“Sizzling, addictive, and deeply romantic: Miranda Neville’s novels are a joy to read.
“Wickedly sexy and just as witty, Miranda Neville is one to watch!”
The raves keep rolling in for Miranda Neville, a “fresh new voice” (Madeline Hunter) in historical romance. Readers simply adore her smart and sexy Burgundy Club novels, and the third delightful installment, The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton, goes to the head of the class! Centered on a trio of rogues and the secret gentleman’s club they establish, this Regency Era-set romp reaches new heights of imagination, sensuality, and just plain fun—as a desperate beauty, lost on the English moors, stumbles upon the ideal opportunity to get revenge on the delectable cad who ruined her London season.
About the Author
Miranda Neville grew up in England before moving to New York City to work in Sotheby's rare books department. After many years as a journalist and editor, she decided writing fiction was more fun. She lives in Vermont.
Read an Excerpt
The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton
By Miranda Neville
AvonCopyright © 2011 Miranda Neville
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNever get into a cart with a strange man.
Yorkshire, England, July 1820
"Take off your clothes."
Celia's mouth fell open. "Why?" she managed
to articulate. Stupid question perhaps, but nothing
had indicated lascivious intentions during the two
or three hours since her kidnapper had picked her up
in the lane, tied her up, and driven her off to this
obscure moorland cottage. He'd handled her with insulting
"I most certainly will not," she said, gathering
She backed away from him, rubbing her wrists, still
sore from the bonds he'd removed. Her head hit the
sloping roof. "Ow!"
"Do it or I'll have to do it for you." The man sounded
more bored than threatening. He reached under his
laborer's smock and metal glinted in the dim light.
"And I'll shoot you first." The words lacked any trace
of the rustic burr which, along with the smock, had
fooled her into believing him a local farmer when he
offered her a lift in his cart. "Get on with it. I don't
have all day."
Definitely not from Yorkshire. His accents carried
a hint of something far more exotic that matched his
olive complexion and suggested an origin or sojourn in
foreign parts. Coming from foreign parts herself, Celia
would normally have been interested in conversing with
him. But she hesitated to bandy words with an armed
man, especially one whose pistol aimed straight at her
heart. In the tiny attic, she couldn't believe he'd miss.
Raising trembling hands to the buttons of her pelisse,
she summoned her most ferocious scowl, with the hope
of making herself repulsive.
At first it seemed her grimace had the opposite of
the desired effect. His eyes held a hungry gleam as they
fixed on her bosom.
"Give me that." He held out his free hand. With relief
and reluctance she offered him the cloth reticule that
hung from her left wrist. "That's right. Now the coat."
The serviceable gray garment slid from her shoulders.
"Lay it on the floor there. Do you need help with the
buttons of your gown?"
Celia shook her head. A governess dismissed for
moral turpitude does not merit the attentions of a maid.
She'd dressed herself that morning, in undergarments
and a dress that could be fastened without assistance.
She kept a wary eye on the kidnapper, though she
couldn't imagine the act of rape would be conducted in
such a nonchalant atmosphere. Robbery seemed more
likely his motive, not that her clothes were worth much.
Keeping the barrel of the gun trained on her, he loosened
the laces of the reticule and shook its contents onto
the rough floor: the miscellaneous clutter of a traveling
lady and the princely sum of fourteen pounds, thirteen
shillings and four pence. Princely to her, anyway. It
represented her entire worldly worth.
Princely enough for her abductor too. He gave a little
grunt of satisfaction as he squatted to gather up the notes
and coins, stuffed them into a pocket of his breeches,
and the other things back in the reticule.
By now she'd unbuttoned her dress but couldn't bring
herself to remove it. "Off with it," he said. "And the rest.
Shoes, stockings, and whatever's underneath."
"I have to leave you for a while and I don't want
you escaping. You should be safe up here, but if you
managed to get out I reckon you'll think twice about
wandering off over the moors naked."
Reassured that violation was not to be her immediate
fatefor once she could be glad she wasn't the kind of
woman who drove men to madnessshe did as bidden
until she reached the last layer. Saving on cloth, she
made her shifts short. Showing her knees to this man
was bad enough. Celia couldn't bring herself to expose
her breasts and other private parts.
"Please," she said, hating to have to beg. "Let me
keep this on."
He looked her up and down with, she feared, a grain
more interest than he'd previously displayed.
"Please." She crossed one arm over her chest, the
other lower, in a vain effort to protect her modesty.
"Please don't make me take this off. I'd never go outside
dressed in so little."
Whether from pity, or conviction that the cheap linen
had little value, he agreed. He made her gather up the
rest of her clothing and lay it over his free arm.
"I'll be back later," he said from the ladder as he
climbed down into the cottage below. He paused before
he disappeared from sight, looked her up and down. She
hugged herself closer and pressed her thighs together.
"You know, you're not so bad after all. Maybe we'll
have time for a little fun before." She could guess what
kind of fun he meant, but before what?
The swinging hatch closed and she heard the wooden
bolt driven home. Celia Seaton was alone. She no longer
had employment, a future, a reputation, or a penny to
call her own. All that remained was a too-short shift and
a healthy indignation.
She heard him banging around below as she took
stock of her surroundings. There wasn't much to see.
Sunlight leached in through a spot in the roof where a
tile had broken. Lucky it wasn't raining, or perhaps not.
She was thirsty and her stomach rumbled. And very
hot, even in her scanty garment. She knelt and lowered
her ear to the floor, the better to discover if her captor
Instead she detected the approach of hoof beats outside
side, followed shortly by a knock at the door below, an
unintelligible exchange of male voices. Then a thud and
more sounds she couldn't interpret. No more voices.
A few minutes later horsesmore than oneleaving.
She turned her attention to the floor of crude beams
with a plastered ceiling below. She could probably
break through the plaster, but the beams were spaced
too closely for her to slide through them. During her
investigation her fingers encountered a familiar object
that had fallen from her reticule and escaped the thief's
It was made of silver and worth something, probably
a pound or two. More important, the baby's rattle had
been her mother's before it was hers and was dear to
Celia's heart. Grasping its handle she brought it to her
ear and shook it. It didn't sound quite right, making a
dull clunk instead of a lively clatter. She found a new
dent in the always battered old toy. The lack of noise
together with dark tarnish accounted for the thief's
failure to notice it.
Since it was the only thing she possessed that be-
longed to either of her parents, the serendipitous discovery
gave her heart and strengthened her determination
not to wait around to be raped, and whatever unknown
horror came afterward.
There must be a way out of the attic.
Tarquin Compton hated summer.
Most of all he hated summer in the country.
London might be hot, dusty, and malodorous but at
least the familiar streets surrounding Piccadilly were
paved. The back roads of northern Yorkshire, the location
of his seldom-visited estate, tended to be mired in
mud. Instead of handsome terraces and well dressed
women there was nothing better to look at than rustic
cottages, stone walls, and endless flocks of noisy, smelly
But everyone left London for the summer. Not
literally of course. Most of the million or more souls
who called the great city home remained there. Only
the rarified precincts of Mayfair and St. James's were
silent and neglected in the hot months. Alas, despite the
influence he'd achieved over the inhabitants of those
quarters, Tarquin hadn't yet been able to dissuade the
English aristocracy from their underlying preference for
Only one of his intimates felt as he did: Lord Hugo
Hartley. Fond as Tarquin was of his octogenarian great-
uncle, he was a little wary of him at the moment. A
month earlier Hugo had ambushed him.
It started innocently enough, over brandy at the
Burgundy Club and a comfortable chat about Tarquin's
latest rare bibliographic acquisition. He laughed off
Hugo's contention that Tarquin's passion for poetry
proved him a romantic.
"There's nothing," he protested, "remotely romantic
about my relations with women."
Instead of the usual gently deprecatory remark
about Tarquin's latest mistress, Hugo suggested that, at
the age of twenty-seven, it was time he married. Tarquin
couldn't have been more astonished if the elderly
dandy had suggested he wear a coat made of home-
spun. Though it wasn't something they ever discussed,
his uncle, to put it politely, had no interest in females.
"Do you imagine it is by choice that I never married?"
"I assumed . . ."
"I could have. Most of those who share my tastes do.
But I discovered early on that I was incapable of
performing with a woman. It didn't seem fair to wed a lady
and have her discover she was doomed to a barren bed."
Tarquin couldn't think what to say. He regarded
Hugo almost as a father and this was not the kind of
thing one wanted to hear from a parent. Or anyone else.
"Eighty-two years is a long time to live alone with
no lover, no companionship, and no children." The old
man's voice sounded bleak, so different from his
customary mellow tones.
"You always seemed happy." Never had it occurred
to Tarquin that Hugo, who possessed such joie de vivre
and generosity of spirit, might be lonely.
"I've led a good life. I enjoy society and my collections.
But the greatest joy came quite late in my life:
your companionship. You are like the son I could never
It took all Tarquin's control not to shift in his chair
at this uncomfortable exchange. "All I wanted was to
make you proud by attempting to equal you in the art
"And in that, my boy, you have amply succeeded. But
now I think it's time for you to set your sights elsewhere.
I don't want to see you grow into a middle-aged exquisite
with a taste for dirty books."
"I'd like to see you happy with a family of your own
before I die."
Tarquin never forgot the debt of gratitude he owed his
uncle. Unable to resist Hugo's plea, Tarquin agreed to
consider a match. A particular match with a lady who,
on the face of it, was perfect for him.
And then immediately left town.
Standing invitations and the best spare bedchambers
awaited him at a dozen country houses. While Belvoir,
Blenheim, Osterley, and other aristocratic mansions
could hardly be described as rustic, their surroundings
were nevertheless rural.
Tarquin hated rural, but since rural was his only
option, he heeded the pricking of his dormant
conscience and returned to his ancestral acres. His land
agent thought Tarquin might be able to head off an
expensive lawsuit threatened by a quick-tempered neighbor.
And since the litigious fellow was away from home
visiting his daughter, Tarquin had to undertake another
thirty-mile journey to settle the business.
He rode off with a sense of relief. Revesby Hall,
which he'd visited but a handful of times since his
parents' deaths, had a gloomy air, mocking the memories
of his childhood there. He trotted up the steep drive
and at the crest of the hill, just before descending out
of sight, he glanced over his shoulder. The house, a
solid, unpretentious mansion, looked just the same; the
neglected grounds, once his mother's joy, did not. His
parents had loved to stroll together in the gardens, arm
in arm, surrounded by their children and dogs.
Tarquin turned his eyes to the road ahead and kicked
his horse to a canter. His spirits rose as he rode away,
shaking off disquieting recollections of happier times
and the guilt of the absentee landlord.
Since England was enjoying an unusually fine
summer, the continuing sunshine had dried up the mud.
His lightweight pantaloons, made from a special knit
cloth secretly developed by his tailor, were far better
suited to the unwonted heat than old-fashioned leather.
Nevertheless, after twenty miles Tarquin was glad to
stop at an inn to refresh his mount and himself. Following
a meal of cold beef, bread and cheese, and a pint of
home brew, he sauntered out into the high street of the
small market town. The swinging sign of a bookshop
Tarquin collected exceptional editions of English
poetry and unusual erotic works, most but not all of
them French. He didn't expect any astounding rarities
from a country bookseller, neither did he find them.
One small volume caught his eye, a slim octavo with
the title of The Genuine and Remarkable Amours of
the Celebrated Author Peter Aretin. It was doubtless a
bawdy novel of dubious literary merit that would help
him wile away an hour or two before he slept tonight.
He stowed it in the inner pocket of his coat and continued
on his journey.
Two hours later he was hot, tired, and hopelessly lost.
At some point he'd taken a wrong turn. Cursing the
ambiguity of his directions, he tried to retrace his steps
but the effort only led him deeper into deserted moorland.
Finally he sighted a small stone cottage, probably
a shepherd's abode. Hoping the lack of smoke from the
chimney was attributable to the warmth of the day, he
steered his horse along the rough track, dismounted,
and knocked at the door.
That was the last thing he remembered.
Excerpted from The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton by Miranda Neville Copyright © 2011 by Miranda Neville. Excerpted by permission of Avon. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
You’ll love Miranda Nevilles’ charming romance, intriguing plot and fresh new voice.
Sizzling, addictive, and deeply romantic: Miranda Neville’s novels are a joy to read.
“Wickedly sexy and just as witty, Miranda Neville is one to watch!”