Anders has outdone herself with Hell’s Belle from cover photo to her last words: The End.
I especially identified with the bespectacled ‘bluestocking’ heroine with an insatiable thirst for knowledge that ranged from salacious to toxicology.
Miss Goodnight had as much trouble keeping her glass in her spectacles as she did keeping her nose and good intentions out of other’s affairs.
Her foray into Mentula playing and swiving with Marcus made for a lively story and slightly more romantically erotic read.
Well done, Annabelle Anders and thank you so much for the arc.
https://youtu.be/EzFqUPERnxw Check out the link for Hell’s Belle trailer
Here is a special treat – an excerpt from book four in the Devilish Debutantes:
HELL OF A LADY
(Devilish Debutantes, Book 4)
DON’T UNDERSTAND it, Emily. It’s not as though I’m
any different this year. I’m the same person I’ve
always been. Heaven knows my dowry’s as small as it ever
was.” Normally Rhoda wasn’t one to question good
fortune but the past year had turned her into something of
For upon her wrist, attached to the string her mother
had tied earlier, Miss Rhoda Mossant possessed a full
dance card for the first time in all of her ten and nine years.
Not once since coming out two years ago had she ever had
more than a third accounted for.
Well, tonight, a masculine name was scribbled onto
every single line.
“Likely something to do with St. John’s affections last
year. If a marquess finds you interesting…” Her friend and
fellow wallflower, Emily, scrunched her nose and twisted
her lips into a wry grimace.
The gentlemen of the ton, usually oblivious to her pres-
ence, had pounced upon Rhoda the moment she set foot in
the ballroom, vying to place their names upon her card.
Once they’d procured a set, a few even bestowed their
attentions upon Emily, although with less enthusiasm.
But why? The question niggled at her as she bent down
to adjust her slipper.
The supper dance was next to commence, and her feet
already ached. She hadn’t been prepared to partake in such
vigorous exercise this evening. She certainly hadn’t
prepared to be the belle of the ball.
Rhoda peeked up from the polished boots that ap-
peared before her, but didn’t immediately recognize the
vaguely familiar gentleman executing an awkward bow.
As she sat upright again, a flush crept up her neck and
into her cheeks. Rhoda usually didn’t forget a handsome
face. Well, she hadn’t before… Blond hair, blue eyes, ah
“Mr. White.” Mr. Justin White, the vicar. She stopped
herself from gasping. She’d not met with him since the day
Lord Harold had died last summer, easily one of the worst
days of her life.
Second only to the day she’d been informed of St.
John’s passing. She shivered as she pushed the though
“Please, sit down.” She indicated the chair Emily had
vacated to… Rhoda glanced around the room. Where had
She hadn’t much time as the next set was soon to begin.
She’d promised this one to Lord Kensington, of all people.
She could endure the vicar’s company until the Earl came
to claim her. Mr. White was a vicar, after all. One could
not simply ignore a vicar.
He smiled grimly and lowered himself to the seat. “I
hope you are doing well.” He cleared his throat. If he felt as awkward as she did then why had he approached her?
Likely, he felt the need to inquire as to her spiritual
health. The collar he wore set him quite apart from the
other more ornately dressed gentlemen.
And was she doing well in the spiritual sense?
She would have laughed, but if she were to begin laughing,
it might turn to hysteria. And quite possibly, she’d be unable to stop.
She wasn’t sure she could be “well” again. Ever since
that weekend. It had been the last time she’d seen St. John
and Lord Harold alive. And the other one.
“I am well. And you, Mr. White?” She slanted him a
sideways glance. He’d been witness to Harold’s death, as well. The men were all cousins, from what she remembered Mr. White had nearly jumped into the sea to rescue poor Harold. He’d remained hopeful longer than anyone
else. Even longer than his own brother.
His persistence might have had something to do with
“It has been a trying winter,” the vicar answered. “But
with springtime, always comes hope.” He spoke sincerely.
No mockery in his words whatsoever.
“Is it presumptuous of me to hope that I might claim a
set with you?”
Good heavens! He wanted to dance with her too?
“I’m afraid, sir, they have all been spoken for.” When
his eyebrows rose in surprise, she held out her wrist. She
could hardly believe it herself. “I’m not fibbing, Mr. White!
I wouldn’t lie to a vicar!”
He shook his head, not bothering to examine the card.
Instead, he stared down at his own hands, clasped together
at the space between his knees. His blond hair, longer than
was fashionable, fell forward, hiding his profile from her gaze.
“I do not wish to bring to mind unhappy memories,
Miss Mossant, but I never had the chance to tell you how
much I admired your composure, and compassion on that
dreadful day. I do not know that your friend could have
endured it without your strength and comfort. I’ve often
wanted to tell you this, and when I realized you were here
tonight…” His throat worked as he swallowed what else he
His words surprised her.
She barely remembered the accident itself, often dwelling
instead, upon everything that happened… afterwards.
Their assembled group had been sitting atop the cliff,
drinking wine and sharing a lovely picnic. Rhoda had been
upset with St. John’s attention to another lady. Today, she
could not even recall the woman’s name. Her presence,
however, had mattered greatly at the time.
Lord Harold had been in a good-humored mood as he
joked about falling into the sea, and St. John had goaded
him, it seemed.
And then it was not a joke anymore.
Lord Harold had lost his balance and tumbled over the
edge of the cliff. He’d been standing there, laughing one
moment, and the next he simply disappeared. He’d ceased
Sophia had lurched forward, as though she would jump
into the crashing waves below to save him.
Yes, Rhoda had caught her friend, held her back as
Sophia sobbed and cried out her husband’s name.
“She is my friend.” Rhoda answered truthfully. “I
would do anything for her.” And she had. God save my
“Miss Mossant, my set, I believe.” Dressed in a cream-
colored jacket and an embroidered turquoise waistcoat, the
Earl of Kensington could not be more dissimilar than the
vicar. His breeches were practically molded to his thighs
and she thought that perhaps his stockinged calves were
padded. The heels on his buckled shoes would ensure that
he stood taller than her, in spite of her own above-average
Rhoda had thought to refuse him, but in doing so
would have had to decline other offers as well. Cecily
wasn’t here. Regardless, she’d understand. A lady could not
refuse such a request. Not if she wished to dance with any
others that night.
Rhoda twisted her mouth into a welcoming smile.
He’d lied and tricked Cecily. Rhoda knew he was not
to be trusted. And yet, here he stood, all affability,
affluence, and charm.
He’d paid for his misdeeds. Perhaps he deserved a second
chance. In spite of what he’d done to her friend…
She turned to Mr. White and nodded. “If you’ll excuse
me, sir.” She rose, eager to escape the memories this man
And then, placing one hand on Lord Kensington’s arm,
she allowed herself to be whisked onto the dance floor for
the lively set. Taking her position, she determined to forget
the unfortunate encounter. She ought to be having the time
of her life tonight!
Dancers all around her smiled and laughed as they
executed the well-known steps. Despite his despicable past,
Lord Kensington was a handsome and charming gentle-
Initially, as they executed the steps of the dance, he was
discreet in his appreciation of her. But then… a lingering
touch here. An inappropriately close brush of his body.
Toward the end of the dance, he stood closer than was
necessary and allowed his hands to remain upon her person
longer than she found comfortable. She hoped no one else
A lady’s reputation was all she had.
A time or two, she caught Mr. White watching her with
something akin to disapproval.
Which bothered her.
She barely knew the man. She hoped to never speak
with him again, as a matter of fact. They shared something
tragic together, and each time she saw him, the terrible
emotions of that day would resurface. Such a phenomenon
did not lend itself to friendship.
Rhoda stretched her lips into a smile. The music slowed
to a halt and Lord Kensington tucked her arm into his.
His face was slightly flushed and his eyes bright. “My
dear Miss Mossant, it’s ever so hot in here. Shall we forgo
the remainder of the set and take some air?” Without
allowing her to answer, his hold upon her elbow tightened
and he led her toward the terrace.
Flavion Nottingham’s scent was heady. At one point,
she’d considered him desirable, indeed, but now she felt nothing. She knew him for who he was, as did the rest of the ton.
But he was an Earl, and as they had always done in the
past, they embraced him.
She had nothing to fear. The man was no longer, in
truth, a man… No need to flutter her eyelashes at him,
encourage his preening boastfulness. Even though that was what gentlemen wanted. They wanted to feel their superiority
acutely. It was at least half of what made a man feel worthy.
There was no need to be wary of the Earl. Her mother
and sisters had attended the ball with her. Ought she to
locate one of them? After his rather unfortunate… accident,
Kensington was harmless.
Besides, well known to all, he had a wife and child at
Rhoda allowed herself to be led into the darkness out-
With an invisible moon tonight, stars twinkled dimly in
a mostly black sky and the glow of the candles inside the
ballroom failed to illuminate much through the windows.
Rhoda shivered as the earl’s arm slid around her waist.
His breath blew hot behind her ear. “Much better,
don’t you think?”
Much better for what? The air? Was that what he referred
to, the fresh air?
Somehow she doubted it. She should have located her
mother. “I’m fine, nonetheless, my lord. I wish to return
inside now.” She slowed her pace and resisted him at last.
He chuckled. “Ah, so, you wish to play hard to get,
Miss Mossant? Make you feel more like a lady?” He spun
her in his arms and shoved her off the path, behind one of
the tall hedges.
And then his mouth landed on hers.
Stunned, Rhoda pushed against his chest and twisted
her head. The taste of whiskey and cigars evoking a wave
“Don’t play games with me.” He was stronger than he
looked. One arm held her in place and the other hitched
her skirt higher.
How had this happened? In the matter of a few seconds,
she went from casually strolling through the Countess of Crabtree’s garden to fighting off a vicious attack! She kicked out at him, but as her slippers encountered his boots, she realized the futility of such a strategy.
“Stop it, my lord!” She tried imploring him. Perhaps
she had been too passive, allowing him to touch her as he
had throughout the dance. Had he thought she wanted him to do this? “My lord, stop! Please! I don’t want—”
But his mouth smothered her pleas.
Real panic set in. The man’s hand was now clutching at
her bare leg. “Ah, yes, you like a little fight, eh?” He
ground their teeth together. Rhoda didn’t know if the
blood she tasted was his or her own.
“The lady has asked you to stop, Kensington. I suggest
you honor her request.”
Thank heavens! The voice of her rescuer sounded
Pausing his assault, Kensington lifted his mouth from
hers and tensed. “Walk away, White. You know nothing of
Mr. White! “Stop My Lord! Let me go!” Rhoda took
advantage of Flavion’s momentary distraction and pushed
at him with all her might. Surprised at what was poking
into her stomach, she drew back her knee and then shot it
forward in as swift a motion as she could make.
Flavion released her instantly and bent over forward.
“You bitch!” he bit out.
But Rhoda wasn’t going to wait around to listen to
insults. And neither, it seemed, was Mr. White. For he’d
taken hold of her arm and practically dragged her toward
the manor. Once safely on the terrace, he slowed their pace
and tucked her hand upon his arm. “Such a lovely night for
a stroll.” His voice sounded surprisingly calm and matter of
He’d realized, of course, that they were no longer
alone. She hoped she didn’t look as distraught as she felt.
There were other couples present who had been drawn
outside by the fresh air. Lady Smyth and Lord Harris
nodded in their direction as they strolled by. He touched
his thumb to her lip, as though she were a child, and then
patted her arm reassuringly.
“Remind me never to anger you, Miss Mossant.” He