Title: In Love With A Wicked Man
Author: Liz Carlyle
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Buy Links: Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle)
What does it matter if Kate, Lady d'Allenay, has absolutely no marriage prospects?
She has a castle to tend, an estate to run, and a sister to watch over, which means she is never, ever reckless. Until an accident brings a handsome, virile stranger to Bellecombe Castle, and Kate finds herself tempted to surrender to her houseguest's wicked kisses.
Disowned by his aristocratic family, Lord Edward Quartermaine has turned his gifted mind to ruthless survival. Feared and vilified as proprietor of London's most notorious gaming salon, he now struggles to regain his memory, certain of only one thing: he wants all Kate is offering—and more.
But when Edward's memory returns, he and Kate realize how much they have wagered on a scandalous passion that could be her ruin, but perhaps his salvation.
Family lore had long held that when the ancient Barons d’Allenay were no more, the Kingdom of Great Britain would crumble. For better than five hundred years, an unbroken if often tangled line of these noble gentlemen had held control of the vast Somerset estates collectively known as Bellecombe, which had been the seat of the Barons d’Allenay since the time of Henry V.
But at long last, after the fortunes of the barony had waxed and waned a dozen times, there finally came the day when there was no Lord d’Allenay.
No one was less pleased by this unfortunate turn than Kate, Lady d’Allenay. But the kingdom did not, after all, crumble.
And the fortune? Regrettably, that was definitely on the wane—and all of Bellecombe with it. But Lady d’Allenay had never been without pragmatism. Indeed, from the earliest years of her girlhood, her grandfather, the thirteenth Baron d’Allenay, had been wont to pat her on the head and declare her the sensible one.
Indeed, she could hardly have been the beautiful one. That honorific had fallen to her late brother, Stephen. Certainly she was not the charming one, for her little sister, Nancy, had half the county’s male population eating from the palm of her hand. So all that was left to Lady d’Allenay, it seemed, was pragmatism. And from the age of eight, when she had realized that her frivolous parents were not to be relied upon, she’d striven to cultivate that dull virtue.
“—and do it pillowslip by bloody damned pillowslip!” she added through clenched teeth.
“Beg pardon, m’lady?” enquired a voice behind her.
“Never mind, Peppie,” Lady d’Allenay called back to her housekeeper. Then, with a clever twist, the baroness extracted herself from the depths of a massive linen press and presented Mrs. Peppin with a stack of fresh pillowslips. “New!” she declared triumphantly.
“Why, so they are!” Mrs. Peppin’s eyes widened.
“I had a dozen put back,” Lady d’Allenay confessed, “in anticipation of just such an emergency. The old ones we’ll mend. Remind the maids to set them darning side down when they make up all the guest rooms.”
“You always were such a sensible girl, miss,” said Mrs. Peppin, gazing lovingly upon the crisp fabric.
“And full of pragmatism,” added Lady d’Allenay rather too cheerfully.
But not beauty. Or wit. Or red-gold ringlets. Her housekeeper, however, had not seen new linen in a decade, and was awed into silence by its magnificence.
“Well, that’s sorted.” With a businesslike flip of her chatelaine, Lady d’Allenay checked the time on her watch. “I’m off to the new rectory shortly to inspect the construction.”
But Mrs. Peppin pointed through a nearby window. “There be a gurt black sky out, my lady.”
“Well, drat.” Kate glanced at the gathering storm. “Nancy’s taking tea at the rectory. Which means we can expect Mr. Burnham and his mother for dinner. He’ll doubtless drive Nancy home.”
“Oh, aye,” Mrs. Peppin said dryly. “An act of pure Christian charity, that.”
“Just warn Cook.” Kate turned to lock the press. “I’ll get busy mending for Mother’s visit. Oh, and do remind Fendershot to inventory the cellars. Aurélie’s friends do drink quite a shocking amount of wine.”
“A body can scarce count the bottles flying,” muttered the housekeeper.
“I do hope we don’t have to order more champagne,” Kate fretted, setting off down the passageway. “It’s so frightfully expensive—but Aurélie declares she cannot abide Italian vintages.”
“Oh, la, la, her delicate French blood!” Mrs. Peppin was not a devotee of Lady d’Allenay’s mother—or her friends.
“Per’aps you ought to tell Mrs. Wentworth we can ill afford to have them?”
“I did do last year, you’ll recall,” said Kate as they started down the sweeping staircase, “but this year . . . well, the thing is, Peppie, she’s found out about the glebe land.”
“My word! How?”
“Nancy probably wrote.” Kate shrugged. “And I’m sure Aurélie has concluded that if we’re building a new rectory and giving the Church acreage, Bellecombe must be a little flush.”
“I wish, miss, you didn’t have to call your own mother by her Christian name.”
Kate sighed. “But Mamma makes her feel old, Peppie. You know Aurélie requires pampering. It seems a small indulgence.”
Mrs. Peppin sighed. “How many is Mrs. Wentworth bringing for shooting season?”
“Just her usual.” Kate mentally counted. “There will be the Comte de Macey again, I daresay—”
“—if the French pox hasn’t carried him off,” muttered the housekeeper.
“Really, Peppie, you’re uncharitable,” said Kate smoothly. “Besides, the two of them are just old friends now. Aurélie’s current lover is a merchant banker, I believe.”
“And a rich one, too, I don’t doubt.”
Kate paused on the landing. “Yes, but if one must love, is it not better to love someone rich? That’s what I keep telling Nancy.”
“Little good that’s done,” said Mrs. Peppin. “Who else, then?”
“Her bosom beau Lady Julia. And—oh, yes!—a young gentleman. Sir Francis something-or-
other. I collect she thought he might flirt and sigh over Nancy, and thereby distract her.”
“Your mother’s wicked gentlemen friends generally expect a bit more of a lady than flirting and sighing.”
“Mrs. Peppin, you quite shock my virginal sensibilities.” Kate turned the next landing, and set off in a different direction from the housekeeper. “Well, I’m off to the parlor with this pile of tatty linen.”
“Hmm,” said the housekeeper. “Perhaps you ought to be off to tea with a handsome young man like your sister?”
But Kate marched on down the passageway, and pretended she didn’t hear.
About the Author:
A lifelong Anglophile, Liz Carlyle started reading Gothic novels under the bed covers by flashlight. She is the author of sixteen historical romances, including several New York Times bestsellers. Liz travels incessantly, ever in search of the perfect setting for her next book. Along with her genuine romance-hero husband and four very fine felines, she makes her home in North Carolina.