Only Marriage Will Do
Not every happy-ever-after begins at “I do.”
When the hero of her dreams rescues Lady Juliet Ferrers from the man claiming to be her husband, she is sure she has found her one true love. But is she free to marry him? Not to be deterred, Juliet arranges for her hero, Captain Amiable Dawson, to escort her to her family estate, hoping that along the way she can win his love.
Amiable is charmed by the sweet, beautiful woman he rescued, and although he has grave reservations about her marital status, he allows himself to be swept up into Juliet’s romantic spell and the promise of a happy-ever-after.
The spell breaks when legal questions arise and Juliet faces the horror of not knowing if she is married to her knight in shining armor or the cruel viscount who is determined to have her at any price.
London July 2, 1761
The brass lion-head knocker under Amiable Dawson’s hand sent a sharp rap through the dark walnut door of Dunham House for the second time. The hot July sun hadn’t done his temper any good as he waited on the marble stoop for entrance to the Marquess of Dalbury’s townhouse. He’d been in a foul mood ever since the news of his beloved Katarina’s marriage to the marquess had reached him. Blast it to hell, he was supposed to have married the girl. At least he could make sure she was well and well taken care of by this man she had married.
At last a short, dark-haired maid opened the door. She took one look at him, gasped, and stepped back into the house. Her eyes widened and she glanced to her right, wringing her hands. “Who may I say—”
A man shouted from within. “No, I do not believe you.”
“It is true, I tell you!” A woman’s voice, raised and sharp with terror, sent a chill through Amiable.
Katarina. What in God’s name?
He barged past the stunned girl and strode down the hall toward the commotion. He burst through the doorway, expecting to defend the woman he loved, only to stop dead at the sight of a man lunging across a sofa and grasping a woman by the wrist. Amiable had half drawn his sword before he realized the woman was not Katarina, but a complete stranger. He dropped it back into its scabbard. This was none of his affair.
The young man, foppishly dressed in a robin’s egg blue satin coat dripping too many layers of frothy lace at throat and wrists looked at Amiable, a snarl on his lips.
Taking advantage of the distraction, the woman wrenched her arm from the man’s grip. “Praise God. Here he is.” She staggered as she righted herself. “Now you will have to believe me, Philippe.”
The fop scrambled back off the sofa and groped for a black lacquer walking stick that lay on the floor. Lips pressed together, he glowered at the woman. “That remains to be seen, ma chere. In any case, I have shown you the papers. They speak for themselves.”
The woman ran from behind the sofa to Amiable’s side, grazed a kiss over his cheek and whispered, “For God’s sake, help me. I am alone here and he is trying to take me away. Please, agree with whatever I say.”
Smiling into her pleading face, he grasped her hands and gave them a gentle squeeze to signal his acquiescence. “Whatever is the matter, my dear?” Hell if he knew. But he could play his part, even with little information. Let the lady lead and he’d follow as well as he could.
The woman smiled then took a deep breath. “My dear, may I present Viscount St. Cyr?” She nodded toward the fop. “Philippe, this is my husband, the Earl of Manning.”