Secretly pledged to marry each other, Lord Hadley Fullerton is surprised to hear that Lady Evangeline Stuart is to marry another. Heartbroken, Hadley goes on with his life, but never forgets his first love.
Five years later, they meet again. Evangeline is now a widow and Hadley wants nothing to do with the woman that chose a title and wealth over him. At least that is what his mind is telling himself, but his heart is telling him that the woman in front of his is still the love of his life.
When Evangeline gets caught up in the plans of the enemy targeting the Libertine Scholars, Hadley has no choice but to spend more time with her. Will he end up following his head or his heart?
I loved this story just as much as the rest of the books in the Disgraced Lords series. I love second chance romances, and Evans did not disappoint. The chemistry between Evangeline and Hadley was red hot from the moment of their reunion and I loved watching them reconnect with each other!
I can't wait to read Arend's story, A Night of Forever, which comes out in October!
Thanks go out to Random House via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
Keep reading for a sneak peak of Hadley and Evangeline's story.
Surrey, England, 1811
The shade of the weeping willows protected her from the heat of the afternoon sun, but nothing could cool Evangeline’s blood. She fondled the note Stowe had given her half an hour ago. She’d never regretted saving the young stable boy from his brute of a father two years ago. Stowe worshiped her and was the key to keeping her relationship with Hadley a secret from her mother.
She reread the missive. Hadley wanted to see her—urgently—so she’d saddled Rosten, her dapple-gray gelding, and galloped straight to their usual meeting place.
“Urgently” could mean only one thing: he had news on their planned elopement.
Her nerves on edge, her body strung as taut as a bow, she had to use all her mental strength to sit patiently waiting for her love in their favorite spot under the willow tree in the paddock behind his stable.
Lord Hadley Fullerton, the second son of the Duke of Claymore, was prepared to defy Evangeline’s mother, and his own family if need be, to make her his wife. Her heart burst with joy.
How had she got so lucky?
She’d met Hadley three years ago, when she was a young girl of sixteen. He’d been staying at his hunting lodge, which bordered her family’s crumbling estate. She hadn’t understood at the time, but the morning she stumbled upon him he’d been out drinking in the local tavern, as any young man of twenty-two would have been, and he’d ridden straight into a low-hanging branch, knocking himself off his horse. He’d fallen into a drunken sleep right where he’d landed on the path.
Evangeline had almost ridden over him. However, when she rolled him over, she’d thought him the most handsome man she’d ever clapped eyes upon, and when he’d woken up to find her cradling his head in her lap, he’d asked if she was an angel. That was the exact moment she’d fallen in love.
They had stayed in contact, writing to each other and seeing each other whenever he visited his hunting lodge, which was every month once she’d turned nineteen, a little over eight months ago. A neighbor, Sir Clifford, had held a small ball on her birthday, which her mother had allowed her to attend, and when Hadley danced with her, she’d known he was the one. Over the past eight months their relationship had strengthened and developed into something more grown-up.
Very grown-up. Sensual awareness flickered over her body. When Hadley kissed her she wanted to melt. Melt into him. She wanted to be claimed by him so badly, but like the gentleman he was, he refused to compromise her and was content to wait until they wed.
Finally she heard footsteps approaching, and she ran her hand over her hair, pinched her cheeks, and tugged the bodice of her gown lower. More than determined that she would not wait any longer to be made love to, she needed to look like a temptress. If the elopement was organized, then she wanted the first time Hadley made love to her to be here, beneath their tree, on the estate that would be their home, rather than in some coaching inn at Gretna Green.
The branches were swept aside and Hadley walked toward her. Her heart thrilled at the sight of him, while her thighs clenched in heightened anticipation. What would he feel like on top of her, in her . . . She waved her hand in front of her face, trying to quell her lustful hunger.
Upon seeing her, he lengthened his stride. He moved with a combination of polished elegance and raw virility that saw her body respond as if it had a mind of its own. Heat and moisture gathered at her womanly core, while his handsomeness stole her breath.
His smile turned sensual, as if he could read her thoughts and had already agreed they no longer needed to wait.
He stopped before her, and she had to crane her neck to look up the long, muscled length of him. His light brown hair appeared darker in the shade, as did his blue eyes, which were an even deeper blue than normal, almost black-blue, full of heat and desire. He was endowed with a masculine beauty that startled at first glance. It was likely women would deny him nothing; God knew she couldn’t.
But it wasn’t his striking looks or his family’s status that drew her to him. She could probably have married a title if she’d wanted to, and certainly a peer with more money. It was the man that had won her heart. He quite simply was the sweetest, most honorable, kindest, and cleverest man she’d ever met. He’d cared not a fig about her lack of dowry or her family’s dire financial straits. He loved her exactly as she was: a little bit wild, mostly unconventional, and quite outspoken.
Despite her mother doing her utmost to keep her locked away, parading her only when rich gentlemen came to call, she had found love on her terms, in the arms of a handsome man who would cherish her—even though she was the penniless daughter of an almost bankrupt deceased earl.
She finally looked into his eyes. His gaze was fixed intently on her, the flare of heat turning his eyes the deepest of blues. She wished he’d say something, anything, but most of all she wished he’d tell her that the plan they had devised would work.
Finally he gave a slow smile that made her flush deepen. “I have my brother’s blessing. He’ll stand by our elopement and welcome you into our family.”
Her mouth dried as she felt the tears of joy well. The Duke of Claymore accepted her. “I knew I’d love your brother.”
“He even agreed to loan me the money for my vines. He recognizes that he owes me for all the times I took the beatings from Father when it should have been him.”
She winced recalling the stories Hadley had told her about his father’s brutality. Why were men so cruel? Both Stowe’s father and Hadley’s father had seemed to take pleasure in hurting their children. She would never understand how any person could hurt a child, not to mention their own.
Hadley continued. “It will take a few years before the grapes produce enough high-quality wine to earn well, but when they do, we will never have to worry about money again. We won’t be wealthy, but you won’t want for most things.” He looked at her as if she were his whole world. “I can’t believe you’ve given up the chance to take the ton by storm. You could marry a man who could clothe you in silks, house you in a castle, and give you the biggest sapphires to match your eyes.”
“I don’t want a big house, loads of jewels, or the most fashionable gowns—well, maybe a bit of fashion,” she said jokingly. He smiled at her honesty. She reached out her hand and entwined her fingers with his. She pulled him down to sit next to her. “All I have dreamed of for the past three years is being your wife, your lover, and the mother of your children—our children.”
“You will be.”
She nodded, excitement building. “My mother would never openly object to our marriage if the Duke of Claymore gave us his blessing.”
“I’ll do everything I can to try to help your younger brother keep the estate afloat until he’s old enough to sort out your family’s financial woes. Your mother will have to live very frugally, but she won’t be thrown out on the street.”
She flung her arms around his neck and kissed him with all her heart. “Thank you. I feel a weight is lifted knowing I’m not abandoning my brother to the poorhouse. I almost felt obliged to marry one of Mother’s men. Since it was Mother’s gambling that saw us ruined, I will ensure that you hold the purse strings, so that there is an estate for Edward to run.”
“In three days we will elope to Gretna Green. I’ve organized to borrow Augustus’s coach, and once we are married, my friend Lord Arend Aubury has loaned us his hunting lodge near York for a short honeymoon.”
She steeled herself against the hollowness in her chest. This was not how she envisaged her wedding, but if she ended up married to the man sitting next to her, she didn’t really care how that occurred. She was the daughter of an earl, yet she had to sneak away as if in disgrace to wed the second son of a duke, all because of her mother’s greed. If her mother had her way, she’d be sold off to the highest bidder.
At her quietness, he said, “You are not having second thoughts? You do love me?”
She cupped his face in her hands. She loved Hadley so much it was an ache inside her. Yet she could not help but think of Edward and the lean years ahead for him. “I hope Edward can forgive me.”
“When he’s old enough he’ll understand. He loves you. He wouldn’t want you to be unhappy.”
She lay down in the cool moss, pulling Hadley with her. “Nothing would make me happier than being your wife. Well, maybe one thing . . . make love to me, here, now.”
How was a man to deny such a sensual offer? His body burned to be buried deep within Evangeline. All his life he’d strived to be a better man than his brutal, scandal-ridden, and probably pox-riddled father; unlike his departed father, Hadley held his honor in high regard.
He’d sworn he’d claim her only when they married. He’d spent three years getting to know Evangeline, but the last eight months had been torture. She’d matured into a beautiful, sensual woman, but damn it all, he was nothing like his father, and he could wait a few days more and do this properly—when she was his wife.
“I can’t wait to make you my wife, but then and only then will I make love to you. I don’t want anyone to accuse me of being dishonorable. We will be the subjects of gossip as it is for eloping.”
His heart swelled with pride. This beautiful young woman had put her life, her heart, into his hands. He’d cherish her for the rest of his life.
An eager Evangeline pressed her soft curves against him. “Why must we wait?”
He inwardly smiled, his erection lengthening as she rubbed against him. “I want to do this right. I want your first time to be special—in a bed, with your husband.” Since he was twenty-five, it was up to him to be the sensible one.
“I don’t need a bed, only you. I have plans to marry only you.”
Her gaiety was infectious. Her laughter soothed his soul and sent tingles down his spine. He drew in a sharp breath as her fingers found his erection. She molded her palm to his length and rubbed. Over the last few months he had taught her too well.
He’d loved introducing her to passion. She gave herself freely and unreservedly. Her desire matched his own, and it was only through his determination and will of iron that he had not taken her maidenhood already. They had done everything but.
“Please,” she whispered in his ear. “I want to end this magical day with you inside me. To be claimed and loved by you. It won’t be long until we escape to freedom, and then we will marry. I can’t wait even that long.”
Her hand had worked its way through the placket of his trousers, and he gasped as her clever fingers wrapped round him. He drew back and looked into her eyes. They were brimming with love—and desire.
“You tempt me so much,” he declared, and meant every word. How many nights had he twisted and turned in a fever, dreaming of lying above her, sliding deep within her, and claiming her forever more. “I’ve waited over three years—I can wait another few days. Let me do the honorable thing.”
“Honor be damned. I want the first time I lie with you to be here, in our special place, in your garden—our garden. I suspect that once we elope we will have to consummate the marriage at Gretna Green. I want to have the memory of you deep inside me, here, where we intend to live happily ever after. Please don’t deny me that.”
Evangeline looked at him earnestly, and he understood her point. Every time they walked in their grounds, when their children and their grandchildren played here, they would remember this special spot and how they had marked their house, this land, with love.
With no further doubts he took her lips in a kiss meant to convey his desire to please her, to love her—always.
They lay together under the willow tree at the end of the rose garden. No servants were about because he’d informed them to stay away. He didn’t want anyone to see Evangeline visit. They had been sneaking visits, and while he knew his staff were loyal, he had to be careful. especially as her mother would try to stop them eloping.
She wanted Evangeline to marry into wealth in order to save the estate for her younger brother, Edward. Hadley swallowed down his jealousy. She had the beauty, wit, and pedigree to do just that, yet she loved him.
She’d chosen him.
He had no idea what sums of money Evangeline’s family required. Money, or more specifically lack of it, was the bane of his existence. If he had more money, he’d give her a dream wedding with the whole of the ton at her feet.
What scared him was that, even without a dowry, she was beautiful enough to interest any man. She could have any man she wanted, even a duke. He still couldn’t believe she wanted him. His conscience nagged him because she was still quite young. She hadn’t had a season, either, so she had not had a chance to meet other men. Her mother couldn’t afford a season, so instead she got invited to as many house parties as possible, so that she could shop her daughter through the pool of moneyed sharks. The urgency to elope vibrated through every bone in his body because he knew sharks didn’t waste time before biting.
He couldn’t help wondering if, in the future, she would think she’d made a mistake settling for him.
Her lips pressing at his throat made him refocus on the pleasure at hand. If he took her now, she’d have no choice but to wed him. He cursed his selfishness and rebuked the idea. It would have to be her choice.
“If I make love to you, you will have no option but to marry me.”
Her frown was instant. “Whom else would I marry?”
He sighed and pulled her against him. “You’ve not even had a season. If your family could afford it, you would take the ton by storm and you could have your pick of suitors. You could become a duchess or countess or—”
“I’d rather become Lady Hadley Fullerton.”
“How do you know, if you haven’t met anyone else?”
He felt her shudder. “My mother has introduced me to many men.” She snuggled against his chest, her hand pressing over his heart. “I just know I’ll never love anyone as much as I love you. You’re in my soul.”
They lay under their tree, hugging each other tightly, as his body argued with his mind. They should wait, he knew. But when she murmured against his chest, “I love you,” over and over, his will deserted him.
She gave a cry of protest as he pulled back, but her smile returned when he began removing his jacket. He made quick work of discarding the garment. Evangeline quickly sat up and presented her back to him, urging him to help with her dress.
His hands shook as he slipped each hook undone. Today he would claim his heart’s desire. He’d never been so happy, and he wanted to remember this feeling forever.
The heat meant she had not worn a corset. He had seen her naked before, many times, but as she lay spread out before him, a tempting treat, covered only by her thin shift, his throat choked with emotion.
This moment was sacred.
He could barely move, so overcome was he with love for her.
She shyly smiled at him before pulling her shift up and over her head. She wore no undergarments except stockings, and Hadley could barely control his hungry response to the goddess before him.
Her auburn hair fell in waves around creamy shoulders, hiding her long slender neck. Already a few twigs and leaves had become tangled in it; he’d have to remember to pick them out later. But his eyes were drawn to her pert breasts with hard, darkened nipples begging to be suckled. She had a narrow waist, flaring out at her bonny hips. He couldn’t wait to grip them as he slid deep within her. Her stomach was slightly rounded, and the thatch of copper-colored hair between her milky thighs sent his blood thundering round his body, racing to his throbbing cock.
“You’re a vision. Beautiful beyond words.”
She crooked her little finger at him and he rolled toward her, moving between her spread thighs, totally enthralled. He could no longer deny that he didn’t want to wait for their marriage either. He needed her.
“I want you naked too,” she whispered as her hands tugged his shirt out of his breeches. Before he could suck in a much-needed breath, she had his shirt off. When her fingers fumbled with his breeches he had to halt her questing hands. He’d never last if she kept touching him. His body was ready to explode; the reality of finally making love to her sent his desire spiraling toward the point of no return. He needed to ensure she found her pleasure first so that the loss of her maidenhead would not hurt.
He pulled her hand to his lips and kissed it. “Don’t be in such a hurry. I want you to remember this day, as I know I will, forever.”
“I will. I’ll never forget this moment. It’s engraved on my memory.” She looked into his eyes and said, “I love you so much.”
He stood and looked down upon a vision soon to be seared in his brain. Creamy skin rested on the mossy ground, with enticing stockings cloaking her legs. He divested himself of his breeches and with trembling limbs crouched at her feet soaking in her naked beauty.
He ran his hands up and over her stockings until he reached the silken skin of her thighs. His fingers stroked softly until on a small sigh her legs parted, allowing him a view of heaven.
He crawled further between her legs to position himself directly in front of where his mouth longed to taste. He’d feasted on her before and loved her taste, like the sweetest nectar. Her thighs parted further and her hips lifted slightly as if begging for his kiss.
He closed his eyes and breathed deep before lowering his head to touch her with his eager tongue.
The world around him disappeared as he lost himself in her, loving her with his mouth until she was writhing on the ground in need, her hips lifting to press her center closer, demanding more from him. He used his fingers in conjunction with his tongue, and soon he sensed her climax nearing. Her body tightened, her thighs pressed tightly against his head, and as he gave one final suck on her hard little nub, she screamed his name.
With arms that could barely hold him because he was trembling with need, he moved to cover her body, pushing his hips between her thighs, and while she was still shuddering from her release he began to ease inside her.
Dreams are for those who reach for the sky, and as her tight sheath clamped around him, he felt like he was in heaven.
Kitty Cateril feels trapped in the home of her late husband's family. When her best friend writes her about the local Viscount needing a wife, Kitty thinks this might be the answer to her problem. But does she want to marry without love?
Beau Braydon has recently inherited a title, and with that came the responsibility of taking her of the previous Viscount's family. A wife would solve his problems. He could stay in London while his wife takes care of his new family and estate. When the local vicar's wife makes a suggestion for his wife, he jumps on the chance of not having to find and court a prospective bride.
Can this marriage that started to one of convience turn into one based on love?
I really enjoyed Beverley's newest addition to her Company of Rogues series. I really liked both Kitty and Beau.
Kitty was a woman that did what she needs to do to get herself out of an oppressive situation (living with her in-laws). She was stifling under the careful watch of her MIL. I don't blame her for wanting to get away from that situation and for being willing to marry a man she didn't know. It helped that she felt an instant attraction for said man.
Of course with most of Beverley's stories, we have some level of intrigue involved. I loved that Beau decides to let Kitty in on the work that he is doing for the Crown and that he thinks enough of her to get her opinion on what is going on in his case.
I hope that we keep getting to see more Rogues in upcoming books, but regardless, I'm excited to see what Beverley has in store for us next!
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When her father's death reveals that the family is deeply in debt, Emma Chadwick knows that she must get a job. Always having a head for numbers, she applies for a position as bookkeeper of a notorious gaming hell. Accepting the job, she didn't count on being wildly attracted to her boss. Knowing that she most do everything in her power to protect her family from ruin, Emma tries to deny her feelings.
Roderick Bentley wants nothing to do with the society that his customers come from. Being the bastard son of a nobleman has given him a taste of their cruelty. But when he meets Emma, he thinks he might have found the one bright spot amongst the ton. He knows that he is no good for her, but he can't seem to stay away from her.
Can this unlikely pair find love in the most unlikely setting?
I LOVED this story!! This is my first story by Sandas, but I can assure you that it won't be the last! There are 3 other books that Sandas already has out that are now on my TBR pile.
I loved both Emma and Roderick in this story!! Emma was not your typical English lady which is such a breathe of fresh air in a historical romance story. And Roderick...wow, I think I'd like to take him home with me!! He could act the gentleman when he was out in society, but because of his lifestyle, he had this dangerous vibe going on that was very compelling!! Roderick had just the right combination of being a gentleman vs his rakish behavior to make him very appealing!
I'm going to guess that the next two books in the series will be about Emma's two sisters (I'm hoping!!), so I hope we will be able to see Emma and Roderick throughout their stories too!
After being seriously injured in a carriage accident and having to learn to walk all over again, Lavinia Montgomery is finally ready to make her debut. Wanting a family of her own she is determined to find a husband, but she can't seem to forget the man that she fell in love with before her accident. Although she never meet the man, they exchanged letters and a connection grew between them. After her accident, Lavinia stopped writing to him. She felt that she no longer had anything to offer her gentleman.
Randolph James Caulfield, the Earl of Penwick, is engaged to be married. Unfortunately he can't seem to forget the woman that he fell in love with through the letters they exchanged and is doubting his decision. Then he meets Livi and feels an instant attraction for her. Now he really doesn't know what to do. He has a fiancee, a woman that stole his heart through their letter writing and now Livi whom he can't stop thinking about.
Can Lavinia and Randolph get through this mess to find their HEA?
Having read about the letters being exchanged by Lavinia and Randolph in the previous books, I was very much looking forward to reading this story! Bryant did not disappoint.
I will tell you that I read this book in one setting. I just had to keep reading until they finally realized who the other was!! Once I was that far into the book, I had to just keep reading to see how it ended.
Bryant also brilliantly weaved in a mystery that involved Lavinia and her love of shoes. You'd never guess that a love of shoes would bring dander to your life!
I don't know if Bryant will be continuing with this series or not, but I'm looking forward to whatever she presents us with next!
Lady Grace Carpenter knows that she will never get married because it could mean that she would lose guardianship of her brothers and sisters. So when she meets up with Matt, the Earl of Worthington and the man that she has held a tendré for, she makes her decision to have one night with him. She believes that this memory will sustain her through the rest of her years.
Matt can't believe that the woman he just spent an amazing night with has disappeared. After their intimate conversation and night together, he believes she is the woman for him. Why is it that everytime he thinks he spots her in London, she seems to disappear?
Will Math and Grace every reconnect again or are they destined to be parted forever?
I liked the storyline, but I thought that the execution of it could have been done a lot better. I thought that the story was a little far fetched in that Matt fell in love and decided to marry Grace after spending one night together (although there are RL stories out there that say it can happen...). The fun in a romance is to watch them fall in love with each other, not for it to happen over night.
It seems that it is always hit or miss for me on whether I like Quinn's work or not. This one was just an ok read for me.
Former courtesan, Charlotte Perry, wants to find the stolen cash of gold coins so that she can collect the reward and start her life over. She didn't count on the handsome stranger that wanted it for himself just as much as she did, or that she would find herself attracted to the man.
After going blind while in the Royal Navy, Benedict Frost is living off of the half pay that is awarded to him. He wants the reward to make sure that his sister is taken care of. But when he meets Charlotte, they have to decide whether to be adversaries or to become partners and find the missing gold together.
Will Charlotte and Benedict be able to find the gold before someone else does?
I really enjoyed this story. It is not often that you encounter a H/H with a disability, but Benedict didn't let that stop him from doing all of the things that he loved. He had learned to adapt to a new way of life that compensated for his loss in a way that he was way better at things than most sighted people.
I liked Charlotte too. I feel like she was taken advantage of when she was young and then she made the most of that situation. She was trying to make a new life for herself and never expected to find love. She was used to men facing for her for her looks, so when meeting Benedict she knew that any attraction he felt for her, had to be for other reasons. I liked that they became friends and got to know one another before they decided to act on their mutual attraction.
I'm excited to read the next book, Passion Favors the Bold, which will be released in February, 2017.
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Nicolas de Savignac, Count of Lambelle, is on a mission for the King. Someone is writing scandalous stories about the nobleman at court and he is to track him/her down and bring them to the palace. He never imagined the the writer might be the woman he is falling in love with.
Anne and her two sisters are writers and they are exposing the men that act horribly toward the woman in their lives. When Nicolas shows up says that he wants to mend fences with his estranged grandmother, Anne doesn't know any different. But from the first moment they laid eyes on each other, the air practically crackled around them.
What will happen when Anne learns the truth about why Nicolas is in his grandmother's home?
I love this series by DiPasqua! I love how she has taken popular fairy tales and put her spin on them.
Little Red Writing is a quick, very hot read!! Pick it up, you won't be disappointed!