My Season of Scandal
Palace of Rogues, Book 7

A London season is the chance of a lifetime for Catherine Keating. But the ton’s glitter and decadence and casual cruelty threaten to crush her hopes of finding a husband before her season even begins...until she accidentally acquires one of the most scandalous men in England as a secret chaperone.

Famously fiery Lord Dominic Kirke can hold the House of Commons—and any woman he chooses— in thrall. But when his house goes up in flames in the dead of night, he finds himself at the Grand Palace on the Thames. And there he discovers his cynical armor is no match for another guest: an innocent country girl with a crackling wit and eyes like a summer sky.

He's maddening, elusive, hopelessly charismatic, wrong in every way—perfectly designed to break her heart. But she doesn't know she holds his battered heart in her hands. And though it will destroy him, Dominic knows loving her means setting Catherine free for the life—and man—she deserves.




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The first of the London balls, at Lord and Lady Clayton’s, was tomorrow night. Her heart took up a frisky tempo at the thought. With whom would she dance first?

She impulsively seized her pelisse to use as a partner and waltzed it around the room, singing: “‘Have pity,’ he said, ‘have patience, I pray, I’ve a stick up me CLAP and gray in me hair!’ La la la la—OH! Ow! Oh no—”

She’d spun herself and her pelisse partner into the desk chair.

Which teetered drunkenly, then toppled onto its back with a mighty crash that made her flinch.

She dropped her partner on the bed and crouched, rubbing her shin. “Good heavens, sir. It looks as though you may have imbibed too much this evening. Let me help you up,” she said to amuse herself as she righted the chair.

A moment later she whirled again at a vigorous rapping on her door.

Lovely! Dot had arrived with her tea!

Beaming, she flung it open.

And beheld a man.

He was coatless. His cravat dangled as if he’d been interrupted in the act of clawing it off, his striped waistcoat hung open, and his thick, black hair was dashed into peaks, very like he’d plowed two tormented hands through it. A shocking, tiny little V of bare skin was visible at his throat. He also had the shoulders of someone who could effortlessly hurl a trunk up onto a mail coach, and the sculpted cheekbones normally sported by statues of deities.

She wasn’t proud of it, but these last three things were what made her close the door only most of the way instead of slamming it.

“I came as quickly as I could, madam. Shall I send for a doctor?” His voice was a rumbling bass she could feel in her sternum. His tone was all urgent, hushed sympathy.

“I—I beg your pardon, sir?”

“Surely one only caterwauls past midnight if one has suffered the loss of a limb, or has inadvertently run one’s self through with a fireplace poker.”

He sounded so earnest, and his Welsh accent was so beautiful—the “s’s” caressed, the “r’s” gently rolled—it was a full three seconds before she realized this was a grave insult, not a benediction. He’d made the word “caterwaul” sound like a poem.

She was mute with astonishment.

Through the crack of the door, his fierce dark eyes seemed as endless as the universe.

“I—I’m terribly sorry if I disturbed you, sir. You see, I’m new to London and—”

He held up a hand. “Ah. Say no more. You hail from a place where you can freely wail the song of your people to the hills, like a wolf. Mere walls cannot contain your exuberance. Sleep is as nothing when you are filled with song. One simply must twirl.”

Her stomach contracted against the sardonic onslaught. He was so beautiful and colorfully mean. Despite herself, she was perversely thrilled. He was an entirely new creature to her experience, and she’d come to London for new experiences.

He gazed back at her, radiating enough impatience for the entire human race.

“How did you know about the twirl?” She almost whispered it.

“Something caused the crash. I suspect cavorting.”

Oh no. “You heard the crash, too?” Her cheeks were fully aflame now.

“The building juddered like a ship in a storm.” He explained this slowly, as if to a child.

They regarded each other through the four inches of open door while a series of eloquent and scathing little rejoinders sparked and died in her mind. He was rude. She was no coward.

But her sense of fairness was powerful. However ignorant she was of the thickness of the walls, it was no excuse; she was in the wrong. And this man appeared to be under some sort of duress.

She cleared her throat. “Well,” she said humbly. “I am abashed. I apologize. I was unaware of your proximity, sir. Thank you for calling it to my attention. I shall endeavor to be quiet.”

“If you would be so kind.” These last words were briskly, exasperatedly delivered.

His point unforgettably made, he spun and vanished from the doorway as if he’d never been.

She stared, blinking, into the space he’d left, her ears ringing as if he’d been a cymbal clash, instead of a man.

Presently she heard a clinking and rattling, which turned out to be Dot proceeding at a stately, cautious pace down the hall, bearing a tray of tea.

“Dot . . . who was that man?”

Dot glanced stealthily over her shoulder. “Lord Kirke.” She said it very quietly. “He arrived late this evening.”

Cat was stunned. “The Lord Kirke?”

Dot nodded slowly.

An eloquent look passed between them as Cat took the tray.

“Mr. Pike let him in,” Dot told her with a certain grim satisfaction, as if this explained everything.








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