It’s Thursday! Time for an exclusive excerpt of Margaret Rowe’s Any Wicked Thing!

Here’s the first part of the cover blurb:

One disastrous night…
At twenty-one, Sebastian Goddard, heir to the duke of Roxbury, desperately sought diversion from a life smothered by peerage and position. His quest led him to one night of reckless passion, resulting in betrayal by his oldest friend Frederica Wells, and the discovery of his father’s darkest secret. Reeling from the devastation, he embarked on a ten-year debauch that well earned him the nickname–”Lord of Sin.”

My hero Sebastian has not seen Freddie since he saw far too much of her one night ten years ago. Here’s his first encounter with her now that she’s all grown up:

He admired the Archibald crest on the keystone and knocked at the solar’s massive oak door. He thought he heard “Come,” though between the thickness of the door and stone walls it was impossible to tell. But when he pushed open the polished wood, he stopped listening altogether. All his other senses went on alert, however. Who needed ears when the sight of Frederica Wells was enough to drive any man quite as mad as the king or his father or the frog-loving Earl of Archibald?

Where was the chubby chit he remembered? The girl who fenced and fished with him? In her place was a curvaceous creature with gilt-streaked hair, her tongue licking a lucky wayward crumb from plump pink lips. Whose plumper white breasts nearly spilled from a flimsy dress that was surely too low-cut for tea. And damn it, where was her flirtatious companion when he had most need of her? He’d been without a woman too long if just the sight of his old enemy caused him such stimulation. This was Freddie, whose pigtails he’d pulled, whose feet he’d tripped, who bedeviled him like a little leech until he went away to school.

And when he came home, she tried to trick and trap him, until her head was turned by the promise of few pounds.

“Hallo, Freddie. I see you started without me.” He swiped a miniscule biscuit and swallowed it whole.

She wrinkled her perfect little powdered nose. No doubt she found the childhood nickname abhorrent. He’d have to keep calling her that to keep her at arm’s length, make sure she knew she held no sway over him. Damn her father for dying, damn his father for dying, damn Freddie for not finding some other man to bother with her hair and her breasts and her rosy mouth.

She inclined her head, as if she were a queen greeting a vexatious subject. By God, she had nerve. The last time he’d seen her, she had been half-naked and white-faced, every freckle on her face like a spatter of mud, their worlds smashed to pieces. One would never know from her sang froid that they were anything to each other but passing acquaintances.

“Sebastian. Or should I say Your Grace, although that seems very odd. How was your trip north?”

He threw himself down into a chair that looked like some deposed king’s throne, devilishly uncomfortable as were all the authentic furnishings in the castle. No wonder the knights in days of olde were always riding off to do battle—sitting down at home was as good as getting a jousting stick up one’s arse. “Beastly. I’ve remembered why I never came back to visit. Every single minute is a fresh reminder.” He gave her a pointed look, and was pleased to see her blush of discomfort.