Release Date: Aug 2, 2016
Publisher: Source Books
Series: Rakes and Rogues
Third in the saucy, vibrant Rakes & Rogues Regency romance series from USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee
A most unusual wager
Mari Powel’s fiery Welsh temper is up. Peter Norwood, Lord Whitly, is back in town after six years romping around India making his fortune. Mari blames him for her social downfall and has spent all this time clawing her way back into the ton’s good graces. How dare he show up on his first day back and publicly embroil her in a bet involving long-awaited apologies, illicit kisses, and Lady Illston’s unruly parakeet? Mari is outraged, and is going to show him-and everyone else-what she’s made of. Little does she know, the unrepentant Lord Whitly has been dreaming of her all this time. Now he’ll do anything to win the wager-along with Mari’s heart.
* * * * *
“I never imagined that I would have to fight so hard for the woman of my choice.”
“Because you are a wealthy lord?”
She sighed and kicked idly at a stone. “If you wish to pursue this, you need only speak to my father. He will put me on bread and water and lock me in a dungeon until I accept your proposal.”
His eyes narrowed. “Your father would do that?”
“Probably,” she said with a laugh. Her expression was easy despite what she was suggesting.
“So your father is a harsh man,” he pressed. This was something he needed to know.
“What? Papa? Well, no more than the usual, I suppose. He’s considered merciless in business.”
“How merciless?” In his experience, a man’s business practices could be very ugly indeed. “I need particulars, Miss Powel.”
She faced him squarely. “Then you should talk to my father.”
He took a deep breath. “Very well,” he said. “I will.” It took her a moment to process those words and then another breath before she grabbed his arm in alarm. “Oh no. I misspoke. My father is the gentlest man in the world, and you should definitely not speak to him.”
Now they were getting somewhere. “Afraid of bread and water, are you?”
“Yes! Well, no, not literally. Good God, why are we speaking of my father? You are correct, he is the one who wants the title and would do a great deal to see me wed to you. But after the vows are exchanged, you would not be shackled to him. It would be me in your bed. Day in and day out with a wife who spends most of her time wanting to throttle you.”
He heard her words, but most of them were lost under the fantasy of her in his bed. Of her beneath him night after night and well into the morning, when he could wake her with sweet kisses and bold thrusts. “My lord?” she pressed when he had been silent too long.
He forcibly drew himself out of his reverie. “So what is it that you want in a man, if it isn’t a title or money?”
She glanced at him but quickly looked away. “Shall I name for you the countless well-heeled peers who would be a nightmare as a husband? There are exactly fifty-three.”
“Are those the eligible gentlemen?”
She shuddered. “Goodness, no. The unmarried or widower titles number thirty-seven. Beyond that, there are over a dozen in my acceptable column, and exactly none who wish to court me, a wayward Welsh cit.”
“Lord Rimbury is courting you.”
“Well-heeled, my lord.”
“I am courting you.”
“You are in my nightmare category.” He turned to her. “Why?”
“And here we are full circle. I have explained to you that we do not suit. We fight constantly. You make me want to do violence. Every single one of my good intentions fly to the boughs the moment you enter a room. You make me insane, my lord, and—” He did not allow her to say more. He knew her words were meant to dissuade him, but he heard what she didn’t say. He heard that she lost her careful plans when he was around. That she was mad for him. And if they were wed, she would be this creature who challenged him at every turn to speak better, to think more clearly, and to act in every way better than the lummox he had been. That he often still was.
So he kissed her.
He jerked her into his arms and put his mouth on hers. He wrapped her tight against his chest, knew the glorious feel of her breasts flush against his torso, and when her mouth opened on a gasp of surprise, he thrust his tongue inside.
Top 10 Fun Facts about As Rich as a Rogue
1. As Rich as a Rogue was inspired by Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. Can you say, duh? Everyone who writes and reads regency romance loves Austin’s work. But I was listening to an audio copy of Pride and Prejudice when I had the strongest desire to write a story based on an absolutely rude incident at a party. Just like in Austin’s book, the heroine overhears the hero being awful, but then I made it more confrontational. She chastises him face to face and both of their lives are forever changed. Each spirals in a different way from that one incident. So, in short, P&P was the basis for my book!
2. This series has an animal character in every book. 50 Ways to Ruin a Rake features a turkey that gets mistaken for a dodo bird. I wanted the publisher to put pictures of little turkeys in between every scene, but they refused. L One Rogue at a Time features a pig who gets drunk and forces all sorts of mishaps in the mud. I just love bathing in the creek scenes. And then As Rich as a Rogue features a bet about a rude parakeet. Hero and Heroine are racing to see who can teach the parakeet an appropriate phrase first. So in my mind (and because I’m awful with titles) the books were the turkey book, the pig book, and the parakeet book.
3. I am notoriously terrible at titles. In fact, my editor once called my title suggestion the worst she’d ever heard in 30 years of publishing. Guess what the original title of this book was.
a. The Duke’s Cunning Plan
b. That Nobody Chit from Hull
c. Of Birds, Brides, and Men
d. Megan and Peter’s Book
Answer: C and D – Option A, The Duke’s Cunning Plan was the original title for 50 Ways to Ruin a Rake. (Damon Suede changed that to the Duke’s Cunning Linguist which made my editor blush). That Nobody Chit from Hull was dubbed the worst title ever and became One Rogue at a Time. Birds, Brides and Men was just a cute thing I made up and used in my brain interchangeably with Megan and Peter’s book.
4. I’ve had lots of great covers in my career. After 50 books, some of them have been absolutely stunning, but As Rich as a Rogue is probably my favorite. Guess why.
a. Red and gold were my high school class colors. So of course, this would be my favorite cover!
b. Doesn’t the hero look hot? Enough said!
c. Her facial expression. She looks wickedly mischievous and I love that!
d. My name. Big, bold, and gold! Yes sir, I do have an ego!
Answer: C – The colors are awesome, but that has nothing to do with my class colors. The hero looks hot, but without man chest, it’s just nice. And I do have an ego, so it’s great to have my name so large, but that’s not why I love the cover. It’s all about her face.
5. One scene in As Rich as a Rogue was built directly from my Downton Abbey imagination. Guess which one.
a. The love scene of course. I’ve built lots of love scenes in my imagination with the handsome male cast of Downton Abbey.
b. The scene where the Cook and Housekeeper share tea with the hero and give him important information on the villainous things his father is doing. I set the scene in Mrs. Hughes’ tiny office and imagined her and Mrs. Patmore trying to tell Matthew Crawley something sensitive.
c. In my mind, the ball was set in the Downton Abbey ballroom. Where else would it be?
d. We’re able to visit a few lower class pubs in Downton Abbey and in my book. My imagination grabbed the seediest pub and put it into my book.
Answer: B – In my imagination, the hero’s Cook and Housekeeper worked in Downton Abbey’s belowstairs. So that setting was lifted directly into my book (minus certain appliances). All the other options above didn’t quite translate to the Regency time period.
6. All of the Rakes and Rogues books have a silly side to it. A part of the plot that is designed for humor and inevitably spirals out of control. In 50 Ways to Ruin a Rake, every person in the book has a plan that goes horribly awry. A zillion competing agendas clash in hilarious ways! In One Rogue at a Time, the heroine believes something that no one else does. Her insistence becomes funnier and funnier until the world aligns with her. In As Rich as a Rogue, I played with all the things we do to maintain or fight appearances until it becomes incredibly silly. Great fun to read, but OMG it was hard to write. Finding that spot of funny without becoming too silly is a difficult target to hit. I think I managed it, but you’ll have to decide for yourself.
7. True or False: I wrote this book without benefit of coffee.
TRUE! I hate having to search for coffee when travelling. Sometimes I have to get up incredibly early during conferences (well early for me), and adding in time to find a café for a soy latte is a real challenge. So I decided to go coffee free and see how I felt. Answer: TIRED! They say everyone has a drug of choice, and mine is caffeine. This book took a month longer than usual to write and I felt like I had to work twice as hard to be witty. All of that was magically solved the minute I went back on a morning cup of joe!
8. My very first published regency romance, Rules for a Lady, featured a young street boy adopted by the heroine. He was a delightful source of a disagreement between hero and heroine. It works because the heroine has a very soft heart and picks up strays all over the place. In As Rich as a Rogue, I turned that around. The very practical-minded hero ends up adopting a street boy and trying to justify his tender heart. Plus, this street boy is a great deal more savvy than in my first book, so there’s a few more challenges there. Great fun!
9. The first sexual encounter (more than a kiss) in As Rich as a Rogue had to be completely re-written several times. That’s extremely unusual for me. Normally love scenes are relatively easy for me. By the time the characters get sexual, I’ve built up the tension so high that the hero and heroine just implode together. But in this case, I couldn’t get the tone right. In the first go round, what started as a funny scene becomes hero dominant fast. That wasn’t right, so I lessened the funny and it just didn’t work with the lighter tone of the book. I tried fully funny and ended up with slapstick. OMG it was a mess. Finally, I just stopped and re-read the book from beginning again. I flowed deeper into the heroine’s mindset and managed a balance. My editor didn’t have one correction on the scene, so I think I finally got it right!
10. Mari, the heroine of As Rich as a Rogue, appears in an earlier ebook novella titled Winning a Bride. In fact, that’s my favorite novella of all that I’ve ever written, but it has a significant error. It features a character named Megan when that name didn’t come into use until the twentieth century. Oops! So rather than perpetuate the error, I changed her name to Mari and wrote her story with that name.
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee has been crafting love stories since she first picked up a set of paper dolls. Ballgowns and rakish lords caught her attention early (thank you Georgette Heyer), and her fascination with the Regency began. An author of more than 40 romance novels and winner of dozens of reader awards, she brings laughter into the sexy nights of England’s elite. Quirky characters and sexy banter are her hallmarks. Find out more at her website www.JadeLeeAuthor.com, or check out her wild contemporary half at www.KathyLyons.com.