Authors: Jane Lark
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Historical, #Regency, #General
The Dangerous Love of a Rogue
A division of HarperCollins
an imprint of
1 London Bridge Street
London SE1 9GF
First published in Great Britain by Harper
Copyright © Jane Lark 2015
Cover images © Shutterstock.com
Cover layout design © HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 2015
Cover design by Zoe Jackson
Jane Lark asserts the moral right
to be identified as the author of this work.
A catalogue record for this book is
available from the British Library
This novel is entirely a work of fiction.
The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are
the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to
actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is
All rights reserved under International
and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
By payment of the required fees, you have been granted
the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access
and read the text of this e-book on screen.
No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted,
downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or
stored in or introduced into any information storage and
retrieval system, in any form or by any means,
whether electronic or mechanical, now known or
hereinafter invented, without the express
written permission of HarperCollins.
Digital eFirst: Automatically produced by Atomik ePublisher from Easypress.
Ebook Edition © January 2015 ISBN: 9780007594665
“Jane Lark has an incredible talent to draw the reader in from the first page onwards.”
Cosmochicklitan Book Reviews
"Any description that I give you would not only spoil the story but could not give this book a tenth of the justice that it deserves. Wonderful!"
Candy Coated Book Blog
"This book held me captive after the first 2 pages. If I could crawl inside and live in there with the characters I would."
A Reading Nurse Blogspot
“The book swings from truly swoon-worthy, tense and heart wrenching, highly erotic and everything else in between.”
“I love Ms. Lark's style—beautifully descriptive, emotional and can I say, just plain delicious reading? This is the kind of mixer upper I've been looking for in romance lately.”
Devastating Reads BlogSpot
It was a renowned truth, that any world-worn rogue, without a feather to fly with, must be on the hunt for a wife, or rather her dowry. As the parody of Miss Austen’s verse, from her charming little novel about country life, ran through Drew’s head, a sound of mocking humour rumbled through his chest and he leaned a shoulder against the false pillar in the Earl of Derwent’s ballroom watching town life.
The pillar was wooden, painted to look like marble. Like everyone in this damned room, it was a farce. A shallow image. A performance… Nothing here was what it seemed. Society lived a damned lie and he had lived it for a lifetime.
He was a bastard, sold by his mother to her husband as worth the risk of giving her naturally born son his family’s name to keep up the façade and to save the reputation of the Framlington title.
Damn the title…Damn the bloody name…
Drew had no interest in either.
He was bored of this. Bored of pretence. Bored of the games these people and he played. Bored of the face he displayed to the world and bored of the man who suffered all this behind a closed door.
He wished to escape it. He had a plan. Of course plans required money. But his plan covered that. He was seeking a well-dowered young woman to take as his wife, and therefore earn himself an instant fortune. A fortune which he would use to pack up his bags and retire to a quiet life, away from town, away from this… Perhaps he would experience life then just as Miss Austen wrote it. Or was ‘Country Life’ an equal façade? Never mind wherever he went, he would not live behind a façade. He’d had his fill of charades.
“Have you seen Marlow’s daughter?” Mark leaned to Drew’s ear. “She would be a prize.”
Drew looked at his friend and lifted his shoulder away from the pillar, straightening up. “I have.”
“She looks remarkable.”
“She does indeed.” He’d been watching her. She was on his list of potential wives.
“Are you intending to try her?”
“I would be a fool if I did not. Look at her…” Yet the she in question, Miss Mary Marlow, was as far above his reach as the sun. The step-sister of a duke – with a bastard… It was not a match that would be desired by the sweet young miss’s mama and papa.
Yet Miss Marlow was the most appealing to the eye and Drew had been awaiting his moment to explore his opportunity with her. The time had come. He’d not been standing here for his pleasure. He’d been standing here waiting for Miss Marlow to complete her dance.
“Then what are you waiting on.” Mark laughed, spotting the same opportunity.
Not a thing. Drew glanced over his shoulder and gave his friend a wicked smile before turning to walk about the edge of the room.
Miss Marlow was in a set close to him and the dance was drawing to its conclusion. Drew positioned himself so that when it ended her back was turned him. She stood three feet away; he could feel her exuberance even though he could not see her face or her smile. Yet he knew she was smiling, she’d smiled throughout every dance tonight.
Mary Marlow was in her first season, newly launched upon the marriage market, and he was here to trade. But what his friends did not know was that as much as he desired her money, he desired innocence. His heart and mind were jaded and bitter. He longed for the refreshing invigoration of innocence. God knew, he’d never been given the blessing of innocence in his life; he’d been born into the world of sin. Born of sin and raised in sin.
Miss Marlow’s partner lifted her hand to his lips and bowed.
Drew stepped forward. “Miss Marlow.” He said her name as though they’d been introduced and he had a right to use it, speaking before the man had chance to offer to lead her back to her mother.
She looked at him, her expression confused, but then she smiled, and it was as though the sun rose in the room which was already illuminated by several hundred candles in the chandeliers.
Her smile said, “I am not sure I know you, sir.” Yet a young woman like her would never be rude enough to ask.
When her companion let her go, Drew captured her hand, as if he had a right to that too. He felt as though he did. She had become his favourite choice as a bride the minute she’d smiled at him and not turned away. “May I have the next dance?”
He did not push things too far, he did not kiss her hand, yet he let his gloved fingers slide up her wrist a little to touch her skin, as if the gesture was accidental. She lowered into a sweet perfectly correct curtsy and looked up an instant before she rose.
Her eyes were an unusual blue, an extremely pale rim of colour surrounding the dark pupils that looked at him in question.
“Who are you? Do I actually know you, sir?”
Too polite to ask those questions she simply continued to pretend they had been introduced. They had not.
If he could have picked a tune it would have been the waltz, but the first waltz was not until later and he had no wish to lose the chance of the distance from her family. They were at the far end of the ballroom, in their usual pack. The Pembrokes. Although Pembroke was not the name the family went by as a whole, the old Duke had had four girls, and they’d all married exceptionally well, apart from Mary’s mother, who had at first married a soldier, who’d died, and then settled on the second son of an earl. But the son from her first marriage had inherited the title and given Miss Marlow a very attractive dowry, and so Mary was simply a Miss and yet a powerful match as a duke’s sister, and innocent.
“I believe you should stand here, and I there…” Drew said to her look of confusion.
There was another quick smile, which was far more fleeting than the first. She was perhaps realising she had made an error. He smiled to ease her concern. “I shall admit we have not been introduced. You must forgive me for taking the liberty of breaking the rules, Miss Marlow.” The music commenced.
He stepped forward and took her hand in the format of the dance, then completed a shoulder to shoulder turn.
“I should walk away immediately.”
“Indeed you should. But is it such a sin for a man to find you so utterly beautiful he cannot wait even another moment, or at worse another dance, to find some party who might introduce him?”
“That is the course of a gentleman.”
“It is indeed.” He leaned to her. “There you have me; perhaps I am not a gentleman…” He said it in a voice to tease her, the voice he knew earned him a little more money from the women who asked for his favour. Her head turned instantly, but then her gaze dropped to the lopsided rogue’s smile he threw at her and she laughed.
“You are a gentleman. You would not be here if you were not.”
So innocent… so blind. Such a novelty.
What he would give for that blindness.
“So are you enjoying your season, Miss Marlow?”
Her answering smile was softened then. “Yes. I have had to wait patiently, because we’ve been in mourning for my grandsire, but I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to finally be out. My cousins, who are older, have been full of stories and made me long for this. Now finally I have my moment.”
Yes, she did. “Tell me how it compares to the things you must have dreamed…” As they talked their steps followed the intricate country dance, but the blessing of it was, he had by chance chosen a country dance that did not separate them.
“It does not compare, I could not have imagined this…”
“You lie, surely you knew you would be in a room full of young men making fools of themselves for young women, and old men being bores, and young women who giggle at the slightest word.”
and older women
… like his mother… he did not even wish to think of them.
“So you think I giggle like an idiot.” There was a little annoyance in her voice.
As they made another turn he took the opportunity to press his palm against her side, below her breasts. Her body slid across his fingers as she followed the pattern of the dance. He only touched her for an instant, as if it was to stop her stumbling, yet her whole body jolted.
“Forgive me. I thought you’d missed a step.”
“No I did not.” He leaned to her ear as he stepped forward. Her hair brushed his cheek. “I simply wish this were a waltz and I had the opportunity to hold you.”
He stepped back. There was a sparkle in her dark pupils, and he saw her heartbeat flickering beneath her skin at the base of her neck.
The woman was charming.
“Yet it is not a waltz, and so you should refrain…”
Finally he was challenged, her pause awaited his name. It had taken her long enough. “Lord Framlington.”
As they walked around the back of the couple beside them she looked as though she searched her memory for his name, yet when they came into the middle of a ring of six there was no light of recognition in her eyes. The Duke of Pembroke had not mentioned his name to her then.