Welcome to my stop on the tour for Beguiling the Barrister by Wendy Soliman. Check out the fab excerpt and giveaway! You can also find the other tour stops here.
Beguiling the Barrister (The Forsters #2)
Author: Wendy Soliman
Publisher: Carina Press
Publishing Date: 24 June 2013
Flick--more properly known as Lady Felicity Forster--was twelve when she decided she was going to marry her handsome neighbor Darius Grantley. Now, embarking on her second season, she's no nearer to that lofty ambition. She commits to making Darius fall in love with her, if only he'd take a break from pleading the case of the common criminal as a barrister at the Old Bailey.
Darius adores the lovely, high-spirited younger sister of the Marquess of Denby, but he's all too aware that Flick is far above him in social status, not to mention fortune. Winning the high-profile Cuthbert case will earn him a promised appointment to King's Counsel and just enough income to provide a home for his well-born lady.
But the cards are stacked against him. Not only do the newspapers trumpet his clients' guilt, but a powerful peer bribes the witnesses and threatens Flick unless Darius sabotages his own case...
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Darius is pushed beyond endurance when he discovers Flick being manhandled by one of his detractors. Here’s how he responds:-
Darius danced twice more and was thoroughly bored. He enjoyed some good conversation with one or two gentlemen but they all wanted to know about the Cuthbert case, and there was little he could tell them about that. He couldn’t do what a lot of the gentlemen did at these affairs and dispel his boredom by disappearing into the card room—he’d sworn off all games of chance. Were it not for Flick, he would have left by now and employed his time with more profitable pursuits.
At last it was almost time for supper but he couldn’t see Flick anywhere. Hardly surprising, given how crowded it was. Still, if she wasn’t with Leah, she would know where she was.
“Oh, I believe she excused herself for a moment,” Leah said, frowning. “Although, come to think of it, that was a while ago now.”
Only slightly concerned, Darius headed towards the ladies’ withdrawing room. She’d probably fallen into conversation and lost track of the time. He could hardly go in there and so stationed himself a discreet distance from the door. A short time later someone he knew emerged but the lady informed him that Flick was not inside. So where the devil was she?
He walked back towards the ballroom, thinking perhaps that they’d missed one another in crush. He passed a small salon and heard voices. A man’s voice that he recognized. His heart stalled when a woman’s responded in a voice he’d know anywhere. Armstrong and Flick? What in the name of Hades…
Without hesitation he opened the door and found Flick pressed up against Edward Armstrong, Peters watching them with a lustful, anticipatory expression.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Armstrong?” he roared, so angry that he could feel blood ringing in his ears. “Unhand the lady at once.”
With a smug smile Darius itched to knock off his face, Armstrong released Flick.
“Just having a private…er, conversation with the lady.” He smirked. “She seemed to be enjoying it.”
Flick moved to stand beside Darius. Because he knew her so well, he could see that she was terrified but to her credit, she was doing a good job of disguising the fact.
“It’s all right,” she said softly, placing a hand on his arm.
It was as though she sensed the overwhelming urge he felt to plant a facer right in the middle of Armstrong’s sneering countenance. Darius had never been so angry in his entire life and was obliged to focus his mind on what was important until the compulsion to deploy his fists eased. He saw daily proof of the devastating consequences of anger in his work. It was counter-productive and so he trained himself not to lose his temper.
He took several deep, quelling breaths, giving Armstrong and Peters the opportunity to leave the room. The desire to call Armstrong out was another impulse he couldn’t indulge and Armstrong well knew it. Darius wasn’t officially engaged to Flick and if she “chose” to put herself in such a situation, he was unable to intervene. Hal could do so, of course, but then Flick’s behaviour would become public knowledge and her reputation would be ruined.
As soon as they were gone, he turned to Flick.
“Are you all right?” he asked through tightly clenched teeth.
“Yes, I think so.” But she still sank into the nearest chair. “Just a little shaken.”
“I suppose, having got nowhere with Nathbone, you saw those two and couldn’t resist questioning them, despite all my warnings against doing anything rash.” His anger was directed at her as much as at the two men. “How could you be so reckless, Flick?”
She leapt to her feet again. “And has it occurred to you that I might not have done any such thing? Why are you always so ready to find me at fault?”
“I know what I saw.” She might think that she was angry but when he thought of what could have happened to her had he not intervened, his anger easily outstripped hers. “And I know how hotheaded you can be. Armstrong would think nothing of despoiling you right here in the middle of a society ball, if for no reason other than to get back at me.”
“He wouldn’t have done that.” But her tone lacked conviction.
“Wouldn’t he?” Darius quirked a brow. “Peters most certainly would. I saw the way he looked at you.”
“Darius, you’re angry with me.” She reached up and touched his arm. “But this time I’m guilty of nothing more than eavesdropping. I passed this room, the door was open and I heard them talking. Even you would have stopped to listen in such circumstances.”
Darius ground his teeth, aware that she was right but not ready to admit it. “Even so, you should have thought—”
“Do you wish to scold me, or would you prefer to know what I heard?”
“Tell me,” he said wearily.
“Peters was worried about what you might know and Armstrong assured him that no one could touch them.”
“How were you caught?”
Flick twisted her lips. “I knocked a vase off a pedestal.”
Darius expelled a long breath. “I feel ready to commit murder for the way they treated you.” He noticed her rubbing her wrist and picked up her hand. Red welts surrounded it, presumably where Armstrong had grabbed her. He almost exploded with renewed anger. “That does it!”
“Darius, don’t act when you’re so cross. You of all people know how important it is to keep a cool head.”
“Perhaps I’m tired of always being sensible.” The desire to resort to something other than rational argument had never been more compelling. Unable to look at Flick until he had his temper under control, he focused his gaze on an ugly shepherdess figurine on the mantelpiece. “If I can’t keep you safe then what sort of man does that make me?” he asked, pacing the room so forcefully that the boards rattled.
“You’re frightening me.” Flick stood in front of him so that he was forced to stand still. As soon as he did so she wrapped her arms round his neck. “I don’t recognize you when you’re like this.”
“Even I have my limits.”
He fell into the nearest chair and pulled her into his lap. His anger turned into a cool, simmering desire for revenge as he kissed her with brutal passion, hoping to eradicate the image of Armstrong daring to force himself on her.
“I swear by all that’s holy, Flick,” he said softly, rubbing his lips down the slender column of her neck, “if you get yourself into any more scrapes, I’ll put you over my knee and spank your bottom so hard that you won’t be able to sit down for a week.”
Her eyes sparkled. “In that case, I might misbehave more often.”
He took a firm grasp on her waist and glared at her. “Flick, I’m serious. When I walked in here and saw Armstrong pawing you, I was ready to pulverise him with my bare fists. Don’t ever put yourself in that situation again.” He resisted the urge to shake her. “Promise me.”
“Yes, I promise.” She plastered his face with delicate kisses. “If I’d taken time to think it through, I wouldn’t have even stopped to listen.” She tilted her head and flashed a considering smile. “Well, probably not.”
Darius tipped her off his lap. It was either that or remain where he was and kiss her witless for the rest of the night. Not that he would have been content with mere kisses for very long. He ached for her, and having her sitting on his lap, fidgeting, wasn’t helping his cause.
“Are you ready to return to the ballroom?” he asked.
“If we must.”
He stood up, examined her clothing to ensure everything was as it should be, and placed her hand on his arm. “Come along then.”
“What’s going through your head?” she asked. “You’re scowling and, knowing you as well as I do, I suspect you’re plotting something.”
“Perhaps I’m tired of always playing by the rules,” he said with icy determination. “It’s time to invent a few of my own.”
She gasped, perhaps in response to something she saw in his gaze. “What do you mean?”
“Nothing. Come, your family will wonder where you are.”
Darius escorted her back to the fray and took supper with the Forsters. He somehow managed to make small talk with them, all the time plotting his next move. Things had gone too far. Every time he thought of his Flick being manhandled by that monster he was almost blinded by inchoate anger. The time had come to settle this thing once and for all with the Armstrongs.
But not with the worthless son.
Pallister was his target and Darius knew exactly where to find him. He left Flick in Leah’s care when supper was over and found a room with writing implements. He quickly wrote out a document, folded it into his pocket and headed towards the rooms where the heavy gambling took place, sure of finding Pallister in the thick of things.
He wouldn’t leave again until either he or Pallister had backed down. To protect the woman he loved, he would do what he’d sworn never to do. Perhaps there was more of his father in him than he cared to admit. Not only would he gamble but he would risk his entire future—everything he’d worked so hard to achieve—on the turn of a card.
About the Author
Wendy Soliman was brought up on the Isle of Wight in Southern England but now divides her time between Andorra and West Florida. She lives with her husband Andre and a rescued dog of indeterminate pedigree named Jake Bentley.
The Isle of Wight is full of historic buildings, which is where she acquired her love of history, absorbing it like osmosis. She is the author of nine single-title Regency romances and is excited about her up-coming series charting the fortunes of the Forster dynasty.
When not writing she enjoys reading other people’s books, walking miles with her dog whilst plotting her next scene, and is on a one-woman mission to save the wine industry from the economic slump. Well, someone’s got to do it!
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog- Confessions of a Writer
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