Your most scorching desires come blissfully true at Madame Helene's Pleasure House--an elite brothel in Regency England where passion has no limits...
Nothing's More Satisfying Than...
With an unconventional upbringing and a reputation as a shameless flirt, Lisette Delornay-Ross is not your typical young lady of the ton. Unlike her peers, she is not afraid to follow her desires. And what she desires is Major Lord Gabriel Swanfield...
Fulfilling Forbidden Passions...
Returned to England after his harrowing ordeal as a war prisoner, Gabriel has shunned society. When Lisette brazenly confronts him, he feels an overwhelming stirring of lust. He's sure she would never entertain the illicit desires he indulges at Madame Helene's. But when he kisses her, he discovers her thirst for pleasure--and adventure--matches his...
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Kensington Publishing Corporation
January 25, 2011
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Excerpt from Simply Forbidden by Kate Pearce
Knowles Hall, England, 1822
"Why on earth did you invite him, Christian?" Lisette Delornay-Ross nudged her twin's arm and nodded at the corner of the sunny breakfast room where Major Lord Gabriel Swanfield read the newspaper and continued to ignore everyone around him.
"I didn't invite him." Christian poured himself more coffee. "Philip did."
Lisette leaned her elbows on the table and contemplated her brother. "But he's nowhere near Father's age, so how do they know each other?"
"I've no idea. Why don't you stop bothering me and go and ask Lord Swanfield himself?"
"Because he'll stare at me as if I'm a worm and then give me a one-word answer that tells me nothing."
"I take it you've already met him then?" Christian smiled. "Is he really that unforthcoming?"
"When I was introduced to him the other night he barely bothered to say a word to me." Lisette stood up. "Perhaps I'll go and ask Father. He'll probably tell me the truth."
Christian leaned back in his chair to study her, his blond hair catching the light, his long, elegant body shown to advantage in his brown coat and black breeches. "The real question is, why are you so interested in Lord Swanfield?"
"Because I hate being ignored?"
"That's certainly true, but there are plenty of other gentlemen here this week eager to flirt with you. Why not go and bother one of them?"
Lisette frowned. "Are you warning me off?"
"As if you would pay any attention to me if I did." Christian shrugged. "As far as I know, he doesn't mix much in society."
"But what you do know of him, you don't like?"
"Don't start, Lis." He sighed. "As I said, if you really want to pry, go and talk to the poor man."
"Perhaps I will."
Determined not to be shown up by her brother, Lisette marched across to where Lord Swanfield sat hidden behind his newspaper and cleared her throat. He lowered the paper the merest inch and studied her over the top of it.
Lisette gave him her sweetest smile. "I just wanted to wish you good morning, my lord. We've scarcely had a chance to speak since your arrival."
The paper came down another three inches, allowing her to look into his eyes. Up close, they were a very dark blue and fringed with long lashes.
"And you are?"
Good Lord, the man didn't even remember being introduced to her! Lisette kept smiling. "I'm Miss Ross, Lord Knowles's eldest daughter. I'm acting as my father's hostess this weekend."
"Ah. A pleasure, ma'am." His fingers twitched on the newspaper as if he intended to flip it back up and dismiss her, but Lisette was quicker. If he intended to be so dismissive of her, she could definitely be a little forward.
"I was wondering what brought you here to Knowles Hall during this particular week. I don't remember your name being on the guest list." She smiled graciously. "Not that you aren't welcome, of course."
His dark brows drew together. "I'm looking for some horses. Your father told me to come down anytime I liked. I didn't realize all this nonsense would be going on."
"Or else you wouldn't have come."
He met her gaze properly for the first time, a hint of wary surprise in his. "Exactly."
Beneath the careful upper-class cadences of his voice there was a slight northern burr, which deepened his tone and made it rougher and far more interesting.
"Well, I'm sorry that we are spoiling your quiet week in the countryside."
She couldn't decide whether he was incapable of detecting her sarcasm or really quite rude. She suspected the latter. "You think us frivolous and unworthy of your interest then, my lord?"
He started to fold the paper and she caught sight of the deep parallel scars on his left cheek that disappeared below his high collar. "I didn't say that."
"But you obviously think so. I don't believe you've spoken a single word to anyone since you walked into this room."
He raised his eyebrows. "I've spoken to you."
She stared at him for a long moment as she struggled to control her tongue. "Are you going out with the shooting party this morning?"
A shudder of something that looked like revulsion passed over his face. "No, Miss Ross, I'm not."
"Then would you like to join me and some of the other ladies for a walk around the estate?" She wasn't quite sure why she made the offer when he was being so objectionable, but she refused to be defeated by any man.
"Unfortunately, I'm already engaged. Your father has found someone to show me around the stables."
"Which is why you came here in the first place."
He stood up and dropped the newspaper onto the table. She found she had to look up at him, which was unnerving. She'd only viewed him from above last night when her father had brought him into the great hall. At five foot eight, she was tall for a woman, but he topped her by at least five inches. He was as lean and elegant as a greyhound, his shoulders accentuated by the confines of his black coat and his long thighs encased in clinging buckskin. He inclined his head the barest inch.
"Good morning, Miss Ross."
She dropped him a quick curtsey. "Good morning, my lord."
He nodded and strolled away, stopped to talk to one of the footmen positioned by the door, and was directed on his way.
"Well," Lisette huffed as her half sister, Emily, and her friends came up beside her. "What an incredibly rude man."
"What did he say to you?" Emily inquired, her face flushed and her blue eyes eager.
"He said that he didn't want to be here, and that he'd only come to look at a horse."
Lisette smiled at her younger sister's indignant expression. "He most certainly did. I suspect he wishes us all to the devil."
Emily's two friends giggled and whispered at Lisette's language and she reminded herself to be more careful. At eighteen, Emily's prospects for an excellent marriage were much on her mind. Lisette didn't want to spoil anything for Emily by drawing the ton's attention to her less than reputable half sister.
"I wonder if he will attend the ball on Friday."
Lisette sighed at the hopeful gleam in Emily's eyes. What was it about dark-haired brooding men that sent all young girls into a flutter? In her experience, good-looking men did not make good husbands or lovers, being far too concerned with their own appearance to care about a woman's feelings.
"I'm not sure if he'll be staying the full week, Emily. Once he's decided on a horse, he'll probably be off."
"Oh." There was a wealth of regret in Emily's response that Lisette tried to ignore. She was very fond of her sister, but frequently amazed at the differences between them. Emily had been protected by their father all her life, whereas Lisette had only met him three years ago. Emily's safe, romantic view of the world had never been Lisette's and never would.
"If he does stay, I'm sure he'll dance with you." Lisette patted Emily's shoulder. "He can hardly say no." She paused to consider her words. "Well, he probably could, but I'm sure Papa can persuade him to change his mind."
Emily pouted. "But I don't want him to ask me out of duty. I want him to ask me because he can't bear not to dance with me. He is an earl, Lisette!"
Lisette struggled not to smile. "Then make yourself pleasant to him over the next few days, and I'm sure he'll come around and ask you to dance. Why wouldn't he?"
"He'd probably rather ask you. What man wouldn't?" Emily looked glum.
Lisette chuckled, remembering the complete lack of interest in Lord Swanfield's rather fine eyes. "After the way he just spoke to me, I doubt that."
Emily grabbed her hand. "Oh, shall we have a wager to see who can get him to ask us to dance first? Wouldn't that be fun, Lisette?"