Authors: Jessie Bennett
Tags: #Historical, #Romance, #Fiction, #Forever Love, #Inspirational, #Clean & Wholesome, #19th Century, #Bachelor, #Single Woman, #Series, #Faces of Love, #Society's Rules, #Merchant's Daughter, #Stepbrother
2016 by JESSIE BENNETT & CREATIVE CLEAN HISTORICAL ROMANCE FICTION PUBLISHING HOUSE LLC.
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This book is a work of fiction. Any similarities to real or dead people, places, or events are not intentional and are the result of coincidence. The characters, places, and events are the product of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the author/publisher. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
bout The Author
Jessie Bennett is an obsessed romantic freak. She loves historical romance stories. Recently, she discovered another interest within the historical romance, which is Regency Romance stories. She wants to use her ideas, knowledge and interest of the regency era to spin out characters that readers wants to read. She aspires to be the next Jane Austen that combine grace, love, and simplicity to delight readers to find their happy endings.
She lives in Norfolk county, England most of the her time. When she's not writing, you will find her walking down the countryside with her husband and her beloved dog.
imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment”~
(December 16, 1775 - July 18, 1817)
a handsome duke with a checkered past finally find true love in Lady Scarlett, a woman with a hefty dowry and a fiery personality?
Lord Edward, Duke of Kent, is everything most girls could want in a husband, handsome, titled, and with a bright future ahead of him. However, many of the ton also know that his past is checkered, with rumors of a stilted lover and an illegitimate child clouding his chance for a marriageable future with a noble girl. He has long since decided to marry only for love though, so their opinions matter little to him until he meets a beautiful woman named Scarlett, sister of the Duke of Bellingham, and is carried away by her brazen lack of propriety when it comes to society’s rules.
Lord Edward is willing to expose everything about his own past in order to marry the woman he loves, but must decide whether he’s willing to risk losing her heart when she knows the truth.
Can Duke of Kent expose his past and win the respect of the outspoken merchant’s daughter, or will the Duke of Bellingham’s own buffoon stepbrother be given the beautiful maiden’s hand in marriage instead?
you tell him where we were?” Ettie asked. “I thought you were going to help me?”
, Ettie. We are. When Kent told me why he’d denied Byron the union, I knew we had to stop you before it’s too late. You don’t know what kind of a man he really is.”
ou could never beat
me at Gentleman Joe’s, so why do you think you could now?” he spat. “You stay away from my sister. You stay away from my family. I have tolerated you long enough. If I ever see your face again, I will expose you.”
should have known
that no man would be interested in me without ulterior motives.”
* * *
sat quietly sipping
my soup, unsure of my new situation. It was the first night in the home of my oldest brother, the Duke of Bellingham, and his wife. He was more than fifteen years my senior in life. Not only was he much older than myself, but he was also a product of my mother’s first marriage, when she had been Lady Bellingham. Her first husband died shortly after the birth of my second and beloved brother Henry Fitzwilliam. Soon my mother remarried to my father. He wasn’t titled, but he was a prominent merchant and highly respected by the community.
As much as my mother loved my father, she had been raised a lady of the ton. I, on the other hand, was without title. This had never sat well with her. I had been privileged to attend several seasons in London and had made the acquaintance of several members of peerage, but Mother would never be settled until I married into a title too. In her mind, it was the birthright I was denied simply because women were unable to pass along their titles.
Therefore, in her efforts to rectify the situation, she sent me to live with my eldest brother. She hoped that his association and connections would find me a suitable match. I had a feeling that the hefty dowry that went along with me was also an enticing attachment.
I had no desire to marry someone for their title. It meant nothing to me. I certainly didn’t want someone marrying me for my money. Apparently, I had very little say in the matter, as I was shipped off to live the season in my brother’s townhouse.
I had spent very few holidays with him over my lifetime. I looked him over as I continued to pick at my food. He was in his late thirties and already starting to grey at his temples, though the rest of his hair was richly black like mine. In a lot of ways, we looked very similar for half siblings. We both had ebony hair, fair skin, and blue eyes.
His personality, on the other hand, couldn’t be farther from mine. He was always so starch and serious. I don’t think I had ever actually seen him smile. Granted, by the time I knew him he had lost his father, his mother had remarried, and he was left the duke of a vast estate. I’m sure that was something that would certainly sober even the jolliest of persons.
I was carefree and, in many opinions, wild. I didn’t care, though. I didn’t have the ton looking down on me and expecting me to behave a certain way. I wasn’t entirely sure that I even wanted to snag myself a duke, as my mother so often put it. I would rather enjoy the freedom that came with being a commoner.
“So, Scarlett, tell me how your ride into town was,” my sister-in-law said to break the silence.
“It was fine enough, Your Grace. I can’t say many eventful things happen when you are riding alone in a carriage.”
The Duchess of Bellingham was a beautiful woman. She was also just as quiet and reserved as my brother. She certainly did act the way I thought a duchess should. What I liked most about her was her rounded face, almost childlike, with soft dimples in her cheeks. I am sure they were quite prominent if she ever happened to smile.
“The duke here tells me you are planning to spend the whole season with us,” she continued conversationally.
“Yes. I think my mother was hoping that I might make connections.”
She nodded thoughtfully. “Your mother was a daughter of a marquis and then married to a duke, so I can understand why she would want to immerse you in the peerage. Are you quite sure you will comfortable in such situations?” the duchess asked.
“I’m not entirely sure of your meaning, Your Grace.”
The duchess looked over at her husband with worried eyes and then back at me, like you would a child you pitied. I was suddenly liking her a little less already.
“I would just hate if you embarrassed yourself at a social function. I wanted to offer my services to you, to help you.”
“That is very kind of you, darling,” my brother chimed in cheerfully.
“That is very kind,” I agreed, “but it won’t be necessary. I can assure you that I am quite well versed in society. We have often hosted balls and dinners at my family estate growing up. Lord and Lady Kensington are very close friends to both my mother and father.”
“Yes, I’m sure. It’s just that things in the country are always a little bit more relaxed than they can be in town. I must insist upon chaperoning you, at least at first. That way you can make all the right connections, and stay away from any that might be less desirable.”
I knew what they were both hinting. It was a polite way of saying they thought I would embarrass them. I was a guest here and didn’t know either well, so I did my best to bite my tongue. “I am grateful for your concern, Your Grace. I will happily stay by your side for as long as you wish. Since I am obviously so new here, it will be nice to have a companion already when being set upon a new society.”
I tried my best to sound as civil as possible. I think I did a relatively good job of hiding the disgust I felt in her underlying connotations.
However, with that matter apparently settled, the Duchess of Bellingham perked up entirely. She spent the remainder of the evening telling me who was and wasn’t appropriate to be seen with currently. She also informed me of all the future social outings we would be attending.
“Yes, well, we all know the real reason for Mother sending you here,” the duke interrupted his wife. “It is so that you can find a proper match this season.”
“Yes, I am well aware of her wishes,” I said, already growing weary of this barrage.
“She, along with your father of course, has given me leave to be your guardian through the season. They have asked me to approve of, and help you make, any match that I find appropriate. They have also provided me with the amount of your dowry.”
He said this last part with a raised brow. It was always shocking for people to know how much money my father had accumulated. As their only daughter, much of that money would be going to me.
“I would prefer to keep my dowry on a need-to-know basis,” I said.
“Are you serious?” he asked, surprised. “Your dowry is enough to secure you a duke! You could quite possibly marry a member of the royal family with that amount of money.” He added under his breath, “We all know they could use the funds, what with the war and all.”
“I don’t feel comfortable having someone attach themselves to me solely for financial gain.”
“My dear sister, that is the only reason a nobleman would ever consider marring you,” he said with a look of pity.
“I don’t deny the truthfulness of that statement. I am sure you are much better versed in society than I could ever dream of being. That being said, I would prefer my money to be kept a secret. It will be obvious that I am well endowed simply by my father’s reputation. I just want to keep the actual amount quiet.”
“Well, it might not matter anyway. I already have someone in mind for you,” the duke said, raising his chin in pride.