Secret Desires of a Gentleman (Girl-Bachelor Series #3)

Secret Desires of a Gentleman (Girl-Bachelor Series #3)

by Laura Lee Guhrke

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Overview

Once Upon a Time . . .

Maria Martingale was going to elope. But Phillip Hawthorne, Marquess of Kayne, put a stop to those plans when he learned his younger brother intended to marry a cook's daughter. Now, twelve years later, Maria discovers that the man who holds her fate in his hands is none other than the haughty gentleman who sent her packing—and he's as handsome and arrogant as ever.

Happily Ever After?

Always the proper gentleman, Phillip will do anything to protect his family from scandal, and when Maria dares to move in right next door, he knows scandal will surely follow. She is as tempting as he remembered . . . and the more he sees her, the harder it is for Phillip to keep his own secret desire for her a secret . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061456824
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/30/2008
Series: Girl-Bachelor Series , #3
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 4.00(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Laura Lee Guhrke spent seven years in advertising, had a successful catering business, and managed a construction company before she decided writing novels was more fun.  A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Laura has penned over twenty-five historical romances. Her books have received many award nominations, and she is a two-time recipient of romance fiction’s highest honor: the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. She lives in the Northwest with her husband and two diva cats. Laura loves hearing from readers, and you can contact her via her website: www.lauraleeguhrke.com.

Read an Excerpt

Secret Desires of a Gentleman

Chapter One

If there be no bread, let them eat cake.
Anonymous

London, 1895

This couldn't be right. Maria Martingale came to a halt at the intersection of Piccadilly and Half Moon Streets, staring doubtfully at the shop on the corner. It was in an ideal location, appeared to be in excellent condition, and the sign over the doorway declared the premises had formerly been a tea shop. It was perfect—so perfect in fact that Maria was sure there had to be some sort of mistake.

She glanced down at the order to view in her hands, then back up at the engraved brass kick plate of the door to verify the address: 88 Piccadilly. No mistake. She was in the right place.

Just come into the market, the agent had told her as he'd given her the order to view. Just what she was looking for. Clean, he'd hastened to add, handing over the keys, and freshly painted, with a thoroughly modern kitchen.

Maria had not received these assurances with much enthusiasm. For three months now, she'd been combing through the streets of London, looking for the right place for her pâtisserie, and though she'd had little success in her search, she had learned a great deal about property agents and their descriptions. A modern kitchen often meant nothing more than a closed range and a few gaslights, fresh paint covered a multitude of sins, and "clean" was a relative term. Even in the finest neighborhoods, she'd stepped on so many beetle-infested floors and inhaled the noxious odor of bad drains so often, she'd almost given up the whole venture in despair.

But asshe studied the building on this particular corner, Maria felt a spark of hope. The location was first rate. It had frontage on Piccadilly, was within the street's most popular shopping area, and the neighborhood surrounding it was prosperous. Wealthy, influential businessmen lived here with their ambitious, social-climbing wives, wives who would willingly pay to provide their busy cooks with the best in ready-made baked goods. And Maria intended to provide the best. What Fortnum & Mason was to the picnic hamper, Martingale's would be to the tea tray and the dessert plate.

It was all due to Prudence, of course. If her best friend, Prudence Bosworth, hadn't inherited a fortune and married the Duke of St. Cyres, none of this would have been possible. Maria wouldn't have been able to leave her position as pâtissier to the great chef André Chauvin and strike out on her own. But Prudence had pots of money and had been happy to back her dearest friend in the venture of her dreams.

Maria folded the order to view and put it in the pocket of her blue-and-white-striped skirt, then she walked a few steps down Half Moon Street. As she viewed the exterior of the shop, her hopes rose another notch. There were enormous plate-glass windows on both streets, and the entrance, set at an angle to the corner, boasted a door with glass panels. This design would provide plenty of opportunity for those walking past to be tempted by the delightful confections she would have on display. She could see from the window wells set in the concrete of the sidewalk that the kitchen was in the basement. Steps on Half Moon Street led down to it through a tradesmen's entrance door.

Eager to see the interior of the shop, Maria hastened back to the corner, opened her handbag again, and extracted the key given to her by the property agent. She walked up the whitened front steps, unlocked the door, and went inside.

The front room was large, with enough space for the display cases and tea tables necessary to a pâtisserie. The fresh paint extolled by the property agent, however, would have to be redone, for it was that peculiar shade known as yallery-greenery, quite fashionable nowadays but most unsuitable for a bakery.

Maria scrutinized the floor and took several deep breaths. No bad drains, and not a blackbeetle to be seen. Perhaps this time the property agents had got it right.

There was only one way to be sure. She tucked her handbag under her arm and crossed the room, the heels of her high button shoes tapping decisively on the black–and-white-tile floor. Upon opening the door to the back rooms of the shop, she found the arrangements typical of a thousand other London establishments. There was an office and storeroom, and one set of stairs led up to sleeping quarters while another led down to the kitchen and scullery. Maria knew she could hardly expect anything below stairs other than the damp, depressing hole that usually passed for a kitchen in London, but when she reached the bottom of the steps, she stopped in her tracks and stared into the most perfect kitchen she had ever seen.

There were oak cupboards, two full walls of them, with shelves, drawers and bins of every imaginable shape and size. Iron pot racks hung from the heavy oak beams that crossed the ceiling. Above the cupboards, the windows she'd spied from the sidewalk above not only let in some natural light, but they also opened at the top for ventilation—something that would be most welcome in the heat of summer.

Maria moved forward into the room, studying her surroundings in amazement. The concrete walls had been sheathed in a fresh coat of white plaster, and the linoleum floor beneath her feet was a soft, cheery yellow. To her right were four coal-fired ranges, each one fitted with burners, a boiler, and a tap. Above them hung a decorative hood of hammered copper.

The back kitchen was equally modern. The scullery had two sinks, a dual water tap, and a long, tin drain board, and the larder was generous, with shelves to the ceiling. There was even an ice room for cold storage.

Secret Desires of a Gentleman. Copyright © by Laura Lee Guhrke. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Customer Reviews

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Secret Desires of a Gentleman (Girl-Bachelor Series #3) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 1883 Lawrence Hawthorne and Maria Martingale were attracted to one another although she was the daughter of the cook and he was the second son of the lord. She especially dreamed of marrying him one day and Lawrence wanted that as much as she did. However, Lawrence¿s older brother Phillip the Marquess ended this fantasy. Maria went into exile in France where she became a famous pastry chef while Lawrence behaved like an aristocrat (in the image of his dominating sibling).---------- In 1895, Maria comes home to open a shop near Phillip's home. He fears she has returned to win Lawrence¿s hand in marriage although his younger brother is engaged to a wealthy American. He will not allow her to cause a scandal there is only one problem with his intervention, he is falling love with the stubborn Maria----------- Victorian romance fans will appreciate this fun Girl-Bachelor Chronicles saga starring a wonderful working class heroine and the haughty aristocrat who kicked her across the Channel a dozen years earlier and still has strong control of her life except this time she fights back. Filled with lighthearted humor, SECRET DESIRES OF A GENTLEMAN is an entertaining late nineteenth century historical as Laura Lee Guhrke bakes a fun tale of love and class warfare.----------- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could have given it 5 stars. 4 because of the following: 1. Keeps going back to the times they grew up and when it started. Philip and Maria are kind of childhood pseudo sweethearts that got nipped in the bud. This was already conveyed effectively but kept referring to it repeatedly. 2. Hero kept a token from heroine since they were young unbeknowns to her. Creepy when he tried to get her essence from it after so many years. 3. Awkward marriage proposal 4. Hero did a 180 on his views of social status and then story abruptly ends. Author developed the characters well They only slept once but still the book managed to keep me on my toes. That is a sign of a good plot and good phasing.
jpf More than 1 year ago
Unlike a lot of the people who previously reviewed this book the best part was the fact that he didn't do a total turnabout in the first few chapters. In my opinion that would have totally ruined the book. I love the conflict between the characters and the personal conflict that the main characters have within themselves. I won't reveal the ending but I felt it was an appropriate end for Philip being who he is and all inner turmoil he went through to arrive at that moment. This was a great read and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn't require instant gratification in order for a romance novel to considered good.
lina_em on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
as much as i loved it, wasn't part of the book ripped off from p&p? not that i don't like but it's not original. otherwise, i enjoyed reading this book.
phyllisd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
SPOILER ALERT: This book contains one of the worst marriage proposals, a la Jane Austen, and one of the best. A good read.
jjmachshev on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reviewed for queuemyreview.com; book release Oct08The end of the Victorian era brought about many changes in public and private life. Women were becoming more visible as other than wives and Laura Lee Guhrke¿s latest historical romance gives us a closer look at one woman¿s struggle. ¿Secret Desires of a Gentleman¿ is Guhrke¿s salute to pastries and working women¿and what a delicious story it is!Maria is finally ready to open her patisserie with the help of a sponsor. All that¿s left is to find the right location. When she comes upon the perfect kitchen in the perfect place, she¿s giddy with glee¿until she bumps into an old acquaintance while exiting the shop. When she was a young girl who¿d just lost her father and was now all alone, the horridly upright and uptight Marquess of Kayne used his position to break up a marriage between Maria and his younger brother. While Maria has gotten over the younger brother, she still misses the older brother who was her dearest friend and playmate¿until he inherited the estate and became lost to her forever. But it¿s been twelve years now and surely they can all be adults?Phillip was forced to leave behind his childhood at a young age and his friendship with a servant was just one of the casualties. But he recognizes Maria immediately¿how could he not when visions of her have haunted him all these years? Phillip quickly realizes he still cares for Maria and now burns for her with all the ardor of a man. Yet she is still beneath him in station and how can he allow himself what he denied his brother?What did I like about this story? I liked that Maria is a strong character who didn¿t wait around for a man to `save¿ her. She knew what she wanted and worked her butt off to make her dreams come true. I also enjoyed Guhrke¿s ability to describe her characters so accurately that I think I would recognize them if I met them on the street!What didn¿t I like about this story? Phillip is such a snob. I still don¿t understand how Maria could continue to love someone who so blatantly demeaned her. He doesn¿t change until the very end of the story and had I not been reading to review, I likely wouldn¿t have finished it. His arrogance and feelings of entitlement came through loud and clear, but I would have liked to see him mellow a bit sooner¿but it¿s not my story, is it?I enjoy reading Laura Lee Guhrke. Her stories always evoke strong reactions in me and ¿Secret Desires of a Gentleman¿ is no different. This time her hero was (unfortunately) someone I `love to hate¿¿that would be great for a villain, but doesn¿t make me happy when he¿s the hero.
theshadowknows on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Secret Desires of a Gentleman is something of a Cinderella story in that the heroine, Maria Martingale, is a servant, and the hero, Phillip Hawthorne is the Marquess of Kayne. The only thing is the prince in this tale is decidedly uncooperative and adheres to social hierarchy in a most undemocratic fashion. He's a bit stuffy and strict, and practically everyone calls him a snob, but I thought it was realistic of him, in no way a huge character flaw. It was a nice concession to the historical, social circumstances of the book, and nothing that he should have to apologize for (though of course he does eventually have to see the light and recant.) The heroine was likeable, a spunky, fun type of character who is hell bent on setting up her own patisserie. She's independent, intelligent, hardworking, and never backs down from a fight. She also has a career, and her professionalism is admirable and impressive. But she also has a sense of humor, isn't above a little crafty subterfuge, is easy going and playful - the exact opposite of Phillip, the stodgy, virtuous businessman. They complemented each other nicely and were well matched, I thought. Phillip and Maria already have a history together when the story opens, and I don't want to reveal too much because part of the story is the unfolding of, not only their present relationship, but of their past and the way in which Phillip's younger brother Lawrence fits into the mix. Lawrence and Maria had tried (unsuccessfully) to elope 12 years ago, and Maria hasn't seen either of the two brothers since. All this changes thanks to a coincidence, about as subtle as a ton of bricks, whereby the shop Maria wants to move into for her patisserie is located right next door to where Phillip and Lawrence live. Since Phillip doesn¿t want Maria anywhere near his brother, he tries to have her evicted from the shop. And Maria certainly isn¿t about to take that lying down. Let the wild rumpus start. Despite the book¿s promising beginning, I was disappointed in the love triangle involving these three, because the author clearly took the easy way out and from the start there's never any question which brother Maria really loves, which brother she's loved all along in fact. Love triangles of this sort are always opportunities for a lot angst, forbidden love, divided loyalties, etc. but none of that came up in Secret Desires of a Gentleman. This conflict was never more than a pretense, leaving me to wonder why Guhrke ever bothered with it in the first place. The real concern lies with the more simplistic angle of how Phillip, it is revealed, has carried a torch for Maria since the beginning - hence the title. The repressed British peer resisting his attraction to a woman for whom he shouldn't feel anything has been done before - even by Guhrke herself, and here it seemed kind of rote, especially in light of all the creative opportunities offered by the aforementioned love triangle, all of which were never taken advantage of. Oh well. Still Phillip and Maria had good chemistry most of the time, and there were some great moments in the story - mostly involving Phillip silently pining after Maria. The book does a good job convincing me of their fundamental friendship through some touching flashbacks. And always Guhrke excels when it comes to the steamier side of their relationship - in particular Phillip's passion for Maria is pretty intense. As for their love - the jury's still out on that one I think. The book derailed when it came to Phillip's first proposal. Maybe it's just me and I'm reading something into it that's not there, but their whole argument during that scene had strong echoes of Pride and Prejudice - the tone, what is said, the progression of their conversation, its outcome. I felt like the author wrote it right after watching Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle hash it out on screen, and part of me is delighted at those overtones - anything having to do with Pride and Pr
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The push and pull between Maria and the Marquess kept me turning the pages so quickly that I finished the book in one night.
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