Wicked Fantasy by Nicole Jordan | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Wicked Fantasy

Wicked Fantasy

4.5 27
by Nicole Jordan
     
 

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Enter the sensual world of Nicole Jordan’s breathtaking Regency romances.

He is her most wicked fantasy . . . and no proper suitor for a lady.

Since the night Trey Deverill’s stunning kiss melted her senses, Antonia Maitland has harbored a fascination for the infamous adventurer. But Deverill is nothing Antonia needs in a husband, and when he

Overview

Enter the sensual world of Nicole Jordan’s breathtaking Regency romances.

He is her most wicked fantasy . . . and no proper suitor for a lady.

Since the night Trey Deverill’s stunning kiss melted her senses, Antonia Maitland has harbored a fascination for the infamous adventurer. But Deverill is nothing Antonia needs in a husband, and when he abducts her–for her own protection–and then shockingly proposes marriage, a battle of wills ensues that proves dangerously irresistible.

Antonia’s charming wit and vibrant beauty make her England’s most sought-after heiress. Yet it’s her fiery spirit and awakening sensuality that stir a need in Deverill so fierce he would challenge the devil himself to possess her.

From the glittering ballrooms of London to the splendor of the Cornish coast, Deverill sweeps Antonia into unforgettable passion. But a treacherous plot threatens their lives and their chance for the grandest adventure of all: true love.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Ms. Jordan proves herself a marvelous storyteller.”
–Rendezvous
Publishers Weekly
Romance readers who believe "heavy on sensuality" equals "light on character" would do well to pick up the latest Regency by Jordan (Lord of Seduction), who deftly discloses her hero and heroine's depths even as they de-clothe each other. Again featuring the adventures of the Guardians of the Sword, a secret society pledged to protect the weak and fight tyranny, Jordan spotlights Trey Deverill, a handsome, virile, pirate-battling ship captain who returns to London to safeguard beautiful heiress Antonia Maitland. Antonia's father died mysteriously, and Deverill suspects her well-born fianc is involved. When Antonia rejects Deverill's warnings and her fianc sets Deverill up for murder, the captain has no choice but to abduct Antonia to secure her safety. In the process, Deverill discovers an unexpected danger: losing his heart to the spirited girl. Seduction, masked balls, houses of ill-repute and the stirrings of first love swirl into an intoxicating mix. Once more Jordan proves that she well deserves her reputation for delivering both steamy scenes and an emotional punch. Agent, Karen Solem at Spenser Hill Associates. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345467867
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/26/2005
Series:
Paradise Series
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
341,530
Product dimensions:
4.11(w) x 6.86(h) x 0.95(d)

Read an Excerpt

London, June 1815

She didn’t look much like a damsel in distress, Deverill decided, watching Antonia Maitland across the crowded ballroom. Nothing like a young lady who needed his protection, her life endangered by a murderer. The potential victim of the very man she was privately engaged to wed.

Instead, she seemed in her element at the glittering ball, gowned in an exquisite confection—pearl gray gauze shot with silver—that must have cost a fortune. Of course, as one of England’s greatest heiresses, Miss Antonia Maitland could well afford to patronize the most fashionable modistes.

Yet the gown, while splendid, deserved only partial credit for her enchanting looks. Antonia positively glowed in the light of myriad candles burning in the crystal chandeliers overhead.

Deverill’s eyes narrowed at the unexpected lust that shot though him. Physically she little resembled the gangly, self-conscious girl he had met four years ago. She was as tall as he remembered, but her figure had ripened to slender, womanly curves, and she carried herself now with an elegance, a graceful self-assurance, that had only been hinted at then.

He would never forget their first meeting—her endearing embarrassment at catching him in the nude—and then later that evening, her bold, completely unexpected request for a kiss.

At the time he’d thought Antonia utterly unique. Despite the advantages of wealth and luxury, she had fretted at the strictures society placed on young ladies, wishing she’d been born male so that she could control her father’s shipping empire and sail the world in search of adventure.

Her ambition was the only masculine thing about her, Deverill reflected, riveted by her brilliant smile. Certainly her appearance was purely feminine. Her coppery mane was darker now, a glorious deep auburn. That and her creamy white skin gave her a vibrancy that roused all his primal male instincts.

She was a beauty, no doubt about it. And reportedly her hand was sought by numerous gentlemen, despite her late father’s low birth and breeding.

This morning, Mrs. Peeke, the Maitland housekeeper and a longtime friend of Deverill’s, had proudly summed up her mistress’s success: Antonia was genuinely popular with London’s fashionable set, accepted in society by virtue of her own lively charm and her claim to genteel blood on her mother’s side. And naturally, her vast inheritance.

At present, she was surrounded by a flock of her ardent admirers, including her betrothed, the refined, aristocratic Baron Heward.

Her betrothal was the prime reason Deverill was here in England. He’d returned to London after more than a year’s absence, summoned by the housekeeper’s fearful letter, imputing that Antonia was in danger. Samuel Maitland had died last year, supposedly of heart failure, yet Mrs. Peeke suspected differently—that he’d actually been poisoned by Lord Heward after a violent argument when Maitland had withdrawn his permission for the baron to wed his daughter.

Deverill’s promise to investigate had brought him to this ball this evening in search of Antonia. He planned to renew the acquaintance and question her about her betrothal before deciding how to proceed.

It was not much of a secret that she and Lord Heward had a private understanding. They’d been betrothed only days before her father’s death, but at Antonia’s insistence had put off any formal declaration for a proper year of mourning. According to the housekeeper, the official announcement of their betrothal would be made public next month at a betrothal ball, with the wedding to take place three weeks later, after the banns were called. Once they were wed, Mrs. Peeke feared, Heward would control Antonia’s fortune, so what was to stop him from murdering her as he might have murdered her father?

This was Antonia’s first social function since coming out of mourning. Deverill watched as the baron led her out onto the ballroom floor for a cotillion.

She seemed happy enough, laughing at something Lord Heward said. But then, the tall, flaxen-haired nobleman allegedly had the suave charm and patrician allure to win the heart of any susceptible young heiress.

Deverill felt his jaw tighten. He had only a nodding acquaintance with Heward from their few encounters at gentlemen’s clubs, except for one occasion that had left an indelibly repellent impression—when he’d seen the baron viciously wield his cane on a beggar boy for the mere sin of daring to touch his elegant coat. That incident alone had roused an instinctive dislike of the man.

Directly after meeting with Mrs. Peeke this morning, Deverill had visited his own shipping offices to discover what his people knew about Heward. What he’d ascertained was mainly hearsay but unsavory enough to warrant further investigation, and he planned to call on his director tonight after the ball to see which if any of the rumors could be substantiated.

However, just because Heward was rumored to be avaricious and ruthless in his business dealings didn’t make him guilty of murder.

He wouldn’t presume the nobleman guilty without proof, Deverill resolved, but he meant to discover if the housekeeper’s suspicions had merit. If so—if Samuel Maitland had indeed been poisoned by Heward—then he would bring his friend’s killer to justice. And he would make absolutely certain that his friend’s daughter didn’t become the baron’s next unwitting victim.

Given the warmth of the ballroom, Antonia was glad when at the conclusion of the dance Lord Heward left her with her friend Emily and went off in search of refreshment for them both.

“Isn’t it famous—my first ball is a perfect crush,” Emily declared, surveying the crowd with delight.

Mustering proper enthusiasm, Antonia agreed. “A decided triumph, just as I predicted.”

“I am so glad that you could be here to enjoy it.”

Emily, now the Countess of Sudbury after her estimable marriage last fall, had been planning her ball for months but had waited so that Antonia could attend after she put off full mourning.

Additionally, her success had been aided by world events. London ordinarily would be thin of company this time of year, for once Parliament adjourned, a significant portion of the Quality normally retired to their country estates for the summer. But the news last week of the Duke of Wellington’s miraculous and bloody victory at Waterloo, which had finally defeated Napoleon Bonaparte once and for all, had brought the ton flocking back to town for the jubilant celebrations.

“Now if only Prinny would make an appearance,” Emily said hopefully, “my success would be assured. But I suppose that is asking too much. . . .”

Her voice trailed off as a sudden buzz of excited whispers rippled through the throng of guests during a lull in the orchestra music. Like Emily, Antonia glanced toward the entrance doors, wondering if the Prince Regent had arrived after all.

Then the crowd parted slightly, and she caught sight of the tall, powerful figure of a man moving toward them. Antonia’s pulse gave an unmistakable leap as she recognized the daring adventurer who had featured so prominently in her dreams more often than she cared to count during the past four years. Blood suddenly began pounding in her ears, making her light-headed.

“Oh, my word,” Emily breathed, dismay and excitement lacing her tone. “Is that . . .”

Trey Deverill, Antonia finished silently for her friend. “I believe,” she answered rather unsteadily, “it is Mr. Deverill.”

“What is he doing here at my ball? I sent him no card of invitation.”

He was heading directly toward them, Antonia realized, her stomach rioting with butterflies. But then, miraculously, he paused to speak to a gentleman who had waylaid him.

“He looks a bit like a pirate,” Emily observed breathlessly.

He did indeed, Antonia thought, relieved to have more time to prepare herself before coming face-to-face with Deverill.

Even dressed in a tailored black coat and white satin knee breeches, he was the picture of raw masculinity. His gleaming brown hair, thick and wavy and sun-streaked, was an unfashionable length, almost reaching his shoulders, while his striking features were still deeply tanned. With his height and sleek, powerful build, he commanded the attention of every eye in the room.

Hers in particular. Every inch of him was as vital and bold as Antonia remembered.

Then Deverill turned toward her again, and her gaze locked with his. She couldn’t look away. Absurdly, all her nerves began thrumming in anticipation, as if her entire being had suddenly come alive after a long sleep.

Emily, too, seemed unaccountably flustered. “He is moving this way. What should I do, Antonia? Should I refuse him admittance? Mr. Deverill is not considered respectable, even if he comes from a highly genteel family and is exceedingly rich.”

“No, you don’t want to make a scene,” Antonia replied in a rallying tone. “Try to act naturally, as if you expected to receive him.”

But when Deverill came to a halt before her, it was Antonia who had difficulty managing the pretense of composure.

He was breathtakingly handsome at close range, captivating with his sea green eyes gazing down into hers so intently. It aroused her just to look at him—although surely the flush infusing her body could be attributed to the warmth of the ballroom.

“Miss Maitland,” he murmured briefly in greeting, in that deep, rich voice she still remembered.

To her surprise, though, he barely acknowledged her before bowing politely over Emily’s hand. “Pray accept my apologizes, Lady Sudbury, for appearing uninvited. I have been away in India this past year and just heard the terrible news about Miss Maitland’s father. I was a close friend of Samuel Maitland’s and wished to offer her my condolences.”

Emily was not proof against Deverill’s easy charm. “That is most kind of you, Mr. Deverill. And you are welcome to join us if you wish.”

Returning his attention to Antonia, he took her gloved hand. “I am keenly sorry for your loss. Your father was a remarkable man.”

Antonia winced, feeling the familiar sharp stab of grief that had diminished little in the year since her father’s passing. “Thank you,” she murmured, discomfited by the touch of Deverill’s fingers as they pressed hers.

“No doubt you miss him.”

“Very much.” She missed her father dreadfully. Yet she was determined to throw off her gloom and look to the future; it was what Papa would have wanted, she was certain.

Deverill was regarding her sympathetically. “Since you are out of black gloves now, Miss Maitland, perhaps you will honor me with a dance for old times’ sake.”

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