The release date for The Lady Taken: Part 1 is almost here! I can promise you that I’m absolutely counting down the days to June 30th when this historical erotic romance serial officially starts. I’m enjoying writing it so much, and I can’t wait to share it with you. In fact, I’m so excited that I’m posting an exclusive excerpt today.
This is the first half of chapter 1. Look for the second half next week. And if you just can’t wait, you can download a free sample to your eReader.
Rain pelted the sides of my carriage as it sped through the Yorkshire countryside. It should have made the air cool and sweet inside of the jostling conveyance. Instead it was stale and heavy. A perfect match for the stilted atmosphere my companion and I had been riding in for hours.
I let my eyes slide over to Jonathan, who leaned against the padded carriage wall, sulking. He looked so like a child—fitting, since he’d insisted on acting like one since leaving Liverpool. I wondered for the fourth time that hour why I had bothered asking him along on this journey. The Duke of Easingwold, I reminded myself. That was why.
A renowned libertine, the duke enjoyed a house party full of intrigue and scandal. His invitations always specified that guests should bring a paramour to enjoy the pleasures of Blackburn Manor. It made it easier to share without leaving anyone out of the fun that started after the last plate was cleared from the duke’s dinner table, which comfortably seated twenty-four. But what had sounded like a blissful week-long stay at Easingwold’s was quickly taking on a different tone.
The depths of Jonathan’s sour mood hadn’t manifested until my carriage was already rumbling along the road, and by then it was too late to turn around. Normally he was smart enough to keep his conversation bright and charming, but in the last two months he’d begun to slip. The beautiful man could be as petty as any lady of the ton when he wanted to be.
Yet he was the price I had to pay to have my selection of the young and beautiful who would be at the duke’s. I was secretly hoping that Jonathan would catch someone else’s eye—a wealthy woman from the Continent or a well-positioned, discreet gentleman—anyone who would take him off my hands and assume the responsibility of keeping him clothed, fed, and amused. All three were becoming rather expensive ventures. Ones I was growing less and less tolerant of.
With a sigh, I snapped my painted silk fan closed and tried once again to traverse the yawning gap that had opened down the middle of the carriage to separate my lover and me. “We shouldn’t be too much longer to Blackburn.”
He huffed, arms crossed in his displeasure. “I still don’t understand why you refused to take the train. It’s much more civilized than this old-fashioned conveyance. You could buy out the entire first-class car if you wished.”
Slowly, I blew a breath out between my pursed lips. I did not wish to do anything as frivolous or wasteful as throw around my money so that my displeased paramour could wrap himself in luxury.
Still, it would do neither of us any good to begin sniping at one another. We were forced together for the duration of this carriage ride.
“I told you,” I started in as calm a voice as I could muster, “it was necessary to look in on my business interests here in the north. The cotton mill in Manchester would have been easy enough to get to by train, but not the factory outside of Shipley.”
He shot me look of such disdain. “Your continued interest in commerce is truly unbecoming, Rosamund.”
His words stung as sharp as a slap across the face. Jonathan knew where to wound me. He could have disparaged my name or whispered rumors about my morals. That wouldn’t have hurt, for I’d heard all of those insults spoken behind fluttering fans in the ballrooms of London and Liverpool. As though I didn’t know exactly what polite society thought of me.
My back stiffened even straighter in the steam-molded corset over which my claret silk dress flowed. A dress and corset bought and paid for with my own money—a product of the business I loved. I’d worked hard to cultivate my tiny empire, pouring over treatises on investment and learning everything I could from the few men of industry enlightened enough to teach a woman. Between my late husband’s legal ingenuity and my own instincts, I’d grown my ten thousands of pounds a year into hundreds of thousands.
Some might say that pride would be my downfall, but I could not disagree more. Pride was how I’d grown into the woman I was meant to become. I would not be made ashamed by a man who lived off his lover’s charity.
Ready to do battle, I faced Jonathan square on and raised my chin to its haughtiest height. “I will remind you that my ‘interest in commerce,’ as you call it, keeps you in the latest fashions,” I said, my tone sharp as the arch of my brow.
“Something you continually choose to remind me of,” he lashed out.
I snapped open my fan again. “Only because you seem to believe that my accounts are yours to share.”
I had never once thought that signing over control of any part of my money to Jonathan would be prudent. I’d coddled him, enjoyed him, but did not trust him any more than a Whitechapel ragpicker. He was a rash, imprudent young man with more care for the height of his collar than his conversation. He was a distraction who wished to be treated as lord and master. His mistake was thinking that I would submit to any man’s will ever again.
And yet a part of me still mourned the scene unfolding in the back of the rocking carriage. He was beautiful to look at—at least, I thought as much when I met him at some endless ball or another last Season. Dancing with a young woman of little stature and fewer looks, he’d caught my eye with his beautiful golden curls. Apparently I’d caught his too, for he sought me out as soon as the waltz was through.
His approach was novel. Knowing that I was a widow, he was not so bold as to ask me to dance. Instead, he conversed with me all through the night, never leaving my side. He charmed me and wooed me, treating me as though I was not a lady of thirty-two but a girl of eighteen in the very freshest of bloom. I took him to my bed a week later. It was strange to think that the man who’d charmed me so was the same as the lazy, petty boy sitting across from me in a beautiful but rumpled suit.
“You keep the purse strings closed tighter than my father,” grumbled Jonathan.
“We have discussed this already.”
“But if you could just give me an allowance—”
I shook my head. “Another topic we have talked about at length. I will not consent to granting you an allowance. You know that the idea does not sit well with me.”
Because I know that it will never be enough. I’d seen the behavior before among the young men kept by the few ladies of means invited to one of Easingwold’s parties. The paramours spent right up to their allowance and then spent more. Tailored clothes, horses, hunting, gambling. The debts climbed and climbed until the lady had to intervene or pay. With these men, it was never enough. More often than not, once the debt was paid, the paramours left for wealthier, younger, prettier pastures.
I refused to be cast aside by my lover.
Thank you for reading this exclusive excerpt of The Lady Taken: Part 1! Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to get the most up to date information about release dates, preorders, and giveaways. If you would like to preorder The Lady Taken: Part 1 ahead of its June 30th release date, you can check out Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo.