Seduction of a Proper Lady: A Regency Menage Tale
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by Kristabel Reed
Category: Erotica/Menage Erotica/Romance
Description: Lady Laurel Westfield had been brought up to be the most proper of ladies. But when Major Braedon Sinclair sets his sights on the young debutante, propriety is the last thing he wants from her. Braedon wants a woman with the attributes of a courtesan and the reputation of a fine lady. He wants her to accept his unconventional desires--desires that include another man in their bed. Ethan Ashmore, Sinclair's former lieutenant, is the other man in his bed. Now that they're home from a decade at war, neither wants to give the other up, but both want a woman to share their passions. They tempt the very proper Lady Westfield with erotic and forbidden gifts that scandalize her as well as arouse her curiosity. But with the ever increasing threat of discovery, will Laurel succumb to their seduction? Or willingly submit to the both of them?
eBook Publisher: Ravenous Romance/Ravenous Romance, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: August 2011
22 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [231 KB]
Reading time: 144-201 min.
"Miss Harrington seems pliable enough," Camila Sutton said.
Major Braedon Sinclair looked at his matchmaker in bored amusement. Seems pliable enough? He wasn't after pliable--unless she meant physically supple and willing to learn a great many erotic positions. In which case Braedon would seriously consider the woman.
However, while Camila held a superior and quite discreet reputation, in the weeks since he'd hired her, none of her schemes had come to fruition. She acknowledged his wryness with a slight shrug and a put-upon sigh.
"Your standards," she said dryly, "aren't ones I can shout to the ton."
No. No they weren't. But that didn't stop Braedon from searching. He needed a wife. Wanted was probably more apt. He wanted a woman, a wife, not only for his bed, though definitely for that, but in his household to lend it an air of respectability. And to put an end to any rumors or questions that might spring up due to his living arrangements.
Thus far it had not been an easy search.
Tonight he'd forced himself to go to Lord Bartholomew's ball, the widowed matchmaker Camila in tow, with her promise of securing an introduction to at least one or two suitable maidens. But now, as he looked at the sea of women, he wasn't quite as amused with the husband-hunting season as he thought he'd be.
The girls Camila recommended were no more than receding shadows. Each one Camila introduced him to possessed about as much personality as a lump of coal. Each vied for one of the many eligible bachelors of the season. But they all did so with as much behind-the-chaperone flirting as their prim upbringing, or their large dowry, allowed.
Braedon wondered if a widow, a woman with more experience both in society and in the bedroom, might be better. At least, or so he hoped, a widow wouldn't prattle on about the latest fashions, but rather, would be able to hold a decent conversation.
Apparently, he had high hopes.
Camila held his interest on occasion and was a handsome enough woman. But her humorless nature often irritated him. And he had no interest in a wife who was merely tolerable or pliable.
Braedon needed more than a pliable woman, and Camila didn't seem to understand his desires. Still gazing at the mass of husband-hunting women, Braedon amended that last thought. Oh, Camila understood his desires all too well. He'd been quite specific about those, after paying thrice her normal fee to ensure the level of secrecy he desired.
What she couldn't seem to grasp was his desires in a wife.
"Miss Harrington," Braedon said with a dismissive wave, not bothering to look at the woman, "is more interested in courtly poems. She doesn't hold the appeal I'm after."
"Major Sinclair," Camila said primly when he knew there wasn't a prim bone in her body, "your requirements are rather...unique. And while I'm certainly not opposed to this type of engagement, you must understand how delicate your situation is. Most men with your..."
She paused, lowered her voice further and glanced past the curtains of the alcove they stood in near the ballroom. Her voice a whisper, barely audible over the music of the orchestra and the chatter from those not dancing, she moved a step closer and continued.
"A man of your tastes," she said, "is usually satisfied with a mistress. You put the very rare challenge upon me of securing a proper lady for your marriage offer. This isn't easily accomplished. It'll take the right sort of girl to accept the nature of the marriage you have in mind."
"And that," he said, staring hard at her to make sure she understood his point, "is the precise reason I retained you in spite of your rather extravagant fee. I don't want a woman I can merely command."
Camila huffed in agitation and smoothed her dark blue gown. "Then what do you want?"
"What I want," he said easily, unashamed of his needs in this matter, "is a woman I can hold a conversation with. One whose passions meet mine--all of mine," he added in case she'd forgotten what his passions entailed. "A woman who doesn't shy away from what I've done and who I've done it with. Above all, I want a woman who accepts me."
Braedon glanced at the girls in attendance at Bartholomew's annual ball. They all looked the same, acted the same, dressed the same. Maybe he needed to revise his standards.
"What you ask for is not easily acquired," she said softly, understanding lacing her words. "You want the attributes of a courtesan and the reputation of a fine lady. That's something you'll have to create yourself."
Her final words startled him. Create yourself?
Braedon looked down at her, studied her earnest blue eyes. Hands clasped behind his back, he looked over her head and out at the girls as he thought of her words. He'd never seriously thought of a wife before. If he had, it was a nebulous idea of a faceless woman running his household, sharing his bed. Ideas half-formed on the battlefield from his men's conversations of wives left behind.
Slowly, he nodded. "Perhaps you are correct."
To create such a lady, he'd have to seduce one of his choosing. Entice her, indulge her in all the pleasures of the flesh and mind. He'd have to show her these delights, not assume she was already well versed in them.
With this new intent, he once more studied the women in attendance. Camila was absolutely correct. He didn't need to find the woman he wanted. Hell, he probably couldn't. He needed to find one willing and able to learn how to be that woman. To accept his passions.
The problem was--how to seduce her? How to go about creating the perfect wife? It wasn't merely about taking her virginity, but binding her to him, forming a bond that even the most salacious gossip couldn't break. Braedon knew he tread a fine line, but his war hero status hadn't yet lost its appeal.
"I am correct for what you have in mind," she said tartly. "Therefore, I believe you should take a second look at those girls I've said are pliant."
Braedon nodded, but had other attributes in mind besides pliability. However, one of those Camila mentioned might be worth a second look. Or possess qualities he desired.
"It'll take great finesse," Camila continued, clearly still moving ahead with her pliable standard, "to seduce the woman of your choosing. It's a fine line, Sinclair, between subtle seduction and scandalous behavior."
Subtle, yes. He could be more subtle than Camila imagined, and he didn't honestly care about scandalous behavior. Inside the bedroom, that was. Outside his household, Braedon admitted to wanting the perfect perception of a woman and wife.
He continued to watch the crowd, assessing the girls in a new light. On the other side of the room, his former lieutenant, Ethan Ashmore, laughed with a small group. He didn't use a cane this night, nor did he attempt to hide the scars covering one side of his face. Braedon could just imagine all the gossips huddled in the various alcoves off Lord Bartholomew's expansive ballroom.
The pity for Ethan, the whispers about his injuries, but not his eligibility.
Several ladies and their marriage-minded mothers shunned him, but Ethan was animated enough to draw attention wherever he went. His gaze flicked to where Braedon stood. One of Ethan's eyebrows rose in question. Braedon gave a quick shake of his head--no success as of yet--and returned his attention to Camila.
A tall woman with bright, intelligent eyes, Camila certainly dressed the part of a matchmaker. Her clothes were of fine quality with an eccentric flair rarely seen inside the ton, and certainly not on the local vicar's wife.
She pointed out several suitable women, all from good families, all desperate to marry their daughter to a wealthy man. One was a highly connected noble family with no male heirs, willing to marry off their daughter for the right price and promise of succession.
Braedon dismissed all of them.
Nearby Ethan's position, a dark-haired woman caught his attention. She wore an elegant white gown, accentuating her generous curves, and stood with a rosy-cheeked friend. The stunning woman, dark hair swept off her face and of an olive complexion, stood slightly taller than the friend at her side and boldly scanned the room. No hiding behind a fan for this debutante.
She listened and nodded carelessly to her friend, who whispered in her ear with some ferocity, adamantly shaking her head. The dark-haired woman absently shook her head in return, dipping it slightly as her friend continued to speak.
Her eyes, however, looked over the crowd. From where he stood, Braedon couldn't see their color but found he wanted to.
For the first time all night, he wanted to know more about a woman.
And he didn't look to be the only one. Several men watched the young woman, but none gravitated toward her. Braedon took a second look, but didn't see an overbearing mother lying in wait, or a tetchy chaperone scowling at all would-be suitors.
"Who is she?" he demanded, cutting Camila off mid-sentence.
The matchmaker stopped and tried to follow his direction to where the woman, now dismissing her friend's words with a wave of her hand, stood. He wondered what they were--a warning? Likely yes, he figured as he watched the direction of her gaze. A warning about Ethan.
However, the woman's gaze returned to Ethan, ignoring her friend's words.
"You should forget about her, Sinclair," Camila said shortly. "She'll not be suitable for your intentions."
"I didn't ask if she were suitable," Braedon said lazily, looking down at her with a sardonic stare. "I asked who she was."
Camila, lips pursed in annoyance, nodded. "Lady Laurel Westfield, only daughter of Henry Kingsley, Earl of Westfield. Her family is rather particular, Sinclair," she warned with a shake of her head. "Not at all a good match for you. Lady Laurel had a suitor whom her family considered quite inappropriate and quickly dispensed with him. I understand he's not been seen in Town since the incident."
Braedon studied Lady Laurel Westfield, wondering just who this jilted suitor had been and what he'd done. Or what Lady Laurel Westfield had done to cause her family to banish the man. He'd heard of Lord Westfield, of course. The man was a formidable Peer in the House of Lords. However, he'd never had cause to do business with him.
That might change, now that he was back from a decade at war and once more taking interest in his own vast holdings. Yes, Braedon mused, as he saw Lady Laurel laugh quickly at her companion. Yes that might all change now.
"Seducing her into the type of marriage you require," Camila warned, "will be quite impossible."
He'd see about that.