An illegitimate son of a duke, George Easton was born of scandal and grows his
fortune through dangerous risks. But now he and Honor are dabbling in a perilous
dance of seduction that puts her reputation and his jaded heart on the line. And
as unexpected desire threatens to change the rules of their secret game, the
stakes may become too high even for a notorious gambler and a determined,
free-spirited debutante to handle.
The trouble began in the spring of 1812, in a gaming hell south of
the Thames, a seedy bit of Southwark known to be thick with thieves.
It was beyond comprehension how the old structure, originally built
in the time of the Vikings, had become one of the most fashionable places for
gentlemen of the Quality to be, but indeed it had. The interior was sumptuous,
with thick red velvet draperies, rich wood and low ceilings. Night after night,
they came from their stately Mayfair homes in heavily armed coaches to spend an
evening losing outrageous sums of money to one another. And when a gentleman had
lost his allotted amount for the evening, he might enjoy the company of a
lightskirt, as there were ample private rooms and French women to choose
On a bitterly cold night, a month before the start of the social
Season?when, inevitably, the gentlemen would eschew this gaming hell for the
Mayfair assembly rooms and balls that had become a spring rite for the wealthy
and privileged?a group of young Corinthians were persuaded by the smiles and
pretty pleas of five debutantes to have a look at this gaming hell.
It was dangerous and foolish for the young men to risk forever
marring the reputations of such precious flowers. But young, brash and full of
piss, they'd been eager to please. They did not allow the hell's rule of no
women to deter them, or that any number of mishaps or crimes could befall the
young women in the course of their lark. It was a bit of adventure in the middle
of a gloomy winter.
It was in that Southwark gaming hell where George Easton first made
the acquaintance of one of those debutantes: Miss Honor Cabot.
He hadn't noticed the commotion at the door when the young bucks had
arrived with their prizes, flush with the excitement of their daring and overly
proud for having convinced the man at the door to give them entry. George had
been too intent on divesting thirty pounds from Mr. Charles Rutherford, a
notorious gambler, in the course of a game of Commerce. He didn't realize
anything was amiss until Rutherford said, "What the devil?"
It was then that he noticed the young women standing like so many
birds, fluttering and preening in the middle of the room, their hooded cloaks
framing their lovely faces, their giggles infecting one another while their
gazes darted between the many men who eyed them like a paddock full of fine
"Bloody hell," George muttered. He threw down his cards as
Rutherford stood, the poor lass in his lap stumbling as she tried to stop
herself from being dumped onto the floor.
"What in blazes are they doing here?" Rutherford demanded. He
squinted at the group of them. "Bloody unconscionable, it is. See here!" he
rumbled loudly. "This is not to be borne! Those girls should be removed at
The three young gentlemen who had undertaken this adventure looked
at one another. The smallest one lifted his chin. "They've as much right to be
present as you, sir."
George could see from Mr. Rutherford's complexion that he was in
danger of apoplexy, and he said, quite casually, "Then, for God's sake, have
them sit and play. Otherwise, they're a distraction to the gentlemen
"Play?" Rutherford said, his eyes all but bulging from their
sockets. "They are not fit to play!"
"I am," said one lone feminine voice.
Ho there, which of them dared to speak? George leaned around
Rutherford to have a look, but the birds were fluttering and moving, and he
couldn't see which of them had said it.
"Who said that?" Rutherford demanded loudly enough that the
gentlemen seated at the tables around them paused in their games to see what was
None of the young ladies moved; they stared wide-eyed at the banker.
Just as it seemed Rutherford would begin a rant, one of them shyly stepped
forward. A ripple went through the crowd as the lass looked at Rutherford and
then at George. He was startled by the deep blue of her eyes and her dark
lashes, the inky black of her hair framing a face as pale as milk. One did not
expect to see such youthful beauty here.
"Miss Cabot?" Rutherford said incredulously. "What in blazes are
you doing here?"
She curtsied as if she were standing in the middle of a ballroom and
clasped her gloved hands before her.
"My friends and I have come to see for ourselves where it is that
all the gentlemen keep disappearing to."
Chuckles ran through the crowd. Rutherford looked alarmed, as if he
were somehow responsible for this breach of etiquette. "Miss Cabot...this is
no place for a virtuous young lady."
One of the birds behind her fluttered and whispered at her, but Miss
Cabot seemed not to notice. "Pardon, sir, but I don't understand how a place can
be quite all right for a virtuous man, yet not for a virtuous woman."
George couldn't help but laugh. "Perhaps because there is no such
thing as a virtuous man."
Those startlingly blue eyes settled on George once more, and he felt
a strange little flicker in his chest. Her gaze dipped to the cards. "Commerce?"
"Yes," George said, impressed that she recognized it. "If you desire
to play, miss, then bloody well do it."
Now all the blood had drained from Rutherford's face, and George was
somewhat amused that he looked close to fainting. "No," Rutherford said,
shaking his head and holding up a hand to her. "I beg your pardon, Miss Cabot,
but I cannot abet you in this folly. You must go home at once."
Miss Cabot looked disappointed.
"Then I'll do it," George said and, with his boot, kicked out a
chair at his table. Another murmur shot through the crowd, and the tight group
of little birds began to flutter again, the bottoms of their cloaks swirling
about the floor as they twisted and turned to whisper at each other. "Whom do I
have the pleasure of abetting?" he asked.
"Miss Cabot," she said. "Of Beckington House."
The Earl of Beckington's daughter, was she? Did she say that to
impress him? Because it didn't. George shrugged. "George Easton. From Easton
The girls behind her giggled, but Miss Cabot did not. She smiled
prettily at him. "A pleasure, Mr. Easton."
George supposed she'd learned to smile like that very early on in
life in order to have what she liked. She was, he thought, a remarkably
attractive woman. "These are not parlor games, miss. Have you any
"I do," she said, and held out her reticule to show him.
Lord, she was naive. "You'd best put that away," he said. "Behind
the silk neckcloths and polished leather boots, you'll find a den of thieves
between these walls."
"At least we've a purse, Easton, and haven't sunk it all in a boat,"
Several gentlemen laughed at that, but George ignored them. He'd
come to his fortune with cunning and hard work, and some men were jealous of
He gestured for the lovely Miss Cabot to sit. "You scarcely seem old
enough to understand the nuances of a game such as Commerce."
"No?" she asked, one brow arching above the other as she gracefully
took a seat in the chair that a man held out for her. "At what age is one
considered old enough to engage in a game of chance?"
Behind her, the birds whispered fiercely, but Miss Cabot calmly
regarded George, waiting for his answer. She was not, he realized, even remotely
intimidated by him, by the establishment or by anything else.
"I would not presume to put an age on it," he said cavalierly. "A
child, for all I care."
"Easton," Rutherford said, his voice full of warning, but George
Easton did not play by the same rules as the titled men here, and Rutherford
knew it. This would be diverting; George had no objection to passing an hour or
so with a woman?anyone in London would attest to that?particularly one as comely
as this one. "Are you prepared to lose all the coins you've brought?"
She laughed, the sound of it sparkling. "I don't intend to lose them
The gentlemen in the room laughed again, and one or two of them
stood, moving closer to watch.
"One must always be prepared to lose, Miss Cabot," George warned
She carefully opened her reticule, produced a few coins and smiled
proudly at him. George made a mental note not to be swept up by that smile...at
least not while at the gaming table.
Rutherford, meanwhile, stared with shock at both Miss Cabot and
George, then slowly, reluctantly, took his seat.
"Shall I deal?" George asked, holding up the deck of cards.
"Please," Miss Cabot said, and put her gloves aside, neatly stacked,
just beside her few coins. She glanced around the room as George shuffled the
deck of cards. "Do you know that I have never been south of the Thames? Can you
imagine, my whole life spent in and around London, and I've never come south of
"Imagine," he drawled, and dealt the cards. "Your bet to begin, Miss
She glanced at her cards that were lying faceup, and put a shilling
in the middle of the table.
"A bob will not take you far in this game," George said.
"Is it allowed?"
He shrugged. "It is." She merely smiled.
Rutherford followed suit, and the woman who had occupied his lap for
most of the evening resumed her seat, sliding onto his knee, her gaze
challenging Miss Cabot.
"Oh," Miss Cabot murmured, apparently as she realized what
sort of woman would sit on Rutherford's lap, and glanced away.
"Are you shocked?" George whispered, amused.
"A bit," Miss Cabot responded, stealing a look at the young whore
again. "I rather thought she'd be...homelier. But she's quite pretty, isn't
George glanced at the woman on Rutherford's lap. He would call her
alluring. But not pretty. Miss Cabot was pretty.
He glanced at his hand?he held a pair of kings. This would be an
easy victory, he thought, and made his bet.
A servant walked by with a platter of food for a table that had
resumed its play. Miss Cabot's gaze followed it.
"Miss Cabot," George said.
She looked at him.
"Oh!" She studied the cards and picked up another shilling and
placed it in the middle.
"Gentlemen, we've had two bobs bet this evening. At this rate, we
might hope to conclude the game at dawn."
Miss Cabot smiled at him, her blue eyes twinkling with
George reminded himself that he was not to be drawn in by pretty
They went round again, during which Rutherford apparently forgot his
reluctance to play with the debutante. On the next round, Miss Cabot put in two
"Miss Cabot, have a care. You don't want to lose all you have in the
first game," one of the young bucks said with a nervous laugh.
"I hardly think it will hurt any less to lose all that I have in one
game or six, Mr. Eckersly," she said jovially.
George won the hand as he knew he would, but Miss Cabot didn't seem
the least bit put off by it. "I think there should be more games of chance at
the assembly halls, don't you?" she asked of the growing crowd around them. "It
makes for a better diversion than whist."
"Only if one is winning," a man in the back of the crowd
"And with her father's money," Miss Cabot quipped, delighting the
small but growing crowd around them, as well as the birds who had accompanied
her, as they now had the attention of several gentlemen around them.
They continued on that way, with Miss Cabot betting a shilling here
or there, bantering with the crowd. It was not the sort of high-stakes game
George enjoyed, but he did enjoy Miss Cabot, very much. She was not like what he
would have supposed for a debutante. She was witty and playful, delighting in
her small victories, debating the play of her cards with whomever happened to be
standing behind her.
After an hour had passed, Miss Cabot's purse was reduced to twenty
pounds. She began to deal the cards. "Shall we raise the stakes?" she asked
"If you think you can afford my stakes, you have my undivided
attention," George said.
She gave him a pert look. "Twenty pounds to play," she said, and
began to deal.
"Then perhaps you will take my marker?" she asked, and lifted her
gaze to his. Her eyes, he couldn't help noticing, were still sparkling. But in a
slightly different way. She was challenging him. Heaven help him, the girl was
up to something, and George could not have been more delighted. He
"Miss Cabot, I must advise you against it," one of the bucks said,
the same one who had grown more nervous as the game had progressed. "It's time
we returned to Mayfair."
"Your caution and timekeeping are duly noted and appreciated, sir,"
she said sweetly, her gaze still on George. "You'll humor me, won't you, Mr.
Easton?" she asked. "You'll take my marker?"
George had never been one to refuse a lady, particularly one he
found so intriguing. "Consider yourself humored," he said with a gracious bow of
his head. "I shall take your marker."
Word that he had taken a marker from Miss Cabot spread quickly
through the gaming hell, and in a matter of minutes, more had gathered around to
watch the debutante lose presumably something of value to George
Easton, the notorious and self-proclaimed bastard son of the late
Duke of Gloucester.
The betting went higher among the three of them until Rutherford,
who was undone by the prospect of having a debutante owe him money, withdrew
from the game. That left George and Miss Cabot. She remained remarkably
unruffled. It was just like the Mayfair set, George thought. She had no regard
for the amount of her father's money she was losing?it was all magic for her,
markers and coins appearing from thin air.
The bet had reached one hundred pounds, and George paused. While he
appreciated her spirit, he was not in the habit of taking such a sum from
debutantes. "The bet is now one hundred pounds, Miss Cabot. Will your papa put
that amount in your reticule?" he asked, and the men around him laughed
"My goodness, Mr. Easton, that's a personal question, isn't it?
Perhaps I should inquire if you will have one hundred pounds in your
pocket if I should win?"
Cheeky thing. There was quite a lot of murmuring around them, and
George could only imagine the delight her remark had brought the gentlemen in
this room. He tossed in a handful of banknotes and winked at her.
"Indeed I will."
She matched his bet with a piece of paper someone had handed her,
signing her name to the one hundred pounds owed.
George laid out his cards. He had a sequence of three, the ten being
the highest. The only hand that could beat his was a tricon, or three of a kind,
and indeed, Miss Cabot gasped with surprise. "My, that's impressive!" she
"I've been playing these games quite a long time."
"Yes, of course you have." She lifted her gaze and smiled at him,
and the moment she did, George knew he'd been beaten. Her smile was too saucy,
As she laid out her hand, gasps went up all around them, followed by
applause. Miss Cabot had beaten him with a tricon, three tens. George stared at
her cards, then slowly lifted his gaze to hers.
"May I?" she asked, and proceeded to use both hands to drag coins
and notes from the center of the table. She took it all, every last coin,
stuffing it into her dainty little reticule. She thanked George and Rutherford
for allowing her to experience the gaming hell, politely excused herself,
slipped back into her cloak and gloves and returned to her little flock of
George watched her go, his fingers drumming on the table. He was an
experienced gambler, and he'd just been taken by a debutante.
You'll get the chance to be scandalous too, at the Chocolate Angel Cafe and
Tea House on Saturday, March 15th. Tickets are available and include a copy of
THE TROUBLE WITH HONOR.
today! Seating is limited.
I love her name. The title is splendid. Looking forward to this one. (Lisa Hutson 2:04am February 25, 2014)
I loved the excerpt. I always love women that are at least as smart as the men and not afraid to let them know it. Now I want to know where she learned to play the game. (Pam Howell 7:16am February 25, 2014)
Oooh! Honor vs. George! I loved the excerpt! Thanks for the giveaway! I've got to read this! (Linda Townsend 8:31am February 25, 2014)
This book sounds so wonderful! Love the name Honor!! Going to read this one for sure!! (Bonnie Capuano 9:10am February 25, 2014)
A tea would be lovely, but I would have to sip mine from a distance. However, the excerpt has me totally drawn in, and I would love to read the book, nonetheless!! I'm sure the story is going to take me for quite a ride, and I would love to read it!! The cover is exquisite, as always!! Congratulations on another hit!! (Peggy Roberson 9:42am February 25, 2014)
Oh I love what you have shared... I really like the sound of this one! (Colleen Conklin 11:55am February 25, 2014)
Wonderful excerpt. Captivating novel. (Sharon Berger 1:04pm February 25, 2014)
Honor, the unlikely card shark, sounds like an intriguing heroine for this captivating love story. It is sure to be a hit! (Sheila Veikune 1:18pm February 25, 2014)
I love reading the excerpt, Honor sounds like such a feisty heroine. Can't wait to read the rest of her story! Thanks for the chance to win :-) (Anita H 3:37pm February 25, 2014)
Hi Julia, I just love the gorgeous cover of Honor's book. I'm really looking forward to reading what George has in store for Honor since she bested him in the card game. Thanks for the giveaway! (Ada H. 4:33pm February 25, 2014)
Julia, you matched a seductress to a name that she is going to have a hard time living up to. I'll bet she gets her man along with a few more wins at the card games. (Alyson Widen 5:19pm February 25, 2014)
I like a feisty heroine---I want to rad this book. (Sue Farrell 5:54pm February 25, 2014)
So sad I can't make it to the tea, but I can't wait to read about Honor and George. (Kim Akers 6:18pm February 25, 2014)
Loved it! Can't wait to start the new series! (Lori Allman 7:10pm February 25, 2014)
Hi, Julia! Love your books and the great excerpt of THE TROUBLE WITH HONOR. Can't wait to read this one. Thanks for the giveaway! (Cathy Phillips 7:28pm February 25, 2014)
I love this excerpt; it sounds like such a fun read! (Janie McGaugh 8:56pm February 25, 2014)
I love this excerpt. Honor is one smart cookie. George Easton better stop underestimating her. LOL (Marcy Shuler 9:49pm February 25, 2014)
I am looking forward to reading it! (Charlene Fraley 10:30pm February 25, 2014)
I cannot wait to read your new book. (Sharon DiPrima 10:33pm February 25, 2014)
I cannot wait to read your book! (Sharon DiPrima 10:35pm February 25, 2014)
Whst a great excerpt! I love that Honor got the best of the men!! I can't wait to get my copy! (Glenda Martillotti 11:03pm February 25, 2014)
sounds good :) (d Kenney 11:37pm February 25, 2014)
I love the title. Thank you for the excerpt and the chance to win. (Melanie Backus 11:37pm February 25, 2014)
I LOVE the cover and I have been SO wanting to read this book! Thank you for the chance. :) (Wanda Barefoot 12:22pm February 26, 2014)
I love how Honor is trying to manipulate George into saving her home and George has other plans. (Kai Wong 12:41pm February 26, 2014)
You had me with the description, but the teaser was the icing on the cake! Thanks for the excerpt and giveaway! (Vanessa Primer 1:27am February 26, 2014)
Love the excerpt. Can't wait to read it! (Jan Capstick 1:30am February 26, 2014)
i glance through it i didn't want to spoil it though it looks real good to read and would love to win it thank you for the oppurtunity (Marlene Smith 1:58am February 26, 2014)
I loved the excerpt and can't wait to read the rest of the book. (Lisa White 9:12am February 26, 2014)
i love the excerpt i cant wait to read it love the cover (Denise Smith 9:43am February 26, 2014)
I, also, loved the excerpt and really look forward to reading the book! Thanks for a great giveaway! (Bonnie Capuano 9:48am February 26, 2014)
Looking forward to reading it. (LeeAnne Hardin 10:39am February 26, 2014)
My wife would really enjoy reading this book! (Richard Proctor 10:45am February 26, 2014)
This sounds good! I like the name Honor and George sounds like a fun ;) guy! (Sue Galuska 10:51am February 26, 2014)
It sounds like a fascinating story! (Maria Proctor 11:05am February 26, 2014)
Honor sounds like a smart cookie. I'd love to read the entire story. (Anna Speed 12:17pm February 26, 2014)
Wow! A multitude of wonderful comments, Julia! We all know how terrific your stories are, don't we?! :-) Thanks for your writing. (Janice Hougland 12:18pm February 26, 2014)
As with any book from Julia London this one promises the banter and wit that I have come to love about her books. I know this will be an outstanding success. Congrats on the book Julia London.. can't wait to read the whole book. (Tina Ullrich 12:49pm February 26, 2014)
looking forward to this book (Denise Holcomb 3:40pm February 26, 2014)
Sounds really interesting! New books and new authors are like making new friends, as corny as that mY sound. (Gail Hollingsworth 3:58pm February 26, 2014)
Sounds enchanting would love to read more! (Denise Austin 4:37pm February 26, 2014)
I recently got the postcard announcing this in the mail. It sounds great :) (Jenne Turner 4:41pm February 26, 2014)
hummmmmmm, looks good (Kent Cook 5:11pm February 26, 2014)
LOVE YOUR BOOKS THEY ARE FABULOUS. YOUR MY FAVORITE AUTHOR OF ALL TIME. YOU WRITE THE MARVELOUS BOOK I EVER READ... (Shelly Caggiano 7:10pm February 26, 2014)
Hi Julia! I loved all your other books and listened to them on audio. (MaryAnne Banks 9:01pm February 26, 2014)
Cool sneak peak. I hope my library gets a copy! (Laura Gullickson 9:17pm February 26, 2014)
This is just fabulous. (Mary Preston 4:53am February 27, 2014)
Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the gracious giveaway! Thanks for the preview :) (Kalynn Dresser 4:21pm March 1, 2014)