Monday, June 22, 2015

Today's Special - - The Art of Sinning Excerpt and ARC Giveaway

If you read Sabrina Jeffries' How the Scoundrel Seduces (Book 3 in the Duke's Men series) then chances are you were as intrigued by Lady Zoe Keane's American cousin, Jeremy as I was. I just wasn't ready to say good-bye and, thanks to Jeffries' upcoming book, The Art of Sinning, I don't have to! I hope you enjoy this excerpt from the book where Jeremy and Lady Yvette first meet. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win an ARC (advanced reading copy) of The Art of Sinning

The Art of Sinning
The Sinful Suitors, Book 1
By Sabrina Jeffries
Pocket Paperback
On sale July 21, 2015
ISBN-10: 1476786062
ISBN-13: 978-1476786063

At St. George’s Club, guardians conspire to keep their unattached sisters and wards out of the clutches of sinful suitors. Which works fine…except when the sinful suitors are members!

American artist Jeremy Keane refuses to return home and take over his father’s business. He’d much rather sample bevvies of beauties abroad, in search of a model for the provocative masterpiece he’s driven to paint. When he meets Lady Yvette Barlow at a London wedding, he realizes she’s perfect for his work—and determines to capture the young heiress’s defiant spirit and breathtaking sensuality on canvas.

No stranger to scandal, Yvette agrees to be Keane’s subject—in exchange for his help gaining entry to the city’s brothels he knows intimately, so she can track a missing woman and solve a family mystery. But when their practical partnership leads to lessons in the art of sinning, can they find a bold and lasting love?

The Art of Sinning by Sabrina Jeffries Excerpt

Lady Yvette Barlow stood at the edge of the duke’s ballroom watching the dancing with a hollow ache of envy in her stomach. She loved to dance. And the chances of her being asked were slim to none. She towered over half the men in the ballroom. Not to mention that the whole world had recently learned of her youngest brother Samuel’s perfidy. Even her eldest brother Edwin, the Earl of Blakeborough, couldn’t avoid being tarred by that brush.

As if she’d conjured him up, Edwin’s voice sounded behind her. “Yvette, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

Good Lord. He’d been trying to cheer her up ever since they’d arrived, and he was very bad at it. Heaven only knew whom he thought might serve the purpose.

Pasting a smile to her lips, she faced him and his companion. Then her heart dropped into her stomach.

Standing beside Edwin was the most attractive man she’d ever seen—a golden-haired Adonis with eyes as deep a blue as the estate’s prize delphiniums. Indeed, she could tell the hue because the man stared at her with an intensity that quite sucked the air from her lungs.

Heavenly day. He was tall, too, and dressed on the daring end of fashionable—in a brown tailcoat, waistcoat of black cut velvet, and Tattersall trousers, topped off with a blood-red pongee cravat. Interesting. And a decided improvement over the gentlemen Edwin usually foisted on her.

“May I introduce my new friend, Mr. Jeremy Keane?” Edwin said.

The man bowed. “I’m delighted to make your acquaintance, Lady Yvette.”

His deep voice resonated through her like a piece of delicious music. Even his accent was compelling. American perhaps? Oh, she did like Americans. They were so refreshingly forthright. And used such fascinating slang, too.

She dipped her head. “The pleasure is mine, Mr. Keane.” But even as she said it, she put together the accent and the name. Oh dear, he had to be that Mr. Keane.

As if to confirm her realization, the man raked her in a blatantly admiring glance. A rogue’s glance.

Not again. Why must she always attract scoundrels? And be attracted to them in turn? Hadn’t she learned her lesson with her former suitor, Lieutenant Ruston?

Apparently not, for already Mr. Keane’s glance was warming her most scandalously. Curse him.

Edwin went on. “Keane is an artist from—”

“I know all about Mr. Keane.” When Edwin scowled, she caught herself. “From the exhibit of his works, of course.”

Mr. Keane’s warm gaze poured over her like honey. “I don’t recall ever seeing you at my exhibit. And trust me, I would have remembered.”

A shiver danced down her spine before she could steel herself against reacting. Very nicely done. She’d have to be on her toes with this one. “We attended it in the morning. I daresay you were still lying foxed in some gaming hell or nunnery.”

“Good God, here we go,” Edwin muttered under his breath, recognizing the vulgar slang for bawdyhouse.

“I am rarely foxed and never in a nunnery,” Mr. Keane retorted, “for fear that it might tempt the ‘nuns’ to bite me.”

“I should love to know what you consider ‘rarely,’” Yvette said. “That you even know that ‘bite’ means ‘cheat’ in street cant shows how you must spend your days.”

“And how you must spend yours,” he said with a gleam in his eye. “After all, you know the terms, too.”

She stifled a laugh. Mustn’t encourage the fellow. Still, she was impressed. Rogues always fancied themselves wits but seldom did she meet one who really was.

“Mr. Keane has kindly agreed to paint your portrait, Yvette,” Edwin cut in. “Assuming that your tart words haven’t changed his mind.”

The scoundrel had the audacity to wink at her. “Actually, I like a little tart with my sweet.”

“More than a little, I would say, having seen your paintings,” she shot back.

Suddenly he was all seriousness. “And what did you think?”

The question caught her off guard. “Are you fishing for compliments, sir?”

“No. Just truthful opinions.”

“That’s what everyone always says, though they never mean it.”

“Are you calling me a liar, Lady Yvette?” he said in that deadly tone men use when their honor is questioned.

“Of course not,” she said hastily. A man’s honor was nothing to be trifled with. “As for your work, I would say that your idea of ‘tart’ borders on the ‘acidic.’”

“It does indeed,” he drawled. “I prefer to call it ‘real life.’”

“Then it’s no surprise you’ve taken up with Edwin. He considers real life to be acidic, too.”

“Oh, no, don’t drag me into this,” Edwin put in.

Mr. Keane’s gaze searched her face. “And you, Lady Yvette? Do you consider real life acidic?”

My, my. Quite the persistent fellow, wasn’t he? “It can be, I suppose. If one wants to dwell on that part. I’d rather dwell on the happier aspects.”

A sudden disappointment swept his handsome features. “So you prefer paintings of bucolic cows in a field.”

“I suppose. Or market scenes. Or children.”

The mention of children sparked something bleak in the depths of his eyes. “Art should challenge the viewers, not soothe them.”

“I’ll try to remember that when confronted at my breakfast table by a picture of vultures devouring a dead deer. That is one of yours, isn’t it?”

Mr. Keane blinked, then burst into laughter. “Blakeborough, you forgot to tell me that your sister is a wit.”

“Trust me,” Edwin said wearily, “if I’d thought it would get you to agree to our transaction sooner, I would have mentioned it.”

“Transaction?” She stared at her brother. “What transaction?”

Edwin turned wary. “I told you. Mr. Keane is going to paint your portrait. I figured that a well-done piece of art showing what a lovely woman you are . . . might . . . well . . .”

“Oh, Lord.” So that was his reasoning. A pox on Edwin. And a pox on Mr. Keane, too, for agreeing to her brother’s idiocy. Clearly, the artist had been coerced. Mr. Keane was well-known for not doing formal portraits. Ever.

She fought to maintain her composure, to act nonchalant, though inside she was bleeding. Did Edwin really think her so unsightly that she needed a famous artist to make her look appealing?

“Forgive my brother, sir,” she told Mr. Keane with a bland smile. “He’s set on gaining me a husband, no matter what the cost. But I’ve read the interview where you said you’d rather cut off your hands than paint another portrait, and I’d hate to be the cause of such a loss to the world.”

Mr. Keane gazed steadily at her. “I sometimes exaggerate when speaking with the press, madam. But this particular portrait is one I am more than willing to execute, I assure you.”

“Eager for the challenge, are you?” Such raw anger boiled up in her that it fairly choked her. “Eager to try your hand at painting me attractive enough to convince some hapless fellow in search of a wife to ignore the evidence of his eyes?”

Belatedly, her brother seemed to realize how she’d taken his words. “Yvette, that’s not what I was saying.”

She ignored him. “Or perhaps it’s the money that entices you. How much did my brother offer in order to gain your compliance in such an onerous task? It must have been a great deal.”

“I didn’t offer him money, Yvette,” Edwin protested. “You misunderstand what I—”

“I want to paint you,” Mr. Keane snapped even as he glared Edwin into silence.

With betrayal stinging her, she gathered the remnants of her dignity about her. “Thank you, but I am not yet so . . . so desperate as to require your services.”

She turned to leave, but Mr. Keane caught her by the arm. When she scowled at him, he released her . . . only to offer her his hand. “May I have this dance, Lady Yvette?”

That took her by surprise. Only then did she notice the strains of a waltz being struck. She had half a mind to stalk off in a huff. But that would be childish.

Besides, other people had begun to notice their exchange, and she could not endure the idea of people gossiping about her making a scene at the wedding breakfast of her friend . . . who happened to have jilted her brother.

“Lady Yvette?” Mr. Keane prompted in a steely voice.

She cast him the coolest smile she could muster. “Yes, of course, Mr. Keane. I would be delighted.”

Then she took his hand and let him sweep her into a waltz.

As soon as they were moving, he said, “You have every right to be angry with your brother.”

“My feelings toward my brother right now are none of your concern.”

“I was telling the truth about wanting to paint you.”

She snorted. “I don’t know how much money Edwin promised—”

“But not for a portrait.” He bent close enough to whisper in her ear, “Though he doesn’t know that.”

That caught her so off guard that when Mr. Keane pulled back to fix her with an serious gaze, she couldn’t at first summon a single answer.

“I see I finally have your attention,” he said.

“Oh, you always had my attention,” she said testily. “Just not the sort of fawning attention you probably prefer.”

A faint smile crossed his lips. “Tell me, Lady Yvette, do you have something against artists in general? Or is it just I who rub you the wrong way?”

“I don’t trust charming rogues, sir. I have encountered enough of your kind in my lifetime to know all your tricks.”

He arched one eyebrow. “I seriously doubt that.”

When he then twirled her in a turn, she realized with a start that they’d been waltzing effortlessly all this time. That almost never happened with her. Few men knew how to deal with an ungainly Amazon like her on the dance floor. But clearly he was one of them.

That softened her toward him a little. A very little. “So what exactly do you want to paint me for, anyway?”

“An entirely different work,” he said. “And agreeing to your brother’s request seemed the only way to get close enough to you so I could arrange that.”

She eyed him skeptically.

“Ask Blakeborough if you don’t believe me. Before I knew who he was, who you were, I wanted you to sit for me. I decided it the moment I saw you enter the room. I asked your brother who you were, he asked why I wanted to know, and I told him.”

His gaze locked with hers, as sincere a one as she’d ever seen. But then, Lieutenant Ruston had seemed sincere at first, too. “Why on earth would you want to paint me?”

“No clue. I never know why particular models intrigue me; just that they do. And I always follow my instincts.”

Yvette blinked. He could have claimed it had something to do with her looks. The fact that he hadn’t lent more credence to his assertion. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” Yet a tiny part of her found it enormously flattering.

“It is ridiculous, isn’t it? But true, I swear.”

“So what exactly are the terms of your ‘transaction’ with my brother?”

He flinched. “Your brother is an ass.”

“Not really. Just rather oblivious to other people’s feelings sometimes.” She cast him a hard stare. “Answer the question.”

With a long-suffering sigh, he tightened his grip on her hand. “I am to paint your portrait. In exchange, he is to drum up some gentlemen who might be interested in courting my sister.”

She gaped at him. “What a pair of nodcocks you are! Has it occurred to either of you that your sisters are perfectly capable of finding husbands on their own if they so choose? That perhaps we— Wait a minute, I thought your sister lived in America.”

“She’s on her way here. She means to drag me home to help her with the family mills.” He cracked a smile. “I mean to fob some other fellow off on her who can go in my stead.”

His look of boyish mischief seduced her. Briefly. Until she put herself in his sister’s shoes. “First you abandon her to go flitting about Europe. And now that she has tired of waiting for your return, you think to get rid of her by marrying her off.” She shook her head. “Your poor sister.”

“Trust me, there is nothing ‘poor’ about my sister. Amanda can take care of herself.” His smile smoldered. “As, it appears, can you. Which is probably what made me want you for my painting in the first place.”

She fought not to be intrigued. “What is this painting about, anyway?”

“It’s allegorical, about the sacrifice of Art to Commerce.”

That took her by surprise. “Something like Delacroix’s paintings?”

“You’re familiar with Delacroix?”

His voice held such astonishment that it scraped her nerves. “I do read books, you know. And attend exhibits and operas with my brother . . . when I can drag him to town.”

“Operas, eh? Better you than me,” he teased. “I can’t imagine anything more tedious than an evening of such screeching.”

“My point is that I’m not some ninnyhammer society chit who only keeps abreast of fashions.”

“I didn’t think you were.” He bent close enough to say in a husky tone, “Unlike your brother, I am fully aware of your attractions.”

The words melted over her skin like butter. And when he then tugged her slightly closer in the turn, she let him.

Not because of his devastating attractiveness, no. Or his deft ability to dance. Or the glint of awareness in his startling blue eyes. None of that had any effect on her. Certainly not.

Fighting to keep her mind off the breathlessness that suddenly assailed her, she said, “So, which character would I play in this allegorical painting of yours?”

One corner of his mouth tipped up. “Does that mean you agree to sit for it?”

“Perhaps. It depends on your answers to certain questions.”

The music was ending. Oh dear, and just when the conversation was getting interesting. Unfortunately, it would be highly improper of him to ask her for another.

But apparently he’d thought of that, for he waltzed her toward a pair of doors that opened to reveal a set of steps descending into the sunlit garden. And almost as soon as the notes died, he offered her his arm.

Cursing the curiosity that prompted her to take it, she let him lead her outside, but she was relieved to see that they weren’t the only people strolling about. At least she needn’t worry about rousing further gossip.

Besides, she was ready to be out of the stuffy ballroom. Here in the brisk autumn air, she could breathe at last.

“Now, then, madam,” he said. “Ask me whatever you wish.”

“Who am I to play in your painting? What am I to wear? Will sitting for your picture ruin me for life? Is that why Edwin would only agree to a respectable portrait?”

“That’s quite a lot of questions,” he said dryly. “Let’s start with the last. Your brother and I didn’t get as far as my describing the concept of my work. The minute I said I wished for you to model for me, he flat out refused to let you be part of any painting that wasn’t dull as dirt, even though I told him you wouldn’t be recognized.”

“Won’t I?” She felt a stab of disappointment at the thought that he didn’t really want to paint her, as she was. And why did she care, anyway? “So I’m to be wearing a mask or a cloak or something?”

“No, indeed. But you will be in a Greek costume quite different from your normal attire. I can even change your hair color if you wish. And you’ll only be in profile, anyway. I doubt anyone will realize it is you.”

She gave a harsh laugh. “Right. Because no one will notice that the woman in your painting happens to have my ungainly proportions.”

“Ungainly!” He shook his head. “More like ‘queenly.’ ‘Majestic,’ even.”

The compliment came so unexpectedly that it startled her. She was used to being teased for her height, not praised. She had to turn her head so he wouldn’t see how very much the words pleased her.

She’d swear that he meant every word. Then again, she’d also believed Lieutenant Ruston’s compliments, though they’d been far less original and far more dubious. At least Mr. Keane wasn’t calling her “a great beauty” and “a delicate flower.” She couldn’t believe she’d fallen for that last one. She’d never been delicate a day in her life.

“But your proportions are unlikely to signify, anyway,” he went on. “You’ll be lying down.”

That arrested her. How had she managed to forget he was a rogue? “Why would I be lying down?”

He gazed at her as if she were witless. “‘Art’ sacrificed to ‘Commerce’? Were you even listening? Damn, woman, I can hardly show a sacrifice without laying you across an altar.”

Stunned by his matter-of-fact tone, as if it were perfectly obvious to anyone with sense, she mumbled, “Oh, right, of course. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Actually she did know. She thought him quite mad. When he spoke of his art, there was no trace of the rakehell in him. Was it by design? Was he trying to rattle her?

Because he was certainly succeeding.

“Will you do it?” he asked. “Assuming we can manage it?”

“Managing it isn’t a problem,” she said, thinking aloud. “Artists doing portraits generally reside with the family during the process. So if you come to our estate for the portrait, we can arrange some way to meet for the painting you wish to do for yourself.” She slanted a glance at him. “If you’re willing to leave London for a bit, that is.”

“Oh, I don’t know.” He stopped beside a marble fountain to smile teasingly at her. “It would take me away from all those gaming hells and nunneries. However will I survive?”

“I’m sure you can find a sympathetic tavern maid or two in nearby Preston to tide you over,” she said dryly.

“So, no nunneries in your neck of the woods?”

“Trust me, if there had been, my other brother would have uncovered them long ago.”

When he looked at her oddly, a blush rose in her cheeks. She didn’t know why she’d mentioned Samuel’s proclivities. She couldn’t seem to put his request out of her mind.

“I’ll be fine, I promise,” he said silkily. “Though you still haven’t given me your permission to paint you. For either work.”

And suddenly it hit her—the solution to her problem with Samuel. “I haven’t, have I?” She stared him down. “Tell me something, Mr. Keane. Are you as willing to make a bargain with me for your painting as you were to make a bargain with Edwin for my portrait?”

His gaze turned wary. “It depends. What sort of bargain do you mean?”

Avoiding his gaze, she twirled the water in the fountain with one finger. “I will sit for you—clothed, of course. You may draw as many pictures of me as you please.”

“And in exchange?” he prodded.

“You will find some way to get me inside a Covent Garden nunnery.”

Have you ever sat for a portrait?

Do you like American heroes in your English historical romances?

Are you as excited to read this story as I am?

One person leaving a comment on today's post will receive an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of The Art of Sinning.
(US/Canada only)

For more information about Sabrina Jeffries and her books, visit her new website. While you're there, be sure to check out her website contest and sign up for her newsletter for ongoing information about future books and contests. 


  1. I love Sabrina's books. Really enjoyed the excerpt. I've never sat for a portrait. I do enjoy American Heroes in English romance stories. They aren't bound by the strict rules of society the English Heroes are. They're scandalous to most of English society and I love how carefree they are. Thanks for the post.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com.

    1. I really enjoyed Jeremy, Carol. The chemistry between him and Yvette sizzles!

  2. I love an American and English in story, whether they are in England or America... Always makes for an interesting story...

  3. I am definitely a fan of an American hero/heroine in England stories, and Sabrina Jeffries has been on my auto-buy list since her Swanlea Spinsters books. I look forward to reading The Art of Sinning.

    1. I'm a long-time fan as well, Janga. I loved The Art of Sinning and can't wait for Edwin's (Blakeborough's) book. I have a feeling his heroine is going to have him running in circles!

  4. No to the portrait sitting. I know a lot of artists take a photo and then do the portrait from that - saves a lot of time having to sit around and the photo doesn't move or need breaks lol. I'm happy with any combination of heroes - love variety and lover her stories too.

    1. True, catslady! No potty breaks for the photos! LOL!

  5. I've recently read a couple of books with an American heroine/British Lords. I think that it makes for a really enjoyable read, especially when the Americans tend to stray (quite a lot) from the proper rules of society. I've never sat for a portrait, although I did sit with my daughter to have our picture taken. I've read most of Sabrina's reads, and this one sounds really enjoyable. It's being released on my birthday, so I will keep my fingers crossed. Thank you for the chance to win.

    1. Nice birthday present, Diane! Hope you enjoy!

  6. I love Sabrina's books, and this one sounds like another winner. I always look forward to reading her books. No, I have never had a portrait done. Yes, I do enjoy reading about Americans in English Historical Romance books. Thanks so much for this giveaway!

    1. It's sooooo good, Cathy! I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the rest of the stories in the series!

  7. No I haven't sat for a portrait, yes I do like American sin the story, and I am very excited to read this story !!

    1. Good luck in the giveaway, amber! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I haven't sat for a portrait. I do like reading about American characters in English books. And I enjoy Sabrina's books in general. Thanks for the post and giveaway.

  9. I have never sat for a portrait, but that is something I would love to do. Americans visiting England in romance novels is always a nice change of pace. Sabrina Jeffries's novels are keepers, but always room for more on my bookshelf!

    1. Make room for this one, Kim. It's a great read!

  10. No I have never sat for a portrait. I have a few friends who are artist. I should ask them. I love Sabrina's books.

  11. I was sold as soon as I learned she was taller than the other women. Cannot wait to read this.

  12. I can't wait to read this book. I love the interaction between American and British. I have never sat for a portrait.

  13. This is a new series for me; I'd love to have an ARC of anything by Sabrina!

  14. YES, I have sat for a portrait, and yes I do like American heroes like will probably be in Sabrinia's new book. I have been reading her books for a long time and loved all of them.

  15. I've never sat for a portrait and I doubt I ever will. I love reading about other nationalities in English Regency romances, not only Americans.

  16. I loved this excerpt in my last book! I am so excited for the new one! Please! Please! Please!

  17. I've never sat for a portrait and I think I'd be too self conscious to do so now. I like reading american heroes in my HR. They seem so "exotic" :) thanks for sharing!

  18. I'm so excited that Sabrina has a new book. I like American characters in Regency England settings. I like their reaction to the rules and disregard of same. I've never sat for a portrait, I wouldn't be able to sit still that long. Thanks for the chance.

  19. It sounds great! I'm good with Americans in English romances as long as there is a reason for them being there. :-) I've never sat for a portrait - I'm not even good about sitting still for pictures.

  20. I've never sat for a portrait. I imagine it would have been very uncomfortable to sit still for so long before modern cameras could keep the person from having to "sit" for as much of the time. Yes to American heroes (or heroines), and yest to being excited!
    jmcgaugh (at) semo (dot) edu

  21. I haven't had my portrait done, but we had our daughters sit for portraits when they were 1 1/2 and 2 1/2. They were so young, but they did manage to sit still long enough for the artist. Our youngest daughter really didn't make it easy for him.

    The clash of culture and attitude when an American is introduced into an English story makes for interesting scene and story possibilities. The less strict attitude towards society's rules and restrictions make Americans a puzzle and irritant in many cases.
    I enjoy Sabrina's books and this one sounds like it will be a fun and interesting read.

  22. I've never sat for a portrait. I find it fascinating to have an American in an English story.

  23. Such a fun excerpt! Truthfully, I don't think I've ever read an American hero in an English setting, I think it's always been the other way around or it's been an American heroine.
    Must be fun to have a portrait of oneself but I don't think it would be much fun sitting down immobile for hours non-end! LOL

  24. Thankfully, I've never sat for one -- I really don't even like having my photo taken... I love all sorts of heroes!!

  25. I'm so looking forward to reading this one, thanks for sharing an excerpt! I haven't ever sat for a portrait before, the closest thing was probably having to sit for official family photos when I was young that we used for Christmas cards. It's interesting to have an American hero in English romance since there are cultural differences that makes the story more interesting. Thanks for the chance to win an ARC! :-)