Excerpt: Seducing The Single Lady
Seducing the Single Lady is a sexy historical romance novella inspired by the songs of Beyoncé. In this excerpt, our hero discovers the girl he left behind is not the woman he’s returning to. Mistaken identities, foolish wagers…the fun is only just beginning!
Almack’s Assembly Rooms
Despite all reports to the contrary, Damien Rhys Redmayne, now Viscount Bedford, was not dead. In fact, he was very much among the living. After nine years abroad—nine years of days and nights of debauchery—he had returned.
His father had died thinking his son was a disgrace. There was nothing Damien could do but reform and live his remaining days in a manner befitting a gentleman. He could be a man his father would be proud of.
Finally, he would be the son his father always wanted to have.
Starting with the fiancé he’d left behind.
He was informed that she could be found at Almack’s. To Almack’s he went.
Damien scanned the crowd, particularly focusing upon the wallflowers and other dowdy girls lurking in the darkened corners. When he’d left, Susannah had been plain and generally unkempt—not the sort of dazzling beauty that an idiot boy of eighteen was remotely interested in flirting with, let alone marrying.
Damien’s attention was drawn away from the wallflowers to an auburn-haired beauty in blue silk dancing happily with some dandy.
“Who is that?” he asked his longtime friend, Lord Watson, who’d warmly welcomed Damien back to town and was serving as his guide as he reentered society. Watson’s mouth quirked almost into a smile, before settling into a firm line.
“Why do you ask? I thought we were here for one particular woman. One woman only.” There was a note of warning in Watson’s tone. Do not lose your resolve. Be Good.
“Yes, you’re right. I was just curious,” Damien hastened to reply. He was here for the girl he’d once likened to a Christmas ham. Granted, she’d been a wee infant at the time and he been a young boy. But he was here for her, and only her.
“So will you propose immediately?” Watson inquired. “Or do you think you will woo her?”
“I suppose the proposal could wait until tomorrow,” Damien conceded. “After all, it’s been some time since we’ve last seen each other. Nine years, in fact. I imagine she is probably desperate for my return. So wooing her won’t really be necessary.” Not that she’d been all too keen on him when they were children…but surely she was eager for a husband and children of her own. He’d provide them. She’d be grateful. They’d live pleasantly ever after.
Meanwhile, Watson seemed to be choking on something.
“Are you certain you will recognize her after all that time?” Watson asked, recovering.
“Of course; I grew up with her. I’ll just look for the…” Damien’s voice trailed off as he bit back the words scrappy brat. “I’ll look for a plain woman concerned with more important things than feminine fripperies.”
“You sound very confident,” Watson remarked. “A plain woman. Desperate for your return. Eager to marry you.”
“We have been betrothed since birth. It is time we made it official.”
“How romantic,” Watson said dryly.
“Romance is irrelevant. It’s high time I assume the responsibilities of a Bedford. Starting with marriage to my betrothed.”
“So you’ll be married within the week?”
“If all goes according to plan, yes. And I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t. Why wait any longer?”
“Would you care to wager on that?” Watson inquired.
It was a tempting offer, even though Damien had sworn never to wager again. But it was a noble wager, so perhaps it was alright. He could take the winnings and buy a gift for his bride.
“I’m fond of such easily earned money,” Damien replied. “Shall we say fifty pounds?”
Watson muttered something that sounded like “we probably shouldn’t.” But that was followed up with “Oh, what the hell? You have a deal, Bedford.”
The men shook on it.
Damien’s gaze returned to the woman in the blue dress. The gown showed off her figure advantageously. The contrast between the swell of her milky white breasts and her narrow waist made his mouth dry. Watching the movement of her skirts, he got a hint of how she moved her hips and damned if that didn’t make him make him imagine bedroom things.
Judging by the expressions on the faces of all the other gents, they were thinking the very same.
The dance had concluded and she bowed gracefully to her partner. Damien didn’t miss the gleam in her eye that promised mischief and delight. Oh, he knew that look well—from the looking glass or catching his reflection in a well-polished silver whatever at some late hour.
He reminded himself, yet again, that he was reformed. He wasn’t Damien the Debauched but Bedford the Behaved. Really, though, he wanted to follow that girl and indulge in all sorts of wicked pleasure with her.
She snapped open her fan, shielding her face with it, before sauntering off into the thick crowd.
“I don’t see Susannah,” Damien said told Watson. “I suppose we ought to take a walk through the ballroom.”
“Yes, let’s,” Watson agreed. But it sounded like he was choking on something. Again. Oddly.
Damien set off in the direction of the mysterious, tantalizing woman. Drawn to her, he was. However, he kept his pace slow and paused to acknowledge the gasps of shock his appearance caused—he had been declared dead, after all. But given that he was on a mission, Damien kept any greetings short and polite. He did not take the time to explain how he’d been assumed dead and why he’d returned.
And then, they turned a corner from the ballroom to the refreshments room and came face-to-face with her, the girl of the auburn hair, incredible figure and blue gown he would rather see on a pile on his bedroom floor.
She emitted a startled “Oh!”
“Ah, Miss Grey. We’d been hoping to find you,” Watson said grandly.
Miss Grey? This was Miss Grey?!
Damien’s jaw might have dropped in shock, which was not the best response. This was not the Miss Grey he had left.
“Alas, I cannot say the same,” she replied coolly and Damien’s heart stopped for a second.
His wits, dissolved.
His desire, inflamed.
His plans, gone up in smoke.
SOUNTRACK/TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)
Chapter 2: Déjà Vu
Chapter 3: If I Were A Boy
Chapter 4: Naughty Girl
Chapter 5: Halo
Chapter 6: Irreplaceable
Chapter 7: Broken-Hearted Girl
Chapter 8: Crazy in Love
Chapter 9: Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) Redux
Epilogue: Love on Top
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Maya Rodale is the author of smart and sassy romance novels.