The ton's newest member
Is not all she seems...
Diplomat Marcus Wolfdon can't forget the alluring woman he met in Paris, the passionate night they shared or that she stole his money and disappeared! A year later, Wolf meets Juliana again in Brighton, seemingly a member of the ton. She begs him to keep their former liaison secret, and the emotion in her eyes compels him to agree. Desire still flares between them, but first Wolf must uncover the lady behind the masquerade.
From Harlequin Historical: Your romantic escape to the past.
Book 2 in A Family of Scandals series
Book 1 - Secretly Bound to the Marquess
Wolf, half-asleep, dimly heard her moving about the room. His senses still smoldered with the memory of her lovemaking, and he savored the prospect of making love with her once more.
Typically, morning dampened Wolf’s fascination with a woman. Often, he’d contrive to quickly take his leave, but this day, as he drifted between sleep and waking, he imagined how she’d appear in daylight, how the flush of pleasure would tinge her complexion when he made love with her again.
Perhaps she would tell him her troubles then—what had happened to her to cause her to live in such a Spartan room. Perhaps she would tell him her name, at least. Perhaps he could help her, and perhaps all his nights in Paris could be spent in her bed.
He smiled, drifting near to sleep again, imagining her lips on his skin, feeling the warmth of her when he joined with her. He grew hard again, the memory transformed into dream and back into anticipation.
From his deep reverie he heard the click of the door latch closing. His eyes flew open.
She was gone.
He sat up. The furniture was bare of all evidence of her. Gone was the glass he’d drunk from. Gone was her teacup, the tinder box from the fireplace, the dress she’d worn, and the clothing underneath. His clothing remained, folded neatly on the table, his coat neatly hung on the back of the solitary chair. Next to his clothing stood the empty wine bottle, sole evidence that the night they’d shared had not been a dream.
With a yell, Wolf bounded out of the bed, grabbing his greatcoat, which now hung alone on the peg by the door. He pulled on the garment in the hallway and ran down the stairs to the alley, catching a glimpse of her fleeing onto the street, a portmanteau in her hand.
He shouted for her to stop, sprinting after her, but by the time he reached the street, she had vanished. Disappeared as if she’d never existed at all.
Growling in frustration, he pounded the brick of the building at the alley’s corner. People on the street stared at him. He was a sight, for certain. Bare legs and feet, hatless, obviously naked under his greatcoat.
He spun around and prowled back to her room, now empty of everything that had been hers. His gaze came to rest on his coat, and realization dawned. He searched his pockets.
His purse was gone.
She’d stolen his purse, all the money he possessed until his next pay. Curse her! Curse him, for being such a dupe, such a total fool for falling for her act.
And here he was ready to help her. Ready to spend more nights in her bed.
He collapsed on the bed and put his head in his hands.
… The latest impeccably crafted entry in Gaston’s Family of Scandals series, following Secretly Bound to the Marquess (2022), showcases her flair for thoughtful characterization and her gift for refreshing the popular Regency historical romance, here with a vividly evoked Brighton setting and a fascinating plot involving a treasure-hunting scheme.— John Charles, Booklist Online
Four and a half stars!
This author writes with a voice so compelling that I found myself hooked by the third page. I have long heard the old saying, "Die with the lie." Juliana seems to live by it. The plot is a bit predictable, but the story line has some twists that kept me on my toes. Boredom was not a problem as I eagerly devoured the pages.The writing style is easy to read. The characters are well developed, and everything is believable. However, I must warn sensitive readers that there are some bedroom scenes. In my opinion, they are not too detailed for most readers. Having read many titles by this author, I can easily state that if you enjoy Regency Historical Romances, her name is one to put on your "must read" list. Brava! — Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews
...The pages turn swiftly as Gaston weaves an entertaining tale of deception, passion, desperation, and growing love. The emotion is convincing and the setting of Regency Brighton comes to life with its distinctive landmarks and social scene—there’s even a submarine. A delightful Regency with likeable characters, fun twists, and the subtle message that people, even the villains, are not always what they seem.— Misty Urban, Historical Novel Society
If you liked Sanditon on PBS you will enjoy Gaston's latest that features Marcus Wolfdon, a diplomat who meets Juliana, a proper young lady, introduced as the cousin of the Countess of Ashcourt at the Circulating Library. Wolf has been called to Brighton to keep an eye on his profligate parents even if he can't keep them out of trouble. He recognizes Juliana as a gambler he spent a passionate night with in Paris only to wake up to empty pockets and an empty room so he knows some kind of scam is afoot. Gamblers and grifters abound along with clever twists, turns and even sunken treasure, as members of the ton enjoy sea side days in Brighton. This delightful summer read is a page turner. — Diana Tixier Herald, Library Thing
What an incredible story this turned out to be! There are several masquerades going on. Juliana is masquerading as a member of the Ton with the hopes of gaining a better future. The swindlers provide another form of masquerade, which is much more harmful. The work Wolf did to try and avoid the swindle while trying to save Juliana was amazing. It was quite enjoyable to see how many helped Wolf. The end result was certainly unexpected with more than one surprise twist. Wolf and Juliana were not your usual hero and heroine. Wolf was the son of a baronet while Juliana was a commoner. Both were survivors though and worked hard to get what they wanted. Both were fully deserving of the titles of hero and heroine. Diane Gaston is a talented writer who brings a different viewpoint of the Ton to her books, making them unique and quite enjoyable. I look forward to more of her excellent writing. — Debra Guyette, Goodreads Review
From the moment I began reading the second book in the A Family of Scandals series, I was immediately drawn into the lives of two individuals where secrets keep them from completely trusting each other. Yet yearning for one another keeps this man and woman wanting to repeatedly interact even when they fear there could be undesirable consequences. As the couple face one challenging situation after another, they will eventually have to make decisions that could have a life-altering outcome. THE LADY BEHIND THE MASQUERADE is a story by the talented Diane Gaston which portrays the Regency period in England with captivating events and very interesting characters… I truly enjoyed THE LADY BEHIND THE MASQUERADE because Diane Gaston made it so compelling. — Amelia, Goodreads Review