Marguerite Ceniza dies on the London stage each night, but her own life has barely begun. The ingénue is on the prowl for a lover, but while she burns with desire for Sophie, a confession could ruin their decade-long friendship. In the meantime there are always men vying to be her patron, and square-jawed, broad-shouldered James Glover can’t help but catch her eye.
Sophie Armand has been a lady’s maid for too long, and she’s sick of keeping secrets. Her hidden scripts and the story of her birth are only the beginning. Her nights are haunted by desperate thoughts of the beguiling Marguerite, and of James, the handsome tradesman who whispers promises of forever into her ear.
James has the kind of problem a lot of men would kill for—two women, both beautiful, both sensual, and both willing. Sophie wants marriage, while Marguerite’s only in it for fun, and choosing between them isn’t easy.
What’s the worst that could happen if he secretly courts them both?
Their romantic triangle is complicated in the most delicious way, until a shadowy figure from Marguerite’s past threatens to destroy the budding relationship—and their lives.
Product Warnings: Contains a lady’s maid with secret desires, a corset-maker who knows his way around a woman’s body, and an actress who never has to fake it. Rated for adult audiences only.
**James has been courting Sophie and Meg at the same time. When Sophie seems distant, he receives a letter from his other love with an invitation that he has to accept.
Her letter had come at the right time, after the sharp disappointment from Miss Armand’s hesitation had settled. James had set aside his shears and the fine leather he’d been cutting for Lady Horlock’s stays binding and popped the plain wax seal with nerves as shaky as a schoolboy trying for his first kiss.
Darling man, it had read. How can I thank you enough? Do come and call for tea on Tuesday, if you can spare the time. Half past four would suit. I so long to see you!
– M. Ceniza
“Pardon, guv.” A slick and oily tough jostled him as he turned into the stairs to Miss Ceniza’s lodgings, but a quick pat proved that James’s money and watch were where they were supposed to be. James glanced up, ready to accept the apology, but stopped short. The man had stopped and was staring at him, looking him up and down as though carefully memorizing his face and form. Then, with a touch to the brim of his hat, he moved away.
What had that been about? Other than how much James stuck out in these surroundings—it was obvious that he did not belong here.
The wooden stairs creaked when he stepped up onto them, a faint hint of rot spreading on the end of the risers. A pack of screaming children ran down the street behind him after a rolling hoop, vanishing around a corner only to reappear a moment later, chased by a woman with a broom.
Enough lollygagging about—the anticipation built within him with every moment he spent standing at her door. Miss Ceniza would ask him in, take his hand, permit him a kiss? Perhaps more? He could bring her to such heights of pleasure that she would forget every one of her previous lovers. Her plump hips would yield to his mouth, her skin tasting of sugar and honey.
Those red lips of hers would part and she would breathe out his name in hushed abandon--
“Mr. Glover!” The door opened in front of him, his hand still poised to knock, and the warm rush to his groin threatening to become something immodest. Miss Ceniza stood there, the door half closed and blocking his view of the room beyond. She wore her hair loosely pinned, black curls tumbling down to brush her shoulders, and a delicate yellow dress that turned her lithe form into a beam of purest gold. When she smiled, her eyes flashed. “I thought that was you lingering on my stoop. Will you not come inside?”
“Miss Ceniza.” James bowed and smiled. “You take my breath away, every time we meet. I swear you grow lovelier by the minute.”
She stepped aside and held the do or for him. He stood blinded for a moment in the dim light, following the bright afternoon sun. “You have a silver tongue, Mr. Glover,” Miss Ceniza teased.
“Indeed he does,” said another, equally familiar voice, one that should not have been there.
Oh. Oh, no. No, no, no.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tess Bowery lives near the ocean, which sounds lovely, except when it snows. An historian by training and a theater person by passion, she’s parleyed her Masters degree in English history into something that would give her former professors something of a surprise.
Her love for the Regency era began as they always do, with Jane Austen, and took a sharp left turn into LBGT biographies and microhistory. Now she indulges in both of her passions, telling the stories of her community in the time periods that fire the human imagination. Her first foray into contemporary M/M fiction, High Contrast, releases in 2016.
Along with writing, Tess splits her time between teaching, backstage work, LBGT activism and her family. She spends far too much money on comic books, loves superheroes and ghost stories, and still can’t figure out how to use Twitter properly.
Get updates and book information at http://www.tessbowery.com, or hang out with Tess athttp://tessbowery.tumblr.com, or @tessbowery on Twitter.
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