Stacy Reid continues her Regency-era The Sinful Wallflowers series with a tale of scandal and revenge, and I have a little sneak peek for you. Desperate to escape an objectionable betrothal to a much older man, Miss Maryann Fitzwilliam orchestrates a scandal involving notorious rake Nicolas St. Ives, the Marquess of Rothbury, climbing out of her window. But little does she know that Nicolas is a man who’s been plotting revenge for years against those who hurt someone he loved, and his enemies have now become hers, too.
Maryann couldn’t credit that Nicolas St. Ives would be this outrageous! Her mama had not invited him to tonight’s ball, yet here he was, descending the wide staircase from the upper bowers, confidently striding, casting sardonic glances at debutantes, and with a sensual smirk about his mouth, declaring him every inch the rake society bemoaned.
He was considered improper, disreputable, and was even whispered by some to be cunning. He was also appallingly handsome, and many ladies who should have known better flirted with him shamelessly. He clearly did not give a fig what society thought about him, a thing Maryann had come to believe, since the scandal sheets reported on his exploits weekly.
“Is it really him?” a young debutante asked. “Oh my, he is terribly handsome.”
Her friends dissolved into giggles and drew her away, as if they were saving their fair gazelle from the lion drawing closer. The man seemed sublimely unaware of his masculine beauty and the stir he caused whenever he entered a room. His expression was insouciant; she could not conclude what kind of man he was.
A few gentlemen of the ton were vain about their appearance to the point of being rather excessive. And it seemed Nicolas St. Ives was one of them, dressed in black trousers and jacket, with a bright golden waistcoat and a matching cravat. A cravat pin studded with a large diamond winked at his throat, and his hair seemed carelessly styled, yet curled at his nape and on his forehead perfectly.
The rakehell! How dare he crash her mother’s ball?
The twitter of excitement that went through the throng echoed in Maryann’s veins, and she scowled. Mama would curse his name tomorrow, but the scandal sheets would celebrate his wicked daring, the debutantes would excitedly trade stories about how close their gowns had brushed against the lord the scandal sheets referred to as “the daring and the wicked.” And perhaps a few married ladies and widows would share among themselves some delightful and naughty things they suggested having done with him.
Maryann silently snorted, thinking it all ridiculous. Yet she couldn’t help staring at him, couldn’t help the manner in how her heart ached, yet she didn’t know what she longed for. Certainly anything in regard to a notorious rake could only lead to inevitable disgrace.
Copyright © 2020 by Stacy Reid. Reprinted with permission of Entangled Publishing.