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Okay, I can’t resist putting this story out into the world. I thought this would be my breakthrough novel, and I tried to give it to Mills & Boon, they did ask for the full manuscript and then kindly gave it a home for over two years before finally saying no thank you… :/ One of the reasons it took me a few years to publish as I was waiting for their answer… but still while I was waiting for it back I wrote The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, which was my breakthrough novel. A play of fate maybe…

But anyway, THIS  is NOT a part of the Marlow Intrigues series, and I have no intention of going backwards and publishing single titles now, so… it’s the perfect story to share for free on my blog. But you will be in for the long hall, it is not a short story, it is a full M&B length novel, so I probably will post longer excerpts each week… But anyway here you go, here is the beginning. :D enjoy this little gift to all the readers who buy and love my books <3 xx Jane

Reckless in Innocence

© Jane Lark

Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark, this should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark

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Marcus Campbell, the Duke of Tay, leaned against a cold marble pillar watching Miss Elizabeth Derwent skim down the line of dancers. He knew his gaze was visibly predatory. Her dress swayed in fluid motion about her legs as she moved, the gown was cut in a way which left nothing to his imagination. They called the style nude for a reason.

The dance drew to a close. High colour burned in her pale cheeks, as she curtsied to her partner. Shifting his focus to the man who faced her, Lord Percy, Marcus let his distaste show as he saw the firm grip the man took of her hand, the thumb that slipped across her palm and the kiss that he set on her wrist above her glove. Elizabeth smiled, that totally trusting smile which not only shone on her lips but also in her blue eyes.

A sudden stab of envy pierced his chest, hot and sharp inside him, but he did not move towards her. He waited––and as he anticipated, she looked at him, her smile passing across Percy’s shoulder her eyes sought and found Marcus, as they always did. He smiled back, uncaring if the whole room saw the exchange. That was what she wanted and that was what he had given her–– attention. What he did not know was what he sought from this amusement.

She was incredibly beautiful. Her skin was flawless and her hair the golden blonde of a field of wheat ready for harvest. He had been extremely proud of himself at first; it had been highly diverting to find such a beauty hidden among the potted palms, and to bring her out and show the judgemental ton what they had missed. It had been an interesting game. He had enjoyed watching her blossom.

Then she had taken great delight in making the tabbies and other debutantes gossip, and that had been even more diverting.

He had not enjoyed it so much though, when other men had joined the game. She had been his find, and he knew that where a rake shows interest others follow, yet…

It was always the way, because it gave the lady a certain reputation. To entertain the interest of a rake, no matter how innocent the interest or the entertainment, gave the woman a new perspective to others.

The prospect was a desirable thing for widows and the women of the demimonde, whom he generally associated with.

Yet… Miss Elizabeth Derwent was no experienced widow. She was a debutante, in her first season, with no idea how to play the game of men. Oh, she toyed with him, she was deliberately leading him on with looks and giggles and a discreetly revealed shoulder or ankle, but she had no real knowledge of what she did––he did not want her playing the same game with others. The thought made his blood run hot with anger.

Especially if that man was Christian Percy

She was on the move now, Percy left standing, as she walked towards Marcus, across the open floor, all coquette.

The smile held on Marcus’s lips.

“I am just in time for the waltz, Miss Derwent. How fortunate. May I?” The orchestra had begun the melody, Marcus lifted his hand out towards her as couples began surrounding her, flooding the small dance floor.

When she clasped his fingers, he felt hers tremble. He embraced them more tightly, and moved to bring her into hold. His fingers settled on her back, just in between her shoulder blades, while her hand lifted to his shoulder.

The distance between them narrowed, as be began to move, leading her into a turn… The curve of her spine beneath the fabric of her gown aroused a heat under his skin. She had the qualities to make a man melt with desire, yet she had no concept of it.

That wonderful lack of awareness made her even more attractive to men…To him.

~

To read the Marlow Intrigues series, you can start anywhere, but this is the actual order

The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel

#1 The Illicit Love of a Courtesan

#1.5 Capturing The Love of an Earl ~ This Free Novella

#2 The Passionate Love of a Rake

#2.5 The Desperate Love of a Lord ~ Free here, see  index

#3 The Scandalous Love of a Lord

and, yes, there are more to come  :-)

CompleteCollecvtion_Facebook_Advertv3 (1)

Go to the index

For

  • the story of the real courtesan who inspired                                                 The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
  • another free short story, about characters from book #2,                              A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
  • the prequel excerpts for book #3                                                                   The Scandalous Love of a Duke

Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.

Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback

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Carolinelamb“On one side I have a boarding house, where various instruments and voices are playing and solfegeing so loud that it makes perfect discord, on the other side Harryo is practicing the harp with… Corisande on the piano forte, Caroline St Jules on the guitar, and my Caro upstairs on the Piano forte, all different music, all loud and all discordant.’  These are some wonderful words which Lady Caroline Lamb’s mother wrote from a place the Bessboroughs and Devonshires were staying in Ramsgate to her young love Granville, in 1802. Little gems like this are a great insight into what life was really like…

It was in this same year that Caroline met her first love, and her future husband, but before I tell you about how and where they met, let me give you a quick background to this series of posts, for anyone joining us today, and for those of you who follow my blog, just skip to where I have marked the text in bold type.

I was drawn to Lady Caroline Lamb, who lived in the Regency era, because Harriette Wilson the courtesan who wrote her memoirs in 1825, mentions the Ponsonby and the Lamb family frequently. Also the story of Caroline’s affair with Lord Byron captured my imagination. Caroline was also a writer, she wrote poems, and novels in her later life. I have read Glenarvon.

Her life story and her letters sucked me further into the reality of the Regency world which is rarely found in modern-day books. Jane Austen wrote fictional, ‘country’ life as she called it, and I want to write fictional ‘Regency’ life rather than simply romance. But what I love when I discover gems in my research like Caroline’s story is sharing the real story behind my fiction here too.

Lady Caroline Lamb was born Caroline Ponsonby, on the 13th November 1785. She was the daughter of Frederick Ponsonby, Viscount Duncannon, and Henrietta (known as Harriet), the sister of the infamous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

Caroline became an official lady when her grandfather died, and her father became Earl of Bessborough earning her the honorific title ‘Lady’ and she grew up in a world of luxury, even Marie Antoinette was a family friend. Caroline was always renowned as being lively, and now it is suspected she had a condition called bipolar. As a child she earned herself a title as a ‘brat’, by such things as telling her aunt Georgiana that Edward Gibbon’s (the author of The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire) face was ‘so ugly it had frightened her puppy’.

And when she grew up Byron once described Caroline as “the cleverest most agreeable, absurd, amiable, perplexing, dangerous fascinating little being that lives now or ought to have lived 2000 years ago.”

In August 1802 Caroline visited Brocket Hall, the home of the Melbournes (William Lamb’s mother and father), with her mother, aunt and cousins and met William Lamb there. William at the time was twenty years old and just finishing his education at Trinity Hall. Caroline’s particularly large eyes, and her soft, low voice, charmed him. While his dark hair and blue eyes, charmed the sixteen year old Caroline.

Her cousin Harryo noted the mutual interest in letters written that summer. ‘There was an extraordinary flirtation between William Lamb and Caro Ponsonby… and they seem, I hear, mutually captivated. When the rest were at games etc. William was in a corner, reading and explaining poetry to Car… and in the morning, reading tales of wonder together tithertother. When she played hunt the squirrel,  hunt the slipper etc. he did; always sat by her..’

The problem was that William’s family were not suitable. They were newly rich, rather than a historically recognized family. William’s grandfather was the son of a tradesman, who inherited a fortune and wisely made more money from it. He bought Brocket Hall in 1746 and received a baronetcy in 1755. His son, William’s official father, then inherited and married Elizabeth Milbanke.

William’s parents’ marriage was as equally unconventional as Caroline’s parents’, and wider family (although who knows how conventional it was in their day). William was one of six, and potentially they were all born of different fathers. Only the eldest brother was Lord Melbourne’s actual offspring. William was second born and in fact the son of the Earl of Egremont, who did know William was his, and actually had William’s portrait hung at his family home.

William’s younger brother George Lamb was sired by a much more influential father though, the Prince of Wales, and for the favour of his wife it earned her husband a position as a Viscount and a place in the House of Lords.

But the family’s manners were considered very poor, the Devonshire click condemned their ‘wisecracks, raucous laughter, rude noises and snoring in the parlour during in daytime naps‘ all recorded by Harryo (although not in that particular order). Caroline also speaks later of William’s brothers slouching in chairs and swearing in her company.

Of course if you have followed my blog for a while, you will have heard a lot about the Lamb men, from the memoirs of a courtesan. The courtesans found the Lambs equally outrageous. One of them hid in a courtesan’s bedroom to sleep while she was downstairs and then woke while she was going to the toilet in her chamber and laughed at her. Another of them tried to strangle Harriet Wilson when she would not comply to his wishes…

There was no way then that William stood a chance of winning Caro following the summer of 1802, although William did say ‘Of all the Devonshire House girls, that is the one for me.’

Next week I’ll tell you about Caro’s second coming out ball in Paris, which I was very surprised to read about considering it was the time of Napleon…

~

CompleteCollecvtion_Facebook_Advertv5

 Go to the index

For

  • the story of the real courtesan who inspired                                                 The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
  • another free short story, about characters from book #2,                              A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
  • the prequel excerpts for book #3                                                                   The Scandalous Love of a Duke

Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.

Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark

Jane’s books can be ordered from amazon by clicking on the covers in the sidebar,  and are available from most booksellers.

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