Lovely young Adriana Blackburn is grateful that her marriage to the Marquess of Chalford has taken her away from her drunken father and pinchpenny brother, but it has also taken her away from the social whirl she enjoys in Brighton and London. Although Joshua is kind and tender toward his bride, Adriana begins to believe that he wants her only as a mistress for his half-crumbling Thunderhill Castle in Kent— not as mistress of his heart. But how can she know what Joshua truly feels when nothing seems to disturb his unruffled calm? And what will the enigmatic man do when she courts scandal by defying his wish that she stay close to home?
|Publisher:||Open Road Media|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||3 MB|
About the Author
A fourth-generation Californian of Scottish descent, Amanda Scott is the author of more than fifty romantic novels, many of which appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Her Scottish heritage and love of history (she received undergraduate and graduate degrees in history at Mills College and California State University, San Jose, respectively) inspired her to write historical fiction. Credited by Library Journal with starting the Scottish romance subgenre, Scott has also won acclaim for her sparkling Regency romances. She is the recipient of the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award (for Lord Abberley’s Nemesis, 1986) and the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award. She lives in central California with her husband.
Read an Excerpt
The Madcap Marchioness
By Amanda Scott
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1989 Lynne Scott-Drennan
All rights reserved.
The new marchioness of Chalford slammed the door of her bedchamber behind her, dropped the silver-fringed white train of her wedding gown, and glared at the two young women who waited within to assist her in changing to her traveling dress. "It quite passes my understanding," she said, her golden eyes flashing, "how men in general can be such delightful creatures when brothers are the greatest beasts in nature."
The elder of her two listeners, a plump and cheerful minx of twenty-three summers whose best feature was the thick auburn hair piled artistically atop her head, chuckled with delight. "And husbands, Adriana? What think you of husbands?"
Grinning suddenly in response to her friend's sally, Adriana Barrington Blackburn pulled the silver-lace-trimmed hat free of her tawny hair and tossed it onto the tall green-muslin-draped bed before she replied with an attempt to sound casual, "Oh, husbands are delightful, too, Sarah, as you must know very well." Then, with a twist of her mouth, she added, "At the very least, living with Chalford must be an improvement over living with Alston and his stupid Sophie, or living with Papa. Randy"—she turned toward the younger girl—"will you ring for Nancy? Chalford wishes to leave as soon as we can, so that we might reach Maidstone before dark, and I've got to change down to my skin. Sophie's detestable brother insisted upon breaking a piece of cake over my head, though anyone but that skipbrain would know the tradition's gone quite out of fashion. He sent a shower of crumbs and sugar icing down the back of my gown."
With a chuckle, Lady Miranda Barrington rose from the chair near the bed, from which vantage point she had been watching her elder sister with open amusement. She was eighteen years of age, three years younger than Adriana, and was enjoying the end of her second successful Season in London. As she stepped lightly to pull the bell cord near the bed, she said, "I rang several minutes ago, but I daresay the servants are all at sixes and sevens with so many people in the house, so it will do no harm to ring again. What has that wretch Orson done now to put you in such a pet? You don't usually pay heed to his nonsense."
Adriana sat down on her dressing chair, pulling pins from her long, thick hair as she did so and throwing them onto the table. "It is not enough that he insisted we be married by special license so as not to have to call the banns and so we might be married from this house instead of from Saint George's, but now he is downstairs telling Chalford what a distressing lot of money such a license costs, just as though he had paid for it rather than my lord. Everyone knows Alston would skin a flint if he could." She peered into the looking glass, licked her right index finger, and smoothed her eyebrows as she continued, "And there stood dearest Sophie, right beside him, nattering about the cost of bride cake and food for everyone, and then describing in tedious detail how she had insisted that this and that be done so as to have everything in the first style of elegance, merely because I have married a marquess. I tell you, Sarah," she added, meeting her friend's gaze in the mirror, "Sophie has a common mind, and that's all there is about it."
"Well," said Sarah Clifford with her slow smile, "no one ever accused Alston of marrying her for her looks, her social position, or her good sense."
"'Twasn't sense but pence," said Miranda with another laugh, "and we two ought to be the last to criticize Orson for marrying her, since he is using either his own money or Sophie's to provide dowries that neither of us should otherwise possess."
Adriana frowned at her sister. "Really, Randy, you ought not to call him Orson when others are about or speak so freely about private matters of finance."
"Pooh, little mother, who is to hear me save Sarah, who knows everything there is to know about us, through having known the pair of us all of our lives?"
"Very true," Sarah said, "though I expect there are few people in London who do not guess the source of your portions."
Adriana sighed. "How lowering to reflect that one's father is famous only for having gambled away a fortune."
"Oh, you malign him, Dree," said Miranda, leaning over her to pick up the silver-backed hairbrush from the dressing table and beginning to brush Adriana's hair. "I am persuaded that he is equally well-known for his temper, his pride, and his enormous capacity for port. 'Tis his gout, after all, that keeps him tied by the heels in Wiltshire on your wedding day."
"He misses Mama," said Adriana on a languishing note. She shot a twinkling look at Miranda in the mirror.
"Then he began missing her at least eight years before she died, for he has overindulged himself in port for as long as I can remember," Miranda said with a laugh as she attempted to untangle a snarl. "Stop twisting about, Dree. You make my task more difficult."
"I'd prefer that you help me out of this gown first," said Adriana, getting to her feet. "The crumbs tickle." She was the shorter of the two by an inch, but the sisters looked very much alike, except that Miranda's eyes were brown with green flecks, while Adriana's were the exact color of golden topazes. And, too, Miranda's stylishly cropped and crimped hair was a shade lighter and not so thick or long as her sister's.
As Miranda obediently put the hairbrush back on the table and began to unfasten the tiny hooks down the back of the silver-and-white gown, Sarah rose at last from her place upon the settee near the window and moved to help. Minutes later, as Adriana stood in her creamy silk shift, trying to dislodge the last of the cake crumbs, the door opened and her abigail entered, a small, brisk, dark-haired woman who took one look at the three, threw up her hands, and clicked her tongue in disapproval.
"I'll just take that gown, Miss Sarah, before you get greasy fingermarks all over it, and you there, Miss Randy, look out you don't step on Miss Adrie's good half-boots."
"Really, Nancy," Adriana protested, laughing, "you should address Lady Clifford properly, and me, too, now I think of it."
"Well, and so I shall when I see proper ladies to address," said Nancy, undaunted. "A marchioness wriggling barefoot in her shift don't look like much to me, and if Miss Sarah ain't been licking icing from her fingers, then she's changed a deal more than I shall believe. Just the same cheeky pair o' lasses you was yesterday and no more. Oh, Miss Adrie," she wailed suddenly, "to think ye've gone and got yourself married, 'n' all."
"Oh, Nancy," retorted Adriana mockingly, "do stop weeping and fetch out my traveling dress. You behave as though I were going off alone, as though you'll never see me again, when in point of fact you're going with me, for goodness' sake."
"And what am I to do in a great castle, may I ask?"
"Why, look after me as you have done these many years past, you peagoose. Only consider, there will be no one shouting at either of us over trivialities, and a marchioness's abigail is a person of great distinction. You will take precedence over nearly every other servant in the place."
"I sympathize with Nancy," Sarah said. "The thought of either of you living in a castle is difficult to contemplate."
"Well," Miranda said, skipping quickly out of Nancy's path as the abigail made her brisk way to the wardrobe, then moving toward the window, "I shouldn't mind it in the least. I do wish I could live with you instead of with Orson, Dree."
Adriana smiled. "You are only worried because I shan't be here to protect you from Alston's wrath when you fall into mischief, as you will the moment I am gone." When Miranda turned away to look out the window, she added more seriously, "I told you that I don't know Chalford well enough to ask him yet, but no doubt we will all meet in Brighton, for Alston and Sophie mean to travel down next week like everyone else, in time for the races. We can discuss the matter then, I believe, though to be sure Chalford has said nothing yet about when he means for us to go."
"Then how do you know he means to go at all?" Sarah asked.
"Well, because everyone does, of course. Are not you and Mortimer going?"
"Of course. He has purchased the same house we hired last year, in the Steyne. You remember." Sarah blushed. "He said he was forced to do so because of its having such fond memories that we must always spend the month of August there. But not everyone goes to Brighton with the prince, Dree," she added quickly. "Some still fear a French invasion of the south coast, you know."
"A fine thing to talk about, I must say," said Nancy, glaring at Sarah, "when Miss Adrie herself is going to the south coast to live."
"And to the exact place where the invasion is most likely to begin," said Adriana with a grin, "though I confess to a much greater fascination for the smugglers who supposedly practice their trade there. I know little about them now, but I can tell you I mean to learn a great deal more while I am on the spot."
Nancy shot her a sour look, but Miranda, turning, promptly demanded to know exactly where Thunderhill was located. "When you said before that it overlooked the Straits, I envisioned it perched atop the white cliffs of Dover," she said.
"More like atop the brown bluffs of Hythe," retorted her sister. "I don't know much more about it than that, only that Chalford called it an ancient pile of stones that will most likely put me off being a marchioness altogether. He said it rather proudly, though," she added thoughtfully. "At all events, it is located right on the coast betwixt the town of Hythe and Romney Marsh, so I expect it will be damp, but I daresay we shan't stay there long in any case, only when there is nothing else to do. What with house parties and hunting in the fall and winter, Brighton in the summer, and the spring Season in London—well, how much time can one have to spend at home?"
Sarah, who had been thinking, looked puzzled now. "You know, Dree, Chalford invited us to stop at Thunderhill on our way to Brighton, and although Mortimer agreed to it to please me, he did complain that it would double our time on the road. If we are all going to meet in Brighton, why would Chalford expect people to extend their journey by so much just to pay a bride visit? I believe Mortimer said he expects to see Alston and Sophie and Sally and George there, too."
"Well, as to Sally and George, they invited us to spend tonight at Prospect Park, but Chalford prefers to take the Maidstone Road, so I believe he did bid them come to us next week instead. Alston has said nothing to the purpose, and you know what your husband is like. He does not like to travel, only to get from where he is to where he wishes to be as quickly as possible. Both Brighton and Thunderhill are on the south coast, for goodness' sake. How far apart can they be? You make it sound as though it is as far from one to the other as it is from London to Brighton, and that surely cannot be the case."
"Miss Sarah and Miss Randy," said Nancy sharply just then, "this be no time for geography lessons. Miss Adrie must get dressed. 'Twouldn't be no good at all to begin her married life by keeping 'is lordship a-waitin'." Then, as suddenly as before, she began to weep as she hurried to help Adriana dress.
Sarah shook her head with a fond smile. "Nancy is behaving more properly than you are, Dree. Do you not know that it is the fashion to be overcome by virgin sensibility and overawed by the solemnity of this occasion? Why, I daresay that if Chalford encourages his tenants to celebrate your wedding, you will even find the strength to attend their party."
Her friends both laughed and Miranda said, "You had that from Mr. Richardson's last book, Sarah. Sir Charles Grandison's bride stayed home a weeping on just that very occasion." She grinned at her sister. "Do you feel like a milk-white heifer led to sacrifice, Dree, as did that poor lady?"
"No, of course not, though I do wish people wouldn't smirk so when they look at us, or make such teasing remarks as they do. But in spite of it all, I feel more as though I have been rescued from the dragon Alston by 'a verray parfit gentil knight.'" She laughed then at her own words. "Not that I can imagine Chalford in armor on a white horse, waving a lance about."
"It would be shining armor," Sarah pointed out, "and a well-made lance."
"I think he would make an imposing sight," Miranda said with a mischievous twinkle. "Any dragon would be routed in a trice."
Smiling, Adriana considered their words while she allowed Nancy to help her into her moss-green, russet-trimmed traveling dress. Then, sitting again so that her dresser might arrange her hair and help her pull on her tan kid half-boots, she said, "You know, I daresay you are both wrong, and the dragon would merely sit back upon its long tail and laugh. Somehow, one simply cannot imagine Chalford behaving violently. He is far too self-possessed and mild of manner."
"I like him," Miranda said simply.
"Well, so do I like him," retorted her sister, shooting her a sharp look in the mirror. "He is my husband, after all."
"Like?" Sarah raised her slim, arched brows. "I had hoped you would feel stronger sentiment than mere liking, Dree."
"Well," retorted Adriana, "I for one am very glad I have not made such a fool over Chalford as you made of yourself over Mortimer two years ago. I remember, Sarah, and I am very thankful that I have not set the whole town in a buzz over my behavior. I certainly never was guilty of creating a scene that very nearly got me barred from Almack's."
"Mortimer told me that night that I was too good for him, that he dared not ask Papa to consider a suit from a mere baron, so of course I did not behave sensibly. And Almack's becomes increasingly and foolishly rigid, I believe. Had I not begged Mama to speak to Lady Sefton, Mortimer would not even have been allowed to cross the threshold that night. Was anything ever so ridiculous? I am more glad than I can tell you that I fought to marry him, Dree. I love him, and I had hoped that by now you would feel some of those same tender feelings for Chalford."
"Have I not just said that I like the man very well? Goodness, what a piece of work you make over so small a thing. His behavior has been utterly correct, and you surely don't think Alston allowed us to be private with each other for more than fifteen minutes when he made his offer. I scarcely know him."
"Then I am surprised that you agreed to marry him, Adriana," her friend said quietly.
"Well, I am not surprised in the least," said Miranda, turning from the window where she had been watching the view of Berkeley Square. "I would marry the bootboy if it would get me out of this house, and Chalford is not the bootboy."
"But surely you have had other offers," Sarah said, looking at Adriana. "Why, I know you have."
Adriana grimaced. "I am an earl's daughter, Sarah, as you are yourself, but neither my father nor my brother is as conciliating as your papa was about your love for Clifford. No one less than a viscount would do for me, and then only a viscount who, like Alston or George Villiers, will one day become an earl. The men in my family keep themselves on a very high form, my dear. The fact that no viscount or earl of our acquaintance was interested in a young woman with a mere five thousand pounds as her portion did not deter them from rejecting out of hand any other offer I received. And just consider my competition on the Marriage Mart if you will. Why, Sally Fane's inheritance is said to be over one hundred thousand pounds, which is much more even than Sophie has. Sally and I came out together, as you know, but George never even looked at me. Nor did the handsome Earl Cowper, once he had met Emily Lamb. No one of consequence did, though I am said to be prettier than Emily and I'm not nearly as silly as Sally can be. You were satisfied with Clifford, Sarah, but a mere baron would never do for Viscount Alston's sister or the Earl of Wryde's daughter. They quickly sent what suitors I had to the rightabout."
"Goodness," said Sarah, "you never confided this to me before. How does Alston dare to insist that you look so high for a husband when he married a tradesman's daughter himself?"
Excerpted from The Madcap Marchioness by Amanda Scott. Copyright © 1989 Lynne Scott-Drennan. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Too much talking.