She’s beautiful, rich, and reckless…
When Lady Constance Stonewell accidentally ruins the Earl of Apthorp’s entire future with her gossip column, she does what any honorable young lady must: offer her hand in marriage. Or, at the very least, stage a whirlwind fake engagement to repair his reputation. Never mind that it means spending a month with the dullest man in England. Or the fact that he disapproves of everything she holds dear.
He’s supposedly the most boring politician in the House of Lords…
Julian Haywood, the Earl of Apthorp, is on the cusp of finally proving himself to be the man he’s always wanted to be when his future is destroyed in a single afternoon. When the woman he’s secretly in love with confesses she’s at fault, it isn’t just his life that is shattered: it’s his heart.
They have a month to clear his name and convince society they are madly in love…
But when Constance discovers her faux-intended is decidedly more than meets the eye—not to mention adept at shocking forms of wickedness—she finds herself falling for him.
There’s only one problem: he can’t forgive her for breaking his heart.
About the Book
The Earl I Ruined
by Scarlett Peckham
Secrets of Charlotte Street Book Two
December 11, 2018
In this scene our heroine begins to wonder if the man she has always called “Lord Bore” is, perhaps, slightly more appealing and delightful than she ever imagined possible.
Lady Constance Stonewell had always intended to fall wildly, extravagantly in love.
The timing of this condition was, regrettably, outside her control, for it depended on the arrival of a man.
Assuredly this gentleman she awaited would be handsome, though the exact cast of his features was not of paramount importance. And he would be clever, though he need not be his generation’s greatest wit, as she was cunning enough for them both. He would be kind, though not so kind that his manners lacked a suitable degree of edge, and loyal, though most principally to her.
The precise dimensions of his make and character were fungible, for the important thing about him was that he would be the first person in living history to want her exactly as she was.
She would not have to disguise her love of devilry nor her too-tender heart to be found winning. She would not have to exercise beguilement to captivate his interest nor dampen the contours of her character to maintain it. He would adore her wholeheartedly and without reservation and above all without the least imposition of her will. He would be wholly, unconditionally insane for her, and that’s how she would know he had, finally, arrived.
Since she had not encountered a fellow even remotely resembling this description in all her days, she had never spent much time imagining what being in love with him might feel like.
But now, as she sat at her desk, making arrangements for her new life in Genoa after an afternoon of feigning lovestruck bliss, she wondered.
Would it feel like pride at his ability to charm her godmother while an assembly of disapproving Methodists tried not to swoon over the absurdly pretty way he held his fork?
Would it feel like pretending to fall asleep beside him at the opera so that she might rest her head against his neck, where she could smell his skin?
Would it feel like lying up awake remembering the contours of his body as he’d pressed against her in a closet, unable to resolve the tension that welled up at the memory because, regrettably, he wasn’t in bed with her?
It mustn’t. For if it were like that, would she not be joyfully embroidering marital linens, rather than making discreet arrangements to flee to the Continent alone?
“My lady?” Winston said, tapping gently at her door. “Lord Apthorp is here to see you.”
She jumped. How odd. It had been only an hour since they’d parted.
She tucked her letters in a drawer and followed Winston to the parlor, where Apthorp was waiting, staring prettily out the window. Without his wig, positioned in the sunshine, he was so luminous he seemed to emit light.
Was that what it would feel like to see the man you were in love with? Would he be so beautiful he looked as if he glowed?
“Oh, young lovers,” she said archly, lest he sense that the sight of him made disorder of her heartbeat. “They simply cannot bear to be parted for more than an hour’s time.”
He glanced up. “Ah. Thank you for seeing me. I hope I’m not intruding.”
“I shall forgive you. You must have been pining for me dreadfully to rush back to me so soon.”
“Dreadfully,” he agreed. “I confess, I never stop.”
She bit her lip. His ability to quip still came as a surprise, given he’d been so humorless for years. She wished he’d displayed more of that talent rather than his less charming abilities to chide, harass, and tutor her.
His eyes traveled down to her face. “You’ve got something on your cheek,” he observed.
She put her fingers to her skin. “Do I?”
He laughed softly. “Ah. Ink’s the culprit as ever, Lady Constance. It’s all over your hands.”
She smiled, though in truth she was annoyed she was appearing before him splattered in drops of brown sludge, given his current state of summery radiance.
“Regrettably, Lord Apthorp, I am famously indelicate with my quill.”
He met her eye, but if he caught the double meaning in her words, he didn’t show it. Instead, he walked toward her, taking off his gloves.
“Here, let me.” He reached out and gently dabbed at the skin beneath her left eye with his thumb.
He frowned. “I’ve only smudged it.”
She held her breath, very much hoping he would not notice that she had, for some reason, started shaking at the onslaught of his touch.
He licked his thumb, steadied her chin in his other hand, and rubbed more firmly at her skin. She was not sure if it was pleasure or mortification that made her close her eyes and simply let him.
“There. Good as new,” he said, stepping back.
She was glad he’d withdrawn his hand before she’d rubbed her cheek against his palm like a cat.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of THE EARL I RUINED by Scarlett Peckham, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Scarlett Peckham. Giveaway ends 12/24/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Scarlett Peckham
SCARLETT PECKHAM is a four-time Golden Heart® finalist in Historical Romance who writes steamy stories about alpha heroines. Her Secrets of Charlotte Street series follows the members of Georgian London’s most discreet – and illicit – private club with lush writing, historical detail, a feminist worldview and a light touch of kink.
Scarlett lives in Los Angeles and when not reading or writing romance she enjoys drinking immoderate quantities of white wine, watching The Real Housewives, and dressing her cat in bowtie.