National bestselling author Liz Carlyle concludes her scandalous new trilogy with a sensuous novel of two star-crossed souls who share a secret or two . . . or three.
Once upon a time, they eloped. But then dashing Scotsman Merrick MacLachlan accepted payment from Lady Madeleine's father to have the marriage annulled. Or did he?
Two times, Maddie has wed. Once for love, once for comfort. Yet once more she is alone with only her beloved son and his haunting visions for company. Until fate thrusts her back into the arms of her first love.
Three little secrets dance between them. One is that he desires her as much as ever; another is that she's never forgotten his touch. But the scars of their youthful passion run deep, and the third secret will either mark their undoing . . . or spark the sizzling reunion they dare not dream of.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
During her frequent travels through England, Liz Carlyle always packs her pearls, her dancing slippers, and her whalebone corset, confident in the belief that eventually she will receive an invitation to a ball or a rout. Alas, none has been forthcoming. While waiting, however, she has managed to learn where all the damp, dark alleys and low public houses can be found.
Liz hopes she has brought just a little of the nineteenth century alive for the reader in her popular novels, which include the trilogy of One Little Sin, Two Little Lies, and Three Little Secrets, as well as The Devil You Know, A Deal With the Devil, and The Devil to Pay. Please visit her at LizCarlyle.com, especially if you're giving a ball.
Money's like the muck midden; it does nae good 'til it be spread.
The Scots say that a tale never loses in the telling, and the tale of Merrick MacLachlan had been told a thousand times. In the drawing rooms and club rooms and back rooms of London, MacLachlan had been growing richer and darker and more malevolent by the season, until, in the summer of his life, the man was thought a veritable Shylock, ever searching for his pound of flesh.
Those who did business with the Black MacLachlan did so honestly, and with a measure of trepidation. Some became rich in return, for the color of money often rubs off. Others fared less well, and their tales were told, more often than not, in the insolvent debtors' court. Miss Kitty Coates had scarcely fared at all and couldn't even spell insolvent. The sort of business she did with MacLachlan meant that she was always giving her bawd an ample cut.
At the moment, however, Kitty had better things to think about than her ill luck at arithmetic and spelling, for the afternoon sun was slanting low through the windows of MacLachlan's makeshift bedchamber, casting a keen blade of light across the gentleman's bare shoulders. And across the scars, too -- hideous white welts that crisscrossed the hard flesh of his biceps and even down his back. Kitty had long since grown accustomed to them. She spread her fingers wide in the soft, dark hair which dusted his chest, and held on tight as she rode him.
Just then, a clock in the outer office struck five. With three or four hard thrusts upward, MacLachlan finished his business, then rolled Kitty onto her back and dragged a well-muscled arm over his eyes. The message was clear.
"We don't have to quit just yet, Mr. MacLachlan, do we?" Kitty rolled back up again and traced one finger lightly down the scar which curled like a scimitar's blade up his cheek. "Why, I could stay on a little longer -- say, two quid for the whole night?" The warm finger drew back up again. "Aye, we'd have us a fine old time, you and me."
MacLachlan threw back the sheets, pushed her away, and rolled out of the narrow bed. "Put your clothes on, Kitty." His voice was emotionless. "Leave by the back stairs today. The office staff is still at work."
Her expression tightened, but she said nothing. MacLachlan stood, gritting his teeth against the pain in his lower leg. He did not move until he was confident he could do so without limping, then he went into the dressing room and meticulously washed himself.
By the time he returned to his pile of carefully folded clothing, Kitty was wriggling back into her rumpled red dress, her eyebrows snapped tautly together, her expression dark. " 'Ow long, Mr. MacLachlan, 'ave I been coming round 'ere?"
MacLachlan suppressed a sigh of exasperation. "I have no notion, Kitty."
"Well, I knows exactly 'ow long," she said peevishly. "Four months and a fortnight, to the very day."
"I did not take you for the sentimental type." MacLachlan was busy pulling on his drawers.
"Every Monday and Thursday since the first o' February," Kitty went on. "And in all that time, you've scarce said a dozen words ter me."
"I did not realize that you came all the way from Soho for the erudite conversation," he answered, unfolding his trousers. "I thought you were here for the money."
"Aye, go on, then!" She snatched up her stockings from the pile on his floor. "Use your fine, big words ter poke fun and push me round. Lie down, Kitty! Bend over, Kitty! Get out, Kitty! I have an appointment, Kitty! Ooh, you are a hard, hateful man, MacLachlan!"
"I collect that I have fallen in your esteem," he remarked. "Tell Mrs. Farnham to send someone else on Thursday, if you prefer." Someone who doesn't talk so damned much, he silently added, stabbing in his shirttails.
"Well, I can ask, but I'm the only redhead Farnie's got," warned Kitty, tugging the first stocking up her leg with short, sharp jerks. "And I get hired a lot on account o' this hair, let me tell you."
"Any color will do for me," he answered, watching her arse as she bent to put on her last stocking. "I really could not care less."
Something inside Kitty seemed to snap. She jerked upright, spun around, and hurled the stocking in his face. "Well, why don't you just go fuck a knothole in a rotten fence, you ungrateful, blackhearted Scot!"
For a moment, he glowered at her. "Aye, 'tis an option -- and a cheaper one, at that." He was beginning to consider it, too. After all, he was a businessman. And fences did not talk, wheedle, or whine.
Ruthlessly, Kitty shoved her bare foot into one of her shoes. "Well, I've had enough o' your grunting and heaving and rolling off me wiv ne'er so much afterward as a fare-thee-well! I might be a Haymarket whore, MacLachlan, but I'm damned if I'll -- "
The ten-pound note he shoved into her clenched fist silenced her. For a long moment, she stared at it, blinking back tears.
Somehow, MacLachlan dredged up the kindness to give her hand a little squeeze. "You've held up admirably, Kitty," he murmured. "And I am not an ungrateful man. But I do not care to strike up a friendship. Have Mrs. Farnham send someone else on Thursday. We need a change, you and I."
With a disdainful sniff, Kitty tucked the banknote into her ample cleavage -- clearly Mrs. Farnham wouldn't be getting a cut of that. She let her gaze run down him, all the way to his crotch, then she heaved a theatrical sigh. " 'Fraid it ain't my heart that'll be aching, MacLachlan," she remarked. "Much as I hate to credit you. But however gifted you might be, you just ain't worth it."
MacLachlan was rewrapping his stock around his throat. "Aye, doubtless you are right."
Kitty made a harrumphing noise. "Fine, then. I'll send over Bess Bromley on Thursday, and let 'er put up wiv you for a spell. Monstrous mean, that cat-eyed bitch. You two'll get on like a house afire." And on that parting remark, Kitty swished through the makeshift bedchamber and jerked open the door to his private office, where she promptly melted into the gloom.
For a long moment, MacLachlan simply stood there, staring into the shadows of his office. He knew that a better man would feel regret, perhaps even a measure of guilt. But he did not. Oh, Kitty had served him well enough, he reminded himself as he finished dressing. She'd been clean and polite and punctual. Certainly her broad, round arse would be forever fixed in his memory.
But that was about all he would likely remember. Indeed, it had been the first of April before he'd troubled himself to learn her name. Before that, he'd simply told the girl to strip and lie down on the bed. On especially busy days, he had not even bothered to undress, he recalled as he returned to his desk. He would simply drop the front of his trousers, bend the girl over the sofa in his office, and get on with the business of satisfying an otherwise annoying itch.
No, he did not care. Not then, and not now. Because there was one thing MacLachlan craved more than the sight of a fine, wide arse -- and that was raw, unadulterated power. And Kitty's complaints, however heartfelt, would never alter the two most immutable laws of capitalism. Time was money. And money was power. He had very little of the first nowadays, and he would never have enough of the last.
MacLachlan rolled out the next set of elevation drawings and impatiently yanked the bell for his clerk. It was time to fetch his solicitors down from Threadneedle Street. There was work which wanted doing. Within the week, MacLachlan meant to break ground for three new properties, sell another six, bankrupt an uncooperative brick merchant, and plow down a neighboring village -- all in preparation for the next terrace of elegant, faux-Georgian houses which were destined to help him part the profligate English from yet another cartload of their pence and their pounds. And that he would truly enjoy.
The house in Mortimer Street did not look precisely like that of a wealthy and powerful peer. It was not in Mayfair, but merely near it. It was not a wide, double-fronted mansion, but just a single town house with two windows and a door down, and four unremarkable floors above. From its simple brick facade, one might suppose the place housed a banker or a barrister or some moderately prosperous coal merchant.
It did not. It housed instead the powerful Earl of Treyhern, a solid, sober-minded citizen if ever there was one. A simple man who, it was said, brooked no foolishness, and hated deceit above all things. Worse still, the Countess of Bessett, who stood trembling on his doorstep, had not even come to see the earl. She had come instead to see his governess -- or more precisely, to steal his governess, were it to prove even remotely possible.
Money was no object. Her nerves were another thing altogether. But the countess was desperate, so she patted the little bulge in her reticule, swallowed hard, and went up the steps to ring the bell. She prayed the woman still worked here. Only when the door had flown open did it occur to her that perhaps it was not perfectly proper to ask for a servant at the front door.
Alas, too late. A tall, wide-shouldered footman was staring her straight in the face. Lady Bessett handed him her card with an unsteady hand. "The Countess of Bessett to see Mademoiselle de Severs, if she is available?"
The footman's eyebrows lifted a little oddly, but he escorted the countess up the stairs and bade her be seated in a small, sunny parlor.
The room was fitted with fine French antiques, buttery jacquard wall covering, and yellow shantung draperies which brushed the lush Aubusson carpet. Despite her state of anxiety, Lady Bessett found the room pleasant and made a mental note of the colors. Tomorrow, if she survived this meeting, she was to buy a house. Her very first house -- not her husband's house or her father's house or her stepson's house. Hers. And then she, too, wou...
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Book Condition: New. Three Little Secrets. Bookseller Inventory # BBS-9780743496124
Book Description Pocket Star, 2006. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0743496124
Book Description Pocket Star, 2006. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110743496124
Book Description Pocket Star, 2006. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Brand New!. Bookseller Inventory # VIB0743496124