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I Shall Love the Earl

How many times must a gentleman ruin a lady before he offers for her hand....

She waited for the temptation held in his gaze. He refused to give into his desire to court her. Can a ruination of a lady lead toward a love to last a lifetime? 

Every ball Dallis MacPherson attended, she saved a spot on her dance card for a certain gentleman. Many balls later and still no offer, prompts her to pursue the earl. When she encounters him on a darkened balcony, he steals a kiss and warns her away. His stolen kiss promises a passion she wants to explore. At every occasion he attends, she tempts him with her own promise. Soon the earl falls for her charms and sends her down a path of ruination with one incident after another. Can Dallis overcome the scandal of the earl’s pursuit? 

Roderick Beckwith watched the Scottish beauty from afar. He lost his heart the moment he set eyes upon her. Throughout the season every gentleman offered her a dance, but him. With his financial affairs on the brink of disaster, he couldn’t provide her with the life she deserved. When his mother introduces his sworn enemy to his heart’s desire, he must set aside his pride. However, his courtship is less than ideal. At every opportunity he brings scandal to her name. Can Rory redeem himself and prove to Dallis that he is a gentleman worth loving?

With every glance, Dallis pulls Rory in deeper. His stolen kisses forces him to make her an offer of marriage. As they prepare for their wedding, he acts as the perfect gentleman. However, the proper gentleman was not who Dallis desired. Will her scoundrel show himself before they say I do? 

If you love a novel filled with a scandalous courtship set in Regency England, then you will enjoy Rory enticing Dallis with promises of love.

Devour I Shall Love the Earl to read the third novel in Laura’s Tricking the Scoundrel series today.

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Chapter One

Throughout the evening Rory watched Lady Dallis MacPherson twirled across the dance floor by one admirer after another. Each gentleman titled and rich above means, and who could afford her with a life of luxury. A privilege he could not. For he was broke beyond what his peers guessed but didn’t know to the full extent. He could never dress her in the lovely gowns, furnish a house fit for a queen, or spoil her with jewels. No, Rory could only give Dallis his love. A precious gift, but not enough. 

Still, his thoughts always wandered to the night he first made her acquaintance and the stare she returned his way. After her grandmother’s refusal to let Dallis share a dance, he watched her from afar. When their eyes connected, he sent a silent message in which she returned. Her look shook Rory to the core. He relayed that Dallis was his and he would have her. She gave him a playful smile that said, catch me if you can . How he wanted to stride across the ballroom in that instant and stake his claim. 

However, he needed a few more years to enhance his position. During that time, he couldn’t expect Dallis to wait for him. She was young, and the kind of rare beauty sought after by so many. Dallis would only grow bitter toward him if he made an offer now. When they would have to scrape by for money to pay the shopkeepers, or share their meager funds with his mother and younger sister. No, it was best to sit in the shadows and suffer watching the men who were more worthy court her. No matter how much it tore at his heart, he would let her fly from his grasp—not that she was within his grasp to begin with. Yes, his friends Sidney and Sophia both urged him to court her, informing him of Lady Dallis’s interest. They also warned of her grandmother’s disapproval. He stood no chance. However, it didn’t stop him from dreaming and admiring her from afar. 

~~~~~

Dallis’s glance kept straying toward Lord Roderick Beckwith standing in the shadows of the ballroom. She waited all evening for him to claim a dance, even leaving the last waltz of the evening open on her card. Still, he didn’t approach her again, but she felt his gaze as she danced the evening away. With the ball finishing, her grandmother gave the last waltz away to Lord Fairmeadow who sought her attention, ending any chance of being held in Rory’s arms. 

She was under the impression from Lady Sidney and Lady Sophia that he admired her. Were they playing her false? Since she was new to town and didn’t know anyone, she took what they spoke to be true. When the two ladies arrived for tea and invited her to a dinner party, she thought she'd made some friends. However, after the dinner party, her grandmother refused to allow Dallis to visit her new friends. The shocking courtship between Lady Sophia and the Duke of Sheffield unfolded and caused a scandal amongst the ton like no other. The ton deemed the duke, the man her grandmother wished Dallis to wed, a scoundrel. Dallis was also forbidden to associate with Sheffield anymore. Which didn’t matter, for he would never ask for her hand in a dance again, because he married Lady Sophia a few weeks ago. The newlywed couple displayed their love openly. Which only caused more rumors to fill the gossiper’s ears with their actions before they were wed. 

When Dallis listened to the rumors, she would always sigh at the romantic story. She envied the couple and wished the same for herself. Nothing as scandalous, but she wished for a man to defy all tradition and sweep Dallis off her feet. She dreamed of a man to take her for himself and damn the consequences. Her grandmother was to blame. Dallis became caught in the drama, dreaming for it to be real just like she was the heroine from the romance novels she read to Nanna. In the latest romance she'd read, the hero defied all odds to make the heroine his, regardless of the circumstances. 

When her dance partner swung her near the columns, Dallis's eyes again encountered Lord Beckwith staring at her. His gaze caused her to stumble over Lord Fairmeadow’s feet. When she recovered, Rory had disappeared. Dallis searched the ballroom, trying to find him, while the marquess kept asking about her welfare. Lord Beckwith had left.

“Yes, I am well. I apologize for treading on your toes.”

“No harm done, Lady Dallis.”

By now the other dancers were colliding into them as they stood still. Dallis blushed at the attention. Lord Fairmeadow, a gentleman, escorted her off the dance floor and over to her grandmother. She felt awful for ruining their dance and accepted his offer for a ride in the park tomorrow afternoon. With her thoughts flustered, Dallis forgot to inform him she didn’t actually ride . Her fear of horses kept her from riding a horse, to being a passenger in an open carriage, and Dallis only tolerated closed carriages because her grandmother's servants always guided the horses at a slow pace. It may take them twice as long to arrive at a destination, but at least Dallis remained calm throughout the ride. Tomorrow she would apologize once more to Lord Fairmeadow and suggest a walk in the park instead. 

As the musicians packed away their instruments, and the guests began to leave the ball, Dallis searched for Rory before she left. Lord Beckwith always stood out in a crowd with his thick red hair that curled at his ears. Curls that she wanted to wrap around her fingers as she drew him close for a kiss. A kiss where … Dallis shook her head at where her thoughts led. Slowly turning, she found Lord Beckwith standing between the open doors to the terrace and regarding her with a look of desire. He'd never left.

When Lady Dallis turned, their gazes locked. Her mouth opened in surprise at his perusal. Rory took two steps forward. He forgot they stood in a ballroom filled with members of the ton. All he noticed was Dallis. Her strawberry blonde hair and emerald eyes. Her kissable red lips. Rory wanted to devour her mouth, staking his claim. As a man who desired to make her his. 

Before he could act on his desire, Dallis’s grandmother urged them to leave. The spell surrounding them broke, and once again Dallis was lost to him.