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To Vex a Viscount (Lords of London, Book 4) (Ebook)

To Vex a Viscount (Lords of London, Book 4) (Ebook)

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For the past six years, Miss Lizzie Doherty has had exactly zero proposals. Not because she isn’t attractive, or from a good family, or doesn’t have well-connected friends, but simply because she is poor. Or so the ton believe. Invited to a country house party on a stormy night, her journey takes an unexpected turn when her driver delivers her to the wrong estate. Upon entering the home, she’s soon masked and sworn to secrecy. Never has Lizzie ever experienced such an odd and intriguing event, so she plays along to see where the night will take her.

Lord Hugo, Viscount Wakely lives for sin, for anything scandalous, and for house parties that involve all of those things. At least he used to. But imagine his surprise when his good friends’ ward, Miss Lizzie Doherty, an innocent and a successful debutante six years running, arrives at the last debauchery house party he’ll attend. Or when an impromptu, scandalous kiss turns his life upside down.

Lizzie decides to stay for the week-long house party. Masks keep the guests’ identities secret, but Lizzie would know Lord Hugo Wakely anywhere. And that one impromptu, scandalous kiss tells her that he is the Viscount for her…he just doesn’t know it yet.

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J. Smith & Sons Solicitors, London, August 1812

Lord Hugo Blythe, fourth Viscount Wakely, stared mutely at his solicitor of many years, Mr. Thompson. He blinked, fighting to comprehend the meaning behind the gentleman’s words.
Damn my father to hell. Had he not already been dead, Hugo might have killed him himself for playing such a game.
“I’m sorry, but can you explain to me again what the terms are of my father’s will? I’m not sure it’s making sense to me. You said I must marry within a year? This part I’m a little muddled about.” How he dearly wished there really was some confusion on his part.
Mr. Thompson, a stout older gentleman with a receding hairline but honest features, threw him a pitying glance and then stared down at the paperwork before him again.
“The will explains that as per your birthright, you inherit the title of viscount, and Bolton Abbey, along with the London home and the estate in Cumbria and Ireland. However, the dowry your mother brought to the family upon her marriage to your father will revert to her family should you not marry by your thirtieth birthday. I believe that is less than twelve months away.”
Disbelief sat in Hugo’s gut like a heavy boulder. “Only just. July twenty-third, to be exact,” he said, running a hand over his jaw. How could his father do this to him? Of course, they’d had many discussions–very well, arguments–about his dallying and raking about town without any direction toward marriage, but to do this to him, forcing his hand, was beyond cruel.
His solicitor placed down his papers and met his gaze. “I suggest that you find a wife before the end of the next season. If you fail to satisfy that clause, the money will go to your uncle in New York according to your father’s instructions. Your uncle has been notified of this condition and is receptive to claiming the money that went with his sister to your father upon their marriage. The clause is quite watertight and cannot be waived. Of course, looking at the financial statements regarding your inheritance, should you lose this money, there will be very little remaining to keep the estates running. You may have to look to leasing them out indefinitely, as you’re unable to sell due to them being entailed properties.”
A weight settled on Hugo’s shoulders and he slumped back in his chair, not having known it was as bad as all that. “Did Father state exactly who I’m to marry?” He’d certainly spoken loudly enough from beyond the grave with his will, he might as well also state who was acceptable.
“As to that…” Mr. Thompson said, shifting on his seat and looking a little uncomfortable for the first time during their meeting.
The weight on Hugo’s shoulders doubled.
“Your father has stipulated that not only are you to marry before your thirtieth birthday, but you are also required to marry a woman of fortune, as he did. No less than thirty thousand pounds must be her dowry. Your father wrote that he asks this of you to ensure that the family name, and all those who rely on your lands for their livelihood, are kept secure. He also wrote that he believes you are more than capable of this task, and he wishes you well and every happiness in your future marriage.”
Hugo met his solicitor’s gaze, unable to fathom what he was being told. He’d thought he would have more time before he settled down. He very much enjoyed being an eligible bachelor, but the select, very scandalous house parties that he was accustomed to would all have to stop if he were to find a wife. How dull. A wife. His life was over.
Mr. Thompson stood, holding out a rolled-up copy of the will tied with dark pink ribbon. Hugo clasped it, the urge to scrunch it up into a ball of rubbish being his first thought.
“Good luck, Lord Wakely. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call on me. I’m at your disposal whenever you need.”
Hugo shook his hand, then, swiping up his hat and gloves, strode for the door. “Thank you, sir. Once I have found the poor victim who will become my wife, I shall be in contact.”
And she would be a victim, for a marriage made in haste, and solely due to requiring funds, would never be a good match. He’d always admired the love match marriages of the couples with whom he associated, knowing he too would desire such a connection for himself. Just not yet.
He stopped on the cobbled pavement and slammed his beaver hat on his head. Damn. If what the solicitor said was true, and there was no doubt that it was–he had the will in his hands to prove it–then he had to find a wife.
Eleven months approximately before his time was up. Before his uncle made the trip across the Atlantic and took back what was rightfully Hugo’s. His birthright.
Well, he wouldn’t have it. He would adhere to the clause, but he would enjoy his final year as an unmarried gentleman as well. There was nothing he disliked more than being told by his father what to do. That his sire had managed this from beyond the grave was not something he’d thought the old curmudgeon capable of, but alas, he was wrong.
He swore. Eleven months and then, and only then would he find a willing heiress wanting a marriage of convenience, and be done with it.
In all the past Seasons he’d failed to find anyone who inspired him with anything other than with lust, so, in the next season, he would marry a biddable heiress to secure his properties. A perfectly convenient plan if ever he had one.
Under no circumstances was he willing to lose his lands, have to lease out his estates, and live off meager funds for the rest of his life. His name would be ruined; he’d be a lord pitied by everyone. The Wakelys had never had to ask for money, and he would not be the first one to do so. He shuddered. Oh no, that would never do.
Heiress hunting he would go. Well, in eleven months in any case.

Main Tropes

  • Scandalous House Party
  • Rakehell Hero
  • Regency Romance
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