Dangerous. Sensual. Handsome as sin. Meet Hayden Rothwell, the shamelessly erotic hero of The Rules of Seduction and author Madeline Hunter's most irresistible alpha male yet: a man of extraordinary passion and power, a man who can bring out the seductress in any woman.... He enters her home without warning or invitation-a stranger of shadowy motives and commanding sensuality. Within hours, Alexia Welbourne is penniless, without any hope of marriage. Until Hayden Rothwell takes her to bed. When one impulsive act of passion forces Alexia to marry the very man who has ruined her, Hayden's seduction of Alexia is nearly complete. What Alexia doesn't know is that her irresistible new husband is driven by a secret purpose-and a debt of honor he will risk everything to repay. Alexia is the wild card. Reluctant to give up their nightly pleasures, Hayden must find a way to keep Alexia by his side...only to be utterly, thoroughly seduced by a woman who is now playing by her own rules.
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October 30, 2006
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Excerpt from The Rules of Seduction by Madeline Hunter
A shadow entered the house with the early visitor. Alexia sensed trouble even before she saw who had called.
The low voices in the reception hall caused her to pause on the steps as she descended with her workbasket. She heard the tone of firm demand, even if she could not make out the words. She heard the servant's deferential resistance have no effect. Falkner, the butler, was called. Faced with determined, quiet power, the house's forces retreated.
Foreboding entered Alexia much as it had when the men arrived to tell the family about Benjamin. She had too much experience with the sensation to ignore its warning. Bad news alters the world at once. It changes the air. A human heart knows grief is coming as surely as a horse senses an approaching storm.
She could not move. Carrying her workbasket out to the garden to join her cousins in the early afternoon sun flew from her mind.
Legs appeared, heading her way. Long legs, sheathed in black trousers and fine boots. They followed the butler toward the staircase. Falkner wore the expression of a servant who had been commanded by a king.
The visitor's torso appeared, then his shoulders and dark crown. As if sensing someone observed him, he looked up to her spot on the landing.
Alexia immediately understood Falkner's submission. This visitor's stature, face, and demeanor could intimidate even if one did not know his exalted station. Dark hair, unruly as if the brushes had been forgotten this morning, framed a handsome face composed of strong, chiseled planes. Signs of fatigue dulled his deeply set, midnight-blue eyes. Strained forbearance tightened his square jaw and firmly set mouth. Lord Hayden Rothwell, brother of the fourth Marquess of Easterbrook, presented the image of a weary man determined to see through an unpleasant task. It went without saying that he had not come in response to the many calling cards Timothy had left at Easterbrook's home over the last year.
As they approached her, Falkner caught her eye and communicated his dismay. The butler also sniffed the storm.
Lord Hayden paused on her landing and made the slightest bow. She had been introduced to him once, but he did not address her. As his head rose, his gaze scanned her from toe to head. The assessment was so complete, so oddly interested, that she felt her face warming.
The planes of his face vaguely rearranged themselves. As if a statue had come to life, warmth entered his eyes and his mouth relaxed. Sympathy subtly softened him.
In a blink, his stern demeanor returned and abolished the kindness, but she had seen enough to make her heart sick. She recognized pity in the look he had given her. Oh, yes, this man's arrival heralded nothing good.
"Are you bringing Lord Hayden to the drawing room or the library, Falkner " She was being too bold, but she did not care. Over the years she had learned that anticipating bad news was much worse than actually hearing it. She had no intention of submissively waiting and worrying.