Wickedly Ever After

Wickedly Ever After

by Michelle Marcos

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Overview

Wickedly Ever After by Michelle Marcos

The Pleasure Emporium was once the bordello of choice for London’s gentlemen elite. But now the ladies have something far more seductive—and scandalous—in store…

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER.

After discovering her fiancé in the arms of a courtesan, Lady Athena McAlister comes to a frightful realization: Most men prefer the company of their mistresses to their wives. How can she, and other brides-to-be, become both wife and mistress to a man? In her quest for knowledge, she begs her grandfather to let her start a finishing school for marriageable ladies. There she and her friends discreetly invite London’s most notorious rakes to educate them on the art of seducing a man.

A DESIRE THEY’LL NEVER FORGET…

Marshall Hawkesworth’s sister has become far too knowledgeable about the ways of sex, and he suspects that her new finishing school is to blame. Marshall poses as a lecturer on several topics, including sensual kissing, and he soon finds Lady Athena to be a most apt pupil. But before he has her school shut down for good, he’s determined to give her a few private lessons she won’t soon forget…

“Marcos gives readers another taste of desire and danger, along with an enticing adventure/mystery…that should have readers longing for her next book.”—Romantic Times BOOKreviews (4 /12 stars) on Gentlemen Behaving Badly

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312948511
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/30/2009
Series: Pleasure Emporium Series
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 4.12(w) x 6.86(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

MICHELLE MARCOS is a native of Miami, Florida. Having worked as both an English teacher and an actress, she writes romance to celebrate perfect love.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Twice upon a time, Athena McAllister thought she had found the man of her dreams.

The first time it happened she was fifteen years old. He was sixteen, blond- haired, and beautiful, the second son of a viscount who was on holiday from boarding school abroad. He spoke to her politely, as a proper young gentleman should, but stared over her ginger-colored head at a lovelier young woman at the ball.

At nineteen she met another man, a viscount in his own right. He was twenty, blond- haired, and beautiful, and he expressed nothing but admiration for her fiery coloring. He spoke of his travels to Italy and America, and when the music started, stepped around her generous form to dance with a lovelier young woman at the ball.

It was, therefore, with some trepidation that she regarded the blond- haired and beautiful Calvin Bretherton, whose manner and clothes bespoke generations of wealth that she now lacked. At twenty-eight, Athena was well past marrying years, and everyone expected her to live out her life in aristocratic penury. But the earl was looking for a wife, and

Athena gave in to that frustrating yet lingering hope that he might be her final chance to marry well— let alone marry at all.

Hester looked over at her friend as she handed her a glass of wine. "You’ve got the look of a cat that’s spotted an unsuspecting bird. Who are you staring at?"

Athena took a sip, and the sweet wine burst flavor into her dry mouth. "No one."

Hester pursed her lips as her eyes scanned the cluster of men across the ballroom. "There’s General Thomason, Lord Ryebrook, the bishop . . . can’t be the bishop."

Athena smiled and rolled her eyes. "Behind him."

Hester squinted her dark eyes. "Hmm. Lord Stock-dale. Very handsome indeed. I know his family well. He gets his looks from his mother, you know."

Athena smirked. "I bet he gets looks from lots of women."

Hester chuckled. "I’ve always been partial to men with blue eyes. Let’s sit down. Perhaps he’ll come over and introduce himself."

Athena took her place beside Hester in the knot of chairs near the fireplace— the potpourri corner, she called it— where the dowagers, spinsters, and other dried- out women congregated. She smiled wanly at the conversation between the Baroness Basinghall, a great turtle of a woman, and her unmarried last daughter, an equally grating bore, on which teas are the best cures for headaches and how to make poultices for bunions.

But her own eyes kept drifting to the object of her growing aspiration. Calvin threw his head back and laughed at something the general said. She smiled. His cheeks curled over a row of perfect white teeth, and just for a moment, Athena pictured them smiling at her. The burgundy coat hugged his form, revealing long, muscular arms that would feel heavenly wrapped around her. And those sky- blue eyes, so charismatic and beautiful, gazing at her in smoky desire... Athena exhaled, reveling in the imagined plea sure.

Suddenly, Calvin glanced in her direction, and her heart missed a beat. Dream materialized into reality as he broke away from the group of men and walked toward her. Time seemed to slow as she watched him stride over, her pulse racing. Her breath came out in nervous gasps.

His smile widened as he neared, and Athena blinked shyly. He was utterly delicious . . . like a thick slice of marchpane cake. All her confidence dissolved under that assertively handsome gaze. Her customary proud boast that she needed no man, flung to clucking matrons, evaporated in the flame of anticipation as Calvin’s perfect body approached her.

And in a blink of her bashful green eyes, Calvin’s perfect body passed her completely. He stopped in front of two willowy French ladies on the opposite end of the ballroom and bowed before them.

Athena’s heart sank. As an adolescent, being overlooked like that might have punctured her fragile confidence for months. But she was a woman now. Her confidence was no longer rooted in beauty. She was, after all, a well- read and intelligent woman. If Calvin Bretherton would just speak to her, maybe she could persuade him that she was worthy of his attention.

"Please excuse me, ladies." Athena set down her glass and stood up.

"Where are you going?" whispered Hester.

"He’s not coming over to me, so I shall just have to go over to him."

Hester moved in front of her, blocking her escape. "Are you mad? You can’t walk up to a man and introduce yourself! You mustn’t be so forward."

"I can’t very well hope to snag a husband if I remain shoved up against a wall like an old rag mop."

"Athena, it’s been too long since you’ve been at a ball in London. There are certain rules of conduct you must observe. You must behave with the decorum befitting your years and reduced circumstances."

"You make me sound like an old carthorse. There’s life in me yet, Hester."

Hester’s delicate black eyebrows drew together as her anxious eyes looked around. "I just ask that you consider what people might say. For someone like you, it’s only a whisper from spinster to prostitute."

Athena sighed. Hester was right— reputation was monumentally important. At least as a spinster, she’d still be asked to parties like this one. If she lost her claim to respectability, life would be even lonelier than it was at present. Good manners demanded that she sit quietly in the company of other widowed, single, and unescorted ladies until a gentleman approached her. It so seldom happened, and never by the gentlemen she truly wanted to meet. And that had become her lot in life... condemned by propriety to inexperience.

She watched the two brunette sisters, charming Calvin with their singsong zh- zh’d words. As they batted their thick black eyelashes at him and giggled coquettishly behind their mother- of- pearl fans, she sat back down among the black- clad, bunioned gaggle of women.

Prostitute indeed.

If only.

Excerpted from Wickedly Ever After by Michelle Marcos.

Copyright © 2009 by Michelle Marcos.

Published in July 2009 by St. Martin’s Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Wickedly Ever After 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has fun, excitement, passion. Excellent. Surpassed When a Lady Misbehaves. I love it. I have to read Gentleman behaving badly. It must be great. A must-read. I really recommend this book.
RegencyReader More than 1 year ago
We all wear masks of some sort. They are a variety of colors and shapes but each one of us at one time or another hides our feelings and thoughts behind this protective barrier. That is exactly what Athena McAllister has been doing her entire life and keeping all the dreams she wants to live inside of her is breaking her down. She is trying to become a marriageable woman but at the age of spinsterhood that is becoming a fleeting dream passing by too fast. Even being sponsored by a lady of high reputation does not help her from getting her heart broken again by a man that cannot stay true. But a chance encounter with a lady of ill repute puts an idea into Athena's head that what is needed is for her to help educate the other "spinsters" of London on the womanly arts of finding a husband so that they too can get married. By day they will learn how to run a household and at night they will discover how to completely love their husband and provide such pleasure that their husbands will never need another to fulfill their desires. Nothing can stop her once she knows that it is the tricks of a courtesan's trade that keep a man happy and faithful - but is that really the answer? When Captain Marshall Hawkesworth the new Marquees of Warridge comes home from sea to discover his sister has taken part in this school his interest becomes not only about the school but the headmistress, Athena. But once he meets Athena, Marshall is no longer sure if it is the school he wants to get more knowledge about or Athena. She is a fiery redhead with a quick answer for everything and an attitude for everyone. Her opinion of men is well deserved but Marshall is sure he can educate her on how giving pleasure to a woman is what a man finds most appealing. Athena has been unloved and mistreated and Marshall knows he is the man to change all that and show her that taking off your mask and revealing all your true feelings is not an event froth with passion and will bring a lifetime of expressions of love and desire. What a delightful surprise this book is because it provides such intense and engaging characters with personalities that never stop entrancing you. There is an angle around every corner that keeps you wondering what exactly Athena is up to, who is out to sabotage the school and why is Marshall so afraid to let love come into his life. Being in control is imperative to both Athena and Marshall but when they let go and become entangled there is such intensity between them no one is in control but their emotions.
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ErocticTreasures More than 1 year ago
Lets start with Athena. She is a hard one to like in this book tell the end of it, she is so dead set that she is right about men and know one can tell her other wize a real hard head. Now Marshall he is great in this story so it was hand for me to put it down because of him, He was funny , laughing , loving to Athena and all she was a pig head. but all an all the book is very good but it was not good to pay $10.00 All the book that i did buy and they were 10.00 or more you did get your moneys worth. This is the first time I have read this writer she did ok I will give the writer a 10 star.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
Lady Athena McAlister caught her chosen fiancé Calvin Breatherton lip locked with very tall bony Lady Posonby. Not being a twit, the twenty-eight year old Athena concludes that men prefer their mistresses over their wives. She ponders how to make the spouse the first choice and concludes a wife must also be the mistress. She persuades her wealthy grandfather to open up a school for young women to teach them the typical agenda of being a lady, but also adds courses on seduction and being a mistress in the boudoir. Athena hires rakes and courtesans as instructors in the "Pleasure Emporium" in Scotland. Marshall Hawkesworth arrives to learn what his sister is studying as she seems to hint of things she should not know about. Athena hires Marshall as an artist's nude model and as a teacher of sensual kissing. To prove his lips' worth, he picks Athena as his first apprentice. Their kiss shocks both of them and each wants more. However, a tabloid wants to do an exposé of the school for scandal and its headmistress; Marshall plans to keep the woman he loves and her pupils safe from any scandal. The third Pleasure Emporium Regency romance (see WHEN A LADY MISBEHAVES and GENTLEMEN BEHAVE BADLY) is a terrific tale that satirizes several standard historical themes. The brisk story line starts a bit slower than usual but once Athena realizes she lacks the seductive weapons to compete with a mistress even one in which she is much prettier and more charming than her towering skinny rival, the plot takes off and never slows down as the heroine never takes a breather. Fans will enjoy the latest use of the infamous brothel. Harriet Klausner