An Award Winning BookAn Amazon Bestseller
Miss Rosalind Lacey has spent all her 26 years in the country, quietly managing the lives of her widowed father and five younger siblings. When she learns she has contracted the illness that killed her mother, she decides to spend her last few months doing all the things she’s never had the time or opportunity to experience. The simple country miss is transformed into a dashing Town sophisticate as she cuts a wide and wild swath through London Society, with help from her notorious aunt and the rakish Max Davenant.
Previous Cover: 2001
The plot for Miss Lacey’s Last Fling was inspired by an old TV series. Learn which series it was, as well as how Candice decided on the nature of Rosie’s illness.
Follow the links in brackets to learn more about these real Regency references in Candice's book.
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From Chapter 7 …
Max placed his left hand at Rosie’s waist and held out his right hand. “Place your right hand in mine and your left on my shoulder.”
“Oh, I know how it is done. I have watched and watched. Lead on, Max!”
With the merest pressure at her waist, he led her into the dance. It was easy to follow the rhythm of the music as well as Max’s gentle yet persuasive lead. In less than a moment, Rosie found herself twirling and spinning in perfect accord with the music. It was pure heaven.
Max had her completely in his control. She kept her eyes on his, and everything else seemed to fade away. There was only Max, with his intense brown eyes and soft smile, the hand at her waist pressing ever so gently it might have been a caress. She closed her eyes, drinking in the scent of him – bay rum, brandy, the starch of his neckcloth – and let the music, and Max, guide her steps.
For this moment alone, the trip to London had been worthwhile.
“You dance well, minx.” Rosie opened her eyes to find him gazing down at her, a smile tugging at one corner of his mouth. “Are you enjoying your first waltz?”
“Oh yes, Max, ever so much. It is truly magical. How kind of you to lead me out. You dance quite well yourself.”
Amusement sparkled in his eyes. “I wonder whether you enjoy the dancing so much as you enjoy the uproar.”
“Uproar?” Rosie reluctantly tore her gaze from his and glanced about the room. Several groups had gathered together – women, mostly – all of them whispering and glaring at Rosie and Max with outraged disapproval. One woman leaned heavily against another, fanning herself vigorously as though about to swoon. “Are all these people upset because a little nobody from the country dares to ignore their silly rules?”
“Hmph. What a lot of fuss over nothing.”
“Nothing? I could have sworn that only a moment ago you were quite enjoying the dance.”
“Oh, but I am. I am indeed. We shall pay no attention to those spineless ninnies who allow others to dictate their behavior. This is much too splendid to worry about such nonsense. Even more splendid than I had hoped. Just dance with me, Max.”
“Is waltzing on your list?”
She looked up at him sharply. “How do you know about my list?”
“Your aunt mentioned it. Fanny believes it only includes such innocuous entries as visiting the Tower or Westminster Abbey. But I suspect there are other sorts of activities on that list.” A slow, lazy grin split his face, and he winked at her.
Rosie threw back her head and laughed. “And what of it?” she asked.
“I merely wondered if I was helping to check off one of the entries. I assume you are dutifully checking them off as you go?”
“Rogue! I shall always be the country mouse to you. But if you must know, by the end of this evening, I believe I shall have checked off several items on my list.” For one thing, she was determined to be thoroughly kissed. Rosie did not believe Max would accommodate her there. He did not think of her in that way. She was no more than an amusing rustic, a mere diversion. Max was used to glamorous high flyers and only flirted with her out of mischief, or out of habit, or possibly because Fanny asked him to do so. In any case, it meant nothing. Rosie was quite certain, however, she could entice one of the other gentlemen into kissing her. Lord Radcliffe, perhaps?
“I beg your pardon?”
“You were woolgathering, minx. I asked what sort of items on your list will get checked off tonight?”
“Oh. Well, besides this waltz – you were correct, it is on my list – I have engaged in a flirtation with a full-fledged rake. Lord Overton.”
His brows rose in surprise. “And what am I, pray tell?”
He rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. “You delight in throwing those words back at me, do you not? I’ll have you know I can flirt circles around Overton.”
“Oh? Show me.”
“Well, now you have put me on the spot, minx.”
“All right, then. I suppose Overton filled your head with compliments? Give me an example, if you please.”
“He said I looked beautiful in red.”
“Just like that? ‘You look beautiful in red?'”
“I believe that was how he said it.”
“Amateur. The man has no finesse.”
“Are you saying I do not look beautiful in red?”
“Quite the contrary, my minx. But if I were going to seriously flirt with you, I would tell you how the crimson of your gown merely reflects the vitality of your spirit, a vitality that burns like a blazing fire to singe a man’s soul.”
“But I would not stop there.” His voice dropped to a husky whisper so low Rosie had to lean closer to catch every word. “I would tell you how the soft red silk enhances the natural flush of your perfectly sculpted cheeks – cheeks softer even than silk, petal-soft, beckoning one to touch, to stroke, to caress. And how the fiery color echoes the tantalizing hints of auburn caught by the candlelight in your glorious hair — thick, luxurious hair such as a man craves to run his fingers through. And how the deep red hue is reminiscent of the Damask rose, though its fragrance is no match for the intoxicating scent of you, a scent that takes a man’s breath away and makes him want to bury his face against your long white neck and breathe deeply of it. And how the rich color emulates the sweet tint of your lips — full, lush, sensual lips ripe for a man to kiss, very gently, very softly, tasting, exploring, savoring, and finally devouring with the full force of his desire. Yes, you look very beautiful in red, minx.”
“Oh, my.” The room had suddenly grown quite warm.