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Chapter One


Berkshire, England

1814


If ever a gentleman stood in need of forbearance then this confounded house party surely fit the bill. Jonathan Oliver, Earl of Selwood, stood amid the giddy throng and wished himself elsewhere. The perfumed stench of his best friends’ circle of acquaintances—each resplendent in more silk, satin, and sparkling jewels than necessary—choked the very breath from his lungs.

Jonathan eased out of the mind-numbingly boring conversation he’d become trapped in and moved away in search of more appealing quarry. Unfortunately, a hand clamped over his upper arm before he’d gone very far.

I tell you she’s up to no good, Selwood.”

Jonathan groaned but turned to face his friend, Lord Warminster. “To whom do you refer to this time?”

Warminster’s fingers tightened. “Lady Warminster, of course.”

Jonathan glanced down at the hand that held him in place. “How so?”

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