Dogged by gossip and scandal, Ramsey Scott, Marquess of Sterling, is the last man who should stand guard over lovely Miss Grace Morgan, much less fall for her. When the innocent’s first outings of the season land her in Temptation, the private club Ramsey manages, he longs to take her in his arms and keep her there, if only his past would allow it. Their friendship will have to suffice—but as Grace blooms in society, Ramsey feels her slipping from his grasp. Until she lures him into his greatest temptation yet . . .
She should never have come to his office unattended. But how else was Grace to get Ramsey’s romantic attention? Yet now she is left waiting for a proposal that may never come—and wondering if Ramsey’s vexing propriety will force her to marry another . . .
Praise for Kristin Vayden’s Heart of a Cowboy
“Obsessed. That’s how I felt while reading this book, like every page was better than the previous. Just try to put this down, I dare you.”
—#1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken
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Edinburgh, Scotland — for now
Miss Iris Grace Morgan had always hated her name, and with the current schedule of arriving in London in a mere week, she made a decision.
She would come to London not as Iris, the woman who couldn't waltz to save her soul, nor as the lady who was utterly a failure at all things ladylike. No, she would arrive as Grace: the woman who personified all things that, well, she was not. It couldn't hurt her to have a name that implied what she was not, but she certainly hoped it would indeed help. After all, her governess, now her guardian's wife, had taken great pains to pull the lady from within her charge and give her some much needed polish, along with a much-needed friendship.
But as much as she had tried, Iris — Grace, that is — wasn't entirely sure that she had taken on said polish. Lord Kilpatrick had assured her that she would make a splash, which was very kind of her guardian. But she wasn't concerned about making a splash. She was certain she would.
She just wasn't sure it would be a good splash. It would probably be of the clumsy variety where she'd trip on her own two feet, smash into some cranky dowager, and spray lemonade across the ballroom. It could certainly happen.
It had almost happened last night after dinner, only it wasn't lemonade, it was white wine, and it wasn't her own two feet she'd tripped over. It had been the bloody chair.
Samantha, her guardian's wife and her once governess, had given her a kind smile, and helped her clean the mess before Mrs. Keyes, the housekeeper, clucked over them and shooed them away from it all.
Grace smiled at the memory. She loved it at Kilmarin. All the servants were kind, and they didn't expect her to be anything that she was not. Sothers, the butler, was ever so patient with her, and opened the door extra wide, just in case she misjudged the step, and Mrs. Keyes never complained once when she'd accidentally spill or trip over something or another.
Even Samantha. Grace frowned over how many times she had stepped on her toes when trying to learn how to waltz. It was her utter Achilles heel, that dance. She hoped fervently that she would simply just melt into the woodwork of the London ballroom whenever the first strains of a waltz began.
Because while many young ladies wanted to be in the limelight, and find a suitable match, Grace was utterly content simply not to make a scene. But have a season she would, and it wouldn't be long in coming. No. They were planning on leaving Kilmarin in just a few days' time to travel to the viscount's London home, where she could ease herself into society
Dear Lord, this was going to be a disaster.
If they could only just talk to potential suitors, not dance. She could do verbal arabesques with her words! She could speak intelligently on almost any subject, and her parents, God rest their souls, had given her an education that Eton couldn't claim, but they had neglected to teach her the one thing she needed most at the moment.
How to be a lady.
So it was with utter trepidation, more than a few prayers, and several late- night dancing sessions that she allowed Maye to pack her belongings for the trip to London.
It couldn't be that bad ... could it?
She knew the answer to her own question.
Yes. Yes it could.
First off, London was not as she expected. Having traveled much of the known world with her parents, she could boast about seeing the Sphinx in Egypt, or the marketplaces of India, but London — that was one place she had never had the opportunity to visit. Her father had always called it "dreary ol' London" and her mother hadn't ever corrected him.
To say that Grace's expectations were low would be an accurate statement, but she did anticipate some sort of wonderment surrounding the hub of their beloved England. All throughout the carriage ride to their destination, she had found beauty in various natural aspects of the woods, moors, and a river or two. But as they closed the distance to Town, where all her successes or failures hinged, her chest seized up, much like the thick air perfumed with humanity and smoke. A dreary drizzle smeared the carriage windows, hindering her view as they entered the cobbled streets of London. The air seemed thicker, and she glanced over to Samantha, scrunching up her nose.
"You'll grow accustomed to it." Samantha smiled kindly, if not a little amused.
The viscount glanced to his wife and squeezed her hand. "It's much worse if you go further into Town. 'Tis a pity." He opened his mouth to say something else, then shook his head and glanced to the window.
Grace tipped her chin, curious as to what he was about to say. "Was there something else?" she asked.
He turned to her, his expression conflicted. "You've probably seen something like the slums when you traveled in India. It's a problem here, and the sanitation is horrid, if even existent. It's another reason I prefer the Scottish countryside." He shook his head. "It's a legislative problem that parliament has done little to remedy, and a bit of sore subject with me."
"I see." Grace nodded.
Samantha tipped her head to gaze at her husband, but she did not offer any comment on the subject.
Grace turned back to the window. "Where is your home?"
"Mayfair, of course. It's quite close to Hyde Park, which I have no doubt you'll retreat to often."
"Lovely," Grace breathed, thankful for some aspect of London to find appealing.
"But you'll have to remember to take care. You're in London now and all proprieties must be observed," Samantha added, arching a brow.
Grace suppressed a groan. "Understood."
"Understood doesn't mean you have plans to follow those proprieties," Samantha replied knowingly. Her hazel eyes were wide and observant; her expression also implied that she was awaiting a verbal promise that Grace would abide by the social parameters.
Grace let out a long sigh. As soon as she released the breath, she held up a hand. "I know, no sighing. Drat, this is going to be a disaster. I even breathe wrong."
Samantha reached across the carriage and patted her hand. "You do far more things right than you do wrong. Focus on the ways you succeed, not your failures. We all fall short in one area or another, but when those areas become our focus, we lose ourselves." She spoke with the sage wisdom of someone twice her age as she gently retracted her hand.
Grace twisted her lips. "Must you always be right?"
The viscount chuckled.
Samantha cast him an amused gaze. "I'm not always right. He can most certainly attest to that!"
To his credit, the viscount didn't reply or offer any proof of her statement, and again Grace found herself the focus of the conversation. "I'm still awaiting your promise," Samantha encouraged.
And that was the truth of it. Samantha had the patience of Job and the appearance of an angel. She always encouraged, rather than discouraged. It was impossible to be cross with her, or to be offended by her insistence that Grace abide by any of the rules they had set about. It was irritating at times, and at others as comforting as hot tea on a chilly day.
Today it was of the irritating variety, but that spoke more of Grace's disposition than Samantha's. Regardless, Grace nodded. "I promise. I'll do my best to observe all the proprieties required of a lady of quality."
"Thank you. And I will always be in the wings coaching you through it all; you are not alone." Samantha nodded.
The carriage jostled them a bit as it hit a rut in the road, then turned left down a different street. Grace glanced back out the window, the condensation dripping down and making small rivulets in the glass, distorting the view further. She longed to wipe the moisture away with her glove, but she was afraid to get her gloves dirty — just another confinement of society.
India and Egypt were looking more and more welcoming, even with their suffocating heat. At least there she didn't have to wear gloves.
"We'll arrive shortly," the viscount announced, glancing to the window and dismissing the view as overly familiar.
Sure enough, within a few minutes the carriage paused, rolled forward a few more feet, then came to a stop. The carriage wobbled slightly as the coachman stepped from his perch. A footman opened the carriage door, causing light, mist, and the scent of smoke to swirl into the cab. Grace's eyes strained to absorb all the details of the view. She waited impatiently as Samantha alighted from the carriage, and then eagerly offered her hand to the footman so that she might disembark as well.
The first thing she noticed was the trees. They towered over the walkway, creating a canopy over the houses that lined the street. As her gaze lingered down the road, she noted the boxwoods that lined the front of each residence. It was orderly, it was manicured.
It wasn't natural.
But then again, what had she been expecting? This was a cultured city, and she could take a lesson from the perfectly curated vegetation. She was a wild rose, but she was being planted in London and as such, needed to adapt to her environment. She could do it; she would do it. There wasn't any challenge she had backed down from, and she certainly wasn't about to start now.
"Come." The viscount gestured to the front entrance of his London home, and as they approached the door swung open, revealing a butler younger than any butler she had ever before seen.
He stood stiffly straight, his eyes forward as if soldiering the front door and preparing to meet his commanding officer. Grace studied him. He couldn't be much older than she, but much taller. His shoulders appeared too wide for his lean frame, and she averted her eyes as they approached the door.
"Thank you, John." The viscount nodded, earning a bow that was snapped in place like a salute. "Allow me to introduce my wife and ward." The viscount gestured to Samantha and Grace.
Grace kept her eyes from going wide. Even she knew that it wasn't common to make introductions to the help.
John — she'd never heard a butler with such a normal name — turned his gaze first to Samantha and gave a sharp bow, then turned to Grace, executing the same greeting without a word. His eyes were the color of rich earth, and utterly unreadable.
Grace nodded in greeting, and then followed her guardians into the well- appointed house. The three steps to the door led into a glistening marble foyer. The tall ceilings gave an open feeling that was oddly in contrast to the misty and gloomy outdoors. A person started toward them from the long hallway, and as she grew closer Grace noted the beauty of the woman in housekeeper's clothing. She couldn't have been more than forty and five, but she carried herself with a dignity that was more quality than help. Grace noticed her warm smile, and felt a shiver of curiosity. Never before had she seen such a lovely housekeeper. Granted, she hadn't been around any London residences, but she rather thought of the grander stations of butler and housekeeper as elderly staff members, dignified by the age of the person holding the position.
"Ach, Mrs. Marilla!" The viscount gave a warm greeting to the housekeeper, and Grace stood back to watch the interaction with interest.
"My lord." The housekeeper curtseyed loyally, and her gaze turned to Samantha with delight. "And this is your lovely wife. I must say the entire staff is ever so happy for you! May I offer my personal congratulations, along with those of the staff." She curtsied to Samantha, clearly pleased.
Samantha stepped forward and nodded kindly. "Thank you."
"And this is Miss Iris Grace Morgan, my ward."
Grace stepped forward, nodding her head slowly to try and pretend at possessing more decorum than she actually had, even if it was just to a servant. "If you wouldn't mind, I prefer to be called by my middle name, Grace. And it's lovely to meet you."
Samantha cast her an approving smile. She might not be able to curtsey well, but at least she could nod without ill effect. If only she could nod to the rest of the London ton, but she had a feeling that a well-executed nod would be more offensive than a poorly executed curtsey.
"We are ever so pleased to have you here." Mrs. Marilla replied, then clapped her hands gently. "All is ready, my lord. And I informed cook of your arrival and refreshments will be served whenever you wish. Is there anything else that I may do to serve?"
Grace turned to the viscount, watching as he gave an approving grin. "No, all is in order as usual. Between you and Mrs. Keyes, my life is well organized. We'll take tea in the red parlor in a half hour."
The housekeeper nodded. "Would you care for me to show you to your rooms, Miss Grace?"
Grace cast a quick glance to her guardians, then back to the housekeeper. "Yes, please."
"This way." Mrs. Marilla gestured to the stairs and led the way up to the second floor. Grace cast a glance below to the viscount and his wife, but they were clasping hands as the viscount tugged Samantha into a side room. Grace blushed and turned her gaze away. The viscount and Samantha hadn't been married so long that she was immune to their obvious affection, but she had become less embarrassed by it. Rather, she saw it as a grand example of how love should be. It was clear from their obvious affection that they were very much in love, and it was endearing to behold. Such thoughts made her focus shift to the future ahead of her, because love could be just over the horizon for her as well.
Just as she started to think about it, the housekeeper paused by a large maple door. "These are your rooms. I had Regina prepare them and if you need anything at all, she is your personal maid and will take care of any needful thing. And as always, you may ask me for assistance at any time. We are so happy to have you here, Miss Grace."
Grace thanked her, and then softly turned the brass handle to the room that would begin her adventure.
Yes. She resolved to think of the next step in life as an adventure. It was far less daunting to think of it in such a context. After all, much of her life had been one adventure after another; this was simply a different variety of adventure.
Light spilled onto the polished wood floor from the windows opposite the doorway, and Grace paused a moment to acquaint herself with the room. It was decidedly feminine with the delicate canopy bed and its floral coverlet against one wall. Beside the bed was a side table that held a clear crystal vase of yellow tulips. As her eyes scanned further, she saw an expanse of green just beyond the window, and it called to her. Putting one foot in front of another, she walked to the window and pushed back the sheer curtains obstructing her view. The view was across the street directly in front of the house, overlooking a narrow strip of trees and grass that was the middle ground between another row of houses. A robin flew from a high branch and swooped down to the grass below, and then it was startled by a squirrel that rushed by. The robin took flight into the hazy gray sky.
Grace released a breath, and then turned to survey the rest of her room. Beside the window was a writing desk, and along the same wall was the fireplace with two snug chairs framing the warm flickering flames. A looking glass and vanity completed the room before her gaze returned to the door. It suited her well, as she had every expectation that this room would be the perfect retreat when necessary.
And she was certain that at times, a retreat would be very necessary. Samantha had explained that they would be engaging in several social gatherings upon their arrival, and there was no reason to expect that their social calendar would do anything but continue to fill up. There was one aspect that had them all concerned.
The Duke of Chatterwoood.
In short, the duke was Samantha's father. But, because Grace had had the blessing of a wonderful father, she was disinclined to give the title of father to the man who had sired Samantha and her sister, Lady Liliah Heightfield. The duke was a cruel, tyrannical man whose oppressive nature had sent his daughters into hiding.
But they were returning to London.
Married, and as such, under the protection of their husbands, but none of them trusted the duke.
His pride had been mortally wounded. And Grace had heard on more than one occasion that the viscount didn't expect the duke to allow such a slight to go unpunished.
Grace had tried to use this possibility as justification to stay in Scotland.
But they, the viscount, Samantha, or Lord and Lady Heightfield, would not hear of such a thing.
They thought of it as cowardly, and in truth, they had nothing to hide. But they would take extra care and be vigilant. So the decision was made ... and here she found herself.
She took a seat by the low-burning fire and sighed.
For better or worse, she was going to make a debut.
And she was far more inclined that it would be for worse.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Temptation Of Grace"
Copyright © 2019 Kristin Vayden.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved the imperfection in the lead characters!
I enjoyed this well-written historical romance. Miss Grace Morgan comes to London for her debut season, but feels awkward and out of place. Ramsey Scott, Marquess of Sterling, avoids scandal, but he finds himself stepping in to help Grace acclimate, This was an entertaining story and I look forward to reading more books by this author.
The author's comments and the Prologue pulled at my emotions from the beginning and I knew that Ramsey and Grace deserved to find a happiness that knew no bounds. This is a wonderful story of two special souls who needed each other, although it may have taken awhile to slowly come together. Grace Morgan was going to London and all she could think was "Good Lord this is going to be a disaster!" She was very intelligent but always seemed to be clumsy and a little awkward. She had to say positive that with the help of her guardian, Heathcliff, Viscount Kilpatrick and his wife Samantha, who had been her governess, she was determined to do her best. Having been raised by an unforgiving father, Ramsey , Marquess of Sterling, hated Scandal with a passion. He conducted himself so that he avoided it at all cost. He and his friend's owned Temtations a gaming club and they depended on each other. Kilpatrick is one of those friends who had just gotten married. He is asked to help Grace at the social events. Surprising he and Grace seem to be drawn to each other. Unfortunately Grace is being pursued by a man who is Ramsey's enemy and he is determined to put a stop to it. Kristin Vayden has written a wonderful story of acceptance with delightful exchanges between the hero and heroine with some suspense, Ramsey coming to grips with his past. Do not miss this book or any in this series! I have loved them all! Lori Dykes
I received and ARC of this book to read through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. The Temptation of Grace is the third book in Kristin Vayden’s Gentlemen of Temptation series. While it could be read as a stand-alone I do think you should read the previous books in the series to fully enjoy this one. I’m going to describe this book as beware of helping out your friend and business partner with his ward if you truly intend to remain unmarried. Ramsey Scott, Marquess of Sterling discovers that (Iris) Grace Morgan ward to his business partner and good friend Lord Kirkpatrick is one of the most interesting and delightful women he has ever met but will he be able to overcome his past clouded by a disastrous first marriage and an extraordinarily nasty father who made him feel that he was never good enough and as well there seems to be a fair bit of competition for her hand including from an old enemy of his. I found Grace to be quite endearing and do recommend reading this book. Mild to medium steam. Publishing Date April 30th, 2019 #NetGalley #TheTemptationOfGrace #KristinVayden #KensingtonBooks #LyricalPress
Grace is trying hard to learn to be a lady although she’s not to good at it. Ramsey has an Inferior complex that his miserable father bestowed on him. But together they learn they are perfect for each other. Wonderful read.
This is my first Kristin Vayden book and I've been meaning to read her for awhile now. I really liked this book. Lord Sterling was Def. A character I wanted to read about. I just loved how Grace and lord Sterling's relationship progressed. This was a such refreshing historical read that I haven't read anything like this in awhile.
The Temptation of Grace by Kristin Vayden The Gentlemen of Temptation #3 In this book the third owner of Temptation – Ramsey Scott, Marquess of Stirling – meets the woman he will marry. He is NOT looking for a wife and in fact believes he never will marry again. He is however a good friend and when asked by Heathcliff for assistance in the debut of his ward, Iris Grace Morgan well, Ramsey is definitely going to be there for his friend and business partner. Iris Grace Morgan is world traveled and as such has not been trained in the ways of being a lady. When suddenly orphaned she was given into the care of Heathcliff, the Viscount Kilpatrick. Samantha, now Heathcliff’s wife, was governess to Grace and has helped her as much as possible in the short period of time before Grace’s debut is to be made. Grace is worried that her lack of grace and knowledge of how to behave in society will embarrass her guardian and his wife and will also prevent her from making a good marriage – a love match – one like that of her parents and her guardian. So...we have stoic, upright, uptight, society savvy, scandal avoiding Ramsey meeting Grace and there for her while trying to retain his bachelor status. He has to deal with ghosts of his childhood before he is ready to take on happiness and perhaps a bride but he is there for Grace throughout the book. There is an interesting twist to his past that crops up in that someone from his past, with a rather iffy reputation, shows up and causes a bit of grief BUT all comes right in the end and there is a HEA for Grace and Ramsey. AND as the epilogue is four years in the future I am guessing this is the end of the series. I wouldn’t mind reading a book about John (the butler who for Heathcliff and also at Temptation) and the housekeeper Mrs. Marilla – there is definitely a story about them either together or independently! Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington-Lyrical Press for the ARC – This is my honest review. 4 Stars
I really enjoyed Ramsey and Grace's story! We've met both of the main characters in the previous stories and I was so excited to see Grace get her HEA! I loved watching these two banter with one another. I'm sorry to see this series end as I throughly enjoyed it! But I am excited to see what Vayden has in store for us next!