Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Not Quite A Scandel by Bliss Bennet



 An inheritance lost. A betrothal threatened. A scandal brewing…  

Not Quite a Scandal

Audacious Ladies of Audley Book 2

by Bliss Bennet

Genre: Historical Regency Romance  

An inheritance lost. A betrothal threatened. A scandal brewing…

Outspoken Quaker Bathsheba Honeychurch knows how difficult it is for an unmarried woman to successfully champion political change. Her solution? Wed best friend Ash Griffin as soon as he comes of age and begin remaking the world. But when Ash’s urbane, aloof cousin arrives with inconceivable news, Sheba’s future dreams are suddenly at risk…

The death of the Earl of Silliman reveals an appalling lie: it is not Noel Griffin, but his long-lost cousin Ash, who is the true heir to their grandfather’s title. Raised to place family above all, Noel accepts his grandmother’s bitter charge: find Ash, disentangle him from his religious community, and train him to take on the responsibilities and privileges of a title that Noel had been raised to believe was his. Noel certainly won’t allow a presumptuous, irritating Quakeress to thwart him in doing his duty—no matter how fascinating he finds her...

When scandal threatens both their reputations, can Sheba and Noel look beyond past dreams and imagine a new world—together?

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Before Sheba could offer an objection, Noel set himself in front of her. “Shall we try a simpler dance? A waltz, perhaps, M. de Brunhoff?” 

A look of relief passed over the poor dancing master’s face. “As you wish, monsieur.” 

The restlessness Noel had felt all afternoon, being in Sheba’s company but not the focus of her attention, settled as soon as he guided her hands up to rest against his shoulders. Unlike the more demure society misses with whom he typically danced, she kept her head held high, eyes not shying away from his. But the pink tint of her cheeks blazed nearly scarlet when he set his hands not on her elbows, as she was obviously expecting, but more daringly against her waist. That elusive scent of honeysuckle enticed his nose, and he could almost swear he felt the pulse of her blood coursing beneath his fingers, even with the weight of her silk gown and stays and his gloves between them. 

“March, march, march, march, then messieurs, pirouette, mesdames, pas de bourée, pas de bourée, pas de bourée. Up, up, up on the toes, oui, oui…” 

A satisfaction bone-deep settled over him at finally having Bathsheba Honeychurch in his arms. At being able to allow his eyes to roam without embarrassment or restraint over the sweep of her pert brows, the stretch of her lush mouth, the expanse of her graceful neck below that tip-tilted chin, confident and defiant in turn. He’d never had much sympathy for Goethe’s self-indulgent Werther, but the romantic hero’s assertion that “a maiden whom I loved, or for whom I felt the slightest attachment, never, never, never should waltz with any one else but with me” struck him as painfully apt. 

He twirled her carefully, silently, unwilling to allow meaningless small-talk to distract him from a pleasure he feared he’d never stop craving. 

She, too, remained quiet as the slow notes of the waltz enveloped them in a bubble of awareness, her blue eyes roving his face as his roved hers. She blinked, and blinked again, as if she could not quite understand what she was seeing. 

Might she be beginning to recognize, even if she could not quite yet allow herself to believe, that the man standing opposite her might be more vital to her happiness than the one dancing on the other side of the room? 

Yes, this was how he would win her. Not by wooing her with words, but by allowing her to see the truth of what he felt. 

“Ah, yes, my lady, with what elegance you dance!” M de Brunhoff cried as Ash and Delphie twirled past him. “Now, let us vary the posture, eh? Messieurs, place your right arm fully about your partner’s waist, etmesdames, rest your hand and arm on your partner’s shoulder.” 

Noel swallowed, then laced his arm behind Sheba’s waist. Although he kept her at a decorous distance, the heat of her warmed his entire side. And when her hand crept up his shoulder, her corseted breast mere inches from his chest, that warmth turned molten. 

He felt, as well as heard, Sheba’s breath catch in her throat as his fingers tightened against her side. 

The beat of the music, the tap of their slippers against the polished floor, the hum of pleasure he could not quite keep contained—Noel spun, and spun, dizzy with the turning, near giddy with longing. 

Bliss Bennet writes smart, edgy novels for readers who love history as much as they love romance. Despite being born and bred in New England, Bliss has always been fascinated by the history of that country across the pond, particularly the politically-volatile period known as the English Regency. Though she's visited Britain several times, Bliss continues to make her home in the States, along with her spouse and an ever-multiplying collection of historical reference books.

Bliss's Regency-set historical romances have been praised as "savvy, sensual, and engrossing" by  USA Today, "catnip for the Historical Romance reader" by Bookworlder, "romantic, funny, touching, and extremely well-researched" by All About Romance, and "everything you want in a great historical romance" by The Reading Wench. Bliss's latest book is Not Quite a Scandal, the second book in The Audacious Ladies of Audley series.

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1 comment:

Bliss Bennet said...

Thanks, Caroline, for featuring my new release on your blog!