1800 – Three years after she escaped to London with her bisexual lovers, Bella Rushdale wakes to find Vaughan gone. Determined to reclaim him and preserve their ménage a trois, Bella pursues him to his family seat on the Welsh Border, where she finds herself embroiled in his preparations for a diabolical gothic celebration on All Hallows Eve – a phantasmagoria. Among the shadows and phantoms, Bella and her lovers peel away the deceits and desires of past and future.
Titles in the Scandalous Seductions Series:
“…simply one of the best. If you enjoy erotic romance at its most passionate then you have to have phantasmagoria.” Ashley Lister for ERWA
“Takes gothic romance to a new height.” Romance Junkies
“Vibrant and electrifying, this well-written read sizzles.” Coffee Times Romance
“Captivating, passionate, enthralling and beguiling, Madelynne Ellis’s turbulent tale of love, loss, passion, obsession and emotion is simply erotic romance at its superb and unforgettable best!” Julie Bonello for Sensual Ecataromance
New Year’s Eve 1799
The haunting strain of a violin marked his escape onto the moonlit balcony. Vaughan Peredur Forvasham, Marquis of Pennerley, brought his palms down hard against the flat stone balustrade. ‘Hell’s Pits!’ he barked. The impact stung, but he didn’t flinch, just glowered at the black blot on the horizon – the City. He could just make out the dome of St Paul’s.
Vaughan pressed his fingers to his temples. His dark ringlets fell forward over his face, concealing his expression. Why was he here? What was he doing? It was New Year’s Eve. They were supposed to be enjoying themselves, celebrating. He had been enjoying himself. He’d smacked Lieutenant Wilkes of the 52nd Oxfordshires across the cheek with his glove for his insolent remarks towards Bella. Nobody got to call her a whore, except him. The poor fool hadn’t dared call him out. Reputations were wonderful things, although the influence of their host, the Right Honourable Herbert Gillray MP may have played a part too.
Oh, and he’d taught that pompous arse of a Frenchman, the Vicomte de Maresi, just how knowledgeable an Englishman could be about certain manly pursuits.
Vaughan ran his tongue over his teeth. The Vicomte was achingly beautiful and had cheeks as sweet as a cherry bun, but he smelled like a perfumery and he had none of Bella’s fire or Lucerne’s charm.
Hmm! He sniffed hard, suddenly reminded of his feckless lover. Pox on the man! Why did he have to be so bloody gig-happy?
The door behind him swung open, and a spear of light struck the ground beneath him with the radiance of two thousand candles. He didn’t turn, just stared resolutely into the darkness. He knew who’d come after him, the only person who truly dared. Well, perhaps there was one other person, but she was too busy dancing to bother about him. He dragged a hand through his hair and let it slide slowly through the tangles.
‘Vaughan.’ Lucerne curved his hand over Vaughan’s. ‘Are we fine?’
‘Yes. We’re fine.’ Vaughan sniffed again. Liar, he chided himself. Clearly, they were very far from fine.
Too close to be just friendly, Lucerne slyly traced the curve of Vaughan’s arse. It was a subtle movement, not without risk. The assembly room behind them was full of their peers. On another occasion, the affectionate gesture might have won him around. Vaughan liked to take risks, but tonight, it elicited nothing but a shudder of irritation. ‘I’m just brooding, Lucerne. It’s New Year. It’s what I do.’ He painted on a smile, then turned so that he stood inside Lucerne’s embrace. ‘Go back to the party. I’ll follow in a moment when I’ve conquered my mood.’
‘If you’re sure.’ Lucerne brushed his thumb across Vaughan’s cheek.
‘Don’t get too maudlin out here, will you?’ He drew the caress to Vaughan’s lips and rubbed over them slowly. ‘The night’s barely begun. We have to see in the new century yet.’ He flashed Vaughan an impudent smile loaded with sweet promises for later.
‘Away with you.’ Vaughan watched him rejoin a group of drunken bloods. It was no good. He couldn’t pretend he wasn’t hurting, that he wasn’t revolted by the way Lucerne carried out his affairs.
Still, this was the way it had to be. He paced the length of the balcony to where the ivy hung like mermaids’ braids. Quietly,without a scene, without so much as a whisper.
Vaughan claimed a deserted glass from among the foliage and swallowed the rich, syrupy liquid without really tasting it. The dregs he held up to the moon in mock salute, then let the glass drop over the balustrade. It smashed on the paving below, where the shards glinted like angels’ tears. Several women shrieked. He didn’t look to see who. He didn’t care. Let them scream. Let all the bitches scream. Soon, everything was going to shatter.