Lord Hawksmoor is the Lord of Scandal -- celebrated by the pampered and paupers alike!
Scandalous and seductive, Hawskmoor is a notorious fortune hunter. A man women want to bed -- and men want to do away with. Now he has tasted the woman of his dreams, Catherine Fenton, and he will do anything to make her his.
Though heiress to eighty thousand pounds, Catherine is trapped in a gilded cage, and duty bound to a man she detests. The ton has woven a fantasy around Bed, Lord Hawksmoor, that any woman would find hard to resist, but she senses there is more to the man behind the glittering façade.
She believes he can rescue her -- but has she found her hero, or made a pact with the devil himself . . .?
Nicola Cornick takes you on a journey through the glittering world of Regency England in her delightful new novel!
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Never look at any strange man as you approach him in passing by, for sometimes a look may be taken advantage of by forward and impertinent men. It is generally a girl's own fault if she be spoken to, and as such, is a disgrace to her of which she should be ashamed to speak.
—Mrs. Eliza Squire, Good Conduct for Ladies
IT WAS A FINE DAY for a public hanging.
Above the Newgate scaffold, the sky was a high, pale blue. The noose swung in the cold winter breeze. The nobility packed the pavilion behind the gallows. The victim was a gentleman and that always drew a good crowd. This was the execution of the Season; Ned Clarencieux, gambler, adventurer, whose ill luck at the card tables had led him to pass forged money to buy his way out of debt and murder his banker in a vain attempt to cover his tracks. The ladies who packed the gallery had danced with Clarencieux in Ton ballrooms all over London. Now they came to see him die.
Below the ranks of the aristocracy swarmed the mob, pressing about the foot of the gallows, laughing, joking, good–humored with gin and anticipation. They clambered up the lead drainpipes and onto the roofs of surrounding houses for a better view. They jostled and shouted and drank a toast to Clarencieux, and placed bets on how long it would take the failed gambler to die.
In the press of people behind the scaffold sat Miss Catherine Fenton, pretty, privileged and heiress to eighty thousand pounds, wedged between her fiancé and the squirming body of her six–year–old half brother, John. Despite the coldness of the day, she felt hot and dizzy and sick. She had doused her handkerchief in rosewater and pressed it to her nose, but the faint sweetness of the perfume could do nothing to mask the smell of rank bodies and fetid excitement. To be the only young lady present at a public hanging was no great privilege, but the man Clarencieux had murdered had been one of her trustees, Sir James Mather. Catherine had not wanted to come but her father, Sir Alfred Fenton, could not understand her scruples. He said that she must see justice done. Sir Alfred was a nabob, a man who had lived and worked in India and was accustomed to the sudden and bloody experience of death that living on the subcontinent could provide. He had a cast–iron stomach and an attitude to match. Catherine did not. She knew she was in disgrace because Sir Alfred considered her weak and foolish for begging to be excused the trip to Newgate. Her little brother had begged to be included.
In the event, John had got his wish and she had not got hers. That was no surprise to her. John was loved, spoiled and indulged. She was not.
"Oysters for sale! Whelks ten a penny!" An enterprising street seller was struggling up the steps toward them, a basket of seafood balanced on her hip. Catherine felt her stomach heave as the smell of hot fish mingled with the scent of hot sweat.
"Yes, please!" John said, bouncing with excitement. He proffered his penny to the girl. Catherine turned her head away and pressed her handkerchief more firmly over her nose.
"You are unwell, my love?"
Catherine looked up to see that her betrothed was looking at her with a spurious sense of concern. Algernon, Lord Withers, liked to think of himself as Catherine's fiancé. Catherine preferred not to think of him in any way at all. She hated the relentless manner in which he pursued her and the hold, whatever it was, that he appeared to have over her father. She had been postponing the wedding since the summer, pleading first a mysterious feminine indisposition, then mourning for a second cousin she had not known well but whose death had been providentially timed. Now she had run out of excuses and the wedding date was set for later that spring unless she could come up with a new ruse.
"Oysters are not to my taste," she said, noting that Withers had already lost interest and was now admiring the ample bosom of the street seller instead.
"A shame." Withers's narrow gaze came back to her with a lascivious gleam. "They are accounted to be the food of love, my sweet. You should indulge. It might make you more...kindhearted...to me."
"I think not!" Catherine snapped. The thought of indulging in any kind of lovemaking with Withers was anathema to her. In her opinion, he would not recognize love if he tripped over it in the street. He would merely grind it beneath his heel.
Plenty of men professed to be in love with Catherine, but her fiancé was not one of them. Until her betrothal had been announced, Catherine had been courted and complimented, harassed by poets with bad sonnets, her hay fever exacerbated by the endless flowers delivered by the cartload to Guilford Street every morning. But Catherine was not a nabob's daughter for nothing. She suspected that the gentlemen's affections were reserved for the bags of money she would inherit from her mama's estate. It was tied up in trust until she was twenty–five—or until she married. Algernon Withers's determination to wed her sprang, she thought, from the same source as that of all her other suitors. Greed. And a deeply unpleasant lust that made him determined to possess her.
He had taken her hand in his now and was pressing it tightly until she felt the bones start to crack in protest. Catherine caught her breath. The gleam in Withers's eye had turned to triumph now. He liked to hurt things, particularly pretty things.
With her free hand, Catherine gripped her parasol and drove the spike on the top into the side of Withers's foot. He let her go with a grunt of surprise and she turned her head away, chin raised. She was glad that she had brought the parasol with her now for she had been in two minds earlier. It was sunny but cold. A lady would open the flimsy little umbrella anyway to keep the sun away from her delicate complexion. A nabob's daughter might not bother, however, since she thought such affectations were rather stupid.
Catherine was a cit through and through. Not only was her father a nabob but her mother had also been the daughter of another merchant adventurer, the infamous Scotsman Mad Jack McNaish. His reputation had made men tremble in their shoes but Catherine had adored him. He had told her never to be ashamed of her antecedents. She had no pretense at a pedigree. And the Ton had made it clear from the start that she was tolerated in their ranks for her money alone.
John was slurping his oysters with enthusiasm, the juice running down over his chin. His nursemaid fussed about with a cloth.
"What a shocking display," Sir Alfred Fenton said suddenly, raising his quizzing glass to scan the open tavern windows opposite, where a group of Covent Garden bawds romped bare–breasted with a couple of dissolute–looking young men. "Shameful debauchery in a public place!"
"Shameful, Sir Alfred," Lord Withers agreed. "I do believe those are Hawksmoor's set. He was a friend of Clarencieux of course. It is unfortunate the scandal did not bring him down as well."
Sir Alfred grunted. "Hawksmoor is high in the regent's favor. He is safe—for now. But I give less than a fig for his chances if he falls from popularity. They say he owes so much money he would have to flee abroad."
Lord Withers's hot, excited eyes sought Catherine's as the piercing whoops of the courtesans rose over the noise of the crowd.
"Disgraceful, is it not, Miss Fenton? Parading themselves in broad daylight?"
Catherine felt repulsed. She knew that Withers was equally aroused by the lewd nakedness of the women and by the prospect of the hanging. Both disgusted her. He disgusted her with his cold, clammy hands, his noxious breath and the increasing liberties he tried to take with her person.
"I consider it more of a disgrace to take pleasure in witnessing a murder than to see public displays of licentiousness," she said coldly, and Withers's angry gaze pinned her in her seat before his eyes slid away from hers and back to the window opposite.
Catherine realized that she was shaking. She hated this, the stench of mingled fear and anticipation, the pleasure that men like Lord Withers took in such hideous depravity and most of all she hated her father for forcing her to accompany him. She had overheard him boasting the previous night at Lady Semple's ball.
"We go to see Clarencieux hang tomorrow. I'll wager he will dance better on the end of that rope than he ever did in your ballroom, madam...."
And people had laughed—laughed—at his wit and the thought of a man they had known dying a criminal's death. In that moment, Catherine had hated them all.
She had only met Ned Clarencieux once. The chaperones of the Ton were careful to keep men of his stamp away from the debutantes and heiresses, but one day Catherine had been walking in the park with her stepmother and a number of young bucks had come across to accost Maggie, Lady Fenton, with what had appeared to Catherine to be suspicious familiarity. Clarencieux had been charming. He had been the one who had apologized for their forwardness, kissed Catherine's hand, smiled into her eyes and taken his friends away. And though she had known he was a no–good wastrel, he had left her with an irresistible smile on her lips.
Clarencieux, Hawksmoor... They lived very close to the edge and one false step would bring them down.
Catherine bit her lip now to think that her father had warned her away from such men in life but that now Clarencieux was to die he thought nothing of bringing her to the hanging.
Her brother, John, was trying to see past the nodding plumes and parasols that obscured his view, but he was too small. He scrambled onto Catherine's lap, kicking her, clutching at her pelisse, setting her bonnet askew.
"Let me see! Let me see!"
His nursemaid tried to pull him back but he ignored her and after a moment she gave up the s...From Booklist:
Beautiful, wealthy Catherine is desperate to break her engagement to cruel, vindictive Lord Withers, but marrying Benjamin, Lord Hawksmoor, seems too extreme a solution. Catherine first meets the rakish adventurer when he rescues her from the crowd at a public execution. Mistaking her for Withers' mistress, Ben plots to seduce his enemy's intriguing lady as a delicious form of revenge. But once he discovers her true identity, he struggles to find a way to convince the surprisingly recalcitrant Catherine to marry him. Cornick expertly spices her latest Regency historical with danger, while the sizzle she cooks up between her sinfully sexy hero and delightfully resourceful heroine is simply spectacular. Charles, John
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Book Description HQN Books, 2007. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110373772114
Book Description HQN Books, 2007. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0373772114
Book Description HQN Books. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0373772114 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1048405