“Readers will float away on the literary flair of these escapist tales, each touched with just the right amount of eroticism.”--Publishers Weekly
“Beauty and the Brute” by Virginia Henley
It’s been three years since Lady Sarah Caversham set eyes on arrogant Charles Lennox—the husband her father chose for her to settle a gambling debt. Now Charles has returned, unaware that the innocent ingénue he wed is determined to turn their marriage of convenience into a passionate affair…
“How to Seduce a Wife” by Kate Pearce
Louisa March’s new husband, Nicholas, is a perfect gentleman in bed—much to her disappointment. She longs for the kind of fevered passion found in romance novels. But when she dares him to seduce her properly, she discovers Nicholas is more than ready to meet her challenge...
“Not Quite a Courtesan” by Maggie Robinson
Sensible bluestocking Prudence Thorn has been too busy keeping her cousin Sophy out of trouble to experience any adventures of her own. But when Sophy begs Prudence’s help in saving her marriage, Pru encounters handsome, worldly Darius Shaw. Under Darius’s skilled tutelage, Pru learns just how delightful a little scandal can be…
"These three talented authors show the many sides of desire… enough to please any reader seeking pleasure."--Romantic Times, 4 Stars
“Readers will delight as fantasies are played out and passion is given free rein.”
--Romantic Times, 4 StarsChapter One
Caversham Park Manor, Reading, England
December 1, 1719
feet are freezing! Lady Sarah stepped down from the
carriage and hurried into Caversham Park Manor. A
servant helped to remove her cloak and boots and handed
her a pair of velvet slippers. “Thank you so much. Is Mother
in her sitting room?”
“Yes, dear, she’s waiting for you.”
Sarah walked quickly, hoping the fire was blazing bright
in her mother’s parlor. She curtsied as she had been taught
to do. “I hope you are well, Mother. I was so surprised
when you sent the carriage to school for me. Are my Christmas
holidays starting early?”
“They are indeed, Sarah.” Margaret, Countess of Cadogan,
held a rustling paper in her hand. She gave her slim,
pale daughter a critical glance. “I’ve had a letter from your
father in The Hague. Don’t stand so close to the fire,” she
said impatiently. “Do sit down; I have something important
to tell you.”
Sarah curled her toes inside her slippers.
“Your father wants us to join him in The Hague.”
“When?” asked thirteen-year-old Sarah, her eyes as big
as saucers. She had never been farther than her school in
“We are to take ship immediately. It is wonderful news.
I will be able to spend Christmas with my family in the
“So it is Father’s Christmas present to us,” Sarah said in
Her mother did not tell Sarah about the other Christmas
present he had in store for her. It would be far better for
her daughter to learn of it when she arrived at the Court of
Holland. That way, Sarah would have no option but to accept
Thirty miles away in Oxford, eighteen-year-old Charles
Lennox, Earl of March, slapped his female companion on
her bare buttocks. “Wake up, Fanny. It’s time you got the
hell out of here. I’m due to attend class in less than an
hour. It’ll take me that long to wash the stink of strumpet
off my nether regions.”
The buxom lass sat up in bed and swung her legs to the
floor. “There’s no need to hit me, m’lord. Is it a class that
“Cheeky wench! Watch your mouth if you want to enjoy
my favors again. I know a dozen females eager to share my
Fanny picked up her petticoat from the rug and quickly
moved out of his arm’s reach.
“That’s because you have royal blood in your veins.
They want to see if you’re as good in bed as your ancestor,
King Charles Stuart,” she taunted.
“I’m longer, both in size and endurance,” Charles
“Ha! Nothing like blowing your own horn.”
“I’m not likely to do that when I have wenches like you
to do it for me.”
Suddenly the door to his room opened, and his tutor,
Henry Grey, hurried inside. He addressed the plump female struggling into her smock without looking at her.
“Better wrap up warmly—it’s freezing out there.”
“Henry, old son, what brings you at such an early hour?”
Grey waited until the girl left before he brandished an
envelope. “A letter from your father. It’s marked urgent.”
“Then open the damn thing and read it to me.”
Grey pulled back the curtains and slit the wax seal with
his thumbnail. He scanned the letter quickly and conveyed
its message. “His Grace wants to see you in The Hague.
He orders you to take ship immediately.” King George had
recently appointed the Duke of Richmond ambassador to
“At last!” Charles whooped. “My college days are over.
How bloody fortuitous that my father and I agree that a
well-rounded education should be based on the Grand
Tour. I couldn’t ask for a better Christmas present!” He
climbed out of bed. “Pack our bags, Henry. I shall go and
bid a fond farewell to that insufferable swine, the dean.
Then I shall demand a refund of next term’s tuition from
the skinflint treasurer.”
The Hague, Holland
November 28, 1719, three days earlier
“Damnation, Cadogan, you’ve the devil’s own luck.
You’ve won every hand we’ve played for the last sennight.”
Charles Lennox, Duke of Richmond, pushed his
chair back from the games table and wiped his brow.
“Stap me! I’m wiped out—you’ve had the lot!”
General William Cadogan glanced at his darkly handsome
opponent. He was the illegitimate son of the late
King Charles, who in his old age had impregnated his mistress,
Louise de Kerouaille. “Would you like me to tally
up, your grace?”
Richmond waved a negligent hand. “By all means, let
me know the damage.”
The dashing Irish general didn’t take long. He had a
damn good idea of what the duke had wagered and lost in
their endless games of écarté. The duke was a heavy
drinker, which was the main reason for his losses. The general
set the seven score cards down on the table, one for
each night they had played. “I tot it up to a little over ten
“What?” Richmond howled. “Are you jesting?” By the
benign look on Cadogan’s face, Charles Lennox knew he
was serious. He downed the glass of gin sitting before him.
“I don’t have it. You’ll have to accept my marker.”
The men sitting at the table, who had been observing
their deep play, began to murmur. Richmond flushed
darkly. A gentleman always paid his gambling debts. His
shrewd mind quickly inventoried his assets. Land was out
of the question—the aristocracy accumulated property; it
never relinquished it. Besides, the Earl of Cadogan already
owned the hundred-acre Caversham estate on the outskirts
Horses were the next things Richmond thought of. His
family seat, Goodwood, at the foot of the South Downs,
had a racing stable of Thoroughbreds. The thought of
parting with his horses made him feel physically ill.
He looked across at General Cadogan. “You have a
daughter, I believe.”
“I do, your grace. Her name is Sarah.”
“How would you like to make Sarah a countess? My
son, the Earl of March, is without a wife.” Lennox believed
no man could resist such a magnanimous offer.
But the Earl of Cadogan, who was Marlborough’s top
general, and largely responsible for Britain’s victories in
the Wars of Spanish Succession, was a shrewd negotiator.
That was the reason he had been given the diplomatic du
ties concerned with resettlements among Great Britain,
France, Holland, and Spain.
“My daughter, Lady Sarah, has a dowry of ten thousand
pounds. If I gave you my daughter and her marriage
settlement, I would have to pay you ten thousand instead
of you paying me ten thousand.” He raised his hands in
appeal. “It doesn’t fly, your grace.”
“Charles is heir to my Dukedom of Richmond and all
the estates that encompasses,” Lennox pointed out. “Lady
Sarah could become a duchess.” Surely it’s not necessary
to remind you that we have royal blood?
“A marriage between my daughter and your son, and
heir, could be the solution.”
Cadogan paused for emphasis. “Without the marriage
settlement, of course.”
“Curse you, general. You’re not negotiating with the
“Since we are civilized gentlemen, I propose a compromise,
“Let’s split the difference,” Richmond suggested. “Your
daughter’s hand in marriage along with a dowry of five
The other men at the table leaned forward in anticipation
of Cadogan’s answer.
“Done!” The general’s reply was heartfelt. He raised his
hand to a servant. “Drinks all around. We must toast this
The Duke of Richmond raised his glass. “Here’s to you
and here’s to me, and if someday we disagree, fuck you,
here’s to me!”
All the gentlemen roared with laughter and drained
“I shall send for my daughter immediately.”
“And I shall summon my heir,” the duke declared.