- N. N. Light
The Viscount and The Orphan by Rosemary Morris is a Shake Off Winter Doldrums pick #romance
Title: The Viscount and The Orphan
Author: Rosemary Morris
Genre: Classic Historical Romance
This classic historical romance erupts in 1703 England.
Gabriel, Viscount Cavanagh is bankrupt, his fortune wasted on mistresses, extravagance, and gambling. Orphaned, emotionally neglected, deprived of his inheritance and his own person by his grandfather, Adam Maynard, his only option to avoid disaster is acceptance of an arranged marriage proposed by Adam, a ruthless merchant prince.
Adam summons his sixteen-year-old ward, wealthy Dorinda Davenport, from boarding school to be Gabriel’s bride. An orphan, she yearns for love. Well-educated, but naïve, she clings to her fantasy of a happy-ever-after marriage to a gentleman as handsome, and charming as her favourite fictional hero. Gabriel is the romantic hero of her dreams, but bitter disillusionment follows the wedding.
A connoisseur of beautiful women, Gabriel conceals his distaste when he meets dumpy, sallow skinned, socially inept Dorinda. Nevertheless, he soon appreciates her innocence, intelligence, and kind heart.
Ill at ease, almost unable to breathe, Dorinda sat upright on a comfortable chair resentful of her guardian’s widowed sister, Ellen Leigh. Despite her protests, the woman insisted she exchange her schoolgirl’s plain garments for fashionable ones. She squirmed, tortured by stays covered with gold silk, lined with flannel, and laced painfully. Did a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis suffer as much as she did.
“Don’t sit there looking like a timid cat,” plump Mistress Leigh said, her hazel eyes amused. “You may trust my brother to determine your future.”
Dorinda toyed with the end of her long ringlet arranged to fall from her neck to her right breast. “Has Mister Maynard decided what it will be?”
A footman opened the parlour door to admit her guardian and a gentleman.
“Dorinda, may I present the Viscount Cavanagh, Lord Kaye, my grandson?” Adam Maynard asked. “Cavanagh, my ward, Mistress Davenport.”
Her eyebrows arched, and her eyes widened. With his flaxen hair arranged in long curls, and large, brilliant blue eyes, the viscount could be the twin brother of the hero of in her favourite novel. Her cheeks warm, she knew that, like the heroine in the romantic tale, her face was suffused with blushes. Unfortunately, she and the viscount were not alone. Lord Kaye merely bowed instead of holding her hand and declaring his love as the fictional gentleman had when he first met Amanda.
“Dorinda, your curtsy!” Mistress Leigh prompted in an artificial, honey-sweet voice. “Lord Kaye, Mistress Davenport is new come from school. Please forgive her for her breach of etiquette.”
Dorinda stood. She executed a graceful curtsy frequently practised at dancing lessons. Scarcely able to breathe, not only because of her painful stays, she glanced up at the tall viscount, who had the story tale hero’s perfect proportions and angelic face.
Lord Kaye held out his arm. “Mistress Davenport, please allow me to assist you.”
Her fingers quivered as she supported herself on the smooth broadcloth that covered his arm. An unfamiliar thrill startled her. Dorinda gazed up into brilliant, blue eyes. It seemed they were alone in a beautiful bubble. Afraid it might burst, she took slow, deep breaths.
* * *
Gabriel’s gaze flickered from petite Mistress Davenport to his grandsire and back to her upturned, oval face marred by chubby cheeks. Almost impossible to believe the old man expected him to marry this fat, unprepossessing heiress with dull, light brown hair, podgy fingers that rested on his arm, and lace frills around the bracelets of fat at her wrists.
He inclined his head toward her. “Mistress Davenport, shall we be seated?”
Her cheeks scarlet as her mantua, a colour which did not flatter her pallid complexion, she released her grip on his arm and sank onto a chair. He seated himself opposite the young lady, no, the child whose eyebrows arched above her best feature, a pair of large, expressive green eyes fringed with long lashes. Well-versed in desirable and undesirable female admiration, Gabriel had never conversed with a sixteen-year-old female. He did not know how to respond to this one, whose eyes glowed with unmistakable adulation as she stared at him. Unable to continue looking at her, he glanced at his great-aunt, dressed as garishly as Mistress Davenport in an orange silk mantua with bright yellow stripes. A popinjay’s vivid plumage could not rival either her ensemble or her protege’s.
Pity for the child surprised him. Swounds, she should not wed for at least another two years. Marriage to her would enable his grandsire to dispose of his ward, who resembled a stodgy dumpling wrapped in scarlet and green. Gabriel frowned. Did the wily old man have another candidate for her hand if he rejected the match? A man who might mistreat the young girl regardless of any conditions stipulated in the marriage contract he had signed. Unless a husband murdered his wife, the law remained indifferent to a married woman’s mistreatment by her spouse.
Gabriel swallowed his sensibilities. He remembered how tenderly Papa had treated Mama. He visualised them holding hands in the grounds of their country estate and how fondly they always looked at each other. During childhood, he took their affection for each other and himself for granted. An adult he understood how deeply they loved each other. Since they died, no one had loved him, and he had loved no one. His affairs with beautiful women were pleasurable but not of the heart. He could not imagine ever falling in love.
Marriage to Mistress Davenport would clear his debts. In return, he would always treat her well. A sigh escaped him. In time, she might stop eyeing him like an adoring puppy.
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What’s your favorite activity to shake off the winter doldrums?
Reading historical fiction that grips me from the first to the last paragraph while seated in a comfortable, warm room.
Why is your featured book a cure for the winter blues?
The Viscount and The Orphan is the story of an arranged marriage which poses the question; Is it impossible for this ill-matched hero and heroine to fall in love?
“The background, clothes, the food and drink, and etiquette of the day help to bring the story to vibrant life.”
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs March 1 – 31, 2023.
Drawing will be held on April 3, 2023.
Rosemary Morris lives in a town in Southeast England with easy access to London and open countryside. Her Literary/Romantic Historical fiction is set in England during the reigns of Edward II, Queen Anne Stuart 1702-1714, and the ever-popular Regency era. She explores themes 21st century people can relate to e.g., a soldier suffering from posttraumatic syndrome before the condition was recently diagnosed, a young woman seeking her birth parents, and a city on the verge of war. At heart Rosemary is a historian. Her novels are meticulously researched to capture times past – speech, fashion, food, customs and much more.
Her novels, published by BooksWeLove are sensual, but with firmly closed bedroom doors, the reader can relish the details of emerging romances
When Rosemary is not engrossed researching historical non-fiction, she is reading fiction, writing, or engaged in ‘writerly’ activities. She enjoys time spent with her family and friends, knitting, growing her own in her organic garden and putting it to good use in her vegetarian cuisine.
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