Welcome to a London Gaming Hell like no other. A place where anonymity is your security—no names, no faces, no strings. But that doesn’t mean no surprises . . .
Lucas Mayfield, the Eighth Earl of Heightford, couldn’t be more pleased with the private club that is his brainchild. But when a young courtesan at the club’s masquerade appears far too innocent, his suspicions are raised—along with his interest. . . . Until her gleaming hair tumbles down and he recognizes her as the Duke of Chatterwood’s beautiful daughter. How did the minx even know the place existed? And how has he allowed himself to give in to temptation and kiss her? More perplexing: she has vowed the kiss won’t be the last . . .
Liliah Durary’s father has cruelly demanded she marry her best friend, Meyer, though no romantic feeling exists between them. In fact, Meyer and Liliah’s other best friend, Rebecca, are truly in love. Liliah sees only one option: She and Meyer will maintain a platonic marriage until some other arrangement can be made. Still, she intends to experience pleasure before she is wed. An intriguing new club seems the perfect place—and when Lucas Mayfield kisses her, he seems the perfect other arrangement she seeks. All Liliah has to do is convince him . . .
“Obsessed. That’s how I felt while reading this book, like every page was better than the previous. Just try to put this down, I dare you.”
—#1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken on Heart of a Cowboy
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Lady Liliah Durary urged her mare, Penny, into a rapid gallop as she flew through Hyde Park. A proper lady should have a care about the strolling couples about the park. A proper lady should not ride at such breakneck speed. A proper lady should obey her father in all things.
Liliah was not a proper lady.
And hell would have to freeze over before she'd ever even try.
Tears burned the corners of her eyes, blurring her vision as she urged Penny faster, not caring that she was in a miserable sidesaddle — or that her speed was indeed dangerous for her precarious position. She wanted to outrun her problems — rather, problem. Because aside from the one damning issue at hand, life was otherwise quite lovely.
Being the elder daughter of a duke had its distinct advantages.
Of course, it had its distinct disadvantages as well. Like your father demanding you marry your best friend.
Who so happened to be in love with your other best friend.
It was a miserable mess ... and she was caught in the middle of it all. If only her father would see reason! Yet asking such a thing was like expecting her mare to sprout wings and fly: impossible.
She slowed Penny down to a moderate walk and sighed deeply, the light breeze teasing the strands of unruly blond hair, which came loose from her coiffure as a result of her quick pace. She blew a particularly irritating curl from her forehead, and tucked it behind her ear. Glancing about, she groaned, remembering that she hadn't taken a maid with her. Again.
Thankfully, the staff at Whitefield House was accustomed to her constant disregard of propriety. Maybe Sarah, her maid, would notice and make herself scarce, giving the impression she was with her mistress. Liliah bit her lip, turning her mare toward home — even if that was the last place she wished to be — simply for Sarah's sake. It wouldn't go well for her maid if her father discovered the way his staff allowed his unruly daughter far more freedom than he did, and should he discover it, such freedom would end abruptly — and badly.
Being attached to the staff — especially her maid Sarah — Liliah increased her pace. Besides, running from problems didn't solve them. As she swayed with the steady rhythm of Penny's trot, she considered the situation at hand once more.
It made no sense.
Yet when had one of her father's decisions required logic? Never.
Her best friend Rebecca was delightful and from a well-bred and heavily pursed family. There was no reason for the family of her other best friend Meyer, the Baron of Scoffield, to be opposed to such a match. Yet Meyer's father refused to see reason, just as Liliah's father refused. Only Meyer's father, the Earl of Greywick, had threatened to disinherit his son and grant the title to a cousin when Meyer had objected to the arrangement.
It was wretched, no matter how one looked at it. Love matches were rare amongst the ton, and here was a golden opportunity for each family — squandered.
It was true, Liliah was quite the match herself. The elder daughter of a duke, she understood she was quite the heiress and pedigree, yet was her breeding of more importance than Rebecca's? She doubted it.
Apparently, her father didn't agree.
Nor did Lord Greywick.
As she crossed the cobble street toward her home, she took a deep breath of the spring air, feeling her freedom slowly sifting through her fingers like dry sand. As Whitefield House came into view, she pulled up on the reins, halting Penny's progress toward home. The horse nickered softly, no doubt anticipating a thorough brush-down and sweet oats upon returning, yet Liliah lingered, studying the stone structure. One of the larger houses in Mayfair, Whitefield demanded attention with its large stone pillars and wide, welcoming balcony overlooking the drive. It fit her father's personality well, as if magnifying his overinflated sense of importance. Reluctantly, she urged Penny on, taking the side entrance to the stable in the back.
Upon her arrival, a stable boy rushed out to greet her, helping her dismount. Penny jostled the lad with her head, and he chuckled softly, petting her velvet nose.
"I'll take care of Penny, my lady. You needn't worry." With a quick bow, the boy led the all too pampered horse into the stable, murmuring softly as they walked.
Carefully glancing around, once she was certain that no one lingered about, she rushed to the servants' entrance just to the side of the large manor. The heavy wooden door opened silently and she slipped inside, leaning against the door once it was closed. Her eyes adjusted to the dim light, and she took the stairs to the second floor, turning left down a small hall and turning the latch on the door that would lead to the gallery, just a short distance from her chambers. The metal was cool against her gloved hand as she twisted, then peered out into the sunlight-filled room. Breathing quietly, she listened intently for footsteps or voices. Just before she dared to step out, Sarah, her maid, bustled down the hall, a pinched frown on her face as she opened the door leading to Liliah's rooms.
After waiting one more moment, Liliah stepped from the servants' hall, rushing her steps till she approached her room, then slowed as if she weren't in a hurry at all, just in case someone noticed her presence.
Quickly, she opened the door to her room and swiftly shut it silently behind her, Sarah's relieved sigh welcoming her.
"My lady! You've not but a moment to lose! Your father is searching about for you! When he noticed me, he bid me find you, but I fear he is growing impatient. He was in the library."
"Quick, help me disrobe. I need an afternoon dress." Liliah started to tug off her gloves, exchanging them for ones that did not bear the marks from the leather reins, as Sarah made quick work of the buttons on her riding habit.
In only a few short minutes, Liliah was properly attired — all evidence of her earlier unchaperoned excursion tucked away. And with a quick grin to Sarah, who offered a relieved sigh, Liliah left her chambers and strode down the hall as if without a care in the world.
When in truth, the cares were heavy upon her indeed.
Because her father rarely spoke to her, unless demanding her obedience in some matter — and she knew exactly what he had on his mind.
She clasped her hands, trying to calm the slight tremble as she took the stairs and walked toward the library. How she hated feeling weak, out of control in her own life! With a fortifying breath, she made the final steps to the library entrance, the delicate clink of china teacups drifting through the air.
"Your Grace." Liliah curtseyed to her father, taking in the furrow in his expression, drawing his bushy salt-and-pepper eyebrows like thunderclouds over his gray eyes.
"At last. I was about to begin a search," he replied tersely, setting down his teacup and gesturing to a chair.
"Forgive me, I was quite absorbed in my — "
"Book, I know. Your little maid said as much. And I'll remind you that you mustn't spend so much time engaging your mind. Fine-tune your other qualities. Your pianoforte could benefit a great deal from some practice." He sighed, as if already tired of the conversation with his daughter.
Liliah bit her tongue, not wishing to initiate a battle of wills just yet; she'd save the fight for a more worthy cause.
The only worthy cause of the moment.
"Now that you're here, I need to inform you that Lord Greywick and I have decided on a date — "
"But, Your Grace ..."
His brows knit further over his eyes, and he glared, his expression frosty and furious. "Do not interrupt me."
Liliah swallowed, clenching her teeth as she nodded.
"As I was saying ..." He paused, arching a brow, daring her to interfere again. "Lord Greywick and I are tired of waiting. We've been patient, and your progress with Greywick's heir is apathetic at best. Therefore, tonight, at the Langford rout, Meyer will be asking you for two waltzes. That should set up the perfect tone for the banns being read in two weeks' time. Hence, you shall be wed at St. George's in two months. That is beyond generous and I — "
"It is anything but generous and you well know it!" Liliah couldn't restrain herself any longer. Standing, she took position behind the chair, her fingers biting into the damask fabric as she prepared for battle.
One she knew was already lost.
"How dare you!" Her father's voice boomed.
"Father, Meyer has no interest in me! How long will you imagine something greater than friendship?"
"I care not if he gives a fig about you!" her father roared, standing as well.
"I refuse." Liliah spoke softly, like silk over steel as she clenched her teeth.
Her father took a menacing step forward. "There is no other way. And consider this: If this arrangement is not made, your friend will lose his title. Do you think that Lord and Lady Grace will allow their daughter to be married to a man with no means? No title?" He shook his head, his eyes calculating. "They will not. So cease your reluctance. There is no other option." He took a deep breath and met her gaze. "I suggest you prepare for tonight; you'll certainly be the center of attention and you should look the part. You're dismissed." With a quick wave of his fingers, he turned and went back to his tea, sitting down.
Tears burned the back of Liliah's eyes, yet she held them in till she spun on her heel and quit the room, just as the first streams of warm tears spilled down her cheeks.
Surely there had to be another way?
Perhaps there was, but time was running out.
* * *
The Langford rout was buzzing with activity from London society's most elite, the bon ton. The orchestra's sweet melody floated through the air, drowning out most of the buzzing hum of voices. The dancers swirled around, a kaleidoscope of pastel colors amidst the gentlemen's black evening kits. Ostrich and peacock feathers decorated the main banquet table, along with painted silver eggs. But the beauty of the ballroom was lost on Liliah; even the prospect of a treacle tart didn't boost her mood. She meandered through the crush of humanity, swiping a glass of champagne from a passing footman. Sipping the cool liquid, she savored the bubbles as her gaze sharpened on her target.
Lady Grace — Rebecca — danced gracefully as she took the practiced steps of the quadrille. Rebecca smiled at her partner, and Liliah watched as the poor sop all but melted with admiration. Stifling a giggle, she waited till the dance ended, and made her way toward her friend. As she drew near, Rebecca caught sight and raised a hand in a wave, her overly expressive eyes smiling as wide as her lips.
"Liliah! Did you only just arrive? I was searching for you earlier." Rebecca reached out and squeezed Liliah's hand.
"I stalled," Liliah confessed.
Rebecca's smile faded, her green eyes no longer bright. "Did it work?"
"No." Liliah glanced away, not knowing if she could handle the heartbreak that must be evident in Rebecca's gaze.
"We understood it was a small chance. We must now simply seize every opportunity." Rebecca spoke with far more control than Liliah expected. As she turned to her friend, she saw a depth of pain, yet a depth of strength in her gaze.
"There's always hope," Liliah affirmed, squeezing her friend's hand.
"Always. And that being said, I must now seize this present opportunity." Rebecca's face lit up as only one deeply in love could do, and curtseyed as Meyer approached.
The Baron of Scoffield approached, but Liliah ever knew him as simply Meyer. Their friendship had been immediate and long-standing. Ever since Liliah, Rebecca, and Meyer had snuck away during a fireworks display at Vauxhall Gardens, they had created a special bond of friendship. But over the years, that friendship had shifted into something deeper between Meyer and Rebecca, while Liliah was happy to watch their romance bloom. Meyer's gaze smoldered as he studied Rebecca, a secretive smile in place. As Liliah turned back to Rebecca, she saw the most delicate blush tint her olive skin. Liliah blushed as well, feeling like an intruder in their private moment. "I'll just leave you two ..." She trailed off, walking away as she heard Meyer ask Rebecca for a dance.
Liliah sipped the remaining champagne, watching her friends dance. Their eyes never left each other's; even if they switched partners for the steps, they always came together, their love apparent for anyone who cared to look.
It was beautiful, and it was for naught.
As the dance ended, the first strains of a waltz soared through the air. What should have been beautiful was poisoned, and her heart felt increasingly heavy as Meyer walked in her direction, his lips a grim line.
He didn't ask, simply held out his hand, and Liliah placed hers within his grasp, reluctantly following as they took the floor.
"By your expression, I can only assume you had as much progress with your father as I've had with mine," Meyer said, his brown eyes sober as his gaze flickered away — likely looking for Rebecca.
"Your assumption would be correct," Liliah replied.
Meyer took a deep breath, meeting her gaze. "We'll figure something out."
"But Meyer —" Liliah started.
"We will. We just need to bide our time till the opportunity presents itself." He nodded with a brave confidence in his deep eyes.
"But what if we don't?" Liliah hated to give voice to her deepest fears, watching as Meyer's brave façade slowly fractured.
"Liliah, I — I can't think of that. I'm damned if I do, damned if I do not. I'm sure your father reminded you about my title — "
"And how Lord and Lady Grace wouldn't consider you without a title ..."
"Exactly. I have to hold on to hope. But I, I do need to tell you ... Liliah, if we are forced ... nothing between us will change." He lowered his chin, meeting Liliah's gaze dead on, conveying words he couldn't speak out loud.
"Thank you," Liliah replied, feeling relieved. As much as she hated the idea of a platonic marriage, it hurt far worse to think of the betrayal that would haunt them all should Meyer take her to bed. It hurt to think she'd never know physical love, yet what choice did they all have? Should they take that step, Meyer would be thinking of Rebecca during the act, Liliah would know, and would not only be betraying her friend, but how could she not be resentful? Far better for them to simply bide their time till an arrangement could be made — she would simply step aside. Maybe take a lover of her own?
How she hated how complicated her life had become.
Liliah took a deep breath, mindlessly performing the waltz steps. A smile quirked her lips as she had a rather unhelpful — yet still amusing — thought.
"Ah, I know that smile. What is your devious mind thinking?" Meyer asked, raising a dark brow even as he grinned.
Liliah gave him a mock glare. "I'm not devious."
"You are utterly devious." Meyer chuckled. "Which makes you a very diverting friend indeed. Now share your thoughts."
Liliah rolled her eyes. "Such charm. Very well, I was simply thinking how it would be lovely if we could simply make the wedding a masquerade and have Rebecca switch places with me at the last moment! Then you'd marry her rather than me and it would be over and done before they could change it!" She hitched a shoulder at her silly thoughts.
Meyer chuckled. "Devious indeed! Too bad it will not work." He furrowed a brow and glanced away, as if thinking.
"What is your wicked mind concocting?"
"Nothing of import." His gaze shifted back to her. "Your mentioning of the masquerade reminded me of an earlier conversation with a chum."
Liliah grinned. "Is there a masquerade ball being planned?" she asked with barely restrained enthusiasm.
"Indeed, but it is one to which you will not be invited, thank heavens." He shook his head, grinning, yet his expression was one of relief.
"It's not a masquerade for polite society, my dear. And I shouldn't have even mentioned it."
"A secret? Meyer, you simply must tell me!"
"Heavens no! This is not for your delicate —"
Liliah snorted softly, giving him an exasperated expression, before she slowly grinned.
"Aw hell. I know that smile. Liliah ..." he warned.
"If you won't tell me, then I can always ask someone else —"
"You'll do nothing of the sort!"
"You know I will."
"You're a menace!" Meyer hissed, his expression narrowing as the waltz ended.
"So, you'll tell me?" Liliah asked, biting her lip with excitement.
Meyer was silent as he led them to a quiet corner of the ballroom, pausing beside a vacant alcove.
"This is a yes!" Liliah answered her question, squeezing his forearm as her hand rested upon it.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Falling From His Grace"
Copyright © 2018 Kristin Vayden.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Falling from His Grace was the first book that I have read from Kristin Vaydan, and it was amazing! Being forced to marry a man she could never love as anything other then a friend, Liliah takes matters into her own hand, and decides to make her own fate. However fate has a way of changing. It was a fun story, with lots of great characters. I would definitely recommend this book and look forward to more from Kristin Vaydan.
I found this book to be an easy, amusing read. I am looking forward to reading more from this series, the Gentlemen of Temptation. Liliah is in a quandry. Her best friends Meyer and Rebecca love each other, a storybook ending, were they allowed to marry. Instead Meyer's father, the Earl of Greywick, has threatened to cut Meyer off should he marry Rebecca. Liliah's father, a duke, and the Earl of Greywick are insistent that Liliah and Meyer marry instead. Faced with the prospect of a friendly, but sexless marriage that will distance her from her best friends, Liliah sets out to do the only thing she can, experience passion before her impending nuptials. On her desperate adventure Liliah encounters Luc, the Earl of Heightfield, a Gentleman of Temptation. Can she convince him to aid her? Is he capable of assistance given his dark past?
Kristin did such a great job at portraying the characters and their frustrations all throughout this book. Liliah has such spunk and willingness to battle for what she wants. She makes me wish I had half her personality. Liliah is best friends with Rebecca and Meyer and has been for years. Now, Liliah has found herself in an arranged marriage to Meyer while he is in love with Rebecca. Liliah and Meyer try desperately to find a way to break the arrangement. Which is where Lucas comes into play. I want mention anymore because that would ruin the story. Just know that this book hits on the emotions. It made me catch my breathe and just stop to appreciate the detail with which the emotions were written. IT was like I was witnessing their love story right in front of me and it was glorious. Kudos to Kristin! I can't wait for book two!!
I will read more of this series
This review is a bit difficult to write. On one hand, the story was enjoyable with commendable characters with an envious friendship, amusing banter between the leads, as well as focusing on societal injustices and an interesting premise overall. That being said, the novel as a whole was predictable and didn’t have anything to make it truly stand out among a sea of historical romances. However, it was more than enjoyable and a worthy of the time spent on it.
I loved Lucas and Liliah's story!! Liliah has been told by her father who she will marry. There is only one problem...her soon to be betrothed is her best friend and in he is in love with someone else! She decides that she needs to experience some passion before her platonic marriage and ends up at a private club where she meets Lucas. Lucas is mesmerized by this innocent miss, which is very out of the norm for him. As he spends more time with Liliah, he finds himself falling for her. But she is all but betrothed, so what can they do? I loved watching these two together. Their bantering had me laughing out loud. I'm so happy to have found this author and am excited to read Miranda and Heathcliff's story next!!
I received an ARC of this book to read from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. Falling from his Grace is the first book in Kristen Vayden’s Gentleman of Temptation series. Lady Liliah Durary eldest daughter of the Duke of Chatterton has been betrothed to her best friend, this arrangement between their fathers however is one that they bitterly despise as Meyer is in love with Liliah’s dear friend Rebecca. Unable to convince their fathers of the wrongness to the betrothal Liliah seeks an escape by attending a masquerade party at a notorious gambling house where she is briefly mistaken for a courtesan by Lucas Mayfield, Earl of Heightford. Lucas a rake if there ever was one finds himself unwillingly captivated by the mysterious young woman and tracks her down at a ton ball. Lots of mystery and intrigue plus a fair bit of steam made for a very enjoyable read. Published August 28, 2018. #FallingFromHisGrace #NetGalley #kensingtonbooks #lyricalpress
Rule number 1. Never force your daughter to marry her best male friend because it can lead to some interesting events for said daughter! Lilah as been ordered by her father to marry and the man is her best male friend. No romance involved. So she decides to step out and find some pleasure before she is in a platonic marriage. She goes to a private gaming club owned by none other than Lucas Mayfield, the Eighth Earl of Heightford and two of his friends. When Lucas sees her, he knows she is an innocent with no business being in his club. But when they meet, there is a strong attraction and Lilah makes him a proposition he least expected! This is a fast paced entertaining read that will have you smiling and also holding your breath to see what happens! Kristin Vayden is a new author to me, but I intend to read more by her in the future! It will be interesting to see the next two in the series about the other club owners, Heathcliff and Ramsey! Lori Dykes
Liliah's father is demanding she marry her best friend Meyer, even though Meyer is in love with Liliah's other best friend, Rebecca. Liliah wants to experience pleasure before being forced into a platonic marriage, and hears about a new club. Lucas, the owner of the club, catches Liliah when she sneaks into his club, and the next thing he knows, he gives into temptation and kisses her. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others.
Falling from his Grace by Kristin Vayden Gentlemen of Temptation #1 Highly realistic – probably not Well written – yes Likable characters – big smile on my face Predictable ending – there is definitely a HEA for the couple Did I enjoy the book – another big smile and a definite yes Do I want to read more in the series – without a doubt! Lady Liliah Durary is a bit of a handful and often seems to go against her father’s wishes sneaking out to ride her horse or do as she will and that is likely not something that took place in the early 1800’s. The fact that she is being forced into a marriage neither she nor the husband to be wants to be included in makes her decide to experience pleasure at least one before the nuptials…so…hearing of an exclusive rather risqué club she heads off in disguise to see what will happen…realistic? Probably not. Of course she runs into a gentleman that assumes one thing only to find out that she is not the courtesan that she appears to be. And, with a bit of the Cinderella idea in play she flees into the night. Lucas and his two friends have established “Temptations” as a place of gambling and pleasure for men of means. He has a backstory that makes him leery of marriage and ties though Liliah begins to break down his walls a bit at a time. Finding out more about Liliah seems to be a must and keeping her silent about the club a necessity. And thus the story begins with an agreement that will change both of their lives in more ways than one. With two father’s to thwart, a marriage to prevent, a sister to save and a romance or two in the making this is a fun story that feels of the era in the way it is written even if the likelihood of such a story happening in real life beggars belief…at least a bit…or more than a bit ;) But…fiction is written to help us escape, stimulate our minds and…entertain and this book did all of that and more. I do want to read more in this series and can’t wait to read what comes next. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books – Lyrical Press for the ARC – This is my honest review. 4-5 Stars