One touch changed her life forever
Ruined by the dashing Duke of Ravenwood, Elizabeth Montclair would sooner put a pistol between the man's legs than be forced into marriage with him. But wed him she must, Elizabeth vowing that if she must do the thing, theirs will be a marriage of her convenience.
He ruined her with a kiss
They would each be free to take a lover? Lucien St. Aubyn cannot believe his prim and proper wife would suggest such a thing. He'd expected her to be a shrew, instead he finds himself wed to a Jezebel, one who wants to lose her innocence to a man, any man...as long as it's not him.
They both ended up SEDUCED
But Lucien wasn't the rake of Ravenwood for nothing, and his new wife knows it. She proposes a plan. Lucien will teach her the fine art of seduction, after which they will each go their separate ways.
But neither Lucien nor Elizabeth expects the way their first 'lesson' turns out. Soon both are fighting an attraction to each other, one that they both refuse to acknowledge. But as the stakes rise, so does the desire. In the end, it may well be the both of them SEDUCED.
One of the Best of 2003 by The Oakland Press
WINNER - RT BOOKclub Best Sensual Historical
Holt Medallion Finalist
National Reader's Choice Award Winner!
Romance Reader at Heart Top Pick for 2003
2004 Historical Romance Club nominee for Historical Romance of the Year, Regency Romance of the Year, Bravest Heroine of the Year and Gallant Rogue of the Year.
"[Seduced] was [a book] I couldn't put down and lingered long after I was finished! Ms. Britton is truly a wonderful writer. Do yourself a favor and become Seduced!" - Suemarie A Romance Review - Five Roses
"I raced through SEDUCED. Sexy, quick-paced and fun, Pamela Britton has created a book that is... a superlative read with an ending that is as well set up as it is surprising and left me with tears in my eyes. I eagerly look forward to Ms. Britton's next offering." 5 Stars Excellent. - Karen Larsen, Scribesworld
"This is a fabulous book!" - Leanne Davis, Rakehell.com
"If one likes to read historical romance set in London, this one will be a refreshing excursion." - Michelle Libby, Romance and Friends
"For me a keeper is a romance that makes you laugh, cry, and sigh. With witty sparring, searing passion, and blinding moments of truth, SEDUCED is just that, a book that you will gravitate to again and again." - Leslie Tramposch, PNR Reviews
" Seduced was a joy to read. Ms. Britton's special blend of sensuality and humor are sure to win her a loyal following." - Janean Nusz, The Road to Romance
"Sexy [with some] memorably outrageous characters." - Marguerite Kraft, All About Romance
"Lots of fun, wounElizabeth Darrach, Bella Onlineded hero, determined heroine, and some super-steamy seduction."-
"What makes Britton's work stand out in the genre is her humor." - Kate Woods, The Pinnacle News
"I had not read Britton before picking up this copy of “Seduced” it is a fact that I am soon to remedy after finishing this wonderful Regency-era romp... a roller coaster ride by an author I can’t wait to read more of..." - Marilyn, Historical Romance Writers
"I enjoyed this book. It reads like Georgette Heyer blended with the humor and innuendo of Janet Evanovich...I'll look for more Pamela Britton." - P.J. Coldren, Reviewing the Evidence
"Pamela Britton's latest novel, SEDUCED, is wonderfully witty, sexy, and dramatically suspenseful.." - Marilyn Daigle, The Word on Romance
"Throw together two headstrong, independent people, and what do you get? A very vibrant, engrossing, and hilarious tale set in Regency England...You will not want Seduced to end!" - T, RomanceJunkies.com
"I'm in heaven: here is a humorous romp with an emotional crux that resonates more than once with me." Rating: 93-thumbs up 'keeper' grade - Everything Romantic (Mrs. Giggles)
"Britton's 'Seduced' is thoroughly entertaining with standout dialogue between two wonderfully likable characters. Funny, sexy and endearing, it is a book romance readers should move to the top of their lists." - Dolly Moiseeff, The Oakland Press
"The utterly irreverent tone of this remarkable book is as much a draw as its unusual lead couple... After turning the last page of this alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) hilarious and serious book, what FUN comes to mind, along with not to be missed and how can I get my hands on her previous books? Hats off to Pamela Britton for an irresistible story!" - Rashmi Srinivas, Bookloon.com
"SEDUCED is a wonderfully funny regency romance...a feel-good book and should be on your 'to buy' list. Ms. Britton is an author to look out for especially if you want a light-hearted, fun read." 4+ - theromanceconnection.com
"Pamela Britton takes readers by the hand, and seduces their sensibilities with merry dialogue, delicious innuendo, and subtle buffoonery in a romance unlike any other." - Heartstrings.com
"It isn't easy to write a tale that makes the reader laugh and cry, but Britton succeeds, thanks to her great characters: a hero who's a much better man than society (or he) believes, a brave heroine who falls in love against her will, and memorable servants and villains.(*Starred* review) - Booklist
"This delightful tale outshines many romances of its ilk, and the protagonists' spry wit and comic antics will have readers on the floor in stitches." - PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY
"Pamela Britton is well on her way to stardom." TOP PICK - Kathe Robin, Romantic Times Book Club
There was a certain amount of freedom that came along with being a rake. A glorious liberation that made the black coat and tails Lucien St. Aubyn wore almost worth the effort it took to button himself into it. Almost.
Clutching a crystal-tipped walking stick, the duke of Ravenwood stepped down from his carriage. The air was chilly, the heavy clouds which had hung low over London’s hazy sky having dropped to the ground. He took a big whiff of that moist air, letting it invigorate him, before patting his chest to ensure his quizzing glass was where it should be, then stepping toward the huge mansion that belonged to one of society's premier families: lord and lady Derby.
Rolling off into the night, his massive black carriage pulled away as he climbed the steps of the brick mansion, ignoring the curious and excited stares he received as he followed the crowd toward a rather grandiose and ostentatious ballroom that near deafened him from the number of voices coming from within it. Some half-wit had come up with the brilliant idea of having rose petals tossed down from the balcony that encircled the ballroom, his hostess no doubt. As a result the petals dotted the guest's clothes, hair and foot bottoms. Frankly, he was surprised Lady Derby hadn’t dressed young children in loincloths and fake fairy wings and suspended them from the ceiling. Then again, he should probably be thankful she hadn’t thought of the idea. Like as not she’d have nailed the wings to the childrens’ backs causing an unholy racket.
He shook his head, pausing for a second in the doorway. Through a snow storm of white and red petals he watched as couples danced in the center of the room, the season's offerings lined up before one wall like carp at a fish mart, minus the smell, of course. Well, in some instances.
Gold-gilt mirrors projected their backsides, more the pity in many cases. There were no balcony doors, just long, paned windows that sat between the ornately etched mirrors. Most of those windows were open, though nary a breeze ruffled the feathers stuffed into the elaborate hairstyles of the debutantes, nor dispersed the smell of bodies long overdo for baths.
Lucien surveyed it all and sighed. Another night. Another party. Odd’s teeth, but it bored him to tears.
He lined up to greet his hostess. The woman who was a veritable old hag by society's standards, thirty-seven (six years older than he), tried to pretend she hadn't noticed the passage of time by clothing herself in a dark-blue gown better suited to a woman half her age, or half her breast size. She was quite in danger of falling out, Lucien noted.
"Lady Derby," he drawled as he stopped before her, his weight leaning on his walking stick. He leered at her breasts rather shamelessly as he gave her a smart bow. "I must say, you look outstanding this eve. Your modeste must be commended for managing to, er, keep you package so well."
Her cheeks filled with sudden, instant marvelously unflattering color, given her spotty complexion. "My lord Ravenwood, what a surprise to see you here,” she said with a polite smile pasted upon her pale face. She had the sad misfortune of having frizzy red hair, the result being that she resembled an orange poodle right down to the pointy nose and snip-at-your-heels eyes. “Especially since I do not recall inviting you," she added.
He allowed a patently false, yet thoroughly smug smile to grace his face. "Ah, but you didn't."
She drew herself up.
"I assumed, however, that your lack of an invitation was an oversight. Therefor I took it upon myself to rectify the situation since I knew you could not possibly be upset with me still for refusing your advances.”
Frankly, she did look upset. Her hands clenched. Her canine-brown eyes glittered. “If your father were here, he’d box your ears," she said after first eyeing those nearby to ensure they wouldn't overhear.
Lucien felt no such restriction. He leaned toward her, a mere inches away. “If my father were here, you’d still be sleeping with him, which is why, of course, I would never have slept with you myself, assuming, of course, that I was interested, which, I assure you, I was not.”
She drew herself up.
Lucien tried not to smile. "If you will excuse me,” he said with false politeness. “I do have business to attend to." He looked past her. "Although it appears your husband has already finished his business." He tsked, tsked in disapproval. "You might want to tell him to tuck in his shirt. Terribly gauche to walk around like that."
He didn't give his hostess time to respond, rather, he turned on his heel and headed for the edge of the dance floor, the tip of his cane, click, clicking as he did so, a smug smile upon his face.
But the boredom returned almost as quickly as it’d disappeared. Sighing, he headed for the dance floor in search of more people to amuse himself with, only to be brought up short rather suddenly. A young man stood blocking his path, the youth so completely engrossed in showing his (apparently) new gold cufflinks to his chums that he hadn't spied Lucien coming up behind him. Lucien reached into his pocket and pulled out his monocle, adhering it to his right eye as he looked the lad up and down.
Young men these days. Not only did they dress funny, but they had no respect for their elders. Witness this young man. His shirt collar was so high he was in danger of gouging his eyes out. He wore an ornately embroidered waistcoat, the color of the thread gold, the color of the jacket a blue Lucien had only seen on bottle flies and scarabs. To top it off, he wore his hair combed over to one side like blades of grass crushed by a bovine.
He waited for the young man to notice him, and when he didn't, switched his cane to his right hand, raised his left and tapped him on the shoulder. "Excuse me, young man," he drawled.
The youth turned, spied Lucien looking at him, gave him a do-you-mind-I-am-talking look, then promptly turned back to his friends.
Lucien’s monocle popped off. He drew himself up, quite horribly shocked. Did the young man not recognize him? Did he no know he was the duke of death?
He looked around, trying to determine if the youth's shocking lack of respect had been noted.
And then he saw her.
Lady Elizabeth Montclair.
She twirled around the dance floor in the arms of a man so old, his shoulders were as hunched as a statue of Atlas. But Lady Elizabeth didn’t seem to mind for she apparently hadn’t noticed the view it gave his lordship of her breasts. The lavender gown she wore was a tad low cut. The beads sewn upon it sparkled as they caught the glow of the candles above. Her hair lay piled atop her head in some loop-type design that gave the appearance of naturalness but that Lucien knew had taken hours to sculpt around her coronet. She had a figure that while elegant, lacked a certain robustness some men preferred and light-blue eyes that most men found beautiful, and startling, for they stood out even from a distance. Her face was all that was classic, from the tilt of her snub nose to the heart-shape of her face.
She was, in a word, striking.
And she hated him. It was wonderful. They had met two times, and both of those occasions she’d done her best to convey that loathing in the most creative and rudest of ways. The first time she’d called him a murdering whoremonger, a sobriquet that while not entirely accurate, did have flair. The second time they’d met aboard a ship when both of them had had the sad misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time: ie aboard the same ship together. She’d made it clear whilst they’d been together, however briefly, that she didn’t like him, would never like him, and wouldn’t bother to pretend to like him. The attitude, coming as it did from the granddaughter of a cobbler, had at first shocked him, and then amused him. Damned if he didn’t admire her cheek.
He’d watched her from a distance from that time forward, though he doubted she knew it. He thought of her rather like he would a bug, one that bore examination for he found it rather remarkable that given her lineage and her woefully sad bloodlines, she held herself so aloof. One would need a pry bar to get beneath her skirts.
And for the first time that evening, nay, the first time in months, Lucien felt his ennui fade. Why hadn’t he thought of it before? he wondered. What he needed was a diversion. A challenge. Someone who wouldn’t come crawling to him with a mere look.
What he needed, he realized, was to try and seduce Lady Elizabeth Montclair.
She wanted to run from the ballroom.
Lady Elizabeth Montclair probably would have, too, if she hadn’t been in the middle of a dance floor with hundreds of people gazing upon her as she danced with a man so old she was surprised he hadn’t dropped to the floor dead from apoplexy, or at the very least, fallen to the ground after one of his creaking legs snapped from old age.
Rather a macabre thought, she admitted, but there you had it. Dancing with old Lord Luthgow would give anybody macabre thoughts. Or perhaps it was the face paint. His lordship had used so much of it tonight he looked like a child’s finger painting experiment gone bad. Perhaps it was the way his hands had a tendency to drift over parts of her body, in some instance actually squeezing. Or perhaps it was that his lordship was as deaf as lead pipes. Or perhaps it was that his height was noticably less than hers, providing him an eye level view of her breasts. Whatever the cause, Elizabeth would do something drastic if he didn’t look up from those self-same breasts and meet her gaze.
It didn’t help matters that she could feel society’s censorious stares as she twirled around the floor with him. Such was always the case when she danced with one of society’s elite. His lordship was a baron, from a very old, and very distinguished family. Elizabeth was the daughter of an earl, to be certain, but a few factors hindered her acceptance by society.
One, her father was nearly destitute.
Two, the title had been given to her grandfather less than twenty years ago.
Three, and the most damning of all, the earldom had been given to the family for do nothing more illustrious than ridding mad King George of his very painful bunions.
Such was the reason why lords and ladies stared at her askance. Why she would never be fully accepted into their midst. And why the ton no doubt considered it a travesty that one of their most illustrious peers would deign to dance with the near penniless daughter of an earl.
“So you like to ride a spirited horse, eh, my lady?”
Startled out of her thoughts, Elizabeth forced herself to stare down at the baron. She hadn’t said anything of the sort. They’d been talking about Brighton. Elizabeth had said that she’d been in awe of a tide’s force. But his lordship had thought she’d said horse. Now he was utterly convinced she was an equestrian who wanted nothing more than to talk about the smelly beasts.
“Indeed I do,” she found herself saying, some little imp she should probably have ignored making her add. “Next to Orangutans, they’re my favorite animals to ride.”
To her surprise, his lordship nodded. “Aye, like the Arabian’s myself. They’ve improved the Thoroughbred blood monumentally, do you not agree?”
She stared up at him, unbelieving that he could so completely mishear her, “Certainly, sir,” that little imp prompted her to say. “The influx of monkey blood has been of tremendous benefit. Why, just the other day I heard a horse grunt like a chimp, a definite improvement over a neigh.”
He nodded. Actually nodded.
And so It might have gone on all night but for the fact that the music came to an end.
Thank you, Lord, Elizabeth silently prayed.
“A pleasure dancing with you, my lady,” his lordship said with a bow, peering down her dress as he did so. The old buzzard.
“I wish I could say the same, your lordship, but dancing with you fair made me want to cry,” she gave him a small curtsy.
He smiled at her magnanimously. “Now, now, now, my dear. Do not flatter me so. My ability to dance should not move you to tears.”
Elizabeth gawked, bit her lip, then nodded, giving in to a little chuckle which turned into a cough before murmuring. “Just so,” then turning and all but racing to her mother’s side. Of all the unbelievable conversation.
“How was his lordship?” her mother asked.
“Quite, ah, talkative,” Elizabeth supplied, her lip quivering rather shamelessly. She supposed she ought not to have done such a deplorable thing, but truly, she couldn’t stop herself. Perhaps she should apologize to his lordship. Then again, chances where he would likely mishear her again thinking she was sorry over the demise of the English thoroughbred or some such nonsense. Bother.
She turned to her mother, as grandiose a figure as ever there was one in her red-and-gold gown--the season‘s ‘in‘ colors. Her gray hair, naturally curly, sprang around her face for all that it was pulled back in a chignon. She had not aged well, the skin around her eyes sagging as if giving up all hope of ever being young again. Yet she still held herself as if she were a great beauty, something she had been as a young woman. It was that beauty her father had offered for. She’d been, to put it bluntly, sold to the highest bidder, and nearly bankrupted her father’s family in the process.
“What did you talk about?”
Elizabeth blushed anew. “Horses.”
Her mother nodded, light-blue eyes glittering. “Good, good, for while his lordship is old, he is very, very wealthy, and very good ton. You would do well to encourage him.”
Married to that lecherous old fool? Not likely, Elizabeth swore to herself.
“My lady?” a masculine voice greeted.
Elizabeth turned, eyeing a servant standing near by.
“My lady, this is for you.” He bowed slightly, the outdated wig their hostess forced him to wear nearly matching the dark gray of his jacket.
“A note,” her mother trilled. “Oh, my dear. Likely another sonnet from one of your admirers.“ The words were said loudly so as to be heard by all the other matchmaking mamas nearby, and, in the process, make them obscenely jealous that their own daughters hadn’t received such a missive.
Elizabeth, who had never received such a sonnet in all her life, took the envelope curiously and opened it. A piece of paper nearly fell out.
Beth, I must see you right away. Something terrible has happened. Meet me in Lady Derby’s drawing room. Alone.
If someone had been watching Lady Elizabeth closely right then, that person would have noticed a dramatic transformation come over her. Her face paled. Her hands clenched.
“Why, Elizabeth, whatever is the matter?”
“Ah. Nothing, Mama.”
“What does it say?”
Elizabeth debated with herself what to tell her mother, but she knew to confess the truth would not be wise. Not after what happened the last time she’d gone to her friend in a time of need. She’d nearly sailed to Spain with the duke of death thanks to her rather accident-prone friend.
“Elizabeth?” her mother asked.
“It says,” Elizabeth stalled, her mind furiously trying to come up with an appropriate sonnet. “Roses are red. Violets are blue. You hair is very pretty and I love you.”
She smiled miserably at her mother, knowing that good lady would see right through her lie. But her mother was too busy acting delighted by the words.
“Why, my dear,” she trilled loud enough for residents of the French coast to hear. “You have a secret admirer.”
“Indeed, mama, I believe I do.”
Her mother actually looked pleased about something, for once.
Elizabeth could barely stomach it. “Er, if you will excuse me, Mama. I believe I shall go refresh myself in case I am asked to dance.”
“Oh, indeed, indeed,” her mother encouraged shooing her away.
Elizabeth felt sick, knowing it was wrong to lie. Another part of her knowing accepting that her mother had never liked Lucy, never would like Lucy and always frowned upon seeing Lucy, especially since that same Lucy had become a marchioness. It irked her mother to no end to be outranked by her best friend.
She caught the eyes of the servant who’d brought the note, and who’d obviously been told to wait for a reply. “Where is she?” she asked when they were out of earshot.
“Elizabeth,” her mother called.
Elizabeth stiffened, turned back.
“Do be sure to pinch your cheeks. You look as pale as a corpse tonight.”
Elizabeth blushed scarlet. “Oh. Ah, yes, Mama. Of course.“ She turned, instantly forgetting her mother’s words as she followed the servant, her worry about her friend doubling. Lucy was with child, and it suddenly dawned on Elizabeth that there might be trouble with the pregnancy. But then wouldn’t her husband Garrick come to fetch her?
Barely paying heed to the petals that rained down upon her, or to the faces she passed--all of whom smirked at her as she glided by--she followed the servant past their hostess, out of the ballroom and into the main hall. The sudden drop in noise was a welcome relief. So was the smoky-cool air wafting through the hall. A vase filled with multi-colored tulips sat before a mirror. Her reflection was sent back to her as she passed before the drooping blooms. Various closed doors lined the main hall. A stairway lay at the end, hugging the right wall then turning left. There was a door at the foot of them, and it was there that the servant led her.
She opened the door, Elizabeth relieved she had reached her friend undetected and spying Lucy immediately. She sat in a beige armchair, a purple cloak covering her. She stood the moment she heard Elizabeth enter.
Two things hit Elizabeth at once. One, Lucy had grown a great deal since she’d last seen her. Two, marriage had not flattered her friend at all for either she’d grown very ugly, or the person staring back at her was...
“You!” she hissed, stopping abruptly.
His grace, the duke of Ravenwood, bowed slightly, “My dear Elizabeth, we meet again.”
Lucien watched as a comical mix of disbelief, outrage and accusation filled her ladyship’s face.
“Why, that is mine,” she accused, pointing to the cloak he wore.
“Indeed it is,” he said, stopping. “Do you think it flatters me?” He pulled the bottom half over his face in a feminine gesture, mimicking a female voice in a way that would have done a Shakespearean actor proud. “I confess, I told the servant who fetched it for me that I thought the color might make me look a bit sallow.”
She just stared.
He waited for her to react.
But she didn‘t react.
He shoved the hood off his head.
She still didn’t react.
It was, truth be told, rather disconcerting. He’d been hoping for a scream--a raised voice perhaps--at which point he would move in, kiss her senseless, perhaps even have his wicked way with her-if she were lucky-after which they could both retire to the study and smoke cheroots. Or at least, he would smoke a cheroot. He was utterly confident she would feel like having one, too, if he hadn’t lost his touch.
Only she wasn’t cooperating with his plan.
He removed the cloak with a dramatic flair, allowing her to see him in all his masculine garb. Perhaps that had been the problem. After all, he reasoned, it was hard to bring a woman to her knees when one looked like Mary the maid. He straightened, letting her eyes take their fill of him, watching as she looked him up and down, a part of him wanting to stand extra tall as she did so. Through the oak paneled walls one could hear a violinist strike up a spunky tune. Lucien waited.
Then she did something that truly baffled him. She placed her hands on her hips, slowly, deliberately. Then lifted a black, perfectly plucked brow in a rather chastising way. She held that position for exactly ten seconds before clucking her tongue and saying, “It occurs to me, your grace, that you must have some nefarious and scandalous reason for summoning me here tonight. Truth be told, I‘d far rather you simply spit it out than keep me waiting.”
“If I am incorrect, of course, then tell me otherwise. If, perhaps, Lucy sent me word of her plight through you, then I would rather hear what is wrong so that I may set off to help her.”
What? No screech? No pointed fingers. No, “You horrible rake,” yelled at him?
He said, “You think your friend would actually ask for my help[?” not because he cared, but because he had a hard time believing anyone would do such a thing.
She shrugged, those small breasts of hers plumping as she did so. “Why not? She seems to like you, though I‘ve no idea why. She trusts you. So, yes, she would do something that unbelievably silly.”
Lucien didn’t know what to say. He didn’t know what to do. And it wasn’t her condescending attitude that threw him. It was her belief that someone in London might actually like him that stymied him.
“So, what is it, your grace? Why have you brought me here? I know it can’t be my charming company you seek.”
“You think not?”
Her eyes narrowed. “You know how little I like you.”
Indeed, he did. Unlike most of society, she didn’t hide it. He supposed it had something to do with his brother’s death, but he wasn’t sure. Who knew the workings of the female mind?
“Well?” she prompted.
Good God. She actually tapped her left foot, giving him a look of impatience.
“I brought you here to give you my kiss of death,” which, of course, wasn’t what he was here to do at all, but he felt the sudden urge to see how she would react to those words.
She didn’t. She just pursed her lips in an impatient way saying, “I would recommend you save those for your courtesan, whomever that unlucky woman might be.”
Unlucky? And by now Lucien had grown a bit miffed. He straightened, putting on his best I-am-the-rake-of-Ravenwood-and-I-am-here-to-steal-your-virtue look.
She didn’t flinch.
Damnation. Very well. Let us see how she reacted to spoken words. “I brought you here to seduce you.” Once again he waited for her reaction.
He had it a moment later.