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To Pleasure a Lady: A Novel [Mass Market Paperback]

Nicole Jordan
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Book Description

Jan. 29 2008 Courtship Wars
Nicole Jordan spins a delectable tale of wit and exquisite sensuality in this mesmerizing Regency romance, the captivating first in a dazzling new trilogy, The Courtship Wars.

Marcus Pierce, a strikingly handsome aristocrat with a wicked reputation, inherits guardianship of Arabella Loring and her two younger sisters–and immediately declares his intention to marry them off. But gorgeously defiant Arabella sparks frustration–and something deeply erotic–in Marcus. After matching both wits and swords with her, Marcus concludes that this beautiful and formidable foe must be his.

Having sworn off marriage and men, Arabella wishes to be left alone to run her finishing school for young ladies. To that end, she boldly accepts Marcus’s intimate challenge: If he can woo and win her within two weeks, she’ll take her place in his bed as his wife. However, if she can resist his considerable charms, the Loring sisters will be granted their independence. Thus an extraordinary game of seduction begins. . . .

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About the Author

Nicole Jordan is the nationally bestselling author of fifteen historical romances. She recently moved with her real-life hero to the Rocky Mountains of Utah, where she is at work on the next book of her scorching Notorious series–tales of dangerous rakes and bold adventurers during the Regency era.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

I vow the new earl will drive me to distraction, thinking to marry us off like so much breeding stock. –Letter from Miss Arabella Loring to Fanny Irwin 

London, May 1817 

Matrimony. The very word was menacing. Yet the new Earl of Danvers could ignore the topic no longer, much to his regret. 

“A pity the late earl already met his end,” Lord Danvers professed, punctuating his declaration with the slash of a steel rapier. “Otherwise I would have his heart on a spit for the trick he served me, leaving me to play procurer for three wards I never wanted.” His complaint, voiced amid the sounds of swordplay, was met with both sympathetic laughter and skepticism from his friends. 

“Procurer, Marcus? Isn’t that something of an exaggeration?” 

“It perfectly describes my responsibility.” 

“Matchmaker is a more tasteful characterization.” 

Matchmaker. What a lowering thought. 

Marcus Pierce, formerly addressed as Baron Pierce and now the eighth Lord Danvers, winced with reluctant humor. Although he normally relished a challenge, he would gladly have forgone being saddled with three penniless beauties–and worse, the burden of finding them respectable husbands. 

Yet he’d inherited the Loring sisters along with his new title, so he was resigned to discharging his duty sooner or later. 

Preferably later. 

Marcus had enjoyed thirty-two pleasurable years of bachelorhood, the last ten as one of England’s most eligible and elusive marital catches. Since matrimony ranked high on his list of least-favorite subjects, he had put off facing his obligation to his unwanted wards for weeks now. 

This fine spring morning, however, he’d finally forced himself to broach the issue while he was engaged in fencing practice at his Mayfair mansion with his two closest friends and fellow escapees of the Marriage Mart. 

“But you do see my dilemma?” Marcus asked, executing a swift parry against his equally skilled opponent, Andrew Moncrief, Duke of Arden. 

“Ah, yes,” Drew answered above the clang of blades. 

“You hope to marry off your three wards, but you expect to find few takers, given the scandal in their family.” 

“Precisely.” Marcus flashed an engaging grin. “I don’t suppose you would volunteer to offer for one of them?” 

The duke shot him an eloquent glance as he leapt back to evade a deft thrust. “As much as I yearn to help you, old sport, I cherish my liberty too much to make such a devastating sacrifice, even for you.” 

“Stubble it, Marcus.” The amused drawl came from the sidelines of the salon that Marcus used as a fencing hall. Heath Griffin, Marquess of Claybourne, lounged on a settee as he awaited his turn at practice, drawing idle patterns in the air with his foil. “You’re touched in the head if you think to persuade us to offer for your wards.” 

“They are reputed to be great beauties,” Marcus coaxed. 

Heath laughed outright. “And spinsters, every one of them. How old is the eldest Miss Loring? Four and twenty?” 

“Not quite that.” 

“But she is said to be a spitfire.” 

“So I’m told,” Marcus reluctantly acknowledged. His solicitors had described Arabella Loring as charming but fiercely stubborn-minded in her desire for emancipation from his guardianship. 

“You haven’t met her yet?” Heath asked. 

“No, I’ve managed to avoid her thus far. The Misses Loring were away from home when I called to pay my condolences on the death of their step-uncle three months ago. And since then, I’ve let my solicitors handle all succeeding correspondence. But I will have to deal with them eventually.” He sighed. “I will likely travel to Chiswick next week.” 

The Danvers estate was in the countryside near the small village of Chiswick, some half dozen miles west of London’s fashionable Mayfair district, where many of the wealthy aristocracy resided. The distance was an easy drive in a fast curricle, yet Marcus was under no illusions that his task could be dispatched quickly. 

“From everything I hear,” Drew said as he steadily advanced, “your wards will indeed prove a handful. It won’t be easy to marry them off, particularly the eldest.” Nodding, Marcus gave a wry grimace. “Certainly not when they profess to be so adamantly opposed to marriage. I’ve offered to provide them significant dowries to induce respectable suitors to wed them, but they rejected my proposition out of hand.” 

“Harbor bluestocking notions of independence, do they?” 

“So it would seem. A pity I can’t convince either of you to come to my rescue.” 

It would have been a neat solution to his dilemma, Marcus reflected as he fought off Drew’s determined offensive. In addition to inheriting the title of earl to add to his long-held barony, he’d been encumbered with the entailed and impoverished Danvers estate, as well as responsibility for its genteel dependents, three indigent sisters. All three were blessed with impeccable lineage, superb breeding, and enviable beauty, but all were unmarried and getting somewhat long in the tooth. 

Their single state was due less to their lack of fortune than to the horrendous scandal in their family. Four years ago, their mother had run off to the Continent with her French lover. Then barely a fortnight later, their father had been killed in a duel over his latest mistress–which had put an abrupt end to any last gasp chances the daughters had of marrying well. 

Resolving to give his unwanted wards into more willing hands, Marcus had thought to marry them off by providing them with immense dowries. But that was before he’d discovered how fiercely independent the three beauties were. The eldest sister’s letters had become downright impassioned in her appeals for self-rule. 

“They are legally my wards until they turn twentyfive,” Marcus explained, “but the eldest, Arabella, is already fretting over the constraints. In the past month, she has written me four letters proclaiming that she and her sisters have no need of a guardian at their advanced ages. Regrettably for us all, I am bound by the terms of the will.” 

Pausing to circle his opponent, Marcus ran a hand roughly through his raven hair. “Truthfully,” he muttered, “it would have suited me better had I never heard of the Loring sisters. I never wished for the additional title. I was perfectly content as a baron.” 

His friends offered him sympathetic but amused looks, which prompted Marcus to add pointedly, “I expect your help in solving my dilemma, you spineless reprobates. Surely you can think of some appropriate candidates I can throw their way.” 

“You could always offer for one of them yourself,” Heath suggested, a wicked gleam in his eye. 

“God forbid.” Marcus paused to shudder and was nearly skewered when Drew lunged with his foil. Through much of their boyhood and all of their adulthood, the three of them–Marcus, Drew, and Heath–had been inseparable, having attended Eton and Oxford together and then come into their vast fortunes and illustrious titles the same year. And after being chased relentlessly by marriage-minded debutantes and barely eluding the traps of countless matchmaking mamas, all three shared grave reservations about the institution of matrimony. Most particularly the sort of cold, convenient union typical of the aristocracy. Marcus had never encountered even one woman he might want to take for his wife. The thought of being shackled for life to a female he scarcely liked, much less loved, sent chills down his spine. Yet he owed it to his titles, both the new and the old, to carry on his bloodlines, so eventually he would have to marry. 

The demise of his bachelorhood, however, would be a long time in coming, Marcus vowed. 

Realizing his concentration had been shattered by all this unpalatable talk of matrimony, he stepped back and offered Drew a sardonic salute. “I had best withdraw before you slice me to ribbons, your grace. Heath, pray take your turn at practice.” 

When the marquess replaced him on the floor, Marcus crossed the salon to a side table, where he set down his rapier and retrieved a towel to wipe his damp brow. The clash of steel had just resumed when he heard a commotion out in the corridor, coming from the vicinity of his entrance hall. He could only make out every third word or so, but it was clear he had a female caller . . . and that his butler was denying his presence. 

His curiosity piqued, Marcus moved closer to the salon door, the better to hear. 

“I repeat, Lord Danvers is not at home, miss.” 

“Not at home or not receivi...

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5.0 out of 5 stars Love this Sept. 24 2010
By E. Wood
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I absolutely love Nicole Jordan. If you are looking for a great romance author she is definately one to read. Once you read one you will have to read another.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 blue ribbons from Romance Junkies Jan. 29 2008
By C. Dionne - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Arabella and her sisters have worked hard to make a life for themselves since their parents' arranged marriage ended in a scandal that left the girls ostracized from society. They run and teach at their finishing school for young ladies. None of them have any desire to enter into a marriage like their parents had and are perfectly content to remain spinsters; unfortunately their new guardian has other plans for them. He intends to fulfill his obligation and find them each a suitable husband - he just hadn't counted on Arabella turning out to be such a worthy opponent - or such an enchanting one.

Marcus Pierce, the new Earl of Danvers, is well aware that finding the Loring sisters' spouses isn't going to be an easy task. He hasn't even met them yet and already he's butting heads with the eldest, Arabella. She insists that he release them from his guardianship and allow them to take care of themselves - like they've done for years. He has no intention of honoring her request, after all they are his responsibility and he does not shirk his duties.

Marcus isn't sure where he'll find suitable spouses for Arabella, Roslyn and Lillian. It would be very helpful if his friends and fellow escapees from the Marriage Mart, Andrew and Drew would be agreeable to consider marriage. He's having no luck convincing them to change their minds and certainly isn't about to get leg shackled himself. However, an unexpected appearance in his home by none other than the obstinate Arabella has him reconsidering his position. No woman has ever excited him the way Arabella does but she's determined not to marry and no amount of reasoning on Marcus's part is going to convince her otherwise.

Marcus is determined to persuade her to his way of thinking and so he issues a challenge. For two weeks he'll court Arabella and try to get her to accept his proposal. If he doesn't succeed then he'll release the sisters from his guardianship. Marcus isn't above using every technique in his sensual arsenal to show Arabella exactly what she'll be missing if she insists on remaining a spinster and he's very skilled in ways TO PLEASURE A LADY.

I just spent the whole day immersed in this story and don't regret a single second of the time I spent reading. TO PLEASURE A LADY beautifully showcases Nicole Jordan's talent as a writer. Readers will find themselves craving Marcus's seductive techniques, laughing at Arabella's attempts at evasion, and even gasping at the unladylike audacity of one of the students Arabella teaches. This book has so many enchanting characteristics that I simply didn't want to put it down and leave my `newfound friends.' TO PLEASURE A LADY is a book sure to be treasured by Regency romance lovers and a wonderful first book to what promises to be a delightful series.

Be sure to pick up copies of the next two books in the COURTSHIP WARS trilogy - TO BED A BEAUTY and TO SEDUCE A BRIDE which will consecutively available in March and April 2008.

Chrissy Dionne (courtesy of Romance Junkies)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Anticipating the next in the series Feb. 2 2008
By Carisma Tucker - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nicole Jordan's latest was very interesting, i couldn't put it down. From the story opens up you get sucked in and you instantly fall in love with characters. Arabella is fiercly independent and vows to never get married but Marcus is pesistent and eventually wears her down. I also loved the other two sisters and I can't wait until their stories are published (I would love to see Drew, Marcus' friend, taken down a notch and sincerely hope that Roslyn does it).
I'll admit that this novel isn't quite as passionate as other books by Nicole Jordan which is why i gave it 4 stars instead of 5
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The first book in the Courtship Wars series March 30 2008
By K. Hinton - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Arabella Loring and her two younger sisters are determined never to marry. She and her sisters grew up constantly reminded of their parents' infidelities and the scandal that ensued when their father died following a duel and their mother abandoned them to go to France with her paramour. When Arabella learns that her new guardian, Marcus Pierce, Earl of Danvers, intends to give the three sisters generous dowries so that they can be married off and out of his hands, she is determined that he will fail.

Marcus Pierce does not want to be responsible for the guardianship that he inherited with his title. In order to get rid fo the responsibility as quickly as possible, Marcus vows that he will have them married off immediately. But when his oldest ward comes to visit him, Marcus finds himself startled by her beauty, her wit, her fiery temper, and the fact that she ignites a fire in him that he's never felt before. Before he knows what he's doing, Marcus offers Arabella a startling proposition--if she will let him court her with the intention of marriage for two weeks and she is unable to resist his charms, he will grant the Loring sisters their independence. Arabella is convinced that she won't be susceptible to Marcus's seduction, but he's equally determined to win her heart.

To Pleasure a Lady is the first in Nicole Jordan's Courtship Wars series (the next two books are To Bed a Beauty (Courtship Wars, Book 2) and To Seduce a Bride (Courtship Wars, Book 3)). It's also the first book I've read by Nicole Jordan. I have to say that this book ebbed and flowed for me. It started off a little slow and I wasn't all that invested. Then with the middle half, you couldn't have pried this book out of my hands. And again with the ending, it was slow goings. So I can't say that the book was fantastic, though it had its moments, and I can't say that it was awful, though it was tedious at times. Instead, I'm just going to say that it was interesting enough story. I always enjoy plots with guardians and their wards (a great book with this plot is Lord of Ice: A Novel). And I did love Marcus. He was my favorite kind of hero: possessive without being overly jealous, protective without being overbearing, and seductive and gorgeous to boot. Arabella was a bit lackluster for me. I was much more intrigued by her sisters and her scandalous relationship with a Cyprian named Fanny. I'm going to read the next two books in the series, and hopefully they'll hit a higher note for me than this story did, but as a whole I enjoyed To Pleasure a Lady.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtship Wars!!! March 5 2008
By J. Hopper - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Nicole Jordan is fantastic! I love the Courtship Wars. You will not be disappointed. Nicole Jordan know what we like! I look forward To Bed a Beauty.
20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Forgettable Jan. 31 2008
By Viv - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
What could have been a steamy tension-filled guardian/ward romance fell far from its mark with Jordan's latest offering.

The main protags were one dimensional with no substance. The 'courtship' read like a itinerary in its day-by-day description. The characters didn't do anything. The tension was meant to be hot, however, it was extremely tepid. Love scenes, which Jordan is known for, were ho hum.

I kept reading and hoping with every page the book would improve; it did not. Nicole Jordan has written some stellar novels. This was not one of them.
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