As promised, a new excerpt for today!
ONLY MARRIAGE WILL DO
Not every happy-ever-after begins at “I do.”
When the hero of her dreams rescues Lady Juliet Ferrers from the man claiming to be her husband, she is sure she has found her one true love. But is she free to marry him? Not to be deterred, Juliet arranges for her hero, Captain Amiable Dawson, to escort her to her family estate, hoping that along the way she can win his love.
Amiable is charmed by the sweet, beautiful woman he rescued, and although he has grave reservations about her marital status, he allows himself to be swept up into Juliet’s romantic spell and the promise of a happy-ever-after.
The spell breaks when legal questions arise and Juliet faces the horror of not knowing if she is married to her knight in shining armor or the cruel viscount who is determined to have her at any price.
Excerpt: (Continued from yesterday)
London July 2, 1761
Amiable froze. This woman had married Katarina’s brother? If so, he certainly had an obligation to protect her. But where the devil was Jack? He bowed to the man and said simply, “My lord.”
“Philippe and I were betrothed for a short time last year, my dear. Before the scandal put an end to it.” Trembling, she stared St. Cyr down.
“That was none of my doing, Juliet. My father broke the betrothal, not I.” He spoke English with a cultured French accent and gave an impassioned plea that wavered by the end.
“Then I must write a letter of gratitude to the Count de Mallain.” Juliet rubbed her wrist, glanced at St. Cyr, and drew closer to Amiable’s side. The afternoon sun glinted off a tear in the gold trim of her rose gown. “He saved me from making a dire mistake.”
“Juliet, how can you say such things?” St. Cyr grasped his walking stick and twisted the knob. “We are meant to be together, chérie. I thought of nothing but you the whole long year we have been apart.”
“That is hardly your concern now, my lord. The lady is my wife and however much you may regret losing her, I must ask you to refrain from such statements of affection lest it become a matter of honor.” He itched to lay his hand to his sword again but did not wish for the situation to escalate. Yet.
“Oh, but it is my concern, my lord.” The Frenchman stalked toward them, one deliberate step after another. “I have the prior claim to dear Juliet. In fact, I must insist you remove your hands from my wife immediately.”
“Your wife?” Amiable scowled at the Frenchman, although his resolve slipped. Had he stuck his nose into a proper quarrel between husband and wife? Would he never learn to control his impetuous nature? Certainly not if it concerned a woman in distress, it seemed. He pushed Juliet behind him.
“You must stop saying that, Philippe. I am not your wife.” Tears glistened, and she blinked them back.
He admired courage in a woman. She might not be his Katarina, but she deserved his protection nonetheless.
“Why would you claim such a thing, man?” he demanded. “Juliet and I were married properly, with the banns read and in a church.” He prayed she had given the man no particulars before he had arrived.
“Our ceremony was no less proper. The magistrate performed it before witnesses.”
“Why have you not spoken to me of this, my dear?” Give the woman her head. He’d become quite interested himself in what had transpired.
“I never married him, Jack. You must believe me.” She sank her fingers into his arm in a death grip as her eyes sent a desperate plea for his confidence in her. “I never spoke my vows to him.”
“You did not need to, ma petite, as you well know. Jeanette spoke them for you,” St. Cyr snapped, his voice loud in the small room.
Lord, give me strength… “Who is Jeanette? If she spoke the vows, then you are married to her, my lord. Not Lady Manning.”
St. Cyr sneered. “The Marquess of Dalbury sent Jeanette Valois to France as proxy so his sister and I could marry despite the circumstances. When my father broke the betrothal, I acted against his wishes and went through with the ceremony with Jeanette standing in for Juliet.” St. Cyr leered at her. “So you see, I am your true husband as I have the prior claim. Even though secret, the marriage is valid. You belong to me.” He reached for Juliet’s hand.
Only Marriage Will Do is available for pre-order
on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
To celebrate the cover reveal, all week-long I’ll be posting different snippets from Only Marriage Will Do, and each day I’ll be offering a copy of Only Scandal Will Do, the first book in the series, to a commenter on this blog who tells me that they want a copy and who signs up for my newsletter. Winners will be announced on next week’s Jenna’s 411 (April 15).
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