CAN AN INDECENT PROPOSAL
Eight years ago, a tall handsome stranger entered Lizzie Allbright's bedchamber and consummated a marriage of the utmost necessity. The Marquis of Steyne agreed to wed and bed Lord Bute's admittedly lovely daughter to pay off his mother's gambling debts. But once the deed was done, Steyne's lawfully-wedded wife vanished into the London night…
LEAD TO EVERLASTING LOVE?
Years later, Steyne has nearly forgotten about his runaway bride. But when he suddenly finds himself in need of an heir, he has no choice but to track her down. Living happily in a small village under an assumed name, Lizzie is surprised to see her husband—and to feel such a strong attraction to him. But she is downright shocked when he asks her to bear him a son. How can they possibly repeat the heated encounter of their ill-fated wedding night without falling hopelessly in love?...in Christina Brooke's stunningly sexy Regency, The Wickedest Lord Alive.
Christina Brooke's historical romances are:
"Clever, lush, and lovely."—Suzanne Enoch
"Sensual and passionate."—Publishers Weekly
"Delightful." —Night Owl Romance
About the Author
Christina Brooke is a former lawyer who staged a brilliant escape from the corporate world and landed squarely in Regency England.
She is a Golden Heart winner and two-time RITA finalist and her books have also been nominated for RT's Reviewer's Choice Award, Bookseller's Best and the Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award. The first two books in her Westruthers series, LONDON'S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL and THE GREATEST LOVER EVER, have garnered Top Picks from RT Magazine.
Christina makes her home in sunny Queensland, Australia with her husband, two boys and one enormous girl dog called Monty. Monty is the inspiration for Ophelia, the Great Dane in the Ministry of Marriage series. However, the resemblance of any human characters to real life people is purely accidental.
Christina loves to travel, particularly to England for research and most especially to see her dear friends and colleagues in the United States. She also loves walking, window shopping for antiques and enjoying good food, good wine and good times with her friends and family.
Read an Excerpt
The Wickedest Lord Alive
By Christina Brooke
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 Christina Brooke
All rights reserved.
Eight years later ...
The villagers of Little Thurston did not know what they had ever done without Miss Elizabeth Allbright. If the squire was the backbone of the community, the vicar its spirit, and old Lady Chard its spleen, Miss Allbright was undoubtedly its heart.
Known as Lizzie to her friends, Miss Allbright lived at the vicarage with the parson of the parish, who had taken her in eight years before.
It seemed to the Little Thurstonians that an angel had come amongst them. A tall, flaxen-haired angel with fey green eyes and an enchantingly wistful smile.
No one, least of all Miss Allbright herself, knew anything about her origins. She'd arrived by the grace of a good farmer who had taken her up with him at the crossroads. He'd known precisely where to take a gently bred girl who had clearly been terrorized by some horrific experience into losing her past.
Miss Allbright had only the clothes she'd stood up in and a few coins in her purse, and no memory at all of her previous life, or even of her name.
The young lady had never recalled the location of her home or who her people were. She did not appear to regret those lost years, nor did she show the slightest sign she yearned for her family or her former home. She became a daughter of the heart to the childless vicar and his wife, and called herself by their name.
Now she seemed such an integral part of the small community at Little Thurston that her sad history was almost forgotten.
"But are you truly happy remaining here in Little Thurston forever, Lizzie?" said Clare Beauchamp. "Don't you long for something more?"
Clare was the daughter of Lord Fenton, the major landowner of the district. She was diminutive and very pretty, with black hair and a pair of lively gray eyes. She reminded one of a kitten, until one realized there was a clever, devious mind behind that dimple-cheeked façade. Not many gentlemen did realize it, fortunately for Clare, who enjoyed the status of reigning belle in the district.
"Of course I am happy." Lizzie stood back to judge the balance and tastefulness of a huge display of spring flowers she had arranged for this evening's assembly. She made a dissatisfied grimace. Her talents, such as they were, did not extend to floral art. Instead of the fan shape she'd been striving to achieve, the blooms tottered drunkenly to one side.
"You are simply buried here." Clare stepped in, her nimble fingers quickly making a showpiece of the mess Lizzie had wrought. "I wish you would come to London with me for the season next year. It would be beyond anything."
"Your aunt might have something to say about that." Lizzie did not add that she had no money and a London season was frightfully expensive. Quite apart from the obvious objections to making her debut.
"Oh, tosh! Aunt Sadie would be delighted to have you. You know she would." Clare's cheek dimpled. "She'd depend on you to keep me out of trouble."
"I expect that's a task quite beyond my capabilities," Lizzie teased.
Clare grinned, plucking an extraneous fern frond from the urn before them. "I know that, but Aunt Sadie doesn't."
"Everything I want or need is right here in Little Thurston," said Lizzie. "Good Heavens, why should I wish to go to London?"
Clare opened her eyes wide. "To get a husband, of course. Why does any young lady go to London?"
"I am not so very young anymore," said Lizzie. "I am almost five-and-twenty, you know."
"Oh, past your last prayers, indeed." Clare tickled Lizzie's chin with her fern. "Silly. Don't you want to fall in love?"
With difficulty, Lizzie repressed a shudder. No. She most certainly did not want to fall in love.
"My sole ambition is to end up an old maid and become the terror of Little Thurston," she said with a chuckle.
"Speaking of terrors, how is the coven?" said Clare, referring to the old ladies of Little Thurston whom Lizzie gathered together once a week.
"I thought they would take Miss Richland's passing to heart," admitted Lizzie. "And of course, one never truly knows, but I believe they are all sadly inured to their peers leaving them. At any rate, a great deal of sherry was drunk — for the shock, you know — and they reminisced about some of the more atrocious things Miss R. did while she was alive. I think she would have appreciated it very much."
"Miss Richland was a Tartar," said Clare. "I don't know how you put up with her."
"She had spirit and determination," said Lizzie. "One can't help admiring that, even when it makes the person a trifle difficult to deal with."
"By 'a trifle difficult,' you mean she threw china at your head and called you 'that Beanpole,'" said Clare. "She ought to have been grateful to you, rather."
Lizzie didn't see it that way. She liked visiting the older ladies of the parish. Whether it was because time had worn away their inhibitions or they simply belonged to a more licentious generation, hobnobbing with the elderly female denizens of Little Thurston was quite an education.
In some strange way, she felt more comfortable with them than with many ladies of her own age, whose chatter was entirely of fashion and husbands and babies. All except for Clare, whose idea of a comfortable coze was a keen political debate.
Picking up her basket, Lizzie tucked her other hand in the crook of Clare's arm. "Let's go. You must rest and primp for the ball and I must call on the Minchins and Lady Chard."
"Ha!" said Clare. "Rest and primp, indeed. No, I shall draft my next petition."
Clare wished to be a politician, but given that ladies were not allowed to vote, much less stand for Parliament, she had to content herself with plaguing the life out of Mr. Huntley, their resident MP.
"Poor Mr. Huntley," murmured Lizzie.
"Well, he can stand down if he doesn't like it, can't he?" said Clare with relish. "Only, we'd need another candidate, and there is no one I can think of who might be half as worthy. Besides Tom, but he won't do it," she said, glumly dismissing her brother. "That is why it's so important that I marry."
"So you can plague your new husband instead," said Lizzie.
A heavy tread preceded the large figure of Mr. Huntley, MP, himself. He was moderately handsome, with a thick head of light brown hair and kind gray eyes. He was only in his twenties, but election to Parliament at an early age had lent him a confidence and slightly ponderous dignity that made him seem older than his years.
Lizzie curtsied to him. "Mr. Huntley, we were just speaking of you."
His face lightened until he noticed Clare and gave a slight recoil. "Ah," he said, adjusting his cravat. "Yes. No doubt."
After a slight pause during which Clare simply looked enigmatic, Mr. Huntley brightened again. He clapped his hands together and held them clasped while he surveyed the room. "Delightful, Miss Allbright! Simply delightful! But then you always do us proud, my dear." He waggled a finger at her. "I shall claim a waltz from you tonight, you know."
"What a surprise," muttered Clare.
"I should be happy, Mr. Huntley," said Lizzie, with another curtsy and a covert glare at her friend that said behave. Clare rolled her eyes in response.
To distract him from Clare's rudeness, Lizzie asked Mr. Huntley how his mother did — a topic that never failed to elicit a lengthy response. So it proved that afternoon, and the long history of Mrs. Huntley's illnesses and megrims occupied at least a quarter of an hour, time that Lizzie could ill spare.
She was hard put to keep her attention fixed, until Huntley said, "It is a vast pity my mother's poor health prevents her from attending the assembly this evening."
His regard rested on Lizzie in a way she could only construe as meaningful. A vast pity she had not the slightest idea to what he referred.
"Indeed, sir?" she said.
He grasped his coat lapels and rocked a little on his heels. "Yes, for I expect to make an important announcement at supper, you know. I may leave you to guess what it will be about."
"Good grief," muttered Clare.
"An important ..." Lizzie looked from her friend to Mr. Huntley and back again. Understanding came in an unwelcome rush.
Oh, dear. Mr. Huntley was at it again.
"Really, sir," said Lizzie. "I cannot think what you mean."
Now his eyebrows and his index finger waggled in unison. "Ah, you mean to tease me, Miss Allbright, but I vow you take my meaning." He made an arch sort of moue. "Until tonight, then, ladies."
With a bow that owed more to correctness than grace, Mr. Huntley left the ballroom.
There was a silence. Then Lizzie blew out a long breath. "Do you think he'll actually do it this time?"
Clare snorted. "Of course not. Mrs. Huntley's vapors are more than a match for his tepid intentions toward you, dear Lizzie. Ten to one, his dear mama will throw out a rash or have a spasm or some such thing, and we will not see Mr. Huntley at the ball at all."
Clare twirled a stray ringlet around her finger. "Which is a shame, really. For I would give anything to see you hand him his marching orders."
Lizzie smiled but said, "Oh, no, how can you be so unfeeling?"
"If the man can't pluck up the gumption to propose marriage after five years of mooning over you, he doesn't deserve my compassion."
Lizzie sighed. "I suppose you're right. The trouble is that he has treated our marriage as a foregone conclusion for so long that everyone in the village believes we're promised to each other."
Clare shrugged. "Then you must tell everyone it's no such thing."
"I would, but no one ever asks me if it's true," said Lizzie. "I suppose it is a little strange that I should not wish to marry him. I mean, he is a respectable man of good fortune and not in his dotage. I could scarcely do better."
"Bite your tongue, you foolish, foolish girl," said Clare, swatting Lizzie's shoulder with her fern frond. "You are a thousand times too good for Mr. Huntley."
"You are a true friend to say so," said Lizzie, conscious there were many in the village who would not share Clare's view. "But the fact remains that I am a nobody who is firmly on the shelf, and Mr. Huntley is extremely eligible."
Of course Lizzie couldn't marry anyone, eligible or not, for a very good reason.
Contrary to the deception she had perpetrated on the good people of Little Thurston, Lizzie remembered very well who she was and where she'd come from. Not to mention why she could not wed Mr. Huntley, even if he were to screw his courage to the sticking place and ask.
She was Lady Alexandra Simmons, daughter of the Earl of Bute. And she was already married to the Marquis of Steyne.
But the marquis didn't want her. And she was never going back to her father's house. Never, ever again.
* * *
Far later than she'd planned, Lizzie hurried along with her basket and her book to Lady Chard's. The lady was elderly and astringent, but she shared with Lizzie a penchant for novels, from Waverley to the more lurid Mysteries of Udolpho.
Lizzie delighted in indulging her talent for drama by reading these aloud to Her ladyship. Today, she'd brought Sense and Sensibility, but her favorite of Miss Austen's works was Pride and Prejudice. In fact, upon coming to Little Thurston, she'd named herself after its heroine.
No one else would have guessed that beneath Lady Chard's snappish demeanor beat the heart of a true romantic. That was the thing about people. There were layers to them you simply didn't see on the surface. Sometimes you had to excavate a little.
Lately, the good lady had taken to matchmaking, which was a little tiresome of her.
Lizzie had not been devoid of suitors over the years she'd been at Little Thurston, but she never treated any of them with more than the friendly courtesy she showed every other gentleman in the district. None had been so smitten nor so egotistical as to believe she'd welcome their addresses.
Only Mr. Huntley persisted. Not because he was in love with her, although he often gave her ponderous compliments on her propriety of taste or her modest demeanor. Rather, Mr. Huntley wanted to wed her because he thought her upbringing in the vicar's household stood her in good stead for life as an MP's wife.
If only she could bring herself to leap the twin hurdles of her own previous marriage (a high hurdle, that!) and Mr. Huntley's deadly respectability, marriage to him would have advantages. She could remain in Little Thurston, no longer a spinster but a married woman with her own household. Leaving aside Mr. Huntley's mother and her gentle tyranny, a young woman in Lizzie's position couldn't do better.
And babies ... How she longed for children of her own! That longing was so powerful that she did sometimes imagine how different her life would be if she were free to marry and set up her own household.
But she wasn't free, so thinking along those lines was as futile as it was fanciful. She would remain Lizzie Allbright, spinster, until her twenty-fifth birthday. Then she would declare herself to her trustees and claim the fortune that would come to her on that date as an ostensibly unmarried woman. As far as she could discover, her marriage to Steyne remained a secret from the world. Once she'd attained full majority and financial independence, her father could no longer command her in any way.
And then she would pay a well-overdue call on the Marquis of Steyne.
She knocked on Lady Chard's front door and tried to compose herself. She'd raced there directly after calling on the Minchin family, so her plain dimity gown bore a few smuts of dirt. Having intended only to deliver a basket of provisions, she'd discovered the Minchins in chaos after one of their father's bouts of drunkenness the night before.
The children's pale, scared faces tugged at her heart. She stayed longer than she'd intended, helping Mrs. Minchin clean and mend and generally restore order to the cottage.
Afterwards, there'd been no opportunity to change if she wished to keep her appointment with Lady Chard. The older lady was a stickler for punctuality.
Lizzie was hardly in a fit state for company, which made it rather provoking of her ladyship to be entertaining guests.
Lizzie heard the deep rumble of masculine speech from inside the drawing room as she followed the butler down the corridor. Surely Lady Chard had run through all the eligible gentlemen in the county by now with her matchmaking schemes.
The butler announced Lizzie. With an inward grimace at the appearance she presented, knowing Lady Chard would rake her over the coals for it, she moved to the threshold.
And very nearly dropped her basket and her book.
There were two gentlemen in the room. One with an expressive, handsome countenance and a head of thick hair the deep, lustrous gold of Lady Chard's ormolu clock.
The other ...
The other man's black head turned. Eyes the color of sapphires regarded Lizzie from beneath those unforgettable slashing brows. His face was impassive as he studied her.
This man was no potential suitor.
He was her husband, the Marquis of Steyne.CHAPTER 2
The shock held Lizzie suspended for several seconds, as if under a deep, quiet sea. She couldn't hear a sound, couldn't speak, couldn't breathe....
Lord Steyne had married, bedded, and abandoned her without a qualm — or at least, without hesitation. The sight of him, tall, arrogant, with that intense look in his eyes, brought their night together rushing back. A wash of heat flowed through her at the memory of his touch. Fierce longings swirled in her chest.
Was he here to claim her, after all this time?
"Well, don't just stand there like a looby, gel," said Lady Chard, yanking her out of her trance. Lady Chard flapped her hand in a beckoning gesture that made the drapes of flesh beneath her arm wobble. "Come in and let me make you known to my guests."
Years of dissimulation came to Lizzie's rescue. She filled her lungs with a calming flood of air, and sank into a curtsy as Lady Chard made the introductions.
"Miss Allbright." Steyne's tone was dryly ironic, his bow a mere inclination of the head that clearly expressed skepticism.
Lizzie made a small production of relinquishing her basket and book to the butler — so much for Sense and Sensibility — then propelled herself by sheer force of will toward the grouping of chairs around a handsome Adam fireplace, where the small party stood. She sat opposite the two gentlemen, while Lady Chard disposed herself in the armchair in a cloud of black bombazine.
Would he expose her imposture, here and now, in Lady Chard's drawing room? She'd lied to the people of Little Thurston since she arrived here at seventeen. Now, thanks to the Marquis of Steyne, her house of cards would come tumbling down about her.
There seemed no way to prevent the marquis's revealing the truth right then and there. She'd intended to break it to the vicar and all their friends upon her twenty-fifth birthday, but she didn't want it to be like this.
Rather than denounce her on the instant, the marquis simply scrutinized her with insolent thoroughness. He remained silent as a stone while Lord Lydgate — a distant cousin of his, she gathered — made elegant conversation.
Excerpted from The Wickedest Lord Alive by Christina Brooke. Copyright © 2014 Christina Brooke. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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
This book was so good!!!!
Xavier and Lizzie's wedding was sudden but a must. Their wedding night was brief but not as painful as it could have been. Their life afterwards was spent apart with no interaction whatsoever. Not an ideal marriage, but when is anything during this era? As if that wasn't enough, Lizzie's peaceful existence in a tiny village is upended when Xavier suddenly appears with demands for an heir. If it wasn't for his heartless mother and puppet of an uncle, I doubt Xavier would have ever gone after Lizzie. She might have been the one to run away, but he was the one who, despite knowing where she was all those years, kept his distance. Maybe she could have gone back to him, but why would she? He'd made his intentions clear on their wedding night: ~~~ Without even taking off his boots, he set one knee on the bed. "Neither of us desired this," he murmured, moving over her, making the mattress sink beneath his weight. His breath brushed her cheek. "After tonight, you won't ever have to see me again." ~~~ Time and distance, I think, were their friends; their attraction to one another hadn't changed even if their circumstances had. Lizzie was well-loved by those in her village. Xavier had a reputation that wasn't worth repeating in respectable company. But one look, one touch, one whispered word, and they fell apart for one another. That was beautiful to see because their relationship was hardly a relationship at all. Matter of fact, when the truth came to light, there wasn't a relationship to speak of. Their marriage wasn't a marriage. It was a sham. There's something about finding a friend in your lover, someone you can lean on in times of hardship, someone you can trust with your secrets, your heart, and your life. Lizzie arrived at the conclusion that she loved him long before he understood the emotions he felt for her. But by then, Lizzie trusted him inexplicably. Xavier needed to learn how to trust her, love her, see her as more than the mother of his heir and a woman who warmed his bed. This was an unusual take on the second chance romance trope because they hadn't been in love before. But that's what it felt like. Their journey wasn't easy (what couple ever has it easy?) but the bumps and scrapes, bruises and cuts they acquired along the way to love and happiness made this story a worthwhile read. Definitely sweeter than I thought it'd be too. There's sex and violence on these pages but they couldn't dampen that new beginning feel to it. Or maybe it was that they were both so deserving of a new beginning. Whatever it was, it worked because this one's why I'm gonna find the other five and read those too. ***Received from Edelweiss for an honest review***
5 stars = I freaking LOVED this book The Wickedest Lord Alive is the third book in The Westruthers series and it was an excellent regency romance. I haven’t read the previous books in the series, but at no time did I feel lost as this book is Xavier and Lizzie’s story and theirs is a wild ride. My goodness the plot twists that the author introduced kept me on my toes the entire time and just when I thought things were finally working out, BAM!!!, she’d throw in another little twist. What makes the book impressive is that the twists never made the story feel contrived or forced. The opening scene of the book was quite a shocker and that the author provided access to both Xavier and Alexandra’s thoughts made the situation fraught with anxiety and hope for the hastily arranged marriage. But alas, the hope was short-lived and we jump eight years to the book’s present time (yeah, that’s just awkward, but you know what I mean) where we see the life that Alexandra is living as Lizzie. She is happy with her simple life, far away from the world that forced her into marrying a man who deserted her. As all good regency romances require, Lizzie’s peaceful life is shattered when her husband appears and tells her that he needs her to fulfill her wifely duties and produce an heir. As Lizzie didn’t believe anyone knew where she was, she was quite shocked. And thus begins their action-packed story as Xavier attempts to woo his wife as she attempts to melt the ice around the heart of her wicked lord all while trying to avoid those who would do them harm. The Wickedest Lord Alive was a delightful read full of assassination attempts, betrayals, and love. The Westruthers are a tight-knit family and I hope to have time to go back and read books one and two soon as I so enjoyed the bits and pieces of them that were revealed in this book. I enjoyed Ms. Brooke’s writing style immensely and look forward to reading more of her work. I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!
story and writing okay. glad i got it on sale. anyone else notice the characters spend a lot of time "on tenterhooks"?
This is book 3 in the Westruthers series. Eight years ago, the Marquis of Steyne had been forced to marry to pay off his mother's gambling debts. Once the marriage had been consummated, his new bride disappeared. Needing an heir, Steyne tracks down his wayward wife who is living a quiet life in a small village under an assumed name. Lady Alexandra ran on her wedding night after witnessing a shocking scene in her home. She has been living quite happily under a new identity and is taken-aback when she is confronted by her husband asking her to provide him with the needed heir. Acting as if she has no memory of her life before coming to Little Thurston, Lizzie (Alexandra's new name) acts like she has no idea what Steyne is talking about. When she realizes that he is not going to take her back to her father, she admits that the memory loss was a ruse. Demanding the Lizzie takes her place as his wife, the couple soon find themselves fighting their mutual attraction to each other. Can what started out as an unwanted marriage turn into a once in a lifetime love? Steyne has been a part of the previous stories in the series. He has been seen adding his sarcastic comments to his cousin's relationships when his input has been asked for. As his story unfolds, you see how the relationship with his mother has made him the man that we see but we also see the person that he hides from the rest of the world. Lizzie is the perfect match for Steyne as they are both people who are trying to get out from under the life that their parents made for them. Teh added mystery of who was trying to kill Steyne kept the story moving and added a nice twist to the story. I can't wait for the next book in the series which I hope is about Lydgate!! Thanks go to St. Martin's Press via Net Galley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
THE WICKEDEST LORD ALIVE by Christina Brooke is an exciting Regency Historical Romance. "The Westruthers #3 part of the Ministry of Marriage series #6", but can be read as a stand alone. Although, I would suggest reading them all to keep up with the tale of the Westruthers better. Not necessary to follow the storyline. This is Xavier Westruther , Marquis of Steyne's story, he is sarcastic and cold and Lady Alexandra Bute,aka Lizzie Allbright, the daughter of the Lord of Bute. An evil, heartless villain who blackmailed Xavier in wedding and bedding his virginal seventeen year old daughter. Xavier did the deed, to save his mother and pay off her gambling debts, and left his young wife for eight years. Eight years later....Lizzie has a life of her own in Little Thurston, where she claims no memory of her past. And so the story begins... Enter Xavier, who now needs an heir and his runaway wife. Filled with a heartless villainness, family secrets, deception, courage, passion,sensuality, danger, deceit,attempted murder,suspense, mystery and finding love. There are secrets abound! Xavier finds love can and will conquer all in the end, if he can just hold on a bit longer. But in the meantime, he has been deceived by his mother, someone is trying to murder him, and his passion for Lizzie is growing in leaps and bounds. Lizzie is determined to not fall under her long lost husband's spell again, and be hurt once again, but, she is deeply attracted to him,and already falling in love. This is a dark, sensuous read with many facets that intertwines the characters and storyline. I hope Clare and Lydgate find their HEA! Fast paced tale with many twists and turns. I loved Xavier, although, he is dark, sexy and brooding. What he has gone though for his so-called mother is simply amazing! The characters are engaging, enduring with a simply wickedly delicious storyline. A great read from beginning to the very last page. Wickedly delicious romp through Regency England! Received for an honest review from the publisher. RATING: 4 HEAT RATING: HOT REVIEWED BY: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
Ive read better.
This is supposed yo be a review not a play by play!! There is no need to tell every detail in a review. Just because yhey allow 3500 characters does not mdan you must use them. A simple, " It is very good. Nice plot, hunky guy, some conflict, humor, and steamy sex!" Would have sufficed. And, please, proofead before you hit submit.
With lovely romance, some very surprising secrets, and an enjoyable story, The Wickedest Lord Alive was a fantastic historical romance. I absolutely loved this book! It was a sweet, enjoyable, absolutely wonderful read. Loved it! Alexandra (who changed her name to Lizzie when she ran away) was a lovely heroine. She might have come into the marriage with high hopes but she wasn't about to stick around where she wasn't wanted. Nor was she going to let her lordly husband tell her what to do. My only issue with her was that she seemed irrationally angry at Xavier for abandoning her, when she was the one who ran away. Otherwise, I really liked her. Xavier (Steyne) was also great. At the surface, he seems like a cold, detached man. But, as the book went on and we get to know him better, he showed how kind he could be (though he would never admit that to anyone). He was fiercely loyal and protective of his loved ones and, though his arrogant detachment could get frustrating, it was understandably why he would have become that way, considering his mother. I thought he was wonderful and I really liked him as well. The romance was good. I thought Lizzie and Xavier were great together. They were both strong willed and had met their match in each other. My only issue was that Lizzie was oddly quick in falling in love with Xavier, considering she was already admitting to it right after they reunited (which was not a friendly scene and was only the second time they had actually met). The chemistry between them two was steamy and it definitely turned the heat level up. I thought they were a lovely couple. The plot was fast paced and I was hooked the entire way through. There were a few surprises along the way, not the least of which was who was trying to kill Xavier and what it had to do with his marriage. I really enjoyed the story and the ending was great. The Wickedest Lord Alive was a fantastic historical romance. It was sweet, with a few surprises in store, and I really enjoyed reading it. Romance lovers, this is a book you'll want to check out. *I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
A great historical romance Historical, Romance, Regency England Lizzie Allbright is the daughter of Lord Bute and eight years ago, a handsome, tall stranger come to her bedchamber to consummate their marriage that was of the utmost necessity. She was wedded and bedded to the Marquis of Steyne in payment of his mother’s gambling debts. Once it was consummated Lizzie disappeared into the London night. Marquis of Steyne has nearly forgotten his runaway bride but suddenly he finds himself in need of an heir. His only choice is to track down the bride that disappeared on their wedding night. He finds her living happily and under an assumed name in a small village. Lizzie never expected to see her husband again so is surprised when he shows up. The strong attraction she feels for him is completely unexpected. She is shocked when he asks her to bear him a son. Now she has to figure out a way to have repeat of the heated night as the one they had when they were wed and not fall in love with her husband. This is a book that starts out fast and doesn’t stop. It has some suspense woven throughout the plot that makes the story even more intriguing. The characters back story is told throughout the book in a way that is well written and the reader is never lost as to what is happening when. As each character works to overcome the past to find happiness in the future it pulls the reader into the story and will keep them turning the pages as they read to see just what will happen next and if they will find their happily ever after. This is a hard book to put down once the reader starts it. They will want to keep reading until the very end. This is part of a series but can be read as a standalone. Though if the rest of the series proves to be like this book readers will want to go back and read the first books in the series just to meet and learn more about the other characters.
This romance tale will make you giggle, hyperventilate from laughter, stab your Kindle, get that toe curl feeling in my stomach, scream at the characters and even cry! It could be considered exercise and you can eat some chocolate with it! Sex and chocolate, yummy! At 21, Xavier Westruther, Marquis of Steyne, is blackmailed by his debt ridden, evil, "only care for myself" mother to marry the young and virginal daughter of the Earl of Bute, to pay for his mother gambling vowels. To make matters worse, he had to consummate the marriage that night. Xavier sees this wee girl, who is has a brave face on, and he is undone by her. The wee girl is 17 year old Lady Alexandra and she will do anything to leave her abusive father, even marry this tarnished Prince Charming. She is scared, but will do her duty. He introduces her into desires and passions, but never takes his clothes off. Xavier is shocked how much it MATTERED to him, but tells her that will live separate lives, but she tells him that she hopes she carries his child. As he lives her house, he hears screaming and thinks her father is hurting her, but when he breaks down the door, it's his mother half dressed and the Earl whipping her and he goes ballistic on his butt. He cares for his mom and goes back for his bride, but she has disappeared. Flash forward 8 years and in the small village of Little Thurston, lives a cheerful, carefree and truly loved Miss Lizzie Allbright. She has lived here since she was found wandering down the lane with no memories of her past life. Lizzie was adopted by the local vicar and his wife and has been the welcome wheel, companion to the town's grumps, takes tea with all the town matrons, organizes all town celebration and just a sunny person to have a great chat with. Lizzie does live a big honking LIE! She knows who she is, but here in Little Thurston, she is actually loved and appreciated and not scared of being hit or abused. Everything changes when is walks into an afternoon tea with a matron, as she looks into the gorgeous and pissed off eyes of her hubby. Of course the debauched, orgy throwing, mistresses galore and unfaithful hubby is here because he wants an heir. Well, he has got a long, hard, curvy and bumpy road ahead of him. Xavier looks into the eyes of his wife and is actually slightly scared he won't get his heir for a long time or maybe even never. Xavier demands and then asked her to go to Harcourt, the Duke of Minford estate, for a house party and she agrees and brings her BF, Clara, her brother Tom and also Mr. Huntley, who thinks he is her betrothed. These 2 opposites still have a massive chemistry and they both put up obstacles and fight the good fight. Xavier uses all his seductions powers, but has to speed them up because his mother is back in England and wants him dead. Lizzie just wants him to LOVE her, but Xavier doesn't believe in love! With a houseful of assorted Westruthers, a scheming and truly evil mother, several murder attempts, several "my Kindle is throwing sparks" scenes, meddling family members, great advice from a wise and old Duke and toe curling kisses, these two take a ride, jump over many hedges and gallop down a path of a true romance. Will Xavier realizes he has loved Lizzie from the start? Can Lizzie break thru his wall of diamonds that covers his heart? Will his mother kill him before his announces his love for Lizzie? Is Lizzie love big enough to protect him? But mostly importantly, will the mother from HADES get her just reward? I love a book that has a big family with a lot of personalities and break out in fights as easily as hugs and the Westruthers don't disappoint! Ms. Brooke even dragged in some of her cast from her M.O.M. books and made Harcourt, the hopping and happening house party. Lizzie was a heroine I loved instantly, with her cheer self, but she hide the battered girl inside herself. I think she hide her inner abused child behind her HAPPY self mask. Xavier is a truly haunt and abused child from his evil and "I want to slap her upside her head on a ledge" egg donor. They say your parents influence you, but sometime that influence should be kept to themselves. His mother defined him, but deep down he loves her, and wanted her to love him back. I believe Xavier HAD to build his wall of diamonds around his heart to survive his childhood of horrors, but the Duke and the Westruther clan did give him some peace and a lot of unconditional love. Ms. Brooke had me smile, giggle, hyperventilate from laugh, throw a pillow (yes, my daughter threaten to take the tablet) at the wall, screaming and stabbed at my Kindle, with my trusty pen sword and also made me cry for about 10 minutes and it was so not pretty. Ms. Brooke had many fire extinguishers worth scenes because HELLO it's a love story! I have to give Ms. Brooke my top score of 5 fingers up and 10 toes and I also want to say, "THANKS for all the many book cosmos your books have given me!" NetGalley ARC given for my honest review.