Title: Marked for Love
Author: Clair Brett
Genre: Historical Romance
Captured by a warring tribe, Lady Giselle Braveton's tattoos forever mark her as a captive, now back in England she struggles to reclaim place in society. What gentleman will marry a lady who bears the marks of ruin for all to see? Lord Maxwell (Max) Sutton wishes nothing more than to be left alone. "Proper" English society drove his sister to suicide, and he has no plan to join it again. However, every Lord needs an heir, and marriage to Lady Braveton might be the perfect solution to both of their problems, as surely, she will want to shun society as much as he. Max soon finds marriage to Giselle is anything but convenient. She bears wounds he cannot heal and hides demons he cannot see. While he craves solitude, she longs to belong to the very society which mocks her. Maxwell can't bear to see another loved one suffer the cruelty of the ton, but he cannot leave Giselle to fend for herself. Can love carve a path to acceptance before old wounds and new enemies destroy it?
Giselle glanced at her groom, who was unabashedly studying her face and the markings her maid tried to hide, but never quite accomplished. Her hand tingled wanting to reach up and swipe her hair across her face, but she realized, it would be impossible as Lord Sutton had hold of her hands. The panic again reared and roared like a lioness to be freed. Her breathing hitched. She felt the heat of blood fill her cheeks and the pounding promising a headache later. This was not the time or the place to faint, or worse still to flee to hide in her wardrobe. She was certain that was why her father sat so close. He could grab her if she tried. When she had tamped down her panic, which was her closest friend at times, she looked up to see Lord Sutton’s expression had gone hard. His eyes pierced into her. He knew. She wasn’t hiding it, she thought. Drawing in a deep breath, she looked out to see Jarrid standing in the back of the room next to Sherman the manor’s butler, with his quiet stoic nature and she drew from him the strength she needed.
“My lady? My lady, are you quite all right?” The Bishop asked, apparently not for the first time.
“I--Yes. Yes, sorry. I am fine,” she replied at almost a whisper, which in the large ballroom on the stage made for amplification, sounded more like a scream to her.
“Fine, fine, then we can continue. It is time for the rings. My lord, please place the ring on her finger and repeat after me.”
Lord Sutton drew her gloved hand between them and positioned a gorgeous emerald and ruby ring at the top of her finger.
“Miss, you need to remove your glove,” the Bishop stated with annoyance.
“It is fine. I will remove the glove later and replace the ring.”
“You cannot. This is a sacred part of the ceremony. Your ring must remain on your finger as a symbol of your fidelity and constancy to your husband. It should not be removed. Now, take off your glove so we may continue.” He said the last with no amount of understanding or empathy.
Giselle looked down at her gloved hand. The satin glove was a perfect pearl color, iridescent in the sunlight. Perfect. Once her glove came off, she would be exposed. He would know. Other than her family and her maid, no one knew the truth of what she was hiding, and even the maid did not know the full extent of her markings. The white raised circles on her face were nothing.
Her chest began to tighten and her hand shook. This had to be finished. She needed to do this for her sister to marry well. She needed to do this for herself to move forward and get away from her father, who at the moment was making loud growling noises as a form of a warning. If she didn’t remove her glove, he would do it for her. He would walk up, grab her hand and strip her glove from her.
The bile building up in her throat was enough to bring her back to herself and force everything down deep. It was imperative that she become detached from herself. She could do anything she needed to right now. Paying for it later, however, would take its toll. Tonight could well be the foulest night since she reached the shores of England, but it had to be done.
Giselle reached down and with shaking hands, she pulled her satin elbow length glove from her left hand and held it out for her to-be-husband. She felt her pride blossoming, good it would hold back the panic and shame of it all for the time being. She heard the Bishop gasp as he saw the intricate lace-like markings covering her forearm all the way down across the top of her hand and around her fingers. She didn’t bother to react or even look at the Bishop, but instead looked at her husband. He was the one who would matter. Would this end this farce here before it starts?
His face changed again, but Giselle could not read it. Dark lashes hooded his dark eyes giving nothing away. His strong straight jaw seemed to flex under his skin, but was that anger or repulsion? Only a tick of the large clock passed before he took her small hand in his and covered her markings to slide the ring down her finger and settle it at the base. It was done. She would have liked to put the glove back, but the Bishop had swiped it from her, and it now lay forgotten by everyone but her on the floor behind his red robes.
Giselle heard not another word the Bishop said and only uttered her words as instructed and it was over. When the Bishop instructed Lord Sutton that he could kiss his bride she awoke with a panic anew, but to her relief, he picked up her only gloved hand and placed a light kiss on the back. Then her mother and sister were there. Her sister had retrieved the glove and Giselle did not miss the look she shot at the Bishop, who also did not miss that one nor the one her mother pierced into his very soul. He spoke with Lord Sutton and his friend, and then made haste.
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November is a time to be thankful. What are you most thankful for this year?
This year I am most thankful for my family who have supported not only my career, but also during this pandemic my need to stay safe as a person with a pre-existing condition. It has allowed me to stay home and not stress about things that could put me in danger of getting sick.
Why is your featured book worth snuggling up to?
Marked for Love is the perfect book to snuggle up to, because it has some deeply broken characters who early on commit to helping the other one heal, even if they can’t see their own brokenness. It has a bit of suspense, and a satisfying Happily Ever After. Just the thing to keep you warm on cold fall day.
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Fur baby wrangler and historical romance author of 7 published novels, Clair Brett lives in NH with her hard-working husband. Her office staff during the day consists of Cinta, a black cat and the matriarch of the fur babies, Mojo, a yellow kitten who spends his day holding Clair down in her seat to get her word count in, a boxer/beagle mix puppy named Willow, who sleeps next to her chair to make it hard to do an Oreo run without doing a pee run as well, Sanibel, a lab mix, who is the HR dept. keeping moral up, and sometimes her “grand dog”, Bailey, an 80 pound shepherd mix who is always up for a good time. When not writing, she tries to keep tabs on her newly minted adult daughters who are working on figuring it all out.
A former middle and high school English teacher, Clair has had a lifetime love affair with reading. Once she read Pride and Prejudice as an extra read in high school, she was hooked. Clair began pursuit of publication when she was a new mother in need of a hobby. Her oldest daughter graduated high school in 2017, so you do the math. Clair is a firm believer that a reader finds a piece of who they are or learns something about the world with every book they read. She wants her readers to be empowered and to have a refreshed belief in the goodness of people and the power of love after reading her work.
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