Lady Julia Hazelton is the most dazzling among 1920s England’s bright, young things. But rather than choosing the thrill of wanton adventure like so many of her contemporaries, Julia shocks society with her bold business aspirations. Determined to usher the cursed Worthington estate into a prosperous, modern new era, and thus preserve her beloved late fiancé’s legacy, the willful Julia tackles her wildest, most unexpected adventure in Cal Carstairs, the reluctant new Earl of Worthington.
The unconventional American artist threatens everything Julia seeks to protect while stirring desires she thought had died in the war. For reasons of his own, Cal has designed the ultimate revenge. Rather than see the estate prosper, he intends to destroy it. But their impulsive marriage—one that secures Julia’s plans as well as Cal’s secrets—proves that passion is ambition’s greatest rival. Unless Cal ends his quest to satisfy his darkest vendetta, he stands to ruin his Worthington wife and all her glittering dreams.
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As the butler led him to his bedroom, Calvin Urqhart Patrick Carstairs—now the 7th Earl of Worthington—remembered the shock on Lady Worthington’s face when he walked into the drawing room and grinned.
A month ago, he had been woken from a hangover, hauled out of his bed in his apartment in Paris and told by a pale, nervous young lawyer named Smithson that he had inherited a title, three estates and the contents of four modestly invested bank accounts from the family who thought he wasn’t good enough to lick their boots.
The lawyer who tracked him down had stammered and blushed throughout the meeting. Cal’s latest model, Simone, had been walking around the room half-naked. She liked to feel sunlight pouring through the window on her bare breasts, and she liked to keep Cal looking at her. The lawyer had looked like his eyes were going to leap out of his head.
Cal had poured himself a glass of red wine to clear the hangover, then he’d let the lawyer explain his supposed good fortune—
“The master’s apartments have been prepared, my lord.”
The snooty tones of the Worthington butler brought Cal back to the present. The man had his hand on the doorknob of the room, but wasn’t opening it. Maybe he hoped to learn it was all a joke before he let Cal across the threshold of the earl’s bedroom.
It was a double door, so Cal shoved the other door open and walked in.
His trunk and his case were already in the room. The butler pointed out the bed, probably assuming he had no idea what a bed looked like if it wasn’t a dirty mattress on the floor. The man opened the doors to the bathing room and the dressing room, as well as a small room with large windows where the earl would traditionally retire to prepare his correspondence.
“It’ll do,” Cal said indifferently.
Haughtily, the butler tried to look down his nose at Cal—though his eyes came up to Cal’s shoulders. “Is your manservant traveling with you?”
“Don’t have one,” Cal replied, and he laughed at the look of smug satisfaction on the butler’s face. “I’m bohemian. Wild and uncivilized. If you think you’ve been proven right about me because I don’t have a valet, wait until I start holding orgies in the ballroom.”
The butler turned several fascinating colors. His cheeks went vermilion, his forehead was puce and he developed an intriguing blend of violet and scarlet on his neck.
It gave Cal the itch to create a modernist portrait of an English butler, done in severe blocks of color. Red, purple, yellow-green and stark white.