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The Heart of Christmas: A Handful of Gold\The Season for Suitors\This Wicked Gift

Cover of The Heart of Christmas: A Handful of Gold\The Season for Suitors\This Wicked Gift

The Heart of Christmas: A Handful of Gold\The Season for Suitors\This Wicked Gift

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A HANDFUL OF GOLD by Mary Balogh

Not only is Julian Dare dashing and wealthy, but he's the heir to an earldom. So what do you get a man who has everything? Innocent, comely Verity Ewing plans on giving him her heart--the most precious gift of all.

THE SEASON FOR SUITORS by Nicola Cornick

After some close encounters with rakes, heiress Clara Davenport realizes she needs expert advice. And who better than Sebastian Fleet, the most notorious rake in town? But the tutelage doesn't go as planned, as both Sebastian and Clara find it difficult to remain objective in lessons of the heart!

THIS WICKED GIFT by Courtney Milan

Lavinia Spencer has been saving her pennies to give her family Christmas dinner. Then her brother is swindled, leaving them owing more than they can ever repay. Until a mysterious benefactor offers to settle the debt. Lavinia is stunned by what dashing William White wants in return. Will she exchange a wicked gift for her family's fortune?

A HANDFUL OF GOLD by Mary Balogh

Not only is Julian Dare dashing and wealthy, but he's the heir to an earldom. So what do you get a man who has everything? Innocent, comely Verity Ewing plans on giving him her heart--the most precious gift of all.

THE SEASON FOR SUITORS by Nicola Cornick

After some close encounters with rakes, heiress Clara Davenport realizes she needs expert advice. And who better than Sebastian Fleet, the most notorious rake in town? But the tutelage doesn't go as planned, as both Sebastian and Clara find it difficult to remain objective in lessons of the heart!

THIS WICKED GIFT by Courtney Milan

Lavinia Spencer has been saving her pennies to give her family Christmas dinner. Then her brother is swindled, leaving them owing more than they can ever repay. Until a mysterious benefactor offers to settle the debt. Lavinia is stunned by what dashing William White wants in return. Will she exchange a wicked gift for her family's fortune?

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    The gentleman sprawled before the dying fire in the sitting room of his London lodgings was looking somewhat the worse for a night's wear. His gray knee breeches and white stockings were of the finest silk, but the latter were wrinkled and he had long before kicked off his shoes. His long-tailed evening coat, which had molded his frame like a second skin when he had donned it earlier in the evening, had now been discarded and tossed carelessly onto another chair.

    His finely embroidered waistcoat was unbuttoned. His neck cloth, on the arrangement of which his valet had spent longer than half an hour of loving artistry, had been pulled open and hung unsymmetrically against his left shoulder. His dark hair, expertly cut to look fashionably disheveled, now looked unfashionably untidy from having had his fingers pass through it one too many times. His eyes were half-closed--and somewhat bloodshot. An empty glass dangled from one hand over the arm of the chair.

    Julian Dare, Viscount Folingsby, was indisputably foxed.

    He was also scowling. Drinking to excess was not among his usual vices. Gaming was. So was womanizing. And so was reckless living. But not drinking. He had always been careful to exclude from habit anything that might prove to also be addictive. He had every intention of one day "settling down," as his father phrased it, of being done with his "wild oats," another of the Earl of Grantham's clichés. It would be just too inconvenient to have to deal with an addiction when the time came. Gambling was not an addiction with him. Neither were women. Though he was exceedingly fond of both.

    He yawned and wondered what time it was. Daylight had not yet dawned, a small comfort when this was December and daylight did not deign to show itself until well on into the morning. Certainly it was well past midnight. Well past. He had left his sister's soirée before midnight, but since then he had been to White's club and to one or two--was it one or two?--card parties at which the play had been deep and the drinking deeper.

    He should get himself up from his chair and go to bed, but he did not have the energy. He should ring for his valet, then, and have the man drag him off to bed. But he did not have even the energy to get up and ring the bell. Doubtless he would not sleep anyway. He knew from experience that when he was three sheets to the wind, an approximately vertical position was preferable to a horizontal one.

    Why the devil had he drunk so deep?

    But drunkenness had not brought oblivion. He remembered very well why. That heiress. Miss Plunkett. No, Lady Sarah Plunkett. What a name! And unfortunately the chit had the face and disposition to match it. She was going to be at Conway for Christmas with her mama and papa. Emma, his youngest sister, had mentioned the fact in the letter that had reached him this morning--no, yesterday morning. He had put two and two together without further ado and had come up with the inevitable total of four. But he had not needed to use any arithmetical or deductive skills.

    His father's letter, which he had read next, had been far more explicit. Not only were the Plunkett chit and the Plunkett parents to join their family gathering for Christmas, but also Julian would oblige his father by paying court to the girl and fixing his interest with her. He was nine-and-twenty years old, after all, and had shown no sign of choosing anyone for himself. His father had been extremely patient with him. But it was high time he finished with his wild oats and settled down. As the only son among five sisters, three of them still unmarried and therefore still...

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