Four years ago, Victor Hawthorn, son of Viscount Blackmar, traveled to the country estate of wealthy merchant, Mr. Thompson. What Hawthorn thought to be a quiet holiday in the country with his parents turned into a betrothal and quick marriage by Special License to a Miss Charlotte Thompson, who was soon to be sixteen.
I can assure you that Hawthorn did nothing untoward, nor was Miss Thompson ruined. Hawthorn married Charlotte to save his family.
You see, Viscount Blackmar managed to get himself so deeply in debt that the family was on the verge of complete ruin. Mr. Thompson had taken advantage of the situation and had purchased every note of indebtedness, which he promised to forgive and provide a substantial settlement if Hawthorn married the man’s daughter. This sacrifice of the young couple meant that Hawthorn’s younger siblings would not suffer because of their father, and Thompson would finally gain a title for his family once his daughter produced a son and that son inherited.
The betrothal lasted all of twelve hours and the couple married the following day. Hawthorn promptly took his young bride north where he deposited her on an estate he had inherited and then returned to London.
For the past four years the ton has anxiously awaited the appearance of Mrs. Hawthorn, but her husband never saw the need to bring her to Town, which resulted in much speculation, especially since it was common knowledge that he had never once visited after he left her all alone in Willanton.
We thought for certain that when the father died and he became Viscount Blackmar that he’d retrieve his wife and do his duty, yet he did not, and one had to wonder if he ever would.
That all changed one evening at Whites when Baron Percival Jordan was heard telling Blackmar, “I did not know your wife four years ago, but I do know her now. If she were mine, I would not be here.”
I am to understand that Viscount Blackmar hightailed it out of London the following day to retrieve the wife that he had absented himself from these last four years.
One does wonder what he may find once he arrives.
LINKS FOR ENTICED BY A GOVERNESS:
RELEASE DATE OF ENTICED BY A GOVERNESS: January 31, 2023
EXCERPT from ENTICED BY A GOVERNESS:
“So, we finally meet.” As a smile graced his lips, a small dimple appeared on the left side.
“It appears so.” Charlotte turned away from him. He was so much more handsome when he smiled. A girl couldn’t think straight looking at him. “You were not supposed to meet me until tomorrow.”
“Yes, I know,” he said coming to stand beside her. “But my curiosity got the better of me.”
“They say curiosity killed the cat,” Charlotte mumbled.
Victor chuckled. “In this case curiosity only brought relief.”
Charlotte tipped her head so that she could study him from the corner of her eye, skeptical of his words.
“Your appearance has been much of a mystery, and after overhearing my parents, as you did, I feared my imagination had me marrying a witch with a huge wart on the end of her nose.”
Charlotte laughed lightly. At least she wasn’t that ugly, she hoped.
“I do apologize for their words. I can only offer that they are rude and smug for no reason other than they feel entitled to belittle others because they are in possession of a title.”
“It is not necessary to apologize for what many believe is the truth,” she explained.
Mr. Hawthorn pulled back and opened his mouth to speak but said nothing. He likely wished to insist that they were wrong but could not bring himself to lie to her.
“How old are you?” There was hesitation in his voice.
She looked young, that she knew, but had her father failed to mention her age in all of this? “Fifteen, soon to turn sixteen.”
He stilled and she could almost feel the tension radiate from him. Was it too much to hope that he would stomp off and refuse the marriage, or insist that it take place when she was older?
After a moment he heaved a sigh and settled on the hillside and invited her to sit. “As we have been given this opportunity, we might as well become acquainted.”
“We should not be out here together.” She had never been alone with a man before, let alone anyone who looked like him.
Mr. Hawthorn smiled up at her. “As we are marrying tomorrow, I see no harm.”
Charlotte sank to her knees beside him. “You are still going to marry me?” She couldn’t believe he wasn’t trying to find a way to back out of the agreement. His family must really be in a most dire financial state.
Charlotte Hawthorn had everything she could ever want. She lived alone, enjoyed freedoms that few women ever experience, was a governess and an artist, and she had not seen her husband in four years. Theirs was a marriage in name only, a convenience.
Victor Hawthorn, Viscount Blackmar, had not wanted to marry a stranger at the age of one and twenty. However, when a wealthy merchant purchased all his father’s debts, Victor was given the choice to either marry the man’s soon-to-be sixteen-year-old daughter or his family would face complete ruination. Victor had chosen marriage then left his young bride on a small estate and returned to his life.
When he reluctantly returns four years later, Victor doesn’t find the girl he left behind, but an enticing, independent woman who not only creates beautiful art but would rather be a governess than married to him. Will they find their way to love and happiness or will all be ruined by an enemy who sets out to destroy their future?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
USA Today bestselling author Jane Charles is a prolific writer of over fifty historical and contemporary romance novels. Her love of research lends authenticity to her Regency romances, and her experience directing theatre productions helps her craft beautiful, touching stories that tug at the heartstrings. Jane is an upbeat and positive author dedicated to giving her characters happy-ever-afters and leaving the readers satisfied at the end of an emotional journey. Lifelong Cubs fan, world traveler and mother of three amazing children, Jane lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two dogs and a cat. She is currently writing her next book and planning her dream trip to England. Be sure to join Jane on Facebook @JaneCharlesAuthor for Wine Pairings Wednesdays.
Jane’s Reader Group – Romance & Rosé: https://www.facebook.com/groups/romanceandrose