One Wicked Sin

Lottie Palliser was once the toast of the Ton but now is notorious for being divorced—and penniless. Shunned by society and disowned by her family, the destitute beauty is forced to become a courtesan in a Covent Garden bawdy house. Refusing to oblige her customers, Lottie is about to be turned out onto the streets when a dangerous rake saves her with a scandalous offer…

Ethan Ryder is the illegitimate son of an Irish Duke and a circus performer. He rose through the ranks as one of Napoleon’s most dashing cavalry officers—until his capture landed him in England as prisoner of war. Now on parole, Ethan is planning his most audacious coup yet. But he needs to create a spectacular diversion. And having infamous Lottie as his mistress will lull everyone into thinking he’s busily bedding her instead of plotting deadly treason. Both Lottie and Ethan believe that their cool heads and selfish hearts will give them the upper hand in their ruthlessly passionate union. Yet their unexpected bond will scandalize even them.

Beware of scandalous women…

Fenner Family Tree

“One Wicked Sin was a wonderful story that truly showed that it is darkest before the dawn and that made it so much more than just a typical romance.”

— Joyfully Reviewed

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A man was standing in the doorway, one shoulder resting against the jamb. He was in black and white evening dress and against the raucous colour of the brothel with its damask walls and peacock drapes he looked stark and almost too plainly attired. He was tall with black hair cut short and eyes of a startling, striking blue in a lean, watchful face. Lottie felt Hagan stiffen, as though sensing a rival.

"Sir-" Hagan's face had reddened. "You intrude. You must wait your turn."

The stranger's eyes met Lottie's. His gaze was so bright and piercing that she felt her breath catch. Odd, she thought, that in that moment there was something in his eyes that looked almost like reassurance. Odd and impossible, an illusion, for then he smiled and any impression of gentleness was banished. He strode forward, self-assured, dangerous.

"Oh, I do not think so," he murmured. "I don't wait in line."

Hagan opened his mouth to speak but it was Mrs Tong who intervened now, a sweep of her hand silencing him.

"My lord..." Lottie could not quite place the tone in the bawd's voice. There was deference there, certainly, but something else too. Wariness? Lottie had known all manner of men, from over-refined dandies to brutish bucks, but she had never met a man whose presence felt quite so elemental. There was danger in the room. She felt it in the air and with a prickle down her spine. Suddenly the atmosphere was alive.

"I am sure Mr Hagan would not mind waiting," Mrs Tong said smoothly. "If you would be so good, sir... Can I offer you a glass of wine perhaps? On the house?" She was already shepherding Hagan towards to door. The newcomer stood aside with studied amusement to allow him to pass. Lottie let out her breath on a sigh she had thought was silent until the man cast her a quick, appraising glance.

The door closed.

"You are Charlotte Cummings?" The stranger asked.

"No," Lottie said. "Not any more." The only thing she had wanted from Gregory was money. He could keep his name. It was no use to her. "I am Charlotte Palliser now," she said.

The man inclined his head. "I had heard that the Pallisers had disowned you."

"They cannot take my name," Lottie said. "I was born with it."

He did not reply at once. He was watching her with that same acute interest that he had shown from the moment he had set eyes on her. His gaze held no sexual appraisal, only a cool calculation that made Lottie shiver for there was no softness in it at all.

"May I?" He gestured to the armchair. She was surprised he troubled to ask permission. Such courtesy sat oddly with the sense that this was a man who would take what he wanted whether anyone opposed him or not.

He sat down and crossed one ankle over the other knee, lounging back with a casual grace. His whole body, so long and lean, looked elegantly relaxed and yet Lottie thought it would be a mistake to dismiss him as yet another fashionable Corinthian. There was too much forcefulness beneath the surface, too much power and intensity banked down.

"Who are you," Lottie said, "that Mrs Tong allows you to dictate to her and does not even make you pay in advance?" It appeared that he was not intent on hurrying her into bed, whoever he was.

He laughed. "Ethan Ryder, at your service." There was a wicked spark in his blue eyes. "And I pay afterwards." He raised an eyebrow. "I do believe you're blushing. How singular – in a courtesan."

End of Excerpt

One Wicked Sin

is available in the following formats:
North American Edition

November 2, 2010 · Harlequin · ISBN 13: 978-0373774876 · ISBN 10: 0373774877

Behind the Book

One Wicked SinA few years ago I was reading a book about the Battle of Trafalgar when a small paragraph caught my eye. It referred to the men who had been captured and brought back to England as prisoners of war. Some were thrown into prisons such as Dartmoor, some were locked up in the prison hulks, old ships that were moored up and transformed into gaols, and many of the officers were confined to places called “parole towns,” small towns in the English countryside where they were given their freedom provided that they gave their word – their parole – that they would not try to escape.

This fascinating element of British history seems mysteriously almost to have disappeared from the record. Yet between the 1750s and 1814 there were thousands of foreign prisoners of war in Britain, rising to a total of over sixty thousand during the last years of the Napoleonic Wars. These French, American, Danish, Irish and other officers must have had a huge influence on the daily life of small English towns. They dined with the local gen
try, gave music and dancing lessons, put on theatricals, even eloped with the ladies!. Some escaped. Some of them settled in England forever.

Prison at Norman Cross
Painting of the Napoleonic Prisoner of War camp at Norman Cross

This was the background that inspired me to write One Wicked Sin. I had been fascinated to discover that a town very close to where I live, Wantage, now in Oxfordshire, had been a parole town and yet there is very little to mark the time that Napoleonic prisoners of war spent there. I went to the local museum and there I was able to see the one artefact that they had, a letter from a French colonel who banked with Coutts in London asking them to send more money to Mattingleys, the local bank, to cover his expenses in the town. Holding that letter in my hand gave me the happy shivers I always get when a document or artefact connects me directly to the past!

Ethan, the hero of One Wicked Sin, is an Irishman who became inspired by the beliefs and principles of the French Revolution and was captured fighting for Napoleon. When he brings his mistress Lottie Palliser to Wantage, where he is on parole, the sleepy life in the little English country town is going to be rocked by scandal!


Reviews for One Wicked Sin
So much more than a typical romance!

“One Wicked Sin was a wonderful story that truly showed that it is darkest before the dawn and that made it so much more than just a typical romance.”

4.5 stars

“A compelling story of scandal, honour, betrayal and passion.”

Do Not Miss It!

“SCANDALOUS WOMEN OF THE TON series, is a witty, sensual historical romance that will steal your breath away”

“A fast paced page turner!”

2nd place in the Historical Published Beacon Contest

“Nicola is thrilled to have been placed in the First Coast Romance Writers prestigious competition. She's also delighted to have been pipped for first place by the lovely and talented Anna Campbell!”

“One Wicked Sin is a fun, entertaining read and the characters growth is touching and heartwarming.”

CRW Finalist!

One Wicked Sin is a finalist for the 2011 Colorado Award of Excellence for Historical Romance!”

“A compelling story of scandal, honour, betrayal and passion. Anyone who enjoys a blend of powerful emotions, sizzling love scenes and lively action will definitely enjoy this second installment in Nicola Cornick's Scandalous Women of the Ton series.”

One Wicked Sin is a finalist for the 2011 RITA® for Historical Romance! Details and info on the other finalists and the RITA awards can be found here.”


“First off, I need to get this off my chest: One Wicked Sin is probably the best historical romance I have read! One Wicked Sin is everything a Regency historical romance should be: romantic, sexually exciting, an understanding of the culture as well as being mindful of the atmosphere of the setting. Simply put: read this book!”

Keeper Shelf!

“With intriguing plot twists and strong memorable characters, One Wicked Sin is a definite keeper!”

“This is a wonderfully written story with two deeply conflicted characters. The insights we gain into their lives and hearts will engross and delight the reader.”

“A mesmerizing novel from one of the finest voice in historical romance, One Wicked Sin is a wickedly delicious Regency romance that is hard to put down and impossible to forget.”

“A really good story with all the makes. What a wonderful tale. I have never read one quite like it and fear that it will be a long while before I do again. The superb way Ms Cornick penned this story left me breathless more times than I could keep track of. A wonderful read that kept me enthralled and begging for more.”

Top Pick!

“'A rich, well-plotted, fascinating and deeply sensual read.'”

Top Pick!

“'Lyrical... a perfect blend... If you love stories about the redeeming power of love, this is exactly the read you need.'”

“'Ethan is the ultimate alpha male, a romance warrior. Take your breath away romance!'”

Knight in Shining Silver!

“Ethan Ryder (is) a bad boy to die for! A memorable story of intense emotions, scandals, trust, betrayal and all-encompassing love. A fresh and engrossing tale.”