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London's most notorious rogue â decadent, depraved, forbidden
The ladies of the ton won't stop whispering about deliciously wicked Jack Dodger â once a thieving street urchin, now the wealthy owner of London's most exclusive gentleman's club. There's no pleasure he hasn't enjoyed, no debauchery the handsome scoundrel won't provide for the lords who flock to his house of carnal intrigue.
London's most virtuous lady â honorable, uncorrupted, and all too human
Olivia, Duchess of Lovingdon, would never associate with such a rogue. So when Jack is named sole heir to the duke's personal possessions, the beautiful, well-bred lady is outraged. Now, Olivia is forced to share her beloved home with this despicable man.
Caught between the devil and desire
But Olivia's icy disdain is no match for Jack's dangerous charm. His touch awakens desire. His kiss demands surrender. She will struggle to bar Jack from her heart...but her body, coveting divine release, will not let her bar him from her bed.
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The devil had come to call. Sitting beside him in her library, Olivia Stanford, the Duchess of Lovingdon, didn't know whether to be appalled or fascinated. He was an interesting creature, and while she'd heard many of the sordid tales regarding him, she'd never actually set eyes on him before that night.
His black, unruly hair, curling teasingly across his broad shoulders, spoke of a desire to rebel against societal constraints. The harsh lines of his face had been carved by a life of decadence, misbehavior, and excess. Yet, he was beautiful in a rugged sort of way, like the manner in which a jagged coastline at dawn could steal one's breath with its magnificence.
She lowered her gaze from a profile that had held her enthralled from the moment she'd walked into her library and met the deliciously wicked Jack Dodger.
His gambling den provided entertainment for many men of the aristocracy. Sisters, wives, mothers heard slurred references to the debauchery that occurred within Jack Dodger's domain when their brothers, husbands, sons returned home in the early hours, three sheets in the wind. The women, of course, discreetly exchanged stories over tea, and so Dodger's reputation, as well as that of his establishment, had grown among proper ladies who weren't supposed to know about such improper things. Women detested his existence and the opportunity he provided for the men in their lives to stray from all that was good and respectable, yet none could deny their ceaseless fascination with a man so devoted to sin.
Sitting near him, Olivia became increasingly aware of the raw sexuality emanating from him. She imagined women followed him into his bedchamber without a single word being uttered. She could smell the tobacco and whiskey fragrance that permeated him and, to her everlasting shame, found herself relishing the darkly masculine scent. Everything about him spoke of forbidden indulgences.
He was truly the work of the devil.
He even carried the devil's mark. The brand was clearly visible on the inside of his right thumb, because he didn't possess the good manners to wear gloves and his long fingers were splayed across the arm of the chair. While marking criminals was no longer a practice, Olivia knew what the T burned into his flesh signified: he'd spent time in prison for thievery. She had little tolerance for those who took what did not rightfully belong to them.
In spite of his questionable past and occupation, she could not fault the quality of his attire. It had obviously been sewn by the finest tailor in London, but the red brocade waistcoat beneath his black jacket was entirely inappropriate for this somber occasion: the reading of her late husband's will.
Why Lovingdon had insisted the notorious Jack Dodger be in attendance was beyond the pale. How did he even know the blackguard? As far as she knew he'd never visited Dodger's Drawing Room. However, her brother, the late Duke of Avendale, had frequented it quite often, providing her with the enviable opportunity to add greatly to the repertoire of scandalous tales circulated amongst the ladies.
But Lovingdon had been as pious as they came. The man hadn't even kept liquor in the house, and to her knowledge, wine had never touched his lips. She knew the same could not be said of Jack Dodger's. He had the fullest set of lips she'd ever seen on a man, a dark, dark red, as though they'd been soaked in fine wine, and she had little doubt they were accustomed to tasting all pleasures. His mouth was designed to lure the most virtuous of women toward forbidden passion. Why else would she find herself inappropriately wondering what it might be like to have him kiss her? She'd long ago...
Between the Devil and DesireBy: Lorraine Heath