Read An Excerpt

by Cara Elliott

Genre: Regency Period, England, Historical Romance

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“Oh, I’m so glad ye stopped by for a visit, sir. The Wolfhound has always said ye have a discerning eye fer art, so I’m anxious to get yer opinion on this.” Sara Hawkins stripped the last of the wrappings from around a gilt-framed watercolor painting and let out an admiring whistle. “Don’t ye think it will look lovely hanging in the Eros Bedchamber?”

Gryffin Owain Dwight, the Marquess of Haddan, shrugged out of his overcoat and came over to take a look. “You intend to hang that in there?” A dark brow shot up. “I wouldn’t advise it.”

“Why not?” Sara sounded a little crestfallen. “Roses are my favorite flower and this one is awfully pretty.”

“Indeed it is. But in the secret language of flowers, red roses symbolize love—a sentiment that would likely make a number of your patrons rather nervous,” said Gryff dryly. Patrons was putting it politely, seeing as Sara’s establishment was one of the most notorious gambling hells and brothels in London. “If you must pick a rose for a decorative touch, make it an orange one.”

“And what does that mean?”

“Fascination.” He curled a wicked smile. “Better yet, find a print of a yellow iris, which means ‘passion.’ Or sweetpea, which means ‘blissful pleasure.’”

She let out a snort of laughter.

“Or a peach blossom, which means ‘I am your captive.’”

“Fancy that.” Setting aside the painting, Sara perched a shapely hip on the sideboard and gave the marquess her full attention. “Now who would have ever guessed that flowers could talk.”

Gryff nodded gravely. “And then there is the grapevine . . .”

“Which means?” Sara leaned forward, her eyes widening in anticipation.

“Which means, ‘I am very thirsty so do you have any more of that expensive Scottish malt stashed away in your private cupboard?’”

A crumpled kidskin glove hit him square in the chest. “Oh, ye horrid man! Here I thought I was learning some fancy bit of knowledge. But ye was just pulling my corset strings...”