Wicked And The Wallflower by Sarah MacLean is the first novel in the The Bareknuckle Bastards series! Check out an exclusive excerpt from the historical romance novel here.
Lady Felicity Faircloth and the Devil make a deal, thinking that they both want the same thing. He promised to help Felicity land a marriage to the Duke that’s looking for a wife, but what she doesn’t know is that the Devil has another plan of his very own.
In order to get revenge the Devil must make the Duke fall for Felicity, only to steal her away. The Devil may be experienced in ruling over the dark streets of London, but when it comes to matters of the heart he’s out of his league. In no time at all Felicity has the Devil rethinking all of his plans for the future.
‘Wicked And The Wallflower’ by Sarah MacLean exclusive excerpt:
His scar went white and a muscle pounded in his cheek. “He touched you. Your hair.” His gaze was locked on it where it fell around her shoulders, unpinned.
She shook her head. “Yes, but not much. It’s only down because I gave the women my hairpins.”
“Not much?” he said, drawing closer to her. “I saw him with a lock of it in his filthy paw. I heard him describe it. Like silk. And I heard you cry out when he pulled it.” He paused, his throat working to keep words back. Words that came anyway. “He touched it. And I haven’t.”
An echo came from earlier, from inside his bedchamber, the words he used to describe her hair. Hair that I imagine falls in rich, mahogany waves when it is pulled from its severe moorings.
Her eyes went wide. “I didn’t know you wished to—”
He lifted his hand, then, and for a moment, she thought he would do it. Touch her. For a moment, she imagined what it would be like for him to slide his strong fingers into her hair and run them along her scalp, now free from the tight binds of hairpins and coifs. She imagined leaning into that touch. Leaning up to him.
Him leaning down to her.
“I should take it,” he whispered. “My payment. I should touch it.”
She blinked up at him. “Yes.”
The decision warred in him. She could see it. And she saw him make it, too, saw him give in to the desire and reach for her. Thank God.
His touch was barely there, and the most powerful thing she’d ever experienced. Her breath caught in her throat as he sifted her hair through his fingers. Would his hand be warm? Would he let himself touch her? Would he kiss her?
“I should have killed him for touching it,” he said, softly. “It wasn’t . . .” She hesitated, then whispered, “It wasn’t like this.”
His gaze found hers in the darkness. “What does that mean?”
“I won’t remember him,” she said. “Not when you are here now.”
He shook his head. “Felicity Faircloth, you are very dangerous.” Devil’s fingers—work-rough and warm—moved to her cheek, traced down the curve of it, to her jaw. Lingered there.
She shivered. “Being here . . . with you . . . it makes me feel like I could be dangerous.”
He tilted her face up to his glittering eyes, to the Covent Garden mist. “And if you were? What would you do?”
I would stay, she thought, madly. I would explore this terrifying, magnificent world. She didn’t say those things, however. Instead, she focused on the third answer—the shocking one. The one that came on a flood of want. “I would kiss you.”
For a moment he did not move, and then he took a deep breath and raised his other hand, cradling her face in his warm grasp before repeating, “You are very dangerous.”
She did not know where the words came from when she said, softly, “Would you let me?”
He shook his head once, his gaze on hers. “I wouldn’t be able to resist.”
Later, she would blame the darkness for her actions. The rain on the cobblestone streets. The fear and the wonder. She would blame his warm hands and his beautiful lips and that scar on the side of his face that made him somehow impossibly handsome. She had to blame something for it, you see, as Felicity Faircloth, aging spinster wallflower, did not kiss men.
What’s more, she absolutely did not kiss men who lived in Covent Garden and carried cane swords and were named Devil.
Except in that moment, when she rose up on her toes and did just that, pressing her lips to his full, soft ones. He was so warm, the heat of him coming through his linen shirt and waistcoat—the waistcoat she grabbed instantly and without thought, as though he might be able to keep her steady in the wild moment.
As though he weren’t the reason it felt so wild, with the way he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tight against him, the movement making her gasp her surprise. He growled—a deep, delicious sound, and his teeth nipped at her lower lip before he whispered, like darkness, “Take it then. Like you mean it.”
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