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What Isabella Desires

What Isabella Desires

4.0 17
by Anne Mallory

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Lady Isabella Willoughby has always been patient and proper. But secretly, scandalously, she longs to be wild—to wear daring gowns while dancing the night away. Above all, she craves one thing: To be more than merely a "friend" to Marcus, the dashing, sinfully handsome Lord Roth.

Marcus has everything—power, prestige, wealth . . . enemies. He


Lady Isabella Willoughby has always been patient and proper. But secretly, scandalously, she longs to be wild—to wear daring gowns while dancing the night away. Above all, she craves one thing: To be more than merely a "friend" to Marcus, the dashing, sinfully handsome Lord Roth.

Marcus has everything—power, prestige, wealth . . . enemies. He thrives on danger and lives life to the fullest knowing each day might be his last, for he carries a dark family secret which precipitates one simple rule—never fall in love. Especially not with dear Bella, who has, of late, transformed herself into a siren, bewitching every male she encounters with her newly unfettered sensuality. Marcus must not allow himself to be tempted—but his resolve is weakening by the minute.

For what Isabella desires, she is determined to get . . .

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Avon Historical Romance Series
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.92(d)

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What Isabella Desires

Chapter One

She watched as he moved through the crowd, his tall, languid grace at odds with the look in his golden eyes, alert and predatory.

Women whispered that Marcus Stewart, Lord Roth, was a fallen angel. With his dark hair and whiskey eyes, his lush lips and artistic hands, she had never believed otherwise.

He nodded politely to one of the friendlier couples of the ton; the other man standing taller, the woman growing more animated as the conversation continued. Even from her vantage point across the room, she could see a small smile curve Marcus's beautiful mouth and a warmer light enter his usually cold and distant eyes.

She swallowed, her throat suddenly dry in the moist late spring air. She had been privy to his real smile, the one that reached all the way to his eyes and lit up his face, the one that caused her to forget her own name and her body to lean closer to his. Silk felt smoother and chocolate tasted better when he unleashed that smile. And she was selfish and wicked enough to want it all to herself, to taste him as his mouth curled, to feel his long, lean fingers curve around her waist and into her hair as he drew her forth.

She saw him moving on into the crush of people and watched full lips thin into a dangerous smirk as he said something cutting to a man she knew he disliked. That was the danger with fallen angels, she had always thought—they could show you all the delights of heaven or easily deliver you into the fires of hell. Most women found the dichotomy all the more exciting, and though she might scoff aloud, in the darkness of her bedroom, ensconced beneath hercovers, left to her dreams, her mind agreed.

He finally stopped his forward momentum at a foursome of the fashionable and notorious. As he joined their conversation, his shoulders relaxed infinitesimally; unnoticeable to anyone else, but she hadn't spent years observing him for naught. The Angelfords and Marstons were his closest friends. Friends with whom he could relax and dispense with the facade that society demanded; friends who generated more than their own share of gossip.

That his two best friends were now happily married had society poised for Marcus's capitulation as well. But he was not the least bit interested in marriage, and although the reasons for his feelings were secret, the actual matter of his opinion was not.

That had not stopped every matchmaking mama with daughters of a marriageable age from throwing their daughters in his path. Oh, no. The Roth title was distinguished and enduring, more so than many of the dukedoms. Marcus had power, lots of it.

That, coupled with his looks and brooding nature, made for no shortage of young misses, or married women, ready to fall at his feet. All of them wishing to be the one to tame him.

He carried a darkness that only dissolved when he unleashed one of "those" smiles. And perhaps, more desirous than the feeling of the smiles turning her to goo, she longed to see the shadows behind his eyes banished and his inner light relit.

She wanted to be more than just his chess partner and friend. She wanted—

Pain crashed through her foot, causing her to jerk upright and look to the side. Her mother, her handsome features highlighted by her upswept hair, continued to look straight ahead at the stuttering young man conversing with them, acting as if she hadn't just deliberately crushed her daughter's toes to dust.

Isabella, Lady Willoughby, quickly contained her mortification at being caught staring. Not that it mattered overly, since she wasn't one on whom the ton kept close tabs. She was just nice, plain Isabella Willoughby, widow of an equally nice and plain member of society. And like the pretty but unremarkable paper that covered the walls of the ballroom—she belonged in the scene but was eminently forgettable.

No one expected much from her besides pleasant conversation and a convenient way to introduce their daughters into society. Her spotless reputation and the fact that she genuinely liked to make outings easier for the young debutantes in their first seasons had ensured the ton matrons' continued benevolence in the ten years since Isabella's own debut.

Of course, a single whiff of scandal would grind all past benevolence to dust. Thus spoke society.

The man talking to her mother excused himself, allowing her mother to pin her with a knowing gaze. Isabella tried to look contrite, but her mother shook her head in exasperation. Polite exasperation, of course. After all, they were still in the public eye.

"Isabella, you need to stop woolgathering. One day someone other than your mother is going to catch you staring."

Isabella cringed. Sometimes her mother could still make her feel fourteen. "I know, I know. I'm sorry, Mama."

Charlotte Herringfield tapped her fan and sighed. "Don't apologize, dear. I still don't know if your father and I did the right thing by pushing you into marriage with a man that wasn't . . ." She waved her fan in Marcus's general direction.

Isabella swallowed. "You didn't force me to marry George. And it was the right decision. George was a . . . was a good friend," she finished softly.

"But you didn't love him." Her mother's shrewd eyes missed little.

"No, I loved him, you know I did." And she truly had, even though she had never been in love with him. He had been a good companion and friend. They had been comfortable. Her stomach had never clenched and the sheer thrill of life had never occurred in his presence, but then those were not necessarily the things on which to base a marriage. Still, she had never experienced that extra spark with George, and had always felt that she'd somehow slighted him. That she was the one who had denied him love. He had scoffed lightly at her confession on the day he had asked for her hand, instead joking and making her laugh.

What Isabella Desires. Copyright � by Anne Mallory. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Anne Mallory is a lifelong romance reader who soldher first novel to Avon Books after becoming a finalistin RWA’s Golden Heart contest. In Total Surrender isher eleventh book. A native Michigander, Anne currentlylives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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What Isabella Desires 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrible endin. Very abrubt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book, even though it had some boring parts. But the books ending was just terrible. I can't believe she ended it like she did. Kind of made me mad! But the rest of the book was well written.
WantonWoman More than 1 year ago
This was my first encounter with Anne Mallory and I have since read all of her romance books! I loved "What Isabella Desires" so much, that I have reread it over and over again and it is a permanent fixture in my growing library of seduction. Marcus is the epitome of mystery and seduction that I think I just may "swoon". Isabella is so love struck with Marcus that I am so happy with the turnout of this book and the online Epilogue on annemallory.com was the icing on the cake. I recommend this book wholeheartedly and look forward to more romances from Anne Mallory!
PaulaFL More than 1 year ago
I love Anne Mallory and have read all her books, but this one was my least favorite. It was a little boring and I really wasn't into the characters, they were kind of dull in my opinion. I'm happy I read it, but I didn't enjoy it like the other books she has written. If you have nothing else to read, it's not bad.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Love conquers all in this newest novel by the talented Mallory. What Isabella Willoughby desires is love everlasting with Marcus Stewart, Lord Roth. These two strong, mature characters go full tilt toward love while battling pasts filled with disappointment and sadness. Imbued with mystery, longing and sizzling tender/hot love scenes, What Isabella Desires is a definite keeper. You¿ll love it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although titled What Isabella Desires, the real question is Who Isabella Desires? and the answer is Lord Marcus Roth. Lady Isabella Willoughby has been in love with Lord Roth for a long time and she decides it’s time to make a move despite the many obstacles against them. Despite his seeing her as a younger sister, despite the fact that he is known as a womanizer and she is a staid divorcee, despite knowing that her emotions will always run deeper than his, she wants him. But there is more to Lord Roth than Isabella knows. Not only do people in politics want him dead, but also Lord Roth guards a family secret that keeps him from wanting to marry. Will Isabella get what she desires or will she continue to dream of a man she cannot have?Anne Mallory deftly creates a familiar story that sounds fresh because of its exciting characters, rich historical backdrop, and fast paced momentum. Lady Isabella Willoughby is not the typical luscious beauty that often features in historical romances. Instead, Mallory opted for a quiet, intelligent woman who is more comfortable at home than at a party. She leaves her comfort zone in pursuit of a man who is worth the effort. Lord Roth is also not the traditional rake that authors delight in repeating again and again. Instead, Mallory crafts a character with depth and a very real reason for not wanting to bring children into this world. Readers will identify with both of these characters and root for them to come together despite the numerous reasons why they can’t.  Anne Mallory deftly switches perspectives from Lady Isabella to Lord Roth and though Isabella has a stronger voice, Lord Roth’s perspective shows his true feelings for Isabella, which readers will enjoy. Through his voice, readers will realize he is truly the perfect match for the beautiful, understated Isabella. Anne Mallory also makes sure to use description to paint the scene but not to overwhelm it. She builds the tension and chemistry between the two characters but also shows their humor and human sides. I am certain that readers will enjoy this historical romance for its universal themes, strong characters and creative descriptions. Anne Mallory is an exceptional writer and knows exactly what the reader desires.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a charming and heartwarming story, with a fabulous combination of sensual tension, danger, and witty repartee laugh out loud moments, and heartfelt emotion that brought tears to my eyes. I had a wonderful time reading it. -- The lovely and proper widow, Lady Isabella Willoughby goes after her heart's desire in this tale of unrequited love. Isabella has been in love with Marcus Steward, Lord Roth since before her debutante days. Lacking the confidence to win Marcus's affection, young Isabella gives up her chance at true passionate love by marrying someone else. But Isabella's married life doesn't last her husband Lord Willoughby dies after a long-suffering illness. For years, not a breath of scandal has ever been attached to Isabella's name, she is what all debutantes, wives and widows are encouraged to be: quiet and proper. -- But quiet and proper are the very things Isabella no longer wants to be. Now at twenty-eight, with a 'respectable distance from widows weeds', destiny has given Isabella a chance to get Marcus to notice her. Not as the quiet friend who challenges him at games of chess, but as lover, a passionate woman who loves him unconditionally.-- Isabella's plan to seduce Marcus works right away though Marcus fights his attraction for her every step of the way. -- As an influential and powerful member of the government, Marcus's duty and commitment is to his country. Marcus cannot allow himself to fall in love, or for love to cloud his judgment.-- But Isabella's allure and confidence challenge his defenses, and the secret he's harbored for years. One that could destroy his career, the respect of his peers, and this woman who with each tantalizing caress is so close to conquering his heart. Then his worst fears come true when Isabella's life is threatened, Marcus must take her under his protection, close to his home and heart. Close to his past and disastrous not too distant future.-- Well written, well paced and entertaining, What Isabella Desires is a story about taking risks, second chances, and hope. The hope that true love conquers all. Ms Mallory delivers on all accounts, she consistently writes 'must buy' books.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Everyone who knows Marcus Stewart believes the aristocrat lives the perfect single life yet these same aristocrats assume he will marry soon as his two best friends recently did. However, he knows otherwise hiding his dark secret from friends like Angelford (see MASQUERADING THE MARQUESS) and Marston (see DARING THE DUKE), but especially from the prim and proper Isabella Willoughby, who he has known all his life.----------------- Bella hides a deep secret from everyone especially Marcus she fantasizes dancing naked as part of seducing Marcus who is the man she loves. However, refusing to be patient any longer for the man of her affection to come to her, Bella begins her seduction that has Marcus unable to resist her lure. WHAT ISABELLA DESIRES seems to be at hand except Marcus wonders if he is worthy of his beloved as he has hidden a truth that he fears if his Isabella learns it, her love would turn to hate. -------------------- There is a bit of a mystery as Isabella investigates what eats at the soul of her beloved while making efforts to become his lover. However, for the most part Anne Mallory¿s latest tale is a delightful historical romance starring two mice people who deserve all that love can bring them, but first they must overcome his demons. WHAT ISABELLA DESIRES is an entertaining Regency romance starring a woman who knows what she wants and sets out to achieve it and a man who knows what he wants and sets out to avoid it.---------------- Harriet Klausner