Seducing Mr. Sykes

Seducing Mr. Sykes

by Maggie Robinson

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Overview

Seducing Mr. Sykes by Maggie Robinson

“A Maggie Robinson book is like the best kind of chocolate: delicious and totally addictive!” —Vanessa Kelly, USA Today bestselling author

In Maggie Robinson’s sparkling new series, the quaint village in Gloucestershire is where the wayward sons and daughters of Great Britain’s finest families come for some R&R—and good old-fashioned “rehab”. But sometimes they find much more . . .


No one at Puddling-on-the-Wold ever expected to see Sarah Marchmain enter through its doors. But after the legendary Lady’s eleventh-hour rejection of the man she was slated to marry, she was sent here to restore her reputation . . . and change her mind. It amused Sadie that her father, a duke, would use the last of his funds to lock her up in this fancy facility—she couldn’t be happier to be away from her loathsome family and have some time to herself. The last thing she needs is more romantic distraction . . .

As a local baronet’s son, Tristan Sykes is all too familiar with the spoiled, socialite residents of the Puddling Rehabilitation Foundation—no matter how real their problems may be. But all that changes when he encounters Sadie, a brave and brazen beauty who wants nothing more than to escape the life that’s been prescribed for her. If only Tristan could find a way to convince the Puddling powers-that-be that Sadie is unfit for release, he’d have a chance to explore the intense attraction that simmers between them—and prove himself fit to make her his bride . . .

Praise for Maggie Robinson’s Lady Anne’s Lover

“Robinson never fails to provide plenty of brio, banter, and interpersonal heat . . .Fans of humorous historicals will enjoy this delightful romp.” —Publishers Weekly

“A charming, fun Regency romp that combines an innovative, compelling plot with characters that jump off the page and a hot, captivating romance that will tug at heartstrings.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Lively repartee and steamy sensuality, yet maintains the mystery to the very end.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781516100019
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 06/20/2017
Series: Cotswold Confidential , #2
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 300
Sales rank: 401,623
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Maggie Robinson is a former teacher, library clerk, and mother of four who woke up in the middle of the night, absolutely compelled to create the perfect man and use as many adjectives and adverbs as possible doing so. A transplanted New Yorker, she lives with her not‑quite perfect husband in Maine. Her books have been translated into nine languages. Visit her on the web at maggierobinson.net.

Read an Excerpt

Seducing Mr. Sykes

Cotswold Confidential


By Maggie Robinson

KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.

Copyright © 2017 Maggie Robinson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5161-0001-9


CHAPTER 1

Puddling-on-the-Wold, September 1882


"It's Lady Maribel all over again," the grocer Frank Stanchfield muttered to his wife, checking the lock to his back room. "How the girl discovered the telegraph machine is a mystery."

Except it wasn't such a mystery, really. Lady Sarah Marchmain — "Sadie" to her late mama and very few friends — had eyes, after all, and there it was behind an open alley window, gleaming on a worn oak desk. She had climbed in, her tartan trousers very convenient for hoisting oneself into the building. After being caught trying to send a message to who knows who, she was now unrepentantly inspecting the jars of candy on the shop counter.

She might try to steal some of it, if only the shopkeepers would stop hovering over her.

"Bite your tongue!" Mrs. Stanchfield whispered, looking over nervously at Sadie. Apparently no one wanted another Lady Maribel de Winter in Puddling. The first had been bad enough. Sadie had heard of her in snatches from the villagers, and the woman's portrait hung in the parish hall. Her wicked reputation had outlived her, even if her decades of good works once she married had mitigated some of it. She had been a wild young thing who would have made Napoleon quake in his boots.

Or take her to bed. Lady Maribel had been, according to gossip, irresistible to men. Fortunately her husband, a local baronet called Sir Colin Sykes, had taken her in hand as best he could once they were married.

Sadie was determined never to be taken in hand.

Puddling was known as a famous reputation-restorer, a place to rusticate and recalibrate. Prominent British families had sent their difficult relatives here for almost eighty years. Lady Maribel was among the first to be gently incarcerated within its limits in 1807, according to the elderly vicar's wife, who seemed to know everything about everyone dating back to William the Conqueror.

Now it was Sadie's turn to be gently incarcerated, and she didn't like it one bit.

The village had a spotless reputation. It was a last resort before a harsher hospital, or worse, killing one's own offspring. Or parent. Lady Sarah Marchmain had angered her father so thoroughly that they'd come to blows. When the Duke of Islesford dropped her off, he had been sporting a significant black eye.

Well-deserved, in her opinion.

Sadie's own eyes were unbruised and light green, the color of beryl, or so her numerous suitors had said. Occasionally they threw in jade or jasper — it was all so much nonsense. Right now she was examining the penny candy in a glass jar, lots of shiny, jewel-like drops that looked so very tempting. Sweet, edible rubies and citrine, emeralds and onyx. Frank Stanchfield hustled over to the counter and screwed the lid on tighter.

She licked her lips. Unfortunately, she didn't have a penny to her name. She was entirely dependent on her housekeeper Mrs. Grace to dole out a pitiful allowance every Friday, and Friday was millions of days away. Sadie had spent the last of her money on a cinnamon bun earlier and had reveled in every bite.

Her father's draconian restrictions were designed to sting. Or so he thought. Sadie didn't really mind being impoverished and hungry in Puddling-on-the-Wold. It meant she was not about to be auctioned off to Lord Roderick Charlton, or any other idiot her idiot father owed money to.

The Duke of Islesford's taste in men and luck at cards was, to put it bluntly, execrable.

So far Sadie had overstayed her visit by one week. Originally consigned to her cottage for twenty-eight days, she had somehow not managed to be "cured" in that time.

Rehabilitated.

Restored.

Brought to reason.

Knuckle under was more like it. She was not getting married.

In fact, she'd like to stay in Puddling forever. It was very restful. Quiet. The little lending library was surprisingly well stocked, and she'd gotten a lot of reading done between lectures from the prosy ancient vicar who instructed her daily. She also helped Mrs. Grace keep the cottage up to a ducal daughter's snuff.

Despite the fact that Sadie had no interest in becoming a wife, she was remarkably domestic. It came of hanging about the kitchens of Marchmain Castle, she supposed. The servants had been her only friends when she was a little girl and she'd been eager to help them.

All that had changed after she was presented to the queen at seventeen, wearing those ridiculous hoops and feathers that threatened to put out someone's eye. Suddenly, Sadie became a commodity, a bargaining chip to improve her father's ailing finances. A surprising number of gentlemen — if you could call them that, since most men were absolute, avaricious, thoughtless pigs — were interested in acquiring a tall, redheaded, blue-blooded, sharp-tongued and two-fisted duke's daughter as wife. For the past four years, she'd avoided them with alacrity, aplomb, and those aforementioned fists.

Needless to say, her reputation was cemented in ruination.

It amused Sadie that her father was using the last of his funds to lock her away here in this very expensive Puddling prison, hoping that she would change her mind, acquiesce and marry the one man who remained steadfastly interested.

Not bloody likely.

She touched the glass jar with longing.

"What may we help you with, Lady Sarah?"

The poor grocer sounded scared to death. His wife hid behind him.

Sadie batted her lashes. Sometimes this feminine trick worked, although these Puddling people seemed remarkably impervious to charm. They were hardened souls, harboring the odd, uncooperative, and unwanted scions of society for a hefty fee, believing that being cruel to be kind was the only way.

"Do forgive my transgression, Mr. Stanchfield. I so longed to communicate with my old governess, Miss Mackenzie. Miss Mac, as I so affectionately call her. I found a book on telegraphy in the library and wondered if I had any aptitude for it," she lied. Science in all its forms confounded her. In truth, she'd read nothing but Gothic romances since her arrival, very much enjoying the fraying sixty-year-old books written by an anonymous baroness.

Moreover, Sadie's old governess had been dead for six years and had been an absolute Tartar in life. There had been little affection on her part, Sadie thought ruefully. The woman was at this moment no doubt giving the devil a lesson on evil and grading him harshly.

"You know that's forbidden, miss. No telegrams, no letters. Perhaps when you are r-r-released, you may visit with the lady. A r-reason for your good behavior, what?" Goodness, she was causing the poor fellow to stutter. She stilled her lashes.

"Ah." Sadie gave a dramatic sigh. "But I just can't seem to get the hang of it. Being Puddling-perfect, that is. Every time I get close, something seems to happen."

Like stealing Ham Ross's wheelbarrow full of pumpkins. It had been very difficult to push her loot uphill, and so many of the bloody orange things chose to roll out and smash along the road.

Or turning up in church in her tartan trousers ... her stolen tartan trousers. Some poor Puddlingite was foolish enough to hang them on a clothesline to tempt her. After some tailoring — Sadie was handy with a needle — they fit her slender waist and long legs as if they were made for her.

Her father had always wanted a son. Instead her horrible cousin George would be the next duke, and Sadie would lose the only home — well, castle — she'd ever known.

It wasn't fair. She sighed again.

"Here, now, Lady Sarah. I don't suppose I'll miss a few boiled sweets." Mr. Stanchfield relented and unscrewed the jar, his wife looking disapproving behind him. He filled a paper twist with not nearly enough, and passed them to her.

Sadie saw her opportunity for well-deserved drama. Any chance to appear happily unhinged must be seized with two hands, so she might stay here in Puddling just a little longer. Dropping to the floor on her tartan-covered knees, she howled.

She had been practicing howling at night once her housekeeper Mrs. Grace went home. Her neighbors were under the impression a stray dog was in heat in the village, perhaps even a pack of them.

"Oh! You are too good to me! I shall remember this always!" She snuffled and snorted, slipping a red candy into her mouth. Red always tasted best.

"A polite thank you would do just as well."

The voice was chilly. Sadie looked up from her self-inflicted chest-pounding and the candy fell from her open mouth.

Good heavens. She had never seen this man before in all the walking she was made to do up and down the hills for her daily exercise. Where had he been hiding? He was beautiful.

No, not beautiful exactly. His haughty expression was too harsh for beauty. Compelling, perhaps. Arresting.

But, she reminded herself, he was a man, and therefore wanting. Lacking. Probably annoying. Not probably — certainly. Lady Sarah Jane Marchmain was twenty-one years old and had more than enough experience with men in her short lifetime to know the truth.

The man reached a gloveless hand to her to help her up, but it didn't look quite clean. Something green was under his fingernails — paint? Plant material? Sadie made a leap of faith and gripped it anyway, crunching her candy underfoot when he lifted her to her full height.

He was still taller than she was.

Not lacking there. Not lacking physically anywhere that she could see.

His hair was brown, curly and unruly, his eyebrows darker and formidable. His nose was strong and straight, his lips full, his face bronzed from the sun. His eyes — oh, his eyes. Blue was an inadequate adjective. Cerulean? Sapphire? Aquamarine? She'd have to consult a thesaurus.

But they weren't kind.

She found herself curtseying, her hand still firmly in his.

"Thank you, sir, for coming to my rescue." She fluttered her eyelashes again.

"You were in no danger on the floor. Mrs. Stanchfield sweeps it thrice a day. One could eat off it, it's so immaculate." He dropped Sadie's hand and kicked the crushed candy aside.

The grocer's wife pinked. "Thank you, Mr. Sykes."

Sykes. That was the name of the family the infamous Lady Maribel married into. Interesting.

"I only speak the truth, madam."

Sadie considered whether she should fall to the floor again. It would be fun to gauge this Mr. Sykes's strength if she pretended to swoon. Would he pick her up and hold her to his manly chest? Whisper assurances in her ear? Smooth loose tendrils of hair behind her pins?

But perhaps he'd just leave her there to rot. He wasn't even looking at her anymore.

Sadie was used to being looked at. For one thing, she was hard to miss. At nearly six feet, she towered over most men. Her flaming hair was another beacon, her skin pearlescent, her ample bosom startling on such a slender frame.

She had been chased by men mercilessly, even after she had made it crystal clear she had no interest. These past years had tested her wits and firmed her resolve. She was mistress of her own heart, body, and mind, and determined to remain so.

Mr. Sykes probably knew that — apparently everyone in Puddling had received a dossier on her. She'd come across a grease-stained one at the bakeshop under a tray of Bakewell tarts, and had tucked it into her pocket for quiet perusal, along with one delicious raspberry pastry. Theft was apparently in her blood.

It had been most informative. The dossier, not the tart. Sadie had been gleeful reading an account of her past recalcitrance. She rather admired the clever ways she'd gone about subverting her father's plans for her — she'd forgotten half of them.

It had meant, however, that she had to exercise creativity in Puddling and not repeat her previous pranks. No sheep in the dining room. No bladder filled with beet juice tossed out the window. No punching fiancés or fathers.

There was only the one father, but Sadie had endured several fiancés. The latest, Lord Roderick Charlton, was getting impatient. He'd given her father quite a lot of money to secure her hand. To be fair, he'd tried to woo Sadie with credible effort.

There wasn't anything really wrong with Roderick, she supposed. But there wasn't anything right about him either.

If Sadie could just resist the pressure to marry, she'd come into a substantial fortune when she turned twenty-five. She wouldn't have to turn it over to some man, and her father wouldn't be able to touch it. She could live her life just as she liked. She might even buy herself a small castle, if one could be found. One that wouldn't fall down around her ears. One that had working fireplaces and no rats.

However — and this was a huge however — the Duke of Islesford was threatening to have her declared incompetent, seize her funds, and lock her away in a most unpleasant private hospital. Sadie did not think it was an idle threat, and to some, it might look as if she deserved to be there.

She was much too old now for the tricks she'd played, and four years was a very, very long time to stall. Sadie was beginning to realize she hadn't done herself any favors with the pumpkins or the trousers or the howling.

But she couldn't succumb — she just couldn't. No matter how many times Mr. Fitzmartin, the elderly vicar, reminded her of a proper woman's place — as helper to her husband, silent in church, subordinate, obedient — she felt her fingers close into a fist.

CHAPTER 2

Tristan Sykes had not encountered the madwoman before. After just a few minutes with her, he felt enormous relief.

She was nothing like the heiress Greta Hamilton-Holmes, who last year had been coerced into an unhappy marriage with the unwitting assistance of the Puddling Rehabilitation Foundation. The unfortunate circumstances of her stay here had alerted the entire village that perhaps the enrollment process and instructional methods needed some adjustment and modernization. Not everything was always as it seemed. The foundation's governors were wary now of believing everything that was reported about their Guests.

Poor Greta had been an innocent, a pawn in her ambitious mother's game to marry her child off to an earl. But Lady Sarah Marchmain was no innocent. Any man who married her would have to sleep with one eye open and a dagger under his pillow.

She was cunning. Devious. Sly. A consummate actress, even though she was so young. She probably should be shut away where she couldn't cause anyone harm. Her father the duke was at his wit's end, her fiancé the viscount bereft. She'd already been in Puddling beyond the usual amount of time, with no sign of progress.

She was headstrong. Spoilt. Wicked. But rather attractive all the same.

Those pants ... well. If women were allowed to wear them on a regular basis, men would not be responsible for their actions. The world would go to hell in a handbasket.

Tristan clouted himself mentally. Now that he was in charge of the foundation in his father's absence, he had to be responsible. He owed it to the village. He was not about to fall for the lures of an unrepentant hoyden and her derriere.

Those flirtatious, foxy lashes, the tremulous pout, those enormous br —. He lifted his eyes to the shop ceiling where it was safe from feminine pulchritude.

No cobwebs were to be seen.

He knew all about dukes' daughters. His grandmother had been one. Triston had loved her, but one had to acknowledge that Granny Maribel had been headstrong, spoilt and wicked, too.

Her son and his father, Sir Bertram Sykes, trusted Tristan to repair the family's and foundation's reputation while he was away, and so far, Tristan had. The Guests this year had returned to society whole, healthy and ready to make something of their lives. The new vicar Tristan had hired, a man married to his wife for over fifty years, was not going to forget his vows and fall for a scarlet-haired vixen in his care. Mr. Fitzmartin was a steady, sober old fellow, and if his sermons were not riveting, neither were they revolutionary. Puddling was back to normal, even if Sir Bertram remained in Paris.

Tristan was content to be left alone at the Sykes estate. The grounds were coming along, particularly the memorial garden Tristan had planted for his younger brother Wallace. Poor Wallace had died before he'd had to shave regularly. It had been a wretched waste, and Tristan wasn't sure he'd ever forgive himself for not paying enough attention to the boy while he'd lived.

Wallace had worshipped him, which Tristan had found rather absurd. He was nothing special then and he was nothing special now. Apart from his green fingers, Tristan Sykes was a most ordinary man. The only distinctive things about him were his fierce eyebrows, and all the Sykes males share that familial trait. The females sometimes too, poor things.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Seducing Mr. Sykes by Maggie Robinson. Copyright © 2017 Maggie Robinson. 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.

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Seducing Mr. Sykes 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
BookReview4you More than 1 year ago
'Seducing Mr. Sykes' by Maggie Robinson is book Two in the " Cotswold Confidential" series. This is the story of Lady Sarah Marchmain "Sadie" and Tristan Sykes. Sadie has been pretty much ignored her whole life by her father. Sadie grew up having the house servants as friends and family. Which has brought her knowledge to do allot of domestic things. But now that she is older her father thinks to marry her off to take care of money he owes. But Sadie isnt' having it...and starts to act out in crazy ways. She has even hit some of her suitors. Sadie feels if she can just keep single until she turns 25 she can inherit money that was left to her. But her last stunt has made her father take her to Puddling Village where they take in people who need a last restore before going to jail or the asylum. But Sadie actually likes the small village in Pudding and gets in trouble so that they won't yet release her to her father's custody. In addition, it keeps people away from her. Although she has always been lonely she still keeps people away. Then one day while pulling a stunt Tristan walks in to the store. Tristan thinks he knows what is going on with Sadie and that preconception takes a little while to drop before he starts to know the real Sadie. This was such a fun and exciting read. I really could not put the book down. Love this series and Ms. Robinson writing! "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
BookReview4you More than 1 year ago
'Seducing Mr. Sykes' by Maggie Robinson is book Two in the " Cotswold Confidential" series. This is the story of Lady Sarah Marchmain "Sadie" and Tristan Sykes. Sadie has been pretty much ignored her whole life by her father. Sadie grew up having the house servants as friends and family. Which has brought her knowledge to do allot of domestic things. But now that she is older her father thinks to marry her off to take care of money he owes. But Sadie isnt' having it...and starts to act out in crazy ways. She has even hit some of her suitors. Sadie feels if she can just keep single until she turns 25 she can inherit money that was left to her. But her last stunt has made her father take her to Puddling Village where they take in people who need a last restore before going to jail or the asylum. But Sadie actually likes the small village in Pudding and gets in trouble so that they won't yet release her to her father's custody. In addition, it keeps people away from her. Although she has always been lonely she still keeps people away. Then one day while pulling a stunt Tristan walks in to the store. Tristan thinks he knows what is going on with Sadie and that preconception takes a little while to drop before he starts to know the real Sadie. This was such a fun and exciting read. I really could not put the book down. Love this series and Ms. Robinson writing! "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
jdh2690 More than 1 year ago
This is the first book by this author that I have read and I have really been missing something because the humor in her writing is extraordinary and wonderful! I am already looking forward to reading other romances by Ms. Robinson. The hero (Tristan Sykes) and the heroine (Sarah “Sadie” Marchmain) met in Puddling-on-the-Wold where Sadie was sent by her father to stay until she had mended her stubborn ways (i.e., not marrying as her father dictated). Tristan was the leader/director of the Puddling Rehabilitation Foundation that was intended to retrain the spoiled, socialite residents that came to stay at the Rehab Foundation. While Tristan at first recoiled from the hoydenish tendencies of Sadie, he soon came to respect her and the reasons she acted the way she did. And then it became a courtship of sorts with ups and downs because of Sadie’s distrust of Tristan’s motives in being kind to her but which merely made Tristan try all the harder to win her affections. Hilarity ensued throughout the ups and downs of this courtship and I laughed out loud at both Tristan’s and Sadie’s antics while they journeyed to their happy ever after. In short, it was a truly delightful book to read!
CathyGeha More than 1 year ago
Seducing Mr. Sykes by Maggie Robinson Cotswold Confidential #2 In Puddling on the Wold they take in people to be cured of problematic issues – at least awkward to their families. When a person is in need of adjusting Puddling promises to fix them and has done so for quite some time. Sarah “Sadie” Marchmain has been sent for the cure by her father who wants her married and his debts paid off. Sadie is doing everything in her power to prevent the marriage by remaining uncured. When a fire occurs in the house Lady Sarah is staying in she is forced to move to Sykes House where more and more of her time is spent with Tristan, the man in line to one day be a Baron and the owner of said house. When a compromising situation leads to a forced and unwanted marriage between Sarah and Tristan the situation becomes more complicated. With misunderstandings due to lack of honest communication, the appearance of an execrable father, unwanted fiancé and blackmailer things are complex indeed. In the beginning the story was “told” more than experienced. I was told how the characters were feeling and about their personalities and would have perhaps liked to have experienced these things and concluded them through their behavior and interactions with others. About half way through the action and interactions picked up as did my interest in the story. By the end of the story I was rooting for both Sadie and Tristan and felt that perhaps they would find happiness in the future. I found Tristan rather pompous and Sadie obnoxious in the beginning but at the halfway mark things came a bit more into focus and as Tristan began to understand Sadie, her motivation and then he met her father his understanding became crystal clear. There was some muddling along but in the end I felt I had read a good story and now want to find out who will star in the next book of the series. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books-Lyrical for the ARC – This is my honest review. 3-4 Stars