Exclusive Excerpt: Christina Brooke's The Greatest Lover Ever
Well, we’ve made it to Thursday of this first post-holiday week. Surely we’ve earned another excerpt break! This one was an obvious choice for us, it’s from RT Award nominee Christina Brooke. It’s an RT Top Pick! And it’s called … The Greatest Lover Ever. We think we’ve said enough.
Christina set the scene for us …
"This is a second chance at love story between one of the most beloved characters of my Westruthers series, Marcus, Earl of Beckenham, and his old flame and former fiance, Georgiana Black. An extremely hot semi-anonymous encounter at a lewd party in Brighton has played on Beckenham's conscience until he decides he must do the honorable thing and propose to Georgie. It is the worst proposal in the history of proposals, so he is roundly rejected! Do these lovers have a chance? And what's the worst or best proposal you know of, in real life or in fiction?"
And now on to the excerpt!
Georgie wished she might capture the expression on Beckenham’s face in her sketchbook. Ludicrous in its horrified disbelief, devoid of the iron control he’d hitherto displayed.
She was so utterly irate, she’d needed the short interval of appalled, well nigh hysterical laughter to marshal her resources.
If a less pleasant task than proposing to her had confronted Beckenham in the past six years, she doubted it. He couldn’t have shown his distaste more clearly if he’d written it in fireworks in the sky.
So of course, she refused to oblige him and give him the short sharp refusal such an ungracious, insulting proposal demanded.
She would punish him. It was only fair for the utter humiliation he’d put her through.
“That is, of course, a most elegantly expressed and advantageous offer, my lord,” she observed. “I am so flattered, I can barely find the words to reply.”
He met her limpid gaze, and a gleam of understanding showed. He’d never been slow on the uptake.
“You flatter me,” he said briefly.
“On the contrary, my lord. It is rather you who flatter me. Not many ladies may say they’ve been engaged to an earl twice.”
Truly, what woman could resist?
Even now, she was sorely tempted. She might well have given in to weakness and accepted him if the manner of his proposals hadn’t utterly lacerated her pride. Reminded her, if she’d needed reminding, that he’d never thought of her as anything more than a duty. A tiresome one, at that.
But for a few heated minutes last night, there’d been no thought of duty, had there? If he had indeed known it was she all along.
Oh, her head ached with the permutations, the implications. And what did he think her reasons might have been for allowing him such liberties? Did he think she’d done it to extract this proposal from him?
Beckenham had always been singularly unaware of his devastating effect on women. Would he believe she’d been unable to resist him? That there’d been no guile on her part when she let herself be swept up into the maelstrom of his passion, no logical thought in her head at all.
Unlike Beckenham, Georgie had never been ignorant of her own charms. She’d flexed her power over men like a fairground strongman flexed his muscles. She still received declarations of undying devotion on a weekly basis. Her house was always as full as a flower market of the posies and bouquets her admirers sent her.
But her feminine charms had never brought her the things she most desired: true love and a purpose in life.
She’d lost any chance of the first when she fixed her sights on a man who would never return her regard. The second, she’d lost first to her father’s indifference, then to Lord Beckenham, and finally, to her sister.
The wholly unwelcome notion popped into her head that Beckenham might still want that inheritance. Was that the reason his proposal had come so swiftly? An unpalatable thought. She might choke if she had to swallow any more insults today.
With only a slight hesitation, she said, “You know I don’t stand to inherit Cloverleigh any longer, don’t you, Marcus?”
The words came out in a rush, sounding a little breathless. How irritating that she should be so anxious for his answer.
“Yes, I did know it,” he said. “My offer springs solely from my wish to do the honorable thing. Your reputation if anyone discovered what had happened between us—”
“Nothing happened between us.” That came out too sharply. Something large and merciless seemed to be crushing her skull.
He drew rein, and the curricle came to an abrupt stop.
Turning in his seat, he said fiercely, “Did you really think I wouldn’t know you? Anywhere, in any guise? Even with a mask and hair powder, I recognized you immediately. Why did you do it?”
She swallowed hard. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”