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The Brook Street Collection
Rogues – Novella
Brook Street Series, Book #3
Regency-set M/M erotic romance
Release date: 5/7/2012
Word Count: 27,600 words
Publisher: Carina Press
Two of London's most notorious rakehells, Linus Radcliffe and Robert Anderson, are the best of friends. They share almost everything-clothes, servants, their homes, and even each other's bed on occasion. The one thing they don't share: lovers. For while Linus prefers men, Robert prefers women...except when it comes to Linus.
As another Season nears its end, Robert can't ignore his growing jealousy. He hates watching Linus disappear from balls to dally with other men. Women are lovely, but Linus rouses feelings he's never felt with another. Unwilling to share his gorgeous friend another night, Robert has a proposition for Linus.
A proposition Linus flatly refuses-but not for the reasons Robert thinks. Still, Robert won't take no for an answer. He sets out to prove a thing or two to his best friend-yet will learn something about the heart himself.
Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: male/male sexual practices.
© Ava March
Robert Anderson's eyes narrowed, his attention pinned across the ballroom on Linus Radcliffe. The deliberately casual set of the man's shoulders, the lazy hint of a smile on his lips, the intent blue gaze fixed on the young blond gentleman he was speaking to...
A grunt rumbled Rob's throat.
Enough. He could not take another night.
He brought the cut crystal glass to his lips, downing the remaining whisky in one swallow. Dropping the empty glass on a passing servant's tray, he pushed from the wall.
Using his height to his full advantage, he kept Linus in his sights as he weaved through the crowd.
With a friendly hand on the blond's shoulder, Linus leaned in a bit closer. Not so close as to rouse suspicion—Linus knew where that line resided better than anyone—but definitely closer. His lips moved.
Rob lengthened his stride.
A woman stepped directly in front of him. Rob stopped just in time to keep from barreling into Mrs. Lydia Jefferies, his current paramour. Her turquoise silk gown draped her elegant form, the bodice highlighting a rather impressive bosom. The young widow should have been able to keep his attention longer than a week. He had pursued her, after all. Yet...
He glanced over her dark brown head, to another dark brown head that was still tipped much too closely—at least in Rob's opinion—toward that pretty blond.
"Anderson," she said, reaching out to touch a familiar hand to his forearm. "A new set is soon to start."
The absolute last thing he wanted to do was dance at the moment. "Not tonight, my dear. The musicians aren't to my liking."
A slight bow, and he stepped around her. Likely rude to dismiss her in such a manner. All right. It had been rude. Tomorrow he'd buy her a pretty bauble, pay her a call, employ a bit more charm than tonight, and by the time he left her drawing room their dalliance would be firmly behind him.
Striving for casual, he slowed his pace as he neared Linus. His friend was impeccably dressed, as always. A deep navy coat that appeared black when not under the full force of the many chandeliers overhead. A splash of white from his cravat above a copper silk waistcoat Linus had borrowed from Rob's own closet. Given they were of a similar height and build, both a nudge over six feet tall and with muscles enough to prove they regularly visited the fencing academy and Gentleman Jackson's, he and Linus occasionally made use of each other's wardrobes. But though they frequented the same tailor, Rob's clothes somehow always looked better on Linus than on himself.
He stopped next to Linus and clapped him on the shoulder. "Evening, Radcliffe." A stern glare was all it took to send the young blond scurrying away with a hastily murmured excuse. What excuse the blond used Rob did not much care. All that mattered was that the young man had left.
A frown touched Linus's mouth as he watched those slim shoulders disappear into the crowd. "Not kind of you to have scared Tarington away."
"Was that his name?"
"That is his name."
As if Rob could keep track of the various men who rotated in and out of Linus's bed. Or rather, the various men's beds that Linus rotated in and out of.
That noxious knot, the one that had been growing progressively larger since the start of the Season, swelled in his gut, tightening his stomach.
"It's getting late," Rob said. "Don't you agree?"
"It's barely midnight." Dismissing the question as ridiculous, Linus scanned the ballroom.
He resisted the urge to step in front of Linus, to block his view. Linus had a way of sensing when a man preferred other men. With a single glance across a smoke-filled gambling hell, he could spot a like-minded fellow. Rob would wager his friend was currently employing that single-glance skill...when Rob was right next to him, trying to convey that there was absolutely no need to look tonight.
"As I said, it's getting late." He added a smile. Not a broad one, but a suggestion of a smile. If Linus did not pick up on the hint now, Rob would cuff the man upside his dense head.
Linus finally pulled his attention on to Rob. Instead of bluntly pointing out that midnight was nowhere near late, he swept his gaze over Rob's face. He arched a dark brow. "Again?" he asked in an undertone.
"Why not?" It wasn't as if they'd just shared a bed last night, at least not in the buggering sense. It had been nine days ago. While more time usually lapsed, nine days certainly did not justify an again?
Linus shrugged then turned and stepped away from him.
Rob's pride reared up, threatening to bristle. Would it hurt Linus to appear somewhat enthused? A few long strides had him at Linus's shoulder once again. But they were at a ball, he reminded himself. It wasn't like Linus could spear him with a hot stare and demand Rob take him up against the nearest wall.
As soon as they reached the entrance hall, the ballroom well behind them, that sense of urgent impatience receded a notch, no longer clawing at Rob's throat. Their hostess's butler shut the front door behind them, and they headed east. As the ball was only two streets from their homes and the late May evening mild without a hint of rain, they had forewent Linus's town carriage and walked to the function.
"Received a letter from Woodhaven today," Linus said. "He won't be back in Town for some time."
Good. One less man for Linus to seek out.
Then Rob castigated himself for thinking such a thing. Woodhaven was their friend. A very good friend at that. Rather churlish of Rob to be pleased the man wouldn't be back in Town for a while, especially when both Rob and Linus had been a bit concerned over his abrupt disappearance a couple of weeks ago. Woodhaven had left Julian Parker, his new friend and houseguest, behind. That part wasn't necessarily a bad thing, though. Julian Parker was too smooth and charming for Rob's liking, the type to befriend another solely for his fortune. Rob had been nothing but pleased when the man had taken himself back to America a few days ago. "Must have been important to pull Woodhaven away during the Season."
"Said he needed to visit some properties in the country," Linus said. Was it Rob's imagination or was Linus gradually slowing his stride? "Bored of Mrs. Jefferies already?"
"Yes." No reason to dissemble when he was speaking the truth. "I'll pay her a call tomorrow, make it clear it's over, in the event she did not pick up the hint at the ball."
"Did she even last a week?"
The man needn't sound so taken aback. "Exactly a week, as a matter of fact." He bumped Linus's elbow with his own. "Still significantly longer than you've ever lasted."
"True. But I don't take paramours."
No, he didn't. He bounced from man to man, never keeping a bed partner for longer than a night at a time, though he often eventually rounded back to one of his small handful of favorites who were all younger than his twenty-eight years and slight enough in build to toss across a bed with little effort, Woodhaven being one of them. Even when they'd first come to Town seven years ago and Linus had taken female lovers in addition to men, he had treated them the same way he treated other men.
"Someone else catch your eye?" Linus asked, as they rounded the corner to Brook Street.
Yes, you. "No." Rob checked his stride to remain beside Linus. "Is there a reason you're walking so slowly?"
Linus lifted one shoulder in a shrug. "It's a pleasant night. Thought to enjoy it. Are you in any particular hurry?"
Yes. Rob opened his mouth to snap out the word, then paused. Linus did not give a fig about the weather. In all of their eighteen years as friends, Linus had never once commented about enjoying a pleasant night.
Rob halted in his tracks.
A glance over his shoulder then Linus turned back to him.
"Stop being an arse," Rob warned, voice low, a mere rumble between them that more than hinted at the frustration and impatience churning through his veins.
An expression of utter innocent shock fell over Linus's handsome features. Then he chuckled, gave Rob's upper arm a friendly punch, and proceeded along the walkway, his pace back to his usual long, casual stride.
Linus had done it deliberately, but Rob wasn't about to push the point further. Linus had in as much admitted to it and dropped the annoying dawdling once Rob had called him on it. They could now reach home before dawn, and that was what mattered most...
Brook Street: Rogues - A Dear Author recommended read for May!
"Full of heart, heat and compelling characters." - The Book Vixen
"I really liked this novella. ...March makes me feel so invested in these characters. She gives them depth and makes them sympathetic. Their relationship is believable and their obstacles never felt manufactured. The sex is both hot and realistic. And I just didn't want to put it down." - Red Hot Books
"A perfect blend of sweet romance and hot sex, Brook Street: Rogues is a quick read with charming and likable protagonists. It is a delightful and satisfying conclusion to Ava March's Brook Street trilogy." - Book Reviews and More by Kathy
"I liked the commitment to friendship Rob and Linus shared. Their emotions and feelings were portrayed well and the depth of their relationship was obvious." - Fiction Vixen
"I enjoyed Rogues and thought it was a really nice end to a great series. The three books tie together nicely, but still allow readers to jump in and pick up any of them with no problems. I really liked these Brook Street books and would definitely recommend the series." - Joyfully Jay
"The couple and their story drew me in and I couldn't put this book down" - Seductive Musings