Long before I wrote my sexy paranormal romances, I wrote traditional Regency romances as Debbie Raleigh. Now I’m thrilled that three of my favorites are available once more. As fresh and filled with adventure as ever, this trilogy features the indomitable Creswell sisters, known throughout London as the Devil’s Daughters—and rejected by the ton because of it. But like their charming rascal of a father, the Devilish Dandy, nothing can crush their spirits—or stand in the way of their hearts’ desires…
THE CHRISTMAS WISH
Sarah Cresswell leads a peaceful life—until she’s asked to help a handsome nobleman unearth a thief. Soon the unlikely duo is navigating London’s seamy side—and an undeniable attraction. But it’s a love that can never be, unless intervention comes from a most unexpected source…
THE VALENTINE WISH
Emma Cresswell has escaped gossip-plagued London to start anew as a lady’s companion. She does not expect to contend with her employer’s reckless nephew. But Cedric, Lord of Hartshore, senses that beneath Emma’s conservative veneer is a heart as passionate as his own—and he’s determined to win it…
THE WEDDING WISH
On a lark, flirtatious Rachel Cresswell plots to seduce the man intended for her sheltered young cousin, Julia. Her success is no surprise, but she’s shocked to fall in love with her unwitting conquest—and strike up a friendship with Julia. Now Rachel is determined to keep her scheming secret from them both. But has she lost her taste for mischief in time to gain what means most to her?
I’ve fallen for these timeless tales all over again, and believe that you will too.
|Sold by:||Penguin Random House Publisher Services|
|File size:||1 MB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
When You Wish
By Alexandra Ivy
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Kensington Publishing
All rights reserved.
The Christmas Wish
As was his habit, Oliver Spense, Earl of Chance, was happily ensconced in his library with a large crate recently arrived from Greece. Perhaps few of his cronies would have contemplated the latest delivery of broken pottery and priceless statues with such reverence, but it was well known that while the Flawless Earl was unparalleled upon the sporting field, a master on the dance floor, and a demon at the card table, he did possess the oddest fancy for dusty relics. His peculiar tendency was happily overlooked, not only because it did one's social position great credit to be numbered among his friends, but also because he possessed the good sense not to burden his acquaintances with tedious details of his studies.
Chance, a tall, well-muscled gentleman with dark hair and piercing black eyes, was supremely indifferent to others' opinions of his fascination with the ancient world. Indeed, he was rarely bothered with others' opinions of himself in general. It was not so much arrogance as a deep contentment with his well-ordered life.
This morning, he was particularly content. A rare smile lightened his strong features and lessened his rather imposing air. With exquisite care, he lifted the fragile shard of pottery to better view it in the pale November sunlight that tumbled into the room. Soon he would set it aside so he could sketch its likeness onto a pad, but for the moment he was lost in the thoughts of citizens traversing the streets of ancient Athens.
The pleasant imaginings occupied his attention for several minutes. Then the quite unexpected sound of the library door being thrust open cast his thoughts to the wind. Slowly raising his head, he silently watched the small, nearly bald servant cross the vast room.
Chance allowed his smile to fade, although no hint of annoyance at the intrusion could be detected on his sternly handsome features. He had discovered long ago that a soft-spoken, impassive demeanor was far more daunting than any number of rages. Indeed, he had become so skilled that only the bravest or the most foolish dared to cross his considerable will.
Leaning back in his wing chair, Chance templed his slender fingers beneath his blunt chin.
The butler halted and offered a stiff bow. "Pardon me, my lord."
"I fear you mistook the time, Pate," Chance offered in gracious tones.
The butler, who had been with Chance since his arrival in London ten years before, was one of the rare few who did not panic beneath that unwavering black gaze. "No, my lord. It is precisely half past ten."
"And at half past ten do I care to be interrupted?"
"No, my lord," Pate conceded with a faint hint of regret. "You have been very specific that you are not to be disturbed between the hours of eight and eleven."
Certainly not an unreasonable gentleman, Chance did possess a handful of eccentricities he expected his staff to honor. He forbade any sort of puddings to be placed upon his table, insisted his hounds be accorded the utmost care, and demanded his mornings be dedicated solely to his studies. Hardly arduous requests, he told himself, considering the outrageous habits of many noblemen.
Now he regarded his servant with the mildest hint of reproof.
"And yet here you are at precisely half past ten."
The butler's wooden countenance betrayed no emotion at the chastisement. "Yes, my lord."
"Perhaps the house is on fire?"
"Have the French invaded?"
The faintest hint of a twinkle entered Pate's faded blue eyes. "Not to my knowledge, my lord."
"Then I can only presume the Prince Regent has chosen this ungodly hour to call."
"Not the prince, but Mr. Coltran."
A hint of surprise flickered over Chance's handsome features. Although his younger brother often called at the elegant town house, more often than not when he was on the dun, he had never before dared to impose himself during Chance's studies.
"Good lord, is he foxed?" Chance drawled.
"I do not believe so."
"Odd. I never thought Ben to be particularly stupid. Impetuous, ill advised, and reckless, certainly, but not stupid."
"He did say it was of the utmost urgency, my lord."
Chance allowed a faint smile to touch his lips. He was not bothered by his servant's pleas for leniency for Ben. His younger brother was an engaging scamp with more charm than sense. Few could fail to find a place in their heart for the spirited youth, himself included, but over the past several months his affections had been strained to the very limit.
"Yes, I daresay," Chance agreed, with a heroic effort at patience. "Everything is of the utmost urgency with my younger brother. His temperament is unfortunately rash, which no doubt accounts for his shocking lack of skill at the card table and his presence in my foyer."
Allowing his hands to drop, Chance absently drummed his fingers on the arms of his chair. A small silence descended within the decidedly masculine room with its towering bookcases and solid mahogany furnishings.
"I suppose you believe I should see him despite my firm insistence at not being pestered by servants, visitors, and relatives on the dun?"
Pate gave a small cough. "He does appear quite undone."
Chance heaved a well-earned sigh. "And I would be a villain to force the charming rascal to extricate himself from troubles of his own making?"
"As you say."
"Oh, very well." Chance waved a pale hand. "If I do not see him, he will no doubt flee to Mother, who will then arrive to complain of my gruesome lack of sensibilities for my poor sibling."
"Very good." Bowing deftly, the servant backed out of the room, leaving Chance to his thoughts.
At moments such as this, he missed his father the most. Although he had been one and twenty and out of the house when the previous earl had succumbed to an infection of the lungs, his brother had been only eleven. The loss had struck the young boy deeply, and Lady Chance had quite naturally spoiled him shamelessly. As a result, Ben's high spirits and reckless lack of responsibility had gone unchecked. Such a combination was destined to create disaster when he arrived in London. Within a month, he had lost his allowance at the card tables. He had also spent a great deal more on lavish extravagances and openhanded generosity toward any scoundrel with a sad tale.
In the beginning, Chance was forgiving when Ben turned to him for assistance. Most young bucks kicked up their heels upon their arrival in town. While he had personally never found enjoyment in drunken larks or gaming hells, he had been hopeful that such pastimes would soon pale on Ben.
Unfortunately, his hopes had been sorely dashed. Far from growing weary of his fast play, Ben had acquired a group of fribbles who had urged him into outlandish behavior that Chance would not tolerate. On the last occasion he had paid his brother's debts, he had sternly warned he would endure no more. He had demanded Ben mend his scandalous behavior or risk being removed to the country.
Clearly the threat had fallen upon deaf ears, Chance acknowledged with a flare of annoyance. Perhaps he should have the unruly scamp sent back to Kent. A few months of rusticating might return his sadly lacking wits.
With that firm thought in mind, Chance watched his younger sibling enter the room. His resolve was momentarily undermined at the sight of Ben. As Pate had claimed, he did look quite undone. His clothes appeared to have been slept in, his dark locks were tangled, and there was a visible paleness to his boyish features. Most disturbing of all was the absence of his ready smile, which had made him a favorite among all who met him.
Chance felt a faint qualm before his determination returned. One day his brother's impetuous nature would land him in trouble not even Chance's considerable power would be able to save him from. He intended to halt his foolishness without further delay.
Striding directly to the desk, Ben shoved an unsteady hand through his curls. "Chance, thank God you are at home."
"Since I am always at home at this particular time there was no need for any heavenly intervention."
Ben grimaced at the pointed words. "Oh, yes ... I suppose you are angry I intruded upon your studies."
"Not as angry as I shall no doubt become once you have confessed your latest scrape," Chance retorted. "You might as well have a seat."
Ben gave a cursory glance toward the leather chair, but rather than sitting, he tugged at his cravat, a sure sign he was deeply in the bumble broth.
"You make this devilish difficult, you know," he complained.
"Me?" Chance lifted his dark brows. "As I recall, I have done nothing more sinister than allow you to intrude upon a perfectly lovely day."
"If you weren't so damned perfect upon all occasions, I shouldn't feel such a heel coming to you," Ben charged.
"How wretchedly inconvenient of me," Chance drawled. "Shall I lose the family fortune upon the turn of a card? Or do you prefer I have myself hauled before the magistrate for tipping over the watch?"
Ben favored him with a sour frown. "You could at least have the decency to have caused one scandal. It is deuced difficult to speak with a gentleman who has never so much as raised a brow among Society."
"Egad, how dreary I sound."
"Well, one would think so, considering the time you spend with those musty relics." Ben wrinkled his nose as he glanced toward the statue on the table. "But somehow you still manage to be the toast of London. You cannot conceive how tedious it is to be forever informed of your superior position or to have every maiden in town approaching me in hopes of acquiring an introduction to the Flawless Earl. Why, even my own friends flounder for hours attempting to ape your style with a cravat."
Although many gentlemen might have preened secretly beneath such fulsome flattery, Chance merely narrowed his gaze. "Good lord, it must be even worse than I feared," he pronounced. "You can save such nonsense for your twitty friends. What has occurred?"
The tug on the cravat became more pronounced, causing Chance to worry the young man might actually strangle himself.
"I ... I fear I have outspent my allowance."
Chance's expression did not waver. "There is nothing astonishing in that although I do not precisely comprehend what has led you to fall upon my charity," he said softly. "On the last occasion you applied to me for a loan, I quite clearly warned you I would not be held responsible for any more of your debts. Did you misunderstand me?"
A dull flush stained Ben's youthful features before draining away to leave him even more pale than before.
"No, which is precisely why I am in such a bloody mess."
Chance experienced a flare of exasperation at his bother's petulant tone. He sounded more a child of five than a grown man. "I can hardly be blamed for your thorough lack of sense," he mocked. "What have you done? Gone to see the vultures?"
"I wish to God I had," Ben retorted fiercely.
The quaver in his brother's voice made Chance pause. What the deuce could the boy have been up to? "You had best tell me what is wrong."
Forgoing his maltreated cravat, Ben lifted his hands to scrub them over his face. "It is not easy to explain."
"Ben, I am swiftly losing what little patience I possess."
The very softness of his tone forced Ben to reluctantly lift his head and meet Chance's black gaze. "Very well." He swallowed heavily. "I said I had outrun my allowance, and since you had been so devilish disobliging as to refuse me another groat, I was forced to go elsewhere."
"Where did you go?"
There was a highly dramatic pause. "Lord Maxwell."
Chance drew in a sharp breath. Gads, this was a complication he had not expected. And why should I, a dark voice responded. Lord Maxwell's reputation for ruthlessly fleecing the gullible and desperate was renowned throughout London. It had never occurred to him Ben would be so bird-witted as to seek out the devil.
Chance leaned slowly forward. "Have you taken leave of you senses? Only the worst sort of greenhorn would place himself in the power of that blackguard."
A stubborn defiance descended upon Ben's countenance. "Well, I hadn't much choice unless I wished to be hauled to Newgate. Unfortunately, Maxwell refused to loan me money unless I provided him with a symbol of good faith."
A distinct sense of dread was beginning to lodge itself in Chance's stomach. "And what symbol did he request?"
"The Chance diamonds."
With a slow, lethal motion, Chance rose to his feet, his expression causing Ben to take a hasty step backward. "You did not hand over the family jewels to that scoundrel." It was more a statement than a question.
"N-no," Ben stuttered, clearly wishing he were anywhere but standing before his brother. "I did not have the opportunity."
"I ... I went to Mother's and borrowed her jewels ..."
"Borrowed?" Chance leaned forward, placing his hands flat on the desk. "You mean you stole them."
"It was only until my allowance arrived and I could repay the loan."
Chance ground his teeth. Good gads, the boy was beyond foolish. To think he would steal from his own mother ...
"You do not believe for a moment Maxwell would have returned the jewels," he charged in low tones. "You fool, he would have claimed you sold them to him, and not a soul could have proved otherwise."
It was obvious the thought had never entered his thick skull. Ben gave a startled blink.
"As I said, I did not give them to him," Ben stammered. "I put them in the safe intending to give them to him, but when I awoke this morning I discovered they were gone."
Chance abruptly straightened. "Gone?"
"Someone has stolen them."
* * *
The town house in the modest neighborhood of London looked much like any other. Narrow, with a bow window and tidy garden, it hardly fit the image of the setting for the daughter of the most notorious thief in London.
But then, what had he expected? Chance asked himself.
Certainly something more in keeping with the flamboyance of the Devilish Dandy, a tiny voice answered. After all, few throughout London were not acquainted with the rumors surrounding the near legendary gentleman. A charming, intelligent master of disguise, he had freely moved through the continent and England, stealing only the rarest jewelry and works of art before disappearing into obscurity. Indeed, it became almost fashionable to have lost one's most precious heirlooms to the famous criminal, and more than one hostess had been known to complain bitterly at the end of her party that her gathering clearly had not been of high enough standards to garner the attention of the Devilish Dandy.
His sparkling career had come to a sharp end several months before, when he had been ratted out by one of his cohorts. He had been hauled to Newgate and awaited his fate with the noose, only to slyly slip away from beneath the very noses of the guards. It was commonly believed he had fled to India to escape the Crown's determination to have him dangling by the neck.
He had left behind three daughters, one of whom Lord Scott had promised Chance was the perfect solution to his current difficulties. Chance was far less certain. Although he placed the utmost confidence in his good friend, he had far less confidence in the daughter of a common thief. Good gads, would he be any less of a nitwit than Ben to trust such a woman?
Despite his hesitation, however, Chance had found himself standing before the narrow house just three days after the theft of the jewels. Not because he had suddenly discovered a desire to mix company with scoundrels, but because quite simply he hadn't the least notion of how to begin his search.
With a faint sigh at his own foolishness, Chance forced his well-shod feet to carry him to the front door. He could hardly stand in the street all day, he told himself. Still, with reluctance he lifted the knocker and gave it a sharp rap.
He was left standing for only a moment before the door was pulled open to reveal a short, square man with a face that had seen its share of battles. Chance felt a flare of surprise as he recognized the man as a boxer who had retired several years before. He had seen him in action on only two occasions, but there was no mistaking the wide, flattened nose, the cold blue eyes, and the missing front tooth.
Excerpted from When You Wish by Alexandra Ivy. Copyright © 2016 Kensington Publishing. 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 really enjoyed this book which included the stories of the three Cresswell sisters. This is my first book by Ivy/Raleigh and it definitely won't be my last! All three stories had me laughing out loud at the bantering between the H/H and kept me reading until the very end. Definitely a must pick up for any historical romance lover!