THE NAKED BARON
Publisher: Zebra Books
Release Date: May 2009
TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT
New to London society and rather...awkward...Lady Grace Belmont would
just as soon hide behind the palm trees as dance with a man she doesn't
know. But Baron Dawson is on the hunt for a wife. Grace's
generous curves and remarkable height do not intimidate him. In fact,
it would be more accurate to describe his reaction to the charming newcomer
as lust. Before Grace can so much as gather her thoughts, she
finds herself in his arms, committing one shocking impropriety after
another. The Baron's devilish attractiveness--to say nothing of his
splendid muscles--is simply impossible to resist. Her beloved aunt and
chaperone advises patience, but Grace is not about to listen. The handsome
baron is whispering such delightful things in her ear...
Grace blew out a short, impatient breath,
causing the tendrils that had worked themselves free of her coiffure to
float briefly in front of her eyes, and glanced back down at her aunt.
Aunt Kate looked as if she would like to
wrap her elegant fingers around her neck in exasperation.
“You are in a pucker over nothing,
Grace. Didn’t you notice in the receiving line that Miss Hamilton was
almost as tall as you? And I’m sure there are other ladies present
as”--Aunt Kate blushed and coughed slightly--“well endowed.” She patted
Grace’s arm. “Your father is an idiot. There will be plenty of gentlemen
eager to pay you court.”
That was highly unlikely, but there was
no need to argue the point. “You know I’m not here to find a husband, Aunt
Kate. Papa has already arranged everything with Mr. Parker-Roth. I just
came to attend a few parties and see the London sights.” And enjoy my
last gasp of freedom before I give my life over to John.
“But do you truly want to marry this
“Er...” She didn’t, but she was resigned
to her fate. She couldn’t live at Standen forever--and marrying for love
was a fairy tale reserved to Minerva Press novels. “I’m content with Papa’s
choice. After all, didn’t he choose Oxbury for you? And you had over
twenty years of marital harmony.”
Aunt Kate’s face suddenly assumed the
oddest expression, almost as if she’d taken a bite of stewed eels and
couldn’t decide whether to swallow or spit it out.
“Ah...er...yes.” Aunt Kate cleared her
throat. “But I do think you might wish--you really might wish--to look
around, Grace. Mr. Parker-Roth may be a pearl beyond price, but how will
you know unless you see what else is available? I, at least, had a brief
“You can’t go home like a beaten dog with
your tail between your legs and give your father the pleasure of saying he
told you so.”
“True.” This was her only chance
to see London. She should enjoy the experience. She would think of the
male population as simply another sight to see, like London Bridge or
Westminster Abbey. “I suppose there would be no harm in looking.”
“Exactly.” Aunt Kate smiled. “And there
is so much to look at.” She made a small, graceful gesture encompassing the
ballroom. “You have all of society at your feet.”
“Until these ladies finally move and we
descend to join the crush.” There was hope. The women had reached the
Kate’s smile widened. “Indeed. So take
a moment to survey the scene. I see a number of tall gentlemen, don’t you?”
“Perhaps.” There did seem to be one or
two men above average height, though it was difficult to be certain from
this vantage point.
“Perhaps? Of a surety. Look at the man
by the ficus over there. Or the one by the windows. Or those two gentlemen
by the...by the--oh, dear God.” Aunt Kate turned as white as a sheet and
gripped Grace’s arm hard enough to leave marks.
“What is it? What’s the matter?”
Aunt Kate was staring at one of two men
standing by a clump of potted palms. The fellow was tall with dark hair,
graying slightly at the temples. Distinguished looking--not alarming in the
slightest. What could be the matter with--
Grace’s gaze traveled to his
Her heart began to thud; heat flooded her
face. For a moment she forgot to breathe.
This gentleman was even taller and
roughly ten years younger. His black coat stretched tight across impossibly
broad shoulders, and his hair, dark blond and slightly longer than
fashionable, waved back from a broad forehead. He had deep-set eyes, high
cheekbones, a straight nose, firm mouth...and was that a cleft in his chin?
He was staring at her, but not in the
highly obnoxious fashion of the other men. Oh, no. She met his gaze and
felt a jolt of...something. The feeling fluttered down to lodge low in her
What was the matter with her? Could the
sooty London air be affecting her constitution? She’d never before felt
this heat, this heaviness in--
She flushed. Could he tell?
A corner of his mouth turned up in a half
smile. He could tell.
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