"When I'm craving an author who knows how to bring the past alive, I turn to Ms. Keysian." - Harmony Williams, author of the Ladies of Passion series
Emma Hibbert will never again trust a good-looking man. They offer nothing but heartbreak and humiliation. But her conscience won't let her abandon a sinfully handsome stranger needing help—even if he ignites an unwelcome passion in her. She soon realizes she should have left him in the mud where she found him, for he has the power to ruin everything...
Viscount Tidworth is anything but grateful for being rescued after a tumble from his horse. His pretty savior may be well-meaning, but forcing him to delay his journey completely wrecks his engagement plans. And Tidworth cannot let that stand. But when he discovers Emma's true identity, he must choose between his desire for revenge...and his baffling attraction to her.
Each book in the Wayward in Wessex series is STANDALONE:
* Distracting the Duke
* Unmasking the Earl
* Vanquishing the Viscount
About the Author
Elizabeth first started writing fiction when she was eight, encouraged to do so by her Head Teacher father, who needed something to keep her quiet during school holidays. Her favorite topics were mermaids, ghosts, Norman knights and quests, and she illustrated and decorated her own books. She emerged from the world of her imagination to read History at the University of London, after which she spent many years working as an archaeologist and artifact illustrator. She then became a primary school teacher, after which she moved to museum education work, and display and collections management.
Elizabeth has been involved in Medieval, Tudor, and English Civil War re-enactment and has enjoyed sword-play and traditional archery, excelling in neither. She lived for seven years on a Knights Templar estate in Essex where she pursued her interest in historical textiles, cookery and medicine. She loves anything to do with the past, and still looks down holes in the ground to see if there's anything archaeological in them. There generally isn't.
She has written fifteen historical romances since moving to the West of England in 1997, the landscape and history of which have inspired the "Wayward in Wessex" series.
Read an Excerpt
St George's Day, April, 1821 Old Wessex, England
Her mind buzzing with speculation about the new life she was about to begin, Miss Emma d'Ibert wasn't prepared for the jolt that shook the wagon in which she was traveling. As she struggled to avoid being hurled onto the road, she heard the scream of a horse, followed by an ominous thump.
Heart racing, she steadied herself and peered through the rain to find out why Carrier Marshman had pulled his team to a halt with such violence.
"Sorry, miss," Marshman said. "There was a rider tearing through the crossroads. Don't think he saw us coming and got a bit of a shock."
Evidently. A glossy-coated thoroughbred was bolting off in the direction of Bath — minus its rider.
Horrified, Emma scrambled down, hampered by her sopping skirts. As Marshman jumped to the ground to calm his team, she squelched toward the fallen rider.
The man lay supine, staring up into the leaden sky with a glazed expression, his beautifully cut riding coat spattered with mud and his arms flung out to either side as if welcoming the rain into his embrace. He groaned and tried fruitlessly to rise.
"Oh, sir, are you all right? Let me help you up." She reached for his hand, but the instant their fingers touched, a pulse of awareness shot up her arm, and she pulled away.
Was there a thunderstorm brewing now? Or was that powerful charge something else entirely?
His blue-gray eyes flickered toward her. "I doubt you have the strength, girl."
He'd be surprised. But she detested being called girl and was briefly tempted to leave the fellow lying there and tell Marshman to drive on. She was already late for her arrival at her new home and was bound to get a tongue-lashing from her employer, Mrs. Keane.
That touch had set her nerves on edge. Not on fire. "I'm stronger than I look," she stated briskly, "and I know all about anatomy and medicine — my brother is studying to be a doctor."
The man rolled his eyes. "Heaven protect me from females armed with thirdhand knowledge. I don't need mending — just a hand to get me upright." His accent was crisp, as befitted a member of the Quality, but she didn't think she'd ever seen him before, despite having moved in such circles when she was younger. How far had he galloped, she wondered. It must be a very important errand to make him ride out in such a downpour.
"Mr. Marshman!" she called. "Can you leave your horses now and help the gentleman?"
"I'll just put a chock under the wheel, miss, to stop my cider kegs heading off without me."
Between them, they managed to get the man sitting upright on the grassy verge. Again, an unsettling sensation fizzed through Emma's veins as she touched the stranger, something that filtered even through the leather of his riding gloves.
"Where are you headed, zur?" drawled Marshman in his thick Gloucestershire accent.
She crouched by the horseman's feet and noted a worrying pallor in his square-jawed face. When he frowned and said, "For the moment, my exact destination escapes me," she wasn't at all surprised.
Concussion. He shouldn't be allowed to ride any farther until he'd recovered.
As Marshman waited patiently for an answer, she watched as the gentleman pushed his bedraggled hair out of his eyes, revealing his face properly. He was fine featured, his complexion fresh and pleasing. His square chin was clean- shaven, and his cravat was tied in a knot of such intricacy, her brother George would be green with envy. The bronze buttons on the man's caped coat and his Hessian boots had been polished and buffed to within an inch of their lives. Wherever he was bound today, he clearly meant to look his best.
However, not even the most handsome of men could look good after a tumble in the mud on a sodden spring morning.
No more groans escaped him, so she decided it was safe to examine him gently. She prodded at his chest, but her finger just sank into soft layers of wool.
Bother. "I can't tell if you've any ribs broken under such a thick coat," she told her patient. "We must take it off."
"I'm none too keen, considering the weather, ma'am," he responded.
Awkward creature! "To move about with a fractured bone could turn a hairline crack into a full break," she said decisively. "The coat must go."
"Oh, very well. Do your worst." He stuck his arms behind him while she and Marshman divested him of the coat, heavy with rain.
My, but his chest was broad and his shoulders wide. The man was not only handsome of face, but he had a magnificent figure, as well.
Not that she should notice such things, being a female bound for certain spinsterhood.
She squeezed the cuff of his coat, and water trickled down. Even if he recovered quickly from his fall, he could still catch a chill. Where had he come from, and what merited such haste, in such awful weather?
"You're not planning to rob me, are you?" he asked, narrowing his eyes at her. "Loath as I am to strike anyone, I'm renowned for my right hook."
She knew she hardly looked like a lady, with her skirts caked in mud and her hair lank with water, but the accusation stung. "We're hardly likely to own it if we are," she said stiffly. The temptation to stab at his collarbone and chest rather than probe gently was hard to resist.
As she felt up and down his arms for breaks, she couldn't help but notice how firm his muscles were. Like those of a man who worked with his hands, not a pampered dandy of the aristocracy. What a pleasing packet of contradictions this fellow was!
"This isn't the first time I've fallen off a horse, you know," he said. "I'm certain there has never been such a fuss before."
He should think himself lucky she was even bothering with him. Left to his own devices, Carrier Marshman would probably have captured the man's horse, bundled him back on, and sent him on his way regardless of his physical condition. She bit her lip and continued her examination, refusing to look the man in his blue-gray eyes. She could feel them on her and knew the light in them was not friendly.
"Not at all the done thing, you know, for a young lady to run her hands over a gentleman," the stranger said in her ear.
Her hands halted for the briefest of moments. Good Lord. Had she been enjoying the feel of him too much, and that was why she'd lingered over her examination?
Refusing to blush — or rise to the bait — she said, "Then thank your stars I'm not a lady, but a servant."
This was only partly true. She was a lady, descended from a family with roots reaching back to Domesday. But their estates had never recovered from the failed harvests of 1816, known as the "Year without a Summer." Now, both she and her brother were seeking their fortunes elsewhere, to reduce the expenditure of their elderly parents.
"Fortunes" being a relative concept.
"A servant?" The stranger's eyes mocked her. "What manner of Banbury tale is that?"
"I don't intend to dispute with you, sir," she replied, getting to her feet. "It matters not who, or what, I am. Now that I'm sure there's nothing broken, you may stand up."
The thickset Marshman hoisted the gentleman up with a fist beneath each armpit. It wasn't a glamorous elevation, and true vertical was not achieved — when the man attempted to lift his head, he swayed alarmingly and lurched into Emma.
Marshman bore his weight as they tried to maneuver him upright again. Their patient moaned, raising a hand to his head.
"I think he's concussed," she told Marshman. "We'll have to take him up with us — it's not safe for him to travel alone."
"But he's traveling crosswise to us, Miss d'Ibert."
She winced and placed a finger against her lips. "It's Hibbert now, remember?" She glanced up at the stranger, but he seemed not to have heard.
Her real name had been left behind, at poor, decaying Tresham Hall, her childhood home. She was now just plain Miss Hibbert, governess. If any of her family's creditors were to discover she'd gone into service, they'd immediately suspect the d'Iberts couldn't honor their debts. Then the grasping tradesmen would call in those debts, and the family would be faced with bankruptcy.
They'd also be faced with the prospect of having to sell Tresham Hall.
Which was unthinkable.
"Yes. He's had a blow to his head that's jarred his brain. You can see how dizzy and confused he is."
"He is still here, quite in his right mind, and perfectly able to hear you," the stranger retorted.
Ignoring him, she told Marshman, "We must put him in the cart and take him somewhere he can be looked after."
"There's the Four Swans a mile or so back, Miss d'Ib ... I mean Miss Hibbert."
"That will do splendidly. So sorry to delay you, Mr. Marshman, but I don't think we can leave the fellow to his own devices."
The carrier eyed the sky, then smiled at her. "I don't reckon it's going to get worse anywhen soon," he observed, "so, we'll do as you say. Once we've delivered the afflicted gentleman we can be on the road again, and the going will be much quicker once we reach the turnpike. I can still set you down 'afore noon, and be down to Bath and back again 'afore nightfall. Heave ho, miss!"
After a brief struggle, the puzzled stranger was deposited in the wagon, with his back to the horses and his feet among the cider barrels. But just as Emma was lifting her skirts to clamber up beside him, he struck his forehead with the ball of his hand.
"What an idiot I am! I can't stop here! I've got to get to Ashleaze Court. Not a moment to lose. Now, set me down so I can recover Lawrie."
Assuming Lawrie to be the man's horse, she reassured him that Marshman had gone after the animal, intending to tie it behind the wagon. "We're going to the nearest inn so you can rest up until you're better," she explained.
"I'm not going to some blasted inn! I'm on a mission of the utmost importance, and can brook no delay."
He made as if to leap over the side of the cart, and it was only by dint of throwing her arms around his waist that she was able to stop him. "You mustn't!"
"Let me go, foolish girl. This is most unseemly."
They must, indeed, have made a shocking sight — she with her bonnet askew and her skirts knee-deep in mud, and he, coatless and bare- headed with the rain weaving runnels through his hair and down his cheeks. Anyone seeing her with her arms about him would think they were a pair of quarreling lovers, with him threatening to jilt her, and she begging him to stay.
"You're in no fit state to go anywhere," she said flatly as Marshman lumbered up with the gentleman's mount in tow. "Stop making a scene and sit back down."
"Who are you to tell me what I may or may not do? Do you know who I am? Let go, or you'll live to regret it!"
"Now, then," said Marshman, suddenly appearing right beside them. "Do you see this stick? It be a very sturdy one and could like as not knock you out cold. Shall we try it and see?"
"Who are you, anyway?" Emma asked, curious. Did she have any reason to fear him?
The attractive stranger ceased his struggles and collapsed back onto the bench. He gazed at her for a long moment, his face tense with concentration. Then he let out a sigh, looked at her helplessly, and said, "I've absolutely no idea."CHAPTER 2
Though Emma knew the accident that had befallen the gentleman wasn't her fault, she still felt a stab of fear.
Good lord. He'd lost his memory! Or part of it, anyway. He must have bumped his handsome head much harder on the road's uneven surface than she'd realized. Perhaps there'd been a rock or a cobble sticking out. Should she search through his hair for a wound?
Why was the thought of touching him once more so appealing?
"Damnation!" He broke free of her grip and tried to jump down again, but the carrier stepped in front of him.
"Will you be quiet now, zur?" Marshman suggested, brandishing his stick.
Their unhappy prisoner stilled, cleared his throat, and said, "Would a handful of coin not dissuade you? I have a full purse in my waistcoat."
Emma wondered again why he was so desperate to get on with his journey. Surely, he could wait until he returned to his proper senses? Until he remembered his own name, at least?
Marshman said, "You can keep your money, zur, unless you wish to pay me for your passage back to the Four Swans. I'm an honest fellow, always have been, and I don't take no incentives from no gentry. If Miss Hibbert says you have to go to the Four Swans, then that's where ye shall go."
The man's broad shoulders slumped. "It seems I have no choice but to sit tight for the present," he said, "but if my day's business is ruined because of this, expect retribution."
"Hardly the words of a gentleman," Emma replied, frowning.
"Since you have pointed out — despite several clues to the contrary — that you are not a lady, I shan't apologize."
"I don't know why we're bothering to help you," she said, glaring at him.
"I don't want your help," the stranger replied, capturing her gaze. He refused to look away and raised his elegant eyebrows in challenge.
How rude! She had a sudden image of this grand gentleman soaked in cider as she emptied one of Marshman's barrels over his head, and couldn't help a secret smile. Her antagonist's frown faded, and he gave her a searching look that made her cheeks heat.
Before she could question her reaction, Marshman leaped back into the driver's seat, and the heavily laden cart lurched back to life. As it made an awkward turn to head back the way they'd come, the man's face paled, and she eased her skirts away from him, just in case.
The journey back to the Four Swans was completed in bristling silence. The gentleman's hands clenched every time they rattled over a pothole, but he spoke not a word of complaint.
The rain eased, and a light breeze sprang up. She adjusted her bonnet and tried to brush her skirts down. Whatever would her new employers think of her arriving in such a state?
Maybe it was for the best. She wanted them to think she was from the lower orders of society. Yes, a gentlewoman of some learning. But a descendant of a noble family fallen on hard times? No. It was too humiliating. Besides, she didn't want to give away anything that would harm the standing of her parents. There was still a chance their fortunes might recover ... wasn't there?
More than anything, she wanted to preserve Tresham Hall. She loved its rambling passageways and corridors, the warm red of the brickwork, the overgrown gardens and espaliered fruit trees, and the pervasive scent of wood smoke. She would miss it intensely, desperate for her half-day off to arrive so she could hurry back for a visit. Assuming she could make it there and back in half a day. She'd chosen to accept the post at the Keanes' because they lived far enough away to know nothing of her situation or background. Visiting would be much harder as winter closed in.
If only she had taken during her Season, before the "Year without a Summer" ruined everything! A wealthy husband would have wholly revived the family's fortunes. But she'd been awkward, she'd been shy, and just too well-educated. And there was always some girl prettier, more biddable, more prepared to simper at a gentleman. Whereas she ... Well, she just couldn't stomach the vacuous nonsense that filled most young ladies' heads. Or the gentlemen who fell for such drivel.
She wanted a man with whom she could talk on an equal footing. Someone who'd discuss classical authors with her, and poetry, and the state of the factories. She wanted a man who'd explain more about the war against Napoleon and have ideas on how best to deal with the hardships assailing Britain in its aftermath. Above all, she wanted a man she could respect, and one who could, just by walking into a room, light it up for her like a beacon.
But no gentleman she'd met approved of ladies indulging in meaningful conversation. A lady was meant to be purely decorative.
Unfortunately, in the eyes of the ton she would be anything but that. She was unfashionably tall and had chestnut hair instead of guinea gold curls. Her eyes, in repose, could be described in no more romantic a term than ... brown. Her darling brother, George, had once praised the animation of her face, the dazzling beauty of her smile, and the mischievous light that gave hazel glints to her eyes. She assumed he'd just been teasing.
Then had come that one brief moment of hope. Elias Hartley, Earl of Overcrich, had singled her out for his attention. Elias Hartley, the youngest, most devilishly handsome bachelor of the ton.
The man who had humiliated her, broken her heart, and sworn her off attractive, magnetically appealing dandies forever.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Vanquishing the Viscount"
Copyright © 2018 Elizabeth Keysian.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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
I really enjoyed this cute sweet story. Loved the characters. Wonderful author. Very well written. Fun read.
Ever read a book that is rife with touches of destiny that you wonder, "How many more signs do these people need?!" That's James and Emma's story. The encounter on the road, the encounter at Emma's employer, the encounter at Emma's home... Third time's the charm, or so the saying goes, although the charm, the magic, between James and Emma happened along the way and grew with every encounter they shared. I had to admire Emma's persistence in helping James, even if he was slightly (okay, maybe a lot) ungrateful because it "cost" him. In the end, I don't think it cost him anything because he gained so much. And I did enjoy James's begrudging acceptance of Emma and her actions. Not everyone makes decisions they are proud of, but they are necessary. Caring for her family in the only way she knew how was admirable, honorable, and selfless. Despite the hard times her family had fallen on, she remained ever the lady. There were points in this story when I felt the misconceptions they held for one another were almost overwhelming. It took quite a bit of time for them to see past those to the man and woman underneath. Was it worth it? Hm... Yes, I think so. I'm not a regency era aficionado but one consistency I've found in similar reads is an inflated ego and entitlement amongst nobility. Not all, but most. Discovering who lies under all that pompousness is always a surprise. There is, sometimes, more than meets the eye because, let me be honest, there's that one character who is exactly what you see. There's nothing beautiful under all that ugliness. I enjoyed this story. It's a rough go from enemies to lovers but it was worth reading about. I don't think James and Emma would have appreciated each other like they did if they hadn't had such a tough beginning. From instant dislike to slowly falling in love, this is what a great historical romance is for me. It's what I expect. What I want. I got all of that and a happy ending that was predictable but well-deserved. Received from publisher for an honest review
When Emma’s family finds themselves in a dire financial situation she takes on a position as a governess, concealing her identity as a member of the aristocracy to keep the creditors at bay. On the road to her new home she encounters Viscount Tidworth, who having been thrown from his horse has temporarily lost his memory. Despite his argument that he’s totally fine and in a rush to be on his way, Emma’s conscience won’t allow her to abandon him on the road and she ensures that he takes some time to rest at a local inn to recover from his accident. This delay causes him to miss out on a chance to claim the woman he believes he loves, which understandably leaves him cursing that managing, meddling, mystery woman’s name. Which, as you can imagine, makes things very interesting when he discovers she’s become the new governess for his friend’s siblings. VANQUISHING THE VISCOUNT was a delight to read. It’s so much fun watching Emma and Tidworth banter and test each other’s boundaries as they get to know one another. They both have a lot of preconceived notions about each other and make some assumptions without getting all the information. I feel like their having to work through these roadblocks and learn how to open up to each other kept things interesting and made this such a sweet and intimate romance. Getting to the nitty-gritty of both of their insecurities and fears and seeing them learn how to work through them as a couple made me feel like I really got to know who these characters were, not just on a superficial level. I have such a crush on Tidworth. When he first encounters Emma, much like her I expected him to be very confident and lordly – a gorgeous, rich man who knows he’s wanted and thinks he can get away with anything. But in actuality, Tidworth shows himself to be an incredibly kind, forgiving, charitable person who is mostly focused on trying to help those less fortunate. He’s like a literal angel. I don’t know how he manages to be so sweet and wonderful without seeming like a goodie two-shoes, but he does! Oh, wait…yes, I do. He’s also sexy and passionate and puts Emma’s needs above everything else. A loving man who is respectful and cares about consent in a time and society where no one else seems to care about a woman’s mind and needs – hot damn! Although Tidworth could easily have been just another sexy-and-he-knows-it entitled lord hero I think I love him all the more for his sweet, understated nature. He’s not the kind of guy who needs to be in control to assert his masculinity. And there’s something so incredibly sexy about that which I totally didn’t expect. If you love historical romances and are looking for characters who have much more depth than you would expect, VANQUISHING THE VISCOUNT is not to be missed. This sweet, funny and sexy read will have you throwing aside your preconceived notions and falling completely in love. Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions shared are my own.
When Emma rescues a man who's fallen off his horse he isn't grateful, instead he's unkind and moody. Emma thinks she'll never see the rude man again, but when she's just started working at her new position as a governess they meet once more. James is a viscount and a friend of the family she's working for. Emma doesn't want anyone of the ton to know she's working, because then they'll find out about her family's financial problems. She's changed her name, but James figures out who she is and he's angry with her, will Emma be able to convince him to keep her secret? Because of James's fall he missed his chance to ask the woman he loves to marry him. Someone else beat him to it and now he's heartbroken. James blames Emma for his misery. He can make life tricky for her, because of everything he found out about her family, but she also fascinates him. What will win, the desire to get to know her better or plotting his revenge? He has the power to ruin Emma, but is he really that cruel or will he listen to his heart? Vanquishing the Viscount is an entertaining romantic story. Emma is kindhearted and always wants to look after others. She is a fierce intelligent woman and can take care of herself. I admired her fabulous spirit. Her parents are in trouble and she tries to help them in any way she can. She's there for those who are in need. Because of her caring nature the woman of James's dreams says yes to another man's proposal. James is heartbroken and doesn't want to like Emma, he'd rather hate her, but that isn't as easy as he thinks. Sparks fly between them and she fascinates him more than he wants to admit, which makes the story fun and engaging and kept me interested from beginning to end. Elizabeth Keysian's writing style has a lovely easy flow. I love the way she makes the time she writes about come to life. Her vivid description of her settings, her characters' appearances and the rules and intrigues of the ton are making her story a joy to read. I read Vanquishing the Viscount in one sitting, it's charming, sweet and captivating and I couldn't put it down. I really liked this wonderful book with its amazing sweet ending.
Vanquishing The Viscount by Elizabeth Keysian is a fabulous historical romance. Ms. Keysian has once again impressed me with her storytelling abilities with this well-written book. Emma's family fell on hard times so she took a governess position under a different name. James was rushing and crashed his horse into the cart taking Emma to her new job. Their story is loaded with drama, action and bits of humor and spice. This is a clean read, appropriate for any age. I enjoyed this book from cover to cover and look forward to my next book by Elizabeth Keysian. Vanquishing The Viscount is book 3 of the Wayward in Wessex Series but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Amazing read! I loved the story, as well as, the characters. It's well-written with lots of humor and romance. For me, it was a delightful read. Emma is sweet and sassy both at the same time. She is kind, loving, and also an independent woman. She believes herself to be quite capable lady, which she is, so it's not easy for her to like Lord Tidworth. He also doesn't like her much. Both think the other untrustworthy. Besides they have nothing in common so it's highly unlikely that they would see a lot of each other anyway.... or so they thought when they first met. Because of Emma, Tidworth suffered a lot. Her misguided kindness has ruined his chances of marrying his one true love. Emma has no clue that she caused him such distress so is very critical of his behavior. But soon they will both realize how wrong they have been... let's just hope it's not too late for them then. It's a great historical romance novel with touch of humor. I'd definitely recommend it to other readers.
Emma d’Ibert is on her way to her first post as a governess. In Vanquishing the Viscount, her parents’ money is gone, and she needs to reduce expenses and earn an income. So she takes a position and disguises her name to hopefully avoid any scandal to her family. While on her way to her new life, a rider on horseback hits the cart in which she is traveling. His horse runs off and he is left in the dirt. He doesn’t remember his name or where he is going. Against the gentleman’s objections, Emma insists on taking him to a local inn to rest and regain his senses before he goes on his way. The gentleman, James Markham, Viscount Tidworth, is not a happy man. The interfering young woman in the cart may have seriously interrupted his plans. He has only just remembered his a name, but he knows that he has to get to his destination right away. He finally remembers the destination and that it is imperative he get there soon or he will lose the hand of Belinda Carslake, the woman he wishes to marry. James is concerned that he may be too late to declare his desire to make Belinda his wife. All because of an interfering young woman. If he ever sees her again he will not be happy. Saved By The Accident The characters created by the author were rich and interesting to read. I like how they had dimension and depth. There was more going on in the two main characters lives than just the interaction between themselves. I found it interesting that the author chose to have the charitable work the purview of the male character. Most of the Regency books I have read leave charitable pursuits almost exclusively to females. Too often the men contribute only with cash or moral support. This was a fun read, and I hope for more from the author. Reviewed for LnkToMi iRead in response to a complimentary copy of the book provided by the publisher in hopes of an honest review.