Seduction & Scandal

Seduction & Scandal

by Charlotte Featherstone

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781459207721
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 07/01/2011
Series: Brethren Guardians , #1
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 182,014
File size: 432 KB

About the Author

Charlotte Featherstone writes erotic historical romance, and historical romance for Harlequin Spice, and HQN Books. Her writing style has been described as beautiful, haunting, emotional and sensual. Charlotte lives on Lake Erie's North Shore in Ontario Canada, with her husband, daughter and two lovable but ill behaved dogs.

Charlotte's website address is

Read an Excerpt

London, 1875

The first time I met death, it was at a ball and we danced a waltz. Beneath the glittering chandeliers, and amidst the swirls of ball gowns, their silk trains decorated with pearls and lace, Death guided me in sweeping circles until I was dizzy and breathless and all the other dancers had seemed to melt away, leaving only Death and myself whirling on the dance floor.

I should have feared him and his steely embrace, but I did not. Death had been by my side for so many years that I felt a kindred spirit in him. I have seen Death. He is beautiful in his severity, heartrending in his coldness. A dark, shadowy specter whose web draped like an ethereal veil over the mortals he would one day lay claim to.

A man in every appearance, whose isolation and loneliness he could not hide. It shone in his eyes, which were a mesmerizing dichotomy of coldness and warmth. His irises were a light shade of blue with the faintest chips of pale green, reminding me of the turbulent, chilly waters of the North Sea. But his lashes, thick and luxurious, and black as a raven's feathers, put me in mind of a sable wrap, warm and comforting and soft—so supple and inviting. His hair was just as dark, inky and shining as it hung to his shoulders, like a pelt of fur. I yearned to run my fingers through the long strands, burying them in the thick suppleness and warmth.

"Do you know who I am?" he asked me, his voice deep and velvety. It slithered along my pores, awakening a deep feeling inside me—not fear, but something else. Something that made me warm and languorous, and as though my will were no longer my own.

"Lord Death," I replied in a breathless whisper.

"And do you not fear me?" I looked up, held his icy blue gaze steady. "No. I do not."

He pulled me closer, till our chests meshed and our bodies danced, pressing and moving as if as one. It was indecent. Hedonistic. Exhilarating. My pulse raced, heating my skin. He found the frantic beating in my throat, his gaze lingered there and I knew then that he could snuff the warmth that was climbing steadily inside me.

"Have you come to claim me, Lord Death?"

His gaze slowly lifted to mine, and the thick, onyx lashes lowered, casting a hood over his eyes. "I have. Will you come with me now?"

We finished the turn and he took me by the hand, threading his fingers through mine, guiding me toward the French doors and the velvet blackness beyond.

I followed him willingly, his beauty beckoning me, and like a sleepwalker, I trailed beside him, compelled by something I could not name.

"Am I to die?" I asked, and he stopped, raised our joined hands to his mouth and gently kissed my knuckles.

"You are, my love, and in your sleep, you will become Death's bride."

"And that is it?" cried Lucy as she threw a pillow at Isabella. "You fiend!"

Lucy rushed to the dressing table where Isabella sat and pulled the black leather journal from her hand. Flipping through the pages, Lucy searched frantically for more.

"I told you, Luce, that I had only just begun the story."

Lucy looked up from the book, her cheeks flushed with excitement. "I was just about to swoon when you ended it. I vow I am in love with Death!"

A tremor of pride curled within Isabella as she accepted the volume back from her cousin. "Do you think it's that good?" she asked, feeling nervous as she gazed down at the words she had written. "I will admit it is a rather strange concept."

"Good? Gracious, Issy, you've outdone yourself with this one. Not even Mr. Rochester is as gloriously brooding as your Lord Death."

Smiling, Isabella tucked her journal and pencil into the seed-pearl reticule she was using for the night. "I could never outdo Mr. Rochester, Lucy. Charlotte Bronte has penned an unsurpassable hero with him."

"Death, with his black hair and pale blue eyes…" Lucy murmured, closing her eyelids as she began to dance around the room, as though she was waltzing. "He is every maiden's dream. To be swept up into the arms of a man focused solely on you… Issy," she said, stopping before her. "It's perfection."

"I must confess, I do rather like the opening."

"Oh, don't be so modest," Lucy ordered as she glanced in the mirror and replaced a few wayward auburn ringlets, "it's only me. You can say you think it's a smashing opening, and I will wholeheartedly agree."

Hiding her grin, Isabella turned on the little stool and straightened the amethyst-and-diamond necklace that adorned her throat. It had been a gift from her uncle, and she wore it whenever possible. Never could she have imagined wearing something so beautiful—and expensive.

Her hair could use a fixing, she noticed, but there wasn't much that could be done with the riotous flaxen curls that enjoyed springing from their pins. She had been able to cover up most of her past, to bury her common roots and essentially make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but her hair, it seemed, had other plans. It would not obey and she hid her smile, realizing that bit of tough Yorkshire stubbornness would not be stretched, ironed or pulled out of her. At least not yet.

"Tell me about your heroine, Issy, the woman who is to capture Death's heart."

Isabella frowned. That was the strange part. She hadn't really put much thought into the woman who was to be Death's bride. The opening had come from someplace deep inside her, the words spilling out from her soul. She did not want to look too deeply there, afraid of what she might see of her past—or perhaps it was the future she feared?

Lucy caught her scowl, and lowered her head, so their temples were touching as they looked at their reflections. "Or are you Death's heroine, Issy?"

Isabella's mouth fell open and Lucy laughed as Isabella flushed furiously. "Don't be silly, Lucy."

Her cousin gave her a dubious look. "You naughty little girl, penning such a thing."

Had it been her in that opening? Had it been herself she'd envisioned, had written about dancing indecently with Death?

She was no stranger to him, that was for certain. But to write him as a hero? As someone who could lure and seduce… someone to be desired, and not reviled…

"You know I'm only teasing," Lucy said. "For heaven's sake, Issy, do not be so temperamental. I can't abide that in artists. That's why I broke off my flirtation with Eduardo. He was too moody for my tastes."

"Well, what did you expect?" Isabella mumbled, finally recovering from her shock that she might possibly be the heroine in her story. "You met him at a seance."

Lucy's emerald-colored eyes flashed with excitement. "And there's going to be another one in a few days. Say you'll come, Issy."

It wasn't as though she didn't have loved ones she'd dearly love to connect with in the spirit realm. Her mother, grandmother and now her aunt. They had all been taken from her, and each time she had felt Death's shadow, standing quietly in the corner, waiting to take them.

Perhaps it was just her overactive imagination, but each time she had fancied that she had seen Death with her own eyes. Of course, she had never dared to admit such a thing. For who would believe her? Still, a part of her feared she really could see Death, and that part absolutely refused to attend a seance with Lucy, for fear the Grim Reaper would present himself.

"Well?" Lucy prodded. "If nothing else, it's a good night away from balls and soirees. You might even think of it as research for your book. Bring Mr. Knighton if you wish."

"I don't think the curator of medieval studies at the British Museum would be very interested in a seance, or chair tipping, or communicating with spirits while using a talking board."

Lucy huffed as she pulled on her long leather gloves. "What you see in that stuffed shirt, I'll never understand."

"He's very kind. And.and I think him handsome."

"I'll give you those two, but I would like to remind you that he's rather boring in his conversation, and that he's probably not going to look upon your dream of being a lady novelist with a kind eye. The academic sort never do," she reminded her. "Knighton is a scholarly fellow in a scientific, hard-facts sort of way. Novels are made up stories, after all. I doubt Knighton could wrap his rather well-formed brain around that fact to grasp the delight to be found in them."

"What is it you are trying to say, exactly, cousin?"

Lucy's gaze softened. "That he is likely not going to be able to understand your brilliant mind, Isabella. He deals in facts, and you delight in fantasy. You're opposite in every respect."

Isabella dropped her gaze to her hands, where they folded primly in her lap. The jet bracelet that held the key to her journal caught her eye, and she brushed her thumb over the shining black stones. "It would do me well to give up this fantasy I so enjoy. Perhaps that is what I need, Lucy, a man who keeps me planted on earth, not in the ethers of some magical realm." Shrugging, she glanced up to see her cousin watching her with what Isabella imagined was sympathy. "It hardly matters. The chance I will be published is very slim, Lucy. It's really only a hobby."

Lucy lifted Isabella's chin with her slim fingers and gazed down upon her with her brilliant green eyes. "Repeat after me. I, Isabella Fairmont, will finish this book and submit it to every publisher in London—"

"And New York," Isabella reminded her.

"And New York," Lucy added. "And I will not rest until I see it published. I will not give up on my dreams."

Isabella stood and hugged Lucy who, although she was her cousin, was more like her best friend. They were sisters of a sort, now that Isabella had come to live with Lucy and her father. "I promise you, Luce. I will finish it, and it will find a home. And I will make Mr. Knighton a devotee of the fictional world if it's the last thing I do."

"And you must promise to read to me, every night when you've written something new."

Isabella flushed. "You only want the parts that speak of breathlessness and heaving bosoms."

"Well, of course," Lucy drawled. "Why else does one read a novel? Now then." Lucy sighed. "Let us go downstairs. We're already late and Papa will be snorting with indignation. We must not keep the Marquis of Stonebrook waiting." Lucy shook her head, although she was grinning. "Papa is such a pompous aristocrat."

Yes, the old marquis was rather self-important, but he was a good man. He had taken Isabella in, his niece by marriage, despite the scandal of her parents' nuptials. He had clothed her, protected her and Isabella loved him like the father she never knew. He had saved her from an uncertain future and from herself. She owed her uncle more than she could ever repay. Still, she missed the comfort of her mother's stories, and her grandmother's arms. She missed Whitby with its dark and forbidding abbey, and the mist that rolled in from the sea. She missed the heather-covered moors, and the rocky cliffs that stood tall and proud against the foamy, turbulent waves of the North Sea. She missed home, and everything about it.

She missed them.

How dearly she longed to see her mother and grandmother again, and Isabella felt her eyes begin to well with tears. Thankfully Lucy's voice drew Isabella out of her thoughts. "My feet ache already just thinking of the night ahead of us. Dear me, Issy, I'm tired of the social whirl."

Whitby forgotten for now, Isabella strived for composure. "I am as well, Luce. I would pay a very high price for a chance to stay in my room and sit at my desk and write until my fingers are blackened with ink."

"As much as I'd like more of Death, Issy, it's pertinent we make an appearance at my father's ball."

"You know, when I was a young girl, I envied you your life, the gowns, the balls, the suitors… Now, I'm not so certain you had it better than I."

Lucy tossed her a cheeky smile over her shoulder as she headed for the door. "I always envied you your cozy cottage and the meadow and woods where you and the other children from the village ran and played without any concern for deportment. You had a childhood, Issy. Something I never did." Lucy tipped her head and smiled. "I've always been envious of that. And here we were all this time, feeling resentful of the other. It's ironic, isn't it?"

"It is, indeed, for I'm sitting here loath to go to a ball, something I've always dreamed about."

"Chin up," Lucy ordered. "There could still be light at the end of the tunnel for this night. Perhaps you can write more of your book. Our ballroom has many private corners, you know."

"And of course that will have the suitors flocking to my side," Isabella muttered ungraciously. "Men adore lady novelists."

"I bet Lord Black does."

Isabella sent her cousin a glare before she reached for the ivory gloves that sat atop her dressing table. "How could you suppose such a thing, Luce? Lord Black never comes out of that mausoleum he calls a town house."

Lucy stopped at the threshold, and slowly turned, the salmon-pink silk of her gown's elaborate train wrapping around her legs. "I saw him last night."

"Fibber! You did not!" Isabella challenged.

"I did, I swear it. I couldn't sleep after the Anstruther soiree. I was sitting on my window box, gazing out at the stars when I saw those massive iron gates swing open. A carriage, black and shining and led by four black horses, came clattering out of the drive. The conveyance lingered for a moment, and then I saw it, a shadow that was illuminated by the lanterns. It engulfed the interior, like spilt ink, and then I saw him, his pale face appeared in the window, and he was looking up, and I swear his gaze lingered on the window beside mine—your bedroom window, Issy."

"Nonsense," Isabella scoffed.

"It's the truth."

"I think, Luce that you should take up novel writing with me. You've the imagination for it."

"Think what you like, Isabella, but I know what I saw. And you mark my words, our neighbor will be here tonight. The Marquis of Stonebrook will have it no other way, I assure you."

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Seduction & Scandal 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
AustenStudent More than 1 year ago
This is a gothic romance, dark, brooding, mysterious, and very, very seductive. Charlotte Featherstone’s writing and story reminds me of the sexy Victorian romances by Monica Burns but this story is darker. Isabella lives in London with her guardian, her uncle, and her cousin, Lucy. If not for them, she would be alone and destitute. Her own mother and grandmother are gone, her mother the victim of loveless passion that resulted in destitution and heartbreak. Because of this, Isabella refuses to ever succumb to mindless attraction and lust with any man and has set her sights on the reliable (and boring) Wendell Knighton, an archaeologist with grand dreams and schemes. He will be a good provider and they will be friends, but nothing more. Isabella is also a writer who spins dramatic and seductive stories of the very lustful attractions she refuses to give in to herself. It is her outlet and reveals her secret dreams. Her latest story features an enigmatic man she calls Death, who is determined to claim her at all costs. Death is an allusion to her past, to her secret shame that must never come to light. Jude Sheldon—love his name—the Earl of Black, is a gorgeous and mysterious man who fell in love with Isabella at first sight, but he cannot reveal how or when he first saw her. They meet at a ball and an attraction immediately flares between them, confusing but also frightening Isabella in its visceral intensity. He seeks her out for an introduction and she is lost. “He had always thought Isabella a kindred soul. They had both been wronged. Both left alone to face the tragedies that had befallen them. He had believed Isabella clung to shadows, just as he did. But he was wrong. Isabella was light.” From then on, Isabella fights her desire for Black as every time they meet, he draws her further into forbidden passion, a passion she fears will drown her and erase all reason, as it had for her mother. “She also possessed her mother’s inclination toward romantic adventures. But unlike her mother, she would only write about them, not indulge in them.” There are mysterious and almost supernatural elements in this story as well, with Lord Black and his two aristocratic friends, the Duke of Sussex and the indifferent Marquis of Alynwick, members of the Templars, an ancient brotherhood calling that is passed on through their family lines. They are called the Brethren Guardians (which is also the name of the series), called to protect the world from the magical dangers of a chalice and pendant, relics discovered by their ancestors. Black is reluctant to comply, but he must.  When the relics disappear, unseen enemies threaten them, and those they love. The themes of lust and danger pervade this romance, bringing to mind the erotic elements of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, especially with mention of Isabella’s seaside home of Whitby, which features prominently in Stoker’s classic as well as the sensual attraction between Isabella and Jude. Featherstone writes with a nice lyrical quality, evoking deep sensuality amid the darkness of the Victorian setting. Lucy, Isabella’s outspoken cousin, is entranced with séances and is obsessed with reconnecting with an old lover. The Duke of Sussex is in love with Lucy and desperately wants her to love him; their story follows in Pride & Passion. There is also an interesting dynamic between Sussex’s blind and perceptive sister, Elizabeth, and the Marquis of Alynwick. The romance between Black and Isabella is both erotic and tender. He loves her for exactly who she is and never wants her to be anything but her true self, something she has been at pains to hide her entire life. “‘If someone doesn’t want you as you are, then they aren’t worth the time.’” If you love gothic Victorian historical romance, this story is for you.
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LadyScarlet More than 1 year ago
Some of the language is a bit over the top but you feel like you are reading one of those Victorian gothic romances. Enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great,loved,first time in along time i did not skim.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book became one of my favorite romance book. I couodn't put the book down once I started reading it. A most recommended book, you wouldn't be disappointed especially if you love a little mystery mix with romance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great book by Featherstone
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read Sinful, could not put it down. It was hot and steamy. This book is boring,not hot or steamy. Super dissapionted!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bonnie Santora More than 1 year ago
Loved how the story grabbed me right out of the gate. I couldn't put it down. Besides the usual expectations in a romance, this book was laced with secret societies and danger. Definitely a book I would recommend to other readers.
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CarmellaS More than 1 year ago
The characters of Black and Isabelle had me mesmerized from the first eye contact they had! I just could not put this book down until I finished it. In a time when women were just pawns for land and/or power or used for breeding Black cared about her, respected her. This book was the first of a series for Charlotte Featherstone, I will be anticipating the next adventure, Lucy and Sussex and then Ian and Elizabeth I supposed. Our gentleman are Templers, the keepers of artifacts that can change the world. These artifacts are a major part of the story and the "mystery" that was started in this book will continue in the next. I cannot wait for the next part!
MasonAngel More than 1 year ago
Don't let the cover fool you! This book has a lot more to it than your average sexy romance novel. "The first time I met Death, it was at a ball and we danced a waltz, and I feared him, feared the things he made me feel, made me want. That night I ran from him, but Death was right behind me, chasing me and I wanted him to catch me." Isabella has a scandalous past and a family reputation she is determined to prove wrong. Her mother's past mistakes and their conseq...moreDon't let the cover fool you! This book has a lot more to it than your average sexy romance novel. "The first time I met Death, it was at a ball and we danced a waltz, and I feared him, feared the things he made me feel, made me want. That night I ran from him, but Death was right behind me, chasing me and I wanted him to catch me." Isabella has a scandalous past and a family reputation she is determined to prove wrong. Her mother's past mistakes and their consequences have made Isabella hide her passionate self. Lord Black, the dark and mysterious neighbor, is also determined...determined to seduce her! This tale is full of scandal, seduction, ancient templar secrets, and sexy Freemasons! Seduction & Scandal is the first installment of the Brethren Guardian series and is not to be missed. I read through this very quickly and had a hard time convincing myself it was time to put it down and get soem sleep. Lord Black is one of the hottest alpha males in the Harlequin lineup! Underneath the sexy surface, Charlotte Featherstone has woven in touches of Masonic lore and has carefully entwined her characters' fates. The next installment is set up very nicely and will be on my shelf as soon as it releases. Isabella's cousin Lucy's story, Pride and Passion, comes out in November
Fannie More than 1 year ago
I was skeptical in reading historical romance but when I started reading this, it had my attention. Enjoyed the story & romance greatly, highly recommended. Can't wait for the next book as the story unfolds...can't wait to find out about Lucy & the duke...too bad got to wait until November for the next book.
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Barbara25 More than 1 year ago
Isabella Fairmont is a woman who knows the heartbreak reckless behavior can cause. Unlike her mother before her, she has sworn never to risk her reputation by allowing herself to succumb to passions. That doesn't stop her from jotting a few down in her secret journal, however. Night after night she pens the tale of Death and his dark and passionate desire for his heroine. But for Isabella, it isn't merely a tale of Death and his lover. Isabella knows Death, and all too well. She's seen him before. She knows he's that dark figure stalking from the shadows and stealing those she holds dearest. But there's something more, and she can sense it's only a matter of time before he comes to claim her as well. Shrouded in mystery and scandal, the Earl of Black's days are spent hiding in the shadows careful to avoid the prying eyes and wagging tongues of the ton. From afar he has watched Isabella, his heart aching desperately to be with her (*double-sigh*). He knows that Isabella has already endured so much loss and heartache. If he were to somehow let her know how he longs to be with her, Isabella would inevitably find out about his past and never give him another glance. Although she loved her mother her dearly, Isabella knows her mother was misled and taken advantage of by men. It will take more than mere declarations of love or even a stolen kiss to ever sway her. Isabella is hoping to marry the handsome and kind-albeit a bit boring-archeologist whose been courting her. Besides, he's an honest man and seems to care for her. With him, Isabella will be secure from even the slightest shred of scandal. There doesn't have to be love or even passion, so long as she has security and the respect of those around her. Just when she thinks her future is sealed, she meets the one man who ignites her emotions more than anyone else she has ever known. The Earl of Black is dark, undeniably handsome, seductive and mysterious. He's everything that Isabella has striven to steer clear of. But there is more to it, and more to him. He knows things, far too many things about Isabella, whereas Isabella knows nothing about his past. And his eyes, so full of desire and want, it's as if he can peer in to her very soul. She knows she should stay away, but she can't seem to bring herself to stop from seeing him. Each whisper, each caress drives her slowly down the same reckless path her mother took. But what of Black's past? Why for so long was he withdrawn from the public eye? Little by little events begin to unfold. Stolen artifacts, secret societies, ghosts, murder and of course smokin' hot romance! It was like a Sherlock Holmes meets National Treasure with enough romance to have you squirming in your seat! The passion, build up, intensity, mystery and finally the climax was wonderfully written.