Hot-blooded Spencer Becket went off to war in America, full of passion and young ideals, only to return older, wiser and with part of his memory missing.
Fiery Mariah Rutledge arrived at Becket Hall one stormy night, heavy with child and more than willing to refresh Spencer's lost memory.
Forced to the altar, Spencer and Mariah have little time to explore their attraction before they uncover a plot to restore the recently vanquished Napoleon to power in a most unusualand deadlyway. Bound by the secrets that keep the Beckets safe from harm, Spencer and Mariah must battle the world and their own devils in order to prevent a tragedy but what will be the price of their victory?
About the Author
USA TODAY bestselling author Kasey Michaels is the author of more than one hundred books. She has earned four starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, and has won an RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award and several other commendations for her contemporary and historical novels. Kasey resides with her family in Pennsylvania. Readers may contact Kasey via her website at www.KaseyMichaels.com and find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorKaseyMichaels.
Read an Excerpt
BECKET HALL, ROMNEY MARSH
Ainsley Becket sighed, then removed the spectacles he'd lately found necessary for reading and tossed both them and the letter on the desktop. "Well, I'll say this for the boy. They didn't execute him."
"Execute him? Our Spencer? Our so mild, even-tempered Spencer committed a hanging offense? Imagine that. I know I can." Courtland Becket reached for the letter that had taken several months to arrive at Becket Hall, most of them, judging from the condition of the single page, spent being walked to Romney Marsh stuck to the bottom of someone's boot. "What did he do, get caught bedding the General's wife?"
"If it were only that simple," Ainsley said, getting to his feet to walk over to the large table where he kept a collection of maps he consulted almost daily, tracking the English wars with both Bonaparte and the Americans. "He's in some benighted spot called Brownstown, or he was when that letter was written, nearly five months ago. From reports I've read in the London papers, if he's still there he's in the thick of considerable trouble."
"Sweet Jesus," Courtland swore quietly, scanning the single page, attempting to decipher Spencer's crabbed handwriting and then read the words out loud, as their friend Jacko was also in the room. ""Forgive my tardiness in replying to your letters, but I have been incarcerated for the past six weeks, courtesy of our fine General Proctor. Allow me to explain. Against all reason, Proctor left only our Indian allies to guard several dozen American wounded we'd been forced to leave behind at the River Raisin after what had been an easy victory for us. I was sent back a few days later to retrieve them, only to discover that the Indians had executed every one of them. Hacked the poor bastards to pieces, actually. You, I'm sure, know what this means. There will be no stopping the Americans once they learn what happened. And that's the hell we face now. How do you fight an enemy that's out to seek revenge for a massacre? They'll fight to the last man, sure that to surrender means we'd turn them over to be summarily killed." "
"The boy's right," Jacko said from his seat on the couch. "When it's kill or be killed, a man can fight past the point of reason. Now tell me what our own brave soldier did that should have gotten him executed."
"I'm getting to it now, I believe." Courtland looked down at the letter once more, turning the page on its end in order to read the crossed lines. ""I returned to our headquarters once I'd seen the bodies, walked straight into Proctor's office and knocked him off his chair. I should have been hanged, I suppose, and it would have been worth it to see Proctor's bloodied nose. But Chief Tecumseh, the head of all the Five Nations, agreed that this mistake could cost us heavily in the long run, and Proctor settled for stripping me of my rank and throwing me into a cell on starvation rations. Now I'm assistant liaison to Tecumseh Proctor considers that a punishmentand I don't like the way the Chief is being treated. Mostly, I don't like that he's smart enough to see through Proctor, which could end with a lot of English scalps hanging from lodge poles. In truth, I have more respect for these natives, who at least know why they're fighting. And, yes, thinking fondly of my own scalp, I have been careful to be very friendly and helpful to Tecumseh. Rather him than Proctor." "
"I don't see a career in the Army for that boy, Cap'n," Jacko said, winking at Ainsley, who had returned to sit behind his desk once more.
"Spencer hasn't the temperament to suffer fools gladly, I agree. Truthfully, I'm surprised he only bloodied the man's nose."
"And, for all we know, Spence is still squarely in the thick of the fighting," Courtland said, picking up his wineglass. "This Tecumseh might leave the English, leave Spencer, to their fate. Or, yes, turn on them, kill them. No matter what, I can't believe nothing's happened since Spencer wrote this letter. But what?"
"Exactly," Ainsley said as he stood up and quickly quit the room.
"He'll be walking the floors every night again until we hear from Spencer, searching the newspapers for casualties in the 51st Foot," Courtland said, taking up Ainsley's seat. "Damn my brother for wanting to be a hero."
"A hero? Spencer? No, Court, not a hero. A man. Spencer wanted to be his own man, not just son to the Cap'n or brother to you and Chance and Rian. Time the rest of you figured that out. Ah, I feel so old, Court. How I long for the feel of a rolling deck beneath my feet, just one more time. Running with the wind, the Cap'n barking out orders and the promise of sweet booty at the end of a sweeter battle. I envy our young soldier that, at the least. I never planned to die in my bed. Yes, bucko, land or sea, I envy Spencer the battle."
TO DIE, TO DIE very soon, seemed inevitable. To die for stupidity, for incompetence, was unforgivable. He should have done more than bloody the man's nose.
Spencer Becket stood half-hidden behind a large tree, waiting for the Americans. He didn't look much like a soldier in the King's Army, having divested himself of his bright uniform jacket in favor of an inconspicuous buckskin jacket that had been a gift from Tecumseh himselfnot because the man loved him, but so Spencer wouldn't stand out like a sore thumb, making himself an easy target.
To his immediate left stood the skinny-shanked Clovis Meechum, who still liked to consider himself Spencer's batman, even though Spencer had long since lost his rank and was now nothing more than another highly disposable infantryman like Clovis and his constant companion, the Irishman, Anguish Nulty. They still wore their uniform jackets, but the material was so filthy as to be nearly colorless.
Behind the three soldiers, melted into the trees, were Tecumseh and his warriors.
All of them were waiting for the Americans. Waiting to die.
"They'll be coming up on us soon, Lieutenant?, Clovis asked quietly, fiddling with his powder horn.
"We'll turn 'em back?"
Spencer went down on his haunches to look straight into Clovis's eyes, not bothering to remind him that he was a lieutenant no longer. Clovis made his own distinctions. "No, my friend, we won't turn them back. But perhaps we'll slow them down, give the civilians a chance to put some more distance between themselves and the main American force. Are you prepared to die today, Clovis?"
"No, sir, I don't think so, at least not today. How about you, Anguish? You ready to cock up your toes for king and country?"
The Irishman scratched beneath his thatch of filthy, overlong hair. "And that I'm not, Clovis. It's still longing to see this Becket Hall I am, what we've heard so much about. Sturdy stone walls, a warm fire at my feet, the Channel to m'back and nothing but nothing to do today and nothing more'n that to do again tomorrow."
Spencer smiled, showing even white teeth in an otherwise deeply tanned and dirty face. He looked a rare hooligan, asAnguish had been so bold as to inform him, his thick black hair grown uncared for and much too longreleasing fat, waving curls, Clovis had added, that would be the envy of any female. "You forgot to mention the mug of ale at your right hand, Anguish."
"That, too, sir," Anguish agreed. "I'll be sorry to miss it, that I will."
"Then let's be sure we don't end our days here, all right?, Spencer stood up and looked across the river to the other bank once more. He was so tired. They'd abandoned Detroit, the soldiers and more than ten thousand men, women and children with all their belongings, all of them heading for the safety of the western part of Upper Canada before the worst of the winter arrived.
But they'd left their retreat too late, and the Americans were catching up to them. Spencer could already taste the bile of defeat at the back of his throat. Tecumseh's idea was a good onefighting with the swamp to their backs while the English forces pushed the Americans back to the riverbut any hope of out-flanking the Americans was just that, a hope.
"Here they come, Lieutenant. It's been grand knowin" you."
Even as Clovis spoke, Spencer felt the earth begin to tremble beneath him, signaling the imminent arrival of the American cavalry. Above the rumble of hooves pounding against the earth, the battle cry "Remember the Raisin!" rolled through the air.
And then hell and all its fury came straight at them, and there was no more time to think.
Anguish went down, but Spencer couldn't stop to examine the man's wound. There wasn't even time to curse Proctor, as he saw the man commandeer a wagon and drive off with his family, leaving the troops to raise the white flag.
With Clovis standing at his back, Spencer tried to load his rifle one last time, only to discover that he was out of powder. Spencer threw the weapon at the American running toward him, bayonet fixed to his own rifle, then ducked as Clovis's knife found the man's throatbut not before the bayonet had sunk deep in Spencer's left shoulder.
"I'm fine," Spencer shouted, pushing Clovis away from him. "Our troops have surrendered, but there will be no surrender for the Indians. No surrender, no quarter. We have to get clear of here if we hope to save ourselves."
"But the women, sir," Clovis shouted back at him, pointing to the near-constant stream of English women and children, and Indian squaws and their children, all of them running blindly, terrified, racing deeper into the swamp.
"Hell's bells, what a disaster!" Spencer pressed his hand to his shoulder, felt his blood hot and wet against his fingers. The pain hadn't hit him yet, but he knew it would soon, unless he was dead before that could happen. "Where's Tecumseh? Is he dead?"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A Most Unsuitable Groom is the fourth in the Beckets of Romney Marsh series, and Kasey Michaels has created characters that are endearing and fun. I love the way she brings life to her characters and makes the history of the story as real as any contemporary novel. The only problem I had with this story is Mariah’s running off so soon after William was born and leaving him with his wet nurse, and people that she barely knows and calls smugglers. As a mother of six that was just not realistic for me. Kasey Michaels is one of my favorite authors and she always writes a compelling story.
In the very beginning, i.e. the part the sample lets you read, the characters seem interesting and the plot is intriguing. Unfortunately, only after I bought the book, did I discover how terrible it really was. It went from interesting and intriguing to an overall cliche. The whole "Oh my God, there is an evil plot to free Napoleon from Elba? Swoon" really bugged me. the passionate scenes were worth skipping over they were so weak. Just save time and money by avoiding the book altogether, but if you must read it, borrow it from the library. If you are looking for a good Regency romance, allow me to recommend Mary Balogh. She has the well deserved reputation of being the William Shakespeare of Regency.
This is one of the most intriguing books I have read in a long time! Very well done. It held my attention all the way through, and I looked forward to every moment I could spare, just so that I could continue reading. Definately one that I will read over and over again. A must read for any one that likes Regency or historical romance!
Spencer Becket returns home from the war having lost a portion of his memory. It doesn't seem to matter much to him until a fiery redheaded woman appears at his home late one night, announcing that he is the father of her unborn child. Being the honorable man that he is, he immediately, unquestioningly, insists that they marry. Instrumental in keeping Spencer and the other soldiers alive after a deadly battle during the war, Mariah Rutledge is a survivor. So when she finds herself alone and pregnant after the men desert her, she sets out to find Spencer Becket, the baby's father. Although theirs is a relationship based on propriety, Mariah and Spencer's attraction for each other grows with each encounter. Mariah likes the Becket family but worries that they are involved in illegal activities which could endanger her and her baby. And when Spencer refuses not only to confide in her but outright lies to her, she takes steps to find out what's going on, on her own. Can their growing love survive once the secrets all are known? A Most Unsuitable Groom is the fourth in the Beckets of Romney Marsh series but the first I have read. I worried that I might be missing something by reading the story out of sequence but immediately felt comfortable with the story and its characters. I was meeting the Beckets for the first time along with Mariah and fell in love with both them and her. Ms. Michaels has created characters that are endearing and fun. I can't wait to read the rest of the Becket's stories.
In 1813 due to the incompetence of General Proctor, British soldier Spencer Becket expects to die in the upcoming battle with the American army.. He prays that the intelligent Chief Tecumseh survives as he expects the Five Nations will collapse without him and the British will lose again to the colonists. Spencer takes a bullet in his thigh and a rifle butt to his head. He awakens a week later to find his compatriot Clovis Meechum and an angel that he immediately thinks is the devil seeing to him. --- In 1814, Spencer continues to recover form his war injuries, but he is home at Beckett Hall in Romney Marsh when his ¿angel-devil¿ arrives pregnant. She greets him by congratulating him that he will soon be a father, but he does not remember making love to fiery Mariah Rutledge. The pair quickly marries so that their offspring is born legitimately, but the Becket brood agrees to hide their privateer history from the newcomer. Knowing they do not trust her, Mariah, after the baby is born, learns of an insidious plot to restore the Emperor in Paris so she decides she must act to prove herself to her relatives by preventing the return Spencer follows the woman he loves. --- The fourth Romney Marsh historical romance is a fine Regency, but lacks the humor that made the previous tales see THE DANGEROUS DEBUTANTE, BEWARE OF VIRTUOUS WOMEN and A GENTLEMAN BY ANY OTHER NAME) some of the best the sub-genre has had in the past few years. The story line is filled with action especially when Mariah runs away twice and most enjoyable when she and Spencer bicker. Though why she must prove herself to her in-laws by abandoning her baby never comes across as plausible, series fans will enjoy the latest entry in a terrific saga. --- Harriet Klausner