A Courtesan's Scandal

A Courtesan's Scandal

by Julia London

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Julia London is at her best in this sensual Regency where a Duke must pretend his mistress is his wife.

Kate Bergeron is the beautiful and mysterious former mistress of a cloth merchant...and the latest beauty to capture the interest of the Prince of Wales. Mired in a disastrous divorce, the Prince attempts to distract attention from his next amorous pursuit by ordering Grayson Christopher, the eligible Duke of Darlington, to pretend to London society that he is having an affair with Kate. When Grayson reluctantly agrees to his Prince's demand, he finds the lady no more willing than he is. Kate will grudgingly act the part in public, but her favors are not for sale to any man. As Grayson and Kate mimic ardor for the world to see, they find what started as a deception becoming all too real. And when passion flames into love, their predicament becomes extreme. For while marriage between a duke and a courtesan could never happen, Kate knows in her heart that she is willing to accept nothing less...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501101984
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 09/27/2014
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Julia London is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than forty romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Highland Grooms historical series, including Wild Wicked Scot, Sinful Scottish Laird, Hard-Hearted Highlander, Devil in Tartan, Tempting the Laird, and Seduced by a Scot. She is also the author of several contemporary romances, such as the Homecoming Ranch series and the Lake Haven series, including Suddenly Dating, Suddenly in Love, and Suddenly Engaged. Julia is the recipient of the RT Book Reviews Award for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

London, England

Christmas, 1806

On a snowy Christmas Eve, as the most elite ranks of the haut ton gathered at Darlington House in London's Mayfair district to usher in the twelve days of Christmas, an annoyed Duke of Darlington was across town, striding purposefully down King Street through a light dusting of snow, studying the light fans above town-house doors in search of the intertwined letters G and K.

He passed a group of revelers who called out "Happy Christmas!" That annoyed the duke, as they blocked the walkway and forced him to tip his hat and step around them before he continued his examination of every fan above every door in the line of tidy, respectable town homes.

He found the G and K on the last town house, a large red brick building. Quite nice, actually; the duke could not help but wonder what salacious little act the resident had performed to earn a house of this quality.

He stepped up to the door, lifted the brass knocker, rapped three times, and waited impatiently. He was in a very cross mood to be sure. He'd never been so exploited, so ill-used —

The door swung open and a gentleman of average height with a flat nose, a shock of ginger hair, and wearing a rumpled suit of clothing stood before him. He looked the duke directly in the eye and offered no greeting.

"The Duke of Darlington," the duke announced gruffly as he reached into his coat pocket and withdrew a calling card. "I have come to call on Miss Bergeron. She is expecting me."

The man held out a silver tray. Darlington tossed his card onto it. "I'll tell her," the man said, and moved to shut the door.

But Darlington had been vexed beyond all civility; he quickly threw up a hand and blocked the door. "I'll wait inside, if you please."

The man's impassive expression didn't change. He shoved the door shut, leaving Darlington standing on the stoop.

"Bloody outrageous," Darlington muttered, and glanced up the street. In spite of the snow, people had set out to various holiday gatherings. He himself was expected a half hour ago on the other side of Green Park to preside over the annual soiree held for one hundred and fifty of his family's closest friends.

The door abruptly opened, startling Darlington. The man said, "Come."

Darlington swept inside and removed his beaver hat, which he thrust at the man. "What is your name?" he demanded.

"Butler."

"I do not mean your occupation," he said shortly, "but your name."

"Butler," the man responded just as shortly. "This way," he added, and carelessly tossed the duke's hat onto a console. The hat slid off the edge of the table and landed on its crown on the floor, but Butler walked on, lifting a candelabrum high to light the way.

He led Darlington up a flight of stairs, then down a corridor that was lined with paintings and expensive china vases stuffed full of hothouse flowers. The floor covering, Darlington noted, was a fine Belgian carpet.

Miss Bergeron had done very well for herself.

Butler paused before a pair of red pocket doors and knocked. A muffled woman's voice bid him enter. He looked at Darlington. "Wait," he said before entering the room, and left the doors slightly ajar.

Darlington sighed impatiently and glanced at his pocket watch again.

"Here now, darling," he heard a feminine voice say. "Tell me, how do you like this?"

"Mmm," a male voice answered.

Darlington jerked his gaze to the pair of doors and stared in disbelief.

"And this?" she asked with a bit of a chuckle. "Do you like it?"

The response, from what the duke could gather, was a sigh of pleasure.

"Ah, but wait, for you've not lived until you've — "

"Caller," Butler said.

"Not now, Kate," the male voice objected. "Please! You leave me with such a hunger for more!"

"Digby! Keep your hands away!" There was a slight pause, and then the woman said, "Oh. It's him. Please show him in, Aldous."

Darlington started when Butler pulled the doors wide open. He quickly glanced down, his sense of propriety making him avert his gaze from whatever lewd act he was sure he was interrupting.

"Your Grace?"

Darlington looked up. Whatever he might have expected, it was not the sight that greeted him. Yes, the room looked a bit like a French boudoir, with peachcolored walls, silken draperies, and overstuffed furnishings upholstered in floral chintz. There were gazettes, hats, and a cloak carelessly draped over a chair. But the woman inside was not lying on a daybed with a man on top of her as he'd suspected.

He was surprised to see her standing at a table piled high with pastries and sweetmeats. Moreover, there were Christmas boughs and hollies adorning the walls and the mantel, a dozen candles lit the room, and a fire was blazing in the hearth.

Her male companion, a portly fellow with thinning hair who easily weighed thirteen or fourteen stone, held nothing more lurid than a teacup. The sugary remnants of a pastry dusted his upper lip.

Darlington was stunned, first and foremost because he had supposed something entirely different was occurring in this room. But perhaps even more so because the woman, Miss Katharine Bergeron, was breathtaking.

Darlington had known this woman was unusually beautiful. He'd heard it from more than one quarter and he'd seen it with his own eyes not two nights past at the King's Opera House, when he'd attended the first London performance of Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito at the behest of his friend George, the Prince of Wales. He'd sat with George in the royal box, and it was George who had pointed out Katharine Bergeron. Seated two boxes away, she was in the company of Mr. Cousineau, a Frenchman who had made a respectable fortune selling luxurious fabrics to wealthy London society. Miss Bergeron was infamously his model and his mistress.

As Darlington observed her that evening, she'd leaned slightly forward in her seat, enraptured by the music. She'd worn a white silk gown trimmed in pink velvet that seemed to shimmer in the low light of the opera house. Pearls had dripped from her ears, her wrists, and more notably, her throat. Her hair, pale blond, was bound up with yet another string of pearls. She did not wear a plume, as so many ladies seemed to prefer, but instead allowed wisps of curls to drape the nape of her long, slender neck.

She'd turned her head slightly and discovered him observing her. She did not glance away shyly, but calmly returned his gaze a long moment before turning her attention to the stage once more.

Darlington had found her boldness mildly interesting. Nevertheless, he had not anticipated seeing her again...until George had summoned him. Now, he was standing in her private salon.

But she looked nothing like she had the night at the opera. She was beautiful, astonishingly so, but now, free of cosmetic, her beauty was simpler and natural. She wore a rather plain blue gown, an apron, and a shawl wrapped demurely around her shoulders. Her hair was not dressed, but hung long and full down her back.

"Your Grace," she said again, smiling warmly. She picked up a plate of muffins. "May I entice you with a Christmas treat? I just made them," she added proudly.

"They are divine, Your Grace," the portly man said, coming to his feet and bowing his head.

"No," Darlington said incredulously. Did they think he'd come for tea? "A word, madam?"

"Of course," she said, and handed the plate of muffins to her companion. "Please do go with Aldous, Digby, and mind you don't eat them all."

"I shall endeavor to be good," he said jovially, "but you know how wretched I can be." He patted his large belly, gave the duke another curt bow, and followed Butler out.

When they had left the room, Darlington frowned. "I regret that we've not had the courtesy of a proper introduction, but it would seem the situation does not lend itself to that."

"Yes," she said, eyeing the rest of the food on the table, "I had not expected you so soon."

"Your patron was rather insistent."

She gave him a wry look and gestured to a chair near the table. "Please do be seated. Are you certain I cannot tempt you to taste a muffin? I confess, I am learning the art of baking and I am not certain of the quality."

"No. You cannot."

"Please," she said again, gesturing to the chair. "I hope you will be at ease here."

"Miss Bergeron, I do not find the circumstances the least bit easy."

"Oh, I see," she said, lifting a fine brow.

He rather doubted she did. She was a courtesan, hardly accustomed to the pressures of propriety that he faced every day. "I have come as the prince has demanded to make your acquaintance and to mutually agree on a public appearance or two that will serve his...purpose," he said with distaste.

"Very well." She smiled then, and Darlington knew in that moment how she had captivated the prince.

But if she thought that he could be so easily seduced, she was very much mistaken. And pray tell, what was that just above the dimple on her cheek? A bit of flour? "There is the Carlton House Twelfth Night Ball," he said, a bit distracted by the flour.

"That would do. Shall I meet you there?"

"I will come for you."

Her smile seemed to grow even more enticing.

"There is an opera scheduled shortly thereafter. Will that suit?"

"I adore opera," she said smoothly.

"Very well," Darlington said. "That should suffice for the time being. Furthermore, may I remind you that in the course of this ruse," he said with an angry flick of his wrist, "I expect you to defer to me as one would defer to a peer. We are merely to be seen in public together and rely on the usual wagging tongues to do the rest. Therefore, I see no reason to touch or otherwise engage in any behavior that might be remarked upon by my esteemed family or close acquaintances. When these public events have concluded, I will ensure that you are escorted safely home, but I see no point in prolonging our contact any more than is required. Are we are agreed?"

She smiled curiously. "Are you always so officis?"

"Officis? Officious?"

"Yes! Officious," she said, apparently pleased with the word.

Officious! If only she knew what sacrifice he was making at the prince's behest. "Do not mistake me, Miss Bergeron. I have been coerced into this...charade," he bit out. "I take no pleasure in it. I would not give you the slightest cause for false hope of any sort. Now then — if we are agreed, I shall take my leave," he said again, and turned toward the door.

"If by false hope you mean that you will not taste my muffin and pronounce it delicious, you must not fret, Your Grace," she said, drawing his attention back to her. "I had no hope of it, I was merely being civil." She picked up a delicacy and walked toward him, her gaze unabashedly taking him in. "There is just one small matter," she said, pausing to bite into the delicacy. Her brows rose, and she smiled. "Mmm. Very good, if I do say so myself," she said, tilting her head back to look up at him, her pale green eyes softened by the length of her dark lashes.

Darlington had an insane urge to wipe the flour from her cheek. She was delicate, her height slightly below average. She had a softly regal bearing, an elegance that set her apart from most women. And her hair...her hair looked like spun silk.

"I should not like to give you cause for false hope, either. Therefore, I must make it perfectly clear that this arrangement is not my preference any more than, apparently, it is yours. I am not yours to use — you may not touch me or otherwise take liberty with my person."

Darlington cocked one dark brow above the other and focused on her mouth, her lush lips. He knew what pleasure a man would find in kissing that mouth. "You may rest assured, Miss Bergeron, that is neither my desire nor my intent. I find the suggestion quite distasteful."

Something flickered in her eyes, and she smiled. "Really? No man has ever said that to me." She popped the last little bit of the delicacy into her mouth.

Did this chit not know who he was? What power he wielded in the House of Lords? In London? He shifted slightly so that he was towering over her. She did not seem the least bit cowed.

"I am saying it, Miss Bergeron. I am not the prince. I am not bowled over by your beauty or your apparent bedroom charms."

"Splendid! We should get on quite nicely, then, for I am not a debutante yearning for your attention or a match."

For once, Darlington was speechless. "Is there anything else?" he asked curtly as she calmly...and provocatively...used the tip of her finger to wipe the corner of her mouth.

"Yes. You may call me Kate," she said. "What may I call you?"

"Your Grace," he snapped, and strode out of the room.

Copyright © 2009 by Dinah Dinwiddie

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Courtesan's Scandal 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In London of 1806, Kate Bergeron has come a long way from her impoverished childhood as she has become mistress to a cloth merchant. However, she climbs higher up the social ladder when the Prince of Wales wants her. Prinny is in the midst of a public divorce so must conceal his planned trysts with his latest mistress. He asks in a way the duke cannot refuse him, that Grayson Christopher pretend to be Kate's newest lover; he does not even bother to ask Kate as he expects her to comply. Kate and Grayson assume their masquerading as a couple will be a front for the Prince to hide his assignation, but no more. Neither expected to be attracted to one another although each understands the danger if they begin to make love let alone fall in love. A COURTESAN'S SCANDAL in an intriguing refreshing Regency romance as inadvertently the Prince plays matchmaker and relationship breaker. The cast is strong including the Prince who sets up quite a dilemma for the lead couple. Fans will appreciate Julia London's charmer as love proves dangerous to a duke and his not so pretend mistress as neither known how the capricious Prinny will react if he learns the truth. Harriet Klausner
TheBooknerd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very sweet, fun-to-read story. Julia London's books are always entertaining, and this one is no exception.
bookmagic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I haven't read a romance novel in ages. I've read mystery/romance but not romance alone. So I signed up to read A Courtesan's Scandal for Pocket Book Blog Tours. I am so glad I did; I forget how really good these can be. Kate Bergeron was the mistress of a cloth merchant, who catches the eye of Prince George, who then purchases her for himself. But the prince is currently trying to divorce his wife and needs to avoid scandal. He sets Kate up in a house and and requests his friend Grayson Christopher, the Duke of Darlington, to escort her around town. The prince doesn't want anyone to try to steal Kate from him and knows they will stay away if they think Kate is with the Duke. Grayson loathes the idea, but must do as the prince asks. Grayson is surprised to discover the beautiful, down-to-earth Kate, who has only become a courtesan, to avoid living on the streets on London, since she was on her own at age thirteen. Kate discovers love for the first time. But she and Grayson can't be together; he must marry someone appropriate to his station in life and she belongs to the prince. He will destroy them both if they betray him.my review:I really liked this book. First of all, I'm a sucker for historical novels set in the 1800's London. Second, this was very well-written. Kate is not the usual young virginal heroine, but she is strong and longs for independence. And when she falls for Grayson, she either wants it all, or nothing. Kate gives money to try to help keep other woman off the street. And she longs to save enough money to open her own bakery and not have to depend on any man. She is also searching for her long-lost brother, Jude. There is a sub-plot where Grayson's brother is trying to get the British slave trade abolished.my rating 4.5/5additional ratings that were inspired (blatantly stolen) from my friend Colette at A Buckeye Girl ReadsSigh Meter- HighSwoonworthy Meter- mediumHotness Meter- HighCheesy factor- almost nonethanks to Pocket Books for my review copy.
Jac8604 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What I liked most about A Courtesan's Scandal was the heroine, Kate. I've read a few historicals with courtesans cast as the protagonist, however, London managed to make Kate refreshing. I liked that she was optimistic and sweet instead of jaded. On the other hand, my feelings for Grayson are lukewarm. It's not that I don't like him, I'm just indifferent. The story was a good one and it has convinced me to try the previous books in this series, including: Highland Scandal, The Book of Scandal and Snowy Night with a Stranger, which has London's novella 'Snowy Nights with a Highlander' in it.
bookwormygirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kate Bergeron is the beautiful and mysterious former mistress of a cloth merchant...and the latest beauty to capture the interest of the Prince of Wales. Mired in a disastrous divorce, the Prince attempts to distract attention from his next amorous pursuit by ordering Grayson Christopher, the eligible Duke of Darlington, to pretend to London society that he is having the affair with Kate. When Grayson reluctantly agrees to his Prince's demand, he finds the lady no more willing than he is. Kate will grudgingly act the part in public, but her favors are not for sale to any man. As Grayson and Kate mimic ardor for the world to see, they find what started as a deception becoming all too real. And when passion flames into love, their predicament becomes extreme. For while marriage between a duke and a courtesan could never happen, Kate knows in her heart that she is willing to accept nothing less... [borrowed from back cover of book]Kate, although a courtesan, is not for sale. She is beautiful, strong-willed and has a sharp tongue. And, although she must play the part of actually liking Grayson in public, she has no qualms about her true feelings in private. Grayson, or Christie (as he is called), is the dark and brooding Duke. He¿s such a stickler to what is expected of him and propriety. Not to mention he is also highly influenced by his family. An affair with a courtesan might be something that can be overlooked but to actually fall in love and marry one is unheard of.I thought Ms. London did a fabulous job with this novel. I loved her writing style - it was very distinct. She gave a life and energy to her characters that I found endearing. I loved the dialogue between Kate and Grayson. I also loved how they initially couldn't stand each other yet their relationship slowly grew - making you fell all gushy inside along with them. Although this novel is part of a series (which I had not idea as I was reading this), it can obviously be read as a stand-alone novel.Ms. London has once again done a superb job and I highly recommend. This is historical romance at its best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PennyHend More than 1 year ago
I loved this one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Julia London's book. This was my first and I thought it was really good. I love to read romance novels with a twist. This one was very interesting because a duke falls in love with a courtesan, and he wants to be with her. I am a romantic and I love that Grayson would give everything up to be with Kate. That does not happen very often. Very interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Acanoffleas More than 1 year ago
Redonk Nutshell: Attraction ignites between two pawns in the Prince's game to have a forbidden beautiful courtesan to himself A Courtesan's Scandal by Julia London is the tale set during London's period of drama between Princess Caroline and and crown Prince. The Prince has his eye set on stunning courtesan Kate Bergeron, but he can't touch her so long as the authorities in England are investigating into alleged "treasonous" adultery between the prince and princess. The prince enlists the help of the Duke of Darlington, Grayson Robert Henry Christopher to lure society into believing Kate is his mistress. (Are you following all this?) Grayson reluctantly agrees, and upon first meeting Kate he treats her with contempt of her lowly station as a whore, more or less, and instead of simpering beneath his boot, Kate throws it back at him. Thus, the game begins. Though predictable (and entirely unbelievable), A Courtesan's Scandal is a fun read involving tortured souls Kate and Grayson. What really makes this story worth reading is the transformation of Grayson's ducal cold exterior into one of tender compassion. He's stuffy, pompous, entitled, and entirely wrapped up in his own world until Kate is forced upon him and she refuses to accept his disdain. Kate chose to become a courtesan to keep herself off the street. Having only ever had one protector, the crown prince is only to be her second lover. It's a job she's willing to take, though she isn't necessarily pleased about it. Kate is a gentle, simple soul. She works to try to help those less fortunate, and she typically manages to find pleasure in the simple things in life. Like baking. When Grayson enters her life, she finds herself thrown a bit off balance, but Kate has always been one to adapt quickly. When the duke begins to soften toward her, however, she unwillingly allows herself to do the one thing she had previous forbidden: fall in love Fun, frisky and, at times, humorous, A Courtesan's Scandal is a fun historical romance. A Courtesan's Scandal by Julia London 371 pgs, pub 2009 Rating: C Romance: 2/5 Raunch: 3/5
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RMDN More than 1 year ago
Ms. London did an adequate job of establishing Kate's reasons for her somewhat dubious occupation as opposed to the typically virtuous heroine. However, the chemistry between the hero and heroine took too long to establish, if it was ever established at all. Admittedly, I stopped being interested in their story halfway through the book. I was interested enough in their fates to skip to the end. I'd hoped to find something enticing in the last few chapters that would pique my curiosity enough for me to turn back and find out all the juicy details. Unfortunately, there wasn't. There was some pontificating on the part of the Duke as he lectured a room full of his peers on their self-righteousness. There was a family reunion of sorts. And there was the obligatory "I love you" exchange. Regrettably, this potentially extraordinary love story turned out to fall flat.
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The main character's attraction was good, but the overall story itself, I found to be somewhat boring.
srbSH More than 1 year ago
This time it comes with the demand from Prinny made on Grayson Christopher, scion of the powerful Darlington family, to appear to the ton to be the lover of courtesan Kate Bergeron. Christie is disgusted, but he goes along with it. Parallel themes of slavery and the London (English) poor hold the story together: Christie's brother Merrick is working with the real life Wilberforce to do away with slavery and Kate represents the plight of lower-class women especially, who are kept in abject poverty or forced into prostitution. Then there's the double standard of adultery that is allowed in the ton and punished among the lower classes. Kate has managed to rise out of squalor because of her incredible beauty, which has attracted Prinny who sets her up as his mistress-to-be AND the Duke who at first disdained her. But Kate is plain spoken, feisty, and above all, good. She not only opens her heart to Christie, but also opens his eyes to the politics of the rich vs. the poor and has him questioning what is honor and duty and acting on what he knows to be right.