Title: A Wicked Earl’s Widow
Author Aubrey Wynne
Genre Historical Romance/Scottish Regency
Publisher Plato Publishing
Eliza is forced into marriage with no idea her life will change for the better. Married less than a year, her unwilling rake of a husband is surprisingly kind to her—until his sudden death. The widowed Countess of Sunderland remains under her in-laws’ protection to raise her newborn daughter. But her abusive father is on the brink of financial ruin and has plans for another wedding.
Nathaniel, Viscount of Pendleton, gains his title at the age of 12. His kindly but shrewd estate manager becomes father and mentor, instilling in the boy an astute sense of responsibility and compassion for his tenants. Fifteen years later, his family urges him to visit London and seek a wife. The ideal doesn’t appeal to him, but his sense of duty tells him it is the next logical step.
Lord Pendleton stumbles upon Eliza on the road, defending an elderly woman against ruffians. After rescuing the exquisite damsel in distress, he finds himself smitten. But Nate soon realizes he must discover the dark secrets of her past to truly save the woman he loves.
A sweet Regency.
His gaze locked on the most exquisite girl. Honey-brown eyes watched him curiously, and a shy smile curved her full pink lips. The word enchanting sprang to his mind.
Each book will focus on a widow or widower who finds love or gets a second chance at love.
This is Book 2 of the Once Upon A Widow series.
The Viscount Pendleton took a deep pull of his ale and raised his tankard high. He threw back his head and added his voice to the drunken patrons of the Bear and Bull Inn.
But the standing toast
That pleased the most
Was the wind that blows
The ship that goes,
And the lass that loves a sailor.
He slammed the metal cup on the wooden table and leaned back in his chair, grinning at his estate steward. “Maxwell, this is one of your better ideas today. Good food, pretty maids”—he slapped a buxom redhead on the bottom as she walked by balancing four mugs—“and fine ale.” The girl smiled, winked at him, and moved on to the next table.
“We’ve earned it, my lord. Work hard, play hard my father always said.” Ezra Maxwell raised his own tankard. “To a job well done, sir.”
The sound of clanking metal and liquid slopping onto a tabletop joined another round of the maritime song.
“You know I always wanted to be a sailor,” Nathaniel said, his voice slurring such a tiny bit. He was sure Maxwell didn’t notice.
“Ye can’t swim.” He leaned forward, eyes squinting as he focused on Nathaniel. “Not to be impertinent but what kind of blasted sailor doesn’t swim?”
“The kind who is very careful never to fall off the ship!”
Both men guffawed and slammed their cups together again as plates of mutton and gravy with fresh crusty bread was set before them. Nate took a bite of the tender meat and closed his eyes, the gravy sliding down his throat to answer his growling stomach. The food was surprisingly good and would help sober him up. How did Maxwell manage to find places like this? It wasn’t often either of the men overindulged, but this was a celebration.
His investment in the Durham carpet factory had paid off in aces. The estate, run to the ground by his father, once again turned a profit. It had taken thirteen years, but Pendleton was a respected family name again.
“I would like to make a toast to the best man in England. Clever, industrious, and loyal. May I never have to make a decision without you.” He held up his ale but this time his voice was soft and serious. “You have been like a second father to me. I don’t know where I or my mother and sister would be without you this past decade.”
“It’s not my doing, my lord. You were an astute student and eager to learn.” Red seeped up Maxwell’s neck and he waved off the compliment. “I only did as my position dictated and fulfilled my duties as estate manager.”
“Your duties did not include raising a twelve-year-old boy and teaching him what his father never bothered to learn. Mother says if he hadn’t died, we’d have lost everything.”
Died was a mild word for it. The previous viscount had been in a duel after being caught with another man’s wife. His father had never been much of a shot, and he died from a chest wound several days later. It had been a long and unpleasant death.
“Your father should never have inherited the title. He was the third son and not suited to such a position of responsibility. He had no head for business.” Maxwell stroked his beard with his thumb and two fingers. “Or marriage for that matter. A wanderer’s soul, your father had. But he did care for your mother in his own way.”
“Don’t say that in front of her unless you want to feel the barb of her tongue. She disliked him before his death. I remember hearing the arguments whenever he made it home. She despised him afterwards.”
“I believe your mother intimidated him. Breathtakingly beautiful, clever, and more educated than your father. Sure, he went to university but he learned more about gambling and horse racing than ledgers and economics.” He sighed, his blue eyes thoughtful.
“I have no doubt on that count.” Nate had no illusions when it came to his parent.
“We grew up together, you know. He spent more time in the village than he did on the grounds of Pendleton. Got more affection from my ma than his own family. He had a generous heart too, I’ll give him that.” Maxwell locked a gaze on Nathaniel.
“His allowance went for coal or some such many times when he was younger. ‘Max,’ he’d say, ‘make sure the Ludlows have enough coal. Heard their pig died so they may be short this winter.’ He never took credit for those kind acts.”
Nate shook his head, wondering if it the excess ale had loosened Maxwell’s tongue. He’d never heard that story before. “His only truly good deed was hiring you. He died with our family name disgraced, our accounts depleted, debts piled high, and a child heir to inherit the title. You had your hands full.”
The older man smiled. “I’m as proud of you as if you were my own son. It’s been a long road, but the estate is thriving, and your investments have doubled. That should help your sister along when Lady Pendleton takes her to London next season.”
“Speaking of seasons, Mother is hinting I go to town with them and look for a wife. She made it sound like I’m buying a horse at Tattersall’s. The mandatory heir, I suppose.” Nate grinned. “Do you think I’m ready for the shackles?”
“I think you will have your hands full with Mistress Hannah. She’s a diamond of the first water, she is.” He took a huge bite of mutton then waved his fork as he continued. “But you are coming to an age to think of a wife. Twenty and five is a good time to begin looking. Just don’t be in a hurry.”
The barmaid sashayed past them, a smile turning up her rosebud lips and an invitation in her eyes. “I wouldn’t worry about that, Maxwell.”
Book is on sale for the first week and then goes to the normal price of 3.99!
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I’m one of the authors participating in the Pot 'O Gold Book Giveaway and you can win an autographed print copy of Dante’s Gift (US only).
Runs March 1 - 31 and is open internationally.
Winner will be drawn April 1, 2019.
Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things Christmas.
Her short stories, Merry Christmas, Henry and Pete's Mighty Purty Privies have won Readers Choice Awards. Dante's Gift and Paper Love received the 2016 Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, Heart of Excellence and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.
In addition to her Chicago Christmas novellas, Aubrey will launch a new Regency series, Once Upon a Widow, in 2018. The Wicked Earls’ Club will release again in 2019. Wynne’s medieval fantasy series, A Medieval Encounter, will continue in 2109, winner of the NTRWA Great Expectations
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