ONE NAUGHTY NIGHT - Laurel McKee
Grand Central Publishing's Forever
London, England; 1844
The Devil's Fancy, an exclusive gambling den, is the theater-driven St. Claire family's latest business endeavor, and they're trusting adopted daughter, Lily, to help make it a rousing success. It's remarkable that a woman head such a venture, but thus far she has shown a knack in their financial pursuits. Lily considers it a small repayment to the family that took her under its wing. If it had not been for the St. Claires, she would probably be selling her body for money...or worse. She'd been rescued from her abusive handler's grasp as a young girl when she'd tried to pick William St. Claire's pockets. Not only had he not turned her into the law, but the family had given her a home and their name. Despite their love and nurturing, Lily has always felt like a pampered outsider. That's why it's so important that she make the Devil's Fancy a success.
Two men from Lily's past are about to make an entrance back into her life. One, she would sooner forget, and the other she has tried in vain to.
Adventurer Lord Aidan Huntington can scarcely reconcile the stunning beauty reigning over the Devil's Fancy with the humiliated chit he'd met three years previously after she'd fled the Majestic. Supposed to portray Juliet in William St. Claire's production of Romeo and Juliet, she'd forgotten her lines and ran for the relative safety of the alley behind the theater in shame. Or so she had said. Aidan just remembers being charmed—and entranced—during this chance meeting. Now a widow, Lily needs connections and investors to ensure the Devil's Fancy's success, and a wealthy Huntington would surely help with that. A rumored bad history lingers between their families, but neither Lily nor Aidan takes that into account when their relationship progresses from interest to a more sensual one.
That's one man; what about the other?
Lily's worst nightmare comes to life in the form of one Tom Beaumont, and she may not have time to investigate her feelings for Aidan any further. Lily reported to Tom during her pickpocket and thieving days, and he did not believe in sparing the rod to keep his lackeys in line. She got away once—can she do it again now that he's back town? Will Tom be satisfied with just blackmail, or worse?
Lily is more than a spoiled young chit who just needs something to do. She's proactive and protective of her adoptive family, but leads a rather quiet life as the widow of grocer Harry Nichols. She ruined her one chance of feeling like a real St. Claire when she'd failed her father after he'd cast her as Juliet at his beloved Majestic Theater. Her failure that night led her to a darkened alley where she was very nearly seduced by a mysterious man whose name she never caught. The kiss they shared that night would warm her on many cold nights to come. Aidan would never get over that night behind the Majestic and a kiss he shared with an obvious innocent. Over the past few years he's wondered what ever happened to her, and if she'd indeed married greengrocer Harry Nichols as she swore she would have to do that night. Since that night, Aidan has rarely spent time in London, satisfied, instead, to be in the West Indies with his own successful, lucrative adventures. Now that he's back in England, he wonders what he can do with his time. That's easily solved when his father demands that he investigate one of his business ventures again to find out if putting his money into a gambling den, the Devil's Fancy—which puts Lily St. Claire right in his path once again—is a wise decision.
ONE NAUGHTY NIGHT is steamy and sensual without sacrificing its pace or story. Laurel McKee has penned a page-turner featuring spicy romance with an enticing suspense angle. The chief character list includes various members of Aidan's and Lily's families: Katherine and William St. Claire, Lily's parents, who lead their own colorful lives but dote on all of their children; Dominic and Brendan St. Claire, Lily's well-meaning, yet overly protective brothers; Lady Sophia Huntington, Aidan's cousin who loves amusement and shows more than a passing interest in Dominic; and Freddy Bassington, who could pass for Aidan's closest friend, if he had any of those.
Readers will be remiss if they let this one go. Spice up your summer reading with ONE NAUGHTY NIGHT!