Title: One Wicked Wish: A Scandal in Mayfair Book 1
Author: Anna Campbell
Genre: Historical Romance
Her secret lover…
Stella Faulkner has been a despised poor relation in her odious uncle’s house since she was forced to flee Italy ahead of Napoleon’s invasion. In return for a roof over her head, she acts as her cousin’s unpaid governess and companion. Stella knows that if she shows the slightest trace of her disgraced mother’s wildness, she’ll be cast out to face destitution. But after ten years of thankless servitude, Stella encounters a dashing libertine who turns her world to flame. Handsome Lord Halston is irresistible, but every kiss, every caress carries the risk of discovery, and with discovery, disaster.
The rake beguiled…
Grayson Maddox, Earl of Halston, glories in his reputation for charm, seduction, and ruthlessness. His mistresses know that the profligate lord offers them pleasure and luxury, but when he says goodbye, the affair is over. To Halston, love is a sentimental myth and fidelity a trap. One night at a glittering ball, he sees a beautiful woman trying to fade into the crowd of dowdy chaperones and every instinct clamors to make this mysterious lady his. But all bets are off when Stella Faulkner promises to become the lover he’ll never forget.
Halston and Stella start a sizzling affair under the cover of a respectable house party at his country estate. But once this interval of heady delight comes to an end, what will become of the humble governess and the wicked earl? Must they return to being strangers as they originally arranged, or will five days of intoxicating sin turn into forever?
London, May 1816
Stella sucked in another breath. The realization seeped in that she’d committed to become Halston’s lover. Even worse, she couldn’t muster a moment’s regret about the decision. “Now I think you should take me home.”
His devilish smile set her secret places clenching. By heaven, he was a beautiful man. How could she, how could any woman resist falling?
“Not quite yet. We need to seal our deal.”
A sudden attack of nerves made her disentangle their fingers. Her hand rose to the base of her throat where her pulse raced fast enough to win the Derby. “You said you’d wait until…”
“Until we get to Prestwick Place.” His smile intensified. “I did. But I’m sure that a woman who makes such a businesslike contract to come to my bed can spare me a kiss on account.”
Halston watched her eyes darken. Stella Faulkner had such an expressive face, especially now that she stopped guarding every reaction. How difficult it must be for this passionate creature to restrain all her natural impulses when she was in her uncle’s house. Life had been ghastly unfair to this exceptional woman.
The carriage began to move faster. An opening must have appeared in the traffic. With every second, the charged atmosphere inside the vehicle intensified. When they came together at last, the explosion would rock the world.
“Kiss?” The slide of her tongue moistening her lips shuddered through him like gunfire.
“Yes.” He made another wry gesture toward the sling. “If I were in full fighting order, I’d take you into my arms right now. As it is, I’ll have to ask you to come and sit beside me. Will you do that?”
Her lips twisted. Self-deprecating humor was such an essential part of her. “It seems absurd to hesitate when you have my promise that I’ll come to your bed.”
“But right now, it would be easier if I could sweep you into my embrace and make the world go away?”
He held out his good hand. “Come kiss me, my darling. I hunger for you.”
Her smile faded, and he caught a glimpse of the depth of her craving for him. She’d stopped pretending that she had any more choice in what happened between them than he had.
He liked that. He liked that very much indeed.
Halston couldn’t remember the last time he was in thrall to a woman, the way he was in thrall to this one. His craving made a mockery of propriety and caution and prudence. The idea that he might experience this volcanic yearning alone was unbearable.
It turned out that he wasn’t alone.
Stella trembled when she took his hand and shifted next to him. As she’d pointed out, the old carriage held traces of twenty years of former passengers. Unwashed humanity. Stale tobacco. Dust and dog hair. But she was so close now that something fresh and citrusy tinged his deep breath of relief. He caught a hint of something else, too. An alluring female warmth that must be the scent of her skin.
She turned toward him, and her gaze found his as she took off her plain bonnet. For a long moment, they studied each other. The hubbub of London, the seedy surroundings, the threat of discovery, all dissolved to nothing. The world shrank to this woman and his compulsion to claim her.
This close, he could see the pupils dilate in her golden-brown eyes. Her lips parted as her breath rushed out, and her breasts swelled against the unbecoming gown. By God, if she was his mistress in truth, he’d dress her to match her leonine beauty.
But he already knew that this affair would be brief and intense, and a matter of secret assignations. He’d never get the chance to set Stella Faulkner up with a house and a carriage and a bed that he had a right to share while he paid her bills. She wasn’t one of his pretty light-skirts, contracted to stay as long as he was interested in them.
Perhaps Halston should be grateful for that. He wouldn’t have to watch this initial enchantment fizzle away into boredom and bitterness. It must be the force of his current desire that had him convinced that this time his interest wouldn’t fade, that this time the fascination would only grow.
To his surprise, his hand was unsteady, too, as he cupped the delicate line of her jaw. The shock of his skin on hers slammed through him, the way it had when he’d taken her arm yesterday afternoon.
Stella gasped when he made contact, and her eyes widened. She felt it, too.
The day was cold, but her skin was warm and smooth. He rubbed his thumb against her cheek and leaned in closer. He was near enough to taste her breath. It carried a hint of tooth powder, because it was still so early in the morning. Most people he knew would still be sleeping off last night’s excesses.
With a gentleness in opposition to the storm raging through him, he tilted her face up to position her for his kiss.
“Halston…” she whispered, and the longing in the sound had him quaking. He couldn’t remember the last time a woman had made him shake. Stella made him shake without even trying.
She curled her gloved hand behind his neck to bring him closer. “Stop teasing me, curse you.”
Buy Links (including Goodreads):
Grab your e-copy today for only 99 cents!
What makes your featured book a must-read?
An Amazon reader gave One Wicked Wish 5 stars and called it “one of the most romantic books I have ever read.” While this story offers plenty of steam, I think it’s the turbulent emotional journey that downtrodden governess Stella and jaded rake Gray take that really makes this a memorable read. Throw in all the glamour and scandal of Regency London at the height of the season, and I think this is a perfect read for the historical romance fan!
Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card:
Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win. Runs November 26 – December 2, 2021. Winner will be drawn on December 3, 2021.
Australian Anna Campbell has written 11 multi award-winning historical romances for Avon HarperCollins and Grand Central Publishing. As an independently published author, she’s released more than 30 bestselling stories. She’d just wrapping up a series called A Scandal in Mayfair, set amidst the glamour and sensuality of Regency London. Next she plans to start a related series called Scoundrels of Mayfair, so keep an eye out for that in early 2022. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set stories, including RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence (twice), the Write Touch, the Aspen Gold (twice), and the Australian Romance Readers' favorite historical romance (five times).
Social Media Links: