Title: Stolen Kisses from the Viscount
Author: Alanna Lucas
Genre: Historical Romance- Regency
Desperate times call for drastic measures…
When an ultimatum and secrets of the past haunt Miss Aveline Redgrave’s future, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Fearful of fortune hunters, she makes a list of acceptable gentlemen to marry. However, one dance with Lord Leybourne, a notorious rake, and she’s throwing the list out the carriage window. His compassionate eyes combined with a seductive smile and enticing kisses awaken a passion that threatens her common sense. Can she open her heart to a rake she thought she couldn’t trust?
No stranger to scandal, Patrick, Viscount Leybourne, is determined to save his family from ruin whatever the cost, even marrying an heiress he doesn’t love. But Miss Redgrave proves to be no ordinary heiress, tempting his every thought as an unexpected desire and need to protect threatens his plans. Will past heartaches and a devastating wager destroy their future or will true love’s kiss triumph?
“Miss Redgrave,” Patrick bowed his head as he greeted her. “We meet again. I believe we are paired together for dinner this evening.”
Her mouth spread into a thin-lipped smile offering no encouragement for further conversation.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Patrick kept to the superficial conversation that was always deemed acceptable. “The weather has been pleasant.”
“Yes, quite pleasant.”
He was hoping to draw her into further conversation. “Have you seen anything of interest at the theatre this season?”
“No.” Her answers were short, almost rude. A tense silence enveloped them.
With her short, clipped answers, Patrick decided to shift strategies. “You look quite lovely this evening.” The light blue ribbon weaved intricately in Miss Redgrave’s hair reminded him of his late mother. “My mother always wore a blue ribbon in her hair, it was her favorite color.” Had he just spoken that out loud? Patrick never discussed his feelings for his late mother. Her sudden illness and untimely death were still too painful for him.
The heavy lashes that shadowed Miss Redgrave’s crème colored cheeks flew up. There was an initial softness in her surprise that made his heart thump, but just as quickly it disappeared behind a cool façade.
Couples lined up and within moments they were parading downstairs toward the dining room. The loud chatter from dozens of people echoed off the marble floor, offering no opportunity to converse.
Once ensconced in the dining room, the situation did not improve. Miss Redgrave sat silently, distracted by some unseen force. He wondered what she was thinking. Had he insulted her? Patrick was puzzled by her reaction.
To make matters worse, Miss Redgrave still seemed wary of him. He was sure she had heard the rumors surrounding his family and his reputation. If he was to stand any chance of winning her over, she needed to see him in a different light.
By the time the dessert course had been laid, he was no closer to enticing Miss Redgrave than before. If anything, it appeared he was rapidly spiraling downward into an abyss. He had never had such a difficult time charming a woman in his life.
Leaning toward her, Patrick whispered softly for Miss Redgrave’s ears only. “You needn’t be afraid of me. I am quite harmless.”
“I am not afraid of you and although you might appear to be harmless, you are not a saint.” She was the second female in so many days to state that minor character flaw, but her frank assumption of him lit a fire within. He suspected that beneath Miss Redgrave’s composed façade and stormy blue eyes laid a fiery temptress.
Before he could tempt her further, Lady Mayland rose from her seat signaling the end of the meal. The other ladies in turn stood and followed their hostess.
Miss Redgrave did not say a word, but offered a small mischievous smile before she took her leave. Patrick didn’t know exactly what it meant, but he was more than willing to find out.
By the time the men rejoined the ladies, Patrick was beyond anxious to have a moment with Miss Redgrave. His initial tactics during dinner had not worked, not until he’d teased her. Her response to his statement had intrigued him and he desired more.
“Lord Leybourne, won’t you join our game?”
Patrick turned to the source of the question. Lady Capers, one of his late mother’s dearest friends. Much to his dismay, the woman had taken it upon herself to watch over Patrick and his sisters.
“Perhaps another time.” He offered no further explanation, and went in search of Miss Redgrave instead. He would not be joining any game, not tonight, not ever. Patrick had already crossed his invisible line with the bet he’d made earlier in the week with Pickering. He was not going to tempt fate further.
Across the room, he spotted Miss Redgrave sitting alone on a settée, gazing off into the distance. She was a vision in light blue silk, an angel from his dreams.
She nodded her head in acquiescence.
He was not going to waste time on superficial conversation, best to get to the heart of the matter.
“I’m surprised you haven’t yet married.”
“I had no intentions of marrying,” Miss Redgrave said in an adamant voice.
Most young ladies dreamed of marriage. Both of his sisters used to talk of little else. Then it struck him, she said she’d had no intentions. Finally, something was going his way. He wondered what had changed her mind.
“Why ever not?”
She shrugged her shoulder with a brief response. “I wasn’t fond of the idea.”
“But think of what you’ll be missing.” Patrick said in the sly seductive tone meant to entice that had never failed him before.
“I’ve been kissed before and I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”
“Then you haven’t been kissed properly or rather…. improperly, Aveline.”
Despite the nonchalant shrug of her shoulder, her eyes were wide with interest, and her cheeks blushed to a delectable soft pink.
Seducing willing actresses and widows was one thing, but an innocent was another matter entirely. But there was something about Miss Redgrave that didn’t seem quite that innocent.
Patrick leaned in, closing the distance. “Challenge accepted.”
A soft gasp left her lips as her head snapped forward. She offered a sideways glance. Her full pink lips were in a partial smile. “You are quite bold.”
“Only when I want something.”
Heat radiated between them. It had been years since Patrick was enticed by the possibilities of the chase. Aveline was no average lady of the ton.
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If money were no object and we weren’t in a pandemic, where would you go for a Spring Break vacation and why?
Holland! I have family there and I miss them! Facetime has been great, but is no substitute for actual hugs, long walks in the tulip fields with cousins, and family dinners filled with good food, wine, laughter, and love.
Why is your featured book a must-read this spring?
London during the Season, elegant balls, romance, a reformed rake, and an heiress determined to avoid scandal is the perfect beginning for a passionate Happily Ever After.