How To Build The Perfect Rake

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Authors: Kate Harper
Tags: Romance, Regency, love, Rake
eighteen, she
undoubtedly had plenty of time to discover the right man. Olympia
had already allowed that she was not the sort who imagined herself
in love like quite a few of the debutantes she knew. Why Helena
Monkhouse had fancied herself desperately in love twice already,
the second time based on no more than a dance.
    It was possible that
Olympia was not the sort to fall in love, which was unfortunate but
surely not the end of the world. A great many people must have
happy of marriages based on nothing more than good, solid
friendship and a frission of sexual appeal. Love could rock the uncertain
boat of life all too easily if it were not reciprocated and she had
heard of a great many females who had been cast into despair by
unfaithful husbands. She did not want to suffer unduly in a
marriage. She wanted it to be a haven, not a hell, which meant that
she must select the man she was to share the rest of her life with
carefully. And not accept any doubtful advise from men who could
not organize their own romances.
    The rest of the journey was a little frosty,
Luc sulking in a corner, clearly annoyed by Olympia’s refusal to
listen to him. She ignored it and in short order they drew up
before the impressive doors of the Falstaff residence. Luc eyed it
with some surprise.
    ‘Good heavens!’
    ‘They are absurdly wealthy. Endymion’s
grandfather was one of the richest men in England.’
    ‘How extraordinary. I presume he’s
dead.’
    ‘Yes. Why?’
    ‘Well if what you have to say about his
offspring is true, if he isn’t dead I’m quite sure he wishes he
were.’
    It was an observation that made Olympia
smile and helped chase away her rather grim introspection. She was
here with Luc, her Luc, the boy she had known forever. He might be
pretending to be someone else but she knew the truth of it, really.
Underneath that newly smoothed exterior lay the real Lucien St
James and she would do well to remember it.
    She took his arm, also remembering that she
had a role to play in the night’s proceedings. ‘I am going to look
at you soulfully. Do not be alarmed.’
    ‘Are you really?’ he sounded bemused. ‘But
why?’
    ‘I am enhancing your status. Besides, it
will merely confirm what I have been breathlessly telling Carisse
for the past six weeks. You are the very devil with the women and,
like many others, I too am smitten.’
    ‘Good God Ollie, that sounds
ridiculous!’
    ‘Nonsense. You are the one who wanted to
impress upon her how wicked you are. I am going to be hanging upon
your every word and you are going to ignore it.’
    ‘But I don’t think I can
be rude to you. Not you .’
    ‘I promise not to be offended.’ She paused,
turning to face him. ‘A rake, Luc. That’s what you’re claiming to
be. A rake is charming and wicked in equal measures. You do not
have to be unkind to me. Merely… offhand. As if you’re accepting my
adulation as your due. Do you understand?’
    He blinked, then grinned. ‘Adulation? Do you
know, I think this might be a great deal more enjoyable than I
imagined.’
    She rolled her eyes. ‘Yes, well don’t get
too used to it. It lasts until the moment that Miss Houghton
accepts your hand in marriage. After that, we’re back to
reality.’
    The door was answered by a butler, not a
fire breathing acrobat or a Bohemian gypsy woman they were half
expecting but a rather grim individual dressed in traditional
somber black. The man was quite stern and he eyed Luc with a
certain amount of disapprobation. For a moment both Olympia and Luc
thought they would need to justify his presence there but the
manservant merely waited until a footman had taken their cloaks
before leading them further into the house.
    The festivities, if they
could be called that, were taking place in a large,
well-proportioned drawing room, which had been organized for the
recital. Groups of chairs were set up facing a place before the
enormous fireplace. This room, at least, was more in keeping with
their

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