Title: Dealing with the Viscount
Author: Clair Brett
Genre: Historical Romance
After making a wager of marriage to settle her father's gambling debts, Ella Bowen-Thorn Renwick escaped the husband she foolishly began to fall for and disappeared into the Scottish countryside carrying a secret. Four years later, and the owner of her own bakery, she is still not free of the demands of men when a violent and anonymous blackmailer threatens her, her livelihood...and her daughter. And then, there is him...
Viscount Renwick still mourns the wife he began to love before her untimely death--that is until he discovers her alive and well living in Scotland. Now, Devon's face to face with the wife he thought he'd buried and the daughter he never knew existed. He'd like nothing more than to welcome Ella back into his arms, but mysterious and troubling incidents and a history with an unloving father have Ella trusting no one.
But, if Renwick convinces his wife he's the husband she always dreamed of and the father their daughter deserves, will the scandalous secret the blackmailer is holding threaten their future together once more?
"What do you know of your wife's death?” The question, abrupt as cannon fire, took Devon by surprise. A long, dormant pain tightened his chest. Damn, he hated Scotland.
"She died. What more do I need to know?" Devon's answer was clipped and bitter.
"How?" Clive pierced Devon with determined eyes.
"Highwaymen. Why are we having this discussion? You know I prefer--"
"Did you see her body?"
"No!" Devon spat out with disgust “I saw her father's body. Again, tell me why, before I leave the way I came.” Devon's voice had risen by degrees to match his anger. Swallowing what was left of his brandy, Devon stalked to the mantel. This fortnight had already been hell and he had no care to continue the descent. He didn't think of Ella at all, because if he did, it would remind him of how close he had come to falling into a trap from which his father never was freed.
Devon also didn't care to relive the pain of knowing her light would never shine on the world. When she left, Devon had been furious, but just knowing she was still alive would have been a comfort. Finding out she was dead and there was no going back, well that was almost too much for him to bear at the time.
With a calm that grated on Devon's nerves, Clive went on, breaking the silence. "I was out of town when you finally got married, if you will. I never knew any of the particulars of the agreement the two of you struck, save for your first meeting. I was not even present at the ceremony, though I heard it was an elegant affair."
"Yes, it was," Devon agreed, but grudgingly. He tried every day not to think about the one lapse in his otherwise impeccable judgment. One slip and where did it get a man? One would think one would be allotted one mistake in a lifetime. "It was elegant and refined, just as the Ton expected. It looked like a love match.” Devon’s voice came out as hollow and emotionless. He spoke as though it were the most recent balloon ascension in the park. As if, he was speaking of leaving his mistress. A business deal done, finished. After all, that was what it was. “The agreement was as you knew. We would marry. I would take from her dowry, what her father owed me. Then after a determined amount of time, she would go to Scotland to visit relatives, and once there, she would send word of her death and be out of my life forever.” Now, four years later, the deal seemed very foolish. Fleetingly, Devon wondered if they might have made a go of it had she not left unexpectedly before their agreed upon date.
"How did the two of you get on? Were you amicable?"
"Clive, you are my most trusted friend. Do you not think if I were want of discussing this with someone, I would have come to you before now? You were there from the inception. You know well that it was a business agreement. Her idea. I wanted no wife. It was foisted upon us both. Because of her, I was able to fulfill the strictures of my father’s will, marry before I was five and twenty and gain his personal fortune. She was able to get out from under the tyranny of her father and all his gambling debts, not to mention, no longer live under the fear of being thrown into debtor’s prison with him, her only guardian.” It was true that he had not wanted a wife, not even considering his father's will. That is where his good sense failed him. He, now a widower, was left to deal with the memory of a woman he never wanted to know. He couldn't help but think how his own adult life seemed to be mirroring his father's.
"Well, what I am really asking is-- well, did you actually consummate?” Stunned silence met this question. The two men stared off. Devon refused to give away any sign of the emotion boiling over within him, but at the same time, he let his friend know he had crossed the line.
Devon looked into his empty snifter. "You know, I came all this way because I feared you had taken ill. I never suspected dementia was the illness."
Either Clive did not hear, or he did not care to jump at the barb. Instead, he pressed on mercilessly. "I will take that as a yes. Did you talk about children?”
Devon must have looked befuddled, because his interrogator rephrased the question. As if, it was not bad enough the first time. "Did you and Ella discuss what would happen if she became with child, Devon?"
"I will be in my room. Please have your servants rouse me at first light. I would like to gather my staff at the inn we were forced to take shelter in and have them back on the road to England by noon.” He turned, heading for the door. The huge empty room closed in around him. His inner being screamed for fresh air. Colors blurred the light, which seemed to temporarily dim. The door was his beacon. In the din, Devon thought he could hear Clive calling him back. The door was more important. Just as his hand grabbed for the knob, his hearing came rushing back in a relentless roar.
"Your wife is alive and I believe you are a father. Did you hear me, Devon? Your wife is alive. You are a father, old man. I swear it."
For a stunned moment, Devon's feet froze, unable to move. His breath came in grunt-like gasps. Amazed he could find his voice, he muttered, "That's impossible.” Then he left.
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/2fhOhdZ
What’s the first binge-worthy book you read and why was it a must-read?
Karen Hawkins Confessions of a Scoundrel. I loved the strength of the heroine and how she challenged the hero from the start and forced him to change his closed minded view of the world. It was action packed so I couldn’t put it down.
What makes this a binge-worthy book?
Dealing with the Viscount touches on everyone’s fears and dreams about marriage and how we have to give of ourselves not knowing what we will gain in return. There is also a sub-plot of blackmail and danger that the characters have to work with.
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Runs August 1 – 31
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Almost empty nester, Clair Brett, lives in NH (until she can buy a seaside escape somewhere warm) with her hardworking husband, two cats who take turns holding her down in her office chair daily to make sure Clair gets her word count in, a white spotted boxer/beagle (THE empty nest plan), and for right now the youngest Tenacious Teenager as she finds herself. Her other Fearless Firstborn daughter is serving our great country as a NH Air Guard medic and planning her college career for her RN. (nope Clair isn't proud at all)
When not writing sexy, witty, independent historical heroines, Clair enjoys watching the Red Sox on NESN (it isn't the same when they switch to a network game), cooking, pinning--everything on Pinterest, and planning vacations she may never get to go on until someone leaves her a fortune.
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 world that didn't consist of diapers and sleepless nights.
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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Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2fhSrm4