A Notorious Love by Sabrina Jeffries - Romance>Historical Other
Helena Laverick is at her wits end! The only man who can help find her eloping young sister is that scoundrel Daniel Brennan â the man who played with her emotions last year and then left. And he used to be a smuggler! Although Mrs. Nunley's Guide to Etiquette for Young Ladies would never approve, Helena forced to go after the runaway in Daniel's company. But something about being with him feels oddly freeing â and a delicious tingle warns Helena that more than her reputation may be in danger...
Daniel finds most of the prim and proper lovely's rules ridiculous â but when she insists on masquerading as his wife for the sake of appearances, he immediately envisions the delights of sharing a bedchamber. The unexpected smouldering beneath her straitlaced exterior ignites his desire, and die vulnerability hidden beneath her cool control makes him want her even more. Yet Helena's a lady, and he's the son of a highwayman. How can he ever ask her to share his world?
The hero now I speak of, he was proper tall
Like to the lofty poplar tree, his body was complete;
His growth was like the tufted fir that does ascend
And waving o'er his shoulders broad the locks of
anonymous Irish street ballad
The Well-bred Young Lady avoids the merest hint of scandalous behavior.
Helena Laverick couldn't help remembering that stricture as she surveyed the deserted hallway of the St. Giles lodging house. For she was about to break it most flagrantly.
Her sister Rosalind had always criticized their late mother's favorite instruction book, Mrs. Nunley's Guide to Etiquette for Young Ladies. Rosalind's philosophy was to follow Mrs. N's rules when possible, but ignore them when they were impractical. Helena usually considered that her excuse for disregarding any checks to her outrageous behavior.
But in this case she had a point. Their young sister Juliet's mad dash into trouble made it impossible for Helena not to break the rules. And by venturing into this strange lodging house, where rats scrabbled all around her and burning rushlights clogged the air with their scorched mutton scent, she was breaking quite a few.
The Well-bred Young Lady does not take long trips alone -- she'd broken that one when she'd traveled alone to London from Warwickshire. Since Rosalind and her new husband, Griff Knighton, were honeymooning on the Continent and Papa was unable to leave his bed, someone had to handle this messy situation.
The Well-bred Young Lady never ventures outdoors without her maid -- that one was laughable. The fewer servants involved in her secret mission, the better. Servants did have a tendency to talk.
Her grip tightened on her cane as she stared at the scarred oak door before her, the one that belonged to Mr. Daniel Brennan, her brother-in-law's unmarried man of affairs. Now she was about to violate one of Mrs. N's most serious strictures -- The Well-bred Young Lady does not call on a gentleman in his lodgings unchaperoned.
And certainly not at dawn. Why, Mr. Brennan's own landlady had refused to risk his ire by rousing him so early.
A shiver ran down Helena's spine as she remembered the last time she'd provoked Mr. Brennan's ire, when he and Griff had been guests at Swan Park this past summer. Not that he'd had any right to be angry. He'd been the one in the wrong. He'd been the one shamelessly taking money from Griff for misleading them all, for pretending to court them while undoubtedly laughing at them behind their backs for believing his kindnesses and compliments...
No, she mustn't think of that. All that mattered was saving Juliet. Which was why she must swallow her pride, rouse her courage, and awaken Mr. Brennan. And soon, too, because her bad leg pained her from the arduous climb up the steep stairs, and nothing would be more mortifying than having it give out in front of him. So before she could change her mind, she rapped sharply on the door.
At first she heard nothing. Merciful heavens, what if she had the wrong place? She'd wondered why Mr. Brennan would reside in a slum like St. Giles when he surely could afford better, but Griff's coachman had insisted that the man lived here.
She knocked again, this time more loudly. Nothing. Might he refuse to answer? Panic seized her at the thought, so she rapped the silver head of her cane on the door repeatedly, loud enough to raise the dead.
Success at last. Through the thin walls, she heard heavy steps and a male voice growling, "I'm coming, devil take you!"