A Seduction at Christmas (Scandals and Seductions Series #1)

A Seduction at Christmas (Scandals and Seductions Series #1)

by Cathy Maxwell

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061350986
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/28/2008
Series: Scandals and Seductions Series , #1
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 511,728
Product dimensions: 4.16(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.04(d)

About the Author

Cathy Maxwell spends hours in front of her computer pondering the question, “Why do people fall in love?” It remains for her the great mystery of life and the secret to happiness.  Fans can contact Cathy at www.cathymaxwell.com or P.O. Box 484, Buda, TX  78610.

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A Seduction at Christmas

Chapter One

December 1809

Fiona Lachlan draped her shawl over her head as she pushed her way through the narrow, crowded street. The damp coldness of the December evening air cut right through the thin muslin of her dress. She tried not to shiver as she moved toward a hired coach waiting for her at the corner.

Well, it didn't actually wait for her. The woman who had hired the hack, Hester Bowen, was expecting Annie Jenkins to come. It was up to Fiona to convince Hester to take her in Annie's place.

The hack driver saw her coming and jumped from the box to open the door. Careful to keep her head down, Fiona climbed inside.

"You're late," Hester complained. She rapped on the ceiling. "Drive," she snapped at the coachman who shut the door behind Fiona.

"I said eight," Hester continued as the driver set the coach in motion, "You've left me waiting a full ten minutes. I'll tell you, Annie, my time is more valuable than yours . . ." Her voice trailed off into a beat of suspicious silence.Fiona kept her head bowed, her hands clasped tightly in her lap. Every turn of the coach wheel was in her favor.

Hester ripped the shawl away. "You aren't Annie Jenkins."

Caught, Fiona quickly confessed, "No, I'm not. She couldn't come this evening and asked me if I would. My name is Fiona. I'm her neighbor. We let rooms next door to each other...please," she beseeched, reaching for Hester's arm to stop her from throwing up the window and shouting for the coachman to stop. "Annie sent me. She said it would be all right. She assured me you wouldn't mind."

Hester's eyeswere alive with anger. "You are Scottish." She curled her lips and pretended to gag.

"I am, but my accent isn't thick," Fiona answered, almost choking on the words. She hated having to defend her heritage, something she seemed to have to do daily in London. "And I do speak well." Better than you, she wanted to add. "Whatever errand you wished Annie to perform, I can do it."

"Annie and I are friends," Hester countered. Her voice had a hard edge.

She was a bit older than Fiona's own three and twenty years. In the coach's flickering light, her blond hair seemed almost white. Beneath her furlined velvet cape, she wore a beaded and lace gown of the darkest blue. Its bodice was so tight, she appeared to have cleavage up to her neck. All in all, she appeared exactly what she was...the most infamous courtesan in London. "We go back a long way," Hester said. "I trust her."

"Well, Annie and I are friends, too," Fiona answered. Necessity made for strange bedfellows. "She knew you needed her and asked me to help."

Hester sat back against the hard leather seat with a snort of disdain. "So what has happened to Annie this time? Has she deviled herself with gin or fallen in love...again?"

"She eloped," Fiona answered. "This morning. Her last act before she left was to knock on my door and beg me to help you."

"Who did she run off with now?" Hester asked without sympathy.

"A soldier. She is in love."

"Annie is always in love." Hester gave a heavy sigh. "Why are we all such fools when it comes to love?" Her words were laced with the irony of self knowledge. She looked at Fiona, studying her now and then nodding as if in approval. "What did Annie tell you about the task?"

"She said for me to dress well..."

Hester's keen gaze ran over the white muslin Fiona was wearing, seemingly taking in every detail. There had been a time when Fiona had owned a closet full of the finest dresses. This dress and her dog Tad were all that was left of that former life.

"You look presentable enough," the courtesan decided. She reached over and picked one of Tad's dog hairs off Fiona's shawl, rubbing her fingers and releasing it to the floor.

Fiona gathered her courage. "You offered Annie twenty pounds for this favor. Will you pay me as well?"

Hester's lips curved into a sly smile. "Desperate for money, are we?"

"Of course. Isn't everyone?"

"In London," Hester agreed.

Fiona had been earning her money as a dressmaker but last month Madame Sophie had let her go. Madame's cousin had arrived from Belgium and took Fiona's place in the sewing room. As talented as Fiona felt she was with a needle, she was discovering few wanted to hire a Scotswoman, especially one who had the air of "Quality." They preferred their seamstresses without ambition or intelligence, the better to do as they were bid without questions. They didn't trust Fiona's knowledge or her manner.

Meanwhile, she needed money. Her landlord, Mr. Simon, threatened to turn her and Tad out into the streets. Fiona had already discovered how hard it was to find rooms that would let her keep Tad. She didn't want to lose these.

Of course, with twenty pounds, she might even be able to leave London. When her parents were alive, she'd dreamed of having her coming out here, of meeting a gallant gentleman, being swept off her feet. As a well-known magistrate's daughter, she could have hoped for a brilliant match. Now, she couldn't wait to kick the dust of this godforsaken place from her heels, and her longings were for a small cottage in the country where the air was free of soot and she could live in peace.

"Annie said it was not..." Fiona stopped, feeling heat rush to her cheeks. She forced herself to be blunt. "She said I'd not have to please a man."

Hester's sly, lazy smile vanished. Her gloved hand curled into a fist. "You'd best not. I'll slice your face so no one would want to look at you if you spread your legs for this one."

The brutal threat didn't intimidate Fiona. She'd learned that manners and fine clothes often masked evil in London. "You needn't worry," she said stiffly. "I don't do that."

A Seduction at Christmas
. Copyright © by Cathy Maxwell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Seduction at Christmas (Scandals and Seductions Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 78 reviews.
mellind More than 1 year ago
I liked this story, it was original. Fiona is a heroine that people can relate with, she is low on money, just lost her job and needs a way to make her rent. She fills in for her neighbor on a job and her life changes forever. The Duke of Holburn is a hero that is easy to like and personable. He has family issues and is overall likable. The only problem with the story is that she didn't become his "ward" until the middle of the book. i kept wondering what was going on because the back of the book said that she was his ward. There was also a lot of auxiliary characters that kept popping up in the book and taking away from the main story. The heroine had self doubts about being with the Duke due to a past attack but that was not really mentioned, i felt that i was missing something and needed to read a previous book. There also wasn't a lot of romance because the main characters felt they were destined to be together from the first time they met. I thought there would be more conflict and drama between them but they did make a good team to find out who was out to harm them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you have not read "In a highlanders Bed" in the Cameron Sisters Series #5 where Fona's background story about her rape is told, this book will makes her sound very quick to recover from the rape... and that was not the case. I don't understand how Cahty Maxwell can say on her websit that her books "stand alone". She is a wonderfull writer... but... she does need someone to help her keep her details accurate. In the fist book there was one man who raped Fona, in the second book there was a group? That is not all the details that don't match. Maybe I'm the only one who notices these things?
Serious-reader More than 1 year ago
Thin plot and too predictable
LUV_HISTORICAL_ROMANCE More than 1 year ago
I have read two of Maxwell's books and both did not keep my attention. I found them to be very wordy. Maxwell is not an author I enjoy reading.
MaurieMac More than 1 year ago
Excellent...As always..
jjmachshev on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Reviewed for queuemyreview.com; book release Nov08Free will or fate? The arguments regarding which of these guides our lives and loves have likely existed since man (and certainly women) began to speak. Cathy Maxwell¿s latest historical romance ¿A Seduction at Christmas¿ is the story of a young man who, through a terrible loss, undergoes an eerie experience and receives a cryptic prophecy from an old crone at the Oracle of Delphi. He then seeks to escape what he believes is his fate, but his actions appear to be useless when his fate catches up to him in the form of a beautiful young, innocent woman.Fiona is desperate. The young Scottish lass has lost her respectable job and needs enough money to keep a roof over the heads of herself and her loyal dog. She accepts a dubious job with trepidation. All she needs to do is pour a potion into the drink of a lord whose jilted lover is looking for a little revenge. Only when she¿s assured the potion will just make the lord violently ill, but not dead, does she agree. When she arrives at the inn, the lord she¿s supposed to meet isn¿t there. Instead, it¿s the man she¿s dreamed of since before her life became one of penury. And when three men appear trying to kill `her¿ lord, she saves his life. Now her life is also in danger, but `her¿ lord has no intention of losing her.Nick has spent many years trying to redeem himself from a youthful folly. After losing his family¿s heirloom ring and receiving a warning/prophecy from a crone at Delphi to `beware innocence¿, his whole life changed. He uses his cynicism to distance himself from any feelings and avoids innocents like the plague. But when Fiona places herself in danger by helping him, even his jaded senses can¿t ignore the way he¿s beginning to feel when he¿s with her.It takes a special author to develop a relationship that feels believable when all the action takes place in a shorter amount of time. Maxwell did a good job of making the circumstances fit the telescoped time frame by forcing the protagonists into closer quarters than would be normal. The action flowed smoothly even with the quick pace, and the supporting cast included some memorable characters that I¿d like to read about again. The only drawback would be the rapid turnaround of the hero¿s character, but since it IS the holiday season, I¿ll just consider that a holiday miracle.Cathy Maxwell¿s regency romance is one that will leave you with a sigh and a smile. Her talented development of the attraction and relationship between the hero and heroine makes this story a kind of Christmas wish come true. Whether their meeting was determined by fate or chance, it was the actions each took and their willingness to trust that determined the course of their romance. ¿A Seduction at Christmas¿ is a happy, more light-hearted story that will provide a welcome distraction from the holiday rush.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A satisfying Christmas love story with some mystery elements
MADreaderMD More than 1 year ago
This was an intriguing premise that a prophecy from the Oracle of Delphi could affect the young, rakish Duke of Holborn for the rest of his life. While trying to prove his worth to his stuffy uncles and keep his difficult mother content, he also has to frequent the gaming hells of London. Gambling seems to be the only place he has any success. He wonders if this is good luck or a curse. Fiona Lachlan, the daughter of a Scottish magistrate, was raised to be a lady. But when her family is torn apart after supporting the Scottish rebellion, she is left to fend for herself in London. She has managed to take only respectable jobs so far, but fresh from losing her job, she is desperate enough to perform a shady errand for a notorious madame. Nick, the duke, and Fiona are unexpectedly thrown together and are soon running for their lives. The mismatch of the powerful duke and penniless young woman is comical at times, but Fiona stands up to the duke and holds her own. They soon find that sparks fly between them, even though Fiona is not ready to trust any man and Nick is still worried about that prophecy. The preparations for Christmas and all the various relatives at the duke's country estate are fun to read about. Danger follows them to the country, and the intrigue keeps you guessing until the end. There's plenty of action, both romantic and otherwise. I'm looking forward to reading the other books in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Predictable and disappointing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alway written with you readers in mind and for those who don't know pick up her work read it and become a fan. Ihave read all her books and I can tell you now each one was wrote with love and bringing joy to all who reads them. Ms. D from Bronx NY
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who doesnt enjoy a quick little read that keeps you entertained! Predictable but was still glad I took time to engage in the fun. If you are going to pick apart looking for flaws for the time period, DO NOT read. If you enjoy a little change up and just want a quick, light, entertaining story, by all means, ENJOY this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi my name is Sophiya.I'm 11years old.I got this nook for Chirstmas.I was so happy that i wanted to cry so hard.I really like this book it is entertaining.So I'm going to put that this book is a 5 STAR!!YEAH
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great a real deal
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This could have been a good read, but like another reviewer noted, I missed out on the background story by not reading a previous book (In the Highlander's Bed, I think was suggested). I was somewhat misled in thinking this book was the start of new series. Maybe the author could have written a prologue that set the stage for this book. Also, just read another book by this author and found very similar expressions and phrasing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it. Sweet love story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mlorio More than 1 year ago
An enjoyable romance with likable characters and a mystery to keep the plot going at a good pace. A must for Maxwell fans; this title should gain her even more devoted readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Janie_tx More than 1 year ago
Great Story! I wouldn't necessary call a seduction at Christmas though. I truly enjoyed this story. The author draws the reader in. I felt the action as Fiona and Nick tried escaping the Irish henchmen. You have people being murdered and uncles stealing his ring. He has being after Andres for sometime for a ring he stole although he did steal it, it was behalf of his uncles. 'Beware innocence' she had me going I was sure it was the little old aunt but I surprise and who it turned out to be. I would have like to feel the pain Fiona must have felt but I did not. I have a habit of reading sequels out of order. T read "His Christmas Pleasure" first and enjoyed it but now I understand the connection between the Duke and Andres. What I don't know is what happen between Gilliam and Andres; I will have to see what other books she has written maybe I discover the answer.
AM12 More than 1 year ago
I really loved this one. Usually I can see whats behind the twists and turns but there were several that I was truly surprised by. It was refreshing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining book, with all the plot twists it could have been way longer. But overall if you are looking for a quick read and love the historical romance and a little bit of action I reccommend this book.