Darius Carsington is a spectacularly handsome rake with a rare intelligence and no heart, a man who divides his time between bedding loose-moraled women and writing scholarly papers. He finds society's "perfect darlings" exceedingly boring. But there's something intriguing, and not quite perfect, about faultless Lady Charlotte Hayward. He senses a crack under her polished surface, and finding it is a challenge he can't resist.
Lady Charlotte is so beautiful, charming, and gracious that no one has noticed what an expert she is at Not Getting Married. Early on, she learned a painful lesson about trust . . . and temptation. In the years since, she's devoted her life to being all she ought to be--and she's not about to let a man like Carsington entice her to do everything she shouldn't.
A Splendid Collision
But the rules of attraction can easily overpower the rules of manners and morals, and sometimes even the best-behaved girl has to follow her instincts, even if it means risking it all.
In her latest Regency romance, Chase deftly weaves a tale of passion, sacrifice and growth with humor and charm to spare. Handsome, charming and an intellectual of the first order, Darius Carsington, fifth son of the earl of Hargate, spends his life in two pursuits: "(1) studying animal behavior, especially breeding and mating behavior, and (2) devoting his leisure hours to emulating this behavior"--with women. But his demanding father finds Darius's interests worthless and gives him a choice: either marry or go to work renovating his father's recently acquired countryside estate. Darius chooses the latter, making him neighbors with Lady Charlotte Hayward, a beautiful woman who's vowed never to marry, and the young pair's clumsy, comical first meeting does nothing to diminish the immediate chemistry between them. Behind her vow, though, Charlotte hides a shameful 10-year-old secret that she's loathe to reveal--and which a marriage would surely uncover--but nonetheless finds herself falling hard for Darius. Meanwhile, Darius is struggling to maintain his longstanding belief that there's no such thing as love. Amid all the reluctance, trysts and unexpected devotion, a hidden rival steps up to capture Charlotte and threaten to expose her. Chase knows what her fans want--strong characters, a swift pace and plenty of heated encounters--and once again she delivers, with considerable wit. (May)
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April 30, 2007
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Excerpt from Not Quite a Lady by Loretta Chase
The trouble with Darius Carsington was, he had no heart.
Everyone in his family agreed that the Earl of Hargate's youngest son had started out with one. Everyone agreed that he had not, at the outset, seemed destined to be the most aggravating of Lord Hargate's five sons.
Certainly he was not so very different from the others in appearance.
Two of his brothers, Benedict and Rupert, had inherited Lady Hargate's dark good looks. Darius, like Alistair and Geoffrey, had Lord Hargate's golden brown hair and amber eyes. Like all of his brothers, Darius was tall and strong. Like the others, he was handsome.
Unlike the others, he was scholarly, and always had been. He'd commenced aggravating his father by insisting on going to Cambridge, though all the males of the family had always attended Oxford. Cambridge was more intellectually rigorous, he said. One might study botany there, and iron smelting, and other subjects of natural and practical philosophy.
True, he'd done well at Cambridge. Unfortunately, ever since he completed his studies, he seemed to have let his intellect gain the upper hand of his affections as well as his morals.
To put it simply, Darius divided his life into two parts: (1) studying animal behavior, especially breeding and mating behavior, and (2) devoting his leisure hours to emulating this behavior.
Item Two was the problem.
Lord Hargate's other four sons had not been saints when it came to women--except for Geoffrey, that is, who was monogamous from the day he was born. When it came to quantity, however, none of the others matched Darius.
Still, his being a rake was a minor issue, for his father, mother, and the rest of his family were far from puritanical. Since he drew the line at seducing innocents, they could not complain that he was a cad. Since he was astute enough to confine himself to the demimonde or the very fringes of the Beau Monde, they could not complain of scandals. Morals among those groups were lax anyway, and their doings seldom raised eyebrows, let alone appeared in the scandal sheets.
What infuriated the family was the methodical and impersonal way he carried on his raking.
The creatures he studied meant more to him than any of the women he bedded. He could list all the differences, major and minor, between one breed of sheep and another. He could not remember his last paramour's name, let alone the color of her eyes.
Having waited in vain for his twenty-eight-year-old son to finish sowing his wild oats or at least show a sign of being human, Lord Hargate decided it was time to intervene.
He summoned Darius to his study.
All of Lord Hargate's sons knew what a summons to his study signified: He meant to come down on them, as Rupert would put it, "like a ton of bricks."
Yet Darius strode into what Alistair called the Inquisition Chamber as he might stride to the lectern to present a paper: shoulders back, head high, the fierce intelligence burning in his golden eyes.
All arrogant certainty, he stood in front of his father's desk and met his gaze straight on. To do otherwise was fatal. Even a man of lesser intelligence would have learned this, growing up with four strong-willed brothers.
He made sure to give the impression, too, that he'd taken no special pains with his appearance, since that would look like an attempt to appease the monster.
The fact was, Darius always knew exactly what he was doing and the impression he created.
Perhaps he'd merely swiped a brush through his thick brown hair. But the observant eye would note how the cut emphasized the natural golden lights, which his time out of doors--too often hatless--had bleached to tawny streaks. The sun had burnished his chiseled countenance as well. Likewise, the deceptively simple suit of clothes drew attention to his powerful frame.