Kidnapped and sold at auction in a London brothel, Lady Katarina Fitzwilliam squelches an undeniable attraction to the masked stranger who purchased her, pits her wits against him, and escapes him and the scandal that would ruin her life.
Unable to resist temptation in a London brothel, Duncan Ferrers, Marquess of Dalbury, purchases a fiery beauty. She claims she's a lady, but how can she be? No lady of his acquaintance in polite society is anything like her.
Then he discovers she is who she says, and that this latest romp has compromised her reputation. He knows how that is. One more scandal and he'll be cast out of London society, but he needs a wife who'll provide an heir to carry on his illustrious family's name. He seeks out Katarina, intending only to scotch the scandal, but instead finds his heart ensnared.
He's betting their future he'll capture her heart, but does he have what it takes to win the wager?
WARNING: A blade-wielding heroine who crosses swords with a master of sensuality.
Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance who has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, Jenna has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own writing.
Jenna lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.
“I assure you, there was never a night like that before.” Lord Dalbury spoke quietly, and Katarina sensed a tension in him. “I had never done such a thing before. Never participated in such an auction. Never tried to take a woman unwillingly to my bed.” He stopped speaking. Just stopped. Then his breath hissed as though he’d slowly released it.
“I cannot find the words to tell you how deeply I regret I was not a better man that night.” He paused, and she held still and waited. “What I tried to do was madness, without thought, without honor. I do not even have an excuse other than my base desires, and that your abundant charms overwhelmed me.” His face was shadowy in the scarce light of the sickle moon, but he sounded contrite. “I have no right to ask for your forgiveness. I have no right to expect it. But I would ask you to allow me to attempt to remedy the situation.”
Kat shook her head slowly. “What on earth do you believe you could do, Lord Dalbury, that could even come close to a remedy for the terror and humiliation you put me through? Do you think now that I have met you, heard your feeble attempts at an apology, and rejected them, the memory of that night will magically disappear?” She fought to control her anger, though she yearned to blast him with it. “What magic potion would you have me take that would erase the memory of you pinning me to the bed? Because if you have such an elixir, then yes, I will gladly take it from you and obliterate you absolutely and irrevocably.”
He stood silent at her words, then said simply, “I have only myself to offer, my lady.”
“You would have me kill you, my lord? In that, too, I agree I would oblige you, but not at the cost of my own life. I understand the English law punishes those who do murder quite severely.” Kat was astonished when he lurched backward, as from a blow.
“No, my lady, I would not have you kill me,” he said, sounding grimly amused. “Though indeed that would probably give you most satisfaction. I meant I would have you marry me.”
His words surprised a laugh out of her. “Marry you?” The laughter grew. “I see, my lord, you think me both a whore and a fool.”
“I think you are neither, Lady Katarina.”
“Then you are the fool to believe I would put such a man as you in control of every aspect of my life.” That he thought she would even entertain the suggestion was insulting.
The pale moonlight shadowed his face, but she could read displeasure there just the same. “You judge me solely on one act that, I assure you, was grossly out of character for me. You cannot possibly know what kind of husband I would be.”
“And never will, Lord Dalbury. I can swear to you that I would not marry you if I were in Hell and you were my only hope of Heaven.”
He inclined his head toward her, a faint smile touching his lips. “I believe you made a similar claim about dancing with me, Lady Katarina. Yet we have indeed enjoyed a dance together despite your words.” His tone was soft, the sensuous, cajoling one he had used to seduce her that night in the House of Pleasure.
Kat trembled, recalling the incredible sensations of his hands, his mouth on her body. Damn. He could not do this to her again. Not just with his voice.
“Is there nothing that would entice you to leave your Hell for my Heaven?”
She struggled to answer, opened her lips to deny it, only to find her mouth completely sealed by his.