I've recently mentioned my plan to post an excerpt of Lord Rakehell's Love, and it didn't happen because I kept changing my mind of what might work. So today I'm going to make it easy and just post the first chapter. Otherwise, I start reading, to find a section to excerpt, and next thing I know I'm tinkering with this novella. . . and then I have to start over to find an excerpt. Rinse and repeat. You know how it goes!
Okay, I've already changed my mind. I'm posting the beginning of Chapter 2, where our hero and heroine meet.
This novella is the start of The Curse of True Love series, where Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love, decides to play matchmaker in Regency London. I hope you enjoy this snippet!
"You are a scandal! It is a wonder you dare to show your face here, after everything you have done."
There was no mistaking the outrage in the high-pitched voice of Dowager Lady Thornham. Nor was it possible to avoid it, since her words echoed throughout the suddenly quiet ballroom of Lady Bleasdale's soiree.
Georgiana Kirkwood sneaked a glance at the recipient of the Dowager's outburst, and nearly laughed aloud.
The infamous Lord Rakehell was being publicly upbraided, yet instead of his typical urbane appearance, he was the very picture of an abashed schoolboy.
"I am sure you must be mistaken," he attempted.
"Do not try such nonsense with me, young man. You are notorious for shocking the ton. I am forced to read about your exploits in the newspapers." She rapped her fan against his sleeve for emphasis. "Each and every day. I cannot abide such scandalous behavior."
He moved his arm out of range of the Dowager's fan, clasping his hands behind his back and frowning as though deep in thought. Georgiana could not halt her merriment this time, though she covered her smile quickly, coughing into her gloved hand.
If she were lucky, Lord Rakehell would not have noticed. . .
He tossed a wink her direction. Georgiana felt her cheeks heat at being caught enjoying his predicament. He might not know she was a permanent resident of Wallflower Row, but she was well aware he was the impossibly attractive, wildly adventurous, dashingly roguish Simon Blakely, Lord Winbourne.
He had long been a favorite topic of the widows and spinsters and wallflowers, providing them many hours of entertainment the past several months. For some reason, this evening the Dowager felt it necessary to take him to task for it.
"Lady Thornham." His lips twitched but he continued in a grave voice. "I can appreciate the amount of time you have devoted to the eradication of scandalous behavior. But I fervently believe you have mistaken me for another."
"That is impossible." The dowager's neck shook with her barely-contained rage. "I may be ancient, but I am quite capable of determining which rake is doing what these days." She glanced around, needing reinforcements. Georgiana did her best to disappear into the shadows before she could be dragged into the conversation, but to no avail. "Miss Kirkwood! I have need of your advice."
"Of course," Georgiana answered, dreading the dowager's glare if she were to refuse the summons. "I would be happy to assist."
The dowager harrumphed, for no good reason other than that is what she always did. "Allow me to introduce Miss Georgiana Kirkwood."
Georgiana discovered that while Lord Rakehell was handsome from a distance, he was even more remarkable up close, what with his shiny chestnut hair in a careless style, and his mischievously sparkling eyes trained on her. She decided against a curtsy, for her knees were inexplicably wobbly at that moment.
He lifted her gloved hand toward his lips, and she could do nothing but watch, captivated. What might it be like to have that sinful mouth against hers?
"Pleasure, Miss Kirkwood," he said in an intimate voice, before depositing a brief kiss on her hand.
Pleasure. Yes, that is indeed what it would be, were they to ever kiss. His touch practically promised it.
Georgiana shook her head at such foolishness, hoping her wayward thoughts were not plastered across her features. She could feel heat blossoming from her neckline to her hairline. Yet for some reason she shivered at the same time.
She gave him a brief nod, hoping to escape before she could make a complete fool of herself. "Lord--"
"They call him Lord Wastrel," the dowager said with a sniff, "but he is actually Lord Weyson."
Georgiana bit back a smile. "Lady Thornham, you have indeed confused this gentleman with another. This is--"
His eyebrow lifted as he waited for her to finish. Georgiana would be forced to admit she knew of his exploits, and was even able to distinguish them from those of his best friend, Lord Wastrel.
The dowager frowned as she examined him through her lorgnette. "No, I am confident this is Lord Wastrel. I discuss his dalliances and peccadilloes every day when I have tea with Lady Aldersley."
"We rakes and rogues do share several similar qualities," he offered. "But I have been abroad the past fortnight, so I cannot claim credit for my friend's scandals."
The dowager narrowed her eyes at the man, before turning to Georgiana for confirmation.
"It is not difficult to see why you confused them." At the dowager's deepening frown, Georgiana hastened to add, "I am certain they discuss this knavish behavior at their club. It is akin to a finishing school, for rogues."
Lord Rakehell coughed. "Quite. We have standards to which we must adhere. Rakish rules and all that."
Georgiana could not keep her smile at bay. "So it appears Lord Wastrel is the culprit. Not--" She held her hand out towards the rake in question.
"Lord Rakehell." He bowed, with more flourish than was necessary. When he straightened, he caught Georgiana rolling her eyes. She did her best to ignore the broad grin he shot her direction.