To Kiss A Rake

by Barbara Monajem

Series: Scandalous Kisses, #1

Genre: Regency Historical Romance

Release Date: July 29, 2015

WHEN A LADY IS ABDUCTED BY MISTAKE…

Melinda Starling doesn’t let ladylike behavior get in the way of true love. She’s secretly helping with an elopement, when she’s tossed into the waiting coach and driven away by a notorious rake.

REVENGE REALLY DOESN’T PAY.

Miles Warren, Lord Garrison, comes from a family of libertines, and he’s the worst of them all—or so society believes. When Miles helps a friend to run away with an heiress, it’s an entertaining way to revenge himself on one of the gossips who slandered him.

Except that he drives off with the wrong woman…and as if that wasn’t scandalous enough, he can’t resist stealing a kiss.

Setup: Miles and Melinda have just been united in a marriage of great inconvenience which neither of them wished. They haven’t consummated the marriage yet (for a reason Melinda would rather I didn’t mention here). Miles is taking advantage of the next few days to work up to it, though.

Miles guided the greys between two wagons. “Putting on an act, pretending to be madly in love, worked well enough in a pinch, but now that we’re married, we should take a different approach.”

“Which is?” asked Melinda.

“We should get to know one another,” he said.

She huffed. “Obviously we’ll do that.”

“By means of flirtation.”

That delicate flush arose in her cheeks again. “I beg your pardon?”

“Think about it. If I were courting you, we would flirt.” He paused to let her absorb the notion. “Wouldn’t we? You must have flirted with many men.” His heart beat painfully at the thought that she might continue to do so.

“Only if I knew they weren’t serious,” she said. “The moment they got that intent expression in their eyes, as if they wanted to steal a-a kiss…” Her eyes widened. For a hushed second, her gaze hovered on his lips. Abruptly, she looked away. “I wouldn’t let them.”

“Ah.” He suppressed a smile. “That privilege fell to me, and I seized it most unfairly.”

She took a deep breath. Did she realize how it made her bosom rise and fall? “And if it seemed they were on the verge of making an offer, I stopped flirting straightaway.”

“But that was then and this is now, and you’re already married to me. Think of the next few days as our courtship. We’ll drive in the Park, we’ll perhaps have ices at Gunter’s, we may even get invited to a ball or two, and…”

“We’ll flirt.” She glanced at him from under her lashes—at his mouth again—and away.

“But it will be much different from before. Instead of stopping at the first sign of serious intent, you’ll carry on as if your interest is as genuine as mine.”

She chewed on her bottom lip. She toyed with the fingertips of her glove.

“As if it’s leading somewhere,” he said.

Melinda knew perfectly well that he meant the consummation of their marriage, but why must she blush so easily? She’d mentioned that kiss, and all of a sudden she couldn’t keep her eyes away from his mouth. “Which it is,” she said gruffly. There wasn’t much room on the seat of the curricle—enough for the two of them, but very little space between. She’d never flirted with a man in such close proximity before. It certainly added spice to the experience.

“So there’s no reason to shy away or give me the cold shoulder or whatever you did to those fellows,” he said. “You may indulge your natural enjoyment of flirtation as much as you like.”

She bristled at that. “Who told you I enjoy flirting?” Then she remembered. “Is it something Lord Bottleford said? He was forever reprimanding me for being too friendly, and saying a lady should maintain a proper distance at all times. To him, that meant ignoring everyone else and listening enraptured while he prosed on and on. And on.” She rolled her eyes. “And on.”

His lips twitched. His eyes gleamed. Something inside her did a strange little flip.

She pulled herself together. He disconcerted her without even saying a word. “Who, then? My grandmother?”

“No, I didn’t mean you in particular, but rather one’s natural tendency to flirt with members of the opposite sex. It’s quite primitive, I think—rather like mating rituals of birds or beasts.”

Primitive. What an odd word to use of flirting, which had always seemed a highly civilized behavior until now. And yet…how very enticing.

She wanted him to kiss her again.

I give this 4.5 stars

This is the first book that I have read by Barbara Monajem and I will now be watching out for her books.

The tale begins with Melissa Starling an innocent young lady who has been helping her friend to make arrangements to elope with a man she loves and she finds herself at Almack’s Assembly Rooms at a masquerade Ball and on an errand to tell the man that her friend no longer wants to elope with him, because Melissa is honest she feels it is unfair to leave him waiting for her best friend when she is not going to show, so she heads off to the alley at the back of the rooms to their assigned meeting place.  There she meets one of his ‘servants’ and insists on speaking to Mr Fellowes – the waiting gentleman but on arriving at his coach she sees that he is not in there and decides to go back inside when a door opens and the ‘servant’ tosses her into the coach and off they go.

The ‘servant’ does not realise that he has the wrong woman until 2 hours later when they pull into an inn and Mr Fellowes finally sees that it is Melissa not Lavinia Darwin that was in the coach and unconscious and asks how Miles has brought the wrong woman and what has happened to her.

When Melissa comes too, she asks what time it is and how long will it take to get back to London as she needs to get back home before her grandma knows that she has not got back home from the ball as she and her grandma do not really get along and she is worried about the punishment she will receive. On arriving home her grandmother refuses her entry into her home and she once again has to get in the coach with the  gentleman that abducted her by mistake and kissed her.

Miles Warren, Viscount Garrison was only helping his friend by pretending to be a servant so on returning Melissa home and then her grandmother not letting her in, he offers to take her to her brothers home but when arriving at his lodgings, he is seen by a town gossip and then things alter dramatically for the both of them

This story is about learning to trust, learning to love, lies, jealousy and misunderstandings, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would recommend it to historical romance lovers out there.

Winner of the Holt Medallion, Maggie, Daphne du Maurier, Reviewer’s Choice and Epic awards, Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young. When they grew up, she turned to writing for grownups, first the Bayou Gavotte paranormal mysteries and then Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Some of her Regencies have magic in them and some don’t (except for the magic of love, which is in every story she writes).

Barbara loves to cook, especially soups, and is an avid reader. There are only two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding and succeed at knitting socks. She’ll manage the first but doubts she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays.