This week's book choice - Kristin Vayden "To Refuse a Rake"

To Refuse a Rake
                     by Kristin Vayden


            “I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I can guarantee I wouldn’t like it if I knew.” Emma spoke under her breath as Hudson began to escort her to where Lady Hodge waited.
            “On the contrary, Miss Kingsly. You would love it.” Hudson gave her his most charming and devilish smile before turning to offer his arm to Lady Hodge. “So much in fact that I promise to show you later,” he said, turning toward Emma once again.
            “You’re assuming I’ll tolerate your company that long,” Emma shot back, but her lips were tilted slightly upward. Apparently she enjoyed their verbal sparring as much as he.
            “True. I’ll make you a wager, Miss Kingsly.”

            “And I’ll refuse, Lord Daventry. Ladies in India might wager, but here in London, we do not,” she clipped and glanced away.
            “A... venture then. Unless you are not up to the challenge, of course.” He was taunting her. He also could tell that she saw through his transparent attempt to draw her in. But he suspected that she wouldn’t be able to resist his jab to her abilities.
            She watched him with those alluring sea blue eyes and just when he thought she would refuse, she spoke. “I’m not so foolish to fall for your baiting, Lord Daventry. But you have piqued my curiosity. What did you have in mind?”
            “I venture... that you will have more suitors tonight in your beautiful and fresh appearance, than if you were to dress as richly and adorn yourself as usual.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. Certainly, she had thought something entirely different. Hudson bit back a smug grin at catching her unaware once again.
            “There is no way that all the men of the ton are going to find my lack of a beautiful gown and governess coiffeur alluring.” She shook her head in disbelief.
            “Then you accept?” Hudson held his breath. “What is to be your prize?” Her eyes narrowed and she watched him warily.

            “A kiss.”
            “Then by your own words, you have admitted that I’m correct.”
            “What? How so?” She paused mid-step and turned toward him.
            Hudson gently pulled her over to the side, allowing Lady Hodge, who looked as
if suppressing laughter, and a few oblivious couples to pass.
            “If I’m so very wrong, and you are so certain, then there is really no risk now, is
there? Or are you admitting that I am correct?” Hudson speared her with an intense gaze, waiting.
            “Of course you aren’t correct, but...” she stammered. Her gloved hands tightened into fists.
            “But what?” He raised one eyebrow.

            She bit her bottom lip, causing Hudson’s body to tighten with awareness. How he wanted to taste her.
            “The temptation to see you lose is worth that small risk of kissing you.” She decided, nodding her head once.
            “Splendid!” Hudson clapped his hands and rubbed them together before he began to lead her back toward the path.
            “Wait! What do I win when you admit defeat?” She stubbornly stood her ground, refusing to move.

            “What do you wish to be your prize?”
            “I want you to leave me alone. No more baiting me and inviting yourself over and leaving me without a chance to decline. No more winking, handsome smiles, or—”
            “You think my smile is handsome?” Hudson beamed.
            “That’s not the point—” Emma turned red, clearly flustered.
            “You must pick one. I only asked for one prize, you named four or five. I lost
count after you called my smile handsome,” Hudson continued, his wide grin, unable to help himself.
            Emma took a deep breath, causing the modest cut of the gown to expand just enough to give Hudson an enticing view of her bosom. The gentle curve teased him and taunted him with no mercy and he closed his eyes against the onslaught of desire.
            “If I must pick one, then it’s for you to... not speak to me.”
            “So I may do other things that do not involve speaking? I accept! After all, there is always art, drawing, letters, songs...” Hudson winked.
            “No, I accepted and we’re in accord. You’re not backing out... are you, Miss Kingsly?” Hudson gave her a challenging glare.

She straightened her posture and a defiant gleam sparked from her eyes.
            “No. I’m not. You might want to start practicing your penmanship, Lord Daventry. You’re going to need it in only a few short hours... that is, if you’re still
wanting to somehow communicate with me by then.” She raised her eyebrows and shot him a wry expression, walking toward the entrance once again.
            “Don’t forget singing. I’m told I have a lovely baritone.” Hudson called after her, grinning at her obvious assurance of winning. “Perhaps it should be you who is warming up, Miss Kingsly,” Hudson whispered next to her ear as he caught up with her. The alluring fragrance of cinnamon and orange flooded his senses, making him heady with desire.

“Warming up?” She glanced over to him, but didn’t lean back when she noticed how close he was. Maybe she was already warming up. Goodness knows that Hudson found himself hot with his own need.
            “Yes. To me.” He glanced down to her lips meaningfully and barely suppressed a groan when she parted them slightly, letting her pink tongue dart out to moisten them.
“I’m not afraid of you, Lord Deventry,” she vowed.
            "I’ve never wished you to be.” Hudson nodded and escorted her into the hall, praying he was correct. The last thing he wanted to do was to sing and write letters for the rest of the season. Though he would if necessary, because even if he lost the venture, he'd still find a way to win her heart.

Author bio:
Kristin is a stay at home mom of four ( soon to be five!) children. She stays busy with homeschooling three of them and chasing the fourth around the house. Her inspiration for the romance she writes comes from her tall, dark and handsome husband with killer blue eyes. She loves to make soap, sauerkraut, sourdough bread and gluten free muffins. Life is full of blessings and she praises God for the blessed and abundant life He's given her.


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