Reckless, wild, and beautiful, Lily Lawson delights in shocking proper London society -- and now she is determined to rescue her sister from an unwanted impending marriage to the notorious Alex, Lord Raiford, by fair means or foul. But while she succeeds outrageously, Alex is a master gamesman who is not to be undone.
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June 01, 1993
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Excerpt from Then Came You by Lisa Kleypas
"Damn, damn... there it goes, the frigging thing!" A stream of curses floated on the gust of wind, shocking the guests at the water party.
The yacht was anchored in the middle of the Thames, the guests assembled in honor of King George. So far the party had been dull but dignified, everyone dutifully complimenting His Majesty's magnificently fitted yacht. With its brocaded furniture, fine mahogany, chandeliers of clustered crystal droplets, gilt sphinxes, and carved lions poised in every corner, the yacht was a floating pleasure palace. The guests had all been drinking heavily in order to attain the mild euphoria that would substitute for a real sense of enjoyment.
Perhaps the gathering would have been more entertaining had the king's health not been so poor. The recent death of his father and a taxing ordeal with gout had taken their toll, leaving him uncharacteristically morose. Now the king sought the company of people who would provide laughter and amusement to relieve his sense of isolation. That was why, it was said, he had specifically requested the presence of Miss Lily Lawson at the water party. It was only a matter of time, a languid young viscount had been heard to remark, until Miss Lawson would stir things up. As usual, she did not disappoint.
"Someone get the deuced thing!" Lily was heard to shout between lilting bursts of laughter. "The waves are moving it away from the boat!"
Grateful for the reprieve from ennui, the gentlemen rushed in the direction of the commotion. The women protested in annoyance as their escorts disappeared to the bow of the ship, where Lily hung over the railing and stared at some object floating in the water. "My favorite chapeau," Lily said in reply to the chorus of questions, indicating it with a sweep of her small hand. "The wind blew it right off my head!" She turned to her crowd of admirers, all of whom were ready to provide consolation. But she didn't want sympathy -- she wanted the hat back. Grinning with mischief, she looked from one face to another. "Who will play the chivalrous gentleman and retrieve it for me?"
Lily had tossed the hat overboard on purpose. She could see that some of the gentlemen suspected as much, but that didn't stop the torrent of gallant offers. "Allow me," one man cried, while another made a show of doffing his own hat and coat. "No, I insist that I be afforded the privilege!" A rapid debate ensued, for each one of them wished to gain Lily's favor. But the water was rather turbulent today, and cold enough to cause a health-threatening chill. More importantly, it would be the ruination of an expensive, perfectly tailored coat.