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How to Marry a Marquess

Wedded by Scandal Series

To have her is to ruin her

Lady Evie Chesterfield is a darling of the ton who refuses to become engaged. She’s been desperately in love with her brother’s friend, Richard Maitland, Marquess of Westfall, since forever. But the dark, dangerous marquess only sees her as a friend and refuses to marry any woman. When circumstances change and Evie has no choice but to take a husband, she decides to convince London’s most notorious gentleman to marry her by seducing the scoundrel.

Richard Maitland decided long ago that he wanted nothing to do with love. So when the gorgeous, off-limits Evie asks him for lessons in seduction, Richard knows he’s playing with fire. Despite Richard’s determination to protect her from his dastardly reputation, he is tested at every turn by his need for the infuriating, but enticing, Lady Evie. Before too long he is faced with making an impossible choice…

Now Available for Preorder

Releases on August 14, 2017

Excerpt

The festivities continued in grand style. Evie had indulged in a few dances, chatted with Adel, deflected two proposals, and somehow avoided Lord Ponsby, though not by her efforts. The man had seemingly slipped from the ball, despite securing her hand for two dances earlier. She would not regret her good fortune, but she was curious as to where he had absconded. Her mother’s events were well sought after and tonight was a successful crush.

Though all the windows were opened, the heat and the jostle of the crowd were overwhelming. Feeling in need of a breath of fresh air, she moved toward the tall French doors that led outside and climbed the steps to one of the narrow balconies overlooking the grand ballroom. The cool air touched on her bare shoulder, sending shivers along her flesh, but nothing would induce her to return to the crush. A hollow feeling lingered in her heart that ached to be filled.

There was a deliberate rustle behind her, and she whirled around. A figure stepped from the shadows, and her breath caught. Richard. Her cheeks grew suddenly hot with embarrassment. Despite missing him, she felt utterly unprepared to see him after their startling intimacy.

“I…I thought you had left. I saw you earlier with Wolverton and then…” She stopped, not wanting to ramble and appear so gauche and uncertain. Be daring.

“I thought it unusual you would leave without a lesson.”
His gaze dropped to her lips and her whole being throbbed with an awareness of him and his blatant sensuality. His dark jacket fitted his shoulders well, and his stance was insolently casual, making her want to rattle him. He was beautiful, in a way that was uniquely male.

“No kissing,” he said flatly.

“Do not blame me for your errant thoughts, I said lessons. That includes dancing and suggestions on how to capture my gentleman’s interest, if I recall properly.”

He grunted and strolled closer but still maintained a respectable distance. She was excruciatingly conscious of his masculinity.

“Is he here?”

“Oh yes.”

A muscle tensed in his cheek at her enthused response. Those golden eyes slashed to the crowd below, skipping over dozens of gentlemen, analyzing and dissecting them in that calculating way of his. What is he thinking?
A soft, misting rain began to fall, and she tilted her face to the sky briefly.

“We should return inside,” she said softly.
He made no answer, only leaned with casual elegance against a column covered with flowering vines. Richard’s gaze glided leisurely over her, taking in every detail of her appearance.

She flushed under his unwavering perusal. “You are staring.”
Was he remembering how she had cried against his lips, begging for more as he pleasured her? How did anyone keep such a liaison a secret? If any of her friends or families saw them together now, they would know unequivocally they had been intimate. He was staring in that piercing, disturbing way of his, and carnal knowledge of her gleamed in his eyes.

She felt hot and achy and couldn’t break the magnetism of his lingering gaze.

“You look beautiful,” he said, his voice filled with bemusement. “I’d meant to leave just now, but then I saw you standing here watching the gaiety inside. Why are you out here?”

Forcing her tongue to unknot and hoping to banish the sudden shyness twisting through her, she moved a few paces away. “Perhaps I wondered to where you disappeared.”

His face fell into the shadows once again, and a baffling silence lingered. The strains of a waltz filtered on the air, and she sighed her pleasure.

“The waltz is your favorite dance.”

“It is.”

“I am surprised no one would have claimed you.”

She laughed lightly. “Mamma happily promised my hand to Lord Ponsby, but he has generously disappeared.”

Something dark shifted in Richard’s gaze, and Evie frowned.

“If you’ll honor me with this dance?” he said coolly.
They hadn’t had an occasion to dance together for almost a year.

“Mamma would faint.” Everyone in the ballroom below always seized upon and savored every tidbit of scandal about him that drifted their way. To see them dancing again after so long and so illicitly would create wild speculations in the scandal sheets. “But I would be delighted.”

“Not inside. Here.”

No doubt he was thinking of his dastardly reputation and the few ridiculous cartoons that had been drawn of them over the years. It warmed her heart and frustrated her in equal measure the care he was taking of her circumstances in society. She hesitated, before inclining her head in agreement. They met in the center of that narrow balcony. His hand settled about her waist, and his touch, though light, was an inescapable possession.

With a raw confident power only he seemed to possess, he moved her into the dance. Evie was very much aware of his arm about her waist and of the strength and power of the shoulder that flexed beneath her hand. They glided across the narrow length with seemingly effortless ease.

He tugged her scandalously close, and her heart thudded as her breast at times grazed against his chest.

“Be yourself, Evie.”

She shifted, and her forehead butted his chin, so close he held her.

“If you want his attention, be yourself. Your genuine and full laugh is not boisterous as your mother has berated, your joy will enchant him, your wit and charming personality will beguile him, you are irresistible…one smile from you and he will hunger to know your desires and be desperate to grant them.”

He bent his dark head toward hers, and his warm breath caressed her lips.

“Do nothing in half measures as your mother and governess have impressed upon you, and if you do not secure his affections, he does not deserve you.”

She leaned back slightly and stared at him in speechless wonder. “If I am to be bold and do everything full measured as you say…I cannot withhold my kisses.”

He grounded them to a halt, though the waltz had not ended. His eyes flashed a dangerous warning.

She ran her fingers through his hair. “Do you deny it is impossible to know if someone is ideally suited to be your lifelong partner without a few but very discreet stolen kisses?”

“Have a care, Evie,” he said smoothly, hooding his gaze. “I would hate to break the man’s bones.”

He had never shown the least inclination to be so possessive before and a thrill burst in her heart. She gave a flirtatious shrug. “I think not,” she drawled. “At the opportune moment, I—”

He dragged her up along his body, the strength in his action a scintillating shock. Before she could protest, his mouth slanted across hers with a ravening urgency. The raw force of his mouth possessed her, the strength of his hunger catching her unawares. He had never touched her with such roughness before, and she moaned in acceptance of his sensual dominance. He tasted dark…dangerous. Her hands fisted in his hair to hold him closer when she should be pushing him away. Anyone could come upon them. Slowly, inexorably, her blood heated and desire coursed through her like molten lava. Their tongues tangled wildly, and a long, low moan broke from her lips.

He pulled from her, breathing heavily. She lifted trembling fingers to lips that were bruised.

The harsh contours of his face were uncompromising. “If you value this man’s life, you will afford him no liberties until you are married.”

His meaning was unequivocal. “You are outrageous,” she gasped.
Without speaking, Richard melted away in the dark.

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Copyright © 2017 by Stacy Reid. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.

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