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To Madden a Marquess (Paperback)

To Madden a Marquess (Paperback)

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Paperback

She saved his life, but can she save him from himself?

Hunter, Marquess of Aaron, has the ton fooled. Outwardly he’s a gentleman of position, with good contacts, wealth and charm. Inwardly, he’s a mess. His vice—drinking himself into a stupor most days—almost kills him when he steps in front of a hackney cab. His saviour, a most unlikely person, is an angel to gaze at, but with a tongue sharper than his sword cane.

Cecilia Smith dislikes idleness and waste. Had she been born male, she would already be working for her father’s law firm. So, on a day when she was late for an important meeting at one of her many charities, she was not impressed by having to step in and save a foxed gentleman rogue from being run over.

When their social spheres collide, Hunter is both surprised and awed by the capable, beautiful Miss Smith. Cecilia, on the other hand, is left confused and not a little worried by her assumptions about the Marquess and his demons. It is anyone’s guess whether these two people from different worlds can form one of their own…

PAPERBACK

Paperback

158 pages

Dimensions

5 x 8 inches (127 x 203 mm)

ISBN

9780648857563

Publication Date

November 19, 2023

Publisher

Tamara Gill

Read a Sample

Cecilia Smith stood on Curzon Street and tried to hail a Hackney cab. The streets were busy with coal carts, people walking along the cobbled footpath and gentlemen with their ladies out for an afternoon stroll. Cecilia pulled her spencer closed as a light breeze chilled the air, and waved to another Hackney that too, trotted past without a backward glance.
What was going on? Did they not see her? The thought was probably closer to the truth than she liked to admit. Here in Mayfair, in the drab, working-class gown that she was wearing, it was any wonder no one bothered to stop to pick her up. The working populace that was her sphere wasn’t well-to-do enough for this locale, and it had not passed her notice that a lot of those out and about had thrown her curious, if not annoyed glances her way that she’d dared enter their esteemed realm.
From the corner of her eye, a flash of black arrested her attention. Turning to look, she observed as a gentleman stumbled toward a street lamp, leaning up against it as if it were the only thing keeping him upright.
He was a tall gentleman, his clothing was cut to perfection, and fit his tall, muscular frame well, but his eyes that she could see even from across the road were blood-shot with dark rings beneath them.
Was he ill, suffering apoplexy or merely drunk?
A hackney cab barrelled down the road and showed no signs of slowing. Cecilia turned her attention back to the gentleman and horrifyingly watched as he started across the busy thoroughfare.
Without a moment’s hesitation she started toward him, and looking toward the hackney cab wasn’t sure if even she would make it out of its way before it was too late. What an absurd, stupid man for putting himself and now her also in danger. Did these Mayfair dandies have no sense?
He stumbled just as she made his side, and heaving him with all of her might thumped him hard in the chest, sending him to fly backward and toward the safety of the side of the road. Unfortunately, he reached out at that very moment and brought her down with him. The man’s head made a loud crack as it hit the cobbled pavement.
The hackney cab rattled past without so much as a by-your-leave and Cecilia scrambled to her feet and stood next to the man, peering down at him. The scent of spirits wafted from him, almost as if he’d bathed in the stuff and his uncertain footing and stupid attempt to cross the road without care was all too clear. Nevertheless, she couldn’t just leave him there, even if she really wanted to. How lovely it would be to be able to prance about town at midday, drunk and without a care, as this fellow seemed to do. He must be one of those rich nobs that waltzed at balls and believed everything that was said or written about them was true.
If only they knew that her class laughed and mocked them at every turn. If it weren’t for her kind, London would screech to a halt, no matter what the upper ten-thousand thought. They might make the laws, employ many, but it was her lot in life that kept the city running, and the country counties too when she thought about it.
He moaned, and she kneeled beside him, tapping his cheek lightly. His clothing smelt of stale wine, his breath reeked of spirits and a hard night, not to mention there was a slight odor of sweat that permeated the air. When he didn’t respond to another gentle prod, she gave him a good whack. His eyes opened, his dark blue orbs wide in shock before narrowing in annoyance. This close to him, Cecilia noticed his sharp cheekbones, strong jaw and his too perfectly shaped nose was probably prettier than her own.
“What do you think you’re about hitting me like that? Have care, miss, miss, miss.”
She stood and held out her hand. He gazed at it in confusion before she sighed and leaning down again, took his hand in hers. “Stand, before you’re nearly run over again by another carriage. And do be quick about it. I’m late for my meeting already.”
He moaned as he allowed her to help him up. Cecilia led him onto the footpath and ensured he was well off the road before she let go of his hand. “Is your home nearby? Can I escort you there to ensure your arrival is to a satisfying end, unlike the one you almost had on the road just now?”
He frowned, rubbing his forehead. “I was on the road?”
“Yes, you were. Just how foxed are you sir?”
“I’m not a sir,” He replied with an arrogant tilt of his head.
Cecilia took a calming breath to prevent herself from pushing the imbecile back onto the road. Really. Wasn’t a sir? “Pray tell me, what are you then? I’m sure it’s important that I must know to correct my silly ways?”
“Are you being sarcastic?” A small quirk turned his lips. Cecilia found her attention riveted on the spot and she vexed herself that she would be so pathetic as to look at his mouth at such a time.
“You are a smart one, sir.”
“I would have you know, I’m the Marquess of Aaron, Hunter to my friends. Hunt for those of even closer acquaintance.”
“Well, aren’t we vulgar.” Cecilia stepped away from him, dusting down her gown after their collision. “If you’re safe and well enough to manage to get yourself home before you’re struck by another vehicle I shall leave you now.” Cecilia turned and started down the pavement. She left the marquess standing behind her, his agape mouth the last memory she’d have of him. She smiled a little, imagining he’d not been talked to so abruptly before. Not that he didn’t deserve to be brought down a level or two.
“Wait!” he demanded, his footsteps hastened as he came up beside her. “You didn’t tell me your name.”
Since his lordship was so particular about titles, Cecilia decided to play a little trick on him. “I am the Duke of Ormond’s daughter. Heir to a massive fortune and looking for a husband.”
He started. “Really?”
“No. Not really. I’m Miss Cecilia Smith. My father owns and runs J Smith & Sons, Lawyers and I reside in Cheapside if you must know. I am also late for a charity meeting. So if you do not mind, I shall leave you to your stupor and go.”
She moved on and ignored the light chuckle she heard behind her. He didn’t follow, but she felt the heat of his gaze on her back. It was a pleasant feeling knowing he was watching her, not that she would ever see him again. Their social spheres were eons apart and he would only look to her Society for mistresses. Never marriage, unless it was absolutely necessary due to financial woes or some other such reason.
And as much as she hated to admit it, Cecilia had heard of the Marquess of Aaron and the wild and naughty antics the rich toff was known for around London. If what they wrote in the papers about him was accurate, he was a man who lived life fast and hard and left a bevy of young women pining for him to marry them. It was rumored that if he asked for a dance, they were instantly in love with him.
Cecilia rolled her eyes, not impressed by her first encounter with the gentleman. Waving again to a Hackney coming toward her, she sighed in relief when it pulled up, and she was able to travel the few blocks to her destination. The carriage rocked to a halt on the corner of Fleet Street and St Bride’s Avenue. Cecilia stepped down from the carriage, paid the driver before turning her attention to the meeting at Old Bell Tavern where she wanted to press her idea for another orphanage and school on Pilgrim Street in Ludgate where a large, unoccupied building currently sat. Her father had promised her the funds, and now all she had to do was get the women at her meeting to agree and then all her plans would come to fruition. It was the right thing to do, and she was sure she wouldn’t have any trouble getting them to agree.
If she managed to be instrumental in making just one of the orphaned children of London have a good stable job that enabled them to live a full and happy life, then her work at the charity was worth it. It was the best day in the world when children who’d arrived, sick and poor left and became house and ladies’ maids, cooks even, if their inclination leaned them in that direction. The boys becoming footmen, stable hands and those who were mathematically inclined, stewards even. If one wanted to change, one had to work toward the goal and not believe everything would just fall in your lap.
With invigorated stride, Cecilia pushed open the doors at the Bell Tavern and headed for the private parlor where they always had their meetings. Life was excellent, and she was about to make it even better, especially for those who lived on the streets that had no life at all. Not yet at least.

Main Tropes

  • Friends to Lovers
  • Addictions
  • Regency Romance
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