Publisher:New Concepts Publishing
Release Date:April 09
Book Preview: "LOVE AND WAR"
Had Selena made a deal with the devil when she agreed to wed the notorious Lord Devereux? She thought so, but then she’d been madly in love with him forever"and he was in love with her fortune.
At her sister, Anne’s, insistence Selena found herself at the Upper Assembly
rooms in Bath again the first Monday of the following month. It was crowded and she
danced every dance, but when she settled among the potted palms with a glass of
detestable Madeira that a young man had brought her, she admitted to herself she was
bored to distraction.
Her friend and companion on these occasions, Elsbeth, was away nursing a sick
relative and Selena had never been very good at small talk with bare acquaintances. She
loved to plunge into a brisk, political debate with someone of an opposite view, or
discuss the latest news of the Duke of Wellington’s exploits in Spain, when news finally
reached them. She liked to be busy, washing the dogs or riding in the park, and was also
quite content to spend an afternoon reading a book that pushed the boundaries of her
knowledge. But to sit here and simper and curtsy and dance one interminable dance after
another was a bore. She was pondering the possibilities of declaring a headache and
retiring early, when a voice above her said, “Well, if it isn’t Miss Selena Wakefield.”
She knew that deep, amused voice before she looked up. She could scarcely raise
her head as her heart began to beat unnaturally fast.
“Lord Devereux,” he said unnecessarily, as he bowed over her hand.
“I may not be in the first flush of youth, Lord Devereux, but there’s nothing
wrong with my eyes or my memory.”
“Indeed. You are remarkably well preserved. Not a gray hair to be seen, for
what, three and twenty?”
“Then please accept belated birthday wishes. May I join you?”
He sat next to her on the small settee, his proximity making her heart beat faster.
“I didn’t know you liked Madeira.”
“Allow me to get you a glass of wine.” He gestured to a waiter.
“I would be grateful, thank you.”
He fixed her with a blue-eyed stare. “You are looking well.”
“Thank you. And so do you.” She wished her heart would slow a little from its
relentless pounding. He wore his golden hair long, tied with a black, velvet ribbon, while
other men wore theirs short and carefully windswept. It was like him to defy the popular
mode of dress. His black coat of superfine needed no padding at the shoulder, fitting
tightly around his slim waist. His waistcoat was also black, as were his satin breeches.
His cravat pin was his only adornment. He stood out in a crowd of glittering jaybirds, a
blond devil, no doubt secure in the knowledge that women would fall under his spell.
Realizing she was also on dangerous ground, Selena steeled herself to remain indifferent
to his charms, but her heart didn’t seem to be listening.
“I don’t like that pasty color on you, though,” he said. “It’s quite the wrong green
She drew a sharp breath as she smoothed the skirt of her white muslin gown,
woven and trimmed with pale green. “Oh?”
“I’m sorry, but you know I’m inclined to blunt speaking,” he confessed, not
looking the slightest bit sorry. “You should wear a green that matches your eyes.” He
touched the emerald pin glowing among the folds of his white cravat. “This green would
“I am as yet unmarried, Lord Devereux,” she managed to splutter.
“Oh right. Insipid colors for the virginal,” he said. A wicked gleam came into his
eyes. “I have an excellent plan that will take care of both these problems.”
She gasped and looked around. “I refuse to listen to it, Lord Devereux. You are
not to be encouraged. You shall ruin my reputation. It doesn’t matter about yours. It is
“Come out onto the terrace where no one will hear us.”
“I will most certainly do nothing of the kind!”
He put his hand on her arm. “Curse it, Selena. I will behave myself. I give you
my word. I need to talk to you.”
Selena looked around. It wouldn’t do to be seen shrugging him off. “I shall give
you five minutes, but I can’t imagine there’s anything you want to say to me. We’ve said
it all before.”
They took a turn about the terrace, passing other couples enjoying the mild
evening air. Braziers burned in their sconces along the wall. Strains of the Sussex Waltz
with flute and violin floated through the open doorway. Lord Devereux’s features, lit by
moonlight, were classically handsome, a noble forehead, high cheekbones, a straight
nose, and a mouth and dimpled chin that made a woman weak in the knees. He settled
against the balustrade beside her with a casual grace that never seemed to desert him.
His heavy-lidded eyes gazed down into hers. It should have been breathtakingly
romantic and for a brief moment, it was.
“Selena, I must marry for money,” he said bluntly.
She turned away, feeling he’d grasped her heart and squeezed it.
He reached out and gripped her arm, his fingers burning into the flesh between
her glove and capped sleeve. “Don’t go yet, Selena. I know I’m too direct. I can’t be
dishonest with you. Don’t know why.”
“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me,” she said dryly.
He gave a brief laugh. Taking her by the shoulders, he searched her face. “I have
no desire to marry. Don’t doubt I should make a very poor husband. In my defense, I’ll
never consciously be cruel to you, and can offer you a title that goes back to the Norman
Conquest. And by way of consolation, I like you.”
“And desire my fortune.”
He shrugged. “Halcrow Hall is falling into disrepair and its lands lie fallow. My
great, great grandfather lost a considerable amount of money when his ships were sunk
during England’s war against Spain. The family fortunes have been dashed on the rocks
ever since. I can’t bear to see it happen, Selena.”
She drew breath at the fire and passion glowing in his blue eyes. It wasn’t for
her, but she still found herself helplessly caught up in it. All her resolve and her
commonsense failing her like a fortress falling in battle. “You now intend to devote your
life to restoring the mansion and its lands?”
“Yes. I must pay off my father’s creditors,” he said simply. “I’ve sold out of the
army, and am now living on borrowed time.”
He shook his head and grinned. “I turned twenty-nine and wanted to live beyond
“I must say I’m surprised they let you while the war is still raging,” she said.
His blue eyes searched hers, for a sign, no doubt, that she wavered.
“Why me? There are other heiresses. Pretty ones.”
“I’ll be damned if I’ll get leg-shackled to a shallow bore or a long-nosed,
humorless wench.” He opened his eyes wide. “Or a blue stocking!”
She laughed. “Not all of them, surely.”
He shook his head. “I’ve looked them all over, believe me. You’re the only one I
could consider spending any time with.”
“Well at least you don’t pay me Spanish coin.”
He grinned. “And many men do?”
“I have had my fill of suitors. My sister Anne is determined to have me married
off before the year is out.”
“Then marry me, Selena. Say you will.”