Everyone knows William Bredon, the earl of Pembroke, has a reputation as a captivating rogue, determined to never marry until his duty to produce an heir requires it. So when he invites Lady Hannah Rochester to dance, Hannah vows to keep her distance. But the undeniably gorgeous William, with his dark humor and seductive gaze, draws her in nonetheless.
Of course, Lady Hannah is not completely what she seems, either. A member of the dowager Lady Lancaster's Garden Society, she secretly spends her days solving mysteries and uncovering intrigues, and when she brings William into the fold, a sinister plot develops that brings the two closer together. William's protective nature ensures he remains by Hannah's side, but he will not surrender his anti-marriage stance. Can intrigue, passion, and maybe even a little bit of scandal reform the most notorious of rakes?
Each book in the Lady Lancaster Garden Society series is STANDALONE:
* Taming Her Forbidden Earl
* Romancing His English Rose
* Tempting Her Reluctant Viscount
* Enticing Her Unexpected Bridegroom
* A Rogue For Emily
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Taming Her Forbidden Earl
By Catherine Hemmerling, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2012 Catherine Hemmerling
All rights reserved.
All men are brothers, like the seas throughout the world; so why do winds and waves clash so fiercely against each other?
- The Duke of Lancaster
William Bredon, the Earl of Pembroke, glanced around the room with a look of studied boredom. What on earth had possessed him to attend the grandest — and therefore most crowded — ball of the year?
Oh, yes, he thought dryly, as he spotted his mother talking excitedly with some other marriage-minded mama whose daughter would surely be added to her ever-growing list of suitable wives for her eldest son. He came because he couldn't bear to break a promise to his mother.
Bloody hell, why couldn't he be like all the other sons out there? He had seen plenty of men successfully ignore their mothers without even a backward glance. No force on earth could get one of them to set foot in this den of decorum against his will.
But William supposed he wasn't built the way other men were. Just the thought of hurting his mother sent a dagger to his heart. Perhaps it had to do with the way he grew up. His father had been a cruel and overbearing man, and William had watched his mother, so kind and open with him, fade away completely when his father was near, so afraid that one small move would set off his lightning-quick temper.
As William grew older, he began to protect his mother — and later his little brother — by stepping in and taking upon himself the brunt of the Earl's rage. But he couldn't be there all the time to shield them, and when he was gone, William knew it was his mother who took the beatings.
Every term, as he headed off to school, William was always afraid that when he returned he would find his mother dead. As fate would have it, it was not his mother who passed away while William was at school, but his father — from a heart attack.
It had taken years for his mother to stop jumping at the slightest noise or bang of the door, and even longer still before the light came back on in her eyes. But now, finally, she was enjoying life again, and William was loath to do anything to bring her more pain, even if it meant enduring the ton every now and then.
Of course, the whole reason his mother wanted his attendance at such affairs was to present eligible lady after eligible lady to William in hopes he would find a girl with whom to settle down ... get married, have a baby or two, become the picture of a perfect family. But William had seen what marriage could be — and he knew deep down that it was never pretty. The chance that wedded bliss could deteriorate into hell "till death parts you" was not a chance he would take lightly ...
With a sigh, William decided to put off greeting his mother for the moment — not yet up to being displayed like a high-quality piece of meat — and instead he looked around for a good place to hide.
* * *
Hannah had been keeping an eye open for David since the minute she arrived in the Chattam ballroom that evening. Her mother had been inundating her with a parade of eligible men for over an hour, all of whom politely complimented her on her appearance — with very little variation in delivery — and added their names to her dance card before making their escapes.
Hannah chose to believe the swiftness of their departures was in an effort to avoid her mother, rather than the alternative. Shrugging, she turned her attention back to the task at hand. She hoped she would locate her brother before the dancing began. It would be nearly impossible to find him from the middle of the floor.
Finally, she spotted him across the room. He was standing with his good friend from university, Alexander Bredon. They were whispering and grinning wickedly about something and appeared to be up to mischief, even from across the room. Hannah squared her shoulders and began to make her way over to them.
Navigating the ballroom took a bit longer than she intended, as she was stopped numerous times by guests wanting to greet her or engage her in conversation. She extracted herself as politely and quickly as possible, all the while keeping one eye on her brother.
She ignored the startled looks from Hope and Sarah when she passed them with barely a nod. Normally the three of them would be standing together providing subtle commentary on the activities of the party guests, but clearly tonight was not destined to be normal.
All of them had been "out" for at least two years now and the excitement of the first season had since worn off. While they still enjoyed attending the events of the ton, it was no longer with the giddiness of a green girl going to her first dance. These days they felt more like the elderly chaperones sitting on the fringe of the action, simply observing.
Of course, that wasn't precisely true. Aside from Sarah and perhaps Rose, none of Lady Lancaster's girls were wallflowers by any means. They all received multiple requests for dances and were still on the lists of those seeking brides, but the first glorious bloom had faded and they had settled into a comfortable rhythm of behavior — and invariably that behavior found them all huddled together off to the side of the dance floor discussing their latest mission with the Society or a recent scandal brought to their attention during their careful observation of the ton, while seemingly ignoring the party going on around them.
The Chattam ball was always a popular event of the season. And normally the mad crush of a party appealed to Hannah; it allowed her to blend into the background while engaging in her favorite pastime, watching people. The time spent in this endeavor honed Hannah's skill in reading people and their body language. She prided herself on hearing beyond what the people were saying verbally. And much to everyone's dismay, she was very often successful at ferreting out much more than they had planned to impart.
Hannah intended to use all her powers of observation in the conversation with her brother. David had been a sweet boy when he was younger and their mother was prone to doting on him. Plus, as heir to their father's estate, the boy could do no wrong in the earl's eyes. This resulted in David feeling perhaps that he was a little better than everyone else and certainly that he should always get his own way.
He was a charming, precocious boy who knew that with a smile and a kiss on the cheek, he could get away with pretty much anything. By the time Hannah's father and mother realized they were creating a thoroughly spoiled brat, it was quite too late to do anything about it.
Hannah had been hoping that David's time at university would help him grow up, but clearly all it had done was introduce him to a more adult environment in which he could stir up trouble. He and his friends had spent all their free time during term breaks at the gambling halls, brothels, and drinking establishments in London. And now that they had graduated, it seemed everywhere they went they ended up in some sort of trouble — which, unlike the pranks at school, was more likely to have serious repercussions. Through the rampant gossip of the ton, Hannah knew that David had been involved in at least one duel, a number of bloody fights (usually over a woman or card game gone wrong), and now this.
Hannah shuddered to think what could happen to David on the docks of London.
With even more determination, she continued to make her way across the room until finally, she found herself in front of her errant brother. David was dashing in his evening kit, but the gleam in his eye and his rather relaxed posture ruined the gentlemanly effect he might have been able to achieve.
However, in his new role of dangerously charming rake, he was succeeding grandly.
"David," she said evenly, then nodded at his friend Alexander.
"Ah, Hannah, my dear sister!" David exclaimed. "See here Alex, it's Hannah."
David turned to Alexander in quite the jovial manner, completely unaware of Hannah's mood. Alexander bowed succinctly before Hannah and lifted her hand for a brief kiss on her gloved knuckles.
"A pleasure, as always, Lady Hannah," Alexander said smoothly, favoring her with a debonair smile.
"Oh, stop it, you two," snapped Hannah, jerking her hand from Alexander's. "I am not some light skirt for you to practice your pleasantries on. I know you are up to something and I demand to know what it is." She stared meaningfully at both men.
David presented his most innocent face before asking, "Why ever would you think we are up to something?"
He appeared most sincere for a moment, but then ruined the effect by elbowing Alexander and flashing him a Watch me handle my sister look.
Growing aggravated, Hannah leaned in close and said, "I know about your little trip to the West Quay, darling David." She paused to watch him flush at her use of his childhood name before continuing. "So stop the playacting."
Both David and Alexander blanched at the mention of the area near the Custom House and began to look nervously this way and that. Hannah could see David's hand twitching with the effort not to reach up and tug on his finely tied cravat. She knew he was hiding something, and while he may chortle about it with his friends, she could see he was not proud enough of his actions to freely admit them to his sister.
"I ask again," Hannah said, pinning her brother with a look. "What are you up to?"
"I ... uh ..." stammered David, clearing his throat uneasily. "Well now, Hannah ... you see it's like this," he began haltingly. "Alexander and I were presented a great opportunity, um, recently —"
Hannah jumped slightly when, from out of nowhere, another young man showed up, throwing his arms around David and Alexander.
"What are we up to this fine evening?" Simon Trumbull inquired enthusiastically.
Hannah groaned to herself. Just when we were finally getting somewhere.
Simon was another of David's university friends, although a year ahead of him, if she remembered correctly. He was a likeable fellow, but a devil-may-care kind who never seemed to take anything seriously. She was also sure that he thought his endearingly crooked smile would get him out of any scrape. And why shouldn't he think that? Hannah thought wryly. It seemed women of all ages just melted at that patently charming smile.
Though not Rose, Hannah was proud to say. Rose had been betrothed to Simon since she was an infant, but she was in no hurry to pursue the connection. Not when the man in question behaves so ... so like every other man of our acquaintance, Hannah thought, fighting the urge to roll her eyes.
Simon turned his gaze to her. "Lady Hannah, don't we look lovely this evening?" He stepped out from behind her brother and Alexander to reach for her hand and kiss the air above her knuckles.
Hannah did roll her eyes this time. "I'm sure I don't know how lovely we are, Mr. Trumbull, but I do know you are interrupting a very important conversation I am having with my brother." She looked pointedly in David's direction.
Simon also turned to look at the gentleman in question and, from the shrewd look on his face, Hannah surmised that he knew exactly what the conversation with David was about, even if she did not ... yet.
"Lady Hannah," Simon said, bowing slightly, "I do apologize for interrupting your conversation, but I am afraid I must drag young David and Alexander away from the festivities ... this instant." He flashed his famous smile and began to usher both David and Alexander toward the exit.
David offered Hannah a sheepish smile and shrugged as if to say, What can I do? It was so clear that he was relieved by the turn of events, Hannah was surprised he didn't just dissolve into a puddle of gratitude right then and there.
"Men!" she muttered with a decidedly unladylike snort. "No backbone whatsoever."
"I beg to differ, my lady," came a man's voice, intimately close behind her. "Perhaps you have just been dealing with the wrong men."
Hannah stiffened at the familiar voice so close to her ear. She turned slowly, edging away gradually as she did, and pasted a smile to her face.
"Lord Shrewsbury ... good evening, sir," Hannah said politely. She lowered her eyes in what she hoped appeared as a respectful manner, but in truth she couldn't stand to look directly at the lord.
By all conventional standards, Hannah supposed Caleb Collicott, the Earl of Shrewsbury, was a handsome man. He had light blue eyes and buttery blond hair that swept back from his forehead in carefully controlled waves. His skin was pale and his build was slight. Above all, Lord Shrewsbury was dressed perfectly: perfectly clean, perfectly pressed, perfectly in the height of fashion. However, despite all the perfection, Hannah had only ever found him to be perfectly unappealing.
"Oh, come now, Lady Hannah. How often have I asked you to call me Caleb?" he said in an oily tone that made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. He plucked up her hand for a kiss, holding it a touch too long and giving her a knowing smile.
"I'm afraid that would not be proper, sir," Hannah replied, quickly removing her hand and resisting the urge to wipe it on her skirts. For once Hannah was grateful for the strictures of propriety.
Lord Shrewsbury had been a thorn in Hannah's side since her first season. He made no bones of the fact he wanted her as his wife — or at the very least, his bed partner. Frankly, she was surprised that he hadn't offered for her yet. He had been lusting after her — and her dowry, she had no doubt — for over three years now. Hannah shuddered just thinking of it.
Of course, the earl was well known to be very aware of the importance of a social structure. In his unapologetically vocal opinion, social structure kept those of lesser breeding in their place. Only his status as the second son of the Earl of Shrewsbury had kept Hannah safe from the brunt of his attentions, as it seemed he felt inferior to her as a man with no title.
Unfortunately, his lack of title was no longer an issue. Rather suddenly, last year his older brother had died, leaving Caleb Collicott his title and all that came with it.
Hannah wasn't sure what it was about Caleb that she didn't like. Outwardly he behaved exactly as a gentleman should. He was always impeccably polite, never improper or untoward (unless one counted his insistence that she use his given name), but there was something ... just something she didn't trust. Maybe it was the way he watched her — her every movement — with his cold, calculating ice-blue stare. He makes me uneasy, Hannah thought, that is certain. And this was enough to make her scan the room for a means of escape.
* * *
Over by the west garden entrance, William had spotted his good friend Michael Ashmore, the Viscount Lichfield. Perfect, he thought. Now to get to him without being waylaid by a meddling mother or silly daughter looking for the perfect husband.
Keeping to the edges of the room, navigating around the intermittent benches placed here and there for those wanting a respite from the crowd of people, William began to make his way over to his friend. About halfway there, he overheard what could only be termed a tense reply to an obvious request for a dance.
"Thank you for the offer, Lord Shrewsbury, but I have already promised this dance to someone else," a young lady was saying tightly.
"And yet, Lady Hannah," the man with which she was speaking replied silkily, "I do not see anyone here to claim you. And I cannot allow you to miss one of the few waltzes of the evening because of some young man's fickle nature."
William did not recognize the voice of the lady in question, but his hands clenched upon hearing who the man was. William intensely disliked Caleb Collicott, now the Earl of Shrewsbury. How he had gained the title was suspicious, in William's opinion. Collicott's older brother, Frederick, had been one of William's best friends, and when he suddenly died last year of an indeterminate illness, William always suspected foul play.
Of course, there was no hard evidence other than Frederick being the picture of health just hours before his death, but something about Collicott made William's skin crawl. William prided himself on his intuition and if his gut was telling him that Collicott was not to be trusted, that was all he needed to know.
However, was his dislike of the man worth dancing with the girl? It was the only way to extricate her from her predicament with any grace, but to what end? William was already dreading the hero worship he was bound to see in her undoubtedly grateful eyes. And gratefulness would invariably lead to the mistaken belief that she was in love with him. Sadly, it had happened before, whenever his mother insisted on his taking pity on some wallflower or another. And then it was just awkward, for he knew full well the dance would lead to nothing.
Excerpted from Taming Her Forbidden Earl by Catherine Hemmerling, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2012 Catherine Hemmerling. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this book! The intrigue kept me turning pages right up to the last page. Loved the history of the London docks, the naughtiness of the heroine, and the story of how she conquered her reluctant man. Can't wait to read the other Lady Lancaster Garden Society books! Keep them coming!
This book has a good plot and subplots, but the dialogue between the characters never really developed enough emotion to pull me into the book.
will read again
By: Catherine Hemmerling Published By: Entangled Published: Scandalous Age Recommended: Adult Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Rating: 4 Book Blog For: GMTA Series: Lady Lancaster Garden Society #1 Review: "Taming Her Forbidden Earl" by Catherine Hemmerling was a good historic romantic mystery read that was the first from this series: Lady Lancaster Garden Society #1. I loved the suspense in the good romantic mystery, The characters were so well developed and this style of writing(language) that this author used for this historical time was very good. This was definitely one of those reads that you will have it all wrapped up...'espionage, historical romance and the strong and intelligent women.' We must remember at this time in the Regency London historical time....during the 'Garden Society'..... "Women were not allowed to read, or even see, touch, or buy a book. -People of the ton had maids and butlers at all times to be at their service. They even need assistance taking a bath and putting on their clothes and combing their hair! Hah! -Two people of the opposite sex walking in public without a chaperon (maid or otherwise) must be married immediately!" Now, moving on to the romance part in this read which doesn't really come into play much until the end of the read. This will be where I will say you must pick up the good read to see completely what this read is all about. It does get even better toward the ending. Were women allowed to do that? If you are interested in historical novels I would recommend this one and it may even put a smile on your face.
I don't often read Historical Romance these days, but I was a huge fan of the genre several years ago. I love the detail given to the setting, the dialogue, the character's mannerisms and dress. To be able to step back in time, at least into these circumstances with the often pleasant lifestyle, is a nice escape. Taming Her Forbidden Earl was a light, pleasant read for me. What made this story stand out was the women. Lady Lancaster's Garden Society is a group of young, smart, and charming women, lead by Lady Lancaster. These women work to solve crimes, using their gender to fly under the radar. This aspect to the story was excellent, but there is very little back story to go on. We're told very briefly about the purpose of the group, and the members, but I felt that it could have been explained a little better. I did like Taming Her Forbidden Earl, and it's main characters. Hannah and William are the typical hero and heroine of stories such as these. He is an affluent man who is also a confirmed bachelor. He doesn't want to marry, but he certainly loves to bed the willing women around him. William was kind, and I love that. It's hard for me to love a "rake" who is also an ass. Hannah was a pleasant and endearing heroine. Being a member of The Garden Society, she is obviously smart and resourceful. She is also super quick to fall in love, basically the first time William speaks to her she has fallen. But, this nitpickiness (?) is simply my issue, and does ring true to society in the 1800s. Overall, I would say that I liked Taming Her Forbidden Earl. It was a quick read that often made me smile. I am definitely on board to read about the other ladies of Lady Lancaster's Garden Society.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I love historical romance with spies. Having spies in a period where there was no technology to aid them makes a historical romance much more interesting. There's more a potential for more mystery, suspense and action. The only downside is that most of the spying is done by the men due to the time period. It's difficult to find a book where the heroine does the spy work without it sounding utterly ridiculous. Taming Her Forbidden Earl is a rather short but fun story where the women do all the fact finding while still maintaining their (somewhat) spotless reputations. It's tough for a gently bred lady to gather information without breaking the strict rules of society. That's where Lady Lancaster's Garden Society comes in. On the surface they may appear as proper, delicate flowers but in reality they spend their free time ferreting out secrets and solving mysteries. Lady Hannah is a strong character to start what will eventually become a series, with each lady from the Garden Society taking the lead in solving mysteries and finding love. Hannah is a survivor, she can blend in with all the other ladies of English society, but she can also ferret out information without breaking a sweat! She's confident, even when faced with a questionable character like Lord Collicott Shrewsbury (who's name made me giggle). Enter the hero, William Bredon, Earl of Pembroke. Well, he's more of a reluctant hero, he saves Lady Hannah from an unwanted advance, whisks her away to dance and is immediately attracted to her intelligence and sense of humor. He's sworn off marriage until he needs an heir out of fear that he will end up like his abusive father so his attraction to Hannah is most unwelcome. Taming Her Forbidden Earl takes it easy on the romance at first, there are just hints and sparks of attraction between Hannah and William, the mystery and intrigue takes precedence almost throughout the whole book. It isn't until the last chapters that William and Hannah act on that attraction. The pacing is quite brisk but what can you expect from a romance novel that incorporates espionage? It would be very boring if there were too many details instead of more action. While Taming Her Forbidden Earl is William and Hannah's story, author Catherine Hemmerling gives readers sneak peeks into the other members of the Garden Society's personalities. Each young lady has at least one unique trait that makes her invaluable to the group of "Lady Spies" and each one promises to be very interesting.
TAMING HER FORBIDDEN EARL by Catherine Hemmerling is an exciting historical romance/mystery set in Regency London.First in the "Lady Lancaster Garden Society" series.Fast paced,filled with danger,a bit of intrigue, romance and love. Follow,Lady Hannah Rochester,a member of the Garden Society,and William Bredon, the Earl of Pembroke as they navigate danger,their attraction and deception. When a Lord is determined to ruin not only Lady Hannah's life but the life and wellfare of her brother and the Earl's brother. Enter, the Garden Society ladies as they and the Earl of Pembroke try to stop disaster and scandal. "Taming Her Forbidden" has strong characters,realistic exceptions,and an intriguing plot. I can hardly wait to see what is next for these young ladies and their counterparts. A must read for anyone who enjoys Regency,historical romance, danger,romance with a twist or two. Received for an honest review from the publisher. Details may be found at the author's website,Entangled Publishers,and My Book Addiction and More. RATING: 4 HEAT RATING: MILD REVIEWED BY: AprilR, My Book Addiction and More/My Book Addiction Reviews