2015 Bisexual Book Awards Finalist: Best Romance, Best Erotic Fiction
“strong story, sexy and unique and well-written” – author Jill Sorenson
“The bedroom scenes are phenomenal, and the romance and excitement in the spaces between love scenes are just as wonderful… one of the best books I’ve read this year.” – Chasia Lloyd, Lloyd’s reviews
“I loved their relationship, both sexual and intense friendship. And I really hope there are going to be more books in this world.” – author KJ Charles
Love would be simpler if it came with a script.
Marguerite Ceniza dies on the London stage each night, but her own life has barely begun. The ingénue is on the prowl for a lover, but while she burns with desire for Sophie, a confession could ruin their decade-long friendship. In the meantime there are always men vying to be her patron, and square-jawed, broad-shouldered James Glover can’t help but catch her eye.
Sophie Armand has been a lady’s maid for too long, and she’s sick of keeping secrets. Her hidden scripts and the story of her birth are only the beginning. Her nights are haunted by desperate thoughts of the beguiling Marguerite, and of James, the handsome tradesman who whispers promises of forever into her ear.
James has the kind of problem a lot of men would kill for—two women, both beautiful, both sensual, and both willing. Sophie wants marriage, while Marguerite’s only in it for fun, and choosing between them isn’t easy.
What’s the worst that could happen if he secretly courts them both?
Their romantic triangle is complicated in the most delicious way, until a shadowy figure from Marguerite’s past threatens to destroy the budding relationship—and their lives.
Warning: Contains a lady’s maid with secret desires, a corset-maker who knows his way around a woman’s body, and an actress who never has to fake it. Rated for adult audiences only.
Representation notes: Bisexual / biromantic female lead. Bisexual / homoromantic female lead. Straight male lead. All cisgender. Gender-fluid secondary character.
Read an Excerpt
Lady Horlock stood in the middle of her dressing room where Sarah had left her, but her comportment could not have been more different. Her color was up, her throat and cheeks flushed red and her eyes snapped with fury. She held a packet of papers in her hand that she brandished at Sarah the moment she appeared in the doorway.
“Deceit!” Lady Horlock squawked, flourishing the pages in the air as though she were about to throw them. “Deceit, and lies, and a snake in my bosom.”
“Your ladyship,” Sarah begged, the click of the door shutting fast behind her the first note in her funeral march. “No. Never. Name me one of your confidences that I have ever betrayed, and I will put myself out the back door in an instant.”
“What do you say to this, then?” Lady Horlock tossed the pages to the floor and they scattered, Sarah’s handwriting, her crossed-out corrections and notes, all of them vivid against the cream of the paper and the pale wood floor. “Where the heroine is a maid who sleeps with the lord of her own house? He beds her and gets her with child—how much of this is based on life, deceitful girl?”
“None, your ladyship, I swear it.” Sarah clasped her hands before her, the image of innocence. Believe me, please. I have committed many sins, but this is not among them. “Never have I darkened the door of Lord Horlock’s bedchamber, nor have I ever taken him to mine. You are my lady and I your maid. Simple and poor as I am in learning, I am rich enough in morals and in my sense of duty for you to depend on that.”
Should she fall to her knees? Meg would have by now, fallen to her knees and clutched tearfully at Lady Horlock’s hem. But this was not that sort of finale. Sarah needed her wits about her.
Lady Horlock lifted her chin, her gray hair a cloud behind her that the lamplight caught in a glow. “Then where does he go? He no longer comes to mine.” Then, oh then, she could almost feel pity for Lady Horlock then, her face drawn tight, her body burning not with rage, but with humiliation and the type of pain that killed the soul.
Sarah nodded, moistening her lips and choosing her words, just as she chose her voice next, thick and soft, laced with sympathy and forgiveness. “Men can be cruel, my lady.”
They hung there in that moment, a tableau strung together by threads of emotion that ran too hot to last. Lady Horlock broke it first, stabbing a finger out in accusation once more. “You realize how ungrateful this makes you look. Such nonsense! Ladies, conniving to betray a master and husband who has no doubt given them everything they ever needed in life! What classless tripe. That such things could come from the pen of someone working in my house!”
Sarah dared to breathe once more, lead in her lungs even as she drew in air to clear it. “It is only a work of fiction, madame, and a poor one at that. I have never neglected my duties for my poor scribbles. Surely there can be no harm in writing stories for my own amusement!” That last she blurted out in frustration, standing tall amidst the pages that drifted about her ankles.
A beat of silence passed, the clock chiming downstairs marking the lateness of the hour.
If she were to be turned out now, it would be for that impertinence alone.
Her breath came thick and fast in her throat, her heart pounding and head spinning with flashes of thoughts and worries, notions she couldn’t conceal or control—
This is how it ends.
That thought, alongside some distant understanding that her panic was unneeded, a moment of dramatics worthy of Meg—it helped, strangely enough.
Lady Horlock’s shoulders curled and her chin came down. The Dragon was no more than a gray goose once more, settling her dressing gown around her like armor. “And you are not Horlock’s mistress.”
“Never, madame.” That, Sarah could swear to in absolute truth. “He has never made overtures, nor would I consider them even for a moment if he had.”
“Cease this foolishness. I should burn it and put an end to your infernal distraction.” Lady Horlock pushed the pile of papers on the floor with one delicately shod toe. She gestured toward the fireplace with a grimace. “You’ve had your head in the clouds since before we came to London. You are a servant, Miss Armand, not a playwright.”
Lady Horlock swept toward the door, pausing only to turn her head, exhaustion drawing her face cold and wan. From there, she delivered her final shot, words that slid between Sarah’s ribs and into her heart as keenly as any blade. “Don’t dream above your station.”
And then she was gone.
The room echoed in its stillness once the mistress of the house had taken herself away. Sarah’s chest heaved as she fought back the rush of…of something, she knew not what to call it. Picking up her pages helped, mindless and repetitive. She could do it without thinking, without letting the hurt sink into her bones.
Don’t dream above your station.
Wise advice that she would be wise to take.