He owns three shipping companies, a diamond mine, and his own castle.
He knows Portuguese, Hindu, Mandarin and Morse code.
His assets net thirteen million.
Lord Preston wants the one thing money can’t buy…
Andrew Tilmore, Lord Preston, the financial prodigy dubbed “The King of Threadneedle Street” wants the one prize out of reach: his childhood sweetheart. The papers can waste a sea of ink scandalizing over his lavender-eyed Alysia; so what if she is the daughter of his father’s mistress?
Alysia Villier learned the craft of the courtesan from her infamous mother―by osmosis apparently. A gifted artist who almost won the Prix de Rome, Alysia is not interested in following in her mother’s footsteps, since Andrew ruined her for any other man. But with her legal guardian—Andrew’s father―in control of her inheritance, she has little choice in the matter.
Keeping Alysia out of trouble and away from eager suitors becomes a cross-continental quest for Andrew. Not his old-fashioned family, the disapproval of the ton, nor even Alysia’s dedication to duty and propriety will stop him. Playing newspapers and investors like pawns, tumbling world markets, inciting riots… has he gone too far?
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Perhaps the people around her were speaking; she couldn’t say, for she was momentarily stunned and not sure why. Then she heard the voice again. A British, bass voice. “Excuse me, pardon.”
Was it her imagination? She shook her head.
Evigny and Ramsgate were pushed aside, and there stood Andrew, a head taller than the others and gloriously angry. Her heart stalled then kicked. She couldn’t breathe.
He gave her a low, formal bow. Pressed a slow kiss on the back of her gloved hand before turning it to press the palm to his face. Closed his eyes and inhaled deeply at her wrist. Grazed his nose along the inside of her forearm, as though hundreds of eyes were not observing.
One of the men nearby, probably Ramsgate, scoffed, “And without an introduction! Such presumption! Come now, who is—”
“We have met,” Andrew took her glass, and for the second time that evening, Leduc found himself holding it while another man cut in.
“Andrew.” Her voice caught, and her throat felt swollen. A dozen gasps sounded around her, seeming to echo.
She became aware of a chorus of lowered voices. “That is Lord Preston!” or jealously, “How does he know Miss Villier?” said as though her name meant horse manure.
“Lord Preston, The King of Threadneedle Street.”
“Lord Preston, youngest peer to sit in the House of Lords.”
All hail Lord Preston, the demi-god. Who should not be here.
She was suddenly conscious of how she must look to him, no longer the plump, modest country maiden to whom he had bid farewell over a year before. After a year of Madame Desmarais’ strict diet of vegetable juices, sprouts, and deprivation of sweets, Alysia was a noticeable one or two stone lighter. She thought she was an inch taller, as well.
But that wasn’t mortifying. Alysia resisted the urge to cover herself with her fan. She didn’t want him to see the pleated silver bodice in translucent gossamer, wasp-waist corset and low Parisian décolleté. Wisps of gossamer—a poor excuse for sleeves—sat low on her arms, exposing her shoulders and half her back. The cosmetics, the exotic perfume, her hair coiffed in semi-dishabille topped with jeweled combs…
She must truly look a harlot to him. Did he think so? He was certainly staring.
Ignoring the protests of her so-called admirers, he led her to the dance floor just in time for the next waltz, oblivious to her wooden movements. He pulled their dance position completely closed. Pressed against him from shoulder to knee — oh, the shock! His thighs rubbed hers, leading the steps as he had over a year before at his sister’s wedding. It seemed ages ago.
Constrained in the corset, she couldn’t draw a clear breath. If the dizziness grew worse, she would faint in his arms. At least his shoulder blocked her view of the room. Alysia had no desire to survey all the curious and accusing glares she knew were aimed at her.
Moriah Densley sees nothing odd at all about keeping both a violin case and a range bag stuffed with pistols in the back seat of her car. They hold up the stack of books in the middle, of course. She enjoys writing about Victorians, assassins, and geeks. Her muses are summoned by the smell of chocolate, usually at odd hours of the night. By day her alter ego is your friendly neighborhood music teacher. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and four children. Published in historical and paranormal romance, Moriah has a Master’s degree in music, is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart finalist, 2012 National Reader’s Choice Award “Best First Book” finalist, and 2012 National Reader’s Choice Award finalist in historical romance. She loves hearing from readers!