Today we welcome an author I love a lot and her 2008 debut book….
‘Mistress of Pleasure’ by Delilah Marvelle
BOOK BLURB: Granddaughter of a renowned courtesan, Maybelle de Maitenon has no interest in her grandmother’s school in London where gentlemen receive instruction–in the art of seduction. Her only desire in life is to remain independent, free from men and the shackles of marriage. But when Maybelle lays eyes on Edmund Worthington, the Duke of Rutherford, at a soirée, and hears of his scandalous reputation, she decides he’s the perfect person for her to have a tryst with no strings attached. . .
Unbridled passion has again muddied Edmund Worthington’s family name. After his very public dalliance with the strikingly beautiful and sensual Maybelle, his mother insists he marry her. But much to the Duke’s surprise, Maybelle scoffs at his proposal. Never has he encountered such a brazen–and maddeningly irresistible–woman. But when Maybelle’s grandmother falls ill, forcing Maybelle to take over the operation of her school, Edmund devises a plan to make her his. He enrolls in the school, where no one other than Maybelle must give him expert lessons in carnal pleasure. . .
Mistress of Pleasure is the very first book I ever published. As a result, it will always be near and dear to my heart. I was inspired to write the series when I stumbled across a lesser known courtesan by the name of Ninon de L’Enclos who was known to host philosophical ‘classes’ for men to discuss love, sex and life. Just know the school is not as far fetched as you think!
What defines a woman?
Why, she does, of course. —The School of Gallantry
London, England—May 1830
When Maybelle first discovered at the tender age of twelve that her beautiful, silver-haired grandmother was in fact a French courtesan, it had been most…awkward. Yet equally fascinating, to say the least.
Being left in the care of such a sexually liberated woman certainly made for an unusual upbringing. For instance, French was taught, not out of cultural or educational necessity, but because her grandmother believed that the rolling off of French from one’s tongue was erotic. As such, French words always had to be sprinkled here and there like powdered sugar over the not-so-orgasmic English language. At fourteen, Maybelle refused to adhere to the woman’s ridiculous French/English rule. Mostly because she felt like a want-wit who couldn’t decide between two languages.
At fifteen, Maybelle was further astonished to discover that naughty little books were not only permitted. They were required. So unlike other girls who took to sneaking pornographic books and keeping them under their bedroom pillows, Maybelle was forced to sneak volumes of Voltaire. For there was only so much copulation a girl could ingest day in and day out.
Needless to say, after spending nine years under the perpetual rule of her grandmother, there really wasn’t much in this world that could actually astound her.
Or at least that is what she’d thought.
Maybelle eyed the full glass of cognac, which had been set onto the gleaming surface of the walnut table before her, and heaved out an exasperated sigh as she eased into one of the parlor chairs. She had expected the last morning spent with her grandmother to be difficult. But cognac? Honestly.
She met her grandmother’s attentive gaze from across the French crimson parlor and drawled, “I take it there is no tea in the cupboards?”
“Och. Tea. The English are overly obsessed with it.” Her grandmother rose from the settee, rustling not only her full verdant skirts but also all three sets of stringed pearls dangling over her more-than-generous bosom. “We have every right to toast to all of our upcoming adventures. After all, you will finally get to visit your beloved Egypt, while I, I will finally have my School of Gallantry.”
Maybelle paused. Then blinked. “Your School of Gallantry?”
“Ah.” Her grandmother bustled over toward the small writing bureau set in the corner of the parlor and snatched up a piece of parchment from atop a pile of correspondences. Turning, she bustled back again and halted before Maybelle. Smiling ever so charmingly, she held out the sizable cream-colored parchment by the tips of her manicured fingers.
Maybelle stared at the parchment dangling before her.
MADAME THÉRÈSE’S SCHOOL OF GALLANTRY
ALL GENTLEMEN WELCOME.
LEARN FROM THE MOST CELEBRATED
DEMIMONDAINE OF FRANCE
EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT LOVE AND SEDUCTION.
ONLY A LIMITED AMOUNT OF
APPLICATIONS ARE BEING ACCEPTED
AT 11 BERWICK STREET.
DISCRETION IS GUARANTEED AND ADVISED.
Well. That certainly explained why her grandmother had kept to herself these past few months. She’d been busy creating a school. For men. Heaven help her. This was going to follow her straight to the pyramids. At least the woman had used a nom de plume. Although it was only a matter of time before the gossip papers found out who was really behind it.
“Well?” her grandmother prodded, still holding out the advertisement. “What do you think?”
Ever since her father’s death left her in the care of his mother, she often felt as if she were the guardian. And enough was damn well enough. Maybelle rose from her parlor chair and snatched hold of the parchment. “Our reputation is already limp. Why on earth do you feel the need to flog it to death? You promised Papa that you’d never return to being a demimondaine. You promised.”
Her grandmother arched a silver brow. “This is not a return. I am merely selling techniques.”
“Techniques?” Maybelle smacked the parchment with the back of her hand. “It’s ludicrous. What man would ever admit to needing lessons in seduction? You of all people should know that it comes natural to men.”
“Does it? How odd. I suppose the thirty men who have already enlisted are merely looking for entertainment.” With that, her grandmother snatched the advertisement back and smoothed the edges of it carefully between her manicured fingers.
Maybelle’s heart jumped. Thirty men had already enlisted?! Who on earth were all these naughty blighters? And what did they think they were going to learn?
Calm. She needed to remain calm. There had to be a perfectly good reason for all this. There were always reasons. No matter how far-fetched. “Are we having trouble with our finances?” she prodded, stepping toward her. “Is that it?”
Her grandmother frowned. “Non. Our finances are exceptionally good. Although I did have some assistance from the lovely widow Lady Chartwell. The woman fondly shares my vision of educating men.”
Maybelle’s eyes widened. England’s widows were actually donating to this plight? Although Maybelle wanted to outright demand why her grandmother would stoop to such a crude level of disrespect toward herself, her lips were simply too numb to form a single intelligible word.
“You are not pleased, I see.” Her grandmother sighed heavily and wandered back toward the bureau, carefully setting the advertisement onto it. She tilted her head to one side, causing her thick, silver chignon to shift, and centered the parchment before her as if she were straightening a painting. “London has always been so boring compared to Paris. I am used to more excitement. More passion. As you know, I have long sworn off my occupation and sadly, have no great grandchildren to occupy my time. What is worse, you and I have completely different interests. A pile of old rocks set upon endless hot sand is nothing short of torture. I am too delicate for such things.”
Oh dear God. There it was again. The pity-me routine. “No one forced you to stay in London. You chose to stay here. Furthermore, I won’t have you calling the pyramids a pile of old rocks. They are amazing historic monuments worthy of genuine fascination. I’ve already postponed my trip four times because of you and every time I was forced to pay my designated traveling companion ten pounds despite the fact that I never traveled anywhere.”
Maybelle crossed her arms over her chest. “So what is it that you want this time? Aside from great grandchildren.”
Her grandmother turned and feigned shock as her slender hand flew to her bosom. “Want? What would make you think that I want anything?”
Maybelle narrowed her gaze knowing a seasoned actress had stepped onstage. “You know exactly how I feel about these things, which is why you are trying to leverage this against me. Otherwise, you would have never told me. You would have waited until I left England and then opened the school.”
Those soft blue eyes, which were a mere shade darker than her own, remained fixed on Maybelle. “I am not trying to leverage anything. The advertisements have long been sent and the townhouse rented. It is done, chère. Classes begin next week. And in the end, I confess that the most difficult aspect was having to choose only four out of the thirty who had originally enlisted.”
Maybelle hesitated then drawled, “You are renting out an entire townhouse to host only four men?”
“Oui, but it is only temporary. Until I regulate the schedule and coordinate the lesson plans. As time goes on, I will add more men. Which of course will mean more work. It will require more teachers. More hosts. More toys.” Her grandmother paused and eyed her. “You would not consider staying and becoming a hostess for a few months, would you? Though we should qualify you more by dispensing of your virginity.”
Maybelle choked on a horrified gasp, then quickly cleared her throat. Twice. “I believe you are the only grandmother in the history of England to ever say such a thing to her granddaughter. That aside, do you even realize what you’ll be promoting by opening such a school? Do you?”
A mischievous smile appeared on those full pink lips. “I will proudly be promoting the pleasure of all my fellow women who are fortunate enough to come across my étudiants.”
EXCERPT continued here.
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AUTHOR INFO: Delilah Marvelle is the winner of the Reviewer’s Choice for Best Sensual Historical Romance of the Year and had Booklist name her historical romance ‘Forever and a Day’ one of the TOP 10 Romance of 2012.