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Lord Andrew Masterson, Earl of Windenshire has had a string of bad luck with women. While his best friends are all getting leg-shackled, he can’t seem to get a lady to stay in his presence long enough to court them. Not sure what he might be doing wrong, he turns to Madame Evangeline, hoping she can help him change his luck.
Betrothed since before her birth to Lord Masterson, Miss Miranda Beauchamp has prepared to be his countess ever since. Although the Earl of Windenshire maintains her upkeep and pays for everything she needs, she might as well not exist for all the attention he pays her. Determined to break the marriage contract, she’ll go to desperate measures to achieve her goal, even if it means losing her virginity to do so.
Can Madame Eve show Andrew and Miranda there is more than a contract between them? Or will family secrets and years of hurt be too much for the earl and his virgin countess to overcome?
“Yes, please. Perhaps it’s unladylike to admit, but I am starving.”
He smiled, taking her plate. “It’s actually quite refreshing. I grow tired of petite young things who eat nothing and pass out at a drop of the hat.”
“I am neither young nor petite.”
No, she had curves in all the right places. Making sure it wasn’t ignored, his cock twitched as it hardened. “You seem perfect to me.”
“Ha! Far from perfect.” Again her lips formed the tantalizing O before she asked, “Did you put something in my tea?”
“I did not.”
“Then I have no excuse for my behavior.”
He laughed that time, filling her plate with a bit of everything. “You have done nothing in need of excusing.”
“But I would have thought you’d prefer a perfect woman.” Her eyes clouded with what appeared to be confusion. He supposed it wasn’t too hard to believe; a peer of the realm would be looking for what society considered would be important in a mate. He handed her the plate laden with delicacies and far more food than he had ever seen any woman eat.
“Thank you, milord—Andrew.”
“You’re welcome. Now, indulge me.” he said, retaking his seat in the high back chair. “What do you think is perfection?”
“I believe....” Taking a bite, she contemplated the question. “Perfection for you would be a woman who is well-mannered and carries herself with decorum at all times. She is the perfect hostess. She does delicate needlework, plays the pianoforte, and sings beautifully. She would complement you, if on your arm, and would never argue.”
What she described sounded like a paper doll. A woman with no thoughts of her own. He didn’t want a vacant vessel in his bed only for the purpose of begetting children; he wanted a partner. Andrew yearned to have a woman look at him the way Llysa and Chandra looked at their men. Both women stood up to their lordly men, all the while complementing and supporting Wolfe and Simon. “Sounds bloody boring, if you ask me.”
“Might as well be with a living statue. I’ll bet this woman would also stare at the ceiling and think about England while I drive into her.”
She choked on her bite. “I suppose she just might.”
“And she probably eats enough to stay barely alive, ties her corset too tight, and then faints at the slightest hint of impropriety.”
“Oh dear, yes, into the most dainty faints possible.”
“I would rather face the guillotine than endure a woman of that sort.” Setting his food aside, he turned his attention fully on her. Her face lit up as they continued to banter back and forth, showing none of the disgust she’d found for him earlier. Standing, he grabbed her plate while ignoring her protest. “Would you condemn me to such a cavernous, empty life, Miranda?”
“Utter and complete boredom.” He sat on the edge of the seat next to her. “Somehow I have a feeling you could never bore me.”
“Well, but then, I am not perfect.”