A one-night charade to save the family sugar plantation wins loyal and determined Rose Chesterfield more than she bargained for – marriage to the deliciously notorious rake, Viscount Rampton. ”A love match!” proclaims London’s catch of the season who happily admits he has been hoist on his own petard.
But when his new wife is implicated in the theft of several diamond necklaces he wonders if her deception goes beyond trapping him into marriage. Is she the innocent she claims, or a scheming fortune hunter with a penchant for money, mischief and men?
EXCERPT: (The following scene takes place as Lord Rampton cynically contemplates Rose’s inevitable demands after the two of them have been discovered in a compromising situation in his bedchamber by Rose’s brother.)
‘MISS CHESTERFIELD.’ Miss Chesterfield. The name should have provoked rage; instead, Rampton was dismayed by a surge of feeling that was so far from rage as to render him no better than a drooling schoolboy when confronted with the object of his adolescent obsession.
‘Show her in,’ he said, struggling for the self-possession that had always been second nature to him and tossing aside the reading matter which had failed to engage his attention for the past hour.
So, she had come to state her terms.
Having been caught well and truly in flagrante delicto, he accepted he had no one but himself to blame. Experience with women had tuned his antennae finely when it came to sensing all manner of ruses calculated to inveigle him into matrimony. But Lady Chesterfield – Miss Chesterfield, as it turned out – had slipped entirely under his guard.
Stonily he faced the door while he waited for her to enter, the events of the past week flashing through his mind. For twenty-four hours after she’d been hauled off by her brother, Rampton had paced his study like a caged lion, fuelling his anger with the multiple lies and untruths she’d fed him as he tried to relive exactly the moment at which he should have become aware of her deception. Any half-intelligent man would have sensed that not all was as it seemed at the very outset, he told himself.
Cynically, he had waited for Miss Chesterfield to call and negotiate the terms of his matrimonial incarceration. He had practiced all manner of snide and ironic responses, while his anticipation at seeing her again had grown steadily more unbearable.
He wanted only to tell her what he thought of her.
So he assumed.
But she had not come, and that had been worse.
After three days he’d snapped. Arriving unannounced, he had confronted a pale and patently uncomfortable Sir Charles in his study and stonily dictated the terms of a marriage contract. He was a man of honour and he had compromised a lady. She was the clear victor in their final round; she had more than just pinked him. Now he must pay the price.
Rampton had been prepared for a rambling defence from Sir Charles of his sister’s behaviour. And, if Sir Charles were in a robust mood, perhaps a healthy lashing of recrimination for Rampton.
But when the young baronet said only that his sister did not wish to marry him Rampton was at last moved to anger.
‘Doing it too brown, sir!’ he declared. ‘She engineered that little scene so that I’d have no choice but to suffer her joy as she leg-shackled me on her triumphant progress towards the altar!’
Sir Charles, looking white around the gills, concurred miserably, ‘I know, I know. But she’s made me tell you, expressly, my lord, that she has no intention of holding you to marriage. That, in fact, she does not desire it.’
‘Does not desire it?’
He could not believe it. It was all part of the charade. There was a trick involved somewhere, though he could not see it.
Not want to marry him?
Why, every unmarried female participating in the social whirligig was there because she wanted to get married and most of them saw waltzing off with him as the ultimate feather in their caps.
Not want to marry him? When she’d gone to such pains to ensure him?
The very notion was preposterous.
He would not believe it.
An Interview with author Beverly Eikli
Helena is such a deliciously dastardly villainess. Tell us a little about how she came into being.
You’ve discovered my weak spot: villains. Or, in this case, villainesses. Sometimes I love them more than my heroines and yes, that’s fatal, I agree. When A Little Deception was first published I had to cut 15000 for my publisher, Robert Hale, which had me toning down Helena who was too dominant – certainly to the detriment of deserving Rose. That’s when I ventured into erotic Romance under my Beverley Oakley name where my heroines were more like the designing Helena who knew exactly what they wanted and how to get it.
Rose is very trusting, often to her own detriment. Did you ever worry that perhaps she was too gullible?
As I mentioned, A Little Deception comes in two versions and this one was rewritten extensively after I got my rights back from Robert Hale who published it in 2010. I added 15,000 words, worked hard to make Rose a deserving heroine and, in response to earlier reviews, tried to tone down Helena who some readers found more interesting than Rose. Clearly I failed. However, in the first version I actually killed Helena off. I felt I had no choice. She was completely taking over the story and my loyalties *had* to be with my heroine, Rose. In this second version, I simply couldn’t do that, so I devised a more fitting ending for poor old Helena. One that was more in keeping with her crimes. After all, if you’re incredibly beautiful and irresistible to men but married to a complete milksop, what would be the worst that could happen in retribution. No, not a clean bullet through the heart. Something much worse…
And Rose was much more a person like everyday me, but married to a delicious rake. She had a difficult path to tread.
I would have liked to have seen some more of Felix and Arabella’s relationship. Have you any intention of writing their story at some point?
If enough readers wanted me to elaborate on Arabella and Felix’s story, I’d certainly consider it. I’ve just been so busy lately with my erotic historical romance series for Ellora’s Cave – A Downtown Abbey-esque ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ with sex under my Beverley Oakley name – and winning UK Publisher Choc-Lit’s ‘Search for An Australian Star’ competition with three books to get ready for them. Definitely, 2012 has ended on a hugely high note for me and I can’t wait for the Romantic Times Convention in Kansas City in May to meet my two UK publishers – Choc-Lit and Total-e-Bound – and my US publisher, Ellora’s Cave.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Beverley Oakley wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page (p550!) was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.After throwing in her secure job on South Australia’s metropolitan daily The Advertiser to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, Beverley discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire.
Eighteen years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland’s ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia living a more conventional life with her husband and two daughters in a pretty country town an hour north of Melbourne. She writes Regency Historical Intrigue as Beverley Eikli and erotic historicals as Beverley Oakley.
Buy A Little Deception – http://www.amazon.com/A-Little-Deception-ebook/dp/B009HKKCKM/ref=tmm_kin_title_0