For years Serafina McPhee has been engaged to marry the heir to the Duke of Hartholm and for almost as long, she has been struggling to find a way out of that engagement. When he suddenly dies, she does not mourn but thrills at the idea that she will be free. Unfortunately, best laid plans go awry when the next in line for the title, her intended’s cousin, Raphael “Rafe” Flynn is forced to take over the engagement. But Serafina knows Rafe’s reputation as a libertine and wants nothing to do with him, either, even if he is devastatingly handsome.
She proposes an arrangement: she will agree to the marriage and provide Rafe with his heir and spare. Once she has done her duty, he will let her go. Rafe is intrigued both by her beauty and by her utter disgust with the idea of being his bride. Women normally fall at his feet, not cringe away from him. However, since their arranged marriage is not something he can escape, he agrees to her terms.
But when he finds out on their wedding night the truth about her torture at the hands of his predecessor, he finds himself driven not just to fulfill his bargain with his new bride, but to introduce her to desire. While they move closer together, surrendering to wicked pleasures, dangerous emotions may violate every agreement they’ve made.
Serafina forced herself not to flinch as she entered the room with its richly paneled walls and tall bookcases filled with tomes Cyril had never touched in his life.
Come to think of it, Serafina hated this chamber as much as the parlor.
A man stood at the fire and, as her father shut the door, he turned. Serafina caught her breath.
She had never met Raphael Flynn, the new Duke of Hartholm and the cousin of her late fiancé. He wasn’t titled and moved on the outside fringes of the Upper Ten Thousand.
What had been said about him were murmurings of a reputation that seemed to both irritate and intrigue those in her circles. He was rich but no stranger to scandal and repeated behavior that thwarted Society’s many rules.
Even Cyril had hardly spoken of his cousin in the past except to malign him, which softened her to the man considerably.
And then there were the rumors of his intensely handsome good looks. Now that she stared at him, leaning on the mantel with a haphazard nonchalance that didn’t reflect the importance of the moment, she couldn’t deny that he was utterly beautiful. An Adonis. There was no other way to describe him.
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