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Our great hero weds a widow and promises only companionship?

Dear Reader, 

I have it on best authority from servants in the house of a relative of the bride-to-be that our illustrious Hound of the Cavalry, decorated as he is and a newly minted earl, weds a widow today!  This is such a loss to our many younger ladies who had hoped for a chance to enchant him!

We understand however that he has made promises to his new wife that they shall be forever just friends. Friends?

Does he not deserve more?

The comfort of a loving wife? The joy of children? The certainty that his  line will be continued?

We are astonished that the lady would agree. But then, we’ve also heard that she requested this celibacy herself? What could possibly be her reason? Did she love her first husband so much? Did she promise him abstention? If so, where is her duty and her loyalty to her new husband?

Where is her love for him?

THE LYON’S SHARE by Cerise DeLand

She’d spend every last penny to marry again for security, comfort—or even friendship.

He’d win her wager, possess her, keep her for himself—even if he’d never win her love.

Excerpt, All rights reserved. Copyright Cerise DeLand 2022.

(Their wedding day in London.)

Sydney’s good friend and now his new brother-in-law, Henry, Lord Norbridge, handed him a whisky. “Welcome to the fold. Marlowe women are a unique brood.”

Sidney emptied his glass. Nerves were not a condition in which he usually indulged. “I’m pleased to be among you.”

“Do not say that too loudly.” Henry considered the three men younger than he who stood to one side of the bishop by the piano. “Our other brothers-in-law will have a thing or two to add to buck you up for the challenge.”

“Come now, Henry. You don’t want to frighten me off. I’ve had enough trouble getting this done.”

Henry clinked glasses with him. “Good job, too. However, I understand from my best source that we are still denying how good this union can be.”

Sidney frowned even as his heart swelled with the sight of his bride who stood across the room talking with her four sisters. “Adriana appears happy and …” Blast it. “Resigned to the match.”

“I hope you have plans to hasten her along. She’s been at this mourning business much too long and I dare say, it grows tedious. She needs to buck up.”

“I do agree.” I’d have her forget about Paul and focus her every thought on me.

Across the room, his new wife threw back her head to laugh at some remark of one of her sisters. Sidney vowed one day he’d make her do that whilst talking to him. She was a glory when happy. 

“Give yourself joy in this too, Sidney. You deserve it. Don’t let her cow you into a friendship with no…”

“Benefits? Yes.” He absorbed the delicate beauty of his bride. How tall she was, how elegant, her long fingers and lithe limbs. Her lovely firm breasts. Her troth was his. Her vows. Her honor. But he had yearned for decades for more. Without hope too had he pined. Like a schoolboy. Watching Paul take her hand, help her to mount her horse or a carriage, embracing her in jest or passion. 

His gaze swept down her form, her plump breasts spanning a gown of citron green velvet. She shifted to speak with one of her nieces and one long leg pulled the fabric taut to accentuate her limb. He wanted to run his hands up her leg, her arms, each inch of her. And how long could he wait to have her like that?

Forever, man. You vowed.

He put down his glass on a footman’s tray. “I have plans to draw her to me. But I have promised myself and Dove-Lyon, if she never wishes it, I will not pressure her.”

“A damn lonely way to live your life, my friend. You are Middlethorpe now. You have responsibilities.”

“That I know.”

“And needs.”

His gaze locked on Henry’s. “Never worry about that.”

“But I do. It is not natural what you promise. And I know how you truly regard my sister-in-law.”

He went to dust. “You will never say.”

“No, never. I would not break your trust. But damn it, Sidney, I like you as you are. I don’t want to see you turn bitter because you sold yourself into a bad bargain.”

“I fought one war, Henry. I can fight this one, too.”

“Can you?” His friend shook his head, weary. “It’s one thing to fight a foe with sabers and pistols. This opponent is yourself. Your very nature. Your every des—”

He clamped his hand on Henry’s shoulder. He’d had many women for a night, for the comfort and relief. One lovely French countess he’d kept in Paris last year for a month. “I will be well. I have girded myself with my own forbearance.”

“Which is strong, I do hope.”

Love. “The very stuff of life.” He smiled at his friend. “Forgive me now. I must take her away.” And begin my next campaign. The hardest one of all will be to become her best friend—and remain celibate.

The Lyon’s Share, the story

Adriana, Lady Benton, has many regrets—and one hope. To wed a good man to gain a life to which she is entitled. One free of sorrow, penury and ridicule. Appealing to Mrs. Dove-Lyon, Adriana hopes to attract one man who may appreciate her assets. But never need her love.

Colonel Sidney Wolf, once hailed as the ruthless ‘Hound of the Horse Guards’, vows to end Adriana’s hardships. He’s home from the wars and faces the daunting task of filling his father’s role as the Earl of Middlethorpe. Believing only Adriana will do as his helpmate, he strikes a deal with Dove-Lyon that brings him the one woman he admires. The one woman he tells himself he can live with—and never touch.

But the nearness of his funny, charming, beautiful bride drives him mad. Knowing she will never love other than her first husband, can he keep his hands—and his heart to himself?

And if he doesn’t, can she ever forgive him?

Cerise DeLand is the USA Today Bestselling author of romantic fiction starring sassy ladies and the charming men who adore them!

In KU on Amazon:  https://amzn.to/3bc6ri3

 

 

Tell no one! A lady calling upon a gentleman in her nightrail?

I write to you today to tell you of a most outlandish tale I heard. That of the Whiskey King’s daughter. (I dare not say her name.) And that she visited the Duke of M—’s son in her nightrail!

Now I know that seems impossible, but one of her neighbors swears it was she who scampered out of her house toward the duke’s.

Who else could it be? That man has no other girl so bold.

Or I do believe it to be so. What say you of his second child?

***

THE RAVEN’S LAST BET in THE WEDDING WAGER

BUY LINK: 

https://books2read.com/u/3JZQLJ

 

Desperate Sara Fleming decides the only way to escape her father’s plan is to make her newest betrothed a bet he can’t refuse.

Never good at gambling, Harry Seymour bets he can find a better way to win her heart! 

But he better hurry!

 Harry Seymour is home from years of fighting abroad to clean up the mess his roguish brother left upon his untimely death. Worse, his father, the Duke of Meredith, demands Harry honor a deal he made with his best friend to marry the man’s eldest daughter…for money.

Harry, who’s loved Sara Fleming since she was four, has no problem marrying her. He never did, even when she was denied him because she was the Whiskey King’s daughter. But not for money. 

Sara cannot accept the bargain her father made with the duke. She’s already left two men at the altar because she didn’t love either one. And if she can’t wed Harry for love, she’ll marry no one. But she wagers she’ll walk away happy if Harry will do her the favor of ruining her. It’s a bet Harry can’t refuse.

Can he?

Excerpt, All rights reserved. Copyright Cerise DeLand 2022.

        “Listen to me, Sara. I have a plan. It won’t be one either of our fathers likes but it might work.”

She pulled away. Peering into his magnificent eyes clouded her judgement. His green-brown orbs reflected a sadness in the faint lights that matched her own. “Tell me.”

“We announce that we intend to marry others.”

“I’ve already left two men alone before the vicar. Now there’s this gossip in the Gazette—?”

“Forget those other two men. And hang them at the Gazette.”

She put a hand to her hip. “We’ll send them new stories. Marvelous. I dislike your thinking, Harry. Totally. Marry another? Ba! Precisely who did you have in mind?” 

He gave her a look that said he had the right answer. “A man who makes you tingle.”

“Of whom there is no one.” Which is a lie.

“For each woman, there is a man. A perfect match.”

“I’ve not found him in four years. Why now?”

“You will lure him.”

 By some folly, to be sure. “How?”

A wicked gleam lit those iridescent eyes. “With kisses.”

“You expect me to kiss men?”

He shrugged a shoulder. “How else will you discover the right fellow?”

“How else will I go down as a scarlet woman? I’ve climbed enough fences barring me because I am of the dreaded merchant class. Papa’s money might continue to buy me entry, but if I degrade myself further, no one will touch me!”

He tipped up his chin. “You will be discreet. I will help.”

“You’ll bar doors?”

“And divert traffic.”

She scowled at him. “You’ve been away much too long, sir. You think me so brave. I am different from that child who tagged along behind you and tucked frogs in your pants.”

He scoffed. “Remind me. Who came to me night before last in her nightrail?”

”Dressing gown.”

He waved that away. “Exactly my point.”

Exasperated, she huffed. “The fault, dear Harry, is not in our stars, but in myself.”

“I agree.”

Oh, he infuriated her! “I do not know how to kiss.”

“And so you will learn.”

Only one way. She could barely say it. “By doing.”

“Indeed.” He winked. “With me.”

That way lay disaster and hopeless ruin. She’d should return to this party, because this was hopeless. She’d given up wanting him so long ago. Or thought she had. She threw up her hands. “Absurd.”

“Is it?” He took a step toward her, so near she inhaled his scent, imbibed his familiar allure that she could not allow to thrill her. “You said my kiss left you with no…what is the word?”

“You know perfectly well the word.”

“Tickle?”

If only. “Tingle.”

“Well then, my darling.” With one hand he caught her wrist while he swept his other hand around her waist. “Let’s see if this fits the bill.”

“No, stop!” Wonderful. Now she sounded like the village crier. 

“There, there. Don’t be shy. An experiment, eh?” He lifted her hand toward his mouth. “Or shall we call it…” he murmured, as he put her index finger, fully gloved, against the neat cleft in his chin, “…a demonstration? Visible to the naked eye.”

He smiled. Or was that the show of teeth of a predator? A creature who…gloated? 

He caught the point of her glove between his long white incisors. The act of a male bent on taking a bite of her, he tugged. The fabric slid along her finger, silk on silk, a glissade of shivering delight. Her glove glided from her elbow in a silent skim of her nerves. She shivered.

He halted. Glanced up at her, those long dark lashes of his rising to reveal the facets of a Harry she’d never known. A ravenous devil appeared there, one who pulled at another fingertip, starving for more of her until her hand was bare. Nipping her third finger and the next, he sent tremors up her spine. Her mouth fell open as he took her smallest finger, fabric and all, and bathed the whole of it in his hot moist mouth. His tongue served as succor—and as torture. 

She panted as if she’d run a mile. Her gaze glued to his voracious teeth, she dare not look away or lose a second. What he gave, she took. If it was instruction, it was also a revelation. Though she knew not how to interpret his lips to her fingers as lips to lips, she reveled in whatever he’d choose next. 

With a yank of his teeth, he pulled and her glove slid slowly down her arm and fell to the floor. She was bare to the night air, chilled and burning, as he caught her fingers and pressed them to his open mouth. He cupped her elbow, and her wrist was once more his. Bare skin gave him no pause, but encouragement to lift her hand once more. 

He groaned and crushed her torso fully against him. His possession, from her breasts to her hips, left her pulsing. 

He put her palm to his lips and licked the hollow of her hand. She moaned at his luscious homage and her knees gave way. As he caught her up, he bit the heal of her hand. She yelped. He gave a grunt, nigh unto laughter or triumph, she knew not which, then wrapped her arm around his waist. As he sweetly backed her to the wall, his hair fell loose over his brow and he focused on her lips. 

Then he took them.

Cerise DeLand is the USA TODAY Bestselling author of more than 60 historical romances…and a few other bits, too! 

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Triumph—or humiliation—for Lady Pandora?

It has come to this author’s attention that the mysterious Miss E—, about whom the most scandalous rumours have been circulating since the beginning of the Season, will be among the guests at Godstone Abbey. What can Lady Westfield—who is usually most discerning when selecting guests for her Christmas houseparty—be about?

Far be it for this author to cast aspersions on a young lady’s eligibility, but Miss E—, despite displaying  a soupçon of breeding on occasion, is not averse to using a turn of phrase which would make even a Cyprian blush, with her extensive catalogue of anatomical terms. Miss E—’s guardian, Sir A—E—, himself notorious for being what can only be described as a committed bachelor, has been decidedly unforthcoming over the circumstances by which the previously-unheard-of young woman became his ward six months ago. Young ladies don’t just spring fully formed from the ground, neither do they fall from the heavens. And, as every accomplished tattler knows, Dear Reader—the less one is willing to disclose about one’s origins, the more there is to be divulged.

What has piqued this author’s interest in particular, is the anticipation of Lady Pandora Osborne’s presence at Godstone. As the year draws to a close, Lady Pandora’s quest to prove herself the premier matchmaker the Ton has ever seen, enters its final act. She has one more match to make, to secure her crown, Godstone Abbey is to provide the backdrop for her finale.

And what a finale it promises to be! For, the intended bridegroom must be none other than the Duke of S—. And, while this author concedes that His Grace is the most eligible bachelor in England, he’s renowned for a degree of discernment that has hitherto rendered him notoriously difficult to catch. Many desperate mamas have tried—and failed—to secure him for their daughters.

Surely Lady Pandora cannot have elevated her ambitions so high as to consider a pairing between Miss E— and His Grace? While this author applauds her ladyship’s ambition, this final hurdle may prove unsurmountable, even for a thoroughbred of Lady Pandora’s tenacity.

If Miss E— is the intended bride, then Lady Pandora’s fate now lies on a knife’s edge. Either glittering triumph, or calamitous downfall awaits her.

A Christmas Wager

After surviving destitution, the orphaned Eleanor Hawkins re-enters society with a new identity, courtesy of her guardian, Sir Arthur Evans. With a penchant for pickpocketing, learned on London’s streets, Eleanor’s out for revenge on a society that abandoned her—especially Montague Lockhart, the man who broke her heart and brought about her downfall.

Lady Pandora Osborne is determined show her matchmaking prowess by securing a match between committed bachelor Montague Lockhart, Duke of Sedgewick, and Sir Arthur Evans’s new ward—an utterly unladylike young woman, whose origins are shrouded in mystery. Where better to achieve her aim than a Christmas houseparty, where mulled wine, mistletoe, and the season of goodwill is enough to tempt even the most miserly lord into love?

A Christmas Wager is part of The Wedding Wager anthology:

The Wedding Wager

Rival matchmakers…unlikely suitors…a Herculean wager!

Lady Pandora Osborne claims she’s the finest matchmaker the Ton has ever seen. When her cousin challenges her to make good on her claim, or lose a precious family heirloom, the terms of the wager are set! Lady Pandora must produce one match each month between the notoriously unmarriageable—spinsters, bluestockings, rakes and fortune-hunters.

This unique collection of tales of unlikely matches and steamy shenanigans in Regency England is released on September 27th, but can be pre-ordered at a discount here:

https://books2read.com/u/mdDpyX

Extract from A Christmas Wager

Still gazing at the chandelier, she walked forward, then collided with a solid wall of muscle.

“Pardon me,” a deep voice said, in a tone which made the apology sound like an insult.

Eleanor froze.

The arrogance in his tone was matched by the contempt in his eyes—clear blue eyes in a savagely handsome face, surrounded by a mane of thick black hair.

No…

He must be a figment of her imagination, made manifest by years of despair.

She closed her eyes, but though it brought about blessed darkness, the familiar scent invaded her nostrils—the scent which she’d once found so comforting, but now associated with betrayal.

When she opened her eyes, he was still there—tall, broad-shouldered, domineering.

And, most certainly—him.

“Oh!” Lady Westfield cried, breaking the spell. “Miss Evans, may I introduce Montague Lockhart—Duke of Sedgewick.” She turned to him. “Your Grace—this is Miss Evans.”

His attention, which had been focused on Lady Westfield, now turned to Eleanor, and she caught her breath, as her heart stuttered in her chest.

But he showed no sign of recognition. Instead, he clicked his heels together and gave the slightest of inclinations with his head.

“A pleasure, I’m sure.”

Then he turned his back, and walked away.

Bio & Socials

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Emily Royal is a mathematics geek who grew up in Sussex, England and has always had a passion for romance and bad boy heroes in need of redemption. She now lives in rural Scotland with her husband, two daughters and a menagerie of pets including Twinkle, an attention-seeking boa constrictor.

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What Happens at The Soho Club? Should Stay there!

That most scandalous of establishments, The Soho Club, is more popular than ever in Regency Society – and this time, there are festivities afoot.

You may recall that this unique and exclusive club maintains both a male and female membership. All appetites are welcome at The Soho Club, a haven for those who wish a moment’s indulgence away from prying eyes and scurrilous gossips. Only the premiere scandal sheet in the capital is even aware of this place where one’s most daring appetites are expected, encouraged, and even shared.

The Soho Club has only one rule: Discretion above all things. It’s the ‘all things’ that the members enjoy, because sharing secrets at Christmas time so often leads to love.

Eight steamy Regency romance novellas to ring in the season!

Heidi Wessman Kneale, The Freedom of a Widow
Master Bisou gives kissing lessons at The Soho Club, but what to do with a young widow, who wants to learn so much more?

Renée Dahlia, The Widow’s Modiste
Lady Merryam, widowed and bored, only attends the Soho Club’s latest ball to help raise funds for her son’s orphanage. The last thing she expects is a one night stand with the mysterious woman wearing ‘that’ dress. Could spending more time with her be the answer to her ennui?

Charlotte Anne, Violet Evergreen Seduces a Rogue
Wallflower Violet knows there’s more to the world than parties and fine gowns, and she’s determined to experience it all. With a little light bribery she convinces the great nonpareil of London’s gambling dens, Morgan Turner, to gift her some ‘experience’ at The Soho Club for Christmas.

Clyve Rose, The Case of the Black Diamond (Part II)

Much has changed since the events of Part I. Ada Ryan is caught up in her sister’s intrigues and her sister’s colleague Mr Felix is too attractive for a mere valet, but is that all there is to this man? Mr Felix is working to solve a maid’s murder and uncover a conspiracy. The last thing he needs is a distraction from one of the loveliest and most talented women in London – but he’s under orders to see to Ada Ryan’s safety. He’d best keep her close.

This novella includes links to a free bonus download featuring more espionage, adventure and passion. The bonus book is a bonus gift to all who purchase this collection – Merry Christmas!

Linda Rae Sande, The Holiday of a Marquess
A widowed countess who knows her numbers and a marquess in need of an accountant. When a will reveals her late husband’s secret, Elaine succumbs to Edward’s advances and discovers a second chance a love is possible at The Soho Club.

Ebony Oaten, Scandalous Charlotte

Charlotte, Lady Durham, has a terrible secret that weighs more heavily upon her by the day. If Charlotte thought she could have a quiet Christmastide as a widow, she did not count on Brabham, the ever-so-helpful footman whose well-meaning goodwill threatens to expose everything she holds dear.

Fiona M Marsden, Thursday’s Child

Newlyweds Will and Bella are struggling after their disastrous honeymoon and a family Christmas looming before them. They agree to rebuild their marriage kiss by kiss, touch by touch, in the scandalous private reading room of The Soho Club. 

This collection includes 2 BONUS NOVELLAS:

Pamela Hart, A Generous Heart
Accessing her substantial inheritance from conservative trustees is proving impossible for Adeline Edmonds. Her heart is set on creating a charitable school for the poor of London. Viscount Marryam has his heart set on Adeline Edmonds, but the company she keeps could derail his ambitions.

Ebony Oaten, There’s Something About Miss Mary
Miss Mary Callingsbrooke knows there’s something terribly wrong with her. Her body reacts in such an unnatural way when she’s close to a handsome gentleman. Mary meets the mysterious Mr Smith at the Soho Club, who shows Mary that her ‘faults’ are in fact incredibly attractive features. He’s more than happy to marry Mary, but why the haste?

About the Book: Christmas Secrets of the Soho Club

Eight Regency novellas for less than $1 (plus your BONUS CHRISTMAS GIFTS).

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER:

https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Secrets-Soho-Club-Season-ebook/dp/B09THYGPX4/

Release Date: 15 September 2022

Multiple Authors:

Heidi Wessman Kneale

Renée Dahlia

Pamela Hart

Charlotte Anne

Clyve Rose

Linda Rae Sande

Fiona M Marsden

Ebony Oaten

Excerpt from The Case of the Black Diamond (Part II), by Clyve Rose:

Felix moved towards her. “May I assist you?”

“You’ve done nothing but assist me since I made your acquaintance.” Ada’s bluntness surprised them both, if Felix’s raised brows were any indication. Is this what working without a script feels like? The parlour door swung slightly ajar, a crack of light between the wood and the jamb. Did propriety matter when a woman had already kissed the gentleman in question? In such cases as these, it matters more. Ada’s inner pragmatist made little sense today. She stared accusingly at the nearly-closed door.

Felix’s gaze followed hers before returning to fix on her face – and there it was, the blush she’d managed to keep at bay since she’d met this man. Kissed him. Been kissed by him… Something real, warm, and wonderfully powerful rushed through her, like winter sunlight after frost. She shivered, opening her mouth to speak and banish this strangeness but no words came out. For the first time since she’d stood before an audience, Ada Ryan closed her lips without uttering a sound. Her gaze found Felix’s. He studied her face as though enchanted. His strong jaw relaxed, lips parted in the beginnings of a smile, his dimple half-visible, half-lost.

“Are you thinking of our kiss?” She asked, her cheeks heating further.

“Five weeks ago,” he replied, still smiling. Heavens, that dimple.

Five weeks, three days, and twenty-two hours. Ada nearly pouted at her memory’s stubborn persistence. She reached towards him as though she’d lost control of her limbs. Felix was across the room in an instant. His palm cupped her cheek, his eyes staring searchingly into her face.

“Ada, are you certain?”

Ada placed one palm over his, the other reaching up to stroke his hair. Tugging gently, she settled his mouth over hers, tasting citrus and scotch, intoxicating, enthralling, and gently questing. Ada sighed, nestling closer as his mouth teased hers, nipping at her lips while his palms cradled her face in the gentlest caress. His fingers moved delicately against her cheeks, as though she were precious, important, and valuable simply as Ada. So she kissed him as Ada; gently, wonderingly, with a hesitancy she’d not felt before…a kiss that was not ‘business’, or theatrics, or demanded. A kiss that was quiet and deliciously sweet, balancing desire with depth.

She drew back, swallowing the taste of him deeply, holding this honeyed moment still. When she nerved herself to meet his gaze, Ada saw warmth and gentle acceptance. She saw hunger too – fierce and potent. A trilling laugh bubbled up from her throat. She bit it back, forcing it away from this sensation that didn’t belong to staged scenes. It belonged to Ada and Felix. Laying her eyeglasses on the desk she stared at this man, awake to the shock of being real.

I liked kissing you she wanted to say, but confidence was one thing; brazenness was quite another. There were rumours all over London about the ‘new duchess’ at Drury Lane. Perhaps Mr Felix believed them. She swallowed. “I like kissing you.” She whispered, trembling in every nerve.

“Then I am the luckiest man in London.”

Author Bio:

Clyve Rose is an award-winning, Amazon-bestselling author of historical fiction in Australia and the US. She has been writing historical romance for the best part of two decades. Clyve believes that love is the highest and strongest force known in the world, and that it only manifests when we are our best and truest selves. 

Her debut novel Always a Princess was a finalist in 2020’s ARRA Awards. The Soho Club collections were also finalists in these awards, as was the sweet romance novella Love’s Sweet Arrow. She is also the recipient of a Passionate Ink award for The One Below.

Website & blog: www.clyverose.com

Follow Clyve on social media:

Twitter: @clyverose

IG: #clyverose

Facebook: Clyve Rose (@clyveroseauthor)

 

A LADY WHO SEEKS A HUSBAND IN NAME ONLY? How can he forgive her?

Edward Lamson Henry (1841-1919)

Dear Sir,

I come to you to day to object to the most absurd marriage agreement I’ve ever heard! To wit, a lady—a widow of a noted cavlary officer—seeks a husband who will permit her to live with him as his friend only.

Who dare ask for such a thing?

I have it on good authority that this lady, who has done her duty by her deceased husband, is now in the marriage mart looking for a man of some station and wealth to support her.

Who could even consider it?

I have heard one man does. One man who knows the lady well and who, though he has inherited a grand estate and title, seeks nothing from her but…companionship.

Absurd!

And yet, he will do it! Marry her!

I tell you if all our young ladies—and widows, too—begin to seek such silly promises from our good men in this country, why we shall all perish! Perish as a society!

Good friends, encourage your daughters to do their duty. PLEASE!

      Yours truly, A friend of all fine British gentlemen

The Lyon’s Share

She’d spend every last penny to marry again for security, comfort—or even friendship.

He’d win her wager, possess her, keep her for himself—even if he’d never win her love.

Adriana, Lady Benton, has many regrets—and one hope. To wed a good man to gain a life to which she is entitled. One free of sorrow, penury and ridicule. Appealing to Mrs. Dove-Lyon, Adriana hopes to attract one man who may appreciate her assets. But never need her love.

Colonel Sidney Wolf, once hailed as the ruthless ‘Hound of the Horse Guards’, vows to end Adriana’s hardships. He’s home from the wars and faces the daunting task of filling his father’s role as the Earl of Middlethorpe. Believing only Adriana will do as his helpmate, he strikes a deal with Dove-Lyon that brings him the one woman he admires. The one woman he tells himself he can live with—and never touch.

But the nearness of his funny, charming, beautiful bride drives him mad. Knowing she will never love other than her first husband, can he keep his hands—and his heart to himself?

And if he doesn’t, can she ever forgive him?

Buy Link:   https://amzn.to/3bc6ri3

(Their wedding night in London.)

Excerpt, All rights reserved. Copyright Cerise DeLand 2022.

That night in the upstairs hall, she squeezed his hand and thanked him once more for the peace and comfort of their wedding day. With a tender smile borne of hours in companionship walking the appointments of the house, meeting the remaining staff and sharing the light supper, Sidney told her to sleep well. “I have two surprises for you tomorrow. You’ll need your rest.”

Tumbling though her ran a wild impulse to kiss his cheek. “Marvelous! I do love surprises. What are they?”

He shook his head. “They are not for the telling!”

She chuckled. “Shall I arise early? Dawn? Noon? Are we here at home? And what do I wear?”

“Take your leisure at it all. I will adjust to you, my dear.”

She liked how he slipped into the small endearments that made them seem like a normal couple who were meant for more than the mere illusion of intimacy.

“Wonderful. I will be up at dawn!”

He stood before her, his brown-black eyes flashing in the light of candles in the sconces—but he stepped back. “Good night then.”

She smiled and quickly turned away to thrust open her door. She closed it swiftly and fell back against it. Before her was her sitting room and bedroom. Beyond was her dressing room and boudoir. All hers, more than she’d ever expected to acquire or enjoy. All were so well appointed, but even at that, as Sidney had told her, they were furnished in fashions decades old.

“Change them all,” he’d encouraged her hours earlier on his tour. “Whatever you like. The rooms were last done when my mother was alive and much is frayed and dusty. Cost is not a matter of concern. You need not rush as we shall not entertain here for months.”

“I will begin by choosing fabrics. Planning other elements. When do you think we will return?”

“I have so much to do at the estate that I doubt we will come back until spring. Does that suit you?”

A question of whether her little house would be sold soon flashed through her. She would have to come to town to pay Dove-Lyon. “It does.”

“Good. I want you to be comfortable and happy.” He had caught her sudden reticence. “Something concerns you. What is it?”

“The house in West Drayton. I hope it will be sold by spring.” The sooner I pay Mrs. Dove-Lyon the remainder of her fee, the better.

“It’s charming. I’m sure it will sell soon.”

His assurance soothed her worry and so, for a countless time, she thanked him for his largesse. Scrimping was what she did well. Practice had made perfect. With little, she had kept her tiny house clean and bright. With copper pots she scrubbed and numerous shawls and coverlets she knit, she’d dressed up the kitchen and the small parlor. She’d changed Paul’s lap blanket every day. A new color to keep him appraised of the day of the week. A little reminder that today was a new day, another day that he lived. Little had he cared, but she had. She had. Because to give in to his brown study was to follow him into the hole he preferred and she dare not give up on herself, lest they both die of despair.

She inhaled. That was yesterday. Gone, now. And in the place of that, my girl, you have this. This time. This redemption. This man.

This house.

And his generosity.

In studied deliberation, she gazed upon the heavy sky blue damask draperies, the Alençon lace curtains beneath, the fine mahogany deal tables, the plush settees and Axminster carpet. They were all accommodations that he had so sweetly given her, and even agreed to all her stipulations, too. She clutched her arms as, like an avalanche, she felt the freefall of all the deprivations she had not given him. She was happy, very much so—and he, virile man that he was, had so many reasons not to be.

She was selfish, unable to be a proper wife.

He went to his bedchamber alone. A bridegroom. Gallant, determined, daring. A leader of men. A legend in his own time. A man robust, hearty and…alive.

In that moment of self-criticism when she knew what she owed him, what he should have and what she had forbidden him to have of her, she ached to be his good and willing wife.

She went to bed alone. It was what she had planned.

Author of THE LYON’S SHARE, Cerise DeLand

Cerise has spent nearly 40 years writing romances. She loves a conflicted hero and a sassy heroine. Do read her Regency, Victorian and Edwardian historical romances!

Website: http://cerisedeland.com

 

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