Can this scoundrel convince a proper lady that he’s actually perfect for her or will their adventure leave them both heartbroken?
Series: Romancing the Rules #2
Published by Avon Impulse on April 11th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Romance, Victorian
ADD TO GOODREADS:
Also by this author: One Dangerous Desire
Sophia Ruthven is the epitome of proper behavior. On paper at least, as long as that paper isn’t from one of the lady detective stories she secretly pens. She certainly isn’t interested in associating with the dashing Jasper Grey, the wayward heir to the Earl of Stanhope, and one of the stage’s leading men. But when she learns Grey’s younger sister Liddy has gone missing, she can’t deny her desire to solve the mystery…or her attraction to the incorrigible scoundrel.
Responsibility isn’t something Grey is very familiar with. On the boards and in the bedroom, he lives exactly how he wants to, shunning all the trappings of respectability and society. Grey knows he should avoid the bewitching Sophia, but he’s never been able to say no to what he wants. And having Sophia in his arms and his bed is quickly becoming the thing he wants the most.
As Sophia and Grey’s search for Liddy continues across the English countryside, can this scoundrel convince a proper lady that he’s actually perfect for her or will their adventure leave them both heartbroken?
Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, USA Today bestselling author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.
Interview with Christy Carlyle
How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
The hero and heroine of A STUDY IN SCOUNDRELS were introduced in the first book of the Romancing the Rules series, RULES FOR A ROGUE. I immediately knew that Sophia Ruthven, who was straight-laced and exceedingly proper, should end up with Jasper Grey, who reveled in being a scoundrel. The challenge was figuring out what each possessed that would appeal to the other. Since I knew Sophia loved detective novels, having them set out to solve a mystery together seemed a perfect way to keep them in each other’s company for a while.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I enjoyed writing A STUDY IN SCONDRELS because of the opportunity to include a bit of mystery in the storyline. Like my heroine, Sophia, I am a big fan of detective novels. Sherlock Holmes was as popular in the Victorian era as he is today, and I was fascinated to learn that there were several “lady detective” novels published in Britain long before Conan Doyle’s sleuth appeared. Sophia loves mysteries and when faced with one, she can’t resist jumping in to investigate.
Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
A small purse-sized notepad and a pen. After getting stuck at doctor’s offices and restaurants with nothing to write on when a story ideas strikes, I’ve learned my lesson. In desperation, I’ve written on the backs of receipts, napkins, and envelopes, but nothing compares to having a little notebook in which I can organize my thoughts during all those “waiting” moments that pop up during a week.
Name three things on your desk right now.
Sticky notes, an unfinished cup of coffee, and way too many pens. I feel like no desk is complete without a big heaping pile of sticky notes. I love their cheery colors and find them a useful tool to capture ideas as they pop into my head. I try to limit myself to one big cup of coffee a day, but many days I get busy and don’t end up drinking most of it until it’s gone cold. And pens? I seem to attract them. I clear off my desk each morning before starting to write, but by evening the surface is covered with pens. I tend to reach for another one every time I need to write something down.
What types of scenes are your most favorite to write?
I love moments of tension, especially when they involve banter between the hero and heroine. Writing snappy banter is a challenge for me, but I enjoy the struggle because those are the moments that reveal so much about my characters. It’s a chance to build emotion between the hero and heroine, but banter also allows them to begin admiring each other for wit and cleverness, something beyond the initial physical attraction.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Secondary characters are always hard to let go of. Often harder than my heroes and heroines, since they haven’t had their stories fully explored. I have a dozen secondary characters that I’d love to revisit, but one, Rob Wellesley from my first Avon Impulse novel, ONE SCANDALOUS KISS, persists in my mind. I’ve received several reader letters about him and would love to give him his happy ending someday.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Persist and never stop learning. I’ve been writing for years, began publishing three years ago, and I still feel as if I’m a newcomer. There is always more to learn, more ways to stretch ourselves as writers. Rejections come with the territory if your goal is to publish, but each rejection is just an opportunity to improve your story and hone your writing skills.
Laughter tickled his ears. Weight bore down on his chest, draped over his hips. A soft weight, pliant under his hands. Heated too. Pleasure in his groin twined with pain in his head as the soft, warm weight moved against him.
He blinked, then again. Colors shimmered and blurred. The light was too dim. The room too smoky. Perfume burned his nose, too spicy and pungent.
What was that sound? A moan. A cry.
A rumbling groan reverberated in his own chest.
“Don’t leave me now,” a woman whispered near his ear. “I need release.”
He flexed his fingers, digging into the warm flesh of smooth feminine legs. Slid his hand up, finding the thicket of curls between the woman’s spread thighs.
She moved against him, her breath quickening as little moans emerged. She clutched at his shoulder, her other hand on his, showing him how to touch her.
He didn’t require much direction. The role of lover was one he knew by heart. Some said he was skilled on stage, but he never doubted his expertise in the bedroom.
His own body had numbed. Whether from drink or the drugging effect of the smoke rising in whorls above his head, he wasn’t certain. But this, how to touch a woman, how to give pleasure. This he knew intuitively. This was where he excelled.
Heaven knew he’d failed at everything else.
But performing on stage was all a matter of illusion, of lying artfully. Sex and falsehood were his twin aptitudes.
If only he could see the woman clearly and scatter the fog in his mind. He twisted his head on the pillow and noticed a half-empty glass of blue-green liquid glowing in the low gaslight.
“What did I drink?”
A trill of laughter. Red lips. The curve of a grin in a pale face. A waterfall of red hair.
He swirled his fingers in the woman’s curls. She stilled and held her breath. He knew he’d found the key. Gently, masterfully, he touched her with all the art he’d learned from countless lovers.
“Oh, Grey.” She twitched against his fingers, dug her nails into his shoulder. “Don’t stop.”
He didn’t. Not until she gusted out a long moan, dipped her head, and sank against him as if her bones had melted.
“Absinthe,” she murmured against his chest. “A bit of laudanum.”
Grey pressed a fist to the throbbing crown of his head and tried to sit up. The lady on his chest stretched like a cat woken from a nap before rising off him and stepping away from the bed.
No, he realized when his vision cleared and he took in the books lining the walls, not a bed. Not his bedroom. He was on a settee in his London townhouse’s library, and he and his lady companion were not alone. Half-clothed bodies reclined around the musky, haze-clouded room. Some sleeping. Others smoking from an enormous bubbling hookah. At least one couple was busy, writhing and moaning in the far corner.
A man stumbled past the open library door, nude from the waist up, his shirt and coat rolled in a crumpled ball in his arms. Returning to the threshold, he let out a burp before offering, “Many happy returns, Grey. Smashing birthday party.”