USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee continues her saucy, vibrant Rakes and Rogues Regency romance series with a high-society outsider who may have met his match…
A brown-eyed bastard with nothing to lose
As the illegitimate son of a duke, Bramwell Wesley Hallowsby grew up tough, on the fringes of society, learning to hide his hurt and cynicism with charm and Town polish. He’s carved out a place for himself as a mercenary, serving as bodyguard and general strong arm for the peerage. Bram has nothing to lose… and he’s exactly what Maybelle “Bluebell” Ballenger needs.
Meets his match in a blue-eyed beauty with everything to hide
Maybelle needs a mentor to teach her to speak and act like a lady, so she can claim the place in society she was denied. As they team up to take on the ton, Bram knows she’s hiding something even from him. Despite the deception he sees behind those sparkling blue eyes, Bram wants to believe that Maybelle’s love is no lie. But it seems fate has served him up his just desserts in the likes of this determined damsel.
A Word from Jade: In this excerpt Mr. Periwinkle—a huge pig—has escaped his pen. Maybelle and our hero Bram Hallowsby are trying to wrestle the thing back home with the aid of a bucket of ale brought by the young Thomas. Sadly, it did not go so well…
“Git the bucket! Git the bucket!”
Maybelle’s hands and shoulders were screaming, but she put everything she had into hauling Mr. Periwinkle back from the bucket. She knew that the moment the pig got a belly full of ale, he’d be a drunken pig, and no one could move him until dawn when he’d wake with a sore head and worse disposition.
Entire evenings at the pub had been spent in the retelling of one Mr. Periwinkle story after another, and she did not want to add today’s adventure to that list of disasters. She had too much to do yet and no strength left in her hands as the pig got the better of her.
She lost her grip and dropped to her knees. And poor Mr. Hallowsby was now flat on his bum with a hand to his chest as he gasped for air.
God no. He couldn’t be dying! Getting hit by Mr. Periwinkle was no small thing, and men had been killed by less. She’d managed to maneuver the pig off him with a few well-timed shoves, but the damage had already been done. He’d been sat on, and…
Phew. He breathed, and with no grimace of pain, as far as she could see. But then he raised a hand.
He was holding a knife. The blade flashed in the sun, and she nearly swallowed her tongue. He couldn’t kill Mr. Periwinkle. He couldn’t! That was Widow Dwight’s only means of support beyond what little she brought in doing laundry. Plus the thing had fathered half the pigs in Hull.
“No!” she bellowed, and she saw his hand stop midair.
He didn’t strike. But he didn’t keep the bucket away from Mr. Periwinkle. And as they froze in that tableau, the clearing was filled with the snorts of a pig guzzling ale.
She plopped down on her rear, belatedly realizing that she was covered from head to toe in mud and that Mr. Hallowsby wasn’t much better. Baths for them both and fresh clothes before they left. Which meant she had to get that pig back to Widow Dwight’s to trade for the washing. She had precious few dresses to take to London, and this was one of her better ones.
“Aw blimey,” cried Thomas from the far side of the clearing. “We told ’im not to feed ’im the grub.”
Mr. Hallowsby whipped his head around and glared at the boy. “And how was I to keep that brute away from it, I ask you?”
“By running faster than a pig,” Thomas shot back, disgust in every line of his body.
Maybelle pushed herself to her feet and managed to grab the empty bucket away from the pig. Tossing it to Thomas, she said, “Go fill ’er up again. He’s in a better mood now, mebbe I can get ’im going.”
Thomas eyed the three of them doubtfully, but he didn’t argue. Meanwhile, she leaned down and grabbed hold of the rope around Mr. Periwinkle’s neck. She didn’t pull though. Her gaze went to Mr. Hallowsby where he sat in the mud looking stubborn.
“I’m not paying another two shillings.”
Oh, of course. Gillian would have charged him for the grub. “No bother. The widow will cover it. She does the inn’s laundry.”
He eyed her darkly, though in truth she didn’t think the expression was meant for her. “I hate the country.”
“It would appear the country is none too fond of you either,” she said. “Are you hurt?”
He grunted as he pushed to his feet. “Just my pride. And my knife.” Then he held up the no longer shiny metal to the sun, and even she could see the handle was broken.
“I’ve killed men for less,” he said darkly as he advanced on Mr. Periwinkle.
She was horrified by the thought. “Truly?”
He whipped his gaze back to her, and a moment later, he stomped over to his two other knives, where they waited sunk into a tree trunk. She thought he wouldn’t answer, but in the end, he muttered something that sounded like, “Not really. But I’ve wanted to.”
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee has been crafting love stories since she first picked up a set of paper dolls. Ballgowns and rakish lords caught her attention early (thank you Georgette Heyer), and her fascination with the Regency began. An author of more than 40 romance novels and winner of dozens of reader awards, she brings laughter into the sexy nights of England's elite. Quirky characters and sexy banter are her hallmarks. Find out more at her website www.JadeLeeAuthor.com, or check out her wild contemporary half at www.KathyLyons.com.