adrienne basso
Adrienne Basso's EVERY BIT A ROGUE


Adrienne Basso's EVERY BIT A ROGUE

When a young lady sacrifices her reputation to save a viscount, it’s the beginning of an extraordinary adventure in Adrienne Basso’s captivating Regency tale . . .


adrienne basso's EVERY BIT A ROGUE

(The Ellinghams Book 4)
Publisher: Zebra Books
Publication Date: February 25, 2020 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781420146233
Publication Date: February 25, 2020 (mass market paperback)
ISBN-10: 142014622X
ISBN-13: 978-1420146226

When a young lady sacrifices her reputation to save a viscount, it’s the beginning of an extraordinary adventure in Adrienne Basso’s captivating Regency tale . . .

Jon Burwell, Viscount Kendall, knows what the gossips say about him. They claim he’s been a dejected, half-mad recluse ever since he was jilted at the altar. The simple truth is that Jon has thrown all the passion he once had for his fiancée into his latest mechanical invention. But his single-minded existence has lately been shattered by repeated encounters with Miss Emma Ellingham, his neighbor’s intriguing sister-in-law . . .

Painting and sketching have been Emma’s consolation since her own secret heartbreak. When she stumbles upon the viscount’s workshop, his machine revives her artistic imagination. The gentleman himself is even more fascinating—and deeply seductive. When Jon is accused of a crime, Emma risks her good name for his sake. But though the threat of scandal compels them to wed, only courage can overcome their pasts, and allow desire to transform into love . . .


adrienne basso excerpt

adrienne basso's every bit a rogue

English Countryside - 1824

In a peaceful and private corner of his mother's solarium, Jon stretched his legs, crossed his ankles, and leaned his head against the cushioned chair. Appreciating the quiet solitude he had discovered among the lavish foliage and comfortable, elegant furnishings, he understood why his mother always referred to this place as her refuge from the world.

If only he could stay here indefinitely. Jon sighed. This most extraordinary, most unpleasant day was finally drawing to a close. At last. The majority of the wedding guests—nay, he could not correctly refer to them as wedding guests, could he, since there had been no wedding—were gone. And he had no wish to engage in conversation with those who remained.

Far more people than he expected had returned to the manor house, and despite the bizarre situation, many appeared to enjoy themselves as they ate heartily of the lavish meal that would have been his wedding breakfast and drank innumerable bottles of champagne, wine, and spirits.

Somehow he had managed to be stoic and dignified while he circulated among them, accepting their words of sincere-and more often than not insincere-sympathy with a solemn expression.

Though encouraged to do otherwise, Jon had refused to put any food or drink in his own stomach while among them, fearing the contents would be unable to remain. 'Twould be yet another scandal to add to the original: jilted Viscount Kendall tosses up his accounts at what should have been his wedding feast.

The gossips would certainly embrace that tidbit.

Yet as he retreated to the privacy of the solarium, he admitted that he was in desperate need of a drink, and hastily grabbed the first bottle of spirits he could find. As he now lifted the champagne bottle and downed the last of its contents, Jon realized why he had never liked the stuff-too many damn bubbles. Yet he swallowed anyway.

Though the past few hours had been a waking nightmare, Jon felt a momentary twinge of panic over his guests' departure. Their presence had provided a distraction, albeit an unwelcome one; now he was forced to relive the almost surreal events of the morning and face the reality of his circumstance.

Dianna, the woman to whom he had given his whole heart, would never be his wife.

Why? What had gone wrong? She had never expressed any doubts or hesitation about their impending marriage. Indeed, she had accepted his proposal—and the diamond and sapphire ring he had chosen—with a squeal of joy and a kiss of passion.

Yet on the morning that he had anticipated to be among the happiest of his life, she had fled with another man. A man she believed could give her what Jon lacked.

One, according to her cryptic note, that she believed would provide her with the more that she craved. More? Jon's fists clenched and he struggled to contain the need to strike out, to pummel something, anything, in hopes of releasing his frustration.

Though she was a local girl, Jon had not taken much notice of Dianna until he danced with her at her coming-out ball in London. By the end of that evening, he was smitten. She was young and vibrant and full of life, with a winning smile and a way of pursing her lips that made him long to kiss them.

She had a quick wit, an inquisitive mind, and a gift for charming conversation. He had courted her for several months, always dancing with her first and last at the balls, escorted her to parties and musical soirées, took her for carriage rides in Hyde Park, ices at Gunter's, and gifted her with flowers and sweets.

Jon wasn't exactly certain when he knew that the strong affection he felt for Dianne had blossomed into love, but once he realized it, he embraced it fully. Every word he exchanged with her, each gesture between them, held more meaning. His kisses had more ardor, his caresses more fervor. And she appeared to enjoy it all.

Why then, had she left him?

The rejection stung like a physical blow, a cut deep enough to make his chest burn and ache, his head pound and his mind swirl with endless questions.

How would he survive this agony?

The sound of footsteps approaching interrupted Jon's painful thoughts. He opened his eyes and watched a slender woman of medium height enter the room. Though the solarium was constructed of glass walls and boasted a pointed, tapered glass ceiling, the gray afternoon skies made the room dim and shadowy.

She wandered slowly among the thick green foliage and flowering plants, running her fingers delicately over the long shiny leaves. As she drew nearer, Jon thought she looked vaguely familiar, but he could neither place how he knew her nor her name.

Through the leaves he watched her wind down the path, hoping she would find her way out before he was discovered. Alas, she turned a corner and then another and suddenly stood before him. Her breath hitched in startled surprise when she saw him, a delicate hand reaching for her throat.

"Gracious, Lord Kendall, you surprised me!"

Her voice was pleasant, lower pitched than most females' and oddly soothing.

"I beg your pardon." His brow lifted and his expression turned quizzical. "And you are . . . ?"

"Emma," she responded, then blushed slightly, no doubt over the intimacy of using her first name. "Or rather, Miss Ellingham.


The name tripped off her tongue in the most lyrical fashion. He tested it silently on his own lips, then grinned. "Emma Ellingham?"

Her blush deepened. "Yes, it's dreadful, I know. My father was so disappointed to have a third daughter instead of a son, he voiced no opinion on the matter. I was told my birth was long and difficult and I fear my mother was truly exhausted and not in possession of her full faculties when she named me."

"Apparently." Jon slowly rose to his feet, as good manners dictated he stand when in the presence of a lady. "Forgive me for being so direct, Miss Ellingham, but it has been a rather long day and I'm tired. What exactly do you want?"

She didn't blush with coy, maidenly innocence. Instead, she nodded, as though she agreed with his need to forgo polite conversation and get to the matter at hand.

"Actually, Lady Sybil asked me to search for you. You have been gone for quite some time and she is concerned."

"My mother, for all her practical nature, can be rather dramatic at times. I'm sure she expects that I am prostrate with grief and so under the hatches that I can barely stand."

Miss Ellingham blushed with just enough color in her cheeks to let him know that he had hit upon the truth.

"Lady Sybil is concerned," Miss Ellingham repeated.

Jon nodded. "You may report to her that I have skin thick enough not to care what others think of my failed nuptials, am relatively sober, and only mildly despondent."

The last was a lie, as Jon had been most despondent while contemplating how he was going to live the rest of his life without Dianna at his side, but he had too much breeding and pride to let anyone see it.

"Forgive my boldness, Lord Kendall, but in my opinion you have handled today with a considerable amount of tact and decorum," she said. "Far better than most, I would say."

"Thank you," he replied, believing she was sincere. "I suspect most expected me to be frozen with embarrassment."

She shrugged. "Perhaps. I hope that you took pride in disappointing them."

"Ah, yes. 'Tis my greatest accomplishment for the day. Well, that and being able to keep up a steady stream of comments about the weather. Most of the women feared broaching any other topic besides the climate when speaking with me today." Jon creased his brow. "Though I confess that is preferable to some of the other advice I was offered. I am heartily sick of listening to an exhausting number of sympathetic clichés from my guests on how fate has saved me from a most disastrous marriage."

"People mean well," she said. "Yet I must agree that it can be difficult to remember that, when they speak such utter nonsense."

Jon nodded. "Precisely. I was told, by no less than three different gentlemen, that I have ducked in the nick of time and avoided being struck by a bullet."

The corners of her mouth lifted sarcastically. "A sage commentary. No doubt the men in question are married?"

"I believe they are."

"Hmmm." She pursed her lips knowingly.

The gesture brought a spot of color to her cheeks and made her eyes seem enormous. They were a lovely shade of blue, like a cloudless sky on a warm summer day.

"Another fellow told me that I must travel to London and join in the endless round of parties, indulge in drinking, gambling, flirting with the unmarried women, and dally with the widows and unhappily married females," he blurted out.

"Do you find that appealing?" she asked.

"No," he admitted sadly, almost wishing he did. Such behavior could numb his mind, if only temporarily. It would never mend his heart.

She nodded approvingly. "I must agree that sort of behavior is unlikely to bring you any solace."

She spoke with the calm authority of personal experience and he wondered how she might have gained it. She wasn't a recently-out-of-the-schoolroom girl in her first blush of youth, but she was hardly old. He judged her age to be a few years older than Dianna and several years younger than his own of twenty-eight.

Then he realized by society's standards she could be considered old for a woman, and as an unmarried female she was squarely on the path of becoming a spinster. A most unsavory fate.

Jon straightened his shoulders. "Now that we have agreed that I shall not fall into the depths of depravity, I suppose I should return so that my mother can assure herself of my well-being."

As he stepped forward his foot collided with the empty champagne bottle. It skidded, spinning wildly as it glided across the slate floor, coming to rest at Miss Ellingham's feet.

"Yours?" she asked, raising her brow. "The bottle is empty. I presume it was full when you brought it in here?"

"'Twas only champagne," he said defensively. "I'm not drunk."

"I know." She glanced down at the empty bottle. "Yet there is no harm in waiting a few more minutes before returning."

Jon rubbed his forehead, then nodded in agreement. He was a tad light-headed, and any excuse to avoid returning immediately was welcome. He looked through the foliage out the window. The wind was starting to swirl. No doubt the rain would soon follow.

He and Miss Ellingham didn't speak for several moments. It was a comfortable silence, devoid of awkward glances, soothing in its simplicity.

"Are many guests still here?" Jon asked.

"A few. My brother-in-law, the Marquess of Atwood, and I are among those who remain. We would have departed with my sisters when they left a half hour ago, but your mother asked me to look for you . . ."

Miss Ellingham's voice trailed off. Jon nodded. They should return. He was sober-well, sober enough to face the few nobles that remained and keep his wits about him.

"I cannot imagine the comments and opinions about me that have circulated among my guests," Jon remarked, acknowledging to himself that he was curious. "What did you hear?"

She lowered her chin demurely. "Gossip has never been an interest of mine, my lord."

"Nor mine," he answered. "But I find that I am curious. Indulge me. Please."

She chewed her bottom lip meditatively for a moment. "Many are in agreement that Lady Dianna's actions have been extremely foolish." Miss Ellingham cleared her throat. "One woman even suggested that she was insane."

His brow lifted. "Yes, I suppose for some people throwing over a viscount for an untitled gentleman is the height of madness."

"Apparently that kind of behavior is only mildly frowned upon if one does it for what is considered to be an acceptable reason," she said.

"Like landing a marquess instead of a viscount?" he quipped.

Emma eyed him mischievously. "Or even better-a duke."

"Ah, yes," Jon agreed, feeling the tension in his shoulders relax for the first time in hours.

Her mouth turned up in a subtle grin. "Forgive me. I do not mean to make light of the situation."

Jon shrugged, easing more of his natural restraint. For some incomprehensible reason he felt comfortable in Miss Ellingham's presence, even though she was a stranger. Or maybe because of it?

She had a kindness about her that struck him as genuine, and he appreciated how she held her gaze steadily upon him when they spoke. She did not appear to view him as a pathetic, misfortunate creature as so many others had today.

Still, Jon cautioned himself to tread carefully. Given the disastrous circumstance with Dianna, it was apparent that his instincts about females could be dreadfully wrong.


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