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How the Lady
Seduced the Viscount

When one believes in love, they will embrace …

She wanted to keep her independence. He wanted her to accept his marriage proposal. After her uncle withdrew his support of their union, will they discover they only need each other’s acceptance for a happily ever after?

Jacqueline Holbrooke refused to become the latest match in her uncle’s mad matchmaking scheme. She watched her sisters and cousins fall victim to his madness. Yet, if she were honest with herself, they weren’t victims, but just as mad as their uncle. Madly in love. An emotion Jacqueline fought to keep from embracing. However, the dashing viscount she shared scandalous trysts with kept breaking down the barriers guarding her heart. With each scandalous kiss and gentle caress, her resistance crumbled. Soon, an unexpected but very welcoming surprise caused Jacqueline to question her resistance to the dashing and honorable gentleman. Will Jacqueline keep resisting what her heart desires? Or will she allow the viscount to capture her heart?

Griffen Kincaid carried on an affair with an innocent lady for the past three years. With every secret rendezvous, she wrapped her spell tighter around him. He waited with patience for Jacqueline to accept his offer. However, every time she rejected his suit. When her family learned of their affair, he must prove himself worthy of her love. Griffen set out to woo Jacqueline, enticing her into a scandalous bet to win her affections. When someone from his past arrives at Colebourne Manor and slanders his name, Griffen fears Jacqueline will question their love. Can Griffen convince Jacqueline of his true character? Or will his past be the reason for his ultimate demise?

A lady who allowed her fears to keep her from finding happiness. A gentleman whose past behavior could ruin his chance at winning his true love’s heart. Will Jacqueline and Griffen allow the obstacles in their path to tear their fragile love asunder? Or will they embrace the seduction of their love?

How the Lady Seduced the Viscount is the fifth book in Laura A. Barnes’s Matchmaking Madness Series. If you enjoy scandalous romances filled with stolen kisses and unwavering love, then you’ll love Jacqueline and Griffen’s seductive love affair.

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Chapter One

 

Griffen Kincaid leaned his arm on the windowsill and stared out at the rainy landscape. He had spent the last four days of his visit at the Colebourne estate trapped indoors, waiting for a break in the stormy weather. At least the bride and groom had made their escape before the storms hit.

       He had remained as a guest after the wedding ceremony with promises of fishing and hunting. The duke had also agreed to discuss his investment in a business venture Kincaid hoped to pursue. If he secured the deal, then it would loosen the control the duke kept him under. During his younger years as he sowed his wild oats, he’d involved himself in a scandal, one the duke had helped him to escape from but also trapped Kincaid into jumping to the duke’s command whenever Colebourne snapped his fingers.

       The trip from London hadn’t held much promise. He’d agreed to stand up with his best mate, Lucas Gray, while he married Lady Selina Pemberton, who Gray had been engaged to for his entire life. In the end, he’d spoken no marital vows to her. No. Gray’s cousin Duncan Forrester had won the privilege with his declaration of love. With any other family, the destruction would have had insurmountable repercussions, but this family had accepted the change of grooms with nothing but pure happiness for the newly wedded couple. Gray’s other family members held the same eccentric traits as the old man.

       No. The correct definition of the Colebourne family was mad. Pure madness.

     And Kincaid feared he held the same madness as the rest of them. All because of his attraction to one Jacqueline Holbrooke. A lady he’d carried on an affair with over the past three years, against his better judgement. A lady who, at every opportunity, refused his offers of marriage. He couldn’t walk away from her either. Not for the reason of his scandalous behavior he entangled himself in as a gentleman with an innocent lady, but because his body refused to deny itself the pleasure he found in her arms, not to mention the love he held in his heart for her. He played with fire, but he no longer cared.

     Before he made his departure from Colebourne Manor, he would have secured himself a bride. Kincaid would no longer accept her refusal.

~~~~~

Jacqueline Holbrooke sat in the corner of the drawing room with the other ladies, pretending to sew. However, her gaze kept straying to Lord Kincaid. The handsome lord stared out the window, brooding. His misery at being trapped indoors while the rain kept falling was more than evident.

       A secretive smile spread across her face. She wondered if she could entice him to sneak away for a few stolen moments, or perhaps even longer. She yearned for his kisses and the caress of his sensuous touch. Jacqueline had missed their stolen moments greatly over the past few nights. At first, they hadn’t been able to sneak into each other’s bedchambers because Uncle Theo had placed a servant in the secret passageway to keep Duncan and Selina apart. Then Kincaid had refused the invitations to visit her bedchamber and had yet to explain his reasons. Instead, he stayed awake into the early morning hours, playing billiards, smoking cigars, and drinking with the other gentlemen. One would think he avoided Jacqueline on purpose.

       However, at every opportunity when they found themselves alone, Kincaid teased her with his kisses. He pulled her into secret alcoves, dark closets, or abandoned rooms. Each kiss built her need to be held in his arms for hours of lovemaking. After he stroked her desire, he would saunter away with a wicked grin, leaving Jacqueline trembling for their next tryst.

       When she first allowed Kincaid such liberties, she’d thought the passion would burn itself out. Instead, it only stretched further out of her reach. While the rational part of her argued to halt her encounters with the viscount, the emotional part of her hungered for his uncontrollable appetite. She needed to stop this obsession before her uncle caught wind of their affair. With his mad matchmaking schemes, he would insist upon a union.

       Jacqueline had no intention of getting married.

       No, she enjoyed her independence too much to find herself shackled to her husband’s every demand. With only her and Abigail left, Jacqueline must remain vigilant.

     She knew she was next judging by the whispers and Aunt Susanna’s constant attention. The only advantage she held was her knowledge of how they played their matchmaking games and her wisdom on how to avoid them. She’d watched how they’d manipulated their other victims over the past few months. Or, in Charlie’s case, how they’d made her part of a bet. The victor had won Charlie’s hand in marriage, which had forced Evelyn into a marriage filled with lies, leading her to endure a rocky start until love overcame their deceit. Gemma’s marriage to Ralston and Duncan’s recent wedding to Selina were forbidden love matches. Uncle Theo and Aunt Susanna dangled the forbiddance of their relationship, tempting the couples into secrecy.

     Duncan and Selina’s match came to be because of her cousin Lucas and his affection for Abigail Cason. Abigail was a ward her uncle had adopted when Jacqueline, her sisters, and their cousin Gemma moved in with him. Abigail was like a sister to them. The feelings Abigail and held Lucas for each other were fragile and had become more vulnerable when Lucas’s marriage to Selina drew closer.

     Jacqueline couldn’t even claim Uncle Theo and Aunt Susanna had manipulated Duncan into marrying Selina because the love they held for one another was more than obvious. In time, the brother and sister-in-law would conjure their matchmaking spell on Lucas and Abigail.

For now, Jacqueline would become their next victim. She must stay on guard and keep one step ahead of them.

     “Jacqueline, Lord Kincaid appears out of sorts with the endless rain. Perhaps you should see if he would like for you to read to him.” Aunt Susanna’s voice rang out for the entire room to hear.

     A blush spread across Jacqueline’s cheeks at her aunt’s obvious display of matchmaking.

     Lord Kincaid stiffened and slowly turned in their direction. His gaze narrowed on them. “I am more than capable of reading a book, Lady Forrester.”

     Aunt Susanna released a silly giggle, and Jacqueline narrowed her gaze at her aunt’s girlish behavior. “Of course you are, Lord Kincaid. You only appear bored beyond tears, and our Jacqueline has such a lovely voice.”

     Lord Kincaid centered his gaze on Jacqueline. Its intensity caused Jacqueline to squirm in the chair. He blatantly declared his interest with his stare. “Yes, she does. On that, I will agree, Lady Forrester.”

     Kincaid watched the blush spread along Jacqueline’s neck at his compliment. It was refreshing to know that even after all their assignations, she still held a bit of innocence and hadn’t become too jaded for him to charm.

     “Well, then off with you two. The library should be less full than this overcrowded room.” Lady Forrester raised her hand, implying for them to follow her orders.

     Kincaid nodded. The lady may have appeared silly, but Lady Forrester was nothing if not shrewd. He watched her, along with Colebourne, manipulate each couple in this room into a union. He would use their interference to his advantage. If Colebourne approved of him as an adequate suitor for Jacqueline, then she would have no choice but to accept his proposal.

     He held out his hand to help Jacqueline from her chair. “Shall we, my lady?”

     Jacqueline’s hand trembled in his, and he held back a smile of victory. The knowledge of how his touch affected her pleased him. He had remained absent from her bed the past week to entice her to accept his marriage proposal. With each kiss he stole, he left her craving more. However, when he teased her, he tormented himself instead. He decided not to pressure her any longer. He would bide his time until the right moment came upon them, then pledge his undying devotion to her. For now, he would enjoy Colebourne and Lady Forrester throwing him in front of Jacqueline’s path.

     Jacqueline bowed her head demurely, allowing him to draw her out of the drawing room and into the hallway. What was the minx up to now? Before he could wonder, she yanked her hand from him and stalked away. What had caused a rise in her dander? He followed in amusement, watching her hips sway back and forth. She made for quite a sight in her agitation. Especially when she turned and glared at him as they reached the library. Her breasts heaved with each drawn breath. The heavenly globes pushed against the trim of her gown, and his gaze stay focused on them for too long. His only excuse was that he forgot himself, hungering for a taste of her creamy skin.

     “Lord Kincaid?” Jacqueline growled.

     He raised his gaze in amusement to find Jacqueline regarding him with barely contained fury. “Yes, my love.”

     Jacqueline scanned the library to make sure they were alone. “Do not address me as such. I am not your love.”

     Kincaid couldn’t help himself. He needed to touch her. He slid his finger along her cheek and whispered in her ear, “I beg to differ. Why else do I warm your bed upon each of my visits?”

     Jacqueline shivered from his touch. Her body screamed for him to kiss her. However, she was upset that he’d fallen for Aunt Susanna’s matchmaking attempt. She must warn him of her family’s schemes. Even though the scoundrel before her kept proposing, she refused to fall victim to Uncle Theo’s manipulations.

     She swiped his hand away. “You share my bed to scratch an itch, Lord Kincaid, and for no other reason alone. I am well aware of your exploits outside of my bedchamber.”

     He chuckled his amusement. “They are false.”

     Jacqueline pinched her lips. “That is not what they whisper in the crowded ballrooms.”

     “Complete falsehoods. I assure you, my lady, I have not visited another lady’s bed since we became involved.”

     Jacqueline twitched slightly before she turned to stalk away from him. She needed to put some much-needed distance between them. His very nearness rattled her senses. “It does not matter to me in the slightest.”

     “Mmm. So you declare, but your reaction states otherwise.” Kincaid slid his arm around Jacqueline’s waist and drew her against him.

     Jacqueline trembled when his lips brushed across the back of her neck. She closed her eyes, dropping her head back against his chest. His hand traveled higher, brushing across her breasts. Her nipples tightened from the brief caress. She must issue her warning, but her body begged for her silence while she captured his attention.

     His lips trailed to her ear, and he whispered, “Do you notice how your body trembles in my embrace?” Kincaid’s fingers dipped inside her bodice, teasing the valley of her breasts. “How your nipples have tightened into firm buds, begging for my tongue?”

     He continued to torment Jacqueline with his gentle touch, teasing her to the verge of denial. Each kiss and stroke of his fingers drew her closer to succumbing to their desire. His own resistance stood near the edge of crumbling with each moan she drew forth.

     “Griffen,” Jacqueline moaned.

     He trailed his lips along her cheek to the corner of her lips. “And if I were to lift your skirts and slide my hand between your thighs, would I find you wet for me?” His tongue traced her lips. “Do you still wish to claim my pursuits do not matter to you?”

     Griffen had worked Jacqueline into a frenzy. A declaration of her feelings almost escaped from her lips. She would confess her deepest secrets as long as he never denied her the exquisite pleasure of his touch. She ached for the brush of his lips against hers.

     Jacqueline turned her head for their lips to connect, but he pulled back. Her eyes flew open to see his devious smile. Then he dropped his hands and sauntered away, leaving her frazzled.

     He needed to calm his libido before he took her against the bookcases. At his first touch, she’d melted in his arms, her body begging him to make love to her. Hell, his own body begged him to take her into his arms again and finish what he’d started. He might have intended to tease her, but it’d backfired against him, only making him crave her more than ever.

     Griffen’s head swiveled toward the window. Damn this rain. It only trapped him closer to her.

     Griffen turned back toward Jacqueline when the silence continued. Their gazes met and held. Each expected the other to confess their affections. He refused to budge on his stand, and she refused to accept his proposal, which left the passion drawing them toward each other to control their actions of denial. And like always, he would concede because he was powerless to deny her.

     He held out a hand. “Jacqueline?”

     She shook her head at him, wrapping her arms around her waist. She knew he regretted teasing her with his whispered words. Jacqueline was as much at fault. Her body responded, showing him her most inner desires. Every whispered word spoke the truth. Even now, she hungered for him to continue. She now understood his game. He wanted a commitment and withheld his affections. She couldn’t blame him. She led him on each time she invited him to her bed.

     Many would call her a fool for resisting him as a husband. He was quite the catch. Tall, handsome, witty, smart, and well-liked by all. Not to mention a tremendously generous lover. Oh, why she denied herself a lifetime of sharing his bed stumped even her. Especially when he lit her on fire and stroked her flames. As she stared at him, her body urged her to clasp his hand and follow him wherever he would lead them. Hopefully to his bedchamber or hers.

     “Lord Kincaid, I must warn you not to fall victim to my uncle’s scheme.”

     He dropped his hand once he realized she refused to take it. “And what scheme might that be, Lady Jacqueline?” If she wanted to act formally, then he would do so as well.

     “The one where we end up as bride and groom.”

     Griffen shrugged. “Now why would I not want to fall victim to your uncle’s matchmaking when it is the very outcome I desire? My multiple marriage proposals state my intentions. Your uncle’s approval only helps my cause.”

     Jacqueline gritted her teeth. “It is not what I desire.”

     “Why not?”

     “I do not have to explain myself.”

     Kincaid smirked. “No, you do not. Perhaps I will assist your uncle in his matchmaking scheme. Make it simple for him since it is not necessary for him to perform the same devious acts against us that he used on your sisters and cousins. Especially after I have already enjoyed your sensuous body on multiple occasions. Why deny what the outcome of our union will become? You will be mine.”

     His confident declaration annoyed Jacqueline. While he never showed this arrogant side of his character often, it held a sense of foreboding. Would he inform Uncle Theo of their affair? Or was it only a threat for her to succumb to his wishes? Either way, she needed to keep her defenses up. But if she guarded herself against his attention, then she denied herself the pleasure of the passion he ignited with his very presence.

     “You would not dare,” Jacqueline hissed.

     His devious smile returned, and he arched a brow. “I would.”

     Jacqueline didn’t answer him and stormed out of the library. He chuckled at her fury. She was usually an amiable lady with a level head. However, he flustered her into a vulnerable soul. She fought her emotions so as not to experience the pain of loss again. When he ignited her temper, Jacqueline’s spirit came alive.

     A spirit he hoped she never kept banked again.