eBook PDFWhat's this?
eBook ePubWhat's this?
The only thing worse than being in the spotlight is being kept in the dark...
With paparazzi nipping at his heels, Devon Heyworth, rakish brother of the Duke of Northrop, spends h...
The only thing worse than being in the spotlight is being kept in the dark...
With paparazzi nipping at his heels, Devon Heyworth, rakish brother of the Duke of Northrop, spends his whole life hiding his intelligence and flaunting his playboy persona. Fast cars and faster women give the tabloids plenty to talk about.
American entrepreneur Sarah James is singularly unimpressed with "The Earl" when she meets him at a wedding. But she's made quite an impression on him. When he pursues her all the way across the pond, he discovers that Miss James has no intention of being won over by glitz and glamor—she's got real issues to deal with, and the last thing she needs is larger-than-life royalty mucking about her business...
Praise for USA Today bestseller A Royal Pain:
"A romantic, fantastic, enchanting treat...Don't miss A Royal Pain!"—Eloisa James, New York Times bestselling author of The Ugly Duchess
"Megan Mulry is a must-read author. Highly recommended."—Jennifer Probst, New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage Mistake
"Filled with clever characters, witty banter, and steamy sex, readers won't be able to put it down."—RT Book Reviews, 5 Stars
Devon Heyworth cracked one eye open into the shrouded, artificial darkness of the hotel room. One of several bodies passed out in the huge suite groaned from somewhere to hi...
Devon Heyworth cracked one eye open into the shrouded, artificial darkness of the hotel room. One of several bodies passed out in the huge suite groaned from somewhere to his left. He let the palm of his hand reach across the smooth surface of his large bed’s empty sheets and stretched. Waking up in Vegas was always entertaining.
“Shit.” A flat American voice broke the silence as a woman sat up quickly from one of the four white leather sofas. “My shift starts at seven. I have to hustle.”
“Seven what? It’s still morning, isn’t it?” Devon asked with a lazy scratch of his fingers through his two-day growth of beard.
“What? It’s six thirty at night.” She laughed as she flipped on a lamp on the side table across the room. Devon watched with detached interest as she pulled on her tight tank top and then bent over to get a better look around for her pants.
“Not possible,” Devon answered easily, stretching out on the huge bed. “I have a wake-up call scheduled for two. I have a flight to London at four forty this afternoon and I never miss a flight.”
“Are you for real?” The woman—Devon thought her name was Clarity or Chastity or something equally unlikely—was laughing at him. She had great dark-and-stormy eyes that were even better with that smudge of tarty mascara. A good-time girl. And from the look on his friend Archie’s face, passed out behind her on the couch, the two of them had had a good time.
She stood up and pulled the curtains wide, the blistering glare destroying Devon’s mirage of his control on life. She pointed her finger at the lowering sun. “That is the west. That is the setting sun. I may be a cocktail waitress, but I grew up on a farm and I know how to tell time. You might be an earl—”
He rolled his eyes. “I am not really an earl—”
“Whatever! All your friends call you The Earl—”
“It started as a joke—”
“Oh, never mind!” She was losing patience.
He liked women like this. She’d had her fun and she was ready to carry on. Good.
“Okay.” He peered at the clock and then picked up the phone next to his bed. “Hi, this is Devon Heyworth. Is it six thirty in the morning or the afternoon?”
Calamity shimmied into her tight black pants. She put both of her hands on her hips and shook her head in Devon’s direction. “Fucking Brits. Incredible.” She leaned over the couch after picking up her purse, and kissed Archie lightly on his forehead. He patted her behind and off she went.
“It was fun, Earl,” she said as she passed near where he was sitting at the edge of his bed, now in shock. “Have a good trip back to London.”
“Thanks. Yeah, it was a lot of fun. Bye… Verity!” She smiled when they both realized he’d just recalled her name, then she laughed and pulled the door shut behind her.
He was in such deep shit. If he missed his brother’s wedding because he was partying in Vegas with a bunch of layabout ponces and cocktail waitresses, he was going to be flayed. Devon picked up his cell phone and called the concierge people at American Express. A female voice introduced herself as Diane.
Talking while he threw everything into his leather duffle, he pulled on a pair of jeans and a wrinkled black T-shirt.
“Hey, Diane, this is Devon Heyworth. I think I just missed my Virgin Atlantic flight from Vegas to London. Yeah…” He went into the bathroom, brushed his teeth, then used his forearm to rake his toiletries into his bag. He pulled on his trainers and took one last look around the hotel room.
“Hold on one second—” Devon put the phone against his chest and yelled across the hotel suite, “Hey, you scallies! I have to get back to London for the rehearsal dinner. You’d better be there by Saturday for Max’s wedding.” Three heads lifted slowly from couches and beds, nodded, then flopped back asleep.
Devon headed out the door to the elevator and resumed his conversation. “Yeah, I might lose you when I get in the elevator. Okay, here’s the deal, whatever it takes… I have to be in London by tomorrow afternoon.”
“Yes, absolutely, sir.” He listened to the click of a computer keyboard on the other end of the line and tried to ignore his reflection in the brass elevator doors that had just closed in front of him. He pulled a pair of mirrored sunglasses out of the side pocket of his bag, double-checked that he had his passport and wallet, then raked his fingers through his hair. The sandy blondish-brown mass was practically touching his shoulders, and his mother would give him shit for looking like a shaggy rock star in all the wedding photos in Hello! But at least he would be in attendance.
“We don’t have any private jets available until… oh, wait… okay! Here we go—” Diane was on it.
Devon was striding across the lobby of the Wynn hotel, smiling briefly at the concierge he vaguely remembered from last night. He’d been generous with a tip and she looked like she had appreciated it. While he half listened to his cell phone, Devon veered over to his new best friend behind the concierge counter and whispered, “I need a car to the airport right now. Can you get that for me, love?”
She smiled and nodded and clicked a few taps on her keyboard. “Out front now, Mr. Heyworth,” the Wynn concierge whispered.
From his phone, Diane was explaining, “There is a flight to Dusseldorf that leaves Las Vegas at eight forty-five. If you can get to the airport right now, I think you’re good. You only have a carry-on as usual, right?”
He nodded his thanks to the hotel lady and continued out to the front of the hotel. “Yeah. Just the carry-on. So I change planes in Dusseldorf—”
“You will make a connecting flight that gets you into Gatwick at 7:30 p.m. It will be very close, but Dunlear Castle is close, yes?”
“Perfect. And a car to pick me up there?”
“Great… and thanks, Diane.”
“Always a pleasure, Lord Heyworth.”
He disconnected the call and smiled at the thought of the reliable Dianes of the world. He loved all the anonymous voices at American Express. Their sole purpose for the ten minutes he was in their orbit was to do whatever he wanted. And then he never thought about them again. He never understood why people opted for an office and a secretary and employees. What a bore. All those pesky attachments.
One of the Wynn courtesy limos pulled up in front of the sweltering chrome-and-glass exterior of the hotel and a large body-builder-type chauffeur jumped out. “Mr. Heyworth? Any luggage?”
Devon lifted his shoulder to indicate his carry-on. “This is it, thanks. Let’s go.”
Staring out the window at the passing mayhem that was the constant building and rebuilding of Las Vegas, Devon marveled at the nature of the American psyche. Bigger. Faster. Improved. So much immediate gratification. He looked forward to many years of enjoying the blessed freedom of being a single man in the twenty-first century with the ways and means to enjoy it for as long as he possibly could. Maybe forever.
He made the flight to Dusseldorf without a problem, slept most of the way, and made the connection to Gatwick easily. The car and driver met him as planned to take him to Dunlear Castle. After slipping in the back door, taking a thorough shower, and changing into a maroon velvet smoking jacket and proper trousers, he was ready to attend his brother’s rehearsal dinner.
The fact that he had missed the actual rehearsal in its entirety would just have to be chalked up to Devon being Devon.
“Could you two cut it out with all the swooning, please?” Devon grumbled at his older brother fawning over his fiancée, coming up behind them in the crowded living room.
Max Heyworth, the nineteenth Duke of Northrop, laughed as he swung around, keeping his arm around the slim waist of his fiancée, Bronte Talbott. “You’re late. Even Abby got here before you.” They were all still having drinks in the drawing room, the dinner gong set to ring in a few minutes, at nine. “And don’t tell us to cut it out… you’re just jealous.” Max tried to scowl.
“I hate to break it to you,” Devon said, grabbing a passing flute of champagne, “but I am so far from jealous—no offense, Bron.”
“None taken,” she said with a mischievous smile. “What kept you?” She widened her eyes at his just-showered, devilishly sexy appearance.
“Airport trouble in Vegas.”
Max snorted a quick laugh. “Is that what they’re calling it these days?” They’d all been in Las Vegas the previous weekend for Max’s bachelor party, and Devon and several of their friends had stayed on. Devon had managed to throw in a little business trip to rationalize extending his stay. “I’d call it man-whoring,” Max said.
Bronte nearly spit out her champagne. Max hardly ever spoke in anything but his crisp, Etonian British, both in terms of his vocabulary and his accent, so when he said things like man-whoring, Bronte always found it ten times funnier than if some guttersnipe like herself had said it. “Max!” She elbowed him.
“Look.” Devon shrugged, as if his man-whoring were simply a fact of life. “I’m twenty-eight and blessedly single, so there’s not very much that I’m holding back on. You two are just the typical about-to-be-married couple with this line of cock-and-bull about how great it is to be young and in love and all that. Spare me.”
His sister-in-law-to-be gave him a shrewd look, then smiled. “I couldn’t agree with you more, Dev. Enjoy your freedom while you’ve got it because someone’s going to come along and then you’re going to be just as idiotic and hog-tied as we are. I tried to put it off as long as possible.” Bronte turned to her fiancée and stared lovingly into his eyes. “But some things just can’t be helped.”
“Quit looking at him like that,” Devon chided. “It’s upsetting. I need to mingle. I don’t want any of that star-crossed nonsense to rub off on me. You two are distressing.”
They weren’t that distressing, Devon thought with an unfamiliar twinge of envy as he looked around the crowded reception room. Bronte Talbott was that rare bird who didn’t need a big, stinking three-ring circus to let the world know she was getting hitched. In fact, she’d been ready to do it at City Hall in New York, but his brother Max was traditional in his way. They were keeping it relatively small, but Devon of all people knew about relativity.
In this case, “small” meant that the rehearsal dinner was at the groom’s home, Dunlear Castle, a family pile that was a Grade I listed architecturally significant piece of British history. Mother-in-law-to-be was the formidable Dowager Duchess of Northrop (who was at that very moment sporting the full diamond parure that offset her angry gray eyes as she tried to stare Devon right out of the room for his tardiness). The flower girls were royal princesses. Max and Bronte were saying their vows not at Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral, but at their own Fitzwilliam Chapel, dating back to 1380. Yes, “relatively small.”
Devon scanned the room, noting the middle-aged couples and boring aunts and uncles looking just as they had on the previous seventeen social occasions at which he’d seen them in the past three months.
“Just point me in the direction of any single American dolls that might want a little Four Weddings action and I’ll take it from here.” He winked at the loving couple.
“I think the seating arrangement might take care of that,” Bronte said with an answering wink.
The sound of the light dinner gong trilled into the room from the front hall.
Devon gave Bronte a quick peck on the cheek. “You look gorgeous as usual, Bron. And always looking out for me. Thanks.”
“You’re my fellow outlaw, Dev. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Just get me on your mother’s good side and I’ll throw a few treats your way.”
A few minutes later, Devon was admiring his treat. Apparently, she was a department store heiress from Chicago who dabbled in the shoe business, but Devon was far more preoccupied with her generous cleavage and the revealing scoop neck of her dress that was barely concealing it, fringed in a devilish bit of mink.
She was talking animatedly to Devon’s cousin, James Mowbray, about his pending store opening in New York. Their conversation offered Devon plenty of time to look at the creamy white skin of her neck and the full turn of her shoulder that kept peeking out from the useless woven shawl that refused to stay put on her delectable upper arm. Before he could look away, he was caught in the act, as it were, staring longingly at her beautiful proportions. She was looking down at him somehow, even though they were both seated. He was taller by far, so how, he wondered, did she manage to look down at him?
“And you must be the brother of the groom? A bit difficult to rehearse without a best man, you know.” She took a sip of her champagne and set it down carefully in the sea of glasses and china and silverware that crowded the large round table. The delicate clatter and ping of the caterers and sommeliers and light conversation of everyone who had come to celebrate Max and Bronte’s wedding wafted around them.
Devon had been unconscionably late. He knew that Max and Bronte didn’t give a fig, as long as he showed up on the day with the rings intact. But clearly this was the type of woman who appreciated a splendid apology. He was happy to oblige.
“I am indeed. The very tardy, penitent, younger brother of the groom. Devon Heyworth, best man, at your service.” He dipped his head in his best courtly manner. “And you are?”
“Sarah James. The very prompt, accusatory, younger friend of the bride. Maiden of honor. Pleased to meet you.” She smiled, but it was a bit thinner than he’d hoped. She reached out her hand to shake his and he brought it to his lips in an absurdly romantic gesture, trying to catch her eyes with his, from his lower position.
She burst out laughing with such a surprising bark that conversation came to an abrupt halt at the rest of their table. His mother shot Devon a sharp, questioning glance, then raised one aristocratic eyebrow before resuming her conversation. Bronte tore her attention from Max and widened her eyes in silent question toward Sarah. Seeing that Sarah was perfectly capable of handling the perfectly rakish Devon, Bronte returned her attention to her fiancée as he continued the story about his recent trip to Budapest.
Sarah wiped small tears of mirth from the corners of her eyes. “Oh, Lord Heyworth—”
“Devon. Please call me Devon.”
“Oh, all right, Devon then.” She tried to tamp down the laughter that still bubbled out of her. “Not Earl?”
He tried to look chastened but she seemed to see right through him. “Look, that’s all a bunch of nonsense that the American press whipped up. Dukes and earls and all that. You all”—he gestured at her as if she embodied all things American—“always get all of that mixed up. You think if my brother is a duke, then I must be an earl.” He smiled and continued, “And then I thought, who am I to turn down a courtesy title?”
“The Earl of Naught?”
“What can I say? I was drunk. And it sounded funny at the time. Like the Fresh Prince or King of Pop or something. How did I know that the reporter was going to coin it into some kind of K-Pazz nonsense.”
“K-Pazz?” Sarah could barely contain her laughter.
“R-Patz? Brangelina? I don’t know. It’s your country, not mine.”
He tossed one of his long, elegant hands in front of his face to dismiss the whole idea of “her country,” and Sarah was taken aback by the strong confidence of those hands. Her body was responding to him in some strange, disconcerting way she hadn’t felt in… in forever.
“You are really fabulous,” she blurted.
He was now sitting with his hands lightly clasped and resting at the edge of the table, a small pout forming on his full lips. “I suspect that is not a legitimate compliment.”
“Well, it’s legitimate in that it’s not false. Whether or not you believe yourself to be astonishing is something else altogether.”
He shook his head with a reluctant half smile.
Sarah continued blithely, “But I suspect you’re more of a secondary definition type… and think of fabulous as wonderful or marvelous.” She took a sip of her champagne and closed her eyes for a second at the pleasure, then opened them with a quick blink and pinned him with the full force of her sapphire gaze. “I avoid secondary definitions whenever possible.”
“It is quite possible that you are insulting me horribly right now, but I can’t bring myself to care one way or the other, what with that fabulous shoulder of yours and its failed attempt to remain covered by that wispy rag of a thing you have tossed over it.”
In her effort to prevent the champagne in her mouth from spraying across the table at the very erect Duchess of Northrop, Sarah was forced to let half of it up her nose, causing a painful combination of watery eyes and burning nostrils.
Finally collecting herself, she said, “I’ll have you know this wispy rag was hand-sewn by nuns in the south of Spain and is considered a work of art by many experts in the industry.”
“And what industry would that be? The Iberian Virgins’ Lace Industry?”
Sarah could do nothing but stare. Then, “Are you flirting with me?”
“Well, nothing like the direct question, then. Max warned me that you American ladies like to hear it straight. So yes, I am most certainly flirting with you, and while we’re at it…” Devon took a quick look to his right, and then left, across Sarah’s place, to make sure the people sitting near them were fully engaged in their own conversations, then he lowered his voice and continued, “While we’re at it, I have cleared my schedule for the weekend, so we don’t need to stop at flirting. We might as well skip right to shagging.”
She was unable to prevent the mischievous, receptive spark in her eyes.
On he went. “You are probably staying here at Dunlear, right? So just let me know which room Bronte has put you in and I’ll meet you at midnight and all that. You Americans love that kind of thing, right? Trysts… rendezvous… rakish lords?”
“You’ve freed up the entire weekend, have you? And enough with the waggling eyebrows. Let me think for a minute.” Sarah looked across at Max and Bronte, then down one length of the obscenely grand, medieval dining hall, with its mellow wood paneling and priceless old masters hanging placidly along the walls, then briefly up to the intricately molded coffered ceilings, all the while twisting the stem of her champagne flute methodically, as if she were contemplating a stone-cold business deal. “All right, but here are my terms.”
In that moment, Sarah had the calculating realization that if she was going to rid herself of her virginity once and for all, here was a golden opportunity. Another country. Isolated incident. There was no chance this arrogant (okay, incredibly sexy didn’t hurt either) man was going to go all saucer-eyed over her. No chance of bumping into him at some bar in Chicago or New York, where she now split most of her time. And when the construction on the London store got underway, he could be a casual, port-of-call boy. He could be a perfectly contained episode. Tidy.
“A businesswoman. Excellent. Terms. Do go on,” he prompted.
And he appeared to have a devilish sense of humor. She decided to have a little fun with him. And if it led to a casual weekend something-or-other, great. And if not, no harm done.
“First of all, I am not staying here at the castle. My parents decided to make a family outing of it—well, technically my stepmother pretty much invited herself—but anyway, we’re having a short holiday while we’re here, staying over at Amberley Castle Hotel, about fifteen minutes from Dunlear.”
He nodded to let her know he knew the place, but clearly the idea of a family vacation had put a damper on his plans. “Family?”
“I have my own room, not to worry.” She tried to play it cool, slanting him an encouraging smile. “Anyway, here’s the deal,” she said quietly. “I don’t have time for some complicated emotional mess, so let’s just keep it to a fun weekend, okay? Deal?”
He stared at her as if she’d just offered him the Holy Grail, nodding his agreement in stunned silence. “Deal.”
She pressed on in a low, confidential voice. “Why don’t you plan on taking me back to Amberley after the party tonight so we can dispense with this unwieldy seduction and enjoy the rest of our meal?” Sarah went so far as to give him a pat-pat on his strong hands, feeling downright accomplished at this flirting thing. She went for the final turn of the screw. “Not to worry. I’m a sure thing. For the weekend, at least.”
And with that, she turned from Devon’s stunned (gorgeous) face to resume her conversation with James Mowbray, who was just finishing a discussion with the Duchess of Northrop about the regrettable dearth of cellists in the new schedule at Wigmore Hall. After the Duchess finished her complaint, she smiled briefly at Sarah then turned to her left. The whole merry-go-round of socially prescribed conversational partners had been thrown off with Devon’s interruption. Sarah leapt right back into the conversation she and Mowbray had been having before Devon had introduced himself and taken her attention away.
“So, James, back to your idea about not spreading further into the U.S. market… what makes you think New York sales alone will be enough to justify the substantial financial commitment you’re making to build the store? If it’s not revealing any trade secrets, I’m particularly concerned with spreading myself too thin at this stage—I spent this week scouting for a possible London location—but you are already totally established in terms of your…”
Devon stared at the blond bombshell’s back and let the sound of her sexy, no-nonsense talk about exit strategies, net present values, and P and Ls wash right over him. None of that resonated in the least. Two other words did: Sure. Thing.
All right then. The caterer removed Devon’s appetizer plate and he turned to his Aunt Claudia to hear the latest news on the renovations of her country house in Cornwall.
“Bear with me, Devon, dear. I know I’m not a young and risible American woman, but I think you can spare me a few minutes of witty repartee during the main course.”
He smiled and enjoyed the comfort of his aunt’s familiar, if acerbic, company. “I’m sure you had your share of risible Americans, Aunt Claudia; no need to go all judgmental on me. It doesn’t suit you.”
“Right you are, Devon. But none of them ever drooled on me like you were about to do to that lovely innocent.”
Innocent my ass, thought Devon with a quick look at Sarah’s cascading blond hair and overgenerous chest, and then he gave his reluctant attention to his viciously fashionable aunt. She was wearing something diaphanous and purple that offset her eyes and her diamonds. She even smelled expensive.
“When are you going to step up, Devon?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“No, you don’t. You don’t beg anything of anyone.” Claudia was his mother’s sister, best friend, and mortal enemy. They had been born ten months apart and had competed for everything in the six decades ever since… including dukes and earls.
“Very well,” Devon conceded. “I don’t beg your pardon at all. I have nothing to step up for. Max has found a suitable wife—”
Claudia’s tiny bite of poached salmon could not have caused the slight choking sound that followed that statement, but Devon gave her a little smile and let it pass. “Well—” Devon leaned in to his aunt—“he’s found a wife who suits him perfectly. And she’s not marrying my mother, after all!”
Lifting her champagne flute, Claudia toasted Devon. “Ah, my dear. You must know you are in danger of being bagged. Your mother has done her duty by marrying off Claire to the—”
“Don’t say it, Aunt Claudia—”
“Very well. She married Claire off to that horrible Marquess of Wick—”
Behind closed doors, everyone referred to him as The Prick of Wick.
They both looked across the table and, even from the distance of the large formal table for twelve, Claire’s discomfort and strain were evident. She was pristine in her appearance, as always, but her tender formality was in grave danger of evolving into plain old bitterness. Her husband was absent, as usual. Not that anyone minded, especially Claire, but it still smarted that the Marquess of Wick couldn’t make the effort to show up for his brother-in-law’s wedding.
“Off spending her money, I suspect.” Claudia was as close to sympathetic as she’d ever been, having burned through her share of cruel and careless husbands until she finally met the right man in her current husband.
“Well, Claire made her bed… and all that.” Devon took another sip of champagne.
Claudia narrowed her shrewd gaze and shook her head slightly. “I never knew if she really did… you were just a little ring bearer then, weren’t you?” Claudia kept her gaze on the pale blond woman sitting across the table. “I think your parents may have made that bed…”
“Oh, please. Poor Claire. Yada yada. It’s such a hard life being a marchioness in a huge castle in Scotland. Cry me a river.” Devon waved a hand across his face as if swatting away a fly. “Don’t get me started.”
“Very well. Anyone else at the table we can dissect while we’re at it? Your mother can’t focus her attention on Max any longer… he will provide an heir, probably already has if you ask me—”
Devon almost spit his champagne at that. “Claudia!” His voice was raspy and choked and the beautiful Sarah James turned quickly to make sure he was okay. She let her hand rest briefly on the oxblood-red velvet of his forearm. Then, seeing he was fine, she smiled at him and Claudia, then released him just as quickly and returned—again, damn it—to James Mowbray.
“So that leaves you.” Claudia took another sip of champagne and set her glass down.
“And Abigail,” Devon lobbed.
Lady Claudia rolled her eyes. “Don’t get me started on that one. Have you ever seen a lovelier creature? Just look at her…”
They both let their gazes settle across the table on the wild black curls and sparkling gray eyes of Lady Abigail Heyworth, fourth (and final! his mother was always quick to point out) of the Heyworth children. Devon and Abby had been partners in crime for as long as any of them could remember. They were both what was delicately known as hard-to-pin-down.
“Very well, you are quite right,” Devon finally agreed. “Abigail will never bend to Mother’s will.”
“And you? She parades you around like one of her prized parures.” Claudia’s pinched expression was a perfect mix of disgust and envy.
“She can parade me all she likes, but Mother knows that when it comes to getting me to heel, she’ll never succeed.”
Claudia leaned forward to get a better look at Sarah James. She was smiling and talking in animated conversation with both his cousin James and the aforementioned Mother.
“I wouldn’t be so sure.” Claudia took the final sip of her champagne and raised a finger to signal for the waiter to refill her glass. “Looks to me as though your mother is already locking and loading on your weekend foray.”
Devon shook his head. There was no point in being surprised that Claudia had probably heard his entire sordid conversation with Sarah. Why give the older woman the satisfaction of knowing she was, as usual, quite right?
Before the dessert was served and the toasts began, Bronte gave Sarah a quick wink-and-a-nod and the two got up and went into the ladies’ powder room together. Bronte shut the door, double-checked that no one else was in the adjacent water closet, then came out squealing.
“Is Devon hitting on you?”
“Oh, Sarah! You are too much. You are such a vixen I can’t stand it! I know you are so saucy and the Sarah James It Girl—I mean, I created the whole concept—but—”
“Are you going to fool around with him tonight?” Then lowering her voice while still somehow squeaking, she said, “Are you going to sleep with him?!”
“Bronte! Stop!” Sarah was five years younger than her dear friend, but they often joked that they were both emotional twelve-year-olds when it came to guys. Bronte had nearly botched her whole engagement to Max through a string of mistakes and misunderstandings. Sarah, truth be told, had never really had the opportunity to botch anything. But it was better to play up the whole It-Girl thing than to confess a life devoid of romance. “He is such a parody of himself,” Sarah said, “with all that rakish fake earl foolishness. I mean, he’s not even an earl. It’s just ridiculous. He’s just ridiculous.” She applied more lipstick, then continued, “But he’s so hot. I guess I’m sort of playing with him. I finally just told him I was a sure thing so he could quit it with the smarmy seduction and we could get on with some interesting dinner conversation.”
Sarah had turned to the mirror to double-check her mascara and lipstick and caught Bronte’s openmouthed gape in the reflection.
“What?” Sarah asked, her lipstick poised in midair as she was about to put the top back on.
“You did not!” Bronte covered her mouth and started to laugh. “Oh, Sarah, you are priceless. He is so fawned over around here, you have no idea. His mother ignores everyone in the family except Devon, his sisters act like he is the best thing since sliced fucking bread.”
“Bron, I thought you were trying to cut back on the swearing… you know, becoming a duchess and all that.”
“Don’t remind me. I’m already shitting bullets about walking down the aisle in that vintage Valentino dress… I keep picturing all those yards of priceless lace getting caught on the edge of one of the goddamned pews and my very nervous self tripping flat on my fucking face.”
Sarah grabbed Bronte’s hands in hers and gave her a warm smile. “You are going to be a star, Bron. Don’t give it a second thought. The dress is divine. The chapel looked beautiful tonight at the rehearsal, and it will all be perfect.”
“Thank you so much for coming. All these Etonian-Oxonian-Cantabrigian mates are a bit overwhelming. I will be relieved when the rest of the Yanks arrive tomorrow. My mom is not helping.”
Sarah gave her an encouraging hug and then the two women headed back out into the surreal world of Dunlear Castle: ancestral home to the nineteenth Duke of Northrop and his ne’er-do-well younger brother. If Sarah was going to lose her virginity, she might as well do it in style.
“Fans of humor, angst, steamy romances and shoes will find If the Shoe Fits to be an entertaining read. ” - Caffeinated Book Reviewer
“Fans of humor, angst, steamy romances and shoes will find If the Shoe Fits to be an entertaining read. ” - Caffeinated Book Reviewer
“If The Shoe Fits is a rollicking, laugh out loud, feel good novel that will leave you with a smile on your face.” - Harlequin Junkie
“Mulry does it with such a great voice and such fabulous characters that it still feels fresh and wonderful. Highly recommended.” - Devourer of Books
“If you’re looking for a book that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go, look no further, this book is it” - My Book Addiction Reviews
“I thoroughly enjoyed If the Shoe Fits and think that Mulry has a great way of tapping into strong emotional stories and characters that readers can love.” - One Literature Nut
“The characters were both charming and realistic, and I was only sad when the novel ended. I want more!” - Laura’s Reviews
“The romantic tension entices the reader from the very first page and never flags. ” - Publishers Weekly
“This sexy, sparkly story, with its witty dialogue and likable characters, is a fun, lively read. ” - Booklist
“Both flirty and intense, and combining a luxury fashion setting with the English aristocracy, this love story will elicit many a contented sigh among romance fans.” - Kirkus
Length: 8 in
Width: 5.25 in
Weight: 11.52 oz
Page Count: 320 pages