Rothgar e Diana : uno splendido esempio di tensione erotica

DEVILISH , pubblicato in italia nei Romanzi Mondadori con il titolo Il Consigliere del Re, è uno dei miei romanzi indimenticabili per un sacco di ragioni, non ultima la capacità che Jo Beverley ha di entrare a fondo nella psicologia dei suoi personaggi. Eccone un assaggio:
In questa scena Rothgar e tutti i Malloren arrivano a Arradale dove si terrà il matrimonio fra Rosa, cugina di Diana, e Brand, fratello di Rothgar. Diana rivede Rothgar dopo un certo periodo di tempo e vorrebbe poter avvicinarsi all'incontro con maggiore freddezza, emulare l' altero distacco di lui che è uno degli uomini più famosi del regno per nascita e per il suo impegno come consigliere del sovrano, ma il suo ricordo è sempre vivo nella sua testa . Come è stato detto : a volte il cuore ha ragioni che la ragione non conosce ...


Ho messo in grassetto le mie parti preferite!

(...) Three days, Diana told herself as she waited for the her gatekeeper’s horn to announce the arrival of the Malloren carriages. He would be here for only three days. She could navigate those three days without crashing into any kind of disaster.
Despite reason, however, when the distant horn blasted, every nerve jumped. In days gone by, that horn had belonged to the castle lookout and had warned of enemies. Perhaps some memory of that ran in her blood, causing her heart to race, her mouth to dry.
She struggled for common sense. This was not an invasion. It was a house party and a wedding. She would be the perfect lady, the marquess would be the perfect gentleman, and in three days they would part again.
With luck, this time forever.
“Diana?”
She swung to face her mother. The dowager countess was complicating everything by hearing not one set of wedding bells, but two. She’d decided Diana’s nervousness was due to a fondness for the marquess.
“That, I assume, is the Mallorens,” her mother said blandly. “Are you not going down to greet them?”
“Yes, of course, Mother.”
Her mother’s lips curled up in an almost mischievous smile. “You’ve turned Arradale inside out to get it ready, dear, and you’ve been pacing this room for the past hour, yet now you dither. What is the matter with you?”
Not maidenly flutters, Mother.
“Nothing,” said Diana, forcing a smile and hurrying away from that knowing look.
Diana’s mother had never been able to understand her motives for remaining unmarried. She saw the responsibilities of the earldom as a terrible burden, not an exciting challenge. She was stubbornly convinced that her daughter was just seeking the right man, and hopeful that in the marquess, she had found him.
The last man in the world to be suitable.
Swishing down the wide stairs into the paneled front hall, Diana hoped the next few days wouldn’t push her mother to embarrassing lengths. She clung to one comfort. The marquess was as determined to avoid marriage as she was.
The carriages would still be making their way up the drive, so Diana paused to assess herself in the great, gilded mirror. She had chosen her appearance with great care.
When she and the marquess had last met he’d been trying to kidnap her cousin Rosa. With her own pistol and a small army of men from the estate, she had stopped him. She didn’t regret it. It was possibly the most glorious moment of her life. However, today she had dressed to remind him that she was above all a lady.
Her gown was pale yellow sprigged with cream blossoms, and she wore simple pearls in her ears, and on a cream ribbon around her throat. Her hair curled from under a cap of muslin and ribbons frivolous enough to be silly, and she even wore one of the fashionable, purely ornamental aprons of silk gauze and lace. Her glowing complexion was slightly deadened by powder.
She raised her hands, palms toward her face, so her eight rings flashed in the mirror. No matter how soft and sweet she wanted to appear, she could not bear to be without them, even though they’d betrayed her once to the marquess. In fact, she was wearing exactly the same betraying baubles that she’d worn last time she’d welcomed him to Arradale.
He had a reputation for uncanny observation and omniscience, so he should remember every one. He would recognize the challenge. She was a lady, but she was also the Countess of Arradale.
And he was on her land.
Judging the moment, she walked toward the great doors. Her footmen swung them open, letting sunshine flood in, and she saw four grand traveling carriages coming to a halt in front of the double sweep of steps. Three others, doubtless containing baggage and servants, had turned off to go around to the back of the house.
Seven! And outriders, she saw. She traveled in state herself, but this was excessive, even for a whole family. They were also bringing children, which had required an overhaul of the long-unused nurseries. Only the Mallorens would do something so extravagantly absurd.
Just three days, she told herself as she walked unhurriedly through the open doors, concealing a rapid heartbeat. Gracious smile in place, she raised her wide skirts a little and walked down the steps to greet the people climbing out of the carriages. Silently, she rehearsed cool, courteous words of welcome, but then she saw a lady being handed down from the second coach and forgot decorum.
“Rosa!” she cried, and ran forward to meet her cousin and dearest friend in a crushing hug. They’d not met for nine months.
It was some moments before she realized she’d abandoned her hostess duties entirely. Blushing, she dragged her attention away from her happy and healthy friend to apologize. As she wiped some tears from her eyes, she found herself face to face with an amused Lord Brand Malloren.
With russet hair tied simply back, and his tanned face shaped by smiles, he was perfect for Rosa. He had even forgiven Diana for trying to shoot him.
While speaking to Lord Brand, however, Diana found herself hardly able to think or speak coherently.
He was nearby. She couldn’t see him, yet she knew. Ridiculous, but she felt him behind her as a sudden hot prickle down her spine.
Somehow she made a sensible end of one conversation and turned, hoping she was mistaken, that he was elsewhere and it had been only imagination, or the sun.
The marquess stood there, however, only feet away and patiently awaiting. Had he always had that kind of effect on her, or was this some new torment?
“Lord Rothgar!” she declared, praying that her racing heart wasn’t obvious, and desperately following her script. “How fortunate we are to have you here in Arradale once more.”
He kissed her hand. It was the very lightest, proper brush in the air above her knuckles, and yet his fingers on hers were another shocking sensation.
Perdition. This was what came of thinking so much of a man for a year!
“The good fortune is all ours, Lady Arradale. Especially as you are willing to house a massing of Mallorens.”
No sign that he was affected. She slipped her hand free. “For Rosa’s wedding?” she said lightly. “For that, I would welcome a massing of monsters, my lord.”
“Then you should manage to survive us. Permit me to introduce you.”
With a light touch on her elbow he directed her to a family emerging from a coach beyond, but even that formal touch seemed to cause sparks. Seeking help, she cast a look toward Rosa, but her cousin was smiling up at Lord Brand, blind to the world.
“Indeed,” the marquess murmured as if she’d spoken. “They behave like that all the time. How fortunate are we who have renounced such weakening folly.”
If he’d planned to help steady her mind, he could not have found better words. She gathered every scrap of calm dignity as she approached the family.
It consisted of husband, wife, and four children ranging in age from toddler to about eight.
“Lord and Lady Steen,” he said, “the lady being my sister Hilda. The infantry are endlessly confusing, so I will let them do the honors.”
Despite this, the smallest child, topped with rod-straight brown hair, trotted over with a big smile and open arms, announcing something that sounded like, “Unkabay! Unkabay!”
The marquess astonished Diana by picking him up, though with an audible sigh. “This is Arthur Groves, Lady Arradale, a lad of no discrimination, as you can see. He’d make friendly overtures to a tiger.” Certainly the boy, arm confidently around his uncle’s neck, didn’t seem to be wary of teeth.
Diana almost felt bitten herself. She had prepared to meet the Dark Marquess, but what was she to do with this man? The Dark Marquess did not carry infants around!
“My brother is at his wit’s end.”
Diana turned dazedly to Lady Steen. She was what Diana was beginning to think of as a “red Malloren” though her hair was a soft brown just highlighted with warmer tones. Her easy smile was very like Lord Brand’s, however.
“It’s hard to be the eminence noire of England,” the lady continued, “with a grubby infant following you everywhere you go.”
A glance showed Diana that far from being at his wit’s end, the eminence noire appeared completely at his ease, and was engaged in a conversation of some sort with the child about the horses. On little Arthur’s side it involved a great deal of babbling and pointing, but anyone would think it was wisdom by the marquess’s attention and rational responses.
She mustn’t notice, she decided, many seconds too late. She mustn’t look, listen, or pay any kind of attention to things like that. He was the Dark Marquess, and she would ignore him as much as possible over the next three days.
(...)
The marquess, still uncomplainingly burdened with the chattering child, presented her to a man as dark and dramatic as himself. As Diana greeted Lord Bryght Malloren, she thought that this was what she had expected from them all.
He was possibly the handsomest man she’d ever seen. Dark and lean, with very fine eyes and a slightly cynical manner, he was designed to turn any woman to jelly on the spot. This, she was armored to resist.
His wife was the shock, being short, slight, and almost plain, with red hair and an embarrassment of freckles. To make it worse, as she welcomed them, the two shared a flashing moment of eye contact that might as well have screamed love, passion, and abiding understanding.
“Yes,” murmured the marquess as they moved on. “More of the besotted. I warn you, it appears to be contagious. It’s roared through my family in short order. I am immune, of course, but you must take your chances.”
“I am immune, too, my lord, I assure you.”
“You cannot imagine my relief, since I am the only unattached male present. We can sit together of an evening in an enclave of disinfection.”
She laughed, but wondered if any of her panic rang through it. He was right. He and she were the odd couple in this company! They couldn’t be thrown together by that. They couldn’t. A few minutes in his company was assuring her that she hadn’t imagined the effect he could have on her.
And then—dear heaven!—there were the sleeping arrangements.
Even in a house as grand as Arradale, this number of guests required all the good bedrooms. She slept in the earl’s suite, but her mother had long since vacated the countess’s rooms for different ones elsewhere. Someone had had to be allocated the “Countess’s Chambers,” and so she had decided the marquess could sleep there—not without a touch of malice. They were decorated in an extremely feminine style.
She had not thought that they were truly adjoining, nor how it might appear to others.
Lud! Was there any way to change things at this late date?
Young Arthur suddenly demanded to be put down, and he ran to join a red-haired lad who was only just steady on his feet, clinging to a maidservant’s hand.
“Our son, Francis,” said Lord Bryght, strolling over to give his own hand to the child, then swinging him into his arms, to a crow of delight. “We don’t expect you to remember which is which or whose is whose, Lady Arradale,” continuing to play a swinging game that had the child fizzing with delight. “There’s always hope that they’ll stay out of sight and hearing.”
His wife snorted with laughter. Diana just tried not to gape. Dark, dramatic, rakish men were not supposed to be adoring fathers!
Lord Rothgar steered her toward the last coach. “I fear Portia is right, though at least your house is much larger than the inns, some of which may wish never to see us again.”
Humor and tolerance, now. Diana was perilously adrift. She no longer knew what might come next, or how she should behave, or how to protect herself.
Or even, exactly what she needed to protect herself from.
(...)
She reviewed plans for the rest of the day.
They’d all spend time now in their rooms recovering from the journey. Dinner next, but she’d already arranged the seating with herself and the marquess at opposite ends of the table. Afterward, music and cards, which should keep everyone occupied and allow her to stay out of his way.
Tomorrow was the wedding. It was going to be all right—
(...)
Diana turned to say something light before escaping, but paused when she saw his expression. “Are you all right, my lord?”
The look of strain vanished, though he still seemed pale. “A slight headache, that is all,” he said, adding with a rueful smile, “The acoustics of this hall, however, are astonishing.”
Diana found herself returning that smile, a smile which conveyed the notion that they were the only sane people in an insane world.
Oh, but this was dangerous. She hastily made her escape, heading for the estate office, where no guest could pursue.
It didn’t seem to help. That smile had seemed to spin a dangerous, silken thread between them, a thread that did not break even when she was safe, the door closed firmly behind her. (...)
(Copyright by Jo Beverley)
ROTHGAR LO IMMAGINO ....
CON LO STESSO SGUARDO DI GHIACCIO...BOLLENTE   DI RALPH FIENNES
  • Per leggere scene inedite fra Rothgar e Diana tagliate in Secrets of the Night,vai a Rothgar and his world link indispensabile per chi è appassionata di Devilish e del suo periodo storico .

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