A Passion For Adventure
Drawn to a life of excitement and risk, Lady Millie Aldon made a pact to forsake marriage. But her plans are thrown into chaos when Chase Wentworth returns to town. The lanky lad she remembers from childhood is now the Marquess of Chaselton, possessing an air of mystery Millie can't resist. As Chase moves through London's elite circles, his stealth manner has Millie convinced he harbors a secret--one she is determined to reveal. . .
A Dangerous Seduction
As Millie makes a game of observing Chase's every move, she finds her attraction to him unsettling. When a stolen kiss threatens to turn their flirtation into something more powerful, she questions her vow of freedom. But Millie has no idea of the danger she's facing. Chase has a complicated past--and his clandestine efforts to expose a traitor will soon provide a more perilous--and passionate--adventure than Millie could ever have planned. . .
Praise for Michele Sinclair
"Sinclair entertains with noble self-sacrifice, double deceptions, sizzling attraction, and affectionate meddling." --Publishers Weekly on Tempting the Highlander
About the Author
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A WOMAN MADE FOR PLEASURE
By MICHELE SINCLAIR
ZEBRA BOOKSCopyright © 2012 C. Michele Peach
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSpain, February 1816
"Chase," said a deep, familiar voice from the makeshift doorway. "There's someone coming. About fifteen minutes out. Does anyone know you are here?"
A powerfully built man with strong, athletic features was sitting behind a desk reviewing maps and communiqués. His chocolate brown hair was a mass of untidy long locks, and his golden eyes, despite their warm color, appeared cold and devoid of emotion. "Yes, a few. But no one knows of your presence. Let's keep it that way."
"Aye. And the traitor?"
Golden eyes glanced up and found the blue gaze of one of the few people Chase trusted. "I now have proof of his existence. Besides me, only you are aware of it." He looked back down at one of the maps depicting the Americas' coastline. Scattered beside the pen-and-ink diagram were the communiqués between General Sir Pakenham and a nameless murderer.
Chase stood and stared at the proof his father had sent him to find almost eight years ago. Proof that someone was more interested in conquest and power than in the lives of his countrymen. Someone who was willing to smear the names of good men in order to attain such power. Chase looked up and stared his friend directly in the eye. "That's why I sent for you. No one is to know I have left here until I am already in London. For that, you are the only man I trust, Reece."
Acknowledgment entered the shrewd, sapphire-colored eyes. "I have already loaded everything on board the Sea Emerald. Only what is here, remains."
Chase nodded and began stacking the documents on the table.
Reece moved to help but decided against the idea. His friend had always been driven. But when his father died, Chase had emotionally shut down and had become determined to finish his father's one last request. "What are you going to do without the name of the traitor?" Reece asked.
"Find it. My father sent me to locate the proof, and I now have it. I think this ... this turncoat had much to do with the Peninsular War, but now I have proof of his motives and duplicitous intentions between our government and the Americas." Chase stabbed a stack of papers with his finger. "There is no longer any doubt someone was trying to stop the impending treaty between America and England. This"—he picked up a letter—"outlines plans to send General Pakenham, stripped of talented men, to attack New Orleans. Here"—Chase grabbed another hastily scribed document—"is the general's reply warning his superiors that their directed plan of attack was 'unimaginative' and 'deadly.' And these are the very proof I need to tie it all together," Chase added, pointing to a third set of documents. "I cannot believe Vandeleur had not even looked at these manuscripts before handing them to me."
The documents under Chase's fist confirmed that Pakenham was tricked into attacking New Orleans. Upon direct orders, he took his force ashore and ran into a defensive line of militia, Indians, black troops, and even pirates, hastily put together by General Andrew Jackson. Pakenham led seventy-five hundred men into an ambush of cannon and musket fire.
By the time the English soldiers had reached the American lines, the deaths of their commanders had thrown them into confusion. While trying to establish order, Pakenham was mortally wounded. Not realizing the English forces were on the brink of victory, a retreat was ordered.
Chase understood war was sometimes a necessary evil, but the Battle of New Orleans was an unwarranted, useless, preordained English tragedy. One nameless man had purposefully arranged those pointless deaths. And Chase knew the traitor would try again. Of that, he was sure. For despite heavy English losses, peace had been made with the colonies and the Treaty of Ghent had been signed on Christmas Eve.
"I met Ned Pakenham," Reece said respectfully. "He commanded the Third Division until the capture of Madrid. I was there in 1813, when he was given command of the Sixth Division at the Battle of the Pyrenees. He was a good man and an able commander."
"I want this traitor, Reece. I want him, and I will have him," said Chase forcefully, the depth of his desire evident. "But I am not going to sacrifice the names of good men while seeking the devil."
Reece nodded in agreement. The good men Chase was referring to were called the Rebuilders, a select group of noblemen with idealistic beliefs and purposes. Chase's father had been a member, and now, by default, so was his son. A few years ago, an inner faction began to grow and started calling themselves Expansionists. Their views of government, while not as peaceful, were not disloyal. If Chase were to reveal his proof and proclaim a member to be a traitor, without a name, all those affiliated with either group—Rebuilders or Expansionists—would be tagged as possible turncoats. Guilt by association could ruin a man's reputation, a necessary asset in a country ruled by Tories and an extravagant, vain prince regent.
Reece looked out the slightly cracked open door. "The rider is almost here. Looks to be a delivery boy from one of the larger battalions. I'll wait for you on the Sea Emerald. We'll leave as soon as you are on board."
Chase nodded as his friend silently disappeared through the back door. He sat back down behind the crude desk and hid the communiqués underneath a copy of the Second Treaty of Paris's terms and conditions for ending the Peninsular War.
The door opened and a uniformed man entered. "Captain?"
Chase grunted and pretended to be in deep thought over the papers. It was a common ploy to quickly establish levels of importance. Common, but effective. Chase finally asked, in a gruff voice, "What do you want?"
"Sir, name is Marshel. I am aide-de-camp to Colonel Vandeleur."
Chase looked at the ADC and quickly assessed the young man. "How long have you been with Vandeleur?"
"Close to seven months, sir. I was part of the Sixteenth Dragoons before Colonel Vandeleur took over for Lord Uxbridge last summer."
The young man was not as green as he looked. He had made it through Waterloo. "Light cav, I take it," Chase deduced. A critical function of light cavalry regiments was to monitor communications between enemy encampments. Only the good survived.
Chase leaned back. The chair squeaked. "What do you need of me?"
"Not a thing, sir. I was just told to pass on this bag to the cap'n who could be found in Sofina's House of Pleasure near Bilbao." The young man glanced around at the crumbling structure. It had been a long time since the place had provided a man pleasure.
Chase saw the man observing his surroundings and took the bag. "You can go now. I have nothing to pass on. But tell your colonel of my appreciation for this." Chase knew what the bag contained. Letters from home. It had been some time since he had been in a location to receive any word from his mother and his sister, Aimee.
The man nodded, exited the building, and rode back toward Pamplona.
Chase leaned back on the small bunk as the waves rolled the Sea Emerald back and forth. An easiness fell on him he hadn't experienced for some time. Very few had known where he was located in Spain, and only a handful knew his identity. Vandeleur was one of those few. He knew it was safe for the ADC to make contact. Chase trusted Vandeleur, but a signed peace treaty could not instantly remove habits of caution and vigilance that had saved his life multiple times.
Chase opened up the bag and discovered several letters. Two were personal. He instantly recognized the handwriting on one. It was from his mother. He lit a lamp and proceeded to break the seal.
Letters from home were his rarest and most cherished treasures. After his father had passed away, only his mother's stories and amusing updates seemed to register with him emotionally. Tales of his sister and her two friends would bring him back to simpler times, peaceful ones in which he was unaware of the cruelty and duplicitous nature of men.
He unfolded the page and was surprised to see how short it was. He glanced at the contents. As usual, his mother never mentioned anyone's identity. Sometimes she would refer to the Daring Three, a private label his mother had given to his sister and her wild friends, but that was as close as she came to disclosing a name.
Chase wondered if Millie was still his favorite twig, causing chaos wherever she went. He suspected time and experience had changed her as it had certainly changed him.
Your sister will be having her first Season in London this year along with the other members of the Daring Three. My earnest wish is for you to return, escort your sister and her friends, and find someone in the process with whom to settle down and live a happy, safe life.
I have asked little of you since you have entered into manhood, understanding that your father asked much. However, he has been dead now for over two years, and the wars between England and France are over. It is time you returned home.
Please send me a prompt response so I can plan accordingly.
P.S. Notice how I did not once mention your appalling lack of writing ability these past few years?
Chase found himself grinning. His mother always had a way of breaking through his detached self, even when she was a country away. Possessing his father's naturally stoic personality, Chase realized how lucky his father had been to find his mother. He wondered if it was possible that he, too, would find a loyal and spirited woman who could love a self-controlled, serious man like himself.
He took a deep breath and exhaled, discarding the idea. It would not be fair to shackle anyone, especially a woman full of life, to the man he was now. Oh, he would marry someday; he had to, for the sake of his title. But when he did, it would be to someone who needed no emotional support. The arrangement would be simple. She would look beautiful and bear him a son, and he would drench her in Wentworth money. He would not care that she was shallow, and she wouldn't care that he was haunted.
He broke the seal on the second letter. As he read the contents, an icy rage reawakened deep within him. One he had long thought to have under control.
The Most Honorable, The Marquess of Chaselton
My Lord Marquess,
I am sorry I never had the opportunity to make your acquaintance. It is unfortunate that I now must introduce myself through such ineffectual means.
As a close friend of your father's, I am aware that you know about the organization to which he belonged and our current squabble over its direction. What you may not know is that your father, like myself, was one of five men working against the Expansionist movement. For protection, none of us knew all five members, a decision both wise and ill-fated.
When your father died, I was suspicious of the unusual circumstances but could not prove them otherwise. There was no motive. I now have been made aware of evidence to the contrary, and I regretfully inform you that your father, my friend, was murdered. With grave disappointment, I cannot say by whom.
Such tidings are not ones that should be scribed, but the situation has made it necessary. And so I write to the two men whose names have been entrusted to me of our small heroic group. You, in your father's stead, and to Viscount Darlouney, requesting that we meet as soon as it is possible.
I understand the grave risk I am taking in communicating to you by these means. It is my fervent hope this finds you soon. Hasten to London, and I will explain all upon your arrival. Be careful of those whom you might meet. Trust no one.
Chase reread Lord Eischel's last words and it stirred emotions he had long thought to have conquered—anger, hurt, and guilt that he had not yet been able to fulfill his father's last request. Only the knowledge that he would not stop until he succeeded enabled Chase to suppress the intense feelings. And now, another—a more pressing, more important, more necessary—entreaty had been issued from his father. Avenge me.
After carefully refolding and hiding Eischel's letter, Chase collected the one from his mother and went on deck to find Reece. His friend had made the sea his home and looked most comfortable with the ocean wind at his back.
Reece raised a single eyebrow as Chase neared. "So? Still to London?"
"It seems, good friend, my titular duties have caught up with me," Chase replied, handing him his mother's directive.
Reece quickly surveyed the item and grinned. "Your mother, the vibrant Lady Chaselton, has spoken," Reece replied, turning the wheel. "To London we go. Better you than I, old friend."
Chase gave Reece a friendly elbow to the ribs and tucked the letter inside his jacket. "A true friend would join me."
"Tempting, but I have a quick errand to run before I can hang up my patriotic duties. Believe it or not, it is for Sir Edward."
Chase's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Sir Edward? You mean our Sir Edward?"
"The one and only."
Chase joined Reece's gaze at the horizon. It was beginning to darken, and the late-afternoon sky was hazy with coral colors. "I have not heard from him in years. I believed him to be retired from the war department and making merry in Town."
"So did I, until I received his request," Reece replied quietly, reflectively.
Eight years ago, Sir Edward had been the man Chase's father had turned to when he needed to get both his son and Reece into key positions within the war department. Sir Edward had personally overseen Chase's and Reece's training, teaching them how to observe others without being seen, how to blend in to a foreign culture. He cultivated Reece's natural strategic thinking and used his love for the sea to help cripple the enemies' naval movements. But with Chase, Sir Edward recognized what he himself was—a born spy. He taught Chase how to build upon his already poised personality and how to remain indifferent—if only outwardly—to the events around him.
Chase owed his life many times to Sir Edward and his lessons.
Chapter TwoLondon, March 1816
Millie awoke abruptly, feeling both frightened and on edge. She instinctively reached for the chain necklace on the night table and slipped it over her head. She glanced down at the gold and amethyst amulet and fingered the strange disk that now served as a pendant. Millie closed her eyes and took several deep breaths as memories of the late Lord Chaselton flooded her mind, calming her thoughts. It was nice to think of him as another guardian angel.
Nightmares did not interrupt her sleep often, but when they did, they were intense and disturbing. One of her last and clearest memories of her mother was being consoled after such a dream. After her death, Millie would stare at a small, handheld portrait of her mother, until the unsettling feelings subsided.
During one of her summer visits to the Wentworths', the portrait had been ruined, the victim of a tree branch, a broken window, and a nasty thunderstorm. That next day, Aimee's father Lord Chaselton had surprised them each with gifts. Millie's was an amulet. One night, after a particularly haunting dream, she had awoke and finding it next to her, clutched it in her palm, hoping it would provide some comfort. And it had worked. All the love and peace she sought from the face of her mother, that strange piece of jewelry was somehow also able to bestow during that visit. Seeing the item when rummaging through the attic in preparations for Town, Millie immediately donned it, hoping it would provide her luck if not fortitude to withstand the weeks ahead.
Millie winced when she heard her stomach growl. She lay still for several minutes, listening to the gurgling evidence of her earlier attempt to force the impossible. Knowing she would not be able to go back to sleep until having eaten, she slipped out from the covers. Quietly sneaking down the dark, unlit hall, her toe crunched against an unseen piece of furniture. Millie muffled a cry of pain and hopped toAimee's door and cracked it open. Seeing moonlight pour in through the bedroom window, she heaved a sigh of relief and made her way across the room.
"Aimee? Are you awake?" Millie whispered, hoping for company while she raided the kitchen.
"No, and neither am I," came a muffled response from under a pillow covering Jennelle's head. Soon after Aimee's mother arrived at the Wentworth London manor, better known as Hembree Grove, she declared all the bedrooms to be in need of immediate maintenance. Jennelle's room was the first slated for transformation and received a fresh coat of paint and preparations for new wallpaper the following afternoon. Until the fumes from the newly enhanced walls diminished, Jennelle agreed to sleep in the spare bed located in Aimee's room.
"Whatever do you want, Millie?" Aimee asked, yawning. She stretched and sat up, causing waves of gold to tumble all around her.
"I was only wondering if you might be interested in ... some nourishment," Millie murmured weakly. She had been famished for what seemed to be hours.
Excerpted from A WOMAN MADE FOR PLEASURE by MICHELE SINCLAIR Copyright © 2012 by C. Michele Peach. Excerpted by permission of ZEBRA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love to read historical romances but this book was more than just romance, lust and sex. The characters were very well written and humourous in their own ways. There is mystery and a great plot beyond just the lady falling in love with the handsome man. Pages: over 200 (cant remember exact #) Storyline: 4/5 Character depth: 5/5 Sex: mild 2/5 Overall rating: 4
Reviewed by Molly Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book Michele Sinclair is a superbly talented author. She captured the heart of the regency era with this incredibly written novel! From start to finish, I was completely engrossed in Millie and Chase’s story, sometimes laughing out loud, other times wanting to strangle one of them. They were chiseled out perfectly and truly lent depth to the story line. Millie is a wonderful character! I loved her attitude and her strength. She really knew what she wanted in life until she came face to face with Chase, the boy from her childhood. Trouble is, now Chase is a man, and the pact she made when was younger seems to be vying for the spot that her heart wants to put him in. She’s a woman, after all. She has needs and wants, and Chase could be the perfect fit for them. I absolutely loved the feeling I got as Millie’s emotions swept over me and became my own. I felt the struggle she was dealing with with fighting her attraction to honor her pact or give her heart away. It was a fun roller coaster ride! Marquess of Chaselton,Charles “Chase” Wentworth has returned home to London where is bound and set on exposing the truth. Trust was betrayed and Chase is determined to announce the truth. But, he’s come face to face with Millie again after years away and wow! I loved his attitude and protectiveness towards her. She’s not the little girl remembers and the sparks go flying when he’s around her! I loved that. Chase is such a loving character when you get to know him. I really wanted to be Millie more than once! Chase soon learns that there is more to Millie than meets the eye and he’s not going to put her in danger, and despite the feelings in his heart, he’s got to protect her. I adored that in him. He was a strong man on the outside, but on the inside he had the heart of tenderness. These two characters, as well as their friends and family, round out this story in a truly amazing way. A bit of suspense, scorching passion and incredibly drawn out plot line, this story left me breathless and wanting more. I am highly anxious to see more of the Daring Three in Aimee and Jennelle’s story. Thank you, Ms. Sinclair, for writing an absolutely breathtaking story! I am now a devoted fan for life!
4.5 Stars A Woman Made for Pleasure is a very enjoyable historical romance with a touch of mystery. The idea behind the Promises Trilogy is fascinating and fun. Three young girls, aka The Daring Three or Three for short, make a pact to never get married. Each are allowed an exception, and all three have listed some very extraordinary exceptions. Millie Aldon is the instigator of this promise. She has no desire to ever wed, but she wants to ensure that her best friends will be with her always. Millie is adventurous, contemptuous and put quite plainly…a handful. Years later, she remains steadfast against marriage. The three ladies have put off their season long enough and are sent to London to find husbands. None of them have changed their minds, but they put on their best faces to appease their families. It’s been eight long years since Chase Wentworth has been home. He is being called home to escort the Three into society. He will gladly return home to accompany his sister and her two friends at least that is what he wants everyone to believe. He is getting closer to the identity of a traitor to England and this is his opportunity to search closer to home. What he doesn't expect is his feelings for Millie. Her personality has always fascinated him, but now that she is a beautiful young woman and he can’t stop thinking about her. Trouble is she hasn’t changed much since he last seen her. She is still impetuous, adventurous and challenging, but she makes his blood boil with a mere smile. Now he has to guard his heart, protect Millie and find a killer. These two were a joy to read and the supporting cast was just as much fun. The mystery was well executed and developed nicely. Even though I had an idea who the traitor was, I was guessing right up to the end. Well done, Ms. Sinclair. Millie kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what she was going to next and Chase’s hardheadedness did him no good, but it was exciting to watch Millie put him through the paces. While I absolutely enjoyed this story, I’m unsure about the series. A Woman Made for Pleasure was actually titled Promises back in 2007 and placed first in the Historical Romance category for the PASIC 2007 Book of Your Heart contest. According to her website Promises was never published. It also appears the other two books of the trilogy have already been outlined. Ms. Sinclair has blurbs up for the other two books but no ETA’s. I doubt they will remain titled Consequences and Choices, but it sure would be nice to know when they will be published. A Woman Made for Pleasure was a hit for me. I know I have mentioned my uneasiness about the other two, but only because I want them now. In my very selfish opinion, she has had plenty of time to have them ready for me to read *grins*. If you like saucy heroines and stubborn heroes, with a sweet romance, with some mystery thrown in, I think you will enjoy this novel. Once you have read them, you can join me in a campaign to get the other two released ASAP.
PLEASANT AND ENGAGING Bind by their common love of adventure, Millie, Aimee, and Jennelle decide to seal their friendship with a pledge: they will never get married unless they each meet a man who will accept, appreciate, and share their unusual interests and spirit of independence. Daughters of earls, they are uncommonly smart and bookish to be members of the ton, and they each pursue hobbies that good society doesn’t consider suitable to young women of their high station: to Millie, Aimee, and Jennelle, exploring a cave and reading a philosophy treatise seem to provide more excitement than the social gatherings usually attended by debutantes eager to land an advantageous marriage and secure a respectable place in society. They will marry for love, or they won’t marry at all. Of The Daring Three, Lady Millie Aldon seems to be the most adverse to the idea of shackling herself into marriage, but when her childhood friend (and Aimee’s brother) Charles Wentworth comes back to his ancestral home after years of military training and war missions, Millie will need to revise her priorities…loving Charles, now a dashing man, will be for Millie the most daring and exciting adventure of all. This was a good historical romance novel. It read smoothly and was enticing enough to keep me turning page without putting it down too often. I always appreciate a certain degree of historical accuracy in a HRN and Michele Sinclair added her own touch of fictional fabrication (in reference to some real historical events) that sounded plausible and certainly helped structuring the plot and interlacing the romantic element with a solid thread of suspenseful mystery. The events unfold at a nice pace and the Sinclair’s writing style treats us to an elegant and historically consistent prose. Right from the start, the novel features an engaging plot, a good storyline structure, lively dialogues, sultry sensuality, and well developed characters, both main and supporting cast. The characterization of the lead couple is effective and convincing: Sinclair delivers an interesting take on the friends-to-lovers trope, predictable at time, but enjoyable all the same, with a good balance of angst, light-hearted tones, and suspense. Millie is a spitfire of a young woman, and yet likable with her brave temper and good heart: “She had sworn never to marry, and of the Daring Three, she believed most strongly in her pledge. Or at least she had. Now, Millie wanted so very much to break it. Who would have thought a man’s kiss could ruin such a well-intentioned promise?” As for Charles (identified as Lord Chase most of the time), his transition from the emotionally detached, poised, stoic personality of a born war spy to the man in love, passionate, protective and possessive beyond redemption, is believable, but I had to wrestle a bit with the idea of him exposing Millie to the dangers of his undercover mission in order to protect her and unveil a political conspiracy. An engaging and gratifying read, A Woman Made For Pleasure, is the first installment in the Promises Trilogy. I look forward to Aimee’s and Jenelle’s stories.
I have yet to read a book from Ms. Sinclair that I did not love. I was a little disappointed when her new book was not medeval, but her writing in this time period proved to be just as fabulous. I cannot wait for the next two books in this series!