A Rebellious Sons Novel
By all the saints and heavens, the man was beyond delicious into the realm of godliness!
Fearing her thunderstruck wonder was obvious, Nora attempted to look away from the golden-haired aristocrat strutting across the room in Lady Belden’s direction, but moths fluttered in her midsection, and her gaze was drawn to him no matter where he stood. His form-fitting cutaway revealed excessively wide shoulders and a narrow waist. His breeches… Oh my, she didn’t think she’d ever seen a man in court breeches. She could see the curve of his legs!
Well, yes, she supposed now that she looked, many of the older gentleman wore baggy breeches and stockings and buckles. It was a quaint custom of respect for royalty, she supposed. But the golden god was strikingly… She cleared her throat. Robbie had been only twenty-two when he’d left for war. The sophisticated noble approaching was not a slender lad, nor a stocky grocer.
The scent of the lovely lilies on the table, the lavishly gleaming silk she wore, the powerful duke and his guests—all faded into wallpaper once the golden icon stopped before them.
“Lady Belden, bellissima,” he murmured, bowing over the hand of their hostess.
Nora swallowed hard and tried not to admire the muscled posterior revealed by the fall-away tails of his coat.
“Mrs. Adams, I would like you to meet…”
Nora scarcely heard Lady Belden’s introductions. She had always felt dowdy and chunky, but this man made her feel feminine. He took her hand when she did not extend it, squeezing her gloved fingers in a reassuring manner guaranteed to melt her bones. He did not give her time to be embarrassed by the gaffe of not extending her hand first.
“Mrs. Adams, a pleasure to meet you,” he said with such seductive smoothness that she nearly fainted at the image that the word pleasure produced.
Did men speak like that outside of bed? Not to boring schoolteachers. Flushed, Nora remembered to dip a slight curtsy.
“Mr. Atherton will be escorting the princess,” Lady Belden was saying, jarring Nora from her stunned reverie. “He can help you speak with her about your mother.”
“Yes, of course, Mr. Atherton! Lady Belden has mentioned you.” The marchioness had warned that the gentleman was a notorious rake, as well as the master of numerous languages.
“I trust Lady Bell spoke favorably,” Mr. Atherton said with a blinding smile meant to deceive and overpower.
He almost succeeded, but Nora had a better grasp of the dowager’s warning now. Atherton used his looks and charm like weapons, probably with more effect than the sword at his side, she thought with just a touch of spite.
Her father had expended his excess energies in the winters by teaching his only child to use both rapier and small sword. Her mother had taught her how to use charm. Living in her confined world, Nora had never required either. She might enjoy taking out her rusty skills and polishing them for society.
Except she was relishing the notion of engaging in combat with Atherton entirely too well. Better that she play country mouse and pretend to be prey.
“Of course, sir, I shall be most appreciative of your expertise.”
“How appreciative, bellisima?” the gentleman asked seductively, placing her hand on his arm to escort her from her chaperone’s company.
With several million books in print and New York Times and USA Today’s bestseller lists under her belt, former CPA Patricia Rice is one of romance’s hottest authors. Her emotionally-charged contemporary and historical romances have won numerous awards, including the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice and Career Achievement Awards. Her books have been honored as Romance Writers of America RITA® finalists in the historical, regency and contemporary categories.