He is Alexander Drummond
Marquis of Warrick, one of the most feared Revenue Commanders to sail the high seas.
She is Mary Callahan
Smuggler's daughter, sent as a spy to his lordship's household under the guise of a nurse, only...she doesn't like children.
He thinks she's the most outspoken, sharp-tongued shrew he's ever met.
She thinks he's the most uptight, pompous bag of wind she's ever encountered.
However, then, did they ever fall in love?
Incredibly humorous, totally unpredictably, TEMPTED is a story that my editor called, "Stupendous." It's the tale of a circus performer--yes, that's right, a circus performer--heroine who falls in love with an aloof marquis. No, it's nothing like MY FAIR LADY. Indeed, you could say that by the end of the book, Mary rescues the hero. I hope you enjoy the story.
2004 RT BOOKclub Nominee for Best Sensual Romance
Selected by The Oakland Press as one of the Best Books of 2004
A Romance Reader at Heart top pick of 2004
2004 Historical Romance Club nominee for Best Regency of the Year and Bravest Heroine of the Year
RT BOOKclub Top Pick for January 2004
Britton's (Seduced, etc.) unusual characterizations, command of upper and lower class dialects and delightful sense of humor make this Regency-era romp much more than just great winter cruise reading. This is the kind of book that romance fans will read and reread on gloomy days. - Publisher's Weekly
This nonstop read has it all-sizzling sexuality, unforgettable characters, poignancy, a delightful plot and a well-crafted backdrop. Britton is well on her way to joining the echelon of beloved erotic romance writers. Allow yourself to be tempted-you won’t regret a moment’s pleasure. - Kathe Robin, Romantic Times - Top Pick, Kiss Award
With a wonderful couple and a giddy sense of joie d'vivre permeating each page of the story, this book works like a charm, capturing the sillier side of love in a singularly, unapologetically insouciant manner. - Mrs. Giggles (Everything Romantic) - Keeper Grade
Passion and humor are a potent combination, and in her historical romance, "Tempted," author Pamela Britton comes up with the perfect blend and does everything right. - Dolly Moiseff, The Oakland Press
Though I've read and enjoyed Ms. Britton before, Tempted is, to put it bluntly, far and away the author's finest work to date. - All About Romance B+ Rating
Britton invents great characters, from the initially stuffy marquis to the circus-performer nanny to Alex's rakish cousin, Rein, to Abu, a monkey with attitude. Fans of Amanda Quick and her feisty heroines will also enjoy the exploits of Britton's fearless heroine as she turns her cautious admirer's world upside down. - Booklist
Pamela Britton is back with another effervescent historical romance to add to her already brimming repertoire. Take one Marquis determined to be proper at all costs; add a forthright lower-class gal spy; stir in mischievous monkeys, relatives and kidnappers to the mix; add a dash of forbidden love; and you have pure, unadulterated entertainment in your hands! - Rashmi Srinivas, Bookloons
TEMPTED is witty, charming and utterly delightful - pure bliss on every page. - Suzanne Tucker for The Best Reviews
TEMPTED is a fantastic book! This is the first book I've read by Ms. Britton, but it certainly won't be the last. - Robin Taylor for The Road to Romance
Sadly, I have not read Pamela Britton's books before, something that I will have to change. I suggest kicking off the New Year in the best possible way. Pick up a copy of TEMPTED and let Pamela Britton's flirtatious story put a huge grin on your face. - Round Table Reviews
TEMPTED is a great historical romance, with just enough action and funny moments to keep you turning the pages. I'm sure you will find that TEMPTED is one book that will stay on your keeper shelf. - Wendy Keel - Starred Review, The Romance Reader's Connection
Tempted is just that. It will tempt you into reading it in one sitting. - A Romance Reviews
Pamela Britton's Regency-era romance, Tempted, is a lively, light-hearted lark filled with misadventure, flirty innuendo, and humorous contretemps between a seemingly mismatched hero and heroine... Ms. Britton's talent for writing warm, witty, slightly off-kilter love stories is a very substantial incentive, and provocative reason, to pick up this novel. - Cheryl Jeffries, Heartstrings
Ms Britton has written an absolutely outrageously funny book that simply takes my breath away. Fans of Pamela Britton - you simply MUST get this book! It surely is one of THE BEST books I have read this year. - Marilyn, Historical Romance Writers
No red cape.
All in all Mary Elizabeth Callahan would say that the Devil marquis of Warrick didn't look a thing like she expected.
Oddly, she felt disappointed. Of course, she couldn't see his lordship all that well what with him sitting upon a bleedin' throne of a chair behind his bleedin' monstrosity of a desk.
"Please have a seat," he said without looking up, his eyes firmly upon a document before him, a clock on a mantle behind him tick-tick-ticking in an annoyingly sterile way. Muted sunlight from the right reflected off the flawless, polished perfection of that desk. The ink-blotter lay exactly square, almost as if someone had used a measuring tape to place it. Papers were stacked at perfect right angles. A fragrant, rather obnoxious smelling tussy of red roses and rosemary squatted in a fat vase. And yet there were also black stains on the front of that desk, as if someone had thrown a jar of ink at his lordship here. A chunk of wall covering looked to be torn near the window to her right. And not quite erased from the surface of the desk she could just make out...a smiling face that looked to have been finger painted when the ink spilled.
She bit back a smile as she took a seat, nearly yelping when the plush blue velvet did it's best to swallow her whole. She had to jerk forward, looking up as she did so to see if his lordship had noticed. No. The swell were still engrossed in his work. Hmph.
She waited for him. Then waited some more. Finally, she began to tap her foot impatiently, her toe ticking on the hardwood floors in time with the clock.
The scratching of his quill stopped abruptly. His head slowly lifted, his eyes widening a bit as he caught his first glimpse of her.
Two things hit Mary at once. One, Alexander Drummond, Marquis of Warrick, had the prettiest eyes she'd ever seen, blue they were, the color of a seashell when you turned it over.
Two, he was not the ugly ogre she'd been expecting, which just went to show a body shouldn't believe all the things they hear.
He blinked at her, frowned, then said, "I'll be with you in just a moment," slowly and succinctly--as if she had wool in her ears--before going back to work.
She narrowed her eyes, studying him, seein' as how there were nothing else to do. His high-and-mightyness had an angular jaw with a cleft smack dab in the middle of it, she noted. Wasn't anything slug-faced about him, which was how most peers looked, to her mind at least. This peer had midnight black hair with twin streaks of gray that started at both temples ending somewhere in the back, his dark hair pulled back in a queue.
"Did your daughter give you that?" she found herself asking.
Once again he looked up. Once again, his quill stopped its annoying scratch, the black jacket he wore tightening as he straightened again. Thick, very masculine brows lowered. "I beg your pardon?"
"The gray hair," she said, pointing with a gloved hand at his hair, and then motioning to her own carrots in case he needed further clarification.
And now those black brows lifted. "As a matter of fact, no. 'Tis a genetic trait inherited from my father. All heirs of Warrick have it."
She pursed her lips. "Just the heirs? What do you do if a non-heir is born with it? Shoot him?"
His lips parted. His jaw dropped, but he was only struck all-a-mort for a moment. "No miss..." He looked down, his white cravat all but poking him in the chin as he pulled sheets of papers toward him. She recognized them as being the ones John Lasker had forged. John had the best penmanship in Hollobrook. Actually, John had about the only penmanship in Hollobrook. "Ms. Callahan. We do not shoot our children."
Got his lordship's ballocks in a press, hadn't she?
"And," he continued, "Since it would appear as if you're determined to interrupt me, I suppose we should just begin the interview for the position. That way, you can be on your way, and I can get back to work."
Mary perked up. At last. Two, maybe three minutes and she'd be out of here and on her way back to Hollobrook. For one thing Mary Callahan didn't want, and that was to nurse his lordship's daughter. She'd only come today to appease her baboon-brained father, a man who'd gone a wee bit crackers in recent months with his plot of revenge against the marquis here for shutting down the town's smuggling operations. (Although now that she'd met the man, she could well understand her father's aversion to the cull.) Fact is, she didn't particularly want the job. It entailed lying and she loathed doing that. But it was her duty to do as her father asked and so she'd come even though she knew she'd never get the job. Weren't quality enough, but that suited her just fine, even though she knew the people of Hollowbrook would be disappointed when she came back unemployed. They were just as determined to gain revenge as her father was.
"I see you're from Wellburn, Ms. Callahan?" he asked.
She leaned forward, placing an arm nonchalantly on his desk as she pretended to look at the papers. He smelled nice. And so she took a big whiff of him, which he must have heard because his brows lifted again. Next he looked at her arm, up at her, then at the arm again. Pointedly.
"Is that wha' it says?" she asked, not removing her elbow, and not trying to smooth her Cockney accent, something she could do, if she had a mind to. She tilted her head, and Lord knows why, but when their gazes met, she smiled. Mary Callahan had a bonnie smile. Truth be told, she had a lot of bonnie traits--or so she'd been told. Fine green eyes. Dimples. And an endearing way of looking at a man from beneath her thick lashes, not that there was any reason to look up at his lordship that way.
The marquis, however, didn't appear fazed. "You're not from Wellburn?" he asked, his face blank.
He had the composure of a corpse.
"If that's what it says, then I suppose I am." She leaned back, noticing that his eyes darted down a second. Quickly. As if he'd glanced at her breasts. But she must be mistaken, for even if they were a fine, ripe bushel, his lordship here wouldn't be noticing. That kind of thing was beneath his hoity-toity nose.
She shrugged, one of the seams in the blue dress Fanny Goodwin had sewn popping a bit at the shoulder. Mary should have insisted she let it out a bit more, but the woman had been all agog to show Mary to advantage. Who was Mary to protest? She planned to keep the dress once she got back to Hollobrook. "Been travelin' a lot. Hard to keep track."
"I see." And the words were clipped out: I. See. Gritted teeth. Stiff jaw. Stick up his backside. He went back to studying the papers. "Do you enjoy being a nurse, Ms. Callahan?"
His head snapped up again. He was going to get a bleedin' neck ache if he kept that up.
She shook her head. "Can't stand children."
She had the rum-eyed pleasure of seeing his mouth drop open. "But it says here you love them."
"Who said that?" she asked, and she really was curious. Fineas Blackwell, her father's long-time chum must have made John put that down. He had a wicked sense of humor, and saying she liked children was laughable indeed.
Ms. Thistlewillow were a real person, one of her neighbors in Hollowbrook. A perpetually cheerful sort of person, she made Mary want to toss her accounts every time she had dealings her over smiling face. "Ms. Thistlewillow would claim Beezelbub loved children."
His lordship had fine teeth, she noticed. And she had occasion to study them because his mouth hung open again. Not a rotted one in the lot.
"Ms. Callahan. I get the feeling that you have not read your references."
She snorted. Couldn't help it. 'Course she hadn't read them. She couldn’t read. "I make a point not to read what others say about me." And she was bloody proud of that fact. She might be a poor smuggler's daughter. She might be a wee speck on his lordship's boot heel, but Mary Callahan stood on her own two feet. Damn the rest of the world.
He shook his head, straightening, picked up her references then tapped the edges of the paper on the desk as he said, "Ms. Callahan. Thank you for coming, but it appears as if I've made a mis--"
Mary's arse fair puckered to the chair. Blimey, what a screech. The door swung open with a resounding boom that rocked all around it, including her eardrums. She swiveled toward the door. At least, she tried too. The bloody chair held her backside like a bog.
"Papa, Simms says you're interviewing another nurse."
A little girl of about eight ran by, her hair streaming behind her. Black it was, and in sore need of a good brushing. She landed in a heap in her father's arms. "I don't want a nurse. I told you that."
Ah. The little termagant herself, and no doubt the finger paint artist, too.
Mary held her breath as she waited for his lordship to look up, to dismiss her, which she was sure he'd been about to do before the hellion had come in.
"Gabbby," the marquis said. "Be polite and say how do you do to Ms. Callahan."
Polite? Bugger it. Mary wanted to leave.
"No," the little girl snapped.
"Do it, Gabby. Now."
The little girl drew back, her face only inches away from her father's. They were practically nose-to-nose, the marquis' face stern and disapproving. Lord, the man could scare kids on all hollow's eve with a look like that.
The bantling wiggled on his lap. Then her face turned resigned. She shimmed down, landing with a thud. The gray dress looked stained with juice, Mary noted, her slippers muddied. But she was a cute little moppet with her father's startling blue eyes and dark, curly hair.
"How do you do," she said, dropping into a curtsy that somehow seemed, well, mocking. And then she rose, looked sideways out of her eyes and that cute little moppet with the pretty blue eyes stuck out her tongue.
And that seemed to be the reaction wanted for the hellion gave her a smug smile.
Mary's eyes narrowed. Never one to be gotten the best of, especially by some pug-nosed whelp, she stuck her tongue out, too.
"Papa," the little girl breathed without missing a beat. "Did you see that? She stuck her tongue out at me."
Mary looked up at the marquis. What? Wait a bleedin--
"Gabby," he said. "I know well and good that you stuck your tongue out first. Apologize to Ms. Callahan immediately."
"No," the little girl snapped, her tiny hands fisting by her sides.
"Do it," he ordered.
"No," she yelled.
Mary covered her ears. "Land's alive, m'lord. Don't argue with her. I'll lose me hearing. 'Tis plain as carriage wheels that she's not going to apologize."
For the second, no the third time that day--the first being the time he'd caught his first glimpse of the stunning Ms. Callahan--Alexander Drummond, marquis of Warrick, felt speechless. It defied belief, the things that kept coming out of her mouth.
"I beg your pardon?"
The nurse arched red brows, and was it his imagination, or did her pretty green eyes twinkle?
"She's not going to apologize. What's more, I don't want her bloomin' apology. Fact is, I don't want to be her nurse, either."
Alex thought he'd misheard her again, but then Gabby said, "Good. Leave," verifying the unexpected words had, indeed, been correctly heard.
"I will," she answered right back, rising from her chair.
"Sit down," Alex ordered. Granted, a minute ago he'd been about to tell the outspoken lady to leave himself. Now, oddly, he found himself taking her side.
"Please," he added when--good lord--the woman looked ready to defy him.
She slowly sat, but she didn't look too pleased about it.
"Gabby, you may leave. I will speak with you upstairs."
His daughter's lips pressed together, something he knew from experience meant a tantrum. "I'm a bastard," she yelled in a last ditch attempt to put the nurse off.
Alex winced. He knew the child was inordinately sensitive to the fact that her mother had left her on his doorstep. He could sympathize, still incensed himself that a woman could do such a thing.
He looked at Ms. Callahan to gauge her reaction, but she merely lifted a brow. "Are you now?"
"Is that the excuse you use for having such poor manners?"
Gabby sucked in a breath. "Did you hear that father? She said I have poor manners."
"Well, you do," Ms. Callahan said.
The nurse snorted, the inelegant sound somehow seeming to fit the redoubtable nurse perfectly. "You don't even know how to curtsy properly."
"Not by the looks of the one you just gave me."
To Alex's absolute and utter shock, his obstinate daughter took a step back, straightened, and then gave the nurse a curtsy that would have done her mother proud...if she'd had one.
"There," she said upon straightening.
Ms. Callahan wrinkled her tilted nose. "Hmm. I suppose that was a wee bit better, but no proper little girl disobeys her elders."
Gabby glared. So did the nurse.
Alex decided he'd had enough.
"Gabby, go to your room."
His daughter opened her mouth to give her standard protest. But an odd thing happened. He saw her stiffen again. Saw her clench her fists. Saw her straighten. "As you wish, Papa."
Alex just about fell off his chair.
She turned, gave him a quick, perfect, curtsy, nodded to Ms. Callahan--who, of all things, stuck her tongue out again--then left.
Silence dawned. Alex could only stare.
"If that's the way she behaves, 'tis a wonder someone hasn't given your daughter a basting." Her full lips pressed together. "Fair wanted to do it meself."
He blinked, found himself clearing his throat. "Ms. Callahan, how long, exactly, have you been a nurse?"
Her face lost some of it composure. She straightened much the way Gabby had straightened a moment ago. "Long enough, m'lord," she answered with a tilt to her pert little chin and a sparkle in her eyes.
"How long?" he asked again.
"Long enough to know you must be desperate indeed for someone to fill this post if I'm still sitting here."
He drew back, once again startled by her frankness.
But the way she'd challenged Gabby into behaving...
It was a remarkable technique. "Where did you learn to handle children that way?"
"Handle 'em like what?"
She snorted, her pretty eyes lighting up once again. And, yes, there was no sense in denying it. She was very pretty. Far better looking than the old crones he and his steward had been interviewing the past week.
"It's the way I raised me younger brothers. Five of them I have. I assume what works for the poorer classes works for the nobility, too."
Rather a pert answer, but there might be some truth to her words. He stared at her for a second longer, a bit disbelieving that he was actually contemplating the idea of hiring her. She disliked children. Well, he knew a blacksmith that didn't like horses but he was still a fine farrier.
"Let me explain Gabby's unusual circumstances."
And was it his imagination, or did she actually look impatient? No. That couldn't be. "She is my daughter, that I do not deny, left on my doorstep for me to raise when she was only days old. I've done my best but my duties as a Revenue Commander oft times take me away, smuggling being rampant this time of year. When I am gone my two cousins look after Gabby. I'm afraid my cousins haven't been a very good influence on her making me lament my lack of female family. One of them taught her to shoot a pistol during her last visit." He frowned. "As such she has grown up rather independent and strong-willed. No nurse has stayed beyond a week. No governess, either. Since my last mission, my house steward has hired a total of twelve good ladies, all of whom have left in a huff." He eyed her critically. "Knowing what I've just told you, are you still interested in the job?"
"No," she said.
"It pays a pound a week."
Her eyes clearly said, A pound a week?
He nodded. "If you take the job, and I am in no way convinced you are right for it yet, you will receive one pound a week for your troubles, and believe me, Ms. Callahan, my daughter is trouble."
"A pound a week," she whispered, her whole expression undergoing a change. "And all I need do is nurse the bantling?"
"Indeed, however, your response to my earlier question puzzles me. If you do not like children, why do you nurse them?"
She stared at him hard and he had the oddest feeling she was mulling over something. "I was lying," she said at last.
"I beg your pardon?"
She nodded, her eyes having lost some of their earlier impatience. "I'd decided on my way here that I didn't want the job. I ain't never worked for no nobleman before and I didn't want to start."
He felt his brow wrinkle in surprise. "Then why did you apply for the job?"
She stared at him for a moment. "My father made me do it."
His brows lifted. Well, he could certainly understand one's father's influence on one's life. "I see. So you decided to botch the interview."
"Yes, sir. I mean, me lord."
"Because of the money?"
"Well, of course."
"Indeed." He studied her for a few seconds before asking, "Have you ever struck a child before?"
"No." She stiffened. "No, wait. Tommy Blackford. He'd plucked all the feathers off a chicken. Made the thing look like a poodle with mange, he did. Have you ever seen a poodle with mange, me lord?"
"No, I have not."
"Ugly, it is. And to my way of thinking, Tommy's lucky I did no more than clout him on the backside. I'd half a mind to pluck all his own hair out just to see how he liked being bald."
An unexpected urge to laugh tickled Alex's lips. "I see," he said, batting the urge back. How common. "And have you've worked with difficult children before?"
"Only me father."
That did shock a bark of laughter. Gracious, what the devil was wrong with him? "That is not the kind of child I had in mind."
"No? Well then, the answer is no."
"How about difficult people?" He held up his hand quickly. "Aside from your father."
She pursed her lips in thought. "Old man Mathison were a real handful. Used to hit me in the backside with a slingshot whenever he'd catch me crossing his field. Hurt like the dickens, it did. A regular scaly old cove. So one day I built myself some armor. Used ash bin covers. Strung them together with twine. Worked like a charm. Old man Mathison didn't know what to do when his rocks bounced off my body. Eventually, he gave up, though I never did understand why he didn't just ask me to stop trespassing. I would have if he'd just asked."
He stared across at her unblinkingly, a part of him unbelievably wanting to laugh again, another part of him rather intrigued by her tales.
He looked back down at her resume, reviewing her qualifications. There could be no doubt that she had the experience necessary for the job. And the way she'd handled Gabby...
He looked back up at her, but it was still a few more moments before he arrived at a decision, the redoubtable Ms. Callahan once again tapping her foot by then as she shot covert glances at his furnishings.
"I shall give you a trial," he said at last. "Two weeks, at the end of which we shall evaluate your performance. Of course, that is assuming you are still interested in the position?"
The foot stopped tapping. "A pound a week?" she reiterated, eyes narrowed.
"Nearly fifty pounds per annum."
"And all I have to do is keep and eye on the hellion? Feed her? Dress her?"
"That is, I believe, rather the point of being a nurse," he said dryly.
She still didn't jump at the offer, not that he was surprised given her earlier recalcitrance. Then she did something odd. Rather, something more odd than what she'd done before. She scrunched her face. Perversely enough, it did nothing to detract from her beauty. When she straightened, Alex felt a surprising stab of hope.
"I'll take it," she finally said.
"Very good. When can you start?"
"When do you want me to start?
"If your affairs are so in order."
"If not, next week will be just as well."
She blinked, started at him for a long moment, then said, "I'll start today."
"Good," he said, rising. "I'll have Ms. Grimes show you to the nursery."