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A Perfect Scandal
ISBN: 978-1-4201-0849-1

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A Perfect Scandal -- From Kensington Books
Book II, The Scandal Series

Disgrace has never been so delicious...

A LADY SEEKING SCANDAL

Lady Isabel Cameron has little use for marriage and propriety. Her dream is to study art in Paris. But her father has engaged her to a waddling, bankrupt, domineering lord twice her age. When her childhood flame Marcus Hawksley reappears—handsome, single and socially snubbed—Isabel devises the perfect escape. She will solicit Marcus's assistance to destroy her reputation.

A MAN WITH NOTHING TO LOSE

Marcus has already felt the wrath of the ton, with his business as a stockbroker deemed unacceptable. But he is no despoiler of innocent ladies—until by chance, Isabel's improper advance leaves her the only witness against a lie that could truly ruin him. Faced with her father's demands for marriage, Isabel and Marcus agree to a wedding of convenience—and six months' tenure living as supposed husband and wife. But as the heat between them grows, what seemed a pretense becomes deliciously real...

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reviews

(4 Stars) "Delicious, tantalizing and riveting are just a few words to describe Gabrielle's latest "Scandal." It's the tale of a desperate miss, a scandalous proposal and a gentleman intrigued by a passionate challenge."
-- Romantic Times BOOK Reviews

(4 1/2 Blue Ribbons) "With a strong, beautiful woman, a gorgeous, flawed hero, a healthy dose of passion, and a gripping mystery, A PERFECT SCANDAL is a perfect read. Very highly recommended!"
-- Romance Junkies

"Scintillating...will delight Regency readers."
-- Booklist

excerpt

London, May 1814

She stepped even closer, her ripe body swaying like that of a skilled courtesan, yet surrounded by an aura of innocence. The contradiction was fascinating and alluring all at once. She looked, quite simply, like a sacrificial virgin in one of the frescoes on the wall.

Looking him straight in the eye, she said, “I need to have a liaison, and I want it to be with you.”

He stood absolutely still and wondered if he had heard her correctly. After a moment, realization dawned on him, and he chuckled. “Is this some kind of joke?”

“Why would you think that?”

“After not seeing you for eight years, you approach me at Lady Holloway’s ball and very forwardly ask me to dance. Then the next day you show up here”—he spread his arm toward the debauchery in the room—“and ask me to become your lover. If this is not a joke, then what else can it be?”

A thoughtful smile curved her mouth. “I assure you, Marcus, this isn’t a joke.”

He shook his head. “Respectable young women who are unmarried debutantes don’t wander around unchaperoned propositioning men to have affairs. Especially a man with a black cloud hovering over his head.”

“Exactly,” she said. “That’s why you are perfect. My father has arranged a match for me, you see. A much older, domineering lord.”

“He sounds quite acceptable. Your father has your best interests at heart.”

She pouted, showing full, red lips...very kissable lips.

“I don’t love Lord Walling. He’s thirty-three years my senior, has no interest in who I am, and he waddles.”

Marcus had to drag his gaze from her mouth to her flashing blue eyes. “He sounds even better. What do you need me for?”

“I need to create a scandal, ruin my reputation. It’s the only way to get out of Lord Walling’s trap and to stop my father’s relentless matchmaking. Only then will I be free to return to Auntie Lil in Paris. She’s waiting for me with open arms.”

“Again, madam, your plan is unsound and irrational. You should obey your father,” he said in a harsh voice.

She reached out and touched his chest. “You may say such things, but your eyes tell another story. I know you felt something for me when we danced last night. I could feel it, and I’m guessing you did as well.”

Marcus’s throat tightened at her touch. Despite his reservations, his common sense, he was by no means blind to her face and form. His gaze dropped from her blue eyes to her full, bottom lip, and a trickle of sweat formed on his brow.

It’s this room, he told himself. Any man would be stiff as a board if he were propositioned by a beautiful woman in such an erotic environment.

He placed his big hand over her smaller one and moved it away. “You’re wrong. How would an innocent girl like you know how I felt last night?”

She stepped forward; he stepped back.

“I’m not a girl and you know it. I’m past the age of schoolgirl fantasies. I’m a real woman with interests and desires, and being married off to a dominating, old lord is not one of them.”

He continued retreating until he realized with dismay that they were closer to the round, satin-encased bed.

Damnation.

If she were an experienced lady looking for sport, he would oblige her and happily. But this was Isabel Cameron, an innocent lady whose influential father was an earl and a friend of Marcus’s father. Memories of her childhood antics were still pure and clear in his mind.

“Isabel,” he warned, his tone low and rough.

“I’m very persistent when I want something. Remember how I was as a young girl, Marcus? As a grown woman, I’m even more tenacious when I desire something.” Her voice was a velvet murmur.

She was so close he could see her irises grow in the dim light. She stared at him with longing, and he was completely taken by surprise. No one had looked at him that way in a long time, especially not a lady. He was an outsider, an outcast, whose own family looked down upon him. Here was a remarkably beautiful woman who gazed at him as if he were her savior, and a spark of unfamiliar need flared inside him so great he struggled to deal with the ravaging emotion.

His gaze fell to the creamy expanse of her neck, then lower still, to the rounded tops of her full breasts. When his eyes returned to hers, there was no maidenly innocence in the sky blue depths, only physical awareness of him as a man. Her invitation was a passionate challenge, impossible to resist. He had an overwhelming desire to hold her, taste her, trace her full bottom lip with his tongue...

His body grew hot; his heart hammered in his chest.

How much could a man resist?

After all, what harm could one kiss do?

He moved toward her, impelled involuntarily by his own lust. She glided into his arms and wrapped her arms around his neck.

Still, he held himself back and looked into her eyes. “Isabel, this is madness.”

“That’s what makes it perfect,” she whispered, and then drew his face to hers.