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Authors: Mia Marlowe

Stroke of Genius

BOOK: Stroke of Genius
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“Georgette Heyer with ripped bodices! Crispin Hawke is awkward, dashing, self-assured, rude, everything you'd expect from Georgette Heyer, or even Jane Austen. Grace Makepeace is American. She's tall, beautiful, and knows what she wants. But she falls for Hawke in a big way and decides that she wants him above everything else. Mia Marlowe is the mistress of saucy historical romances, and STROKE OF GENIUS is pure delight.” ~ BooksMonthly


“A STROKE OF GENIUS is, in one word, page-turning.  It could easily be described as Pygmalion Meets Cinderella, but that’s putting a quirky misnomer to a book that enchants and entertains.  I may be late to the party, but I can’t help but recommend it.” ~RomanceReviewsToday


“Wickedly enjoyable novel. The affair between Grace’s maid, Claudette, and Crispin’s servant, Wyckeham, is a hilarious subplot to the main story.” ~RTBookReviews



A book never happens without the help of a number of people.

First, I’d like to thank my husband who lets me freely borrow from him to give to my heroes!

Then my wonderful editor, Leah Hultenschmidt, who didn’t flinch when she saw Crispin Hawke, my genius hero, a fellow who’s been called the Regency’s answer to  “House.” Of course, Crispin has less meanness and more charm, but the comparison is apt. You’re the best, Leah.

Thanks to Jane Lange, who entered the winning name in the Name a Character Contest on my website
.  My readers voted and Brice Wyckeham was chosen as the name for Crispin Hawke’s faithful gentleman’s gentleman. Thank you to everyone who entered a name and everyone who voted for their favorite. Please drop by my website often. You never know when I’ll run another contest that lets readers name a character or help me steer a plot in a different direction.

And lastly, I’d like to thank you, Dear Reader. You have many choices for entertainment. Thank you for choosing my book. You make it all possible. I love to hear from you, so please drop me a note through my website or blog. Hope you love Stroke of Genius!



Copyright © 2010 & 2013 by Diana Groe

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.

Visit Mia at



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Other Books By Mia Marlowe

Chapter 1

Long ago, when the world was dewy fresh and ever so much younger than now, there lived an artist whose sculptures lacked only breath to give them life.

The artist’s name was Pygmalion.


Starting from the well-formed foot and ankle, the long line of the man’s muscular leg ended in a disappointingly small fig leaf.

How typical
Grace Makepeace thought as she squinted at the illustration.
Psyche must cavort about without a stitch, but Cupid’s most bewildering parts are always covered. And since whatever it is fits so neatly behind that tiny leaf . . . really, one wonders what all the fuss is about.

“For heaven’s sake, Grace, you must hurry or he’ll leave!”

“Mother, calm yourself.” Grace didn’t lift her nose from her new copy of Rev. Waterbury’s
Mysteries of Mythology
, but she did flip quickly to the next page. If her mother had the slightest inkling of the number of scantily-clad gods and goddesses the good reverend had included in his scholarly tome, she’d have an apoplectic fit on the spot. “Why should I care if the fellow does leave?”

Astonished, Minerva Makepeace put a hand to her ample bosom. “Because darling, Crispin Hawke is the best. Simply the best and we dare not settle for less. Why, the man is a bona fide genius with marble. The world is watching, dear, all the time. If we set so much as one foot wrong—”

“We may as well go home to Boston,” Grace finished for her for the umpteenth time. She closed the book with a resigned snap.

“Precisely,” her mother said. “Oh, I’m so glad you understand how essential this interview is, dearie.”

Minerva either didn’t hear the sarcasm in Grace’s tone, or chose to ignore it. She never scolded or became cross, but when her mother set her heart on something, she wore her family down as surely as a determined drip leaves a dent in stone. Minerva’s heart was set on a titled husband for her daughter. And if acceptance by the
of London hinged on having the fashionable artist Hawke ‘do’ Grace’s hands in marble, then Minerva Makepeace would move heaven and earth to see it done.

Her mother shepherded Grace down the hall from the light-kissed library to the heavily-curtained parlor.

“I don’t see why we need meet Mr. Hawke’s approval. We’re paying him, Mother,” Grace reminded her. “That means he’ll work for us.”

Minerva shushed her.

“Which means
be the one doing the interviewing,” Grace finished as they neared the parlor door. But she didn’t say it loudly enough for her mother to hear.

Minerva swept into the parlor with a theatrical flourish, bunching the small train of her pale muslin gown in one hand. Grace followed, steeling herself to settle this as quickly as possible so she could return to the library. 

“Mr. Hawke, we’re delighted, simply delighted that you’ve come.” Minerva swanned across the room with the borrowed elegance of the
nouveau riche
and extended her bejeweled hand to the man who rose from the settee. His footman, resplendent in mauve livery with silver buttons, stood at attention in the corner.

Now I see what has the ton in a tizzy
, Grace mused.

Broad-shouldered and tall, Crispin Hawke certainly didn’t seem the sensitive, artistic type. His raw, angular features didn’t fit the current vogue for male beauty, which called for a man’s eyes, nose and mouth to be smaller and more refined, almost pretty.

No one in their right mind would call Mr. Hawke that. Arresting, certainly. Rough-hewn, yes, but not pretty. Strong jaws, firm, well-shaped lips, unusual pewter-gray eyes beneath dark brows—if he didn’t redefine the word ‘male’ Grace didn’t know who would.

Crispin Hawke was like a total eclipse. Dangerous. The backs of Grace’s eyes burned just looking at him. 

If his person exuded a feral masculinity, his dress suggested utter civility. Grace would have guessed Mr. Hawke a duke at the least if she’d seen him on the street. His coat was cut in the first stare of fashion, draping over his lean hips in a Brummel-esque inverted “U.” His brocade waistcoat was a rich midnight blue.

Grace glanced at his skin-hugging buff trousers.

I’ll warrant he’d need a much bigger fig leaf.

His outfit was completed by Hessians glossed to a spit shine. Crispin Hawke might have stepped directly from a fashion plate. But Grace noticed he leaned more heavily on his walking stick than one would on a mere accessory and in a time when most men affected a Caesar-like cropped look, his curly dark hair was unstylishly long. Lines gathered at the corners of his gray eyes, though she’d bet her best brooch he hadn’t seen thirty winters.

BOOK: Stroke of Genius
5.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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