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FOREVER YOUR EARL
The Wicked Quills of London Book One
Released Sept 29th, 2015
Eleanor Hawke loves a good scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So when the earl himself marches into her office one day and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand, Eleanor is stunned. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades…What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?
Daniel has secrets and if The Hawk’s Eye gets wind of them, a man’s life could be at stake. And what better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and their desire for each other threatens even his best laid plans.
But when Eleanor learns the truth of his deception, Daniel will do anything to prove a romance between a commoner and an earl could really last forever.
But Lord Ashford up close was rather...appalling. It didn't seem right that a man so blessed by fortune and title should also be so attractive.
His dark brown hair was fashionably cut and artfully tousled, as if he'd recently risen from a lover's bed. Given his reputation, that was most likely possible. He had a broad forehead, a coin-clean jawline, thick brows, and eyes that, even with yards between her and him, stunned her with their blue clarity. Naturally, he had a mouth that looked very adept at kissing and...other things.
He moved with a long-limbed ease that betrayed his skill as a sportsman. His ink blue coat fit the broad width of his shoulders, and his cream and gold-embroidered waistcoat defined the shape of his torso—his tailor on Jermyn Street produced excellent work. Snug doeskin breeches were tucked into polished Hessians that came from Bond Street.
Truly, he was quite alarming.
“Miss Hawke?” he asked sharply, coming to stand in front of her paper-cluttered desk. “I wasn't expecting a female.”
“Neither were my parents,” she answered, “but they learned to adapt. How might I help you, my lord?”
Though she felt an obligation to ask the question, she braced herself for what was sure to be a scorching lecture.
He removed his hat and set it aside. Then he held up an issue of The Hawk's Eye and began to read.
“'Lord A—d, a figure well-known to our assiduous and genteel readers, was lately seen in the company of a certain Mrs. F—e, whose late husband made his considerable fortune through the manufacture and sale of a woman's garment we blush to mention in these virtuous pages.'” He tossed one of the issues to the ground. “Wrong.”
“You cannot deny—”
But he wasn't done. Holding up another issue of the paper, he read again. “'It may or may not stun our honorable readers to learn that the notorious Lord A—d has not amended his ways following the duel over Lady L., from Y—shire, and has been espied with another married lady of questionable character, at the late night revels hosted by the equally rakish Mr. S—n. Yet it was noted by our keen-eyed intelligence that this married lady was not the only female vying for the earl's favors.'” This paper he also cast to the floor. “Wrong.”
She herself had written those pieces, and while they weren't matchless examples of English prose, she was still rather proud of them, as she was of all her labors. To have her hard work thrown to the ground like so much garbage was rankling.
“I assure you, my lord,” she said bitingly, “The Hawk's Eye strives for the greatest of accuracy.” She had a network of sources which she used regularly to provide information. Many members of the aristocracy were in dire need of funds, and they gladly turned on each other in order to maintain the pretense of effortless wealth. Eleanor always paid her informants to keep them returning.
Whether or not they lied to her just to collect payment wasn't her concern, but she always preferred it if she could validate their statements. Sometimes that meant going out and conducting a few investigations. But she was a very busy woman—writing articles, editing countless others, managing the paper’s finances—and didn't always have the time.She had to earn a living, after all. And men like the earl didn't.
SCANDAL TAKES THE STAGE
The Wicked Quills of London Book Two
Releasing Oct 27th, 2015
Successful playwright Maggie Delamere has no interest in the flirtations of noblemen like Cameron, Viscount Marwood. She once paid dearly for a moment of weakness… and vows to rebuff the wildly persistent-and irritatingly handsome-scoundrel at every turn. But when pressure to deliver a new play hampers her creativity, an invitation to use his country estate as a writer’s retreat is too tempting to resist...
For years, Cam has admired Maggie’s brilliant work and he can’t pass up the opportunity to discover if the beautiful, mysterious playwright is as passionate and clever as the words that flow from her quill. He’s never offered a lady his bed without being in it, but if it means loosening Maggie’s pen-and her inhibitions-he’ll do exactly that.
But soon Cam’s plans for seduction become a fight for Maggie’s heart. He’s more than the scandalous, carefree rake society believes him to be… and she’s the only woman who has ever noticed.
Not every work affected him as much. But for a reason he couldn’t quite articulate, Mrs. Delamere’s tragic burlettas stabbed him through as beautifully and cleanly as a jeweled knife. Her use of language, perhaps, was so much more articulate than other staged dramas. Or the relatable human longing and pain contained within in each work. Whatever caused it, Cam craved the next work from her the way a drunkard needed wine.
Still somewhat tipsy from the performance, he strode from the box. Almost at once, he ran into two young, red-faced lordlings, already listing from too much ale. A pretty courtesan snuggled between them.
“Marwood!” they exclaimed, practically tripping over themselves as they clumsily bowed.
“Gents,” Cam answered, a little coolly. He didn’t mind being a little disguised from drink, but it was a classic mistake of the young not to pace themselves.
“Come with us!” they cried. “We’re going to Vauxhall. Supposed to be quite a crush.”
For a moment, Cam contemplated it. The pleasure garden always promised a good time, and delivered. Its theatricality and lurid beauty never failed to entertain, and more than once, he’d taken a female companion to the Dark Walk for an al fresco amorous encounter. There was something thrilling about being outside when engaged in carnal pursuits—the fresh air, the possibility of being caught.
The courtesan accompanying the two young men gave him a not very discreet looking over. Judging by the way her eyes brightened, she liked what she saw. Maybe she would be agreeable—if not enthusiastic—about the prospect of a trip to Vauxhall’s Dark Walk.
However . . .
“Save me a slice of roast beef,” Cam said. “I’ll join you another time.”
The two bucks looked somewhat crestfallen, but, after a quick exchange of further pleasantries, they and their female friend moved on.
Leaving Cam free to head toward his destination: backstage. That’s where the real action took place. As he slowly ambled toward his goal, he passed more and more friends and acquaintances. All of them hailed him. Dozens of invitations were issued. Some to sanctioned Society events, others to more daring, exclusive gatherings. Tempting, every one. He wished he had more than one self, so that he might partake of everything presented to him. Galas, private assemblies, midnight horse races. There was no shortage of amusements, no limit on the pleasures he might experience. Bold widows and bored wives offered their own wordless invitations with their provocative glances and heated gazes.
How could he resist? More often than not, he didn’t.
Tonight, however, he had other plans. Specifically, the actress playing the ingénue.
After disentangling himself from another posse of aristocratic theater patrons, he headed down the stairs. Closer to his objective.
“What a perfectly dismal surprise,” someone behind him said wryly.
Cam’s heart rose. He knew that voice, almost as well as he knew his own. Now the night could truly begin! He turned to face the Earl of Ashford.
Standing beside Ashford was the earl’s new wife, a very pretty blonde, and some of Cam’s enthusiasm dampened. It wasn’t that he disliked Lady Ashford. Far from it. But ever since she’d come into the earl’s life, Cam’s own world had been in a state of upheaval. It wasn’t nearly as much fun running wild through the Town without Ashford.“Now the evening’s truly ruined,” Cam answered.
EVA LEIGH is the pen name of a RITA® Award-nominated romance author who writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, Tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ‘80s. Eva and her husband live in Central California.