Fri
Sep 22 2017 12:07pm

Lily Maxton Excerpt: The Rogue’s Conquest

Lily Maxton

Wallflower Eleanor Townsend is not like most women. She has no interest in marriage, the ton, or fashion. Instead, her heart lies with science. And when the opportunity to present a paper arises, she takes it, even though it means dressing as a man. But her disguise doesn't quite work. Someone notices-and the brute intends to blackmail her!

Former prizefighter James MacGregor wants to be a gentleman, like the men he trains in his boxing saloon. His first step is gaining a beautiful, wealthy wife. Eleanor Townsend is not that woman, but a chance encounter gives him the leverage he needs. She'll gain him entry to high society and help him with his atrocious manners, and in return, he won't reveal her secret. It's the perfect arrangement. At least until the sparks between them become more than just their personalities clashing. But there's too much at stake for James to give in to his growing attraction.

Get a sneak peek at Lily Maxton's The Rogue's Conquest (available September 25, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

 “And now the four of us will join hands and turn.” She braced herself for that sweet, unwanted shock again. She’d expected it to be less potent than the first time, but it wasn’t. Oh, it wasn’t.

It was almost worse. Now she knew what he felt like, and she was still startled by the sensation.

He gripped her gently, loosely. Every time he shifted, the rough pads of his hands scraped across her knuckles. She was aware of every inch of her body—the tight clasp of her stays around her chest, tighter with each breath in and then easing, the soft but thick flannel stockings enveloping her legs, garters wrapping around her sensitive thighs. She was aware of her skin, for the first time, as a living, breathing thing. A thing that could feel pain and pleasure and sensation and want.

Eventually she couldn’t stand it anymore. She squeezed his hand in a ruthless grip. He glanced toward her, eyebrows raised.

When she didn’t ease her hold, he said, drily, “I’m starting to lose all sensation in my arm.”

Good, that was the point.

“One mustn’t become too complacent when one dances.”

She could feel his stare.

“Is Lady Sarah going to try to wrest my hand off?”

No, Lady Sarah would dance serenely, her hand cradled in MacGregor’s like it belonged there. Lady Sarah wouldn’t be stupid enough to forget to wear gloves. Eleanor was obviously not Lady Sarah.

She ignored him. “Why don’t we go through everything once more without stopping, and then we’ll teach you the cotillion. That one requires more footwork. You’ll need to practice.”

They took up their positions. If she pretended that Georgina’s humming was a small orchestra, if she imagined it was night, and silvery sunlight wasn’t seeping in through the windows, she could almost pretend they were actually at a ball.

“Can I speak during a set, or should I remain silent?” MacGregor asked as he bowed.

“You’ll be expected to make polite conversation.”

Hmm.” He grinned suddenly, an expression that didn’t hold any hint of sarcasm or challenge. “Have you seen any interesting beetles lately?”

Her heart did a strange little dance. They separated and she had to wait until he reached for her again. “It’s too cold for insects at the moment,” she pointed out.

“What do you do when you’re not observing insects?” He sounded interested, not as though he was only asking to make conversation.

Which might have been why she answered so readily. “Mostly I read. Since I’m not making my own studies, winter is a good time to catch up on all of the natural history articles that have been published.”

“Do you only read the ones regarding entomology?”

“I read as many as I can. Entomology first. But I enjoy botany, as well. Anything, really, that involves living things. I keep up with my sketching, too.”

“What do you sketch?”

“I’ll make sketches of insects from my cabinets. Or I’ll practice images from someone else’s article. Sometimes I’ll draw people, but not as often,” she said.

He cocked his head. “Have you drawn me?”

The question was in jest. She should have laughed. She should have brushed it off. All she did was look at him mutely, her tongue thick in her mouth.

“Cecil?”

She had sketched him. That first day, after they’d gone to the public house. She couldn’t not sketch him. She’d tried to capture the strength contained in his body, the strange grace. It was difficult to capture him without motion, but she’d attempted it, an accurate but pale facsimile. She hadn’t been satisfied.

“No,” she blurted out, unconvincingly. Silence filled the room, taut and anxious. She wished Robert and Georgina would break in, but they appeared just as interested in her answer as MacGregor did. “And if I did happen to sketch you,” she finally said, “it was only because your proportions are so odd.”

His brow furrowed, but he was still smiling slightly. He seemed more amused than offended. “What’s wrong with them?”

“You’re the size of a tree,” she said. “And your arms account for about half of that.” She knew she was being mean—and untruthful. He might be larger than most gentlemen, and certainly more muscular, but there was nothing wrong with his size or his proportions. But her options were either humiliation or lies, so she took the latter.

“Some women happen to enjoy large men,” he said silkily. “They sometimes like the feeling of being dominated…or so they’ve told me.”

Blood rushed to her cheeks. And to somewhere a little lower in her anatomy.

“Not appropriate,” Robert barked. She wished her brother had been so concerned about her dignity a few minutes earlier.

“Perhaps it would be a good time to stop for tea?” Georgina suggested.

“Yes, let’s,” Eleanor said quickly.

She moved as far away from James MacGregor as the drawing room possibly allowed, leaving Robert to glare at him.

She took the opportunity to snatch up a pair of gloves she’d left on the end table by the settee, and she began to breathe a little easier. As long as there was no skin-to-skin contact, she should be able to focus enough to make it through the cotillion.

She wouldn’t think about MacGregor’s entirely inappropriate comments. She wouldn’t think about him crawling over faceless, welcoming women, easing between their spread thighs, pressing them into the mattress… dominating them.

And she most certainly wouldn’t imagine herself in the place of those faceless women.

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Copyright © 2017 by Lily Maxton.
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Learn more about or order a copy of The Rogue's Conquestby Lily Maxton, available September 25, 2017:

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Lily Maxton grew up in the Midwest, reading, writing, and daydreaming amidst cornfields. After graduating with a degree in English, she decided to put her natural inclinations to good use and embark on a career as a writer.

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1 comment
Kareni
1. Kareni
That was an enjoyable excerpt! I'd happily read on.
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