Winter Ashburn was once the toast of the ton, but now she skirts the margins of high society by stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Her latest mark is none other than Rory Jameson, the rake who dared mistake her for a lady of the evening. Winter has stolen from her fair share of scandalously handsome men in the past . . . so why does her heart beat faster as she approaches his door?
Rory Jameson is a rake, it's true. And he's caught many a thief while on secret missions for the Crown, but none has been this intriguing, this enticing. He will make Winter repay what she took so shamelessly . . . and melt her icy façade with the heat of his wicked touch. But her kiss sets his soul on fire—and now he will never be satisfied until he has made this alluring temptress his own.
|Product dimensions:||6.72(w) x 10.88(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Melody Thomas is a wordsmith, a creator of dreams, and a passionate believer in happy endings. A product of thirteen schools and twenty-two moves stretching across the United States and Europe, she is a self-proclaimed gypsy. Her fascination with historical romance began when, in her teens, she visited the Tower of London and learned that Henry the Eighth had beheaded two of his wives. This was great fodder for her teenage imagination and the start of a love affair with history, intrigue, and irresistible heroes.
Read an Excerpt
Passion and Pleasure in London
By Melody Thomas
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Temptation came in many forms. The shine of a gold coin, the taste of fine whiskey. A fine woman with eyes the color of expensive dark chocolate.
Rory Jameson knew temptation. And he liked chocolate.
What he could see of the woman's hair beneath the voluminous hood of her cloak was as dark as her exotic eyes. He'd felt her gaze pause on him as she'd squeezed into the crowded taproom, then made her way toward the long oaken bar with an ease born of familiarity.
Buried in the smoke and noise surrounding him, Rory watched her, intrigued by the womanly shape her cloak failed to hide. Everything about her brought to mind a night of sin. Over the rim of a shot glass of smooth Irish whiskey, a smile slowly tugged at his mouth. He had finally found something worthy of his interest in this backwoods hamlet.
Rory was a man who enjoyed his vices. He'd lived hard, but unlike many of his peers, he hadn't died young. And he had no intention of doing so. At least not tonight.
Indeed, at two and thirty, he'd managed to live longer than most ever expected. A combination of luck and fortitude got him this far in a profession that fed its young into the gristmill just to see what came out on the other side. He'd seen much of the world in one fashion or another and intended tosee the rest before old age or a bullet took him off the playing field forever.
He feared little, except perhaps missing his niece's birthday and disappointing his sister, which in the end had been what brought him to this part of England on this sleepy summer's eve. The letter she'd received a month earlier from their estranged grandfather burned more than a hole in his pocket, and, more than once, he'd wondered how Lord Granbury had found them.
He relegated those thoughts to the back of his mind as he relaxed in his chair and felt it creak beneath his weight. He sat in the shadows near the open window, his legs casually crossed at the ankles. Soft leather riding boots hugged his calves. He drank as he continued to watch the dark-eyed beauty's progress across the room as she stopped to talk to the barkeep. Her hood slipped slightly to her shoulders revealing her profile and he wondered for a moment at her age.
His eyes narrowed as he watched her, her gloveless hands animated as she spoke, the movement of her lips drawing his eyes to her mouth.
Arousal pressed against the fine black wool of his trousers, which he found damn hard to ignore. His mind noted that everything about her seemed out of place in this crowded public room filled with a medley of drunken men, footpads, and slatterns, yet no one accosted her. In fact, the burly barkeep currently eyed Rory, something of which he had just became aware. The oaf's silent warning seemed to overtake other patrons as well for they too turned to peer toward where Rory sat, as if he'd trespassed in forbidden territory. The air around him grew chilled. Recognizing the type of men here, he suspected the only reason he'd not been challenged yet was that his manner and clothing warned them he would prove to be something more than a casual mark. Amused by his interest in the local entertainment, Rory tipped back the shot of whiskey, liberating his conscience as he set the glass on the scarred table next to the half-empty bottle. He stood, removed a coin from his pocket, and flipped it into his shot glass. At two inches over six feet, he had to duck his head to avoid bumping the low-hanging gas lamp. He didn't look back at the girl, though he could feel her eyes on him now. The sensation was as physically arousing as if she'd put her hands all over him. And it was as novel as it was discomfiting. Perhaps even more so because she'd left him with a curiosity. He wanted to know who she was.
Winter Ashburn's hand paused on the frayed edge of the curtain separating her from the crowded taproom, her gaze lingering on the door through which the tall, dark-haired stranger in black had just passed. The mammoth rack of antlers above the oaken door seemed to frame the quiet drama of his exit in her mind as she stood hidden within the confining shadows of the storage room. She dropped the curtain, shocked as awareness of him shimmied through her veins like an electrical current. The man was a stranger, an outsider yet there had been something familiar about his lazy smile.
And the race of her heart had nothing to do with the frantic reason that had brought her to this inn tonight.
A solid thud of the door sounded behind Winter, and she turned to greet the older woman who stepped into the room. A soiled apron clung to Mrs. Derwood's ample bosom where her hands now made use of the apron skirt as if it were a towel.
Mrs. Derwood's massively built son, the Stag & Huntsman's proprietor and barkeep who had directed Winter into this storage area, was also the sheriff. He had once been the overseer for Winter's father's stable of horses at Everleigh Hall, and his mother a cook while they'd lived there. Winter had known both Derwoods her entire life, and always felt safe inside the walls of this inn.
"I would have been here sooner," Winter said, holding out the scrap of paper in her hand. "But I only just received your note."
Mrs. Derwood's brown eyes softened as she approached. "Fie on that rascal brother of yers for not tellin' ye we found yer mam. She is with Mrs. Smythe."
Last month, Winter's mam had been making nightly treks to the cemetery where Winter's father was buried. Father Flannigan had found her asleep atop the grave. Tonight was worse, though—Winter hadn't even known Mam was missing until she'd received Mrs. Derwood's message. She'd been looking for her errant brother the entire evening.
Excerpted from Passion and Pleasure in London by Melody Thomas
Copyright © 2008 by Melody Thomas. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In 1877, now thirty-two, which is old age in his profession compounded by his enjoyment of all types of vices, Rory Jameson has spent years bringing thieves to justice. However, outside of London he stops his work temporarily at the request of his sister to visit his estranged dying grandfather to make a final peace. On the trek to his family home someone attacks and wounds Rory. Former toast of the Ton Winter Ashburn takes the wounded aristocrat to a cottage so he can heal. ------------- Winter remembers Rory as the rake who thought she was a fallen woman. Still she is attracted to her patient and him to her. As they fall in love, Winter worries her actions could cost her mother and brother plenty as the family patriarch her odious Uncle wants the half gypsy dead.------------ This is an engaging Victorian romantic suspense, which readers will enjoy from the first stolen kiss until the final kiss with a bit of a mystery and a lot of romance in between. The story line is character driven with a strong lead couple and a deep support cast. Fans will enjoy PASSION AND PLEASURE IN LONDON (and outside too) as neither Winter or Rory are ready for love yet both welcome it even as they hide it from their beloved.------- Harriet Klausner
Reviewed for queuemyreview.com; book release Sep08 I just love reading romances that leave me with a sappy smile on my face! ¿Passion and Pleasure in London¿ by Melody Thomas is just such a novel. It has a dastardly villain with a witchy daughter that both receive their well-deserved comeuppance at the hands of our hero and heroine who then live happily ever after. Happy sigh.Winter carries the weight of what¿s left of her family, a demented mother and younger brother, on her small shoulders. At only 16, after her father¿s death, her horrid uncle weaseled her family¿s fortune and home and left them destitute. When Winter tried to fight back he raped her and threatened her mother and brother if she didn¿t keep her mouth shut. So Winter and the locals have embarked on an underhanded method of evening the scales. They rob the Baron¿s high society guests every chance they get and use the proceeds to help out those whose families are affected by the Baron¿s greed and cruelty. When Winter spots an unknown, yet handsome toff, she¿s sure he must be headed to the Baron¿s and decides to relieve him of his wallet. Things quickly spin out of Winter¿s control but the results will be marvelous!Rory is half Gypsy, half Lord, and all rake. He¿s also been summoned to his Grandfather¿s deathbed to take over his duties as the Marquess. He¿s not happy. He thoroughly enjoys his life as a spy with no ties and no real responsibility other than staying alive. When he catches sight of Winter during a brief stop, his loins tingle! When he catches her trying to open his saddlebags in the stable, HE steals a kiss. It¿s not until after she¿s gone that he realizes SHE stole his wallet! She may walk and talk like a Lady, but no mere thief will get the better of him.What a great pairing. These two are both strong characters who have to learn to trust and compromise. The heat practically leaps off the page and the love scenes ROCK! Thomas does a great job with the attending mystery of exactly who is trying to kill Rory. I didn¿t figure it out until the author provided the solution which is unusual, especially in historical romances (at least for me). The gradual revealing of the breadth of the problems facing Winter and Rory was just right. There¿s quite a bit more going on than in my brief synopsis and it all wraps together nicely. The reasoning behind the actions of all the characters rings true for me and is crucial to both the plot and their developing romance.I¿ve read a few other books by Melody Thomas but I think this is my favorite (so far). It¿s got some humor, drama, mystery, action, and steam! I can¿t quite think of what else I could ask for in a historical. So for a novel with fiery passion that¿s truly a pleasure to read, don¿t miss ¿Passion and Pleasure in London¿.
This is one of the best historical romance novels I have read in a long time. Loved the flow of the story and I could not put it down!
This is no fluff romance. There is allot going on with the story but it will keep you entralled from beginning to end.
I absolutely loved this boook!!! I read it twice in a week and I just couldn't put it down. The characters and the story were excellent!! and the story was captivating, the first time i read it I stayed up all night reading.
I loved this book. I couldn't stop reading it. Both the hero and the heroine were magnificent. It catches your attention from the first chapter.
She, in turn and unbeknownst, pays him back by stealing his wallet and papers. Furious (at himself, too) Rory tracks her with the intention of getting his property back. But he's distracted by two boys in the dark woods and waylaid by three men, and in the moment, Rory shoots and kills one man and is gravely wounded himself. What's more, his thoroughbred horse, Apollo, has been stolen. Winter Ashburn, the cloaked woman, blames herself for everything (she and the boys weren't supposed to be in town that night) and secretly takes him in and nurses him back to health. Who wants Rory dead? What's going on in this town? What is Winter's part in all this? The story is too dense and filled with secondary characters to be told straightforwardly in this review, so suffice it to say that Rory is the dying Lord Granbury's grandson and heir. The estate owes money to neighbor, the oily Lord Richly of Everleigh who wants: 1. All the land in the area; 2. His daughter Lavinia (Winter's cousin) to marry Rory instead of Trevor, the thought-to-be heir; 3. His niece, Winter (whom he raped when she was 15 and whose father he blackmailed and killed). Lots of things to unravel but not before Winter is imprisoned, Rory is kidnapped, etc., etc. But love and good people and influential higher-ups conquer all. Enjoyable.