Tall, Dark, and Wicked: Wicked Trilogy

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9780515155174: Tall, Dark, and Wicked: Wicked Trilogy

A wickedly wonderful new romance from the New York Times bestselling author of His Wicked Reputation 

Most women will give him anything he wants. She is not most women... 

As a well-known barrister and the son of a duke, Ives confines his passionate impulses to discreet affairs with worldly mistresses. A twist of fate, however, has him looking for a new lover right when a fascinating woman shows up in his chambers, asking him to help save her father from the gallows. Unfortunately, he has already been asked to serve as the prosecutor in the case, but that only ensures close encounters with the rarity named Padua Belvoir. And every encounter increases his desire to tutor her in pleasure’s wicked ways...

Having always been too tall, too willful, and too smart to appeal to men, Padua Belvoir is shocked when Ives shows interest in her. Knowing his penchant for helping the wrongly accused, she had initially thought he might be her father’s best hope for salvation. Instead, he is her worst adversary—not least because every time he looks at her, she is tempted to give him anything he wants...

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About the Author :

Madeline Hunter is a two-time RITA award winner and seven-time finalist, and has twenty-five nationally bestselling historical romances in print, including The Accidental Duchess, The Counterfeit Mistress, and The Conquest of Lady Cassandra. A member of RWA’s Honor Roll, her books have been on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly. More than six million copies of her books are in print and her novels have been translated into thirteen languages. Madeline is a regular contributor on USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog with her Romance Unlaced column. She has a PhD in art history, which she teaches at the university level.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :

Praise for the novels of Madeline Hunter

Jove titles by Madeline Hunter

Title Page

Copyright

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Special Excerpt from The Accidental Duchess

CHAPTER 1

Loyal

Good-humored

Intelligent

Uninhibited

Passionate

Accommodating

Lord Ywain Hemingford—Ives, to his family and closest friends—read the list of the qualities he required in a mistress. He had jotted them down, in no particular order, during an idle moment the day before. Only the first one deserved its ranking without question. In fact, it should be underlined. There were other qualities that attracted him, too, but these six, he had learned through experience, were paramount.

He tucked the paper behind some pages, to be returned later to its current duty as a marker in his book. He settled into his favorite chair, propped his legs on a footstool with his feet aimed toward the low fire, and again turned his attention to a novel he had been meaning to read for four months now.

Vickers, his manservant, set a glass and two decanters, one of port and the other of water, on a table next to the chair, then stepped back out of view.

“If your brother the duke should come by this evening, sir, should—”

“Deny him entrance. Bar the door. I am not home to him. If God had any mercy he would have inspired Lance to remain at Merrywood Manor, not allowed him to venture back up to town where he will be a nuisance to all whom he encounters. I am done with being his playmate, or his nursemaid.” At least for a while, he added to himself. After a recent, renewed week of barking, the hounds had again retreated, but they had not given up the hunt.

Ives did not mind being his brother’s keeper. He resented very much playing the role for a brother who treated his advice like it came from an old aunt. One would think that a man under suspicion of murder would be more circumspect in his speech and actions, and want to create favorable impressions, not stick out his tongue at society whenever he could.

“Very good, sir.”

Padding steps. A door closing. Peace. Ives closed his eyes and savored for a moment that rarity in his life—freedom to do whatever he damned well pleased, whenever he chose, with nary a claim on his time or attention.

Several developments allowed this respite besides the dwindling interest in Lance by magistrates out for blood. No cases awaited his eloquence in court for at least a fortnight. By coincidence his mistress had a week ago been most disloyal, giving him the excuse he had sought for some time to part with her.

That left him free of her too. Of attending on her. Of purchasing gifts. Of feeding her vanity. Of joining in little parties that she liked to hold that bored him more than he ever let her know.

It did, of course, also leave him free of a sexual companion. That was not a situation that he by nature welcomed, but he did not mind too much. Contemplating with whom to end his abstinence would give his forays out on the town an enlivening distraction.

He anticipated a glorious stretch of pointless activity. Several long rides in the country beckoned, following whim more than roads or maps. A stack of books like this one waited, too long unread. He could indulge in regular practice with sword and fists, to improve his prowess at fighting with both. And he looked forward to at least one good long debauch of drunkenness with old friends too long neglected.

“Sir.”

Vickers’s voice, right at his shoulder, surprised him. He had not heard Vickers return.

“Sir, there is a visitor.”

“Throw him out, I told you.”

“It is not your brother. It is a woman. She says she has come on business. She says you were recommended to her.”

Exhaling a sigh, Ives held out his palm.

“She gave me no card, sir. I would have sent her on her way, but she would not indicate just who had recommended you, and the last time such an unnamed recommendation came your way it was from—”

“Yes, quite right.” Damnation. If someone, or even Someone, thought to interfere with the next fortnight by having him running around England on some mission or investigation, Someone was very much mistaken. Still, he should at least meet this woman and hear her out, so he could construct a good reason why he could not help her.

He stood, and looked down at himself. He wore a long banyan over his shirt and trousers. The notion of dressing again raised the devil in him. Hell, it was long past time to call at a lawyer’s office, even if Someone recommended him. He would be too informal for a stranger, or for business, but he was hardly in a nightshirt. This woman would just have to forgive him his dishabille. With luck she would realize she had interfered with his evening, which she rudely had, and make quick work of whatever she wanted.

He walked to the office. She was probably a petitioner for some reform cause, or the relative of a friend looking for his advice on which solicitor to hire. Her mission this evening no doubt could have been completed more humanely by writing a letter.

He opened the door to his office, and immediately knew that his visitor had not been recommended by anyone significant, let alone Someone really important. Her plain gray dress marked her as a servant. He could not see one bit of adornment on either it or the dull green spencer buttoned high on her chest. The simplest bonnet he had seen in months covered her black hair and framed her face.

Eyes lowered, lost in her thoughts, she had not heard him. He considered stepping out just as silently, and telling Vickers to send her away. He placed one foot back to do so.

Just then she lifted a handkerchief to her eyes—glittering eyes, he could not help but notice, with thick, black lashes that contrasted starkly with her pale skin. Radiant skin, as it happened, giving her face a notable presence, if he did say so, even if she was not a beautiful woman. Handsome, however, even if somewhat sharp featured.

She dabbed at tears. Her reserved expression crumbled under emotion.

He hated seeing women cry. Hated it. His easy sympathy had caused him nothing but trouble in the past too. Still . . .

Hell.

He waited until she composed herself, then walked forward.

*   *   *

Padua sniffed, and not only to hold back the tears that the day tried to force on her. She also checked for the tenth time to discover if her garments smelled.

Newgate Prison reeked. The stench that London gave off seemed to concentrate in the old city, but Newgate smelled like the source of it all. She had never experienced anything like it. It remained in her nose, and she worried that it had permeated her clothing.

She sat rigidly on the chair the servant had pointed out. Her surroundings caused some trepidation. She had perhaps been rash in following the advice to seek out this lawyer. Probably so, considering the person who had given the advice had been a bawd incarcerated in the prison.

Normally, she would not take advice from a prostitute or a criminal. Yet when that woman called her over as she found her way out of the prison, and showed sympathy, she had not been herself. Just talking to someone eased her distress. After hearing her tale of woe, that woman advised she get a lawyer, and even provided the name of one who had aided a relative who was wrongly accused. Suddenly the prostitute appeared as an angel sent by Providence to offer guidance out of the Valley of Despair.

Now she awaited that lawyer’s attendance. Not only a lawyer, but also a lord. She thought it odd that a lord was a lawyer. She would assume the bawd erred on that, except the servant here did not blink when she used the title in requesting an audience.

Now that she was here, she could believe the lord part. Although she sat in his chambers, this was no apartment, nor merely a set of offices. Rather she sat on the entry level of what appeared to be a new house facing Lincoln’s Inn Fields. There had been nothing to indicate that others lived or worked above. This lawyer had a good deal of money if this whole building was his home.

The mahogany furniture and expensive bookbindings said as much. Her feet rested half-submerged in the dense pile of the carpet on the floor. Her rump perched on a chair that must have cost many pounds. Real paintings decorated the walls, not engravings done after famous works of art.

His fees were probably very high. She doubted she could afford them. The bawd had guessed as much. If you’ve not the coin to pay him, he’ll probably take other payment, dear. Them that works our side of the Old Bailey almost all do.

Could she agree to that? She recoiled from the idea. Then again, it would be no worse than the bargains most women struck in their lives. Had her mother not taught her that the loveless marriages to which most women were subjected were merely economic arrangements prettied up by legalities? Experience of the world had shown that view to be harsh, perhaps, but essentially accurate.

She closed her eyes, and immediately was back in the prison, peering into a cell full of men. The stench, the dirt, the ugly sounds all assaulted her senses again. Hopelessness and death reigned in Newgate Prison. No one would leave a loved one inside it, if she had the means to get him out.

Tears pooled in her eyes. She dabbed them away with her handkerchief, and fought for composure. She never cried, but this was not a normal day in so many ways.

“You asked to see me.”

The voice jolted her out of her reverie and drew her attention to the man suddenly standing ten feet in front of her.

Oh, dear. Goodness. He was not what she expected. Not at all.

She had pictured a man of middle years with gray hair and spectacles and a face wizened with experience. He would wear dark coats and a crisp cravat and be accompanied by a clerk or two.

Instead the man assessing her—there was no other word for the way his gaze took her in—could be no older than thirty or so. He possessed classical features and fashionable locks of dark brown hair of an enviable hue. He wore a long banyan that could pass for a greatcoat if not made of midnight brocade instead of wool.

An impressive man. His green eyes captivated one’s attention. Very attractive eyes. Intelligent. Expressive. This lawyer was not merely handsome, but handsome in a way that made fools out of women when they saw him.

She found her wits, lest she appear just such a woman. “Are you Lord Ywain Hemingford?” She had no idea how to pronounce Ywain. Surely not JA-wane, as the bawd had. She tried EE-wane instead. His subtle wince said she got it wrong.

“I am he. It is pronounced eh-WANE, by the way, at least by my family. There are half a dozen options. Almost everyone chooses the wrong one, so I long ago retreated into the name Ives. Think of me by that name, if it is easier.” His perfect mouth offered a half smile. “By either name, you have me at a disadvantage.”

“My apologies. My name is Padua Belvoir.” She took in his informal dress. “I have intruded at the wrong time. I am sorry about that too. I have been so distraught I have not paid proper mind to the hour, and I could not rest until I sought the help I need anyway.”

“You told my man you were recommended to find me. May I ask by whom?”

By a prostitute in Newgate Prison. “I do not think she wants me to tell you her name.”

He strolled across the chamber. “I assume you are here regarding criminal matters.”

“How did you know?”

“Because that is the only reason she would not want her name used, and because I believe you visited the prison today.” Ever so calmly, he opened one of the windows. A crisp breeze poured in.

She felt her face burning.

“Please, do not be embarrassed. The prison is a fetid place,” he said. “I had a coat that had to be burned after I wore it there one summer day.”

“It is not only fetid, but horrible in every way. The conditions are disgraceful. The inmates are wretched.”

He settled his tall body into a chair near hers. He sat in it like a king might sit on a throne. His arms rested along the tops of its sides, and his hands hung in front of its carving. “Have you come to request a donation, perhaps to further a campaign to improve those conditions? I will contribute, but I must warn you that yours is a noble yet futile quest. People tend not to worry overmuch if criminals are not comfortable.”

“I am not here to ask for a charitable donation, although someday I hope to have the time to devote to such good causes.”

“A budding reformer, are you?”

“There is much in our society that could use some reform.”

“As there has been in every society down through time.”

Oh, dear, he was one of those. The kind who saw no point in trying to better the present because such efforts in the past had failed. “I know history, sir. I have received a liberal education. With our superior knowledge, I think we can be more enlightened than our forefathers.”

He resettled himself in that chair, and angled his head. “I would ask which reforms you want to see first, but let me guess instead.” His gaze scanned her from head to toe. “Workers’ rights. Educational reform.” He scanned again. “Universal suffrage, including the vote for women. If you are educated, you would not like being denied a right enjoyed by others who have no more training of their mental faculties than you have.”

“Your conclusion is accurate. However, my reasons are less elevated. I simply believe that since there are many men who now vote who are stupid and ignorant, there can be no logic in denying the right to any others, stupid or ignorant though they might be as well.”

He laughed lightly. An appealing laugh. Quiet. Warming. His eyes showed new depths. “I do not think I have ever heard it said that baldly before. Like a wily math tutor, you have insisted that a different equation be solved, one that puts me at a disadvantage should I want to disagree.”

His insight with that math tutor comment unnerved her. How had they veered onto this topic? “My opinions do not signify, of course. My original point was that not everyone in that prison is a criminal, so the suffering there cannot be excused.”

He offered that half smile again, no more. “Since you do not want money, and you do not want to discuss reforms, perhaps you will explain what you do want.”

“I want your eloquence and skill to help my father, who has been so affected by prison that he is too weak to help himself. He has been wrongly accused of a crime.”

<...

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Description du livre Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2016. Paperback. État : New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A wickedly wonderful new romance from the New York Times bestselling author of His Wicked Reputation Most women will give him anything he wants. She is not most women. As a well-known barrister and the son of a duke, Ives confines his passionate impulses to discreet affairs with worldly mistresses. A twist of fate, however, has him looking for a new lover right when a fascinating woman shows up in his chambers, asking him to help save her father from the gallows. Unfortunately, he has already been asked to serve as the prosecutor in the case, but that only ensures close encounters with the rarity named Padua Belvoir. And every encounter increases his desire to tutor her in pleasure s wicked ways. Having always been too tall, too willful, and too smart to appeal to men, Padua Belvoir is shocked when Ives shows interest in her. Knowing his penchant for helping the wrongly accused, she had initially thought he might be her father s best hope for salvation. Instead, he is her worst adversary--not least because every time he looks at her, she is tempted to give him anything he wants. N° de réf. du libraire ABZ9780515155174

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Description du livre Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. État : New. Language: English . Brand New Book. A wickedly wonderful new romance from the New York Times bestselling author of His Wicked Reputation Most women will give him anything he wants. She is not most women. As a well-known barrister and the son of a duke, Ives confines his passionate impulses to discreet affairs with worldly mistresses. A twist of fate, however, has him looking for a new lover right when a fascinating woman shows up in his chambers, asking him to help save her father from the gallows. Unfortunately, he has already been asked to serve as the prosecutor in the case, but that only ensures close encounters with the rarity named Padua Belvoir. And every encounter increases his desire to tutor her in pleasure s wicked ways. Having always been too tall, too willful, and too smart to appeal to men, Padua Belvoir is shocked when Ives shows interest in her. Knowing his penchant for helping the wrongly accused, she had initially thought he might be her father s best hope for salvation. Instead, he is her worst adversary--not least because every time he looks at her, she is tempted to give him anything he wants. N° de réf. du libraire ABZ9780515155174

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