Sunday Snippet: After Dark With a Scoundrel by Alexandra Hawkins

I have no words for how much I love this book, actually I do here’s the link to my review. It was the first book of Alexandra’s I read and I have to tell you that as much as I have loved the other books in this series, Dare and Regan are still my favorites. So when I needed a book to spotlight tomorrow I looked at my shelf and this book caught my eye. So enjoy Dare and Regan…

The lovely widow was asking him to escort her home.

Dare discreetly glanced at Allegra, only to discover that she was openly watching him.  Good.  She was probably wondering if he intended to bed the lovely widow.  With Mrs. Randall’s permission, Dare planned to spend the rest of the night exploring that delectable body of hers.

Taking Mrs. Randall’s hand, Dare bowed and allowed his lips to lightly brush the top of her hand.  “I am agreeable to your”—a flash of amber caught his eye—“Damn!” He straightened and released her hand.  So Regan and her friends had not gone straight home after their evening at the theater.

“Is something amiss?” she inquired, frowning in unspoken disapproval at his crudity.

An apology was on the tip of his tongue, but he swallowed it.  He had no time to soothe Mrs. Randall’s delicate feelings.  Dare had bigger problems.

Regan.

He had been too distracted by Allegra and Mrs. Randall to observe her arrival.  Unfortunately, her entrance had not gone unnoticed by other gentlemen.  Radcliffe, Bolton, and that bounder Fothergill were hovering around her.  Frost was going to be issuing challenges if Dare did not interfere.

“Lord Hugh—Dare?”

He could see the unspoken question in Mrs. Randall’s eyes.

“My apologies, Mrs. Randall,” he said, his concern for Regan washing away the regret he should have been feeling.  If his friends learned he was letting a willing widow slip away for Frost’s younger sister, he would never hear the end of it.  “I must decline your generous invitation.  A disaster is imminent, and I am obliged to handle it.”

At first, the widow seemed to think that Dare was jesting.  She laughed, but his grim expression swayed her more than his words.  “Good heavens.  Is there anything that I can do to assist you?”

“Your understanding is enough,” Dare said, his voice curt and dismissing.  He had to stifle a growl when Radcliffe touched Regan on the elbow to get her attention.  “Pray excuse me.”

Dare abandoned the beautiful widow without a backward glance.

* * *

It appeared that she was going to see a fight, after all!

A masculine hand seized her by the elbow and tugged her away from the men.

Annoyed by her companion’s high-handed manner, she whirled about and said, “See here, Lord Bolt—Dare!”

He did not look pleased.  In fact, Dare seemed positively annoyed at her.  “You are too old to be up to such mischief, Regan,” he said grimly before he dragged her away from her three companions and out of the ballroom.

With an uncompromising grip on her upper arm, Dare tugged the protesting Regan through the crowded ballroom and out into the wide hall.

“Unhand me, you brute!” Regan demanded as she glanced behind her.

His jaw tightened at the notion that Regan was seeking assistance from someone to save her from him.  “Are you hoping one of your admirers will play the gallant and rescue you from my clutches?”  Dare nodded to an elderly gentleman who had stepped aside so they could pass.

“Of course not!” she said crossly, breathless from the brisk pace he had set.

Her vehement denial mollified him.  Still, he could not resist adding, “Good.  That trio would happily abandon you in order to save their own hides.”

Regan did not seem overly concerned by the news.  “I was looking for my friends.  I was making my way to them, before Lord Fothergill and his friends waylaid me.  By the by, where are you taking me?  Is this about Frost?”

Dare slowed at her reasonable questions.  Where the devil did could they go when the house was practically filled to the rafters with guests?  His gaze narrowed on a small door he could see over his shoulder.  Changing directions, he strode purposely toward it with Regan in tow.

“Dare!”

He detected more exasperation than fear in her voice.  It was not exactly what he was striving for, but he was not above using a little intimidation to get her to pay attention.  Dare opened the door and dragged her inside.

“Where are we—” She glared at his back as he shut the door.  “The servant stairs?  Do you not think it is a rather odd place for a family meeting?”

He turned to face her.  “Still worried about Frost?” he taunted, crossing his arms as he surveyed her from head to toe.  “Don’t be.  You have more pressing concerns.”

“Such as?”

Dare brought his thumb to his chest.  “Me.”

“You?  Pooh!  I am not afraid of you,” she said airily.

Or anyone else, he thought, though he kept his admiration of her defiance from showing on his face.

“You have nothing to fear as long as you behave,” he said gruffly, fighting to ignore the invisible tendrils of attraction that he always felt whenever she entered a room.  By God, Regan had grown into a beautiful young woman.  When he and his friends had returned to their private box at the theater, his attention kept sliding back to Regan.  “I would have thought your years at Miss Swann’s Academy for Young Ladies would have quelled your penchant for mischief.”

“Do not concern yourself with my affairs.  I already have a brother.  I do not need another.”

Dare’s eyes flashed dangerously at the word affairs.

“It is no trouble at all,” he said silkily, moving forward until her back collided with the banister.  It confirmed that she was just as aware of the energy crackling between them as he was.  “Since I will be residing with you and Frost this season.”

Her eyebrows lifted at his announcement.  “You are staying with us,” she said in a neutral tone.

Dare shrugged.  He was not inclined to explain that his brother and his sister-in-law had taken over the family’s town house this season without any warning.  While he could deal with Charles, Dare had no interest in living under the same roof with Allegra.  “It is not the first time.”  Of course, at the time Regan had been a child and he had only seen her as Frost’s little sister.

Suspicion tightened Regan’s delicate features.  “Frost ordered you to watch over me.”

She was displeased with the notion.

Good.

Dare was not exactly thrilled with the situation, either.  If he had not caught Regan flirting with Fothergill, Bolton, and Radcliffe, Dare would have spent an energetic and delightful evening in Mrs. Randall’s bed.

“Frost knows what you are capable of.”

Regan rolled her eyes.  “Good grief, this is about the fire at Nox, is it not?  What happened transpired five years ago and it was an accident!”  Since Dare had neatly boxed her in physically, she avoided his gaze.  “I have been adequately been punished for my crimes!”

Intrigued, he tilted his head.  “Punished how exactly?”

She exhaled noisily.  “Never mind,” Regan muttered under her breath.  “Now that you have revealed your duties and expressed your lack of enthusiasm for the unpleasant task, may I return to the ballroom?  Thea and Nina will be looking for me.”

“So you think Frost sent you away because of the fire?”

Of course she didn’t.  Frost had ordered the servants to pack Regan’s belongings the same day he had caught her in a compromising position with Dare.  Now that she was facing Dare, though, she could not summon the courage to mention the kiss.

“Maybe Frost did not like the notion of me kissing his younger sister?”

Apparently Dare had no such qualms.

Regan blinked at him, feeling unexpectedly skittish.  “I have no desire to speak of the past.” She started to slide by him.

Dare reached out and gripped the banister on each side of her so that she could not escape.  “You do recall our kiss, mon coeur?”

Regan brushed at her sleeve.  “Vaguely.”

Grinning, Dare could not resist tugging on the curl next to her left ear.  “I recall that you were lousy at it.”

Her chin snapped up.  “I had never been kissed, you cretin!”

“Brute . . . cretin . . . Careful, my lady, your polish is beginning to tarnish,” he teased.

“Arse!” Regan hissed as she shoved away his right arm and walked around him to reach the door.  “I cannot fathom why I thought I had missed you.”

Her angry admission was a mild blow to Dare’s heart.  His teasing had hurt her tender feelings, and he felt like a bounder for it.  “Regan.  Come back here.”

“No, thank you,” she said, pulling furiously at the latch.  With a snarl of disgust, she released the brass latch and whirled around.  “I will have you know that your kiss was not what I expected from a Lord of Vice.”

“Oh, really?”  He stalked toward her, but she was vexed at him enough to meet him halfway.  They circled each other like two pugilists.  “What did you expect from a Lord of Vice?”

Palms up, Regan opened her arms in a manner that would have made her vulnerable if he were her opponent.  “Fireworks!” she spat.  “The kind that burn so hot and bright it blinds you.  Even at fifteen, I could recognize the difference between a spark and an out-of-control conflagration.”

Oh, Dare was tempted to put his hands on her.  He wanted to throttle the minx for retaliating for his thoughtless taunt about her inexperience.  However, he possessed more control than that.

Until she said, “Since your dismal showing, I have been kissed by dozens of connoisseurs.”  Her smile was smug.

Dozens.  Dare’s nostrils flared and his vision dimmed at the notion of Regan practicing the art of kissing on broad-shouldered farmers and country squires.  What sort of school was Miss Swann running?

“Dare!”

He had not even been aware that he had seized her by the shoulders and pulled her against his chest.  “Five years is a long time between kisses.  Perhaps we should renew our friendship.”

“N-n-mmph!” was her wordless reply as Dare covered her mouth with his.

The kiss was hard, demanding, and regrettably brief, he mused as he released her mouth with an audible smack.  With the taste of her on his lips, Dare belatedly noted that Regan was poised on her tiptoes; all that anchored her was her fists, which were clutching the front of his black frock coat.  He caught her by the elbows when she wobbled and steadied her until she could stand on her own.

“Well . . . ,” she said, a bemused expression on her face.  “I will consider our friendship properly renewed.”  The softness in her demeanor faded as she found her balance.  “Now if you will excuse me.  I have tarried long enough.”

Tucking his hands behind his back, he permitted her to pass.  He did not quite trust himself because he had an irrational urge to reach out and give her a thorough kissing.  “Worried that your reputation will suffer if you dally with an improper gent?”

This time the door opened effortlessly.  Regan glanced back over her shoulder.  “What reputation?  With you, Frost, and the others, I have been more or less dallying with improper gents all my life,” she said with a rueful smile.

She departed with Dare’s laughter echoing in the stairwell.

Dare gave his back to the door and braced his hands on the banister.  By God, it was good to have Regan back.  Although he had long denied it, he had missed her presence in his life.

after dark with a scoundrelNotorious, handsome, and decadent, the Lords of Vice break rules and hearts with equal aplomb. But what if one woman is on to their game—and the player becomes the played?

One Stolen Kiss

Young, tender, and highly impressionable, Lady Regan can’t help but be intrigued by her brother’s wayward friends—the wickedly charming Lords of Vice. One man in particular, the dashing Lord Hugh Mordare  (known simply as “Dare” among the ton), utterly captivates her—in spite of his reputation as a notorious womanizer. But when she steals an innocent kiss from Dare, Regan is swiftly packed off to boarding school, safely away from danger…and desire.

One Sweet Seduction

Five years later, Regan returns—a proper lady and ravishing beauty. Miss Swann’s Academy for Young Ladies has taught her how to behave in polite society. But all the training in the world cannot extinguish her love for Dare. Now, she hopes to beat the master of seduction at his own game—by daring Dare to love her in return. This time, both of their hearts are on the line…and winner takes all.

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Excerpt from AFTER DARK WITH A SCOUNDREL © February 2011, Alexandra Hawkins

 

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3 Comments

  1. Patoct

    Thanks for the sneak peak.

    Reply
  2. Pat L.

    Wanted to add that while I don’t read many historicals, may check this one out.

    Reply
  3. Sharlene Wegner

    Brother’s best friend! One of my favorite tropes! Thanks for the snippet & recommendation!

    Reply

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