Disguises, hidden identities, and gender-bending have been tropes in romance practically since the genre was invented! What better way to add tension to a plot than to have the two people falling in love unknowingly—or knowingly, with great deception—with someone without knowing who they truly are. Here are a few of my favorites.
“I don’t care about your conscience. All I want is for you to kiss me again.”
Lady Madeline Matthews would rather shame herself than sacrifice her freedom. To avoid marrying an aging, lecherous lord, she seeks out the company of Logan Scott, for a torrid affair with the notorious womanizer would surely condemn her in the eyes of good society.
In truth, Logan is an intensely private man tormentedby past betrayals. Now a forward little minx, completely at sea in London’s sophisticated whirl, is disruptinghis life with her vibrant charm and unspoiled beauty. But when what begins with a kiss threatens to blossom into something more rapturous and real, will Logan and Madeline have the courage to drop the masks they hide behind in the name of love?
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Madeline's gaze fell on the picture. The longer she stared at it, the more fascinated she became. The man's face could have belonged to a king, a sea captain, or an outlaw...someone powerful...someone dangerous. He was not classically handsome -- his features were too bold. There was a lionesque quality about his lean face, his gaze narrow and piercing, his wide mouth set with the hint of an ironic smile. The color of his hair was indeterminately brown in the print, but it appeared to be thick and slightly rumpled.
The other girls waited for her to blush and giggle as they had been doing, but Madeline kept all sign of emotion from showing. "Who is he?" she asked Eleanor calmly.
"Yes, the one who owns the Capital Theatre."
A strange feeling came over Madeline as she continued to stare at him. She had heard about Logan Scott, but she had never seen his likeness before now. At the age of thirty, Scott was an actor of international fame, surpassing the standards set by David Garrick and Edmund Kean. Some even said he had not yet reached the height of his powers. Among his attributes was a voice that was reputed to stroke the ears like velvet or set fire to the air with its crackling intensity.
It was said that women pursued him everywhere, enthralled not only by his skillful stage performances as the romantic hero, but even more by his portrayals of archvillains. He excelled as Iago or Barabbas...he was the consummate seducer, betrayer, and manipulator, and women adored him for it.
A man in his prime, attractive, cultured...everything Lord Clifton was not. Madeline was wrenched with sudden longing. Logan Scott inhabited a world she would never be part of. She would never meet him or anyone like him...she would never flirt and laugh and dance, never be seduced by a man's tender words or a lover's touch.
As she stared at Logan Scott's face, a wild, mad idea came to her -- one that made her fingers tremble.
"Madeline, what's the matter?" Eleanor asked in concern, taking the print from her. "You're so white all of a sudden, and you look very strange -- "
"I'm just tired," Madeline said, forcing a smile to her face. She wanted to be alone; she needed time to think. "The weekend was a strain. Perhaps if I rest for a while --"
"Yes, of course. Come, girls -- we'll meet in someone else's room." Considerately Eleanor herded the crowd out the door and paused before closing it. "Madeline, is there anything you need?"
"No, thank you."
"I'm certain that seeing Lord Clifton this weekend was an ordeal. I wish I could help in some way."
"You already have, Eleanor." Madeline lay on her side, drawing her knees up to her chest, the skirts of her simple school frock bunched around her. Her mind raced with thoughts, and she scarcely noticed her friend's quiet departure. Logan Scott...a man whose appetite for women was nearly as legendary as his acting talent. The longer Madeline considered her own dilemma, the more convinced she became that Scott could provide the solution. She would use him to make herself so undesirable to Lord Clifton that he would have no choice but to call off the engagement. She would have an affair with Logan Scott.
This excerpt from BECAUSE YOU'RE MINE © 1997 by Lisa Kleypas is published by arrangement with Avon Books and the author. All rights reserved.