A resolute man Jameson Flynn is a man with a mission. Nothing will knock him off course. Until one summer's evening in Vauxhall Gardens, when a woman's song reminds him of the world he left behind.A determined innocent Rose O'Keefe's beautiful voice and graceful, earthy sensuality have made her a sensation among the pleasure-seekers of the night. In such dissolute company, how long can it be before her virtue is compromised?A rose among thorns The man who can make or break Flynn's career desires Rose as his mistress. Soon Flynn will have to choose what matters to him most-success or love....
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April 18, 2010
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Excerpt from Innocence and Impropriety by Diane Gaston
LondonJuly 1817Vauxhall Gardens was not a place Jameson Flynn would have chosen to spend his night hours, but his employer, the Marquess of Tannerton, required his presence. To Flynn, Vauxhall was all faÃ§ade. Mere wooden structures painted to look like Greek temples or Chinese pavilions. Revellers were equally as false, wearing masks to disguise whether they be titled, rich, respectable, or rogue, pickpocket, lady of ill repute. "Have some more ham.'Tannerton handed him the plate of paper-thin ham slices, a Vauxhall delicacy of dubious worth. Rich as Croesus, Tanneras he liked to be calledate with as much enthusiasm as if he were dining at Carlton House instead of a supper box at Vauxhall. Flynn declined the Vauxhall delicacy but sipped his arrack, a heady mixture of rum and Benjamin flower that redeemed Vauxhall only a little in his eyes. It was not unusual for Tanner to seek Flynn out for companionship, but Flynn had no illusions. He was Tanner's secretary, not his friend. To look at them, you might not guess which one was the marquess. Flynn prided himself on his appearance. His dark brown hair was always neatly in place, his black coat and trousers well tailored. Tanner, a few years older and lighter in colouring, took less care, often giving the impression he'd just dismounted from his horse. Flynn placed his tankard on the table. "You brought me here for a purpose, sir. When am I to discover what it is?" Tanner grinned and reached inside his coat, pulling out a piece of paper. He handed it to Flynn. "Regard this, if you will." It was a Vauxhall programme, stating that, on this July night, a concert of vocal and instrumental music would be per-formed featuring a Miss Rose O'Keefe, Vauxhall Garden's newest flower. Flynn ought to have guessed. A woman. Ever since returning from Brussels, Tanner had gone back to his more characteristic pursuits of pleasure in whatever form he could find it. Or, Flynn might say, from whatever woman. And there were plenty of women willing to please him. Tanner had the reputation of being good to his mistresses, showering them with gifts, houses, and ultimately a nice little annuity when his interest inevitably waned. As a result, Tanner usually had his pick of actresses, opera dancers and songstresses. "I am still at a loss. I surmise you have an interest in this Miss O'Keefe, but what do you require of me?" Flynn usually became involved in the monetary negotiations with Tanner'schÃ¨re amiesor when it came time to deliver thecongé,Tanner having an aversion to hysterics. Tanner's eyes lit with animation. "You must assist me in winning the young lady." Flynn nearly choked on his arrack. "I? Since when do you require my assistance on that end?" Tanner leaned forward. "I tell you, Flynn. This one is ex-ceptional. No one heard of her before this summer. One night she just appeared in the orchestra box and sang. Rumour has it she sang again at the Cyprian's Masquerade, but that is not certain. In any event, this lady is not easily won." Flynn shot him a sceptical expression. Tanner went on, "Pomroy and I came to hear her the other evening.You've never heard the like, Flynn, let me tell you. There was nothing to be done but try to meet her.'He scowled and took a long sip of his drink. "Turns out she has a papa guarding her interests. I could not even manage to give the man my card. There were too many ramshackle fellows crowding him." Flynn could just imagine the top-lofty marquess trying to push his way through the sorts that flocked around the female Vauxhall performers. "What is it you wish of me?" Tanner leaned forward eagerly. "My idea is this. You discover a way to get to this father and how to negotiate on my behalf.'He nodded, as if agreeing with himself. "You have the gift of diplomacy, which you know I do