Tag Archive | marriage of convenience

New Release: The Marriage Obligation

Admiral Cornelius Hardcastle met his future wife Léonie at the Siege of Toulon. Their daughter Cornelia is the heroine of The Marriage Obligation.

The fictional character of Admiral Hardcastle is based on Admiral Sir Benjamin Hallowell Carew, whose ship, the HMS Leviathan, took part in the evacuation of allied troops and royalist civilians being persuaded by the Republican army.

Siège_de_Toulon

The Siege of Toulon

The Siege of Toulon (29 August – 19 December 1793) was a military operation by Republican forces against a Royalist rebellion in the southern French city of Toulon.

After a series of insurrections against the Republicans within the French cities of Lyon, Avignon, Nîmes, and Marseille, Republicans managed to recapture Marseille and punish them with severe reprisals. Upon hearing this, Toulon, which was currently in the hands of Royalist forces, called for aid from the Anglo-Spanish fleet.  On 28 August, Admiral Sir Samuel Hood of the Royal Navy and Admiral Juan de Lángara of the Spanish Navy, committed a force of 13,000 British, Spanish, Neapolitan and Piedmontese troops to the French Royalists’ cause. This was a serious blow to the Republicans, since Toulon had a key naval arsenal and was the base for 26 ships (about a third of the French navy). On 1 October, Baron d’Imbert proclaimed the young Louis XVII to be king of France, and hoisted the French Royalist flag of the fleur de lys, delivering the town of Toulon to the British navy.

Les_coalises_evacuent_Toulon_en_decembre_1793

By 16 December, however, the Republicans (among them a young Bonaparte), managed to push past the Allied troops toward the waterfront. At that point, Lángara gave the order to destroy the French ships. While that was going on, Hood had ordered HMS Robust under Captain George Elphinstone and HMS Leviathan under Captain Benjamin Hallowell Carew to evacuate the allied troops from the waterfront. In addition to the soldiery, the British squadron and their boats took on board thousands of French Royalist refugees, who had flocked to the waterfront when it became clear that the city would fall to the Republicans. Robust, the last to leave, carried more than 3,000 civilians from the harbour and another 4,000 were recorded on board Princess Royal out in the roads. In total the British fleet rescued 14,877 Toulonnais from the city; witnesses on board the retreating ships reported scenes of panic on the waterfront as stampeding civilians were crushed or drowned in their haste to escape the advancing Republican soldiers, who fired indiscriminately into the fleeing populace.

Wikipedia

Author’s Note: I’ve advanced Cornelia’s age five years for the purpose of this story. An author’s prerogative!

About The Marriage Obligation

Cornelia Hardcastle has been determined never to marry since she was eighteen and discovered an ugly family secret. Now that she’s twenty-four, however, her parents want to see her settled so they can move to Canada for her father’s prestigious new government post. Not a chance!

The second son of a viscount, Preston Warrington is more than happy to leave the viscount business to his brother so he can travel the world in search of adventure. His recent stint as a spy for the British in the War with the French has come to an end, and he’s getting pressured to marry and settle down. Hell no!

How could the notorious Marriage Maker from Inverness all the way in Scotland possibly know that these two marriage-averse individuals are perfect for each other?

Excerpt

Note: At this point in the story, Cornelia has confessed her terrible secret to Preston, her husband-in-name-only.

He took her hand and led her back to the folly. “There, you got it out. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

She tilted her head to look at him. “You’re not—shocked? Disgusted?”

He squeezed her hand and looked directly into her eyes. “Surprised, yes, certainly. Disgusted? I don’t quite understand your meaning, Cornelia.” His eyes widened. “Unless you are thinking—surely not—that I should be disgusted by you!”

She burst into tears. He pulled her trembling body into his arms and held her against him until her body quieted and the tears slowed, eventually turning into occasional hiccups. When she raised her head from his chest, he handed her his handkerchief. “Shall we sit down? When you are ready, you can tell me what it is that has you so distressed.”

Dabbing at her eyes, she nodded and allowed him to guide her back to the stone seat. 

“I must look a mess,” she said finally, in a shaky voice.

“You look beautiful,” he said, his hand making gentle circles on the surface of her back.

She made a face. “Liar. I’ve seen my face in this condition before. Red eyes, splotchy cheeks, shiny nose. Definitely not a good look for me.”

In response, he reached over and turned her face toward his before capturing her lips with his for a tender kiss. Her sweet response tempted him to deepen it into something more passionate, but he sensed she was not ready for that and reined in his desire.

“Do you still believe I was lying, my dear?” he said as their kiss ended.

She swallowed. “Perhaps you were just being kind.”

Well, then. If she did indeed need more convincing, he would be more than pleased to deliver it.

He took her face in his hands again and kissed her again, this time with more pressure, then pulling away slightly to tease her lips with his tongue, before probing between them with his tongue. Her eyes widened with surprise, but far from protesting, she pressed closer to him, her arms floating to his shoulders. She smelled of violets and tasted like a combination of innocence and passion. His hands drifted to her hair, where his gentle caresses caught on pins and sent dark locks spilling down her back. When her eyes widened, he took her lips again, this time plunging his tongue between her teeth and coercing a timid response from hers.  His hands floated down her back, lightly touching the side of her breasts before settling possessively at her waist. 

Mine. My woman. This woman was made for me. She has to know it too.

When they finally pulled apart, she looked down, flushed and breathing hard.

“Well?” he said when he found himself able to talk again. “Was that a ‘just being kind’ kiss, do you think?”

She looked up at him, her eyes lit with a mischievous glow. “You’ve proved your point. There was nothing ‘kind’ about it. I must allow that you are a magnificent kisser, Preston.”

His breath quickened. “There is nothing I would like better than to kiss you like that every day. Several times, in fact. I am convinced that we could have an exemplary partnership, my dear, if we were to make our marriage a real one.”

Amazon

 

Sandra Masters: My Divinely Decadent Duke (Giveaway)

The Kiss

by Sandra Masters

“What about love and passion?” she wondered until she realized she spoke the words aloud. Enough. Everything but the one thing I want. And you think you are not cruel, Gordon?

“They shall take care of themselves with time. I will not force myself on you… unless you wish it of me. I would like the opportunity to demonstrate to you I am a good man you may wish to know better, Cassandra. Goodness knows you’ve seen many sides of me.”

Somehow the arrangement didn’t sound as insane as before. It could work. At least she wouldn’t have to marry Ashcombe, a perfect stranger. Her choices were an older gentleman, or the younger scandalous rake she loved.

Her mind spun.

Her world twirled.

She swayed.

He held her steady in his arms.

Her heart broke.

And then he did a terrible thing.

He kissed her with tender gentleness and coaxed open her lips. Their mouths melded together. Her body molded to his and it was perfect. She heard heart beats, pulse beats, thunderous beats. To be so close to him, so near, so in need—it was so unfair. She rested her head on his broad chest and made her decision.

“You are an innocent and a temptation I cannot afford, but I want you,” he murmured.

Was it better to be miserable with him than without him?

When God wants to punish you, he grants your dreams.

About My Divinely Decadent Duke (Book 2, the Duke series)

Orphaned and abandoned by family, Lady Cassandra Montgomery yearns for love. Beautiful and innocent, she attracts the attention of a renowned rake, the Duke of Althorn. When her security is threatened, she offers him a proposal for an arranged marriage in exchange for his guarantee of safety for her and her ward. After her first taste of desire in his arms, she finds the sexual attraction irresistible. Finding herself in a family way, she leaves his home, unsure of his love.

The Duke is at first enraged by the brazen behavior, yet he sees Cassandra as a captivating caregiver for his mother and impossible to resist. He agrees. The arrangement becomes inconvenient because love and sensuality enter the equation.

Will she believe her husband truly loves her and return to his waiting arms?

Will the Duke admit his love and use his rakish skills to woo Cassandra back to his bed?

Amazon

Excerpt

It was time he schemed, too. “I’ll select a gown for you, if you like. I’ll be proud to have my two duchesses by my side in their jeweled tiaras. Your maid will bring all to you as befits this special occasion. The King’s ball demands no less of us.”

My DDD 100“Thank you.” A smile curled her lips, her eyes glistened. “I appreciate there is no ill will between us.” She turned her face away.

“You’d be surprised at how much more there’ll be between us, my wife.” He turned to the dowager. “I do believe my mother tires.”

“Shall I have a servant escort you, Mother?”

Before she could offer to leave the table with Lady Madelaine, his brow arched in contained fury; his gaze shot across the length of the table. Cassandra’s lips stilled.

“Thank you, Gordon.” The dowager arose and a servant walked behind her as she took to the steps.

He simply stared at Cassandra, perused her body, and how her generous bosom invited his attention even in the simple frock she wore. His face couldn’t hide his anger.

“You have left my bed of your own accord. That is a serious dereliction of duty on a wife’s part in England, punishable by beatings… and other dire measures.”

“It wasn’t the intent of our agreement to chain me to you and your bed.”

He poured more cognac into his snifter. “Now that conjures a seductive thought—perhaps you would enjoy such activity?”

“Stop it, Gordon. You are like a two-sided coin. One side is gracious and the other side is lascivious.” She clasped her hands in her lap.

“Did you expect me to jump for joy at the prospect of your early departure from my house on a permanent basis? After all we’ve shared, Cassandra? Did it mean nothing to you? Did you simply use me as a connoisseur of decadent lingerie?” He rose from his chair, glass in hand and walked the long length to her position.

“No, but I did not expect you to display fits of anger. It couldn’t have been a surprise to you.”

“Cassandra, allow me to recollect. You proposed the agreement. I originally refused and because I took pity on you, I agreed to our business arrangement, as you put it.”

“You took pity on me? Is that what changed your mind? I didn’t need you as much as you needed me to care for your mother and get her well. You ass.”

“I might well be an ass since I trusted you, but you have stolen from me, my wife.”

She stood and faced him with defiance. “I have stolen nothing and only taken those items that were mine. Gowns, jewelry, coins, all are left behind.” Her napkin dropped from her lap.

“You are a thief, Cassandra. You have stolen the love of my mother, stolen the love of my dog, stolen the affection of my staff, and you claim you’re not a thief?”

“I did not steal them. It was theirs to give and I accepted—all to please you. You’re a dolt.”

“Hmm, did you take the lingerie you designed?”

“Yes, they were mine. I paid for them before I met you, Gordon.”

“Do you intend to put them to future use?” he asked, and moved an alcohol-braced whisper’s breath away from her.

“How do I know? If you want them, I’ll leave them for you to lavish on one of your other women.”

His hand slid around her waist. “There have been no other women since I met you. You are aware of that fact, aren’t you?”

“I hadn’t given it a thought. You’ve kept me so occupied, I don’t have free time to think.”

“I believe you lie to yourself, however, I indicated I wouldn’t stop you if you wished to leave, and that is so. Yet, I wonder if you would entertain one last night with me for a final end to a four month marriage of convenience that has suddenly turned inconvenient.”

“I’d rather sleep in a stable than by your side,” she spat.

“I would never force myself on you, but perhaps you could be coaxed to have mercy on your poor husband who’ll be left without any conjugal rights available to him?”

“No.”

“Then one last kiss? The memory of it will warm me on cold nights.”

“If you do take to cold nights, a servant can bring you a warm brick, and perhaps you can strike yourself on the head with it.”

Then a simple thing happened. They laughed. He extended his arm. She accepted as they walked out of the room. Together.

As they ascended the steps, there were snickers and smiles. He pointed Cassandra to her chambers, opened his bedroom door, and closed it.

He would win her back, if it killed him.

Besides, the King’s Ball had many balconies, and they were dangerous together in such an atmosphere. How he loved a challenge. And the chase.

Two random commenters will win digital copies of My Divinely Decadent Duke.

The Duke Series

Once Upon a Duke

My Divinely Decadent Duke

Thorn, Son of a Duke

About the Author

Sandra_2014 50 percent pictureA (3) copyRetired executive, Sandra Masters, rose from a humble beginning in Newark, NJ, a short stay at a convent in Morristown, NJ, to the board rooms of NYC, and a fantastic career for a broadcasting company in Carlsbad, California, to the rural foothills of the Sierras of Yosemite National Park, she has always traveled with pen and notebook. It’s been the journey of ten thousand miles with a few miles left. She left her corporate world behind and never looked back.

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