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Sparks fly in the finale of the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Place series, as the last wicked rogue meets his match.
When Rosalind Sharpe gains the attention of the deliciously wicked Duke of Avendale, she’s torn between her distracting attraction to the notorious rogue and the knowledge that he—rich as Croesus—is the perfect target for a deception that will put her swindling days behind her.
However, Avendale is no fool. After he discovers the tantalizing lady packing up to leave London with his coins in tow, he confronts her with a scandalous proposition: she can have all the money she requires…for a week in his bed.
Desperate for the funds, Rose agrees, but on one condition: he must never question her motives. Avendale quickly sees beneath her mask and discovers she is more than passion and pleasure—she is everything he has ever desired. But claiming her requires he unveil her secrets and lose her forever. Unless he can put his own dark past aside and risk everything for a chance at love.
The woman in red drew his attention as soon as she walked through the entrance doors as though she were the queen of England herself. His notice of her surprised him, as nothing about her was particularly eye-catching.
Looking out from his perch in the shadowed corner of the balcony at Dodger’s—
Avendale growled. The Twin Dragons. Why the bloody deuce had Drake changed the name of the decades-old gaming hell? Not only the name but almost everything else about it? Avendale didn’t like it. He didn’t like it one bit. He especially didn’t like that women were now allowed inside, would be members, would be strolling about, just as the lady in red was doing now.
Her hair, piled up and held in place with pearl combs, was blond silk. Not vibrant or fiery or different. It should have ensured she blended in. But she didn’t.
It was her mien. The elegant slope of her neck, the way she carried those slender shoulders as though they’d never known a burden. The way her gown hugged her curves, made men wish they were hugging them as well. She had a rather nice full bosom, displayed to perfection, drawing gazes from her face to the gentle swells. He suspected a good many of the gents here tonight would recall the lady in red over breakfast, yet he doubted a single one would be able to accurately describe the features that formed her face, but they would be able to expertly mold her shape in the air before them.
He knew the majority of the women in the aristocracy. He did not know her, which meant that in all likelihood she was one of the wealthy commoners that Drake was enticing into his club. Or an American. From what he’d been able to gather, they were all as rich as Croesus. She certainly gave the appearance of someone who was no stranger to the finer aspects of life.
She hadn’t spoken to anyone, at least not in the main salon. She’d disappeared into the ladies’ private chambers for a bit. He’d almost gone after her, but he didn’t like this curiosity about her plaguing him. No doubt it was simply a result of his growing so blasted bored of late. His partner in wickedness, the Duke of Lovingdon, had recently taken Lady Grace Mabry to wife, leaving Avendale to carouse on his own. Not that he required a male companion when he had female ones aplenty.
But sometimes it was nice to have someone with whom he could carry on a halfway intelligent conversation. Someone with an intellect. Someone who appreciated his ribald jokes. The women usually in his company tended to mewl, sigh, and whisper naughty things in his ear. Not that he didn’t enjoy them. He did. But they were so alike. They seldom varied. Oh, their hair, their eyes, their shapes were different, but at their core they were all the same. Exciting whilst in his bed, but dreadfully dull out of it.
Yet the lady in red didn’t appear at all dull.
He knew a very private card game—without women—was being played down the hall. He should be there. It was where he’s been headed when he decided to peer out over the crowd. And spotted her.
She’d held him enthralled ever since. Even when she wasn’t visible, she toyed with him. Generally with women, for him, it was out of sight, out of mind.
Not very gentlemanly of him, really, but he tended to spend his time with loose women who didn’t expect—and probably preferred not—to be remembered. He avoided those crowding the main floor, except for occasions like weddings or this event tonight, which involved friends of the family. He usually made an appearance for appearances’ sake, when the mood not to be an arse struck. It pleased his mother. Gave them a couple of moments to catch up.
He’d spied her earlier meandering about with her second husband, William Graves. Avendale’s father had been her first. A sorry affair that had been.
He shook off the memories, shoved them back down. They were not the sort he liked to examine. But the lady in red…
He would very much like to examine every inch of her.