I thought I’d take this week to highlight my House of Pleasure series, which is actually coming to an end this fall. The final book will be released in late October/early November. So I thought I’d show off the first four books, one each day of this week, and then give a little preview of the final one on Friday.
Today is Book 2 is Only Marriage Will Do.
This story dovetailed out of the first book, Only Scandal Will Do. At the end of Book 1, I had Duncan and Kat return from a trip to discover that Duncan’s sister, Juliet, had disappeared. However, the ending of that subplot was never resolved–at least, not in the published version. The original version had an epilogue that said what happened to Juliet, although it still left that story on a bit of a cliffhanger. My editor at the time thought it would be best to scale that back and save it for the second book, which is what I did.
My heroine, Juliet, is a sweet, slightly scatter-brained, lovable character with whom the hero, Captain Amiable Dawson, falls in love–after a very accidental meeting. Amiable has come to the Marquess of Dalbury’s house in search of Lady Katarina Fitzwilliam, whom he expects to marry. Instead he finds Juliet, a damsel in distress if there ever was one.
A word about the hero’s name: While writing Only Scandal Will Do, a plot twist has Katarina trying to return to Virginia after her initial encounter with the Marqeuss of Dalbury. I needed a reason for her to return, and I came up with a captain in her father’s regiment who had been in love with her, but whom she had rejected. Now she’s sailing back to accept his offer. So I needed a name for this very minor character (who doesn’t even appear in the book). I was sitting at my desk (exactly as I am now writing this post) trying to come up with a name, and the words “Amiable Dawson” sprang from I have no idea where. I’d never even heard of the word amiable being used as a name, but the character had spoken, so I had to come up with a reason for such an unusual name and that became part of a subplot in Only Marriage Will Do.
Here’s the blurb and an excerpt from the first meeting of the hero and heroine, from Only Marriage Will Do.
Happily-ever-afters don’t always begin at “I do.”
When the man of her dreams rescues Lady Juliet Ferrers from the villain 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 to escort her to her family estate in far off Northern England—hoping that along the way she can win his love—and his hand…
Captivated by Juliet’s sweetness and beauty, Captain Amiable Dawson can’t help but be spellbound by the promise of a life with her. But the spell breaks when questions arise about her marital status. Soon the upstanding Amiable is unsure if he is indeed married to Juliet. And when his rival absconds with her, Amiable must choose between the law of the land and his heart’s desire to rescue Juliet once more…
The brass lion-head knocker under Amiable Dawson’s hand sent a sharp rap through the dark walnut door of Dunham House for the second time. The hot July sun hadn’t done his temper any good as he waited on the marble stoop for entrance to the Marquess of Dalbury’s townhouse. He’d been in a foul mood ever since the news of his beloved Katarina’s marriage to the marquess had reached him. Blast it to hell, the girl had accepted his proposal. At least he could make sure she was well and well taken care of by this man she had married.
At last a short, dark-haired maid opened the door. She took one look at him, gasped, and stepped back into the house. Her eyes widened and she glanced to her right, wringing her hands. “Who may I say—”
A man shouted from within. “No, I do not believe you.”
“I do not care what you believe. I told you the truth.” A woman’s voice, raised and sharp with terror, sent a chill through Amiable.
Katarina. What in God’s name?
He barged past the stunned girl and strode down the hall toward the commotion. He burst
through the doorway, expecting to defend the woman he loved, only to stop dead at the sight of a man lunging across a sofa and grasping a woman by the wrist. Amiable had half drawn his sword before he realized the woman was not Katarina, but a complete stranger. He dropped it back into its scabbard. None of his affair after all.
The young man, foppishly dressed in a robin’s egg blue satin coat dripping too many layers of frothy lace at throat and wrists, looked at Amiable, a snarl on his lips.
Taking advantage of the distraction, the woman wrenched her arm from the man’s grip. “Praise God. He has arrived at last.” She staggered as she righted herself. “Now you will have to believe me, Philippe.”
The fop scrambled back off the sofa and groped for a black lacquer walking stick that lay on the floor. Lips pressed together, he glowered at the woman. “That remains to be seen, ma chère. In any case, I have shown you the papers. They speak for themselves.”
The woman ran from behind the sofa to Amiable’s side, grazed a kiss over his cheek, and whispered, “For God’s sake, help me. I am alone and he wants to force me to go with him. Please, agree with whatever I say.”
He smiled into her pleading face, then grasped her hands and gave them a gentle squeeze to signal his acquiescence. “Whatever is the matter, my dear?” Hell if he knew. However, he could play his part, even with little information. Let the lady lead and he’d follow as well as he could.
The woman swayed toward him, then took a deep breath. “My dear, may I present Viscount St. Cyr?” She nodded toward the fop. “Philippe, my husband, the Earl of Manning.”
“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.
Only Marriage Will Do is available at
During the time I was writing Only Marriage Will Do, one song by Katy Perry kept running through my mind. It summed up, to me, Juliet’s instant attraction to Amiable. Enjoy!