Pretty Little Lyon by @katherinelbone is a Celebrate Mothers Event pick #historicalromance #moms #ku
Title: Pretty Little Lyon
Author: Katherine Bone
Genre: Historical Romance
Enter the world of the most notorious gambling den in London, where matches are made... unusually. Welcome to the world of THE LYON'S DEN: The Black Widow of Whitehall Connected World, where the underground of Regency London thrives... and loves. If you do not marry by Season’s end, I shall expose the seedy side of your father’s past, thereby damaging his reputation—and yours by proxy—condemning you both to a life of destitution and despair. Who is sending Charlotta Walcot threatening notes? Why would anyone cast aspersions against her father, a mild-mannered professor of antiquities at Cambridge University? As for herself, although she has no plans to wed, why would that be of issue to anyone to save herself? Desperate to swerve the scandal that would destroy both her and her father’s reputations, Charlotta dares to venture into the Lyon’s Den, a gambling hall and house of ill repute in London’s fashionable Whitehall. There, she begs its owner, the mysterious Black Widow, Mrs. Bessie Dove-Lyon, to use her connections to identify her blackmailer. But that is not the end of Charlotta’s troubles. Obliged to attend her cousins’ coming-out ball, she collides with Lord Septimus Grey. After witnessing the delivery of another unpleasant note to her, Septimus offers his help. But how can Charlotta place her trust in him since he is the man who, years ago, stole her young and impressionable heart?
Miss Charlotta Walcot,
It has come to my attention that several Seasons have passed without you securing a husband when presented with the chance. And you call yourself a loving daughter. This cannot be borne. If you do not marry by Season’s end, I shall expose the seedy side of your father’s past, thereby damaging his reputation—and yours by proxy—condemning you both to a life of destitution and despair.
Take time to digest my letter, but do not tarry long. You can anticipate another missive each week that passes without news of your betrothal in The Morning Post. If you care for your father as much as you say you do and wish to prevent a scandal from darkening his door, especially when his work on the Rosetta Stone is made public, heed my words. Meanwhile, speak of this to no one, especially your cousins, the Misses Steeres. I am confident you do not wish to jeopardize their standing in Society.
I am watching. I am determined. Pray, do not doubt my intentions or dismiss this note as a mere threat. For if you do, you will experience misery and ruin the likes of which you have never known.
Let the games begin.
Miss Charlotta “Lottie” Walcot closed the note and tucked it back inside her reticule, cinching the ribbon tight. There’d been no need to re-read the threatening letter. She’d memorized each word by heart after being shaken and cast down for weeks. Oh, why had she behaved so impulsively? “I should not be here. I should not have come.” She worried the edge of her kid gloves, another round of disgust and shame exerting her senses.
But she had come to Whitehall’s notorious gambling hell, the Lyon’s Den, a place no self-respecting woman ventured into of her own volition. The building was a den of iniquity. No one had forced her hand. How could she preserve her reputation or virtue now? The ton—unsympathetic wardens of Society—ruled the peerage and upper class, but people who frequented the Black Widow of Whitehall’s lair dared not bother about the natural order of things.
Lottie might be the only exception. Opinion and virtue meant everything to her, as her aunt had made sure she’d been taught proper decorum. Why, even a simpleton could comprehend this whole affair did not bode well. And so, she trembled with sinking anguish as a door shut behind her, the startling thwack threatening the tight rein of her self-control.
“Oh!” Spinning on her heel, she faced the anteroom door, behind which lay Mrs. Bessie Dove-Lyon’s private office.
Male and female laughter.
Floorboards creaking. And—she fanned herself, her mind running amok with apprehension and dread—were bedsprings creating that ruckus?
Her heart skipped a beat, and she bit her lower lip to keep from revealing her distress. Dear God, what if I am discovered by someone other than the widow and owner, Mrs. Dove-Lyon? What if my campaign to help save Papa is misunderstood? What then?
Fear sprinted through her, heightening her anxiety to a maddening pitch but, adhering to decorum, she inhaled deeply and refused to allow her emotions to govern her mind. Even so, a racehorse’s hooves could not pound any louder than her heart did in her ears at this moment.
Tales she’d heard about the Lyon’s Den troubled her, increasing her apprehension. The gambling hell catered to corrupt clientele, employing folk from every echelon of London. She’d been told wounded veterans served as its gate keepers—a saving grace for men who’d returned from war, unable to find work. Ladies, a term she used loosely to describe the women who found employment there, were probably no different, she supposed, fleeing abuse or the poor house. At this very moment, they prepared for the evening’s recreation, entertaining winners and losers and making sure clients returned with additional blunt in hand. Card dealers sharpened their skills to prevent players from outfoxing the abacas woman in her cage.
Great heavens! Lottie had dressed simply in a wool frock to avoid being identified, but her posture and disdain for the place made it abundantly clear that she did not belong—nor did she desire to.
But what if she failed in her endeavors? What if someone recognized her, negating all she’d striven so hard to achieve? Though she longed for the freedom to come and go at will, as a young woman, her experiences had been limited to Cambridge and her aunt’s personal requests. Nothing had prepared her for this . . . mortification.
And yet she had come.
The deed was done. She could not fail now.
Forcing a swallow, she adjusted the brim of her hat to reorient herself to her purpose. Prim and proper routine stimulated self-confidence, methods which had helped her bluster her way out of numerous muddles before. Surely a visit to a gambling den under cover of darkness could do no more harm than the note inhabiting her reticule.
Merciful heavens! But that was just it! The missive in her reticule was calamitous. Have I erred in my thinking? Perhaps in attempting to halt Papa’s blackmailer, I’ve condemned myself to a life of shameful misfortune. Why, I know nothing at all about a pleasure house or how to avoid discovery!
Little good her misgivings did her now. She’d decided on this course—seeking the madam’s help, come what may—praying the news never reached well-connected gossipmongers’ ears.
She sighed nervously. Perhaps more weight needed to be given her intelligence, rather than her frazzled nerves. Papa had taught her shrewdness ruled the day. And her beloved father, though rooted in historically important work and raising her to be clever, had provided her with an education afforded few females. Strutting off to the ends of the earth—in this case, Whitehall—was the least she could do to protect his honor, even if it came at the expense of her own reputation. Particularly because Papa was all she had in this world. He needed her, and she wasn’t keen on marrying because of it. Even more obstructive, the men she’d met refused to understand or accept a scholarly woman’s intellect, preferring a silky tongue, a toss of curls, and beauty to interesting conversation.
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This is the 25th book in the Lyon’s Den Series and a major secret about Mrs. Bessie Dove-Lyon is revealed!
Enter to win a $25 Amazon US or Amazon Canada gift card
Open Internationally. You must have an active Amazon US or CA account to win.
Runs May 5 – May 13, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on May 14, 2022.
Addicted to history and romance, Katherine spent the better part of her childhood roaming the globe as an Army brat. Then while attending college, she was swept off her feet by a military officer. Yes, reader, she married him, and they continued traveling the world. Four children, two Labradors, and three cats later, Katherine put down roots in the south. And there she pursued her lifelong passion of creating vivid stories that came calling with abandon. Adventure. Mayhem. Swashbuckling heroes. Her books are pure escapism at heart.
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Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6535406.Katherine_Bone
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