Regency Romance is something I'm being drawn to more and more. I had the opportunity to meet Rachel Van Dyken at the Romance Times Booklovers' convention and am falling in love with her style.
She's a USA Today best selling multi-published author with titles such as Waltzing With The Wallflower, Every Girl Does It, An Unlikely Alliance, Compromising Kessen, and The Parting Gift. She recently celebrated the release of The Redemption of Lord Rawlings, book three in the House of Renwick series following the bestsellers The Ugly Duckling Debutante and The Seduction of Sebastian St. James.
But let get to the good stuff. Lord Rawlings. Is there really a chance he can be redeemed?
Phillip Crawford, the eighth Earl of Rawlings and notorious rake of the ton, has come to the end of his rope. Out of money, out of favor, and out of luck, he wanders the streets of London in the rain, hoping to be hit by inspiration...or a runaway carriage. Something has to give. It is his father's final cruel trick to hold his inheritance just out of reach, requiring him to marry by his next birthday in order to claim his full rights as earl. His step-mother refuses to offer him any more support. With no money, no prospects and no other place to turn, he has only two options:
Marriage or debtor's prison.
The better choice seems clear enough, but with his name and reputation being attacked daily in the society papers, there's not a proper lady in all of London desperate enough to accept him. It isn't going to be easy, even if the reports of his exploits and rakish lifestyle are greatly exaggerated.
On the other hand, debtor's prison does start to look much more appealing when the only friends he has left decide to help him in his search for the perfect bride. Matters become much more complicated when the only woman who shows an interest in him just happens to be the young sister-in-law of the Duke of Tempest; the same man who, just months ago, had been tempted to kill him.
One thing is for certain, as the Season draws to an end, Lord Rawlings will have to decide once and for all, if his wicked ways are enough to bring him contentment in life, or if a leopard really can change his spots. Or in Phillip's case—can a devil truly be redeemed?
This author’s curiosity had been piqued. While taking an innocent stroll through Mayfair, it was noted that a curricle of a certain earl was outside a particular duke’s home. Well, they say that opposites attract. This author wonders if even the Angel Duke can influence a man as corrupt as Rawlings. It has been said that he once had a mistress in every hair colour to suite his scandalous tastes. Alas, it seems we will be seeing more of this unfortunate creature. Ladies, guard your honor.—Mrs. Peabody’s Society Papers
Of all the ways for a man to swallow his pride, this had to be the worst. Phillip arrived at the house of his once betrothed, now the Duchess of Tempest, and one of the wealthiest dukes of the realm—a man he had wanted to kill and a woman he had desired for himself not so long ago.
Asking them for help was reminiscent of the time Lady Fenton had yelled at him for gawking at her bosom, when he was all but one and five. The lads hadn’t let him live it down for years. He had been appalled the witch had seen him staring, and to this day, felt he couldn’t quite look at her in the face without thinking of something else entirely. Shuddering, he lifted his gloved hand to the door and knocked.
They should be just about ready for afternoon callers. And although it was a little early for the women to begin making visits, Phillip had hoped he could have this dreadful conversation done and over with before the dandies and puppies made their appearances. No doubt they would be crowding the doors of the duke’s home in hopes of an audience with Abigail.
He shook his head, a cynical grin creasing his lips. It would be impossible to use any other sort of address for her. She would always simply be, Abby. Not Miss Abigail Gates. And certainly thinking of her marrying and obtaining a title made him want to spit. Fortunately, it seemed she was merely out for a bit of fun this Season and not planning to marry. Her actions proved she was nothing more than a curious innocent out for London adventure.
“My lord?” The butler answered the door and recognized Phillip. Not because he was such a good friend of the duke’s, much to Phillip’s dismay, but because he was the infamous rake. That blasted Mrs. Peabody had made him sound more deranged than even he could imagine. How was it that the menacing woman knew what he was up to so often? It seemed he was being stalked like a lion’s prey, and he did not appreciate it one bit. For every time he read the society papers a new sin of his was on display, warning the entirety of the female population in London to be wary of him.
It was another reason he had decided to take Emma up on her offer.
Nobody would have him otherwise.
Just this morning, when he went for his usual ride through Hyde Park, he was appalled to endure an elderly lady’s attempt to throw an apple at his head. Unsuccessful, she had yelled a derogatory name, loud enough for some young ladies to hear. Their faces lit up in seductive smiles which were quickly smacked away by their mamas, who whispered who-knew-what in their ears. Their eyes widened in horror, and they scurried away as if he was some diseased creature.
Which he wasn’t.
But they didn’t know that. All they knew was he had been with so many women that even the men who called themselves rakes looked like innocent boys standing next to him. Not that the talk was minutely true. Hundreds of women was quite a stretch, even for a man of his appetite, and he hadn’t fed said appetite in over a year.
The butler heaved a deep sigh, which spoke volumes, then looked behind Phillip as if to make sure nobody knew he was entering their house, and quickly ushered him in.
His pride would have been pricked had he any left, but instead, he was grateful the butler had insight Phillip hadn’t. And even more grateful that the duke’s butler had been reading his papers, for he had tea and biscuits brought in from the kitchens. Food wasn’t that scarce yet at Phillip’s house, but good hot tea was.
Nodding his head in a silent thank you, Phillip ate, and then he waited.
As he finished the last of the biscuits and his tea began to cool, Emma rushed in with Sebastian at her side.
“I knew it!” She tapped Sebastian across the chest with her glove. “I was just telling him this morning after reading the papers that you would be desperate enough to take me up on my offer.”
“Ah, desperate.” Rawlings rose so he could bow to the duchess. “A word I’ve been overusing as of late. And yes, you are correct in your assumption. Did you know someone threw an apple at me this morning? And the number of lovers I’ve had has tripled over night. Imagine my shock to wake up in my bed alone whilst I was apparently tupping half of London.” Frustrated, Phillip hadn’t meant to announce all that information to the duchess, but he was at his wit’s end. Had he just said tup in front of the Duchess of Tempest?
Get your copy of The Redemption of Lord Rawlings at:
About the Author:
Rachel grew up in a small community where cows outnumbered people and there were more tractors than cars. And just between you and me, she thinks “the world would definitely be a better place if we ate more chocolate and read more books. Just saying. *wink*” She now resides in Idaho with her husband and invites us to come on over for a Starbuck’s cuppa.
Connect with Rachel around the web:
Facebook: Rachel Van Dyken Author
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Until next time, may your dreams be magical.
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Charlene A. Wilson is an author of paranormal suspenseful tales that take you to other dimensions. She weaves magic, lasting love, and intrigue into multi-layered story lines to immerse you into the lives of her characters.