The Rake, an all-new powerful and passionate royal romance from Wall Street Journal bestselling author L.J. Shen is available now!
Boston’s most infamous femme fatale meets her match in a dangerously mild Englishman who has vowed to never marry.
Emmabelle Penrose has cruised through life never needing a man, a plan that has worked stunningly well until about five minutes ago, when she decided she must have a baby.
Devon Whitehall is 6’2” of premium DNA, financial security, and British royal titles. Best of all, he fears the one thing she dreads the most: getting hitched.
Emmabelle figures it’s a no-brainer when Devon offers his services—sperm and involvement in her future child’s life.
What begins as an innocent, modern-family arrangement, quickly erodes into a web of lies, dark pasts, and unfurled secrets.
Inside this chaos, Emmabelle and Devon are forced to face the awful truth—they are capable of love.
Even worse, they might feel it toward each other.
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One of the good things about Devon Whitehall (and unfortunately, there were many) was that he never took himself seriously. After I had shamefully banished him from my bed, he had stopped calling me. The next time we’d met, however, at a Christmas party, he had hugged me warmly, asked how I was doing, and even showed interest in investing in my club.
He’d behaved as if nothing happened. And to him I guess nothing had. I didn’t know why Devon had never married, but I suspected he suffered from the same relationship-phobia I was prone to. Over the years, I’d watched him parade one woman after another. They were all leggy, stylish, and held degrees in subjects I could hardly pronounce.
They also had the shelf life of an avocado.
Devon never tried to get with me again but remained wryly fond of me, the way you were fond of the childhood blanket you used to snuggle with but would not be caught dead in the same room with it anymore. These days, he made me feel chronically undesirable.
“What’s got your knickers in such a twist?” he asked, running his fingers through his thick hair. Streaks of cool wheat and gold.
I wiped my eyes quickly. “Go away, Whitehall.”
“Darling girl, your chances of evacuating an Englishman from a bar on a Friday afternoon are slim to none. Any requests I can actually fulfill?” The casual benevolence rolling off of him made me nauseous. No one was supposed to be that perfect.
“Die in hell?” I pressed my forehead to the cool bar.
I didn’t mean it. Devon had only ever given me good conversation, compliments, and orgasms. But I was really upset.
He slipped onto the stool beside me, flicking his wrist to check his Rolex. I knew he wouldn’t answer me. Sometimes, he treated me like an eight-year-old.
Our drinks arrived. He pushed the Tom Collins my way, handing my glass of chardonnay back to the bartender quietly.
“Here, now. This’ll make you feel better. And then significantly worse. But since I won’t be there to deal with the consequences…” He gave a careless shrug.
I took a sip and shook my head.
“I’m not good company right now. You’d have a better time striking up conversation with the bartender or one of the tourists.”
“Darling, you’re barely civilized, and still better company than anyone in this zip code.” He gave my hand a quick but warm squeeze.
“Why are you nice to me?” I demanded.
“Why not?” Again, he sounded completely at ease.
“I’ve been nothing but horrible to you in the past.”
I thought about the night I threw him out of my apartment, panicked that he’d somehow find a crack in my heart, pry it open, and sneak into it. The fact that he was here, pragmatic and unbothered, just proved that he had heartbreak written all over him.
“That’s not how I remember our brief but joyous history.” He sipped his Stinger.
“I kicked you out.”
“My arse had suffered worse.” He offered a dismissive flick of his wrist. He had nice hands. He had nice everything. “No need to take it personally.”
“What do you take personally?”
“Not many things in life, to be honest.” He frowned, giving it genuine thought. “Corporate taxes, perhaps? It’s essentially double-taxation, an outrageous concept, you must admit.”
I blinked slowly at him, wondering if I was beginning to see a hint of imperfection in the man everyone looked up to. Under the layers of manners and chiseled looks was, I suspected, a truly odd man.
“You care about taxes, but not that I humiliated you?” I challenged.
“Emmabelle, love.” He gave me a smile that would make ice melt. “Humiliation is a feeling. One must submit to it in order to experience it. You’ve never humiliated me. Was I disappointed that our affair had run its course faster than I had wanted it to? Sure. But it was your right to end things at any given moment. Now tell me what happened,” Devon coaxed.
His accent seemed to have a direct line to that place between my legs. He sounded like Benedict Cumberbatch reading an erotic audiobook.
He studied me coolly, waiting. It annoyed me. How confident he was. How little he spoke, and how much he conveyed with the few words he used.
“What do you want? We’re complete strangers.” My tone was matter-of-fact.
“I reject that framing.” He slid a leaf of mint decorating his glass along his tongue. It disappeared in his mouth. “I know every inch and curve of your body.”
About LJ Shen
L.J. Shen is a USA Today, Washington Post and Amazon #1 best-selling author of contemporary, New Adult and YA romance. Her books have been sold to nineteen different countries.
She lives in California with her husband, son, cat and eccentric fashion choices, and enjoys good wine, bad reality TV shows and catching sun rays with her lazy cat.
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