Pierce, Earl of Wainthorpe finds himself in a position he never conceived of; in need of the haut ton’s approval. An unrepentant rake and member of the secret Wicked Earls’ Club, he must change his ways, or he’ll never gain guardianship of Bianca Salisbury—the young woman he won at cards. And for reasons, he can’t begin to explain, much less wants to examine closely, assuring her safety has become the most important thing in his life.
Barlow stood just inside the parlor entrance. “The Earl of Wainthorpe, Your Grace.”
Pierce surveyed the elegant room, and the even more elegant Duchess of Haversford. Well, he might as well get on with it. He’d come this far. He bowed over her hand, “Thank you for you invitation, Your Grace.”
“Wainthorpe. I am so pleased you could join me. Please be seated. Will you take tea?”
“Yes, please.” If he must. Pierce flipped his tails out of the way as he sank onto the dainty butter-colored chair. “As I said in my letter, I find myself in need of some direction, and who else, but someone of your pristine reputation to assist me?”
The duchess raised an elegant brow, but remained silent.
“Honestly,” devil it, Pierce felt like an errant school boy, “I wasn’t sure you’d see me. As you well know, I haven’t been the modicum of respectability.”
“I was indeed surprised to receive your letter, Wainthorpe, given your reputation. But I certainly have no interest in placing barriers in the way of a true intent to reform.” She lifted the silver sugar bowl. “Milk? Sugar?”
Don’t suppose he dared ask for coffee instead? No, better not. “Milk and two—er—three lumps, please.” It was about the only way he could abide the beverage.
“And tell me how I can help. And, more to the point. Why I should help.” She passed the cup, and began to prepare her own.
Piece took a sip while sorting while deciding on the best course of action. The duchess seemed a direct sort of person. “I’m determined to win the Chancery Court’s favor. In order to do so, I must have the support of peeresses like yourself.”
“Why?” She stirred her tea, not giving a hint of what she might be thinking.
Yes, definitely blunt and to the point.
Pierce leaned forward, trying to convey the urgency of the matter. “I won a young woman, Bianca Salisbury, in a card game against Lord Fairfax. He must not be permitted to remain her guardian.” He shook his head. “I shudder to think what would have happened to her had someone else won that hand of cards.”
The Duchess of Haverford straightened, and regarded him thoughtfully. “I think I need an explanation, young man. You won a young woman? I must say I agree that Lord Fairfax is a most unsuitable guardian, but are you any better? What do you intend for the girl, Wainthorpe?”
The last was sentence was arid.
This wasn’t going well.
Pierce set aside his teacup and pressed his lips together for a moment.
“Your Grace, she has no one to come to her aid. No one, save I, who cares enough to make sure Fairfax doesn’t use her as collateral again.” He sighed and had one finger inside his cravat to tug the choking cloth loose, before he caught himself. Pierce shook his head. “I freely admit I’ve been a rogue and a scoundrel, but I also have a sense of honor. My only intent is to keep her safe from her blackguard of a cousin.”
“Hmm. She truly has no one else?” Duchess Halversford peered at him, her eyes slightly squinted. “When I received your letter, I asked my son Aldridge about you. And Aldridge gave me the same report.” She pointed a long finger at him. “You are a rapscallion of Aldridge’s own stamp, but at base a man of honor as well.”
“The two are not as incongruous as they might seem, Your Grace.” He glanced out the festooned window. “For her sake, I cannot fail.”
“Very well. I warn you, however, of two things,” the duchess said.
He cocked his head. “Yes?”
“First, we shall not convert all of Society. Some stick to their beliefs. However, I flatter myself that where I lead, others will follow, and you will have my approval and support.”
“And?” Hope flickered brighter.
“Conditionally, which is my second point. I count myself the young lady’s champion, my lord, and will be watching how you conduct yourself with her.”
Relief flooded Pierce. “I expected no less.”
Now all he had to do was convince Bianca she was better off with him.
Earl of Wainthorpe: (Wicked Earls’ Club)
Could you ever love the unrepentant rake who won you in a wager?
Pierce, the Earl of Wainthorpe has finally thwarted his worst enemy. Except he can’t revel in his victory after winning his foe’s ward in a winner-takes-all wager. If Pierce refuses to assume Bianca Salisbury’s guardianship, the fiery-haired beauty with a matching temper may very well find herself sold to the highest bidder.
The shameful secret she guards makes it impossible to love a rogue.
Desperate to escape her blackguard cousin, Bianca Salisbury ventures to London to find a husband or employment. Instead, she’s bartered to a notorious rakehell. She either risks being compromised and accepts The Earl of Wainthorpe’s protection, or flees him and her guardian. But without money and a place to go, she fears she’ll face the same tragic fate as her mother.
Caution: This romance features a sexy, irredeemable scoundrel determined to thumb his nose at the haut ton, a saucy country miss unafraid to speak her mind but terrified of even a hint of scandal, a unlikely aristocratic matchmaker, a trio of busybody sisters you’ll adore, and a very pregnant calico that is convinced humans are only around for her convenience.
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Meet Collette Cameron
USA Today Bestselling author, COLLETTE CAMERON pens Scottish and Regency historicals featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intelligent, intrepid damsels who reform them.
Blessed with three spectacular children, fantastic fans, and a compulsive, over-active, and witty Muse who won’t stop whispering new romantic romps in her ear, she lives in Oregon with her mini-dachshunds, though she dreams of living in Scotland part-time.
Admitting to a quirky sense of humor, Collette enjoys inspiring quotes, adores castles and anything cobalt blue, and is a self-confessed Cadbury chocoholic. You’ll always find dogs, birds, occasionally naughty humor, and a dash of inspiration in her sweet-to-spicy timeless romances.
Connect with Collette:
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/collettecameron.com/
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