My Liquid Silver Books pub-buddy Layna Pimentel has hosted me many a time, so I'm stoked to finally be able to return the favor. Without further ado, check out this scorching cover for her historical romance, Scandal at Vauxhall.
Scandal at Vauxhall
Pleasure Garden Follies, Book 1
by Layna Pimentel
The love and happiness Isabel Salisbury expected in life when she accepted the proposal of the Marquess of Stoughton takes an unexpected turn, when he leaves on a mission for the war office. She is married off to the Duke of Brimley.
Nathaniel Thompson, the Marquess of Stoughton, is devastated to learn upon his return that Isabel has married the duke. When news of her husband’s death surfaces, Nathaniel sets out to make amends and will stop at nothing until she’s his marchioness.
But when London learns of a promiscuous tryst between them in the Daily, their credibility is at stake. They soon discover that nothing in life is simple, nor private, and all is fair in love and war.
On a night like tonight, however, she was thankful for the lack of her husband’s presence. These types of occasions always put him in a sour mood. He’d wind up playing whist and lose. Then, he’d drink himself into a stupor, drag her away from whatever conversation she was having, take her home and bed her roughly, only to fall asleep before giving her any pleasure in return.
Pfft. What is pleasure anyway? Yet, while she didn’t have much experience in the ways of lovemaking, it was highly unlikely most marriage beds were like hers. Especially during these moments, she wished she had the courage to run.
Is married life supposed to be like this? Leaving me feeling filthy, unworthy, and so lonely? She hadn’t the slightest clue about what she'd ever done wrong, but the pang of regret over not standing up to her husband made her frailer with each passing day.
Distracting her from such sad thoughts, Lady Balfour approached, fanning herself with expediency. “My dear, have you heard? The Marquess of Stoughton has just arrived. My word, he hasn’t aged one bit, and he’s looking quite fit.”
Nathaniel! He’s alive. Isabel’s heart pounded in her chest as her gaze settled on him.
She hadn’t seen him since he’d told her he was leaving on business for the war office. Her pulse kicked up furiously to the point that she felt light-headed and breathless. He was still a sight for sore eyes. His dark hair and piercing blue gaze stood out in the crowd. The sheer breadth of his shoulders framed his muscular size. She watched as he stopped and spoke with other gentlemen, his back now facing her and Lady Balfour.
My God! He really is here. Would he even recognize me? Hardly. He’s probably here to fetch his mistress for the evening. Why would he even pay me any mind? Besides, she was a duchess, very much married, and obliged to keep up appearances.
“My, would you look at the size of his thighs,” Lady Coxley announced as she approached the ladies, garnering a few giggles from prying ears.
Isabel smirked, knowing all too well in what direction this conversation was headed.
“They are wonderfully built, but I’m sure some other lady has laid claim on the marquess.”
“You haven’t heard, have you, Isabel?”
“What haven’t I heard?” she asked. Her breath hitched and her pulse raced. What could I have missed?
“Come away with me to the terrace. I wish to speak to you in private. We can’t have half of London listening in.”
She followed Lady Coxley outdoors, leaving behind the sounds of merriment to be embraced by the shrouded darkness of night and silence.
“They say the marquess will not marry until he’s found her.”
“Until he’s found who?”
“The one who broke his heart. But in all honesty, everyone knows it’s you. With any
luck, perchance some horrible fate will happen upon Henry.”
If I were only so lucky. “You shouldn’t talk like that! And for the record, the marquess and I were done long ago. Remember, he’s the one who left me.”
“Isabel, you cannot expect me to believe that you haven’t thought about that man— at least once or ever—during the course of this sham of a marriage of yours. The haute ton in its entirety knows where he is right now. And you’d be a fool to think Henry gives two ninnies about your welfare.”
The sound of someone clearing their throat interrupted them.
“Excuse me, ladies, but I was wondering if perchance I could steal Her Grace for a dance.”
Good grief. Did he hear any of our discussion? I cannot believe he’s actually here.
Heat coursed through Isabel at the thought of holding him once again. She nodded and held out her gloved palm for him to take. “I’d be honored, My Lord.”
“The pleasure is all mine, Your Grace.”
Leaving behind Lady Coxley, she followed his lead inside for a waltz.
“It’s been too long, Isabel. I’ve missed you terribly,” he whispered as they took a turn about the dance floor. Nathaniel bowed and took her hand. His touch warmed her, and the gentle squeeze that followed reassured her that the flame they once had was still there.
She and Henry hadn’t danced since their wedding and even then, he quickly discarded her to dance with the Duchess of Downsbury. If she’d only known her dismissal that evening would be the first of many others. For the most part, her husband had two left feet, but Nathaniel whisked her away gracefully to the tune. She wished to kiss him again and remind herself of their time together. Good heavens, Isabel. You’re married. Enough of this foolishness!
Isabel felt him pulling her closer as his arm at the small of her back pushed her in. His head dipped down, and, naturally, she looked up at him, ignoring every stare and whisper as they moved together. She finally cringed and mustered the courage to ask him the one thing weighing heavily on her mind. “Why did you take so long? Why didn’t you come sooner? Nathaniel, there hasn’t been a day I haven’t thought of you.”
As the music wound down and the dancers departed, Isabel locked her eyes on his and felt a tear escape. “You’ve been missed greatly, My Lord.”
His thumb swiped away the drop. “My dear, there hasn’t been a day, hour, or dream you haven’t occupied.”
About Layna Pimentel
Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Layna discovered her love of reading at an early age. She’s a bestselling author at All Romance eBooks, and multi-published author of historical, paranormal and contemporary erotic romances. When she isn’t devouring salacious romance novels or writing, she enjoys losing herself in researching ancient history and mythology, weaponry, and hiking. She lives in Northern Ontario, with her husband and two daughters.