Today, we have the fabulous Alexandra Hawkins sharing an exclusive excerpt with us that is unedited and subject to change from her upcoming novel Sunrise with a Notorious Lord. That’s how fresh and special it is! I have to say, I love it. Especially since I’ve been reading about Vane in the previous Lords of Vice books. Speaking of, the Lords of Vice series is my favorite series discovery of the year. And what’s incredible is how much I love them, and how I’m thrilled about the series, since we all know I’m not so much a proponent of well… series. What I’m trying to say is, I really enjoy Alexandra’s books, and I’m really looking forward to this one. I keep telling her she should just send it to me, but I think she pretends those messages get lost. 😉 I’ll keep trying.
Keep reading – you don’t want to miss this. (And look at that cover! Loving the historical romances with these lovely purple covers.)
Dashing, decadent, and deliciously seductive, the notorious Lords of Vice indulge their every desire—from dusk until dawn…
FOREVER THE BACHELOR
Christopher Courtland, Earl of Vanewright—known around London as “Vane”—is the very picture of a rich, handsome ladies’ man. Why shackle himself to just one lady when he’s free to sample them all? In spite of his own mother’s attempts at matchmaking, Vane has sworn to stay single. Until he has a chance run-in with Miss Isabel Thorne…
NEVER IN LOVE—UNTIL NOW…
A modest and refined beauty, Isabel is a lot more brazen than she appears. When a pickpocket tries to make way with Vane’s bejeweled snuffbox, Isabel attempts to thwart his escape…and manages to steal Vane’s heart. But the harder he tries to seduce the sharp-tongued, strong-willed Isabel, the more she resists. Now it’s up to this tried-and-true bachelor to find a new way to play the game…or risk losing the one woman who’s ever captured his heart.
Madness had brought Vane to the Thornes’s residence. Madness and a considerable amount of brandy. When he had ordered his coachman to drive down Isabel’s street, he had told himself that he had no intention of stopping. Then he had noticed the oil lamp burning invitingly through the window of the study. Isabel had not retired for the evening.
A sudden need to see her seized him by the throat. It prompted him to pound on the small trap door and to order his coachman to halt. He hastily disembarked from the coach before he could think of a single reason why he should not summon her to the window.
As he had approached the town house, the small sliver of conscience he possessed almost hoped Isabel would have the good sense to turn him away. If she permitted him entry into her home, he was afraid he would not be able to keep his promise and leave.
“I will use this poker if you misbehave,” she said fiercely.
“I’ll consider myself warned, Miss Thorne.”
Isabel nodded. “Very well. Come to the door and I will let you into the front hall—but no farther. You may bid me goodnight and then take your leave.”
“Upon my word,” he said humbly, praying he was telling the truth.
A minute later, the front door opened. Isabel had brought the oil lamp from the study and placed it on the small round table in the front hall to illuminate the interior.
“It is fortunate that you did not wake the entire household,” Isabel said in lieu of a greeting as she stepped aside so he could enter the hall. She promptly shut the door.
“I will count my blessings later.” Vane reached up to remove his hat and then remembered that he had left it in the coach. “Forgive the late hour. I was on my way home and saw the light in the study.”
“The drive home took you down our street?” she said, sounding unconvinced.
“This evening it did.”
Perhaps it was impolite to scrutinize a lady her current state of undress, however, Vane could not resist. She was captivating. In spite of her protestations, Isabel’s attire covered her from her neck to her feet. She wore a simple white muslin dress or perhaps it was her chemise. It was difficult to tell without untying the white pelisse robe decorated with plumetis embroidery. Even her arms were covered. Several layers of muslin, embroidery, and lace were denying him even the slightest glimpse of the tempting flesh underneath. Fortunately, his experience with the female form was quite extensive and no amount of muslin was likely to quell his curiosity or imagination.
“So you’ve come to bid me goodnight,” she said crisply as she touched her hair in a nervous gesture.
Isabel had forgotten to don her lace cap. Her uncovered hair was braided into a single plait. The heavy length fell over her right shoulder and over the soft curve of her breast. She had not braided her hair to entice, but the casual styling would have only been seen by her family or a lover.
Without thinking, Vane reached out and caught the plaited length of hair with his bare hand. Isabel gasped at his brazenness, but she did not pull away.
“I have often wondered and I was correct. It does feel like silk,” he murmured, entranced by the texture and weight.
She gently tugged her braid from his loose grasp. “Did you have a pleasant evening?”
The courteous question was meant to put distance between them. It was on the tip of his tongue to warn her that it was much too late. After all, she was the one who had opened the door and invited him in.
“Well enough, I suppose.” He shrugged. “And you?”
“Pleasant.” Isabel crinkled her nose in a delightful manner and laughed. “Though the evening sorely tested my appreciation for the musical arts.”
So she had attended the musical recital. If Vane had not been so furious after his encounter with his father, he might have sat beside her and discovered what she had found so amusing about the evening.
“I had a nasty argument with my father this afternoon,” he admitted, surprised that he wanted to tell her about it.
Isabel appeared to be equally taken aback. Her wary expression faded as concern weakened her resolve to keep her distance from him. “It is difficult to remain cross with the ones we love.”
“You have a generous heart, Isabel,” he said, dragging his hand through his uncombed hair. “Unfortunately, I am not so forgiving.”
She sighed, accepting that she could not dissuade him from his rigid stance even if she did not agree with it. “A generous heart. Your mother said something similar earlier this evening.”
Suspicion roiled in his gut, mixing with the brandy. “When did you speak to my mother?”
“At Lady Kerfoot’s house.”
“Did she mention me or my father?”
“Are referring to the argument that you had with your father?” Isabel shook her head. “No, Vane, there would be no reason to discuss something so personal. Your mother loves you.”
“My mother loves getting her way,” he complained bitterly. As did his father.
“Now you are being petulant and unjust.” Isabel moved out of reach as she walked to the door. “Perhaps we should say goodnight before you decide to provoke a fight with me.”
Vane backed her against the door before she could guess his intentions. “Too late,” he said, pinning her wrists over her head. “I’ve been fighting you since I saw you sitting on the dirty floor of the dressmaker’s shop.”
She glared up at him. “Fighting? I retrieved your precious snuffbox, you disagreeable ungrateful man!”
He leaned against her, holding her in place with his body. At once, he noticed that Isabel Thorne was not wearing stays. Instead of stiff whalebone, her soft breasts and belly molded against his body.
“I have also been fighting myself,” he admitted. “I am so weary, Isabel.”
There was a slight tremor in her voice when she spoke. “You just need to sleep off the brandy.”
Vane only wished it were so simple. “We both know it is more complicated than that, Isabel.”
Her face blanched as a desperate look crept into her light brown gaze. “You promised to go home straightaway.”
With his fingers still gripping her wrists, Vane lowered her muslin clad arms to her sides. He took a deep breath and savored the feel of her body against his. Isabel would not escape him until he ready to let her go. “And so I shall, my lovely Isabel. All I require is a kiss and then I take my leave.”
Unedited excerpt from SUNRISE WITH A NOTORIOUS LORD. Copyright © Alexandra Hawkins, January 2012. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission.
Alexandra Hawkins is a USA Today bestselling author and an unrepentant Anglophile. She discovered romance novels as a teenager, and knew that one day she would be writing her own stories. Alexandra has combined her love of English history, mythology, and romance to create sensual character-driven stories that she hopes will touch readers’ hearts.
Alexandra has very generously offered two books, so two winners will get their choice of the previous Lords of Vice books, which are All Night with a Rogue, Till Dawn with the Devil, and After Dark with a Scoundrel. Two winners, winner’s choice.
So, what’d you think of the excerpt? Have you read any of Alexandra’s books before? Do you like historicals? This seems to be a “man falling in love” scene – so what are some of your favorites? Where the hero realizes just how important the heroine is to him? In historical novels, movies, television series, anything.