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The Notorious Lord Sin (The Wayward Woodvilles, Book 9) (Ebook)

The Notorious Lord Sin (The Wayward Woodvilles, Book 9) (Ebook)

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Love might be the only luxury she can’t afford…

Paris Smith remembers the days when she was penniless all too well. The pain of being deemed unsuitable for marriage by her first love never truly faded. Now, she’s a widowed Countess with more money than she could ever spend, and the man who nearly destroyed her wants a second chance. Oh, how the tables have deliciously turned…

The last thing Dominic Parker wanted was to hurt Paris. He’d loved her with his whole heart. But he’d needed to marry well to protect the Viscountcy, so he’d let his head overrule his heart, shattering hers in turn. Now, everything has changed. And while he’s reasonably certain he can convince her to let him into her bed, getting into her heart again is another matter entirely…

With the sins of the past—and secrets of the present—working against them, is happily ever after even possible? Or are Paris and Dominic destined for heartache once again?

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London Season, 1809

Miss Paris Smith sat in the library of her best friend, the Duchess of Romney, and fought not to fidget. Today all her dreams would come true. The man who had captured her heart from the very first moment she had laid eyes on him just weeks ago was to call upon her. That he had asked to do so could only mean one thing.
She was about to become betrothed.
The thought made her stomach flutter, and she placed a hand there, fighting to remain calm. For several days now, her stomach had not been settled, and she could only hope the nerves would be gone forever after today. Replaced by happiness and love.
Knocking on the front door echoed through the house, and within a minute, she heard the muffled voice of the butler letting in Lord Astoridge.
She closed her eyes, drinking in the sound of him. His deep baritone made her knees weak and caused delicious heat to pool where no heat ought to pool in an unmarried woman such as herself.
Now was the time.
Finally, he would ask her, and they would be together forever.
"Lord Astoridge is here to see you, Miss Smith," Thomas said, gesturing for the viscount to enter.
His lordship with his wide shoulders and tall, commanding presence towered over both her and the butler, and she smiled in welcome.
"Lord Astoridge, how good of you to call. Do sit down," she said, not wanting to appear too eager. Although, she was probably well past that. Her body flushed with need, giddy at the idea of him asking her to marry him, to be his wife and make good on his promise.
He nodded and sat on the settee across from her, his hands folded in his lap. She studied him and noted the light sheen of sweat on his brow.
Paris bit back a grin. She supposed when a gentleman was about to propose to a lady, it was common and expected that he would be a little nervous.
Especially if her answer was so very important to him, which she hoped it was. Just as consequential as his question was to her.
"Miss Smith, thank you for seeing me this afternoon. I hope you are well," he said, his attention on her fleeting before glancing back toward the unlit hearth.
Paris adjusted her seat to face him better and smiled, hoping that may ease his nerves. "I am well, thank you. I'm happy to see you," she admitted. Would this acknowledgment of her feelings help ask what he wanted? They had been courting for several weeks. He had danced with her multiple times, stolen kisses whenever the opportunity arose, and not to mention the one night at the Rossdale mask where a lot more than kissing passed between them.
All that they had shared only gave her certainty that he cared for her. That he wanted her as his wife, just as she so desperately wanted him to be her husband.
She sighed, studying him and all his handsomeness. His chiseled jaw, perfectly straight nose, and large, almond-shaped eyes, the deepest brown that, in a certain light, they appeared as dark as a moonless night.
"Miss Smith, it is only right that I call on you to be the gentleman I was brought up to be and offer you an explanation."
Paris schooled her features as dread settled in the pit of her stomach. "Explanation? Whatever do you mean, my lord?" How was a proposal an explanation pray?
He took a deep breath, closing his eyes a moment before meeting hers. "I've come here today, Miss Smith, to notify you and be honest in telling you that I cannot marry you." He paused and ran a hand over his jaw, watching her keenly. "The situation of my life and the ability to keep my estates, both here in England and France, means that I must marry a woman of substantial pars. Not to say that I'm in any way in a financial deficit. I am not, but the upkeep on my numerous estates means I must marry a woman who can support further those who live off my name and lands." He frowned, pausing. "I know you believed this visit this afternoon was for another purpose entirely, and I'm sorry to let you down in such a way. Know that should I not have so many people under my care, I would ask you to marry me. I would have picked you out of everyone else to be my wife."
Paris stared at his lordship, and for several minutes she could not form words of reply.
"Excuse me, my lord, but I must get this right. You're telling me you will not marry me because I have no dowry. That my lack of inheritance makes me invalid to be your wife even though, as you say, you're not in any way short of funds?" The room spun, and Paris clutched the sides of her chair to steady herself. "We were intimate, Dominic. I could be enceinte."
This could not be happening. The man she had pinned all her hopes on, whom she had thrown off other men for to be with, was now letting her down—telling her, in effect, that she was not good enough for him.
Not rich enough.
Poor little Miss Smith from Grafton, who reached too high within the cruel world of the ton. Who had given herself foolishly to a gentleman and now would pay the price of that folly.
He nodded and had the grace to look shameful. Paris swallowed the lump in her throat, sure if she did not, it would choke her.
"I apologize, Miss Smith if I allowed you to think there was more between us than there ever was. I did find you attractive, of course, you're a beautiful woman. You're amusing and kind, and we get along very well, but that is not enough for a man such as myself. I have responsibilities that must come first, even before my own wants and desires. I, therefore, cannot marry just because my heart tells me to. I must think with my head and what is best for my pocketbook."
Paris stood and paced before the unlit hearth, needing to do something before she would scream at the unfairness of what he was telling her. And while she had asked, she did not think he needed to be so honest and forthright in his reply.
"And do not worry about having a baby. A maid such as yourself is unable to fall pregnant during your first time. It has been medically proven, and if you do not tell your husband, whomever that may be, that you were intimate with me, he would not know," he answered so matter-of-factly that her heart crumbled in her chest.
"You have explained perfectly well why I'm not suitable, and I wish you well in finding your perfect match to your pocketbook, my lord," she said, not trying to hide the sarcasm in her tone.
"Miss Smith, please, do not be upset."
She raised her hand, stilling his words. "Upset? I think I have every right to be upset. You allowed me to believe that we were meant for each other for weeks. You made me care about you, and I trusted you. I'm sorry that you think I do not have the right to be upset. Maybe you ought to have thought of that before acting so sinful toward a woman you never intended to marry but merely tote along like some pathetic plaything that was an amusing trinket for the Season."
He stood, coming over to her. He tried to take her hands, and she yanked them away, stepping back. "Do not touch me, Lord Astoridge. You do not have the right."
He watched her, and she could see he was debating whether to listen to her command or attempt again to soothe her hurt feelings.
She ground her teeth, hoping for his own welfare that he did not try the latter.
"I never saw you as a plaything, Miss Smith. I'm sorry you feel that way," he answered, promptly halting any further explanation. "I think I should leave. I wish you all the very best with the remainder of your Season. Good afternoon," he said, bowing and striding from the room.
Paris watched him go, and with his leaving, all her hopes and dreams fled with him. Her stomach chose that moment to recoil, and she ran to the nearest potted plant and cast up her accounts.

Main Tropes

  • Heiress Widow
  • Second Chance Romance
  • Regency Romance
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