I have a new release! Never Tempt a Rogue is a Victorian romance novella that was included in Embracing Romance’s limited sale boxed set, Passionate Promises. Now I’ve added an additional chapter, a sneak peek of the next novella in the Rogues’ Rulebook Series, and am offering the stand alone novella for 99 cents.
The idea for this story came many years ago and started with Felicity, my heroine. What if your one job was to protect your debutante cousin from a infamous rogue? What if you found that you couldn’t resist the man yourself?
More About the Story
Felicity Beckett’s uncle has tasked her with one goal for Lord and Lady Forsythe’s country house party. Keep her innocent cousin away from the notorious rake, Lord Lindsay. The man’s Rogues’ Rulebook has earned him the most scandalous of reputations, but no one warned Felicity how irresistible a rogue can be.
Alex Evering, Lord Lindsay, agrees to attend his aunt and uncle’s party for a bit of enjoyment before embracing the duties of his newly inherited title, but he loathes their scheme to redeem his reputation and marry him off to a proper young lady—until he meets Miss Felicity Beckett.
“He has the longest legs.” Amelia Huntingdon twirled a strand of glossy chestnut hair around her finger and sighed dramatically. “It’s quite something to see him walk. His thighs flex so—”
“Curb your tongue, Amy. A lady does not notice a man’s flexibility, nor anything else about his thighs.” Felicity Beckett placed a finger between two pages of the etiquette manual she’d been attempting to read as the Huntingdon family carriage rattled along from London toward the Surrey countryside. After struggling for an hour to finish the first chapter, she couldn’t bear to lose her place and muddle through again.
The book’s contents were as appetizing as a stale biscuit, but she intended to take her role as chaperone seriously. Perhaps if she kept her eyes trained on the words long enough, the rules would make an impression, stamping right over her own persistent memory of Amy’s exceedingly tall viscount.
“Lord Lindsay is a man like all the rest,” she continued. With undeniably appealing thighs. Muscular and… “No, I take that back. He’s much worse than all the rest. Put thoughts of the viscount out of your mind.” Felicity spoke to her younger cousin with extra vehemence on this essential point. Whatever else happened during the country house party they were planning to attend, the girl had to cease her infatuation with the man. As Amelia’s chaperone, Felicity needed to see that she did.
Lord Lindsay was the worst sort of scoundrel. Infamous for his excesses, in fact. He and two of his pleasure-seeking friends had even written a book about their exploits called The Rogues’ Rulebook, a sort of primer for young men looking to indulge their every licentious desire.
Not that Felicity had read it. She was forcing herself to read Etiquette for Ladies, and one day she’d finish the book, absorbing all its wisdom and propriety so that she could impart them to Amy. Assuming she could manage to stay awake through the next chapter.
Felicity had never been formally introduced to Viscount Lindsay, but she’d once studied him from across a ballroom, back when he’d simply been the scandalous Alexander Evering. That had been enough to sear his image—flexing thighs and all—on her mind, and to confirm every whisper she’d heard about the rogue. With overlong hair of burnished gold, sooty lashes over gray eyes, and lips that quirked in mockery often enough to rivet her gaze to their plush fullness, he was the essence of temptation. No man could possess his brand of incandescent beauty and be a good man. Worst of all, he seemed wholly aware of his effect on women. He wielded his appeal like a skilled swordsman swings his blade, piercing ladies’ hearts in his wake. Rumor had it that he charmed, seduced, and discarded lovers without a shred of shame.
Well-bred innocents like Amy seemed especially susceptible.
“You can’t expect me to avoid him for a fortnight. That would be rude.” Across from her, Amelia fluttered her lashes innocently. “Does your dusty old book say anything about being polite at a house party?”
Felicity squinted one eye and studied her pretty cousin. Perhaps the girl had inherited a bit of Uncle Huntingdon’s cleverness after all. Most days, Felicity would swear Amy’s head was full of candy floss, but then she found herself stumbling into a coyly framed question.
“We shall offer Lord Lindsay a polite greeting and converse with him as often as we must, but Lady Forsythe assured me there will be several charming, and titled, young gentlemen in attendance.” Please let her find one of those charming, titled, and eminently suitable men more appealing than the viscount. “For these two weeks, let your focus be on new acquaintances, my dear.”
As the oldest of five sisters, Amy’s fortuitous marriage could alter the future for the rest of her siblings. Their late mother’s friendship with Lady Forsythe had earned the girl an invitation to the house party. Felicity’s role was to help her make the most of the opportunity.
As a firmly on-the-shelf spinster with no family other than the uncle and cousins who’d opened their home to her, Felicity understood the power of opportunities. She was living with the consequences of squandering her own. She’d trusted too easily, and given her heart to a man incapable of taking care with it. Amy could do better. With her looks and sweet demeanor, the eldest Miss Huntingdon would marry well. And that would need to be satisfaction enough. No one need tell Felicity that her own chance at a happily settled future had passed her by long ago.
“Never tempt a rogue, Amy.” The words burst out before she could stop herself. Emotion came too, a piercing sharpness in the back of her throat as if her past mistakes would choke her. She pushed all of it down, the emotion and the memories. Just as she’d been doing for four years. “It won’t lead you anyplace you wish to go. Trust me on that point.”
Her cousin turned serious and quiet a moment before tilting her mouth in a tremulous smile. “Is that a direct quote from your etiquette guide, cousin?”
“More or less.” Felicity looked down at the book in her lap and sighed. At some point she’d lifted her finger and lost her page. “Of course, I’ve only read a chapter so far, but what’s the use of etiquette if not to keep us from making awful choices?”
“Did you make an awful choice?” Amy studied her with a surprisingly incisive gaze. “Is there something in your past that you regret, Fel?”
Biting down, catching the edge of her lip between her teeth, Felicity looked out over the rolling Surrey countryside. Swaths of green changed hue as sunlight slanted through feathery clouds. Not even the bucolic landscape could distract her from the memory of her regret.
She may have thoroughly mucked up her own future, but she couldn’t bear to let Amy do the same.