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Only a Marquess Will Do (To Marry a Rogue, Book 4) (Ebook)

Only a Marquess Will Do (To Marry a Rogue, Book 4) (Ebook)

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It's a game of instruction and seduction. But who's teaching who?

The London Season is not for Lady Victoria Worthingham. After a disastrous marriage that lasted no more than six weeks, she's sworn off men forever. But that doesn't mean she can't help her brother's best friend find his perfect match. It should be simple…unless she falls in love with him first, of course…

Marquess Albert Kester is everything ladies aren't looking for in a husband—socially awkward and bumbling as a debutante at her first ball. Writing adventures instead of living them seems to be his lot in life. Unless he can convince Victoria to stop seeing him as a project and start seeing him as a man, that is…

She's determined to see him happily settled. All he wants is her. Only one outcome is certain in this game.Rules will be broken…and if they aren't careful, so will their hearts…

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London, 1809

Victoria stood in the modiste on Bond street, the heat on her cheeks as warm as the day outdoors. She glanced about the room, the women of the ton, those who had the power to make or ruin a lady's chances during her Season, stared at her with pity—some with amusement and glee.
Her mother's mouth had not stopped gaping when her sister, Alice, now the Viscountess Arndel, had read the latest on dit in The Times that morning. That Victoria's husband, the very man she had married six weeks before, had run off with a maid at the estate.
Victoria stared down at the blue silk gown the modiste had halted pinning the hem for, her face too one of shock, but at least not glee. The modiste would know better than to find pleasure in such news with the daughter of a duke.
"I do not understand," her mama said, taking the newspaper from Alice and reading the article herself.
Victoria felt her cheeks heat with embarrassment. How could Paul do such a thing to her? She had thought they were happy, settled, and ready to start the next chapter of their lives. Only last week she had farewelled him when he went to check on his country estate. That this gossip rag all of London was devouring knew more about the state of her marriage than she did was mortifying. How could she have been so wrong about a person she cared for? She was never wrong.
"Pass me the paper, Mama." Her mother handed it over to her with haste, seemingly only too happy to have the offending article out of her hand. Victoria read the printed black letters, and with each word, her world crumbled about her.
It read: “Mr. Paul Armstrong, the very one recently married to Lady Victoria Worthingham was seen sequestered at a local inn in Dover, the woman hanging off his every word most certainly not the Duke of Penworth’s sister and new wife. That both Mr. Armstrong and his unnamed companion were soused, and too boisterous for the townsfolk was also mentioned. We can only look on Lady Victoria with pity over her most unhappy union that she so newly stepped into.”
She clamped her jaw shut, an expletive on the tip of her tongue. Paul was a wealthy landholder from Kent. A suitable gentleman for a woman such as herself. Her brother Josh, the Duke of Penworth assured her he was a good match, both financially and regarding the gentleman's reputation. When her brother returned from abroad, she would certainly have words with him regarding his character evaluations.
Not that their marriage was a love match, unlike her sisters who had found love with their spouses. But Victoria had never been one to think such a thing would happen to her. She was too opinionated, a little rough about the edges, blunt, and loved dogs and horses too much to be a diamond of the first water.
Where her sisters were refined and ladylike, she was, well, a little notched. A laugh caught her attention, and she looked over to find Miss Fanny Christi pointing and giggling over The Times. Victoria glared at the social-climbing ninny and thrust the paper aside, the modiste taking it without a word.
"I apologize for wasting your time with this gown, Mrs. DeRose, but it would seem that I'm no longer in the mood for a dress fitting." Victoria held out her arms. "Please help me to remove the gown. I shall return another day to complete the alterations."
"But dear, do you not want to write and demand Mr. Armstrong returns? The article could be incorrect. Why even now he could be on his way back from the country to explain this slanderous piece."
Victoria wiggled out of the gown, leaving her only in her shift as she stepped off the fitting stool in the store and went to change back into her morning dress. "It is not, Mama. Mr. Armstrong has made his choice." And now he would have to live with it. “I will not be one of those pitiful wives who allow such insults to stand. While I cannot change the fact that I am married, that does not mean I’ll allow him to ruin my life. If it is freedom he wishes so soon after our nuptials, then I too shall live how I like and bedamn Paul to Hades.”
Stupid fool to have ruined their future in such a way. Victoria walked into the change room, pulling the small curtain closed to hide her from those in the store who watched them and their reaction to the news like a kettle of vultures over a corpse.
Only then did she allow herself a deep breath, the reaction to the news that she had been hiding from all those prying eyes. She slumped onto the soft, padded chair in the stall. While she knew their marriage would have been a practical and good match, she had liked Paul, even if it were not a love match. He made her laugh and was handsome. She had thought they would muddle along well enough. His estate was large. He had a good stable of horses and was fond of dogs, had stated she could bring her two wolfhounds with her when they married, which she had.
She pulled her morning gown from the hook where it hung. She would not have minded had he wished to break the engagement, but to marry her and then run off? What had he been thinking! The stupid man could have been honest with her. Why did he not tell her the truth, that he loved another and did not wish to marry? That’s if he loved the maid at all. For all she knew, perhaps this was the way the man truly was. A gentleman without honor.
Victoria stood and slipped the dress over her head, stepping back out into the store to gain assistance with the buttons on her back. Her mama handed her her bonnet and gloves, and within a few minutes, they were ready to leave.
"I'm so very sorry about your unsuccessful marriage, Lady Victoria," Miss Christi said, the smirk on her face telling Victoria that she was not sorry at all. “And so soon into the union. How you must be suffering.”
Victoria looked down her nose at her, feeling the weight and support of both her mother and sister behind her. A duchess and viscountess who would never abide such rudeness for long, and neither would she.
Victoria patted Miss Christi's shoulder, hoping the condescension was thick and clear in her touch. "Do not be sorry for me, Miss Christi. It is not my loss, but my husband’s." She smiled, glad to see Miss Christi's face had paled at her words. "I hope we see you at the ball this evening. It's always lovely to see off the Season with a bang."
Miss Christi curtsied to Victoria's mama while mumbling, "Of course. Good day, Your Grace, Lady Arndel."
Victoria turned up her nose and left the store. Their coachman opened the door and helped them inside. Victoria heard her mama tell the driver they were for home, and it wasn't long before the carriage wheels were rumbling over the gravel and cobblestone roads through Mayfair.
No one spoke, all of them too disturbed by what had just transpired, no matter how it may have looked to those who viewed them in the store.
"Well, I hope Mr. Armstrong is pleased with his actions. I shall endeavor never to allow him to step foot in any of our entertainments in the future or those of my children. He is cut off from our family. Dead to us all I swear."
Alice nodded, her lips thinning in displeasure. "You should not allow him to get away with such treatment, Victoria. We ought to pay him back in some way. I could always shoot him. My aim is second to none as you know."
Victoria glanced at her sister, unsure how much help Alice would be since she was in the early stages of pregnancy. "I think Callum may take issue with me having you hie about England searching for a man who does not want to be found and shooting him. Not yet, at least." Victoria stared out onto the street, not really seeing anything other than a city she would be happy to leave. Next week, in fact, she was due to return to Paul’s country estate where they were to remain until next Season. That would not be happening now.
What a waste of effort these past months had been. The courtship, the marriage, the expense. Victoria supposed she should feel more upset than she did, but she couldn't bring forth the emotions to do so. That in itself told her that to lose her husband, while humiliating, was not life-ending.
She would clasp the opportunity his foolishness had gifted her and return to Dunsleigh.
"You may do whatever you think is best, Mama. I, for one, will hold my head high at tonight's ball, and next week we shall return home and go on with things as if nothing has happened." Victoria leaned forward, taking her mama's hands. "Do not think that I am so very upset, for I am not. In fact," she said, leaning against the squabs, "I'm certain since he's decided to run off with a maid, society will punish him enough without me adding to his woes. But as for our marriage, it is over and nothing, no persuasion from him in the future will change my mind. As far as I am concerned, I will view myself as a widow from this day forward."
"I think you may be right," Alice said, rubbing her small baby bump. "You are destined for better things, my dearest. Who is attending this evening, Mama? We need to show society that we have rallied around Victoria and will not abide her being slighted."
"Well, as for that," her mama said, rattling off several families, all of whom Victoria knew and classed as friends. They would not offend or slight her in her time of need. They would be home soon. Safe from London and the gossiping ton.
While she did not know what her future held, where she would live, or what name to use, one thing she was at least grateful for… Her dowry was still her own, and no matter where Paul traveled with his lover, he could not swindle her money away. She supposed she could purchase a townhouse in London or a small country estate near Dunsleigh. All ideas would need considerable thought and once they were home, she would be able to set her mind to figuring out her future.
One thing was certain however, her future would not involve her husband. Not ever again.

Main Tropes

  • Insta Love
  • Brothers Best Friend
  • Regency Romance
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