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When Madeline Stewart journeys to the opulent world of 18th century London, she could have known she would be entangled in a web of deception which could prevent her from finding happiness and love. Her masquerade is threatened by her intense attraction to one of London's most notorious rakes, Damian St. James. When a murderous blackmailer threatens to expose her secret, Madeline must face her fears and insecurities in order to stop him from harming the man she loves.
Madeline Stewart stood at the edge of the ballroom, clutching her fan as a sick feeling grew in the pit of her stomach. She could not believe she was about to perpetrate a fraud on the most elite members of London society. With trepidation, she watched the people moving about the room, feeling out of her element among the elegant people in attendance.
Conversation buzzed in the air as the assemblage of this exclusive fellowship discussed the latest scandals perpetrated by its various members. Ladies laughed behind their fans, the candlelight glittering on the gems gracing their bodies, as gentlemen amused with fanciful tales. The champagne flowed freely and heads with towering, powdered hair swayed with the rhythm of social interaction.
Madeline watched with the fascination of an outsider. If luck were with her, she would not be a nonmember for long.
"Come now, Phoebe. There is no need to be nervous. I am certain you will be a smashing success." The older lady beside her smiled as she slipped her arm through Madeline’s.
Madeline smiled at her unwitting accomplice. She had been a renowned beauty in her youth, and now with her upswept silver hair and turquoise eyes, Lady Sophia Martin was still considered a lovely woman. She had welcomed her young charge into her home, thinking Madeline was her niece Phoebe. Madeline felt horrible for deceiving the older woman, but she could not risk jeopardizing her masquerade this early in the game.
"I am positive I will be fine in a few minutes, Aunt Sophia. The crowd looks intimidating but I am certain my nerves will be better once I meet a few people."
Straightening her shoulders and lifting her chin, she descended the staircase leading into the opulent ballroom. She was not going to be intimidated by the people crowding the room. As far as the ton was concerned she was an equal. No one would ever guess she was only the companion of the woman she pretended to be. And if I pull this off, they will never find out, she thought.
As she stepped into the room, she could see people taking notice of her. The attention made her uncomfortable, but she was determined not to let her feelings show. She had heard members of the ton could sense fear like a pack of wild dogs and would leap on any show of weakness.
"Phoebe dear, I would like to introduce you to a few of my friends. If you have their approval, the rest of the ton will accept you. These ladies hold sway over society." Sophia led her over to a group of ladies.
Madeline wished Sophia had not said she needed these ladies’ approval. Her stomach started rolling at the implications.
She looked at the women as she and Sophia approached the group. There were five ladies, and all but one looked like they were well past the first blush of youth. She hoped it was her imagination making her think several of them were looking as if they had just eaten a basket of lemons.
"Well Sophia, is this the niece you have been talking about? It is about time you brought her over to meet us." The stoutest lady of the group spoke, her voice surprisingly shrill for her stature. Her maroon gown looked like it had difficulty containing her large frame. Her hair was powdered and piled high. Madeline had difficulty containing her laughter when she saw several stuffed birds peeking out from her powdered locks.
"We have only just arrived, Margaret. You could hardly expect us to be anything but fashionably late. This is Phoebe’s first ball, and it would hardly be appropriate if there were no one here to see her entrance," Sophia replied. "Margaret, may I present my niece, Phoebe Bradley. Phoebe this is Lady Atherton."
Madeline curtsied before Lady Atherton as the plump matron inclined her head in acknowledgement.
AUTHOR'S BIO: Dena Christy currently resides in the small Canadian town of Gananoque, known as the gateway to the Thousand Islands, with her young daughter Olivia. When she is not writing, she is working full time for the Ontario Public Service. She has been an avid reader for most of her life and Nortorious is her first novel.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 322
Paper Weight (lb): 13.6
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