Miss Lavinia Halls is a member of the Guild of Hybrids, a secret society dedicated to helping women in need. When faced with a terrified new client, Lavinia declares that her client’s fiancé must pay for his sins. The fact that she can’t take her eyes off the man’s kissable lips only spurs her resolve to bring her assignment to a quick conclusion.
Eric Yorke, Viscount Mathieson, wishes nothing more than to distance himself from his treacherous fiancée, but in his quest to do so, he finds himself trapped in the clutches of the unconventional Miss Halls. The delectable yet annoyingly persistent woman seems intent on ruining his life no matter how much he tries to thwart her attempts.
Her efforts to seek and destroy meet their match in his determination to foil her plans, until their struggles collide in a scandal of enormous proportions. Fated together, they must overcome ruin, danger and heartbreak. Will they be able to survive their past or is their future together doomed?
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29249117
Lavinia’s eyes darted to the back of the room, the door the only goal on her mind. When she turned forward again, she flinched as if burned. Lord Mathieson was standing before her, obstructing her view.
He sat next to her without asking for permission. Their thighs touched and she flushed as his warmth penetrated her skirts. She inched away as much as possible, but the narrow bench did not make allowances. Determined to ignore him, she stared straight ahead, her fingers clasping her reticule tightly.
“Good evening, Miss Halls,” he whispered.
Lavinia inclined her head but continued staring at Miss Pool up ahead. If she would turn to look him in the eyes, she’d see his full lips dangerously close to her own.
“It would have been remiss of me not to greet you properly.”
She licked her lips, not knowing what to say. She sensed his eyes dart to the movement of her tongue, reminding her how she had done precisely the same thing during the card game to garner his attention. It had worked then, much as it was unfortunately working now.
“A few days have gone by without our running into each other,” he said, “and I found myself quite missing your dismissive chatter.”
She turned sharply with narrowed eyes.
“And here I find myself in the most unusual predicament,” he said with a grin, “as I am sitting next to you, and for once, you are at a loss for words. I never thought the day would come.”
She racked her brain for something to say, anything intelligent. Anything at all! Dear God, I am turning into a ridiculous fool.
“Did I catch you by surprise?” he whispered, leaning toward her. She, in turn, leaned away. She felt her face flush to the very roots of her hair.
“I find I quite like you this way,” his voice vibrated in a low, husky tone. “Silent and submissive.”
Anger flooded through her. “How dare you,” she said, not as quiet as she had intended. Someone up ahead turned to look at her and she cleared her throat and straightened in her seat. That unfortunately brought her closer to him.
“Have I offended you?” he whispered in her ear.
Her eyes widened in alarm as his breath grazed her skin. Heavens, he was indecently close. She instinctively moved away again and winced at her own cowardice.
“I’m glad to see that I have,” he continued. “I did not think blood ran through your veins, but it is good to know you are human after all.”
She turned to stare at him. She wanted to push him away, to shout, to do anything to get away from him, but was unable to do any of those things for fear of attracting too much attention. So far, other than the one person who had looked back a moment ago, nobody had even noticed the two of them sitting in the back of the room.
“This seemed as good of an opportunity to talk to you as any,” he said. “And since you insist on ridiculing me every time another person is within earshot, this might be an even better opportunity yet.”
“There is nothing for us to discuss, sir,” she said in hushed tones.
“Oh, but there is, my dear Miss Halls.”
“I am not your dear anything, Lord Mathieson,” she snapped, “so please refrain from addressing me as such.”
He smiled and inclined his head. “As I was saying, there is something I wish to talk to you about.”
She looked at him expectantly. The brown of his eyes was so clear at such close distance, she felt as though she was an object of his study. A few stray wisps of his light-colored hair reflected the candle light at various angles and she had the sudden urge to move them back into place.
“Why have you made it your goal to destroy my life?” he asked, taking her off guard. That she had not seen coming.
“I don’t know what you mean,” she sputtered.
He let out a slow breath. “My dear lady, I suggest you cease the games and tell the truth. There is obviously a reason you have put it in your head to hate me.”
“Lord Mathieson, I suggest you discard your foolish notion and listen to Miss Pool’s recital. You are doing our hostess a grave injustice by ignoring her daughter.”
“Now there is the lady I have come to know,” he said. “Always quick to point out my shortcomings. Why is that?”
She looked at him frustrated. What was she supposed to say? That his fiancée had hired Lavinia to ruin his reputation? That was out of the question. But no other reason came to mind.
“As I have said before, I don’t know what you are talking about, sir.”
“If that is indeed the game you wish to play, I promise you, you will be sorry,” he whispered.
She stared at the woman singing another song and the people thankfully gathered around the young lady. Had any of them heard their conversation? Lavinia prayed that they had not.
“I wouldn’t be a gentleman if I were to talk about things quite unsuitable to a lady’s ears, but be assured,” he said and paused, “that you would not be rid of me.” His raspy voice echoed in her ears. “It is your decision to make. Will you cooperate and reveal why you have been making my life a living hell, or will you ensure that your life mirrors mine?”
Another person turned to frown at them. Lavinia cleared her throat once more.
“If you are threatening me, sir,” she said quietly, “I assure you that the living hell you have experienced thus far will seem like heaven on earth.” She smiled sweetly into his eyes.
His pupils darkened and his gaze traveled to her mouth. “Do I take it we are threatening each other?”
“It would appear so,” she said, louder than intended. A cluster of people turned and definitely shushed them this time.
“Both of our miseries could be avoided if you tell me what it is that I have done to offend you,” he clarified.
“As of right now, the list of offenses has no end.”
Alice Lake’s interest in the unusual is reflected in the stories she puts down on paper. Along with her passion for romance and 19th century history, she is a champion for women’s rights. Who said women had no voice, no say and no choice during Victorian times? According to Alice, they had all that and more. They could teach and build, fight and heal, and do so many other things not traditionally deemed proper.
Alice is an unusual case herself. She grew up in three countries and on two continents. Suffering from a lack of cultural identity, she borrows whatever traditions suit her. Nothing is rigid and fluidity encompasses her world. This philosophy of open-mindedness spills into her writing, making for unexpected romance stories.
Alice also writes contemporary romance under the name Mila Rossi. When she’s not writing, she’s beating her husband at whatever they’re currently competing over, or chasing her girl around the house.
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