An arranged marriage may be the death of Lord Landon Montague, who has earned his rude moniker, Lord Heartless, through the distaste of the Ton. When he makes plans to collect on a debt from Lord Charles Gilbert by foreclosing on Holly Grove, Gilbert commits suicide. Only then does Lord Montague learn that Lord Gilbert has left a nineteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, at his mercy.
Lady Juliet Gilbert has suffered the stigma of suicide as best she could. But losing her home and the servants who have raised her and stood by through her father’s drinking would be the last straw. Unable to secure a position, Lord Montague’s offer of marriage gives her hope. All she must do is produce an heir. But arriving at Broadmoor proves more taxing than she anticipated for her dark Lord already holds an heir conceived out of wedlock.
Will this doom any hope of finding happiness and label him forever Lord Heartless, or will London’s society have its last laugh on Shakespeare when Montague wins his fair Juliet?
“Marriage!” She gasped and walked a few feet beyond the where he stood. Then turning she shook the paper in his direction. “My lack of financial support and your blackened honor are no reason to wed.”
“On the contrary, it is the very reason to join our two houses. If nothing else, then to thumb our noses at conventional society.”
Dumfounded, she stared at him. “You are mad.”
He closed the gap, his eyes growing fiery. “No, not in the slightest. It is not a love match, of course, more marriage of convenience. I would lend you my name, provide resources to bring Holly Grove back to its greatness, thereby raising your station in life.”
“Raising my station!” she snapped and stared at him in disbelief. “And in return, what would I have to do?”
“Be my wife, give me legitimacy. By doing this, you will help me salvage what my family has held against me. I see how much you care about the town, its people. I could raise my horses here and bring jobs to bolster the economy. All I ask is that you accompany me to London four times a year, host a party or two at my home, and allow me to visit you….”
Suddenly, his meaning was more than clear. Juliet lost reason as her anger mounted. “You mean to warm your bed?”
Lord Montague hung his head like an errant schoolboy scolded. “I should like a legal heir.”
“How generous of you.”
“I admit it is not the best situation.”
“No, it is not,” she agreed. Her voice grew low and her teeth clenched together as she spilled out the words with all the indignity she could muster. “Milord, even in the country, words and tales of your exploitations fill the ears of the gossips.”
Tessa Berkley loves nothing more than to be immersed in a good story. Growing up in Tidewater Virginia, she often dreamed about different endings to books she’d read. Finally, she decided to create her own worlds to share. Won’t you join her as her heroes and heroines find their soul mates through life’s adversities and adventures?
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Next Monday, Martin Luther King., Jr. Day, bookstagrammer @creemyles , @penguinrandomhouse, and @belletrist will kick off Black Like We Never Left, a week-long virtual read-a-thon celebrating Black fiction. This...