National bestselling author Liz Carlyle presents the second book in her scandalous new romance series -- a fiery duel of desire and deception with love as the ultimate prize....
Once, he spurned the woman he loved. The Earl of Wynwood was far too reckless to handle a sophisticated woman like Viviana Alessandri. And the beautiful opera singer was far too famous to make a suitable wife for Wynwood.
Twice, she wagered with her heart. Crushed by Wynwood's refusal to marry, Viviana offered her hand to another, a wealthy count. But fate has a way of playing with lovers' hearts -- and passion has a way of setting them on fire.
Two little lies tore them apart. But now, at a gala affair celebrating Wynwood's recent betrothal, Viviana will get one last chance to win back his love...again...and again.
In bestseller Carlyle's historical romance, the strong second entry in a trilogy (after One Little Sin), an impetuous youthful affair between Quin, the future Earl of Wynwood, and Viviana Alessandri, an Italian opera singer, ends painfully for them both after he rejects her suggestion of marriage, unaware that she's carrying his child. Nine years later, in 1830, the pair meet again as Quin prepares to marry a suitable young miss, while Viviana, now a widow with three children, returns to England to assist her father in completing an opera. Their hot tempers and passionate natures set them on a collision course that shocks the earl's reserved family and turns both their lives upside down. Old secrets emerge during a Christmastime country retreat that is warmed by subplots involving the children and Quin's sister. Though returning readers should enjoy the fresh insights into the events of One Little Sin, those new to the series will find that this volume works fine on its own. With effective, emotional writing and a complex heroine, Carlyle's story stands out in the crowded field of Regency-era romances. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 26, 2005
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Excerpt from Two Little Lies by Liz Carlyle
In which a Proposal of marriage is Received.
Signorina Alessandri was ill. Again. With one hand restraining the flowing folds of her fine silk nightclothes, she lurched over the closestool in her Covent Garden flat and prayed, in fluent and fervid Italian, for death to take her.
"Oh, please, miss, do speak English!" begged her maid, who had caught her heavy black hair, and drawn it back, too. "I can't make out a word. But I do think we'd best fetch a doctor."
"Nonsense," said the signorina, clenching the back of the closestool in a white-knuckled fist. "It was the fish Lord Chesley served last night."
The maid pursed her lips. "Aye, and what was it yesterday, miss?" she asked. "Not fish, I'll wager."
With the other hand set at the small of her back, Viviana closed her eyes and somehow straightened up. "Silenzio, Lucy," she said softly. "We talk of it no further. The worst is over now."
"Oh, I doubt that," said the maid.
Viviana ignored her and went instead to the washbasin. "Where is the morning's post, per favore?" she asked, awkwardly slopping the bowl full of water.
With a sigh, Lucy went into the parlor and returned with a salver which held one letter covered in Viviana's father's infamous scrawl, and a folded note which bore no address. "Mr. Hewitt's footman brought it," she said offhandedly.
With hands that shook, Viviana finished her ablutions, then patted a towel across her damp face as her maid looked on in consternation. The girl had been both loyal and kind these many months. "Thank you, Lucy," she said. "Why do you not go have a cup of tea? I shall read my letter now."
Lucy hesitated. "But do you not wish your bathwater brought, miss?" she pressed. " 'Tis already past noon. Mr. Hewitt will be here soon, won't he?"
Quin. Lucy was right, of course. Viviana laid aside the towel and took the note. Quin usually came to her in the early afternoon. Yes, just as he meant to do today. And oh, how she longed for it -- yet dreaded it in the same breath.
She tossed the note into the fire. She had not missed the furious looks he'd hurled her way in the theater's reception room after last night's performance. Viviana had sung gloriously, hitting every high note in her last aria with a chilling, crystal-clear resonance, before collapsing into her lover's arms in a magnificent swoon. The theater had been full, the applause thunderous.
But all Quin had seemed to notice was what had come afterward. The compliments and congratulations of her admirers. The champagne toasts. The subtle, sexual invitations tossed her way by the lift of a brow or a tilt of the head -- and refused just as subtly in turn. It had not been refusal enough for Quin. One could hardly have ignored his cocky stance and sulky sneer as he paced the worn green carpet, a glass of brandy clutched in his hand. His uncle, Lord Chesley, had even had the effrontery to tease him about it.
Quin had not taken that well. Nor had he been especially pleased to see Viviana leaving on Chesley's arm, as she so often did. And today, God help them, he would undoubtedly wish to quarrel over it. Viviana was not at all sure she was capable of mounting a spirited defense. But it almost didn't matter anymore.