Cover image for With this kiss
Title:
With this kiss
Author:
Lynne, Victoria.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dell, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
357 pages ; 18 cm
Language:
English
Subject Term:
ISBN:
9780440223344
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Beauty and the beast--they were the scandal of theton.... All eyes feasted on the beautiful flame-haired gambler in London's most  infamous club.  But Julia Prentisse was interested only in the rake-turned-recluse whom they now called "The Beast." She lured him out of the crowded club to a deserted warehouse, where she made her scandalous offer: If he married her and protected her from her uncle, she would help him catch the arsonist who had ruined his life. An act of heroism had left Morgan burned, scarred for life. But Julia's bold gaze lit other fires he had long suppressed. And now this glorious stranger was his bride. But when he tried to claim his husbandly rights, she demanded three months grace--three months to know a stranger's mind, to touch a stranger's soul, to go where no woman had ever gone before. Into his lonely heart . . .With This Kiss.


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Morgan St. James is not considered a beast because of the burns that mar his body but because he had too many servants crammed into too little space and many died in an arsonist's fire. When he meets the fiery-haired beauty Julia Prentisse for what he thinks is an assignation, he is surprised to be offered a marriage proposal. The orphaned daughter of a convicted smuggler, Julia's only escape from marriage to a horrible man picked out by her uncle is to marry someone else, quickly. As the recipient of letters from the arsonist, who calls himself Lazarus, Julia is Morgan's only chance to catch the man responsible for the death of so many. Even though Julia agreed to provide Morgan with an heir, she talks him into waiting until they know each other before consummating their hasty marriage. The sexual tension mounts as they search for the arsonist, who they know is moving within their own social circle. The suspenseful search for the killer adds dimension to this smoldering Victorian era romance. --Diana Tixier Herald


Publisher's Weekly Review

Morgan St. James fears he will die unmarried and without an heir, after his days as a rake are cut short by the arsonist's fire that marred his good looks. Julia Prentisse, a precocious redheaded beauty, thinks he is the answer to her prayers, offering an escape from her uncle's oppressive household and the chance to shape her own destiny. When Julia proposes a marriage of convenienceÄand a quest to uncover Lazarus, the mysterious arsonistÄMorgan accepts. Together they search London society, both high and low, to uncover the criminal's real identity, exploiting Julia's reputation as a zealous social reformer. Lazarus, it seems, believes her to be an ally in his campaign to cleanse the city of sin. The plot gains momentum when Morgan and Julia set an unsuccessful trap for Lazarus and the tables turn on them. As their backgrounds are developed, the deepening affection between the two becomes charming and believable. Although Lynne's (What Wild Moonlight) secondary characters tend to be one-dimensional, the unexpected twists in her newest historical entertain and satisfy. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Excerpts

Excerpts

London, 1857 The woman was putting on one hell of a show. Morgan St. James's gaze drifted back to the redhead for perhaps the third time that hour. She stood by herself at the foot of the trente-et-quarante table, betting consistently on black. Her stack of chips had increased since she had started to play, but her winnings were not substantial. At least not enough to draw his attention. What caught his eye--and that of several other men in the room--was the manner in which she played. She wanted to be noticed. Her motions were too deliberate and dramatic to be interpreted any other way. It was an altogether unnecessary performance. Her presence alone was enough to command attention. One couldn't help but notice her--for several reasons. First and foremost was her appearance itself. Every inch of the woman was dazzling feminine perfection, from the top of her elaborately coiffed hair to the tips of her black high-heeled slippers. Her skin glowed like ivory cream, her eyes were as rich and intoxicating as warm brandy. And her body--sculpted as though every inch had been deliberately crafted to satisfy a man's most vivid fantasy. Her lush curves were wrapped in a rich, mouthwatering shade of pink satin that made Morgan think of a sugary peppermint confection. He took a moment to study her hair. It wasn't a soft, golden-red titian or a rich, russet-tinged auburn but a bold, brazen red. Flame red. Another thought occurred to Morgan as he watched her place her bets. The woman had money. She played with the calculated expertise of a seasoned gambler, yet she had the bold nonchalance of someone for whom winning or losing was a matter of little concern. In other words, someone whose wealth was vast indeed. All of which begged one simple question: Who was she? The fact that neither he nor any of the men with whom he was seated could answer that struck him as nearly unprecedented. The room in which they had gathered was London's notorious Devonshire House. Given the ever-increasing crowds drawn to London for the Season, something had to be done to distinguish between the high life and the rabble. Thus the establishment of an exclusive chamber to which admittance was gained solely on the basis of wealth and social status. It was the best of all worlds: an intimate club where the players could mingle freely with their peers, where only the finest champagne was served, and where fortunes that had taken twenty generations to amass were routinely won and lost on the turn of a card. But this woman was an outsider to the rarefied atmosphere of their little club. Granted there were other women present, but their presence could easily be explained. The Boston heiresses who came to barter their wealth and virginity for an honorable British title, the dowager duchesses who sat gossiping together in one corner, the Season's Incomparables with their pretty little pouts and lowcut gowns, the French courtesans who clung to the sides of their latest paramours like pampered, well-heeled pets. The redhead belonged to none of those cliques, yet she seemed somehow essential, as if the assembly would be seriously bereft without her. Morgan's gaze returned to the woman as if drawn there by magnetic force. She had won again, he noted, watching as the croupier pushed a thick stack of chips toward her ever-increasing pile. His pleasure at watching her was abruptly diminished as he saw Jonathan Derrick, Earl of Bedford, cross the room and move toward her. The lust shining in his gaze was as clear and bright as a lighthouse beacon at midnight. Pompous ass, Morgan thought, battling a surge of possessive irritation. But to his considerable amusement, Jonathan Derrick proved no threat to the mental claim he had staked on the woman. As though aware of Derrick's amorous intent, the redhead lifted her gaze and watched him approach. Although her expression didn't change, the warmth in her brandy eyes turned to winter. She tilted her chin and turned pointedly away, giving the earl the cut direct. Morgan applauded her silently. Brava. Nicely done. Derrick was the fourth man to approach her since she had arrived, the fourth man to be coolly rebuked. Very well. Let the fools rush in. All good things to those who wait. He suddenly stopped himself, shocked at the train of his thoughts. Idiot. What was he thinking? He knew better. The woman was not for him. Never for him. Foolish even to entertain such an idea. He gripped the rich glass of burgundy sitting on the table before him and let out a low, steadying breath, fighting back a wave of tension. Let it go. Let it go. Forcing his thoughts away from the woman, he turned his attention back to his companions and the conversation at hand. "Did you see the Review today?" demanded William Conor, fifth Earl of Gravespark. He was young, excitable, and unable to handle the bourbon he drank in regrettably copious amounts. "What did I tell you? It's official now. They're engaged. Lady Isabelle Cartwright and Lord Roger Bigelow. Didn't I say it was only a matter of time before she--" "That's enough, Gravespark," interrupted Edward Southesby curtly. William Conor stared at Southesby with a confused frown. "What? It's right here in the paper. I don't see why . . . oh." He swung his head around, and his bloodshot eyes fastened upon Morgan. "Sorry, old man." Morgan lifted his shoulders in an indifferent shrug. "May I?" he asked, reaching for the paper. The London Review was an upstart paper, one that dared to challenge the authority and prominence of The Times. In all likelihood it would have failed miserably, were it not for a single column called "The Tattler," which was currently the rage among society. Mostly a gossip column, its anonymous author made occasional forays into the realm of social injustice and reform, thus giving the work a luster of moral righteousness. He skimmed the column and felt curiously . . . flat. Nothing. As though he were reading about complete strangers, rather than a woman he had nearly married and a man he had once considered his best friend. "She could have at least shown the decency to wait three years," asserted Conor. "I mean, really." A sardonic smile curved Morgan's lips as he folded the paper and passed it back. "I believe that's the customary period for mourning. Contrary to popular opinion, I didn't die." "No, of course not," Conor stammered, his face flaming. "Of course not. It's just that . . ." His gaze traveled to Morgan's hands and wrists. He studied the scars there with a look of undisguised horror. "Do you ever wonder what might have happened if--" "No," Morgan replied, his voice steel. "Never." An uneasy silence fell over the group. Morgan could almost hear the thoughts running through his companions' minds. Although his forays into polite society were few, he was not deaf to the rumors that circulated about him. As might be expected, the effects of the fire had necessitated a long period of recovery. In the aftermath of the tragedy, his self-imposed seclusion had led to vivid speculation among his peers. It was rumored--not entirely unjustly--that he had been grossly disfigured, a man whose hideous scars aptly reflected the true nature of his character.London, 1857 The woman was putting on one hell of a show. Morgan St. James's gaze drifted back to the redhead for perhaps the third time that hour. She stood by herself at the foot of the trente-et-quarante table, betting consistently on black. Her stack of chips had increased since she had started to play, but her winnings were not substantial. At least not enough to draw his attention. What caught his eye--and that of several other men in the room--was the manner in which she played. She wanted to be noticed. Her motions were too deliberate and dramatic to be interpreted any other way. It was an altogether unnecessary performance. Her presence alone was enough to command attention. One couldn't help but notice her--for several reasons. First and foremost was her appearance itself. Every inch of the woman was dazzling feminine perfection, from the top of her elaborately coiffed hair to the tips of her black high-heeled slippers. Her skin glowed like ivory cream, her eyes were as rich and intoxicating as warm brandy. And her body--sculpted as though every inch had been deliberately crafted to satisfy a man's most vivid fantasy. Her lush curves were wrapped in a rich, mouthwatering shade of pink satin that made Morgan think of a sugary peppermint confection. He took a moment to study her hair. It wasn't a soft, golden-red titian or a rich, russet-tinged auburn but a bold, brazen red. Flame red. Another thought occurred to Morgan as he watched her place her bets. The woman had money. She played with the calculated expertise of a seasoned gambler, yet she had the bold nonchalance of someone for whom winning or losing was a matter of little concern. In other words, someone whose wealth was vast indeed. All of which begged one simple question: Who was she? The fact that neither he nor any of the men with whom he was seated could answer that struck him as nearly unprecedented. The room in which they had gathered was London's notorious Devonshire House. Given the ever-increasing crowds drawn to London for the Season, something had to be done to distinguish between the high life and the rabble. Thus the establishment of an exclusive chamber to which admittance was gained solely on the basis of wealth and social status. It was the best of all worlds: an intimate club where the players could mingle freely with their peers, where only the finest champagne was served, and where fortunes that had taken twenty generations to amass were routinely won and lost on the turn of a card. But this woman was an outsider to the rarefied atmosphere of their little club. Granted there were other women present, but their presence could easily be explained. The Boston heiresses who came to barter their wealth and virginity for an honorable British title, the dowager duchesses who sat gossiping together in one corner, the Season's Incomparables with their pretty little pouts and lowcut gowns, the French courtesans who clung to the sides of their latest paramours like pampered, well-heeled pets. The redhead belonged to none of those cliques, yet she seemed somehow essential, as if the assembly would be seriously bereft without her. Morgan's gaze returned to the woman as if drawn there by magnetic force. She had won again, he noted, watching as the croupier pushed a thick stack of chips toward her ever-increasing pile. His pleasure at watching her was abruptly diminished as he saw Jonathan Derrick, Earl of Bedford, cross the room and move toward her. The lust shining in his gaze was as clear and bright as a lighthouse beacon at midnight. Pompous ass, Morgan thought, battling a surge of possessive irritation. But to his considerable amusement, Jonathan Derrick proved no threat to the mental claim he had staked on the woman. As though aware of Derrick's amorous intent, the redhead lifted her gaze and watched him approach. Although her expression didn't change, the warmth in her brandy eyes turned to winter. She tilted her chin and turned pointedly away, giving the earl the cut direct. Morgan applauded her silently. Brava. Nicely done. Derrick was the fourth man to approach her since she had arrived, the fourth man to be coolly rebuked. Very well. Let the fools rush in. All good things to those who wait. He suddenly stopped himself, shocked at the train of his thoughts. Idiot. What was he thinking? He knew better. The woman was not for him. Never for him. Foolish even to entertain such an idea. He gripped the rich glass of burgundy sitting on the table before him and let out a low, steadying breath, fighting back a wave of tension. Let it go. Let it go. Forcing his thoughts away from the woman, he turned his attention back to his companions and the conversation at hand. "Did you see the Review today?" demanded William Conor, fifth Earl of Gravespark. He was young, excitable, and unable to handle the bourbon he drank in regrettably copious amounts. "What did I tell you? It's official now. They're engaged. Lady Isabelle Cartwright and Lord Roger Bigelow. Didn't I say it was only a matter of time before she--" "That's enough, Gravespark," interrupted Edward Southesby curtly. William Conor stared at Southesby with a confused frown. "What? It's right here in the paper. I don't see why . . . oh." He swung his head around, and his bloodshot eyes fastened upon Morgan. "Sorry, old man." Morgan lifted his shoulders in an indifferent shrug. "May I?" he asked, reaching for the paper. The London Review was an upstart paper, one that dared to challenge the authority and prominence of The Times. In all likelihood it would have failed miserably, were it not for a single column called "The Tattler," which was currently the rage among society. Mostly a gossip column, its anonymous author made occasional forays into the realm of social injustice and reform, thus giving the work a luster of moral righteousness. He skimmed the column and felt curiously . . . flat. Nothing. As though he were reading about complete strangers, rather than a woman he had nearly married and a man he had once considered his best friend. "She could have at least shown the decency to wait three years," asserted Conor. "I mean, really." A sardonic smile curved Morgan's lips as he folded the paper and passed it back. "I believe that's the customary period for mourning. Contrary to popular opinion, I didn't die." "No, of course not," Conor stammered, his face flaming. "Of course not. It's just that . . ." His gaze traveled to Morgan's hands and wrists. He studied the scars there with a look of undisguised horror. "Do you ever wonder what might have happened if--" "No," Morgan replied, his voice steel. "Never." An uneasy silence fell over the group. Morgan could almost hear the thoughts running through his companions' minds. Although his forays into polite society were few, he was not deaf to the rumors that circulated about him. As might be expected, the effects of the fire had necessitated a long period of recovery. In the aftermath of the tragedy, his self-imposed seclusion had led to vivid speculation among his peers. It was rumored--not entirely unjustly--that he had been grossly disfigured, a man whose hideous scars aptly reflected the true nature of his character. The Beast. Excerpted from With This Kiss by Victoria Lynne All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.