Lessons from a Courtesan

Lessons from a Courtesan

by Jenna Petersen

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Lesson #1: Every man loves a mystery.

A scandalous siren called "Ria" has electrified the ton. Every gentleman in London desires her; every woman envies her. And they are all desperate to know the secrets of the tantalizing, seductively beautiful courtesan. All except Justin, the Earl of Baybary. He knows all about Ria. He learned every inch of her tender skin, every taste of her luscious lips . . . on their wedding night.

Lesson #2: No man can make you lose control . . . unless you let him.

Though theirs was an arranged marrige, still Victoria surrendered to passion and gave herself to Justin completely. When he left her alone the next morning, she swore she would never again let him into her bed. Now, though she has other reasons for returning to the city, she enjoys tormenting Justin, letting him see the way other men lust for her. But keeping herself from him is such exquisite torture . . . and forgiveness will lead to an ecstasy unbelievably divine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061138140
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/24/2008
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 841,290
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

Two of Jenna Petersen's childhood dreams wereto be a ballerina and a baseball player. Those didn't work out,but she's pleased to be following another childhood dream,writing books for a living. And what better than romance,where dreams come true on every page? Jenna lives in centralIllinois with her high school sweetheart husband andtwo taskmaster cats. She loves to hear from readers.

Read an Excerpt

Lessons From a Courtesan



By tomorrow morning, she would no longer be a virgin. Victoria Reed...no...Victoria Talbot stared at herself in the mirror. How could she be unchanged when in a span of little more than hours, her whole world had been altered completely?

She had a new name and a new home. She even had a title. Lady Baybary. The Countess of Baybary.

It didn't sound right. It wasn't right.

Victoria covered her face with her hands. Just a month ago, she had been living her normal life. Yes, she had to endure her father's drunken tirades and suspicious ramblings, but she was accustomed to those things.

And then, seemingly out of nowhere, her father had come to her with the news that he'd arranged a marriage for her with Justin Talbot, Earl of Baybary and the son of her father's former best friend. A man he now despised and cursed regularly. When she dared inquire how and why he had picked that match, she'd gotten a harsh slap and no further answers.

And now here she was, sitting in the master chamber of her new husband's sprawling country estate, looking at herself in the mirror. And wondering what in the world her father had gotten her into.

Loud voices outside the door intruded upon her troubled reverie. She shot to her feet and took a step forward. Though she couldn't make out the words being said, she recognized the sound of her father's slurred cadence. He was drunk again.His companion was also shockingly familiar. It was her new husband. Though they'd conversed all of a dozen times in the last month, his voice was already one she knew in an instant. Dark and husky, a low rumble thatcame from deep within his chest.

The voices went up in volume. They were arguing. Victoria moved toward the door and leaned closer. She could make out only the angry tone and occasional words like drunk, annulment, wife, and secret, which pierced the barrier occasionally. She winced at each one.

Justin Talbot had been surprisingly quiet on the subject of their marriage, keeping to polite, empty exchanges when they were alone. She had assumed this marriage was some kind of business arrangement, but now she wondered . . . was he being forced into the union as much as she had been?

And if that were the case, how would he treat her? She had been unable to determine her fiancé's true character so far.

Before she could ponder that troubling thought any further, the door she was leaning against opened and Victoria stumbled forward. Strong arms caught her as her forehead came to rest against a broad, warm chest. Well, there was no denying she'd been eavesdropping on Justin and her father now.

Slowly, she looked up and met her new husband's eyes. Dear heavens, he was a handsome devil with his harshly defined features, strong jaw, and sensual lips.If she had to describe him in one word, it would have been dark. Dark hair, dark eyes that hid his emotions handily, and a dark aura that seemed to swirl around him. With just a look, even an innocent could see he was a man of secrets, of vices, of everything his reputation spoke of and more.

She pulled from his hold and staggered back a few steps. He said nothing, simply stared at her . . . waiting.

"I...I heard voices," she stammered, hating the heat that flooded her cheeks. She didn't want to show him that weakness. "I was not trying to pry."

"Weren't you?" he asked, his tone measured. There was no indication if he was amused or angry or affronted. "And what did you hear?"

She shook her head. "Nothing."

He watched her for a long moment, as if judging the truth of that statement. Then he stepped into the chamber and shut the door behind him. He stared at her, his gaze roving over her body with a lazy possessiveness that made her spine stiffen. He was appraising her, as someone would do with a cow or a horse!

Worse, as angry as that thought made her, she wondered how she came up in his estimation. He, a man rumored to be a voracious lover; she, a woman in a white cotton night rail.

"You needn't look at me like I'm going to strangle you in your bed," he said quietly. "I have no intention of harming you. The voices you heard were mine and your father's." His dark gaze grew even darker. "Mr. Reed was simply wishing us well before he departed for the inn."

Now it was her eyes that narrowed, but in disbelief. "What you are describing doesn't sound like something my father would do, Lord Baybary. And you two were clearly not having a warm good-bye. You were arguing."

His gaze, which had been fixed on the bottle of whiskey across the room, flitted to her face, and his expression was one of surprise. Again, Victoria's stomach tightened with anxiety. She had been impertinent. Who knew what punishment that would garner her?

But he didn't roar or strike her. Instead, Justin tilted back his head and let out a chuckle. "I've always appreciated spirit in a woman."

Victoria pursed her lips. "I don't find the situation amusing, my lord. If you were somehow forced into marrying me, I demand the truth."

His laughter faded, and he looked at her again. Again, the gaze was appraising, but this time it wasn't her body he was making an account of. It was something deeper. Her intent, perhaps. Her character. But he gave no outward indication about his conclusions.

"First, you should call me Justin," he said. "We are married, the pretense of titles seems foolish. Secondly, it doesn't really matter how or why we came to this 'union.' We are here now, legally wed. Well, almost legally. One thing remains to be done to make the marriage a binding one."

Victoria stared at him and watched as his gaze slipped pointedly to the big bed along the back wall of the large chamber. His eyebrow arched, and he stood silent as she stared at it. His bed. How many other women had shared it before her?

How many would share it after?

"Yes," she finally said, clearing her throat so her voice wouldn't crack. It still did. "There is that. I, er, my father and my maid told me a little about what I'm to experience tonight. I realize it is my duty, and I assure you I will do my best to bear it."

Justin's eyebrow arched even higher, and he took a step toward her. Slowly he reached out and cupped her chin. Instantly a shot of hot awareness sliced through Victoria, taking her aback and making her jolt a little at the touch.

"You know, you are quite lovely," he said absently, as if he had never noticed it before. His thumb swirled gentle circles against her cheek. "You should forget whatever nonsense you were told, Victoria."

Lessons From a Courtesan
. Copyright © by Jenna Petersen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Lessons from a Courtesan 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jenna Petersen is well-known for her superb Regency Lady Spy Series and her well-written sensually alluring erotic romances written under the pseudonym Jess Michaels. ¿Lessons from a Courtesan¿ is a delicious perfect blend of both Ms. Petersen and Michaels. Victoria Reed is a beautiful innocent who has been used as a pawn by her father when he blackmails the handsome, Justin Talbot, Earl of Baybary to marry Victoria. Victoria is taken in passionately by the handsome earl and feels she can make this marriage work, even if arranged, especially after an intense sensual wedding night that turns passion and desire into love for Victoria. Suddenly all of her dreams drift away as Justin shows her passion on their wedding night, awakens her sensuality, only to leave her alone at his country estate as he leaves for London the following morning. For three years, Victoria expertly runs Justin¿s estate and transfers her passion and love for him to his people and lands and buries her sadness of abandonment with special friendships with a few ladies in the district. Suddenly one of their friends is missing after leaving the country and finding a protector in London. Victoria and her other friend Marah arrange for Victoria to become the famous Courtesan ¿Ria¿ as a cover so they can find the whereabouts of their friend. As the men of London are rushing to Victoria¿s side, frenzied to become the famous ¿Ria¿s protector, Victoria runs into Justin. Both are enraged to see each other and Justin realizes that he will not stand another man having what is his and that he has never stopped thinking of Victoria and their sensual wedding night all these years. Can Justin keep Victoria from finding a protector bring her back to his bed, while not admitting that he really is and has been attracted to her, missing her all this time? Can Victoria continue her quest to find her friend while ignoring the desire and intense passion she has never lost for Justin? Soon Justin discovers Victoria¿s true reason for being in London posing as a courtesan, and begins to blackmail her, claiming that he will find her friend while sharing her bed. Will Justin and Victoria come to terms with all the lies and early blackmail in their marriage and deal with the intense sexual attraction that soon turns to love, so they can finally have a true marriage? ¿Lessons from a Courtesan¿ is an extremely sexy story with characters so interesting the reader simply cannot put this book down. Be ready to sit back, turn off the television, stop everything, and be ready to read this book in one night!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Justin Talbot, Earl of Baybary, was blackmailed into marriage and left his new bride right after the wedding night. Years later, he's back in London and discovers that the famous courtesan, Ria, who all the gentleman are raving about, is none other than his timid, estranged wife, Victoria. But Justin soon learns that Victoria is not so shy anymore. Once the shock of her husband's abrupt departure on their wedding night wore off, it turned to anger and emboldened Victoria. She has come to London under the guise of a courtesan to find a friend (a former courtesan) who has gone missing. When she is confronted by her errant husband, she tries to brush him off. Not to be rebuffed, Justin is bound and determined to discover all of his wife's secrets, which may be more than he'd bargained for. ******* This book was so good, I could not put it down. It's dark, emotional and very sexy. Ms. Petersen did a fantastic job of bringing two people together, who each told lies and harbored many secrets, in a very believeable way. The interactions between Justin, a total alpha hero, and Victoria were fraught with sexual tension and the love scenes were smokin' hot. And the 'lessons' at the beginning of each chapter were a very nice touch. Jenna Petersen gets better and better with every book she writes. I highly recommend this one!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1812 Justin Talbot and Victoria Reed marry although they do not know one another. The Earl and his new bride share a passionate night together as he explores every inch of her delightful body. The next morning she wakes up to learn her husband left without a word. For the next three years, she runs his estate, but he never returns from London and she never goes there.------------- In 1815 Victoria learns of the disappearance of a close friend widow Chloe Hillsborough in London. Thus she decides to go to the big city to see if she can find Chloe. She masquerades as Ria, the sexy courtesan, who has the Ton in a titter the men want her while the women want her to leave. Justin knows who she is, but is outraged when he hears men claim they took her. As he makes his bid to regain the trust of his wife, they fall in love, but he knows finding her friend is the only way she will believe he is sincere this time.--------------- LESSONS FROM A COURTESAN is an exciting Regency romance starring two stubborn lead characters who refuse to admit their love for one another. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Justin realizes the talk of the Ton is his wife and Ria realizes the only touch she desires is that of her husband. Jenna Peterson provides an enjoyable early nineteenth century romp starring the battling Talbots.-------------- Harriet Klausner
doxiemomx2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really want to like this book, but it just didn't work for me. Justin was closed-off and rather hostile through at least 3/4 of the book. All that the characters seem to share was sensual passion. I just didn't buy it. Also, the story ended too abruptly. I am looking forward to better books from Jenna Petersen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent and quick read...romance and mystery
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It had a good.plot, however all of justin's liasons were hurtful and sad. Not to mentiin how dare he to.act.like her not telling him her secret was as bad as his countless affairs! Of coarse she didnt tell him, he didnt come around or couldnt stop having affairs long enough to find out. He should have begged for forgiveness.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of all of Jenna Petersen's other books. This one was just disappointing. Generally speaking I am fine with the storyline - husband is forced to marry (or not) and then runs off abandoning the bride after the wedding (actually or just in distance in their relationship). Life often gives people second chances so fiction should as well. Justin Talbot, though, is not a hero, and I wouldn't take him back. Blaming the wife you abandoned for things beyond her control and then blaming her essentially because you abandoned her does not endear a romantic hero to me. Also, the fact that she accepts that the situation is her fault just made crazy. Her other books are great, I just saw nothing to love in these two main characters.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The story idea was interesting but the interaction and conversations between the characters was disappointing.
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