To Marry a Lord, page 1
Table of Contents
TO MARRY A LORD
TO MARRY A LORD
Reformed Rakes Series: Book IV
SOUL MATE PUBLISHING
TO MARRY A LORD
Cover Design by Rae Monet, Inc.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Published in the United States of America by
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Macedon, New York, 14502
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
BY JENN LANGSTON
THE PERFECT SERIES
His Perfect Bride
His Perfect Game
His Perfect Lady
PERFECT SERIES COMPANIONS
Catching the Baron
Winning The Duke
Redeeming The Earl
TOUCHED BY FIRE SERIES
Embracing The Knight
Enslaving The Day
Ensnaring Lord Starsen
Enchanting The Duke Of Demoon
REFORMED RAKE SERIES
To Love A Marquis
To Tame A Viscount
To Teach A Gentleman
To Marry A Lord
To my three, sweet Angels.
I love you more than I can say.
Thank you so much for giving Mommy time to write.
I enjoy every second we spend together,
and I hope none of you grow up to be too cool for me.
Hugs and kisses!
FATHERS, MOTHERS, AND GUARDIANS, do you have unwed children or charges that need to stand apart in the marriage mart? Or, perhaps you have a bad habit you wish to break or a skill you wish to master? Here at Lady Constance’s House of Reform we specialize in turning pesky problems into vague memories. We offer a range of services that are tailored to your specific needs.
Those who suffer from shyness, lack of social graces, or problematic dancing skills have no reason to fear after seeking our assistance. Our lessons promote confidence when dealing with the opposite gender. Our individualized plans will put anyone at ease.
In addition, we offer schooling in a range of languages. If you are looking to learn Latin, French, Spanish or Italian, we are your best option. We will cater to your needs and set up tutoring that will fit with your lifestyle.
Don’t delay! Help is available, now!
For employment opportunities, bring your direct inquiries to the head mistress on Cannon Street. We are seeking strong, capable women. Thank you.
“Damn it!” Hannah Dobson, Countess of Rivers, exclaimed as she hit her slippered toe on the ill-placed piece of furniture, for what had to be the twelfth time.
Ever since she’d been helping at the House of Reform, she’d commented on the placement of the hall table, but no one listened to her. She supposed it didn’t help that she was always in a hurry. A languid pace was not for her.
“Did you hit your toe again,” Regina laughed as Hannah limped into the classroom in which they had agreed to meet.
“That bloody table shall be the death of me,” Hannah grumbled. “I just don’t understand why it needs to be there.”
Hannah set her jaw as Lady Regina Serra shook her head. Considering the woman had founded the House of Reform with Lady Constance and the newly married Viscountess Washburne, Hannah firmly believed some of the blame belonged to the young woman. However, she knew it truly wasn’t the table that was bothering her. Ever since her friend, Genevieve, married and rushed off to the country, she’d lost another reason to be in London. The trouble was, she didn’t exactly belong in the country either.
“If I moved the table, I daresay you would locate it just to stub your toe in its new location. I believe it would be better for the two of you to work out your differences.”
As Regina burst out laughing at her jest, Hannah rolled her eyes. “I can see nothing amusing here and therefore suggest we move from this topic.”
Once the lady composed herself, she straightened her back. “Of course. Did you finish checking in on the classes?”
Hannah nodded, then gave her report regarding which clients appeared distressed and which ones were pleased. Luckily, she hadn’t walked in on any gentlemen getting too friendly with their instructors. It didn’t happen often, but considering they’d seen several marriages between clients and employees, they needed to be vigilant.
Overall the House of Reform provided good services, and Hannah was pleased to have been a part of it, but she didn’t truly belong here either. Since her husband had died, she thought her life would improve, and although it had, she still felt displaced. For ten years, she’d never belonged anywhere, and she suspected that feeling wasn’t going to go away anytime soon.
“Very good.” Regina leaned back in her chair. “Tonight we shall be celebrating Miss Raycela’s betrothal. I’ve been working with that girl for far too long. Do you plan on remaining for our tradition?”
Shaking her head, Hannah forced a smile. The ladies who seemed against marriage for themselves only gathered together to celebrate the union. Never had they toasted when one of their clients mastered a language or became proficient at the pianoforte. Only for the interminable torment of marriage. It just didn’t make sense to Hannah.
“No, I can’t stay. That’s actually another matter I wanted to discuss with you today. I shall be leaving London soon, and therefore, will be unable to offer my assistance with the classes any longer.”
“Leaving? But, why?” Regina seemed truly appalled at the idea.
Hannah laughed at the horror on the woman’s face. “Ever since I married all those years ago, I’ve spent the season in London and the remainder of the time in the country. Even though my husband is gone, I see no reason to end this custom.”
“I’ve spent my whole life in London and can’t imagine ever wanting to leave
“Why don’t you arrange your schedule to pay me a visit? It would be a wonderful opportunity for you to see, and I would dearly love to have a friendly face and some news of London.”
After Regina gave a cautious, yet noncommittal reply, Hannah took her leave. In truth, she had no other manner of answering the question. After all, the estate where she would be spending the winter would be very different than the one where she’d spent the previous winters. For the first time in years, she planned to return to the earl’s estate.
In the past, her brother, Anson Greenleaf, Marquis of Melbourne, was kind enough to take her in when her husband had exiled her to the country. However, she would not rely on him any longer. With his new wife and child, it wasn’t fair to infringe upon their time. Not to mention, with her husband’s death, she now felt slightly more comfortable spending time at the house that had been her prison for her first year of marriage.
A fortnight later, she stepped foot onto her late husband’s estate. As she breezed through the doors, she took in a deep breath. It smelled different. She smiled, not sure if it was reality or if it was the knowledge her husband was gone that gave the place a more refreshing aroma. Regardless, she liked it.
“My lady,” Mr. Rawlings, the butler, gave a deep bow. “It’s wonderful to see you after all this time.”
“Thank you. I decided it was past time for my return.”
“Of course. I shall have Mrs. Rawlings prepare a room for you.”
Knowing she would have a little bit of a challenge with the new Lord Rivers, Hannah put her shoulders back. “The countess’s chambers will do nicely. Seeing as my designation hasn’t been altered, I see no reason to change my quarters.”
“Very good, my lady.” The man’s face gave no indication to his thoughts.
As she supervised the moving of her trunks, she debated paying a visit to the new lord, but decided against it. She’d been informed that he had taken up residence here a month or so after title had passed on to him. Being the nephew of the late earl and next in line, he’d known this would be his future, so she didn’t imagine he’d been surprised. And, considering the man had never approved of her, she didn’t intend to remain in his company long. As a matter of fact, she planned to encourage him to spend some time in London.
Considering his past reception of her, she didn’t expect he would want to share a household with her. She also understood he needed to examine all of his holdings, not just the country estate. They would be able to manage well together if he spent his winters in London and seasons in the country—the exact opposite of her.
She smiled. This would work out. A few months of this, and she would finally find her place and the feeling of displacement would dissipate. Her future would be simple, she just needed to rid herself of the new earl first.
~ ~ ~
“She’s doing what?” Lucius Dobson, Earl of Rivers, slammed his hands on his desk as anger rushed through his body. This was unacceptable, and he suspected the woman knew it. His late uncle’s wife always had her own way of doing things, as she was quite spirited.
He groaned. If he couldn’t find a way to make her leave, she was only going to make everything more difficult for him. That was not what he needed right now.
“Mr. Rawlings, please show the countess to my study at once.”
The man bowed and left the room. Lucius let out a sigh. He’d known remaining away from the estate all those years would make taking over the earldom more difficult, but he couldn’t go back and change that fact now. His uncle had left the books in a fine puzzle and Lucius had wasted too much time before moving here to see to his duty. It didn’t matter now. He’d accepted his fate as there was no avoiding it in any case.
“You wished to see me . . . Umm, my lord?” His late uncle’s wife gave a small smile. “It seems so strange to address you as such.”
He fought off the urge to return her smile as he stood. The woman was even more beautiful than the last time he’d seen her. However, he kept his scowl firmly in place, not wanting to be affected by her. He hated how quickly he noticed everything about her. She had no right to come in here with her blond hairstyle so meticulously perfect framing her high cheekbones and pert nose. Then, there were those brown eyes. Those soulful things had gazed upon him years ago as if he should be the one to save her, but, he could not. He wasn’t her husband.
“And, how would you like to address me?” He lifted a condescending eyebrow, needing to bring himself back to the present. “Shall we be Lucius and Aunt Hannah?”
The disgust on her face struck him. “Heavens, no. That would be highly inappropriate. I’ve never been an aunt to you, and I don’t intend to begin now.”
“Then, as the Earl of Rivers, you may address me as Lord Rivers.”
Her face paled. Interesting.
“I don’t believe I’m ready to hear that name again. I suppose we are stuck with my lord and my lady.”
Nodding, he held out his hand toward the chair placed before his desk. “Tedious, but serviceable. Please have a seat, my lady.”
Again, she smiled and the sparkle in her eyes hit him in the stomach. Why was it she could always do that to him? He turned away, not wanting to notice her beauty any longer. He’d seen his share of attractive women, but none of them had ever compared to her.
She settled in the chair as he took his own seat. “I was rather busy unpacking my belongings, so if this is to be a social visit, I’d dearly love to reschedule for another time.”
Clearing his throat, he forced his mind to focus on what he needed to say. “Not simply a visit. Your arrival was a surprise to me, and I don’t appreciate being left out of the decisions.”
Her lips pinched tight. “I can understand, but my movements don’t need to be monitored by you or anyone else. However, I will be happy to inform you that I always spend the season in London and the winter in the country.”
It was difficult to stifle his reaction. “You intend to remain here through the winter?”
She nodded. “I understand it’s a long time, but I believe it will be a good time for you to use this opportunity. You see, with me being away from London, it’s an ideal time to check out the townhouse. I’m certain there is much in the city requiring your attention as the earl spent the majority of his time there.”
This time Lucius couldn’t keep his jaw from going slack. This woman was dismissing him from his own home? It was true he only recently inherited, but how dare she believe she had a right? This was much worse than he’d originally believed. He crossed his arms.
“I’m not going anywhere. And, if you intend to stay, there needs to be an adjustment to your choice of quarters.”
Her eyes narrowed. “My choice of quarters? You mean the countess’s chambers? If you hadn’t noticed, I’m still the countess.”
“That is true, but I’m the new earl, and those rooms are reserved for my countess, not my uncle’s.”
“I will happily vacate as soon as she is found and awarded the title.”
They stared at each other, neither one of them flinching. Lucius wondered how his uncle could have put up with this unmalleable creature. From his memory, he didn’t recall this difficult side of her. She’d been sweet and carefree. He imagined it was good that . . . No. He wouldn’t think along those lines. Moving down that path never served him.
“Think of the talk that would generate. Besides, you can’t be comfortable having your room connected to a man who is not your husband.”
She tossed her head back. “There will be no talk, considering I’m your aunt. That being the case, I’m not sure we can classify you as a man.”
The defiance in her eyes made him clench his fists. She was deliberately goading him. As if she believed doing
“Although your assessment of me and the situation is quite incorrect, I’ll not remain here arguing with you. If you insist, you may remain in the countess’s quarters, but I will also be remaining in mine.”
She nodded. “Good. Then, I have no reason to believe that you would use that door. Therefore, I have nothing to fear from you. As I said—not a threat.”
The defiant tilt of her head ignited him. He wanted to tell her how she was wrong. To give her reason to be afraid. To warn her that he had every right to use that door. But, he couldn’t force himself to do such a thing. No matter how furious she made him, she deserved to feel safety of her own—albeit temporary—quarters.
“Now that we have the rooms established, I want you to know that this will be nothing like London. I’m not here to socialize or to attend parties. Don’t expect anything from me, because you will not receive it.” Her eyes widened, but he ignored her surprise. “I’m certain you have matters you would like to attend, so you may leave.”
With her mouth slightly agape, she woodenly stood and left his study with her back straight. Once she was gone, Lucius let out a sigh of relief. Her being here was not ideal, but he would manage. Likely she was accustomed to an active social life and would hope to connect with the nearby families.
The winter months would be long, but if she spent the majority of her time elsewhere, he wouldn’t be bothered by her presence. Yes. That was the solution. The manor was large, and he saw no reason to stand on ceremony.
He simply needed to keep his mind focused on his lengthy task ahead and ignore any distractions. That being the case, before long she would be returning to London. Then, once he deciphered all of his uncle’s ramblings, the books would be in working condition, and he would finally be able to find his own bride and move on with his own life.
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