To Seduce a Sinner


By Elizabeth Hoyt

Formats and Prices




$11.99 CAD



  1. Mass Market $7.99 $11.99 CAD
  2. ebook $11.76 $8.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 1, 2008. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.


For years, Melisande Fleming has loved Lord Vale from afar . . . watching him seduce a succession of lovers, and once catching a glimpse of heartbreaking depths beneath his roguish veneer. When he’s jilted on his wedding day, she boldly offers to be his.


Vale gladly weds Melisande, if only to produce an heir. But he’s pleasantly surprised: A shy and proper Lady by day, she’s a wanton at night, giving him her body-though not her heart.


Determined to learn her secrets, this sinner starts to woo his seductive new wife-while hiding the nightmares from his soldiering days in the Colonies that still haunt him. Yet when a deadly betrayal from the past threatens to tear them apart, Lord Vale must bare his soul to the woman he married . . . or risk losing her forever.


This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2008 by Nancy M. Finney

Excerpt from To Beguile A Beast copyright © 2008 by Nancy M. Finney. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Cover illustration by Alan Ayers

Hand lettering by Ron Zinn


Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Visit our Web site at

Forever is an imprint of Grand Central Publishing. The Forever name and logo is a trademark of Hachette Book Group USA, Inc.

First eBook Edition: November 2008

"I do not mean to disturb your schedule."

He blinked. "That's, ah . . ."

He seemed to lose his train of thought, possibly because she'd started unbuttoning his waistcoat. She concentrated on the brass buttons and the slitted holes, aware that her breathing had quickened with the temptation of his proximity. An awful thought intruded: How many other women had had the privilege of undressing him?

He cleared his throat. "Uh, kind of you."

"Is it?" Had he been with another woman tonight? He was a man of known appetites.

She had no idea where he went in the evenings. Her fingers fumbled on that last thought, and she finally identified the emotion flooding her brain: jealousy. She was completely unprepared for it. She'd known before they'd married who he was—what he was. She believed she would be content with whatever small part of himself he would share with her. The other women, when they came, she would simply ignore.

But now she found she simply couldn't. She wanted him. All of him.

"There's enchantment in Hoyt's stories that makes you believe in the magic of love."

Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine

"Elizabeth Hoyt writes with flair, sophistication, and unstoppable passion."

—Julianne MacLean, author of Portrait of a Lover

"A fresh new voice in historical romance."


"The new master of the historical romance genre."


Praise for Elizabeth Hoyt's Novels

To Taste Temptation

"4½ Stars! Hoyt's new series . . . begins with destruction and ends with glorious love. She begins each chapter with a snippet of a legend that beautifully dovetails with the plot and creates a distinct love story that will thrill readers."

Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine

"4½ Stars! There's an interesting suspense embedded in this book . . . The sensuality is breathtaking and the reader is carried into the headiness of growing love . . . I loved this book, the high quality of the writing, the engaging plot, and most of all, the character development. A terrific novel . . . highly recommended."


"[A] brilliant start to a sexy new historical romance series. I thoroughly enjoyed this story of action, mystery, and steamy romance. Her love scenes are scorching hot . . . Hang on to your seat and have a cold glass of water handy."


"A suspenseful romantic tale that keeps the reader intrigued. The romance . . . is gratifying and grabs the most romantic heart. The added touch of the folk tale at the beginning of each chapter is great."


"Enchanting . . . Hoyt stuns with this marvelous romance. Emotionally charged and beautifully written. Samuel and Emeline come alive on the pages, truly taking life as three-dimensional, provocative, and complex characters. Hoyt weaves threads of this story seamlessly into anything but typical historical romance . . . Utterly impossible to put down. I am so excited for the next book in this series."


"Volatile romance . . . involving mystery . . . readers will become completely engrossed in the fast-paced plot. With its vividly drawn characters, neat plotting, and heated romance, it's sure to satisfy."


"I have been a fan of Elizabeth Hoyt's writing since the release of her first book. Her writing catches you from the first sentence and you are always taken on a wonderful journey."


"A strong tale . . . a fine Georgian romance."


"Hoyt is a talented writer . . . I loved the historic detail and the slow reveal of what happened to the men at Spinners Falls."


The Serpent Prince

"Exquisite romance . . . mesmerizing storytelling . . . incredibly vivid lead characters, earthy writing, and an intense love story."

Publishers Weekly

"Wonderfully satisfying . . . delightfully witty . . . with just a touch of suspense. Set in a lush regency background, Elizabeth spins a story of treachery, murder, suspense, and love with her usual aplomb."


"A delight to read . . . It is fun and flirtatious, serious and sincere, menacing and magical. If you haven't read this series, I enthusiastically recommend it to you."


"With an engrossing plot centered on revenge and a highly passionate romance between Simon and Lucy, The Serpent Prince delivers a steamy tale that packs an emotional punch. The three-dimensional characters, high drama, and sensuous love story make it a page-turner. The attention to detail when describing the time period and the traditions of the day, such as dueling, add to the overall satisfaction. I highly recommend The Serpent Prince."


"A passionate love affair that will capture your heart and leave you wanting more. The intensity of attraction the characters have for each other is so entrancing, I was eager to turn each page to discover more."


"Delectably clever writing, deliciously complex characters, and a delightfully sexy romance between perfectly matched protagonists are the key ingredients in the third book in Hoyt's superbly crafted, loosely connected Georgian-era Princes trilogy."


"Sardonic, sensual, dastardly, and above all, a focused and intense love story that will touch all historical romance fans . . . Hoyt once again creates vivid characters and a masterful piece of storytelling."


"4½ Stars! TOP PICK! Fantastic . . . magically blends fairy tale, reality, and romance in a delicious, sensual feast."

Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine on The Serpent Prince

The Leopard Prince

"4½ Stars! TOP PICK! An unforgettable love story that ignites the pages not only with heated love scenes but also with a mystery that holds your attention and your heart with searing emotions and dark desire."

Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine

"An exhilarating historical romance."

Midwest Book Review

"Deeply sensual . . . not to be missed . . . a delight from start to finish. The story is so well written, the characters so engaging."


"Wicked squires, a relationship reminiscent of Lady Chatterley's Lover (complete with sex scenes), and something of a mystery to solve make this an entertaining book . . . a good, lively tale."


"A spellbinding and sensually charged novel that grabs you from the first page."


"4½ Stars! Absolutely fantastic . . . filled with witty dialogue and sparkling characters."


"Hoyt creates another of her powerful stories of love and romance."


"Hoyt isn't afraid to play with conventions while taking risks . . . She gets into the soul of her story and lures the reader in."


"An original and well-crafted story."


"A refreshing historical romance . . . Elizabeth Hoyt weaves a superb tale that will keep you reading long into the night."


The Raven Prince

"A sexy, steamy treat! A spicy broth of pride, passion, and temptation."

—Connie Brockway, USA Today bestselling author

"A very rich, very hot dessert."


"Hoyt expertly spices this stunning debut novel with a sharp sense of wit and then sweetens her lusciously dark, lushly sensual historical romance with a generous sprinkling of fairytale charm."

Chicago Tribune

"Will leave you breathless."

—Julianne MacLean, author of Portrait of a Lover

"I didn't want it to end!"

—Julia Quinn, New York Times bestselling author

"Hoyt's superb debut historical romance will dazzle readers with its brilliant blend of exquisitely nuanced characters, splendidly sensual love story, and elegant writing expertly laced with a dash of tart wit."


"4½ Stars! TOP PICK! You'll adore Hoyt's intelligent characters and their spicy dialogue as much as the heated love scenes."

Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine

"A delicious romance . . . I enjoyed it immensely."

—Jane Feather, New York Times bestselling author

"A must read! A beautiful romance that will leave you breathless . . . make you laugh and yet make you cry . . . and will touch your heart and soul."


"A terrific Georgian romance starring a fascinating heroine."

Midwest Book Review

"Sensuous and passionate . . . a book that kept me immersed and entertained until the end."


"A romance novel that refuses to blend in with countless other historical romances that fear even the tiniest deviation from the tried and true."


"5 Hearts! A fantastic book. The story captivated this reviewer from the beginning . . . Ms. Hoyt created a terrific cast of characters for this novel."


"Offers an unexpected take on seduction . . . A must-read."



The Raven Prince

The Leopard Prince

The Serpent Prince

To Taste Temptation

For my father, ROBERT G. McKINNELL, who has always been incredibly supportive of my writing career. (But you still can't read this book, Dad!)


Thank you to my wonderful editor, AMY PIERPONT, and to her industrious assistant, KRISTIN SWITZER; to my fantabulous agent, SUSANNAH TAYLOR; to the energetic Grand Central Publishing Publicity team, particularly TANISHA CHRISTIE and MELISSA BULLOCK; to the Grand Central Publishing Art Department, especially DIANE LUGER for another wonderful cover; and to my copy editor, CARRIE ANDREWS, who has once again saved me from public embarrassment.

Thank you all!


Once upon a time, in a nameless foreign land, a soldier was marching home from war. The war he'd fought had waged for generations. It had been waged, in fact, for so many years that in time, the people fighting it had completely forgotten the reason that they fought. One day, the soldiers looked at the men they battled and realized they did not know why they wanted to kill them. It took the officers a little longer to come to the same conclusion, but eventually they had been prevailed upon, and all the soldiers on both sides of the war had laid down their arms. Peace had been declared.

So now our soldier marched home on a lonely road. But since the war had gone on for so many years, he no longer had a home to march to, and really he marched to nowhere. Still, he had a pack with some food on his back, the sun shone overhead, and the road he'd chosen was a straight and easy one. He was content with his lot in life.

His name was Laughing Jack. . . .


Chapter One

Jack marched down the road, whistling merrily, for he was a man without a care in the world. . . .


London, England
May 1765

There are few things more unfortunate in a man's life than being thrown over by one's prospective bride on one's wedding day, Jasper Renshaw, Viscount Vale, reflected. But being thrown over on one's wedding day whilst suffering the lingering aftereffects of a night of heavy drinking . . . well, that had to set some kind of damnable record for bad luck.

"I'm so s-s-s-sorry!" Miss Mary Templeton, the prospective bride in question, wailed at a pitch guaranteed to bring a man's scalp right off his skull. "I never meant to deceive you!"

"Quite," Jasper said. "I expect so."

He had an urge to rest his aching head in his hands, but this was obviously a highly dramatic point in Miss Templeton's life, and he felt it wouldn't show the proper gravity for the moment. At least he was sitting down. There was one straight-backed wooden chair in the church vestry, and he'd commandeered it in a very ungentlemanly manner when first they'd entered.

Not that Miss Templeton seemed to mind.

"Oh, my lord!" she cried, presumably to him, although considering where they were, she might've been calling on a far higher Presence than he. "I could not help myself, truly I couldn't. A frail wreck is woman! Too simple, too warmhearted to withstand the gale of passion!"

Gale of passion? "No doubt," Jasper muttered.

He wished he'd had time for a glass of wine this morning—or two. It might've settled his head a bit and helped him to understand what exactly his fiancée was trying to tell him—beyond the obvious fact that she no longer wished to become the fourth Viscountess Vale. But he, poor dumb ass, had tottered out of bed this morning expecting nothing worse than a tedious wedding followed by a protracted wedding breakfast. Instead, he'd been met at the church doors by Mr. and Mrs. Templeton, the former looking grim, the latter suspiciously nervous. Add to that, his lovely bride with fresh tears on her face, and he'd known, somewhere deep in his dark and heavy soul, that he would not be eating wedding cake today.

He smothered a sigh and eyed his erstwhile bride-to-be. Mary Templeton was quite lovely. Dark shining hair, bright blue eyes, a fresh creamy complexion, and nicely plump titties. He'd been rather looking forward to the plump titties, he thought morosely as she paced in front of him.

"Oh, Julius!" Miss Templeton exclaimed now, throwing out her lovely, round arms. It was really too bad that the vestry was such a little room. Her drama needed a larger venue. "If only I didn't love you so!"

Jasper blinked and leaned forward, conscious that he must've missed something, because he didn't remember this Julius. "Ah, Julius . . . ?"

She turned and widened her robin's-egg-blue eyes. Really, they were rather magnificent. "Julius Fernwood. The curate in the town near Papa's country estate."

He was being thrown over for a curate?

"Oh, if you could see his gentle brown eyes, his butter-yellow hair, and his grave demeanor, I know you would feel as I do."

Jasper arched an eyebrow. That seemed most unlikely.

"I love him, my lord! I love him with all my simple soul."

In an alarming move, she dropped to her knees before him, her pretty, tearstained face upturned, her soft white hands clutched together between her rounded bosom. "Please! Please, I beg of you, release me from these cruel bonds! Give me back my wings so that I may fly to my true love, the love I will cherish in my heart no matter if I am forced to marry you, forced into your arms, forced to endure your animal lusts, forced to—"

"Yes, yes," Jasper cut in hastily before she could enlarge on her portrait of him as a slavering beast bent on ravishment. "I can see that I'm no match for butter- colored hair and a curate's living. I retire from the field of matrimony. Please. Go to your true love. Felicitations and all that."

"Oh, thank you, my lord!" She seized his hands and pressed moist kisses on them. "I will be forever grateful, forever in your debt. If ever—"

"Quite. Should I ever need a butter-haired curate or a curate's wife, et cetera, et cetera. I'll keep the thought in mind." With a sudden inspiration, Jasper reached into his pocket and drew out a handful of half crowns. They'd been meant to throw to the rabble outside after the wedding. "Here. For your nuptials. I wish you every happiness with, er, Mr. Fernwood."

He poured the coins into her hands.

"Oh!" Miss Templeton's eyes grew even larger. "Oh, thank you!"

With a last moist kiss to his hand, she skipped from the room. Perhaps she realized that the gift of several pounds' worth of coins was an impulse on his part and that if she stayed longer, he might rethink his largess.

Jasper sighed, took out a large linen handkerchief, and wiped his hands. The vestry was a little room, the walls the same ancient gray stone as the church he'd planned to be married in. Dark wood shelves lined one wall, filled with the detritus of the church: old candlesticks, papers, Bibles, and pewter plates. Above, a window with small diamond panes sat high on the wall. He could see the blue sky with a single puffy white cloud floating serenely. A lonely little room to be once more left alone. He replaced the handkerchief in his waistcoat pocket, noticing absently that a button was loose. He'd have to remember to tell Pynch. Jasper leaned his elbow on the table beside his chair and cradled his head, eyes closed.

Pynch, his man, made a wonderful pick-me-up to settle a sore head after a night of overindulgence. Soon he could go home and take the brew, perhaps go back to bed. Goddammit, but his head hurt, and he couldn't leave just yet. Voices rose from outside the vestry, echoing off the vaulted ceiling of the old stone church. From the sound, Miss Templeton was meeting with some paternal resistance to her romantic plan. A corner of Jasper's mouth kicked up. Perhaps her father wasn't as swayed by butter-yellow hair as she. In any case, he'd far rather face charging Frenchies than the family and guests outside.

He sighed and stretched his long legs before him. Thus was six months' hard work undone. Six months was the amount of time he'd taken to court Miss Templeton. A month to find a suitable lass—one from a good family, not too young, not too old, and pretty enough to bed. Three months to carefully court, flirting at balls and salons, taking her for rides in his carriage, buying her sweets and flowers and little fripperies. Then the question put to her, a satisfactory answer, and the chaste kiss on a virginal cheek. After that, the only thing left had been the calling of the banns and various purchases and arrangements made for the upcoming blissful nuptials.

What, then, had gone wrong? She'd seemed perfectly complacent to his plans. Had never once before this morning voiced any doubts. Indeed, when presented with pearl and gold earrings, one might even go so far as to say she'd been ecstatic. Whence, then, this sudden urge to marry a butter-haired curate?

This problem of losing fiancées would never have happened to his elder brother, Richard, had he lived long enough to seek his own viscountess. Perhaps it was him, Jasper thought morbidly. Something in him that was anathema to the fairer sex—at least when it came to matrimony. One couldn't help but make note of the fact that this was the second time in less than a year that he'd been handed his congé. Of course, the first time it'd been Emeline, who—let us be fair, here—was more sister than lover. Nevertheless, a gentleman might very well—

The sound of the vestry door creaking open interrupted Jasper's thoughts. He opened his eyes.

A tall, slim woman hesitated in the doorway. She was a friend of Emeline's—the one whose name Jasper could never remember.

"I'm sorry, did I wake you?" she asked.

"No, merely resting."

She nodded, looked quickly over her shoulder, and shut the door behind her, closeting herself quite improperly with him.

Jasper raised his eyebrows. She'd never struck him as the dramatic sort, but then his perception in this area was obviously faulty.

She stood very straight, her shoulders square, her chin lifted ever so slightly. She was a plain woman, with features that a man would be hard-pressed to remember—probably why he couldn't remember her name now, come to think of it. Her light hair was an indeterminate color between blond and brown, and worn in a knot at the back of her head. Her eyes were a nondescript brown. Her dress was a grayish brown, with an ordinary, square-cut bodice that revealed a meager bosom. The skin there was rather fine, Jasper noted. It was that translucent bluish-white that was often compared to marble. If he peered closer, no doubt he would be able to trace the veins that ran beneath the pale, delicate skin.

Instead, he raised his eyes to her face. She'd stood there, unmoving, as he'd examined her, but a faint flush was now visible high on her cheekbones.

The sight of her discomfiture, however slight, made him feel a cad. His words, in consequence, were rather sharp. "Is there some way in which I can assist you, ma'am?"

She answered with a question of her own. "Is it true that Mary will not marry you?"

He sighed. "It appears that she has set her heart on capturing a curate, and a mere viscount will no longer do."

She didn't smile. "You do not love her."

He spread his hands. "Sadly true, though it marks me as a blackguard to confess it."

"Then I have a proposition for you."


She clasped her hands in front of her and did the impossible. She straightened farther. "I wonder if you might marry me instead."

MELISANDE FLEMING MADE herself stand still and look Lord Vale in the eye, steadily and without any hint of girlish fluster. She wasn't a girl, after all. She was a woman in her eight and twentieth year, well past the age of orange blossoms and spring weddings. Well past the hope of happiness, in fact. But it seemed that hope was a hardy thing, almost impossible to beat down.

What she had just proposed was ridiculous. Lord Vale was a wealthy man. A titled man. A man in the prime of his life. In short, a man who could have his pick of simpering girls, both younger and more beautiful than she. Even if he had just been left at the altar for a penniless curate.

So Melisande braced herself for laughter, scorn, or—worst of all—pity.

Instead, Lord Vale simply looked at her. Perhaps he hadn't heard. His beautiful blue eyes were a trifle bloodshot, and from the way he'd been holding his head when she entered the room, she suspected that he might have overcelebrated his impending nuptials the night before.

He lounged in his chair, his long muscular legs sprawled before him, taking up much more space than he should. He stared at her with those shockingly bright green-blue eyes. They were luminescent—even whilst bloodshot—but they were the only thing about him that could be called lovely. His face was long, creased with deep lines around the eyes and mouth. His nose was long, too, as well as overlarge. His eyelids drooped at the corners as if he were perpetually sleepy. And his hair . . . actually, his hair was rather nice, curly and thick, and a lovely reddish brown color. It would've looked boyish, perhaps even effeminate, on any other man.

She'd nearly not come to his wedding today. Mary was a distant cousin, one she'd spoken to only once or twice in her life. But Gertrude, Melisande's sister-in-law, had felt ill this morning and insisted that Melisande come to represent their branch of the family. So here she was, having just made the most reckless move of her life.

How odd fate was.

Finally, Lord Vale stirred. He rubbed a large bony hand down his face and then looked at her through long, spread fingers. "I'm an idiot—you must forgive me—but for the life of me I can't remember your name."

Naturally. She'd always been the type to hover round the edges of a crowd. Never in the center, never drawing attention to herself.

While he was just the opposite.

She inhaled, tightening her fingers to still their nervous trembling. She would have only this one chance, and she mustn't bungle it.

"I am Melisande Fleming. My father was Ernest Fleming of the Northumberland Flemings." Her family was old and well respected, and she didn't deign to elaborate. If he hadn't heard of them before this, her protestations of respectability would do her no good now. "Father is dead, but I have two brothers, Ernest and Harold. My mother was a Prussian émigré, and she is also dead. You may remember that I am friends with Lady Emeline, who—"

"Yes, yes." He lifted his hand from his face to wave away her credentials. "I know who you are, I just didn't know . . ."

"My name."

He inclined his head. "Quite. As I said—an idiot."

She swallowed. "May I have your answer?"

"It's just that"—he shook his head and gestured vaguely with long fingers—"I know I had too much to drink last night and I'm still a little dazed by Miss Templeton's defection, so my mental facilities may not yet be up to par, but I don't see why you'd want to marry me."

"You are a viscount, my lord. False modesty ill becomes you."

His wide mouth curved in a faint smile. "Rather tart-tongued, aren't you, for a lady seeking a gentleman's hand?"

She felt the heat rise in her neck and cheeks and had to fight the urge to simply fling open the door and run.

"Why," he asked softly, "amongst all the other viscounts in the world, why marry me?"


  • "Hoyt expertly sifts a generous measure of danger into the latest intriguing addition to her Four Soldiers, Georgian-era series . . and her ability to fuse wicked wittiness with sinfully sensual rormance is stunning."—Booklist
  • "There's enchantment in Hoyt's stories that makes you believe in the magic of love."—Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine
  • "The new master of the historical romance genre."—
  • "A sexy, steamy treat!"—Connie Brockway, USA Today bestselling author on THE RAVEN PRINCE
  • "Elizabeth Hoyt writes with flair, sophistication, and unstoppable passion."—Julianne MacLean, author of PORTRAIT OF A LOVER
  • "Elizabeth Hoyt is definitely setting the standard for breathtaking historical romances."—

On Sale
Nov 1, 2008
Page Count
400 pages

Elizabeth Hoyt

About the Author

Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.
The winters in Minnesota have been known to be long and cold and Elizabeth is always thrilled to receive reader mail. You can write to her at: P.O. Box 19495, Minneapolis, MN 55419 or email her at:

Learn more about this author