Hoping to pull off a brazen seduction, Lady Helena Fairchild sneaks into her betrothed's bed - only to realize too late that she is lying next to a notorious rake. Even worse, her fiance stumbles upon them and calls off their wedding. To avoid scandal, Helena's family sends her away to the country. But when she steps into her coach, her escort is none other than the stranger who lay next to her that night... Lord Desmond Bannington has no intention of changing his ways until he receives news that he is now the Marquis of Waverley. Returning to England to claim his title, Desmond vows to abandon his reckless habits. But for the memory of the lovely Lady Helena Fairchild undressed in his bed. Intrigued by her boldness, and yearning to know her innermost secrets, Desmond can't help a temptation beyond all reason...
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1 . Would not recommend this
Posted April 30, 2010 by CAJONES , KnoxvilleThis is one of the worse books I've read in some time. Character development was poor. The rhythm of the story did not flow at all. I was jolted and jarred by the interupption of new material which made me ask wheredid this came from? In short , the characters were not realistic,and the plot was a worn out one. The author did not make me fall in love with her characters because she did not take the time for me to get to know them. Not sure how this got past the editor.
April 06, 2010
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Excerpt from Too Hot for a Rake by Pearl Wolf
A young Englishman stepped out of the hired chaise, his face at once assaulted by the icy March winds. He shuddered against the inhospitable cold that bit into him and raised his eyes to the formidable facade of Le Chabanais.
To keep his beaver hat from blowing away, he held it firmly in place as he climbed the steps of the building, an establishment that took its name from its location: 12 rue Chabanais. He raised the knocker on the door, let it fall and waited. One eye appeared through a small hole.
"I've come to see Lord Bannington. Is he at home?" He pressed his calling card to the hole.
The door opened a crack and a hand snaked out to snatch the card from him. "I shall inquire if monsieur is at home."
When the door clanked shut, the man had to content himself with stamping his feet to keep from freezing. He raised his fist to bang the knocker again, but the ponderous oaken door swung open.
"Entrez, s'il vous plait, monsieur." The man led him through a dimly lit hall that opened into a large room where the visitor was at once blinded by the blaze of hundreds of candles.
He handed his coat, hat, muffler and gloves to a footman and surveyed the scene. The mirrored room was the size of a large London ballroom. Its walls were lined with red banquettes. Young ladies in various states of undress lounged on them, apparently awaiting the arrival of male clientele, a reasonable assumption considering the nature of the business conducted at 12 rue Chabanais. Someone behind him tapped a fan on his shoulder. He turned, startled by the astonishing sight of a tall, buxom woman of a certain age. She wore a low-cut black gown studded with crystals, long white gloves and a black lace mantilla attached to her hair, powdered in the French fashion.
"Monsieur? Welcome to Le Chabanais. I am Madame Z'evareau. How may I serve you? Our salon offers the finest young ladies in Paris. But you can see that for yourself. How many of our ladies would you like this evening? One, two, more?"
He took the hand she offered and bent to brush his lips over it, a gesture she appeared to expect. "No, madame. I am not here to be entertained this evening. I seek an audience with Lord Bannington. He resides here, does he not?"
"Ah, oui. Le roue Anglais. He is our guest. The dear boy may be occupied at the moment, however. Allow me to inquire." She turned and said to a young lady nearby, "Entertain the gentleman, Cecelie." She hurried off, Darlington's card in hand.
"What is your pleasure?" Cecelie asked him. In spite of her painted rouged cheeks, charcoaled eyelids and short red hair, she could not have been more than sixteen. She wore a sheer white chemise over long black stockings and red high- heeled shoes.
"I'm not here for your services, mademoiselle. I've come to see Lord Bannington." He resisted the urge to loosen his neck cloth.
The harlot giggled. "You are a friend of le roue Anglais? Then there shall be no charge, monsieur. He pays for all his friends." She reached up to kiss him on the lips, but Darlington restrained her.
"You do not like Cecelie? Perhaps you would prefer another . . . ?"
To his relief, Madame Z'evareau returned, saving him from further embarrassment.
"Lord Bannington will see you now. Follow me, if you please."
He tried to ignore the snickers he heard and the lascivious ogling that followed him as he made his way past the red banquettes, but he reddened just the same.
"Pay no attention to my girls, monsieur. Sunday evenings are always thin of visitors here at Le Chabanais. Our clientele prefer to remain at home with their families, you see. My little cocottes work hard all week. One must allow them the release of a bit of naughty mischief on Sundays." She led him up the red-carpeted grand staircase to the first chamber on the left and knocked on the door.
"Come," a deep male voice said as she opened the door. "Thank you, Madame Z. You may leave us. Come in Darlington. Have we met before? I can't recall, for I have an atrocious memory. Shocking, but there it is."
Desmond Bannington had dark hair streaked with hints of the sun and blue eyes the color of the sea. His lordship lounged on a large bed in the middle of the room. He wore nothing save loose black silk pantaloons, but the women in his bed wore nothing at all. His head reclined on the breasts of a young girl whose fingers played with his long curls. Another was trimming his nails while a third massaged his feet. Embarrassed, Darlington allowed his gaze to wander over his lordship's opulent surroundings, his eyes fixing everywhere but on the bed.
The chamber was large, its walls lined in red silk. The floors were covered with a carpet of Turkish design. The ceiling revealed a scene filled with curvaceous women engaged in sensual couplings, and over the bed itself, a mirror the length and width of the bed was prominent. Opposite the headboard there stood a large desk and chair. Beyond that, a huge stone fireplace faced the footboard, two comfortable chairs on either side, a round table between them. A settee facing the fireplace completed the sitting area.
"What do you think of my home, Darlington?" asked Bannington, much amused by the scandalized expression on the face of his visitor. "I prefer to live here, you know. Meets all my needs most conveniently."
"Handsome surroundings, but as marquis--"
"Marquis? Why do you address me thus? I am Lord Bannington. I have had no other name for these past twelve years."
"So I have been informed, my lord."
"Why have you come? Who sent you?"
"I must insist upon speaking with you alone, your lordship."
"Pay no attention to my playmates. None of them understand the English tongue. What is it you want of me?"
"My mission is too sensitive. Privacy is essential, your lordship."
A condescending grin met Darlington's plea. "As bad as all that, eh?" He turned to his companions. "All right, my lovelies. Party's over." He kissed each one in turn. "Amelie. Babette. Colette. Be off with you, my delectable ABCs. I'll send for you later," he said, lightly patting each one on the derri?re after each kissed him adieu.
When the giggling trio put on their robes and danced out the door, Waverley said, "You shall join me for dinner, old chap. The food's excellent, and I am starving." He rang and at once a small brown man appeared as if from nowhere. He wore a turban, a yellow satin coat, black tights and shoes with turned-up toes.
"Dinner for two, Rabu. Tell Madame Z we should like two bottles of her best wine and some French brandy."
"Yes, mastah!" As he bowed his head, he almost touched the tips of his shoes.
"You seem shocked, Darlington. This is my valet Rabu. I lived in India for years, you see. The little devil adopted me there and I cannot rid myself of him no matter how hard I try. One must be gracious in defeat, mustn't one?" He rose from his bed as he spoke, donned a dressing gown and slid his feet into slippers.
"Le Chabanais is the finest bordello in Paris, you know, which is why I choose to live here. It is well known for its cuisine, thanks to Madame Z's outstanding chef. Let us sit by the fire, sir. You can tell me your business after we finish our dinner." Waverley sprawled in a seat opposite Darlington and took some snuff from an ornate box resting on the small table beside his chair.
In spite of himself, Darlington enjoyed every bit of the French cuisine, the delicious food a rare treat for him. The first course was a delicate turtle soup. The second was a ragout of beef, which proved to be succulent. The meal ended with a chocolate souffle that defied description. When Rabu cleared the last of the dirty dishes, he set the brandy on the table along with a bowl of nuts and some fruit.
"Leave us," said Bannington, dismissing his valet with a wave of his hand. He waited for Rabu to disappear through a side door. "We are alone now, sir. What brings you to Paris?"
"I have been searching for you for almost a year, your lordship. I am an envoy from the home office, sent to find you."
"Really? What can the home office possibly want with an expatriate like me?"
Ignoring this for the moment, Darlington said, a hint of frustration in his tone, "I made my way to India to seek you, but you had already left that country."
"Ah, India. I lived in Calcutta for ten years. It is where I made my fortune, more to luck than to business acumen, I might add."
"You led me a merry chase all over Europe, my lord. My search led me to Greece, Italy, and Spain, all to no avail."
His host's brow furrowed. "Come to the point, Darlington. Why were you sent to seek me out?"
"Prince George, our Regent, most urgently requests your return to England, my lord."
Waverley was amused by the young man's pompous turn of phrase, but he ignored it. "The Regent? How is this?"
"The Third Marquis of Waverley, your father, passed away a year ago. His Majesty is anxious for you to return to take his place."
Bannington's eyes widened. "Then I am the Fourth Marquis of Waverley?" He laughed, a sound tinged with resentment.
"If my father knew I was being summoned home to England to take his place, he would rise from his grave to protest, for there was no love lost between us. This is the first communication I've had from him since he disowned me twelve years ago. Inform Prince George that I renounce my right to the marquisate. I have no reason to return, for I have fashioned a life in Paris that suits me well. I have many friends here, and none in England. Besides, there is no longer anyone alive at Waverley Castle now that my father is dead." Now that my father is dead, there is no longer any opportunity for reconciliation, though God knows I tried more than once during my long exile.
"You mistake, my lord. Your grandmother is alive. Her ladyship lives at Waverley Castle."
Thunderstruck by this news, Bannington turned pale. "My grandmother is still alive? You can't be serious. I thought she died years ago."
"No, my lord. Your grandmother is eighty years old and very much alive."
"Is she being well cared for?"
"I can't answer that question, my lord. Six months ago, distant cousins took up residence at Waverley, to care for your grandmother."
"Mrs. Jennie Trasker and her son Harry."
"Never heard of them. How do you come by all this information, Darlington?"
"My information comes from the intelligence division of the home office. It is entirely reliable, though not public knowledge, my lord. I must urge you to reconsider and accept the marquisate, for the sake of England if not for your grandmother. If you do not, Harry Trasker is next in line. My information is that he is ill equipped to take your father's place."
Bannington stared into the embers in the fireplace as if they held the answer for him. Grandmother alive? Does she still love the lad I once was or did my unforgiving father forbid her to communicate with me? All these years I thought I had no family. Now I have a grandmother and two cousins. I must return, if only for her sake. A gamble, to be sure, but no worse than the risks I've been forced to take all my life. Waverley Castle. I loved it well once. Aloud he said, "If I decide to return, what then?"
Darlington relaxed for the first time, for this was his area of expertise. "When you return to London, you will find a warm welcome awaiting you. Viscount Sidmouth, the home secretary, is most anxious to welcome you. You may count on him to counsel you in light of this . . . delicate situation."
"Delicate? Have you been withholding something from me? Is my grandmother in any danger?"