Notorious rake Jareth Darby is back in London, and everyone is talking. That terrifies Eloise Watkin. What only a few know is that Jareth and Eloise had a secret romance years ago. When Jareth walked away, he took her heart with him. Now he claims to want her forgiveness. Never!
Tired of his self-imposed exile, Jareth wants only to return to the bosom of his family. They’ve agreed to receive him, if he can gain forgiveness from the lady he wronged. But as he tries to prove to Eloise he has changed, he discovers one thing that will never waiver—his love for her. When scandal once more threatens, can Jareth convince the unwilling Miss Watkin that she has tamed him, once and for all?
Recommended in The Idiot’s Guide to The Ultimate Reading List under the previous title of Utterly Devoted. This sweet traditional Regency romance was originally published by Kensington.
Sequel to The Irredeemable Miss Renfield. Uncommon Courtships. Forever Loves.
Eloise followed Lord Nathaniel’s gaze and gasped. Standing beside the sofa, resplendent in his coat and breeches of blue velvet, was Jareth Darby. He must have noticed her staring, for he made her a bow.
“Do you see him?” she asked, voice barely above a whisper.
“See whom?” Lord Nathaniel asked.
The crowds milled and parted again. The space beside the sofa was empty.
A laugh bubbled out of her, sounding hysterical. “Apparently no one. Perhaps I need that lemonade after all. My mouth is suddenly quite dry.”
“Your servant, madam.” He bowed over her hand and strode across the floor, to be quickly swallowed up in the crowd going toward the refreshments.
Alone, she wrapped one arm about her waist. What was wrong with her that she conjured ghosts? Did some part of her not believe she deserved a kind, considerate husband like Lord Nathaniel? She thought she had stamped out those fears and self-doubts. She had earned her place in Society. She had prayed, reformed, done good deeds to atone. She had been accepted. She refused to lose that acceptance now and by her own imagination.
She forced herself to drop her hold and stand tall. A gentleman passing raised a quizzing glass for a better look at her. She smiled radiantly and was rewarded to see the fellow actually stumble. Yes, she still had power over the gentlemen. It was her newfound honor that kept her from using it to the full as she once had. Surely Lord Nathaniel saw her as a lady.
She took a deep breath and turned to see what might be keeping him. Moving inexorably toward her was her phantom. Her stomach jumped into her throat, but she stood her ground, willing him to vanish along with her other fears. He strode to her side but did not bother to bow again.
“Good evening, Miss Watkin,” he said. She could only stare stupidly as he took her hand in his very solid grip and brought it to his lips. The warmth of his breath touched her through the silk of her long gloves. The pressure of his lips sent her stomach crashing back down again.
He was real.
He was back in London.
He knew everything about her and had once shown himself black enough that he just might share it.
Faced with such dire circumstances, she did the only thing a lady could do. She let her eyes roll back in her head and collapsed toward the floor in a faint.