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DAUGHTERS OF SIN. BOOKS 3-5 + PREQUEL

DAUGHTERS OF SIN. BOOKS 3-5 + PREQUEL

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A Regency Family Saga with Secrets, Mystery and Espionage. BOOKS 3-5 + Prequel. EBOOK bundle.

Two sisters unite with their illegitimate half-sisters to unmask a charming but dangerous villain in this dark Regency Family Saga.

Branded a bastard in her village, Kitty Hazlett runs away to find a more appreciative audience in London as Kitty La Bijou, celebrated actress, desired by princes and aristocrats.

She’s soon embroiled in a passionate but highly unsuitable love affair, despite the fact her greatest dream is for true love and respectability.

But when Kitty stumbles across Araminta, her nobly born half-sister, on the verge of giving birth barely seven months after marrying dangerous Viscount Debenham, Kitty realises respectability is no guarantee of character or happiness. 

However, helping Araminta has unwittingly embroiled Kitty in a scandalous deception involving a ruthless brothel madam, a priceless ruby necklace and the future heir to a dazzling fortune. 

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LADY UNVEILED

In the thrilling conclusion to the Daughters of Sin series, the turbulent love affairs of four very different sisters are wrapped up.

Kitty is a celebrated actress with a heart of gold; Lissa is a shy yet daring wallflower with a talent for portraiture that has the potential to bring down the highest in the land. Their two half-sisters, shy, sweet Hetty and vain and spoiled Araminta who is the ton's reigning beauty, have enjoyed a life of privilege as Lord Partington's nobly born daughters.

Caught up in a high-stakes game of intrigue and deceit orchestrated by Araminta, each sister must play her part to bring justice to a dangerous traitor and find happiness for themselves.

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Buy Lady Unveiled~The Cuckold Conspiracy to see how love, duty, and honor dictate the just desserts of four very different sisters.

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LADY UNVEILED - CHAPTER ONE

Lucinda’s angry, discordant note on the piano brought Lissa’s head up sharply. It seemed her disgruntled charge had finally—like Lissa—had enough of the muffled and completely inappropriate giggles of Lord Beecham’s ‘special’ friend. For the last hour, Lissa had sat quietly sewing by the window, as well behaved as any good governess could be suffering such trials.
Meanwhile, seated on an elegant blue and silver silk-striped sofa opposite the piano, Lord Beecham seemed wholly occupied with his increasingly regular guest, Lady Julia, and until now, impervious to his ward’s attempt to regain his attention.
Lissa slanted a glance at Lucinda. When Lucinda was angry, she was not a pretty girl. Her peaches and cream complexion became red and mottled; her rosebud-shaped mouth flattened into a harsh, thin line, and her normally luminous blue eyes seemed almost black beneath beetling brows. This was how she looked now as she hunched on the piano stool, glowering at Lady Julia—or Lady Ledger, wife of Sir Archie Ledger if she were happy to be properly identified, which, judging by the surreptitious fondling the pair were engaged in today, she would not.
Lady Julia, supposedly an earl’s daughter fallen upon hard times, was purportedly Lucinda’s very young godmother. She arrived at Lord Beecham’s London townhouse at regular intervals, heavily veiled, to instruct Miss Lucinda Martindale in the musical arts, though she could not—as far as Lissa could tell—play a note. At least, Lissa had never heard her play a note, though she’d heard a lot of other noises emanating from Lady Julia during her visits to his Lordship’s bedroom between music lessons.
Finally, it seemed, Lucinda had achieved what she’d been after—Lord Beecham’s undivided attention.
“What an infernal noise!” he exclaimed, the dewy adoration as he’d gazed at Lady Julia instantly replaced by a thunderous scowl as he jerked his head around to look at Lucinda. “I spend a fortune on your musical education! Surely I should expect better than that!”
Lucinda’s mobile face went through a gamut of emotions—devastation then outrage, however her mouth remained a thin, tight line. It was quite obvious the girl was desperately in love with her benefactor into whose care she’d been placed the previous year.
It was upon the death of her parents and younger brother during a scarlet fever outbreak in their village that Lucinda became a ward of Lord Beecham. But while Lucinda was obstinate and demanding of her governess, she had never, as far as Lissa knew, openly challenged Lord Beecham.
Nevertheless, there was an underlying challenge now as the girl asked, “Perhaps Lady Julia would care to demonstrate how Pachelbel’s Canon in D should really sound.”
Lady Julia, who had attempted to discreetly put at least several inches between her thigh and that of his Lordship’s on the sofa, smiled sweetly. “My dear, I don’t want to show you up.” She patted her bright golden hair, then purred, “Please, play it again. With just a little more practise you will have mastered it, and Lord Beecham and I are quite happy for you to entertain us while I continue to outline to him my hopes on how your general carriage, demeanor and…might I add without offense…character itself might be improved sufficiently to make your come-out without undue embarrassment to either yourself or his Lordship.”
Lissa was interested to see how Lucinda would take this. With her head still bowed over her embroidery frame, she didn’t miss the flashing eyes above the pretty, pert nose of her young charge, and Lord Beecham’s wolfish, apparent approval of Lady Julia’s saccharine demeanor.
In the two months Lissa had spent in Lord Beecham’s employ, she had not warmed to her charge; for all she knew she ought to pity the girl. It was true that she’d established more control over Lucinda than Lucinda’s previous governess had. Lucinda no longer tried to undermine her at every opportunity or threw tantrums, and it appeared Lissa’s policy of being firm but distant appeared to have worked. But there was little affection between the pair.
Lucinda was the first to drop her eyes from Lady Julia’s scrutiny. Her shoulders slumped, and she turned back to her music which she started to play once again, this time softly and with no discordant notes. Lucinda was rather good at most things, if she put her mind to it.
Meanwhile, Lissa strained to hear what Lady Julia and Lord Beecham were discussing. It was one of the reasons she’d been placed in this position by her ‘real’ employer, Sir William Deane, late of the Foreign Office. The fact that Lissa could apparently appear as nondescript as the wallpaper was to her advantage, for she’d already gleaned several tidbits, which had been well-received as points of interest by Sir William’s successor.
Her ears pricked up at a reference to Lord Silverton, not a name she’d expected to hear in this drawing room, but a name that induced mixed feelings since she’d learned her younger sister, Kitty, now a celebrated actress, had become his mistress.
For months, Lissa had been desperate to make contact with Kitty. She’d resisted because she feared Kitty’s unbridled love of chatter, and her reputation for indiscretions might compromise Lissa’s dangerous work in espionage and bringing to justice a very dangerous gentleman. Lissa was the responsible one, and Kitty was quite likely to inadvertently destroy the hard-won gains Lissa had painstakingly worked toward during these past few months.
Reluctantly, she’d therefore refrained from directly seeking Kitty out, though she kept as much of a sisterly eye upon her as she could from afar, informing their mother of Kitty’s successes on the stage though their mother had, of all the family, been the most distraught at the scandalous life her daughter had embraced. Just as well she had no idea of the murky world of intrigue in which Lissa was involved.
In the midst of these musings, Lissa was brought up short by Lady Julia’s loud whisper. “Did you know Silverton’s betrothed is due to travel down from the north sometime next month? I wonder if word has reached poor Octavia that there’s already a little cuckoo in the nest.”
She wriggled against Lord Beecham and put her mouth to his ear as she ran her hand inside his waistcoat. “Kitty La Bijou! You did hear, didn’t you, that the darling of the London stage arrived at the altar not four weeks ago, all set to marry Lord Nash?” Lady Julia was clearly enjoying the salacious details in inverse proportion to Lissa, whose very soul seemed to be in the process of being sucked through her feet. To hear the gossip-hungry Lady Julia muckraking Lissa’s own sister as if the girl were society’s grisly spoils was a particularly cruel piece of purgatory.
When Lord Beecham put his head on one side to indicate his interest, Lady Julia eagerly supplied the details Lissa had heard in only the sketchiest form. “Yes, Lord Nash’s irate pater appeared in St Mary’s in high dudgeon to announce his son wasn’t permitted to wed before he was twenty-five. You won’t believe what happened next! Miss La Bijou, in full wedding regalia, burst into tears and ran out into the street with Lord Silverton in hot pursuit. By the time Lord Nash caught up with his erstwhile lover and intended bride, to explain to Miss Bijou that he’d already ensured the legalities were iron-clad, and furthermore, here was his lawyer and now his father to attest to the fact, it was to discover Miss La Bijou in a state of post-coital bliss with… Lord Silverton!”
Lady Julia relaxed back against her cushions and said with self-satisfaction, “You can imagine the gossips have had a field day with all of this. The girl is quite ruined of course — not that she wasn’t, I mean…being an actress. But her hopes of ever being accepted into polite society are completely dashed. To think, though, that if she hadn’t miscalculated, she’d be lording it over the rest of us as Lady Nash,” she tittered. “Designing little piece, that Kitty La Bijou, though butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. And the gossip sheets can’t seem to get enough of her, forever lauding her performance as Desdemona these days.” She sighed. “It becomes quite tiresome after a while when there’s nothing else to read.”
Lord Beecham chuckled and patted her cheek fondly. “My dear, you’re among the worst! You simply can’t get enough of such titillating gossip!”
It was, however, Lissa who couldn’t get enough of what she was hearing—which indeed was news in the kind of detail she’d not heard. And not the kind of detail she wanted to hear.
She put her head down and tried to hold back her tears of shame. For months, she’d suffered the ignominy of her thankless role as Miss Lucinda’s governess. When she’d been placed in this position by Sir Edward Keane of the Foreign Office, she’d been filled with hope and pride.
At last, she, the unacknowledged illegitimate daughter of Lord Partington, was going to prove her worth. She would keep her head down and her ears attuned to any suggestion of Lord Beecham’s involvement in the attempted assassination of a cabinet minister several years before, and a spate of extortion attempts on members of the aristocracy. Beecham had been an associate of Viscount Debenham since their involvement in the radical underground Jacobin movement of the 1790s, a time when both men had no aspirations toward noble status.
Now with seats in the House of Lords, it was Sir Edward’s belief that Beecham and Debenham had found more inventive ways to exploit their changed circumstances, using the criminal associations they’d made several decades before. There were old scores to be settled, and it seemed, forever empty pockets to line.
Political malice or criminal greed? Or had Lord Beecham shed his shady proclivities with his change in status?
Lissa no longer answered to Sir Edward, now a diplomat in Constantinople, but to the Treasury Solicitor’s Office and the shadowy Lord Carmody of the Home Office, a man who kept up Lissa’s belief in her noble cause by his regular praise of her detailed drawings and observations.
One day, Lissa hoped, her work would be acknowledged as having helped flush out the profligacy, promiscuity, violence, mendacity, and outright criminality which many of those with whom Beecham and Debenham had once associated still peddled. If her observations could link Beecham either with Debenham, or just one ringleader in the underground rabble of counterfeiters, extortionists, and even murderers who plagued society, she’d consider it a job well done and herself a success.
But Lord, what would their mother say to Kitty’s shocking exploits? The girl had nearly wed Lord Nash? Then she’d been caught en flagrante with Lord Silverton within half an hour of the truncated nuptials and was now his mistress?
Something inside Lissa seemed to curl up and die. Where had Lissa gone wrong? She’d tried so hard to be the mother Kitty had missed out on, reading her stories, drying her tears. Of course Lissa denied it, but even she could see that their mother seemed to have little affection for her bright and joyful youngest and had become even more distant following the unexpected birth of her last child only a few months before.
Reluctantly, Lissa accepted that Kitty had had little incentive to remain at home caring for a demanding mother and newborn sister, but her latest exploits were too much to condone.
Not only had she destroyed all claim to ever being accepted into the ranks of the respectable classes by becoming an actress, but she’d taken up with Lord Silverton who was himself looking into the affairs of Debenham and his ilk—Lord Smythe and the radical shoemaker, pamphleteer, and suspected counterfeiter, Buzby. On the surface, he appeared urbane and inclined to pleasure-seeking with dubious rascals, but he was very much committed to the same cause as Lissa. And now Lissa’s sister had become the mistress of this very man.
“Are you all right, Miss Hazlett?”
Lissa hadn’t realized she’d made a sound. She looked from the droplet of blood on her finger where she’d pricked herself with her embroidery needle then toward Lord Beecham.
“Quite all right, my lord. But if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time I saw Miss Lucinda to bed.” She rose and beckoned to her charge, who sent her a somewhat sour look as she put down the lid of the piano but rose nevertheless.
Meanwhile, Lissa’s thoughts were in turmoil. It was now imperative to find Kitty and explain to her that she must end her contact with Silverton. Not only was it unseemly, it was wrong.
Lissa knew where to locate her. Several months before, she’d attended the theater and seen Kitty perform, dashing off a sketch because she’d been so enthralled. When Lord Ludbridge, the brother of Lissa’s admirer, Ralph, had begged to acquire it, she’d torn it off the sketchbook so that it didn’t identify Kitty. It had seemed somehow wrong to show her little sister dressed in man’s attire and performing on stage to all the world.
What had struck Lissa, however, was how carefree and happy Kitty had appeared whenever Lissa had secretly observed her; a great contrast from the isolation and daily pressure Lissa felt.
But the idea that little Kitty was Lord Silverton’s plaything, as Lady Julia had put it, and that this was public news, distressed her beyond measure.
And now Lord Silverton’s betrothed was to arrive soon in the capital? Lord Silverton was to be married, yet was keeping Kitty as his mistress? The idea filled her with horror. What would become of Kitty? Would she be cast into the gutter? Lord Silverton might be on their side when it came to apprehending Lord Debenham, but he was an out-and-out cad to be exploiting innocent, credulous little Kitty.
Her outrage at these ponderings made her say more sharply than she intended, “Hurry now, Lucinda. There’ll be no time for reading. It’s far too late for that.”
“I’m seventeen, not seven, in case you hadn’t noticed,” Lucinda muttered as she preceded Lissa up the stairs, adding as she turned, “And in four months, when I’ve had the most successful debut of the year and found myself a husband who will make all the other debutantes green about the gills, you’ll be looking for a job and someone else to send to bed early.”
Lissa sighed inwardly as she counseled herself not to respond. It was wisest not to when Lucinda was in low spirits as she certainly must be, seeing Lord Beecham making so much of his companion, Lady Julia. But she couldn’t help herself.
Lucinda had turned upon opening her bedchamber door, and now Lissa regarded her with a look full of sympathy.
“Do not take Lord Beecham’s criticism to heart. He is far too old and experienced for you. In three months, all the young men will be falling over themselves in their desire to court you.”
Lucinda reddened. “How dare you suggest I have an interest in Lord Beecham!” she muttered, thrusting the door wide and stumbling over the threshold. “If you ever allude to this again, I will find a way to have you instantly dismissed.”
It felt like a slap in the face. Lissa turned back toward her own bedchamber. “Good night, Lucinda,” she said wearily. She’d been up since before six, mending a tear in a chemise which Lord Beecham intimated belonged to Lucinda, but which Lissa knew belonged to Lady Julia. How it had become torn could only be wondered at, for it was not Lissa’s place to question her employer’s requests. It was not her place to do anything but obey if she and her darling Ralph were to finally be together.
In dismal spirits, Lissa trailed along the passage to the small, sparsley-furnished room she inhabited, trying to bolster herself with thoughts of the young man she’d loved with quiet, frustrated passion for so long—brave and enterprising Ralph Tunley. Dear Ralph was long-suffering secretary to—of all people—Lord Debenham, the man the Foreign Office and now Home Office had in their sights; the man who was married, most inconveniently, to Lissa and Kitty’s’ half-sister, Araminta.
Wearily, she took out her sketchbook and flipped through the pages of drawings she’d made of Lord Beecham’s various associates who’d come to the house. None of them had been of any interest according to Lord Carmody, who had counseled patience.
But how patient could a girl be when weeks had stretched into months, and nothing had happened? When Lissa had first taken up residence under Lord Beecham’s roof after her previous disastrous situation as governess to the social-climbing Lamonts, she’d thought a new life of excitement awaited her. Ralph and she would soon join each other as husband and wife, their reward for the success of their noble quest to establish Lord Debenham as the key architect on the attempt on Lord Castlereagh’s life. Now she realized that as a mere governess, and a woman, she’d simply been relegated, once again, to dull, dusty domesticity—more a prisoner than she’d ever been.
She was about to undress when she heard a noise at the window. Instantly she flew across the room to push up the sash, and her heart swelled with joy to see the moonlight shining upon the boyish smile of her beloved Ralph angled up at her from where he stood upon the pavement.
Signaling him to wait, she ran to fetch paper, and quickly scribbled him a note that she wanted to go down and see him but when he received it, he shook his head, his expression concerned. Ralph sometimes made impromptu visits, but they rarely got closer than blowing each other goodnight kisses.
If ever Lissa needed Ralph’s comforting common sense, it was now.
Ignoring him, Lissa slipped out of her room, descended four flights of back stairs and ran into the garden. When she was finally in his arms, her cheek pressed against his after he’d kissed her with great feeling, she whispered, “I’m so glad to see you, Ralph. I’ve never felt more in need of your bolstering company, for truth to tell, I really am not possessed of the good character needed to bear with my insufferable charge, much less her exacting employer and his ghastly female friend.” She twined her arms about his neck and sighed, “But I know I have to.”
“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, dearest girl,” Ralph said with a look of the greatest consternation as he set her away from him. “You are brave and the most courageous female I have ever met, and you entered into this plan because I couldn’t support you as I would wish, but also in the hope we could be together. But if that is taking longer than either of us can bear—and believe me, I can hardly get through each day without seeing you while my thoughts are of you constantly—then we will find another way, even if it means we must live in straitened circumstances until I receive the advance I know is forthcoming.”
Lissa hugged him tighter. Her heart felt suddenly too big for her chest, and Lissa was not one who was prone to overwhelming feelings. Except where Ralph was concerned. “You know I would not risk the promotion we know will soon be yours, and that indeed to give into my foolish weakness might compromise—”
“Hush, we are both clever and enterprising, and for that reason, I am certain that whatever path we choose will compromise nothing.” He traced her cheek with his forefinger. In the moonlight, his boyish features looked manly and heroic. “Now, go back upstairs because I do worry about you. Lady Julia is too busy to come looking for you perhaps, but Miss Martindale might.”
Lissa broke away and nodded sadly. “I fear I am of little use here, though one snippet that may be of interest is that Lord Beecham mentioned Princess Caroline’s name in the same breath as Debenham’s, though it may be nothing. However, I learned of the terrible situation my sister is in, and I wish I could unburden my heart, Ralph, but I’ll save it for another night. Suffice to say that poor Kitty has got herself into a scandalous situation. She might have been legally married to Lord Nash if not for her foolish, impulsive ways, but now she’s compromised herself, forced into becoming a rich man’s…mistress…” she nearly choked on the word “…to survive. There’s more. Worse. I’ll save it for later, but suffice to say that Kitty must be the most wretched, unhappy girl alive.”

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