Desperate times call for daring measures as Honor Cabot, the eldest stepdaughter of the wealthy Earl of Beckington, awaits her family’s ruin. Upon the earl’s death she and her sisters stand to lose the luxury of their grand home—and their place on the pedestal of society—to their stepbrother and his social-climbing fiancée. Forced to act quickly, Honor makes a devil’s bargain with the only rogue in London who can seduce her stepbrother’s fiancée out of the Cabots’ lives for good.
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.
Originally published in 2014
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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 from.
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 horses.
"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 once!"
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 here."
"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 the commotion.
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?" she asked.
"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 House."
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 coin?"
"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," someone said.
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 it.
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 at all."
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 her.
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 the Thames?"
"Imagine," he drawled, and dealt the cards. "Your bet to begin, Miss Cabot."
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 she?"
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 amusement.
George reminded himself that he was not to be drawn in by pretty eyes, either.
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 shillings.
"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 said.
"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 cheerfully.
"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.
George couldn't help but laugh at her naïveté. "But that's all you have," he pointed out.
"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 grinned.
"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 appreciatively.
"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 said.
"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, too triumphant.
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 birds.
George watched her go, his fingers drumming on the table. He was an experienced gambler, and he'd just been taken by a debutante.
That was when the trouble with Honor Cabot began.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was a great start for the Cobot Sisters series. I enjoyed it very much. Honor Cobot at times was very forward for a debutante, but I liked her very much for her feisty ways, but sometimes she sounded a little selfish. She was very loyal and did worry about her mother and sisters. Losing their home and usual comforts when her brother got married was a big worry. After meeting George Easton, a gambler and womanizer, she asks him to help her out. A diversion for her brothers fiancé might be just the thing. George was a great character, not the usual arrogant Lord which was a nice change, and but not always that confidant. Honor and George made a great couple together, and when they got romantic it was very hot. This was a fun book to read, and I'm eagerly awaiting for more from the Cobot Sisters series . I received a free copy of this book from the Author in exchange for an honest review.
There are four Cabot sisters. Honor is the oldest. She is beautiful, unconventional and stubborn. Her family is in turmoil. Their stepfather is dying and their mother is slipping into senility. Augustine, their stepbrother, is the heir. He is planning to marry Monica Hartgrove. Honor knows this means trouble. She has a plan to stop the wedding. She enlists George Easton, the illegitimate, son of a duke, to seduce Monica. Honor and George are a perfect match. They fight their attraction but it burns bright. Where will their desires take them? Julia London has written a fast-paced, emotional romance that will keep you reading from the first page. The story comes to life with captivating characters and lively dialogue. Honor and George are engaged in a battle of wills. Neither will back down from their fiery attraction. The secondary characters add so much emotional depth to the story. I want to know more about them. I'm looking forward to reading more about the Cabot Sisters. I know it will be a wild ride. Julia London doesn't disappoint. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The Trouble with Honor was my first Julia London book and my chance to dip my toes back into an historical romance. It’s really been too long since I’ve read one and I realized after reading about Honor and George and the other cast of characters how much I enjoy slipping back into a different time. A different time filled with witty repartee, intrigue, and subtle scheming all wrapped up in the push and pull between the hero and heroine. Let’s talk about Honor first. I didn’t like her at first. No, not one bit. Her motives to her schemes seemed selfish. But then Julia London unraveled the character that is Honor, exposing her true wishes and desires, her passion and her dreams. Then I couldn’t help but silently cheer for Honor and hope that even in a seemingly hopeless situation, she found what she needed. ‘“I mean that unless women demand to follow their heart’s true instincts, we will never be allowed to do so. Society will insist we marry well, and that is all they will ask of us.”’ George…now, George is quite the charmer! He’s dashing and a rake. He’s not considered part of the ‘ton’ and polite society due to his birth. My heart ached for him to find his place in society and to be worthy of Honor’s love. His humor and his downright sexy male personality shone through. ‘He was on fire, fully engulfed by a woman whose smile could reduce him to ashes. She touched her finger to his lip and whispered, “Did you miss me?” “More than the air I breathe,” he growled.’ What I love about this story is that even though Honor is facing some extremely difficult challenges, she stands up for what she wants. She’s not a wilting flower. And the banter and sexual tension between her and George kept me turning the pages waiting for the moment when they would again engage with each other. But whether or not their love was possible, remained to be seen. ‘To say words of love when one could not live in that love was too painful to endure, wasn’t it?’ Julia London wrote a sexy, fun romance and introduced us to the Cabot sisters, focusing on Honor for this book. Overall, I loved being transported back in time and seeing the journey unfold. Now I need to read Grace’s story!
Honor Cabot has been able to experience life without the restraints given those girls who have been betrothed or married. She has been brokenhearted before and she is in no hurry to get married and lose what little freedom she has been afforded as a woman. When her step-brother becomes betrothed to her nemesis she fears that not only will she be put out upon their marriage, but also her siblings and ailing mother. She must do something to stop the wedding! George Easton knew the first time he laid eyes on Miss Cabot he was in trouble. Now she has come to him and asked the renowned rake to help ruin the engagement of her step-brother. Could she possibly be that selfish that she doesn't want to lose her fine things? Still something makes him consider helping her and as he gets drawn deeper and deeper into her plans, he finds that the woman he is getting to know just wants to protect her family. Together they both discover a person who understands them for who they are. And while Honor teaches George that he is worthy of happiness, George teaches her that she is ready to find and risk all for love again.
Book One in the Cabot Sisters series. Honor Cabot is anxious to find a way to delay her stepbrother's wedding. She believes her soon-to-be sister in law will displace Honor, her mother and her sisters as soon as she can. Honor makes a deal with George Easton to distract Monica from her impending marriage. It's never that easy, though. If you're looking for a fun historical romance with an audacious girl, real family chemistry and outrageous antics, this is definitely the book for you!
Have you ever had one of those books that you wish hadn't ended because you want to go back and read more? That is what has happened to me with The Trouble With Honor, Julia London's newest historical and first novel in the Cabot Sisters Series. The heroine is Honor Cabot, the oldest of four sisters. The step-daughter of a dying Earl, Honor is a strong-willed character who is not happy with the fact that her choices in life are limited because she is a woman. She and her sisters were lucky when their Mother met and married the Earl, because he took them in as his own, and his son, Augustine, adores them as well. Now, the Earl is dying, Augustine is engaged to a woman who may not be happy with five other women in the house, and their Mother is slowly "going mad," exacerbated by a carriage accident. Honor, who's been disappointed in love once, because her father's rank was not high enough, has embraced her current lifestyle and tends to do what she pleases. She has no wish to marry and embarks on a scheme to delay the inevitable with her step-brother, in hopes of keeping her Mother and sisters in their home. Enter George Easton, illegitimate son of a Duke and nephew to the King. Easton is a self-made man, and known womanizer. Honor hopes to convince him to lure her step-brother's Fiancee away. Easton disagrees with the scheme, but gets pulled into it because he likes her. This brings them together in fun ways, with both realizing the other isn't the person they show the world. The characters are fun, and I even come to like the "Evil" Fiancee. The ending sets the reader up for the next book, when we will find what scheme sister Grace has gotten herself into in her effort to "save" the family. I am not sure I can wait until August to find out what happens next! ** I was provided and ARC for an honest review...
A fun historical romance full of schemes and secrets, The Trouble with Honor was a lovely read. I really enjoyed reading this book. The romance, the scheming, the scandal: it was all wonderful. Honor was a good heroine, though I had my issues with her. On one had, she was feisty, independent, and very loyal to her family. She would do anything to take care of her sisters. On the other hand, she had a tendency to be immature and she acted spoiled several times. She tended to steamroll right over people's feelings in her determination to get what she wanted. Regardless, I still liked her, though she wasn't my favorite heroine. George was wonderful, for the most part. He was sweet and determined to make the woman he loved happy. He knew his place in society was precarious at best, so he wanted to be sure he could take care of her. His stubbornness was a bit frustrating, particularly when it resulted in Honor being publicly humiliated. But, for the most part, I thought he was sweet. The romance was great. Honor and George were sweet together, despite both of their stubbornness. And there was a ton of chemistry between them that led to some steamy moments. They were a lovely couple. The plot was fast paced. I was kept interested the entire way through. There were tons of schemes and antics that kept me entertained, and a few surprises along the way. I really enjoyed the story and I thought the ending was lovely. I'm excited to see what happens next with Grace's story. The Trouble with Honor was a fantastic historical romance. I really enjoyed reading this wonderful book. Romance lovers, this is a book worth reading. *I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Always love Julia's historical books. Fantastic story, great characters. Beautiful cover art. Just an all around winner
Loved it. Sweet. Loved the characters and the story. Really wonderful.
I stopped reading this book! Two of the most unlikable characters that you ever read! And the story just couldn't get going, the scenes just kept going nowhere.
This book has a nice story, the characters are will developed. I enjoyed the historical settings and atmosphere of the book. Honor is a strong woman especially in the time frame of the book. I personally did not need the bedroom scenes. I felt that the book would have been more appealing without the sex. I know that sex sells, but not as far as I am concerned. Other than that, the story was well written. This was a B&N Readout on Nook where one or two chapters are presented each day.
(From my Goodreads review) A period piece about an unabashedly headstrong, stubborn woman who believes women should be able to choose who to marry instead of marrying for the sake of strengthening political or social ties, increase wealth, or creating a fortuitous alliance for the sake of family. Honor Cabot was born ahead of her time & bucks all societal trends & expectations by marrying for love. The manner in which she does this makes up the bulk of the story in this book. Quite a delightful romance to read!
Love the Cabot sisters books, I hope there are more series like this!
This is not one of my favorites. Honor was just too impulsive and manipulative for me to like. She cares a great deal about her family, until what is best for them contradict what she wants. And instead of being an adult and talking to Monica or Augustine she schemes to break them up. She was just far to childish to like. As for George, (I hate that name) he seemed kind of thick headed. And preferred to wallow in self pity until his valet finally tells him what to do. It was a decent story but I could have just skimmed the book and gotten the whole story.
Good start to a series. Really liked that he wasn't a duke or viscount or something. Sister relationship is good and nice to see that family dynamic was not all super nice or all evil step family stuff.
Good book and romance.
I enjoyed this book. If youlike this genre as mush as I co. you'll enjoy this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, it was great for light reading. Held my interest throughout the book. Se really funny spots to see how Honor would try to get herself out of situations. Little bit of mystery involved but not to the extent of being out of place.
My Thoughts: My interest in this genre again ended up getting me to come across this cute little story. They always have a different story to them, although they usually run around the same lines, like making bargains, as is the case with this story. Some may end up sounding like repeats of themselves, but this one had the different feel to it. The book starts with a game of cards involving George and Honor, which was only the beginning of their story. Honor later offers her winnings from that game of cards (oh yeah, she won) in return for the favor from him. He, of course, has to think about it at first. Then once things get started, it becomes obvious there's something between them heating up. All their conversations and interactions are amusing and sweet. The Trouble With Honor is a great romance to pick up for fun. I really liked Honor, a smart woman, and definitely liked George and his swoonworthy ways. Julia London drew me in and kept me reading. I'll probably be willing to keep reading this series sometime in the near future. My Rating: Very Good