Title: Persuasive in Pink
Series: Colors of Scandal #13
Author: Sandra Sookoo
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency romance
Publisher: New Independence Books
When the man you desire won’t take the hint, you need to become creative in your pursuit despite the danger.
Lady Phoebe Mountjoy, daughter of the Earl of Sunderland is in trouble. After being violated without her consent at a ball, two months later she discovers she’s increasing. Eight and twenty, unwed and without offers, she’s quite desperate to hide the evidence of the looming disgrace. So, she calls upon a childhood friend in the hopes she can persuade him to marry her for convenience’s sake as well as to save her reputation.
The Honorable Quentin Arkwright, first son of Viscount Tarleton, is no stranger to courting scandal. However, when a woman from his past drops by with a shocking proposition, he’s intrigued and then ultimately enraged as she shares her horrible story. He agrees to the marriage in name only with alacrity, for she doesn’t deserve her situation, and he is in need of a match so he can avoid the Marriage Mart.
As the months slip past and Phoebe’s pregnancy grows more advanced, the two strike up an endearing friendship. Despite the roots of their union, romance blooms, but when the man who put her in the compromising position makes a reappearance and threatens everything she and Quentin have built, they’ll have to make some difficult choices that will scandalize the ton. If they’re lucky, love will be a reward neither of them thought possible.
“It’s quite fetching though.” Why was his mouth suddenly dry? He’d taken his fair share of women to bed over the years, so it wasn’t as if he was a green boy just out of university.
Yet, this was Phoebe, the girl he used to tumble into scrapes with while in the country, fish and catch frogs with at various ponds, but she was certainly no longer a girl still in school.
And she was now his wife who looked ravishing in that frothy confection.
“You like it?” A tremulous smile curved her lips.
“Very much.” He traced the pad of his thumb over her knuckles. “Almost as much as the gown you wore for our ceremony.”
The blush deepened on her cheeks. “My maid had to lace my stays extremely tight, so I’d fit into it.”
“The effort was worth the discomfort.” How the devil had no man snapped her up during any of those Seasons? Nodcocks, all. Phoebe was more than a mere ornament, and if they were searching for a beautiful object to install in their homes, perhaps they should visit a shop on Bond Street. He released her hand and instead cupped her cheek. “There is no need to change.”
She held his gaze with hers. Confusion clouded those dark depths. “Regardless of how we came to wed, please know that I intend to be the best wife I can be to you, but…”
“But?” He raised an eyebrow as he gently tilted her head backward.
“But I’m me, so I will undoubtedly fail multiple times, and though I have a few skills that a lady of the ton should, I’m not proficient with any.” Her voice caught on the last words.
Well, damn. She had insecurities the same as him. Perhaps they would get on well after all, and he looked forward to discovering more about her. Despite the gravity of the situation, he grinned. “Then you and I are well-matched, for one of my fears is that I’ll fail you as well.”
“I don’t see how.” She nuzzled into his palm. “You’ve already done so much, at great sacrifice to yourself and your life.”
Empathy tugged at him. “Let us agree to say we need each other.”
“Yes. We do.” Another wash of tears filled her eyes. “Quentin?”
“I’m sorry I can’t come to you as a bride should—innocent and undamaged.”
Good Lord. Was that what worried her? “I would want you just how you are.” He smoothed the pad of his thumb along her trembling bottom lip. “If it sets your mind at ease, do not consider the last time your first. There was no consent, no heat, none of the feelings a woman should have during such an event.” What else could he say that would help her relax? “You and I have never been intimate together, so if you’d like, feel free to consider tonight—our wedding night—as your first. At least there is affection and friendship between us. That’s something.”
If she hadn’t looked at him with those damned doe eyes full of hope, if he hadn’t imbibed in a few tumblers of brandy, if he hadn’t felt so deuced protective of her after that man had treated her so horribly, he wouldn’t have kissed her, but she had, and he did.
Gently while he leaned into her, he pressed his lips to Phoebe’s in an effort not to frighten her. When a tiny, barely audible sigh escaped her, he slid his hand from her cheek into her hair, furrowing his fingers into those tresses to cup the back of her head. Then he kissed her again with more finesse. Slowly, carefully, he moved over her lips in an effort to memorize the shape, the feel of them, waiting to see if she would react or perhaps kiss him back.
After a few seconds of hesitation—no doubt there was confusion running rampant inside her head—Phoebe slid her hands up his chest and gripped his shoulders. She mirrored what he did to her mouth, and those tentative overtures worked at pulling him under the cloud of heady desire brewing between them.
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Sandra Sookoo is a USA Today bestselling author who firmly believes every person deserves acceptance and a happy ending. She’s written for publication since 2008. Most days you can find her creating scandal and mischief in the Regency-era, serendipity and happenstance in the Victorian era, or historical romantic suspense complete with mystery and intrigue. Reading is a lot like eating chocolates—you can’t just have one book. Good thing they don’t have calories!
When she’s not wearing out computer keyboards, Sandra spends time with her real-life Prince Charming in Central Indiana where she’s been known to bake cookies and make moments count because the key to life is laughter. A Disney fan since the age of ten, when her soul gets bogged down and her imagination flags, a trip to Walt Disney World is in order. Nothing fuels her dreams more than the land of eternal happy endings, hope and love stories.
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