The Best of Both Rogues
(Rival Rogues, #3)
Author: Samantha Grace
Pubdate: July 7th, 2015
Genre: Historical Regency Romance
The worst thing Mr. Benjamin Hillary ever did was abandon his bride-to-be on their wedding day.
The hardest thing he will ever have to do is watch her marry another man.
After two long years abroad, Ben finds Eve every bit as captivating as she was the first time he saw her, and he vows to set things right.
Lady Eve Thorne has a new man in her life, and Ben is nothing but trouble. She is no longer a starry-eyed young woman, and now that he’s back, he can go hang for all she cares. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself…
Hi, everyone! I’m Samantha Grace, RITA-nominated author of the historical romance series, Rival Rogues. Recently, I invited Lady Gabrielle from One Rogue Too Many to dole out advice to my newest rogues, Benjamin Hillary and Sir Jonathan, from THE BEST OF BOTH ROGUES. Lady Gabrielle is perfectly suited to offer commentary on the gentlemen’s situation, thanks to her own experience with having had two men compete for her hand. It wasn’t revealed to her who was writing in for advice. She was only told the letters came from bachelors in the neighborhood. Let’s see what words of wisdom she has for the lovelorn.
Yesterday I discovered my betrothed was wearing a necklace her former love gave her. I happen to know from my travels that the necklace is often used in wedding ceremonies to symbolize lasting love. When I commented on the necklace, she denied that it was anything special. She removed it at my urging so I could inspect it, but it was obvious she didn’t want me asking questions. Her answers were clipped, and I noticed she tried to hide the piece afterward and changed the subject. Could her behavior mean she is still in love with her former betrothed even though he left her at the altar two years ago?
Confused in Mayfair
Dear Sir Jonathan—eh, I mean Confused.
I wish I could offer a word of reassurance, but the truth is old flames are often hard to extinguish. If the lady in question holds a tendre for her former beau, this will become more obvious in time. Does her gaze follow him as he moves about a room? Does she make blunders and address him by his given name? Does she seem distracted when you and she are together? If the answer is yes these questions, I’m afraid your lady is most likely having second thoughts about whom she truly wishes to marry.
Chin up, sir. No matter the outcome with your betrothed, you will always have your first love—your drums. And some day I suspect you will meet a lady more than happy to march to your own unique beat.
I am hoping you will advise me on a matter involving my former betrothed’s brother. After a falling out two years ago, he has been dead set on...well...seeing me dead, I suppose. He has the devil’s own temper, which has come between the lady and me more than once, and I do not expect the situation to improve. When his sister and I marry, would it be impolite to forget to send him an invitation to our wedding?
Itching to Trounce a Baron
You really should summon Dr. Portier about your condition. There are creams to soothe an irritating itch. Beyond your physical ailment, I believe you are putting the cart before the horse. Every at-home I have attended recently has been buzzing about how your former betrothed wants nothing to do with you, especially after you followed her to the foundling hospital when the Mayfair Ladies Charitable Society visited last week. I heard you created a real mess.
I would suggest you worry less about her brother and put more effort toward wooing the lady if there is ever to be a wedding. You might wish to start with a lot of groveling after the way you jilted her before running away to India, followed by finding a way to get rid of her current fiancé. Jewelry is in order, too. One rarely goes wrong with large, expensive jewelry.
I wish you the best of luck. I fear you are going to need it.
Hmm... It appears the gentlemen’s identities weren’t protected like I’d intended. That’s one of the drawbacks to living in a small community, I guess. Everyone knows everyone else’s business. Those who live in a small town can probably relate. So let’s pretend we’re stepping into a time machine that will take us back to Mayfair in 1820, and we’re going to cause a big stir. What would you do to cause a scandal?
Ben made a slow circle of the brightly lit ballroom, stopping occasionally to study the couples as they sashayed past, their cheeks pink from exertion. After several moments, he was satisfied Lord Wellham wasn’t among the dancers, not that Ben was surprised. If his memory served, the earl favored gambling over gamboling.
Reaching a secluded corner near a dark alcove, he paused to check once more for his quarry before he sought out the card room.
“What are you doing here?” a voice hissed. “You are not on the guest list.”
“Pardon?” Ben spun toward the speaker and came up short. His eyebrows veered toward each other. “How do you know?” he whispered back to the mass of green palm fronds.
“Because I helped make the list.” The plant’s fronds parted, and Eve Thorne’s stern glare greeted him. What the devil was she doing?
Her frown deepened when he simply stared, at a loss for words. “Do you have a death wish, Mr. Hillary?”
The corners of his mouth twitched. “Let me guess, you’ve been attacked by a man-eating plant. Are you in need of rescue, Kitten?”
She growled softly and the fronds snapped back into place. Ben checked the surrounding area to be certain they hadn’t earned any unwanted attention, then peered around the massive greenery. Eve was wedged against the wall, her yellow chiffon skirts crushed against the large pot. Her chest rose and fell in rapid movements, drawing his attention to the modest swell of her breasts peeking above her lacy neckline. A rosy glow infused her ivory skin, making the sprinkling of freckles across her cheeks almost unnoticeable.
God, he had missed her – her freckles, her pouty lips, her soulful brown eyes. He had been smitten from the moment he had spied her at the theater during the little Season, and two years on a faraway continent had done nothing to cool his ardor.
“What are you doing back there, Miss Thorne, and shouldn’t you have a chaperone?”
She crossed her arms as if erecting a wall between them. “God only knows why, but I am trying to save your skin, Benjamin James Arran Hillary.”
Damnation. He had almost forgotten he’d been burdened with so many names, and that she had a habit of invoking every one when she was perturbed. His smile expanded. Despite her pretense of indifference, she was worried for him. “Am I to conclude your skulking about means you still care?”
“I care about Lady Eldridge, and I do not want to see her ball ruined by you and Sebastian coming to fisticuffs. You really must leave before he sees you and demands another meeting on the field.”
Crossing paths with Sebastian Thorne didn’t concern Ben. Her brother’s need to defend her reputation after Ben jilted her had been satisfied three weeks earlier in a duel, and Thorne would not issue a second challenge for fear of losing. Ben suspected neither of them wanted to risk looking like fools again either. Instead of dueling with pistols or swords as any other normal men would do, they had allowed Eve to choose the weapons. She had chosen gloves.
He scowled. “Do you have any idea how ridiculous it looked for two men to engage in a slapping match?” The gents at Brooks’s hadn’t stopped talking about the duel for days, and Ben had endured the brunt of the teasing since he’d followed his youngest brother’s advice and allowed Thorne to win.
Eve’s smile radiated with self-satisfaction. “Since no one died, I would say I made an excellent choice.”
H grudgingly admitted her cleverness had managed to resolve the conflict without bloodshed – or much, anyway. Ben had walked away with a cut on his cheek and a nasty bruise, thanks to her brother filling his glove with pebbles. But bruised pride and a bruised mug were small prices to pay to see Eve’s position in Society restored.
Historical romance author Samantha Grace discovered the appeal of a great love story when she was just a young girl, thanks to Disney’s Robin Hood. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience and she didn’t want the warm fuzzies to end. Now Samantha enjoys creating her own happy endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publishers Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever.
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