As I’ve just had a new cover done for Rake’s Honour – and the book is on sale – I thought I’d post an excerpt. I wrote Rake’s Honour as the first in my Scandalous Miss Brightwell series. I’ve recently rewritten it quite extensively – as I have done for Rogue’s Kiss, the second in the series. Now book 3 – Devil’s Run – is nearly finished and will be published in a couple of months.
In this scene, Fanny has gone looking for her sister’s bracelet which Antoinette has lost after leaving Lord Quamby’s ballroom. Finding herself in a chamber hung with lurid artwork, Fanny has just tumbled down some stairs, ripped her gown, and is hiding in a very strange edifice as she knows the man she fancies is following her. Isn’t Fanny a silly girl?
Anxiety and urgency made her fingers clumsy as she tried to fix the damage. In despair, she glanced up at her reflection in the huge gilt mirror that formed one entire wall of the festooned tent.
How was she to re-fashion her Grecian coiffure when she’d lost most of the necessary hairpins? If that was not bad enough, how could she ever make her reappearance at the ball in a gown so badly damaged?
She was conscious of his presence near the entrance and both longed for and feared his arrival.
“I… I’m not quite ready.” Would she ever be?
The insidious knot of self-doubt always lurking beneath the surface grew. It hardened, lodging in her chest cavity, and ground away at the self-assurance she’d polished to a shine. Who did she think she was, parading as a society miss, dangling her brassy powers of attraction before Britain’s ten thousand in the hopes of snaring a husband who would benefit the Brightwell family, collectively? A baron’s daughter she may be, but she had nothing other than good looks and a reputation still intact—if Fenton kept his word—to recommend her. At this moment, even that was imperilled on account of her careless pea goose of a sister. Her feverish attempts at feigning a life of leisure and frivolity in accord with those whose life she sought to share seemed suddenly stupid and pathetic. She’d be a laughing stock if people knew the long hours she plied needle and thread to clothe her sister and herself in the latest splendour.
Desperation at her plight was shredding her insides. Tomorrow she was to marry Lord Slyther, unless…
Unless what? There was not time. Lord Fenton was waiting for her and all she could do was stare into the looking-glass like some unworldly debutante frozen by fear.
Right now, in her hour of need, she could not even find a threaded needle to save her reputation. Lord Fenton would think her little better than a costermonger when he saw her with her torn skirt and disordered hair. What would he think if he could see into her shrivelled-up little soul?
Her toes curled and her insides cleaved with frustrated longing. Tonight she’d recognised in his eye the mysterious fascination she wielded. She’d wielded the same power over Alverley.
It was true that she’d not wanted Alverley but he’d offered the means of survival. Survival for her and her family.
Lord, but she wanted Fenton. It was too early to call it love—when love was what she aspired above all else—but there was a magnetism between them that defied common sense. Surely that was a good enough beginning to warrant throwing all her efforts into making him want her when the alternative was Lord Slyther?
With an effort, she steadied her breathing. Her mother would be equally satisfied with Lord Fenton. Fenton provided the same opportunities as Lord Slyther. He had lineage, money, prospects enough to offer the entire Brightwell clan. Her mother would be as delighted over a match with Fenton as she was with Lord Slyther. Wouldn’t she?
Fanny could be a wife worthy of Lord Fenton. Fanny needed a man like Lord Fenton. And Fanny wanted…Lord Fenton.
Actually wanted him, like she’d never wanted a man. The need to reconnect with him, physically, was so powerfully intense she had to grip the sofa arm to steady herself.
Beware. She closed her eyes and forced reason to prevail. Fenton had the power to make her forget herself. It had happened before and she’d been lucky.
In Fenton she wondered if she’d met her match. She recognised in him qualities that went deeper than the ironic façade he chose to present to the world—for she practiced the same deception. A necessary deception if she were to shield her most vulnerable self from an exacting and judgemental society.
She bit her trembling lip and tried to collect her wits. If she had time she could work herself into the woman of Fenton’s dreams—dreams that would last beyond the here and now…
…if only she had time.
“You may come, Lord Fenton.”
[End of Extract]
So that’s it from me for now. I hope you enjoyed the extract.
Rake’s Honour is available on all platforms here.