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Excerpt from The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

by Mackenzi Lee

The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee X
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2018, 464 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2020, 480 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag
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But now he's giving me a cream puff and recollecting. Telling me how fond he is of me.

I jump when he takes my hand across the table—an impulsive, lunging gesture. He pulls away just as fast, and I feel terrible for startling, so I hold my hand out in invitation and let him try again. His palms are sweating and my grip so unenthusiastic I imagine it must be akin to cuddling a filleted fish.

"Felicity," he says, and then again, "I'm very fond of you."

"Yes," I say.

"Very fond."

"Yes." I try to focus on what he's saying and not of how to get my hand out of his without hurting his feelings and also if there's any possible scenario in which I can walk away from this with that cream puff but without having to do any more than hold his hand.

"Felicity," he says again, and when I look up, he's leaning across the table toward me with his eyes closed and his lips jutting out.

And here it is. The inevitable kiss.

When Callum and I first met, I had been lonely enough to not only accept his employment, but also the companionship that came with it, which gave him the idea that men often get in their heads when a woman pays some kind of attention to them: that it was a sign I want him to smash his mouth—and possibly other body parts—against mine. Which I do not.

But I close my eyes and let him kiss me.

There is more of a lunge into the initial approach than I would prefer, and our teeth knock in a way that makes me wonder if there's a business in selling Dr. John Hunter's newly advertised live tooth transplants to women who have been kissed by overly enthusiastic men. It's nowhere near as unenjoyable as my only previous experience with the act, though just as wet and just as dispassionate a gesture, the oral equivalent of a handshake.

Best to get it over with, I think, so I stay still and let him press his lips to mine, feeling as though I'm being stamped like a ledger. Which is apparently the wrong thing to do, because he stops very abruptly and falls back into his chair, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that."

"No, it's all right," I say quickly. And it was. It hadn't been hostile or forced upon me. Had I turned away, I know he wouldn't have chased me. Because Callum is a good man. He walks on the outside of the pavement so he takes the splash of the carriage wheels through the snow instead of me. He listens to every story I tell, even when I know I've been taking up more than my share of the conversation. He stopped adding almonds to the sweet breads when I told him almonds make my throat itch.

"Felicity," Callum says, "I'd like to marry you." Then he drops off his chair and lands with a hard thunk against the floor that makes me concerned for his kneecaps. "Sorry, I got the order wrong."

I almost drop too—though not in chivalry. I'm feeling far fainter in the face of matrimony than I did at the sight of half a finger in the dishwater. "What?"

"Did you ..." He swallows so hard I see his throat travel the entire course of his neck. "Did you not know I was going to ask you?"

In truth, I had expected nothing more than a kiss but suddenly feel foolish for thinking that was all he wanted from me. I fumble around for an explanation for my willful ignorance and only come up with "We hardly know each other!"

"We've known each other almost a year," he replies.

"A year is nothing!" I protest. "I've had dresses I wore for a year and then woke up one morning and thought, 'Why am I wearing this insane dress that makes me look like a terrier mated with a lobster?'"

"You never look like a lobster," he says.

"I do when I wear red," I say. "And when I blush. And my hair is too red. And I wouldn't have time to plan a wedding right now because I'm busy. And tired. And I have so much to read. And I'm going to London!"

Excerpted from The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. Copyright © 2018 by Mackenzi Lee. Excerpted by permission of Katherine Tegan Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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