299
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/1/2010
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 343,794
  • Product dimensions: 4.28 (w) x 6.86 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Cara Elliott started writing Western novels at the age of five. Later, she changed her genre to Regency romance after reading Pride and Prejudice. She graduated from Yale University, and she now lives and works in New York City.

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First Chapter

To Sin With A Scoundrel


By Elliott, Cara

Forever

Copyright © 2010 Elliott, Cara
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780446541299

Chapter One

Murder.

The word looked rather ghoulish on the printed page.

Closing her eyes for an instant, Lady Ciara Sheffield reminded herself that it sounded even worse.

“Murder.” Though she said it with barely a breath, the echo seemed to shatter the stillness of the room. Seeing that the inquest was officially closed, she had thought the past had finally been laid to rest. But apparently she was gravely mistaken.

She set aside the Morning Gazette, yet the flutter of newsprint was a disquieting reminder of the malicious whispers. For months following her husband’s sudden collapse, the drawing rooms of Mayfair had been aswirl in ondits, each one more outrageous than the last.

At least this morning’s article had not called her a witch but instead accorded her the dignity of referring to her work as “scientific.”

Her breakfast was now cold, and as the taste of the teaturned bitter on her tongue, Ciara crumbled a bit of toast between her fingers. Would the ton never tire of gnawing on the bones of old scandal? Sighing, she angled another peek at the column of newsprint. By now the rumors and innuendo should have died a natural death.

Oh, how she hated being fodder for gossip. But perhaps, with any luck, her story would soon fade from the front pages.

Especially if the infamous Lord Hadley kept up his escapades.

Much as she despised wastrels in general, Ciara found herself almost liking the man for being so utterly, so outrageously debauched. His latest antics could not help but distract the tattlemongers from her own quiet life. When it came to selling newspapers, a reclusive widow was no match for a rakehell earl.

Not that she had any interest in learning the sordid details of this particular incident. Determined to turn a blind eye to the columnist’s lurid prose, Ciara reached for her notebooks. And yet she could not quite help catching sight of the next few lines…

Dear God, surely the writer was grossly exaggerating.

Despite herself, she read on. She was acquainted with the fountain in question—though not with the cyprian who had apparently consented to play Leda to Lord Hadley’s Zeus-as-Swan. According to the account, the naked female was a good deal more statuesque than the sculpted marble. And a good deal more vocal. Apparently half of Berkeley Square had been woken by her shrieks when the earl’s slip landed both of them chest deep in the frigid water.

That ought to have cooled their ardor, thought Ciara grimly. Not to speak of inflicting more permanent damage. It was hinted that the earl had suffered several good-sized bruises to a rather sensitive section of his anatomy.

No doubt he was wishing that “brass balls” was not merely a metaphor.

The newsprint suddenly crackled. The coals hissed, and flames licked up to consume the crumpled wad of paper. To hell with Lord Hadley. And the rest of London Society, for that matter. Let them play their wicked games. She had witnessed enough malicious intrigue and mindless debauchery to last her a lifetime. It was no longer shocking, just dreadfully dull.

Pushing aside her plate, Ciara gathered up her notebooks and hurried from the breakfast room.

“Bloody hell! Another hit, dead center through the card!”

Bloody luck. Lucas Bingham, the Earl of Hadley, squinted in the glare of morning sunlight. He was a damn good shot, but after the three—or was it four?—bottles of port he’d consumed over the last several hours, even the sharpest aim could go astray.

“La, sir.” One of the luscious lightskirts he and his friends had hired for the trip slipped her hand beneath his shirt. “Your touch on the trigger is unerring. What say you to reloading and taking a shot at another sort of target?”

Before the earl could answer, Lord Farnam let out a low whistle. “Damnation, Lucas. I swear, you could shoot a farthing off the tip of a man’s cock without doing any damage.”

“Especially yours, Freddy,” called Baron Greeley. “Even Hadley can’t hit what he can’t see.”

Farnam joined in the bawdy laughter before replying, “I, on the other hand, have no trouble spotting your fat arse, Georgie—especially as it’s exposed in a rather precarious position right now. So keep a civil tongue in your head unless you wish to feel the full force of my boot.”

Greeley’s ladybird lay draped over one of the garden statues, and her embrace had angled the baron and his naked posterior into full view. “Come, come, gentlemen,” she called. “Let’s have no talk of violence, only fun.” Her hands inched lower, drawing Greeley’s breeches along with them. “After all, we’re all here to have a good time.”

“I’ll drink to that!” Farnam uncorked another bottle of champagne. “A toast to Lucas—our own Mad, Bad Had-ley—for giving us such a swimmingly good reason to quit Town for a while. The Season was becoming a bloody bore. Nothing like a country house party to keep us all in good spirits until the prigs have time to forget about your moonlight swan dive.”

Forget.

Lucas winced as the word cut through the haze of wine.

Damn. Up until that moment, his promise to his uncle had completely slipped his mind. It wouldn’t be the first time he had left Henry in the lurch. Not by far. Of late, his negligence was becoming such a habit that his failure to show up at the appointed hour was no doubt expected.

A fact that only made the prickling of guilt dig in a little deeper. And not even Marie—or was her name Marguerite?—could caress it away.

The feeling was bloody uncomfortable. Not to speak of inconvenient, seeing as they had arrived at Farnam’s estate only at dawn, after carousing half the night in one of the seamier gambling hells in St. Giles. Tossing aside the pistol, Lucas grabbed a fresh bottle and gulped down a swallow, hoping to drown the host of tiny daggers jabbing against his flesh.

Instead, the ruthless little buggers intensified their attack.

“Blast,” he muttered, pressing his fingertips to his throbbing temples. “You’ve just reminded me of a pressing engagement, Freddy. I’m afraid I’m going to have to return to town immediately.”

“Put it off, chéri.” Mademoiselle M began to toy with the fastenings of his breeches. “Along with your buckskins. Why rush off when we can play a bit of slap and tickle right here and now?”

“I can’t,” he replied, grimacing as he gingerly removed her hand. That particular portion of his anatomy was not feeling very… playful at the moment. He vaguely remembered a midnight encounter involving very cold water and very hard stone. “The truth is, my uncle expected me yesterday.”

“But chéri!” She pursed her lips into a provocative little pout. “If you leave now, it will throw off the numbers.”

“Someone will have to double up.” Lucas watched Farnam take another swig of wine and then thrust himself between his companion’s thighs. “Freddy looks willing to give his pump handle a few extra turns.”

The lightskirt narrowed her kohl-rimmed eyes. “That leaves me with the short end of the stick, so to speak. I didn’t make the journey out here to sit around and twiddle my thumbs. The deal was that I got you.”

His headache seemed to be taking a turn for the worse. Fishing a wad of banknotes from his coat, Lucas tossed them over. “Here, perhaps counting these will keep your clever little fingers busy.”

“Don’t be such a spoilsport, Hadley,” called Ingalls. He was lying spread-eagle on the grass, smoking a cheroot. “Surely another day or two will make no difference to your uncle. After all, he isn’t likely to be going anywhere.”

His other friends found the quip uproariously funny.

“I say, that’s a good one, Fitz,” said Greeley, wiping the tears of mirth from his cheeks. “Not going anywhere! Ha, ha, ha.”

The casual cruelty concerning his uncle’s infirmity hit him like a slap in the face. Lucas felt a surge of anger well up inside him, and for an instant he was tempted to lash out and smash the slurred smiles to a pulp. But if anyone deserved to be pummeled, he realized, it was himself. The other three simply followed his example, as they had since their schoolboy days at Eton.

Mad, Bad Had-ley. Hell-bent on raising the art of outrageous behavior to a science. The pursuit of pleasure, executed with perfect precision.

He found himself frowning. Was he really such a sodden, self-absorbed sot? A reckless reprobate reeking of spirits and sex?

Lucas shifted his stance, trying to shake off such dark musings. The fall into the fountain must have coshed his wits as well as his whirligigs. He didn’t usually subject himself to such soul-searching introspection…

“You aren’t in any condition to travel,” called Greeley. His friend fixed him with a bleary-eyed squint. “Fact is, you look like shite.”

“Nonetheless, I mean to leave for London within the hour,” he muttered.

“Oh, come on,” coaxed Farnam. “It’s not like you to leave your friends in the lurch.”

“At the very least, have one more round of drinks with us,” added Ingalls.

“Well…” It was, after all, still early in the morning, thought Lucas. “Maybe just one more.”

Marguerite smiled and ran a caress up the inside of his thigh.

Oh, what the hell.

Her workroom—her sanctuary—afforded a place of refuge from the poison pens and other painful realities of the outside world. Tall, mullioned windows filled the space with a clean-edged light. The leather bindings of her books glowed with the mellow warmth of aged sherry, a rich complement to the gleam of polished glass. The orderly rows of vials and beakers mirrored the precise arrangement of her scientific instruments. Microscopes, calipers, and magnifying lenses…

Here the truth was not distorted to suit personal desires. Empirical data could be measured. Rational thought ruled over raw emotion.

And yet, pressing her palms to her cheeks, Ciara was dismayed to find them still burning with indignation.

And perhaps a touch of fear.

“Damn,” she muttered, angry with herself for allowing the latest headlines to threaten her peace of mind. What did it matter if her name was splashed across the gossip pages? The inquest into her husband’s death was closed, and Sheffield’s family would have to live with that fact. “The danger is over,” she added, as if saying it aloud gave the words an extra ring of truth.

Don’t dwell on the past. With her young son away in the country, this fortnight was supposed to be a pleasant interlude for her, as well. A time to catch up on her scholarly research, not stew over the most recent efforts of her late husband’s relatives to blacken her reputation.

As she opened her notebook and began to write, the scent of the simmering herbs and spices filled the room. The original recipe—a potion for relieving the pain of gouty joints—had come from a medieval manuscript she had discovered in the attics of Sheffield Manor. But based on her own knowledge, she was making a few changes.

Rosemary, essence of juniper, sumac… Ticking off the list, Ciara made a note to mix in myrrh at the next chime of the hour. That would give her just enough time to organize her notes for the weekly meeting of the Circle of Scientific Sibyls.

Her lips quirked in a rueful smile. That was the group’s official name, but among themselves they had taken to calling it the ‘Circle of Sin.’ After all, intellectual pursuits were not considered proper conduct for a lady. But undaunted by public opinion, the five female members were serious scholars who shared a common interest in the natural sciences. And despite their differences in age and background, they had also come to share a special bond of friendship.

Ciara smoothed her papers into a neat pile. Lud, she was not quite sure how she would have survived the last half year without their stalwart support. By her own admission, she had shunned the social swirl of London. Still, the viciousness of the personal attacks after her husband’s sudden death had staggered her.

Drawing in a gulp of air, she forced herself to swallow the memory of terror, of confusion.

Sheffield’s relatives had been quick to start the whispers of ugly speculations. As the rumbling of suspicion grew more ominous and the tone of the inquest turned more threatening, her own family had taken cover from the growing storm of scandal, leaving her to stand up to the sharp-tongued magistrates and hatchet-faced coroner on her own.

The law required that the circumstances surrounding a sudden death be looked into. No matter that her husband was a dissolute man who had probably drunk himself into an early grave. By all accounts, he had downed a half-dozen bottles of brandy during the night of his collapse. And yet she had been forced to listen to his family and their cronies offer testimony about her shrewish temper, reclusive habits, and secret lair full of strange potions.

Ciara closed her eyes, trying not to picture the faces of the jury as they listened to the witnesses. She had seen the fear and loathing when their eyes met hers. Indeed, right up until the end, she had been sure they would find her guilty of her husband’s death and order her turned over to the authorities for a criminal trial.

Yet somehow she had found the strength to survive the terrible ordeal. Not for herself, but for Peregrine. She would have died a thousand deaths before she let Sheffield’s grasping family gain custody of her son. Oh, they had tried, even after the coroner had grudgingly announced that there was not enough evidence to indict her for murder. Even now they continued to spread stories about how her unnatural interests and unstable mind made her unfit to be a mother.

More lies, more innuendos.

Her hands clenched. She had done her best to protect Peregrine—first from the fickle moods of his father, then from the sordid details of the inquest, and now from the swirl of scandal that still surrounded her name.

But was her best good enough?

Forcing her chin up, Ciara refused to surrender to despair. While there was still a breath left in her body, she would not let Sheffield’s family beat her down. So far, they had not been able to offer a shred of proof to support their allegations. No doubt they would keep trying, but surely, as time went on, it would become more and more difficult to claim they had actual evidence of a crime.

Let them continue their campaign of evil whispers. Let them plant nasty lies in the newspapers. Words were their only weapons—and words could not hurt her. And yet Ciara felt her throat constrict. The same could not be said for Peregrine. He was so young and impressionable…

Thank God for friends like Alessandra della Giamatti.

A fellow member of the Circle of Sin, the marchesa was also a widow and had a daughter the same age as her son. Having experienced her own share of personal travails in Italy, Alessandra had gone out of her way to include Peregrine in the everyday activities that made life seem… normal for a child.

At the moment, the three of them were spending a fortnight in Bath, where some ancient Roman ruins had recently been unearthed. Ciara allowed a small smile. An expert in archeology as well as chemistry, Alessandra had been eager to observe up close the initial digging. And so had the children.

The fresh air and open fields would do Peregrine a world of good.

As for herself…

The chime of the clock roused her from such unsettling reveries. Shoving the past aside, Ciara hurried to mix the last ingredient into the bubbling potion before leaving for the meeting. As she reached for her shawl, her glove grazed a small blood-red notebook lying beneath the fringed silk.

She quickly added it to her reticule.

After all, hadn’t Hippocrates written that humor was one of the most potent medicines known to man—or woman? Following the regular agenda of the meeting, her friends might find her latest additions to their other on-going scholarly research amusing.

It was far more than an hour later when Lucas finally staggered to his feet and refastened his breeches. “I really must be off,” he muttered, gathering up his rumpled coat and cravat. Turning for the terrace, he cocked a last salute to his friends. “Enjoy the country. I fear that London is going to be a bore without your company.”

“Then stay,” called Greeley.

He shook his head. “No, I must atone for all my recent sins of neglect by visiting my uncle today.”

Farnam caught up to him on the stairs. “Er, see here, Lucas, are you sure that you have no objection if I step in to fill the void with Mathilde… so to speak?”

“None whatsoever. Nature abhors a vacuum,” replied Lucas with some cynicism.

“Er…” Farnam cast him a puzzled look.

“Never mind. It’s merely one of the many scientific observations my uncle is fond of pointing out.” Lucas quickened his step, anxious to order his valise packed and his team of grays harnessed. “You are welcome to avail yourself of Mademoiselle M’s company.”

“That’s awfully sporting of you.” Farnam grinned and lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “Admit it— all this talk about your uncle is pishposh. I take it you are running back to an even more delectable morsel.”

Lucas was loath to confess the truth. “What do you think?” he drawled.

His friend let out an admiring whistle. “You have the devil’s own luck with women.”

Or was it a curse? Sometimes he couldn’t help but wonder if everything came just a little too easily for him. The truth was, the lack of a challenge had left him feeling bored of late.

Brushing off such unsettling thoughts, he flicked a mote of dust from his sleeve. “Care for a bit of advice?”

“Hell, yes!”

“The secret is in not giving a damn.”

“Er, about what?”

“About anything at all.”



Continues...

Excerpted from To Sin With A Scoundrel by Elliott, Cara Copyright © 2010 by Elliott, Cara. 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.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 34 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    To Sin With a Scoundrel, OH MY!

    The wastrel of the ton, Lord Hadley is after one escapade or another, never failing to find his name splashed across the gossip pages for all of London to see. Not that he cares, it's all good fun, but he fears his latest escapade may not only embarrass himself, but Lord Henry, his long enduring guardian as well and his health isn't what it used to be and after he promised Henry a visit as well. It's time for him to cut short his carousing and see to the needs of Lord Henry, he asks so little of the man he raised from a boy.

    Lady Sheffield is herself splashed across the gossip columns as well, but for a different reason altogether. Her husband who drank himself to death and his wicked family are to blame, spreading rumors of pure poison as to the truth of Lord Sheffield's death. She has been portrayed as the Wicked Widow, Witch of Pont Street. Her only desire is to be left alone to raise her son, but the Battershams are trying to prove her unfit for motherhood, seeking custody of the young Perry, not out of love, but in a mad dash to grab with his title, land, and money. Greed is the only love of her mother-in-law and Cousin Arthur.

    When Lord Henry begs Hadley to seek out Lady Sheffield to inquire about her expertise in regard to a secret code and scientific matter that he discovered in an old manuscript, it brings a scowl to his face. The last thing Bad, Mad, Had-ley needed was to seek out the company of the Wicked Widow, but upon making her acquaintance, he can't image anyone further from his imaginings than the Lady herself. But, without help, Polite Society and the Battershams will surely bring the downfall of Lady Sheffield, and Lord Hadley is requested to provide assistance, but will his help ensure her safety and will he, the raffish rake, be able to escape his Lady's charms?

    To Sin With A Scoundrel by Cara Elliott was a quick fun read for all lovers of historical romance. I was enthralled by Ciara and Lucas' story, richly told by Ms. Elliott. Ciara Sheffield has received the short end of the stick time and time again, first with her unfeeling family, then her abusive husband. She has learned to keep to herself and her small circle of friends. Society has shunned her as rumors of her husband death plague her. Lucas Hadley is the wolfish rake with only one desire, to satisfy his carnal needs, but is his mischievous deeds hiding a deeper secret? He has had struggling childhood bereaved of parents though with the love of his Uncle Henry, but the young man discovered it was easier to be a hellion than ridiculed. His destructive behavior harms no one but himself or so he thought. When Lucas and Ciara come together, it's as if a perfect match as been made, each having something that the other needs.

    To Sin With A Scoundrel is a perfect read for a historical romance. It has a perfect blend of seduction, eroticism, adventure, and action. The characters are well developed and engaging, making the reader want to know more about them. I fell a little in love with each of them and hoped that the dastardly Battershams received their deserved due. The next book in the series, To Surrender To A Rogue, tells Lord James Jacquehart "Black Jack" Pierson and Marchesa Alessandra della Giamatti story, whom we've been introduced to through Lucas and Ciara's story. I'm already intrigue to Alessa's mysterious background and to her impish daughter, Isabella, she has already won my heart with her deeds with the young Perry. As reader

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    a delightful historical romance

    TO SIN WITH A SCOUNDREL BY CARA ELLIOTT is a delightful historical romance.The story is well written with detail and depth. The characters are wonderful, witty, full of surprises. The secondary characters are just as witty and full of surprises, they help to carry the story along. They will pull you into the story. This story has scientific experiments,romance, suspense, sensuality, wit,gossip and a wonderful love story in progress. You can't help but love the characters and the story. This is the first in the Circle of Sin series and I can hardly wait for the second in the series. This is a must have series. If you enjoy history and romance you will enjoy this one.

    Reviewed by: AAR
    Rating: 4.5

    *This book was received for review.*
    www.mybookaddictionandmore.wordpress.com

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Scandalously Delightful

    Author Cara Elliott is a graduate of Yale University and now works in New York at a lifestyle sports magazine when she's not penning historical romances. Her job allows her to travel, her favorite spot being London, where she enjoys used book stores and antique markets. Other titles include: To Surrender To A Rogue and To Tempt A Rake-- both coming later this year for this Circle of Sin series.

    Lady Ciara Sheffield is disturbed by rumors that she poisoned her husband. As a widow, she was best known for her scientific scholarship before the rumors began. Now she needs a titled fianc&#233; to quell the slanderous speculations threatening to send her to the gallows. Except the Earl of Hadley has been sharing the society pages with her. A sly rogue known for his ridiculous antics, Hadley also needs something from Ciara---A mysterious manuscript in his possession that needs deciphering. When they agree on a temporary alliance, the sparks fly. But with danger lurking through the mansions of Mayfair, they may need more than luck and love to see them through.

    I found this to be a delightful beginning to what promises to be a wonderful series. This is the first book I've read from this author, and honestly historicals aren't my favorite, but Cara Elliott writes with such elegance and wit that you immediately are drawn in. London as the setting was perfect for this story, and the old world feel leapt from the book. She has a knack for description and body language that makes the reader feel like they are right there in the pages with the characters. The secondary characters were delightful, some downright rueful, but I feel that what really shined was the dialog. The humor and bantering was just hilarious, and the heat between Hadley and Ciara was quite the tease. Nothing better than a misunderstood rakish hero, and a damsel heroine who doesn't want to be rescued, distress or not. These two played off each other phenomenally. The mystery element of whodunit was clever, with enough twists and turns to shake ones head. I very much look forward to the other books in this series, coming in June 2010 and March 2011. Sexy, sassy, and sweet. What's not to love!

    Kelly Moran,
    Author and Reviewer

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2010

    New author to Regency romance delivers sizzling story

    Cara Elliott is the alter ego of Regency favorite, Andrea Pickens. Cara introduces us to a new sensual series, the Circle of Sin, with three bluestocking heroines. They unapologetically live among the Ton on their own terms but find love when they least expect it.

    To Sin with a Scoundrel introduces us to Lady Ciara Sheffield, a mother first and scientist second. She finds herself the subject of the gossip rags, accused of poisoning her husband (a nasty bit of baggage, deserving of his fate, but one that Ciara did not deliver). Enter the hero, Lord Lucas Bingham, the Earl of Hadley. His sinful antics earn him the name "Mad, Bad, Had - ley." Lucas proposes to a sham engagement to Ciara so the gossip will die down. In return, she assists his uncle in translating a medieval text - his uncle being the only person who Hadley cares for and the only person who cares for the orphaned Hadley. As they act out their sham engagement, they learn about each other and themselves. At one point in the story, Ciara discovers a secret about Lucas that explains his ne're-do-well attitude. This endears him to Ciara and the reader. In the end, he comes through like a Knight in Shining Armor.

    "Love. As if some missing ingredient had suddenly been poured into his brain, the answer to his discontent, his disenchantment with his own aimless life, became blindingly clear. He turned away from the windows and pressed his palms to his eyes.

    Love. Lud, what a fool. He should have seen it coming. He should have run like the devil."

    Cara Elliott delivers a classic love story with a heartwarming ending.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Facts and Science are no match against love and passion!

    Lady Ciara Sheffield has been dubbed the Wicked Witch of Pont Street despite being acquitted of her late abusive husband's death. She was a woman of science who used her intellect and gifts to cure and heal not destroy yet the papers were still feeding lies to the Ton. Her late husband's family was behind this all because they wanted something that Ciara being convicted of murder would provide them - the money from the estate. They were ruthless and would do anything to get their hands on it even if it meant a permanent solution that could end Ciara or her son Peregrine's life.

    Ciara had her close, serious scholar friends in her Circle of Scientific Sibyl (SIN) but the help she needed came via an unlikely source from the most nefarious rake in London Mad, Bad Had-ley - Lucas Bingham, The Earl of Hadley. His antics were ground breaking and trouble seemed to follow him around so how could he possibly help Ciara out - simply by becoming romantically involved with her or so everyone would think. The plan was for a "fake" engagement so Ciara had the chance to rebuild her life in London society and Lucas has the chance to redeem himself just enough to be taken seriously all the while trying to figure out what Ciara's in-laws were up to and put a stop to it. But theirs was not a relationship formed in mutual respect, it was a challenge of strength and power with each of them trying to outdo the other and control the variables of the game. While Ciara dealt with the serious and responsible; Lucas dealt with pleasure and fun and each of them was working their talents to a perfect art form all the while trying to prove their worth to each other but mostly to themselves.

    Lucas had the love of his uncle who raised him but little else mattered until he met Ciara and realized that there was so much more to life that falling in fountains and chasing a hangover. She needed to be less serious and enjoy life more and he was the man for the job and he definitely stepped up to take control of without ever stopping to think this is what he wanted to do not had to do.

    Things don't always add up as uncomplicated mathematical equations but often they do add up to love when you least expect it. Love is funny when you are on opposite sides of the coin but perhaps that is what makes a good match. You have the push, the pull, the tug and the occasional flash of anger but for the most part you have the fire that is built with a quiet, slow consistency that lasts a lifetime and never burns out. Buy this book as soon as possible because it will leave you breathless and bubbly with anticipation for the next one To Surrender To A Rogue.

    Mary Gramlich ~ ("The Reading Reviewer") ~ www.marygramlich.com

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

    Writing was an issue for me...

    I read all 3 books in the Circle of Sin series and can say they get better but I thought this was a rough start because the writing was so melodramatic at times that I rrad it aloud to my husband with a groan. Honestly, if we weren't on vacation with limited other reading choices I might have given up. But the concept is fun--smart women scientists--and I am a determined person so I kept going and would give the 2nd book--To Surrender to a Rogue--3 stars and the 3rd--To Tempt a Rogue--maybe 4. I was impressed at how she improved her writing to tell her story better and, in the end, was happy with the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Pretty good

    I really enjoyed this book nd of course the male lead character Lucas had depth of character that was unveiled through out the story line. Liked immensely the entire book

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  • Posted March 12, 2010

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    Bridget's Review

    When Lady Ciara's horrible husband dies, she soon finds herself in a bit of a pickle. The town and his family are convinced that Ciara had something to do with his death. In order to gain the approval of her fellow peers, Ciara decides to team up with Lucas who has his own reasons for this union. What starts out as a wedding business arrangement, ends up turning into hot and heavy romance.

    I really liked the plot and the build up that the author created. Romance lovers everywhere are sure to fall in love with this book.

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  • Posted January 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Circle of Sin historical romance is a fun tale

    Single mom Lady Ciara Sheffield loves two things: her eight-year-old son, Peregrine and chemistry. The inquest into her husband's sudden death determined Sheffield died of natural causes. However, her in-laws insist he was poisoned by her and the rags initially call her a witch but soon accuse her of scientific homicide. Sheffield's sister and his nephew Arthur Battersham demand a new inquest as they spread the word Ciara used her brilliant chemist's mind as the "Wicked Witch of Pont Street" to kill her spouse.

    Since the Battersham duet is big shots, they have a great chance of a second inquiry. Ciara knows why the Battersham want her declared unfit to raise her son so they can have access to his fortune as his guardian and consequently pay off Arthur's humongous gambling debts. Her close friends, the Circle of Scientific Sibyls, also known as the Circle of Sin decide Ciara needs a fianc&#233; with connections to shut everyone up with one aristocratic stare. They choose Lucas "Mad Bad Had-ley" Bingham, who cares about no one except his beloved Uncle Henry Phelps, confined to a wheelchair. Henry has found a manuscript allegedly written by Hippocrates and asks Lucas to visit Ciara to translate it. They cut a deal with her working on the manuscript and he escorting her. As they fall in love, accidents begin to occur too frequently to be accidents.

    The Circle of Sin historical romance is a fun tale starring a beleaguered heroine, a rakish antihero, the Scientific Sybils, the wealthy child, the uncle and razor thin villains. The story line is fast-paced though it remains somewhat by the subgenre book in spite of the overall strong cast. Still fans will appreciate Lady Ciara as she challenges her in-laws, the Ton, and love with the incorrigible Mad Bad Had-ley at her side.

    Harriet Klausner

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