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Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss [Secure eReader]
eBook by Deb Marlowe

eBook Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
eBook Description: The Wicked Lord Dayle Charles Alden, Viscount Dayle, is intent on reform, having misspent his youth on hard living, soft women and outrageous pranks. Forced by circumstance to hold a title he never wanted, he's determined to live up to his noble name. The Unconventional Miss Westby Sophie Westby is the last woman who should attract his interest. And yet she comforts his battered spirit, captivates his wary mind and tempts him with her exotic beauty. But the reformed rake cannot cause another scandal--can he?

eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Historical
Fictionwise Release Date: February 2008

30 Reader Ratings:
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Sophie Westby has come to London to help her friend, Emily Lowder design a nursery. Emily was so pleased with the nursery, she asked Sophie to do several more rooms. Viscountress Dayle, a visitor to the Lowder home is so enamored over the redecorated rooms that she requested Sophie do a project for her.

Lady Dayle happens to be the mother of Sophie's childhood friend, Charles. Sophie and Charles have lost touch over the years and he is now Viscount Dayle. When Sophie meets him, she hardly recognizes him since he has changed so much. Gone is the young man full of tricks and laughter and in his place is a stern, mean-spirited, stuffy curmudgeon.

Charles has tried to turn over a new leaf and be respectable, upright, and worthy of his title. However, his efforts seem to be worth little as someone is out to destroy his reputation by exposing his wild youthful exploits. He decides to marry a woman of stellar reputation as a way to improve his standing with the ton. Of course, that women cannot be Sophie, no matter how much she fascinates him. She's just too eccentric and just too ready to step forward and take a stand, no matter the consequences, Ms. Marlowe inserts romance, intrigue, and humor into a story of the days after the Napoleonic wars. She writes of the ton, the attitude of Parliament, women's rights, and the plight of the returning soldiers. Both romance and history buffs will find this book well worth reading. -Frances Boyle, Fictionwise Recommender

Chapter One

Charles Alden, Viscount Dayle, sank into his favourite overstuffed chair in the morning room at White's. It was early; the porters had not yet let down the awnings and bright light flooded through the floor-to-ceiling window. At his elbow sat a pot of coffee, a plate of muffins, and a pile of papers. He snapped open The Times, sank his teeth into his first, hot, buttery bite and let out a heartfelt sigh.

He revelled in the peace of the morning all the way through the first paper. Unfortunately, peace was a commodity hard to come by anywhere in England in the spring of 1817, even for a viscount. Charles first noticed something amiss as he set aside The Times and reached for the Edinburgh Review.

A space had cleared all about him. The morning room, usually full of gentlemen either beginning one day or ending another, was empty but for a few souls gathered in whispering knots along the walls. One man caught his gaze, blasted him with a look of utter scorn, and stalked out, calling for his hat. A wrench of foreboding seizing his gut, Charles looked up into the sympathetic eye of one of the porters, come to refresh his coffee.

'Well, Bartlett,' he said quietly, 'I can see you are not half so ignorant as I. Tell me.'

Bartlett cleared his throat. 'I have taken the liberty of adding a copy of today's Oracle to the stack of your usual papers, my lord. Perhaps you would care to peruse the editorial section?'

'The Oracle?' It was little more than a scandal sheet. 'Thank you, Bartlett.'

Charles picked up the paper with trepidation and turned a few pages until he found the item he sought, directly under a scathing response to Lord Sidmouth's call against 'seditious publications'.

Tory Darling or Wolf In Sheep's Clothing?

They do say that a Reformed Rake makes the Best Husband—but what kind of Politician does he make?

Just such a man is Lord D—, a Rakehell of the First Order, now converted into a Responsible English Peer. Or is he? Based on certain, recent Rumours, We wonder if he has changed pastures only in search of fresh prey.

Lord D—has been seen often lately with the notorious Lady A—on his arm. Perhaps this is not so surprising when one considers his past taste for women of immodest character and her known taste for the rising young members of her husband's political party. What is surprising is that a man previously known for living on wit and instinct could have fumbled this situation so badly. No other explanation presents itself for yesterday's dramatic events, when Lord A—returned home unexpectedly only to find a dark-haired gentleman departing the house by route of Lady A—'s bedchamber window.

The lady has reportedly been duly chastised and banished to the country. But as for the gentleman?

It cannot be denied that Lord D—is a man of many talents. Indeed, it is rumoured he is to be groomed for High Office. We at the Oracle cannot help but wonder if the Tories should reconsider the notion. Surely a candidate exists who can demonstrate a higher standard of character. For if the Tories cannot trust Lord D—with their women, then why should they trust him with the Nation?

* * *

For a long minute Charles sat rigid with anger. Bloody, damnable hell. Months of hard work. Weeks of toadying. Countless gruelling hours spent constructing a careful façade. All destroyed in a moment with the vicious swipe of an acid pen.

Normal, everyday sounds drifted in from the adjoining rooms: the rustle of freshly ironed papers, the soft clink of china, the low murmur of men whose lives had not just been turned inside out. Charles sat frozen, trying to wrap his mind about the disaster that had befallen him with the turn of a page.

He nearly jumped out of his skin when grizzled Lord Rackham paused behind his chair and thumped him soundly on the shoulder.

'Just so, my boy!' the old relic bellowed. 'Brazen it out. Don't let them see you with your head down, that's the wisest course! Tomorrow some bloke will get caught hammering his rocks in someone else's quarry and they'll all be talking about that. It will blow over soon enough.' After another encouraging cuff he stalked off to rejoin his friends, the whole pack of them muttering darkly as they crossed into the coffee room.

With quiet, deliberate movements Charles finished his coffee. Old Lord Rackham had the right of it; he would not let anyone think he was ashamed. Once he had finished he stood, tucked the copy of the Oracle under his arm, and with a flash of a gold coin in Bartlett's direction, Charles walked out of White's.

He stood a moment on St James's Street, dazzled by the bright sun and annoyed at the bustle of traffic. Then he let loose a great laugh. Who in the world did he think he was—the heroine in a gothic novel? Should lightning crack the sky and mere mortals scurry for cover because Viscount Dayle's political career lay in ruins?

As if in answer, a brisk breeze riffled his hair, and Charles set off towards Mayfair. Who did he think he was? That was the question of the hour—no, of the entire past year—was it not?

There was only one answer. He was Viscount Dayle, a carefully constructed facsimile of the man who should hold the title. And Viscount Dayle was nothing without his political career.

His mind darted from one scenario to the next as he approached Piccadilly, scrambling to come up with some way to salvage the situation. Lost in his own whirlwind of thoughts, he failed to notice both the rising wind and the increasingly strident sound of his own name. It wasn't until someone grasped his arm that he came awake to his surroundings.

Copyright © 2007 by Deb Marlowe.

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