The glittering world of high society is the playground for the rich, titled, and reluctantly undead...
Alec MacQuarrie's after-life has become an endless search for pleasure in an effort to overcome his heartbreak and despair. Wandering through the seedy world of London's demimonde, he's changed into a dark and fearsome creature even he doesn't recognize until he stumbles into a magical lass he knew once upon a time and sees a glimpse of the life he could have had.
But the ton is no match for one incorrigible young lady...
After watching each of her coven sisters happily marry, Sorcha Ferguson is determined to capture a Lycan husband of her very own. When she encounters Alec, she decides to save her old friend from what he's become, all while searching for her own happily-ever-after.
Over his dead body is Alec going to allow this enchanting innocent to throw herself away on an unworthy werewolf, but that leaves him responsible for her, and he's the worst monster of them all...
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August 01, 2011
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Excerpt from Never Been Bit by Lydia Dare
Castle Hythe, Kent
Ever since Sorcha Ferguson had met her first Lycan, she'd been determined to have one for her very own. And her coven sister had promised there would be Lycans at the Duchess of Hythe's house party. Since the day that glorious news had reached Sorcha's ears, she'd planned her entire visit south around the idea of falling in love with a beast just like two of her very best friends had done. Yet she hadn't seen even one Lycan since she'd been in Kent, and she'd already been at Castle Hythe for a sennight.
There was only one thing left to do. If they wouldn't come to her, she would go to them. But first, she had to fix the shambles that was the Duchess of Hythe's orangery. Sorcha had been nearly overcome with sadness when she'd seen all the plants in such a s sad tate of neglect.
She scoffed. She was feeling very much like the plants these days. Every one of her friends had married within the last year or so, and she was the only witch in her coven left to find a husband. She snorted. She hadn't even come close to finding one, and all because those promised Lycans had yet to make an appearance.
Sorcha walked from row to row in the orangery, laying her hands on the forsaken plants. The lilies could use a kind word to boost their spirits. Their stems sagged, and there was not a single bloom to be found. She blew a lock of hair from her eyes in distraction.
A piece of Irish ivy reached out to touch her ankle. The poor thing was yellowed and aching for attention. She smiled and touched her hands to the vine, watching it strengthen and fortify itself right before her eyes. "Ye're welcome," she murmured when the vine stroked across the toe of her shoe. She wiped her hands together. The duchess would be appalled if she saw the dirt beneath Sorcha's fingernails.
"There you are," Lady Madeline Hayburn called from the other side of the orangery. "I've been looking everywhere for you!"
Sorcha bit her lip. She shouldn't have stopped to tend the plants. But she couldn't just allow them to suffer, could she? "I was just thinkin' of goin' out for a bit," she said evasively, avoiding the other girl's gaze as she lifted herself up to sit on a low table.
Maddie's face fell. "Oh," she said with an understanding nod. But Sorcha could tell her friend was disappointed. And she'd be the worst sort of friend if she abandoned the young lady to go in search of a man. Or men. Or Lycans. Or her destiny.
Maddie wouldn't have any idea how to go along without her. Sorcha patted a place beside herself. "I just thought I'd pay a visit ta Eynsford Park. The ride isna too far, from what yer grandmother said."
Maddie smiled as she settled beside Sorcha, her blond curls bouncing about her shoulders. "I can't believe how wonderful Grandmamma's plants look. Just a fortnight ago, this place looked as though it had died a less than peaceful death. You are a miracle worker."
Sorcha remembered. It had hurt her very heart to see the plants in such shape. "Oh, I just have a bit of a green thumb."
"Something I clearly lack." Maddie smoothed her skirts out in front of her. "What is so important at Eynsford Park?"
Only Sorcha's future. "I just want ta visit my old friend."
Maddie leaned in conspiratorially. "For years," she whispered, "the villagers swore a monster resided at Eynsford Park. Did you know?"
Sorcha knew all about that particular monster. And she could hardly wait to lay eyes on his half brothers, especially as the monster, or Lycan, in question was married to her coven sister and dear friend.
"Monster?" she giggled, determined never to give the secret away. "Cait, I mean, Lady Eynsford, would no' put up with a monster on her grounds."
Maddie giggled then too. "I can't imagine the marchioness scaring a monster away. She seems of the sweetest disposition."
"Ye've never seen Cait in a temper." Sorcha nudged her new friend's shoulder with her own. "Ye can take my word for it, Maddie. A monster would no' wish ta make her angry." Cait in a temper was a force to be reckoned with. Any self-respecting monster would steer clear of her wrath. That was what her husband did, after all.
"She sounds like Grandmamma."
The two were a bit alike with their commanding presence, now that Sorcha thought about it. "And would a monster dare enter Castle Hythe?"
Maddie laughed again. "Not if he had any idea of the dressing down he'd receive. 'How dare you trod upon my roses!'" She mocked her grandmother's imperious tone. "'Did you just eat my footman? Out with you, and don't come back until you learn some manners.'"
Sorcha could well imagine her coven sister barking in just that same manner at her wolfish husband. "Well, there ye have it. If a monster couldna dwell here at the castle, it couldna dwell at Eynsford Park either, if it ever did. Would ye like ta ride over there with me?"
She wouldn't be able to speak freely with Maddie about, but she hated to leave her behind. The English girl was terribly timid when left alone.
Her friend sighed. "I would love to, but Grandmamma would have a fit of apoplexy if I did. She's expecting more of those gentlemen to arrive, and she'll expect me to be there to greet them."
Ah, those gentlemen. Men of privilege the Duchess of Hythe had handpicked as acceptable matches for Maddie, men she might want to choose for a husband during her first season. This house party was an opportunity for her friend to see which men she might fancy ahead of time. It also would allow the duchess to investigate their character more closely and determine if a match might be made.
Sorcha had a reasonably sized dowry, one that would be considered large at home in Edinburgh, but it didn't compare to the fortune attached to Lady Madeline Hayburn. Hopefully, the gentlemen present would see more than pound signs when they looked at Maddie. She was the sweetest girl and deserved a gentleman who appreciated all her good qualities.
If more of those gentlemen were arriving today, Sorcha's excursion to Eynsford Park would have to be put off. She wouldn't throw Maddie to the wolves. That made her giggle. She was the one looking for a Lycan, after all.
"We doona have ta go as far as The Park. We could just ride around the castle grounds. I'll send Lady Eynsford a note askin' her ta come visit me instead."
If only there was a way to beg Cait to bring some of Eynsford's Lycan relations with her, but her coven sister was adamant that a beast was not in Sorcha's future, so the odds of that happening were slim, to say the least.
Maddie's green eyes twinkled almost as brightly as her smile. "Let me go get my habit, and I'll meet you in the east drawing room."
After changing into her riding habit, Sorcha penned a note to Caitrin Eynsford. That took a little longer than she had expected as she tried to find the right words to entice her coven sister to bring along her pack. Finally, note in hand, Sorcha left her chambers and made her way through the twisting and turning corridors that made up Castle Hythe. Once on the main level, she handed her note to the Hythes' stoic butler with directions that it be delivered to The Park at once.
She smoothed her sapphire riding habit into place and frowned. It was a bit long. She'd have to fix that later when no one was watching. Magic spells tended to make most people a little squeamish. Looking at her feet to make sure the hem didn't touch the ground, Sorcha started toward the east drawing room without even glancing up and promptly ran headfirst into an immoveable object that blocked her path.
"Ouch!" Her head shot up. As she reached for the injury, she looked right into the black-as-night eyes of an old friend. Tall and handsome as ever, he was a friendly face in this English world, and she'd never been so happy to see him.
"Alec!" she gushed. "I had no idea ye would be here."