Every time she turns a corner, he is there-tantalizing her, teasing her… and the more she tries to ignore him, the more insistent he becomes. Mary knows she must make an advantageous marriage, but surely Blackstone is the wrong man for her. Blackstone is not about to let his brother become bewitched by some wily blueblood pretender… even one as deliciously tempting as Mary. But until she came along, no woman has ever resisted his smooth, well-practiced seductions. Chapter 1 Berkeley Square, London May In the blue veil of night, three human statues stood clustered behind a prickly screen of holly bushes, their voices carefully held to mere whispers.
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Every time she turns a corner, he is there-tantalizing her, teasing her… and the more she tries to ignore him, the more insistent he becomes. Mary knows she must make an advantageous marriage, but surely Blackstone is the wrong man for her. Blackstone is not about to let his brother become bewitched by some wily blueblood pretender… even one as deliciously tempting as Mary.
But until she came along, no woman has ever resisted his smooth, well-practiced seductions. Chapter 1 Berkeley Square, London May In the blue veil of night, three human statues stood clustered behind a prickly screen of holly bushes, their voices carefully held to mere whispers. Is he not exquisite? What else was she supposed to do? Sit in her bedchamber while he was walking through the gardens only yards away?
No, she was not about to miss an opportunity like this. Until this night, Mary had only seen the viscount five times in passing. And though she was an excellent judge of character-everyone said so-she had had to concede that she needed more time to gather a better sense of him…to be sure.
For she was nothing if not decisive. And once she made a decision, she never changed her mind. Being able to watch him from the holly bushes, undetected as she was, would allow her to confirm her initial opinion of him, even though in her heart she already knew her perception was correct. He was exactly as he appeared-positively perfect. Snapping her head around, Mary grimaced at her sister.
It had taken her a full two hours to achieve the correct marbled effect. Mary twisted to peer at the damage to her white finish. Your fingers have left prints all over me. Our family will be ruined. Am I alone in considering this? No one can see us here. I daresay we have to move closer. It was then that she saw Anne and Elizabeth exchange loaded glances.
Oh no. They were going through with this. They were. This was the plan, or have you forgotten? We dress in white and powder ourselves, then invade the rout, posing as garden statuary.
Though I have to admit, in the moonlight, our marbling looks flawless. The effect is really quite amazing. I feel as though ants are crawling all over me. I agree with Lizzie, this is madness.
Did I mention that a viscountcy was newly bestowed on him, by the Regent himself? It was a grand reward for his valor in battle. Come along, we have to catch him up. I am going to marry him, you know. I am being realistic about our prospects-and so should you. My tastes are much more refined. She paused only twenty paces from the two gentlemen. Such fine, aristocratic features.
Shows good breeding. But Mary was too preoccupied with admiring the viscount to pay her nervous sister much mind. Mary whirled around and looked back toward the two men. Oh, no. Now there was only one.
And indeed, a huge, dark, shadowy figure was pushing through a break in the hedge and heading toward her. There was no time to run. Lord above, no time to hide. So, being a piece of slightly smudged garden statuary, she turned her back to the hedge, then simply folded her hands before her and tried her best to appear a slab of elegantly carved marble. No sooner had she closed her eyes than she heard his footfalls nearby, and in the next moment, Mary knew he was standing right before her.
Do not move. Do not breathe. She heard him exhale a quick, deep chuckle. Quite lovely, actually. You should examine its profile. Extraordinary detail. Very realistic.
Come here and have a look for yourself. In fact, he was so near that she could feel the warmth of his breath upon her skin, and it made her tremble inwardly. Oh perdition. She knew that although it was fairly dark behind the hedge aside from a few fingers of moonlight breaking through from above, it was more than possible that her disguise had failed. She had to see what was happening.
Had to risk it. Slowly she raised her eyelids ever so slightly, peered through her powdered lashes and saw-a large hand stretching outward as if to cup her breast. Good heavens. You knew. You were toying with me. You, you…scoundrel!
The viscount had obviously caned his way through the hedge as well. Mary froze in place. The viscount was directly behind her. There was no way this eve could have turned out any more disastrous. None at all. Mary angled her face away. She could not let the viscount see her features, for indeed, he might recognize her. Her heart thudded impossibly hard in her chest, and with no other choice, no possible explanation to give for her outlandish appearance, Mary gave a shove to the ebony-haired man and, with her path of escape clear, raced past him and into the night.
But rest assured, I intend to find out. As Mary pressed the front door closed behind her, she emptied her lungs of breath in a grand sigh of relief. She was home at last and, thankfully, fairly certain the viscount had not glimpsed her face. Even if he had for the briefest of moments, with her body and sable hair coated with a thick layer of flour paste and powder, he could not have recognized her as the woman he tipped his hat to in Hyde Park each Tuesday while riding during the fashionable hour.
At least she hoped not. The glow of a flickering fire illuminated the open doorway to the parlor, and she started for it, knowing she would find at least one of her sisters inside.
What else would our ancient aunt be doing at such a late hour…or in the morn…or in the afternoon? You abandoned me. You have come home. No harm was done. The large one almost had me. He deserved it, though. But at the last moment, noting the powder all over Mary, she changed her mind. What happened? I simply ran in the wrong direction and had a devil of a time making my way home. Why I let you persuade me to disguise myself as a statue, I will never know.
He is perfect in every way that matters. From it, she withdrew several large folds of foolscap. We do not even know where to begin. Proving anything will be impossible, given the time and financial restraints we have. Papa saved these letters for us for this very reason-to prove who we are. From everyone.
How to Seduce a Duke
Tygorg I previously bought How To Engage an Earl, so I was really excited to get the first one to see what transpired before. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. The Viscount is a guest at a party there, and Mary wants the chance to learn more about him. Not a lot kafhryn out about this historical romance by Kathryn Caskie.
How To Seduce A Duke