Adrienne Basso's TO WED A VISCOUNT
Adrienne Basso's TO WED A VISCOUNT
Against the glittering backdrop of Regency England, Adrienne Basso weaves an enchanting tale of a mismatched couple joined by fate. . .and destined for love.
TO WED A VISCOUNT
Publisher: Zebra Books
Publication Date: December 22, 2014 (ebook)
Publication date: August 1, 2001 (mass market original)
Her Desperate Proposal. . .
When pampered Faith Linden's father and her titled fiancé, Viscount Dewhurst, die, she suddenly finds herself in a desperately precarious position. The only way Faith can hold on to her beloved family home is to convince her late fiancé's younger brother--the new Viscount Dewhurst--to marry her in his stead. Yet when she finally encounters Lord Griffin Sainthill, she is in for a surprise: this brooding and ruggedly handsome adventurer is not so easily bent to her will. . .and may be the man who can capture her unsuspecting heart.
. . .Sparked A Stormy Passion
A sea captain and owner of a profitable shipping company, Griffin Sainthill was quite happy with his life in the American colonies. So when the news of his inheritance finally reaches him, the sun-bronzed seafarer is less than pleased. His mood only darkens when he returns to England to discover a brazen beauty intent on becoming his bride! But when a twinge of conscience and a stolen kiss give him pause, Griffin finds himself embarking on the riskiest venture of all--marriage to a woman who will tempt him, torment him, and turn his whole life upside down.
Charleston, South Carolina Early April, 1809
Captain Griffin Sainthill lay back against the soft pillows with a contented sigh and closed his eyes. The nimble lips and searching tongue of the most sought-after courtesan in all of Charleston was at this moment making a sensual journey downward over his naked body. Boldly the moist, hot strokes traveled across his bare chest, curving ribs, and flat abdomen until finally descending on the stiff erection between his legs.
Griffin groaned loudly as his body became lost in pure sensations. He and Suzanne had been indulging in all manner of bed sport for most of the day, and although darkness was beginning to fall, his appetite for this lush female remained strong.
Teasingly, she pulled her mouth off him and began nipping at the flesh of his inner thighs. He shifted his legs restlessly, but allowed her to direct their love play, confident her enthusiasm and expertise would bring them both to fulfillment.
Though not precisely a harlot, she was the type of woman he preferred—experienced and skillful in bed. She was beautiful, too. Graceful and exotic, with smooth olive-colored skin and thick, straight midnight-black hair that hung to her waist.
After nearly a month at sea he felt he was more than entitled to this day of pure decadence. Thanks to calm seas and a strong wind, the journey from the Bahamas had taken less time than usual and profits had exceeded expectations.
Griffin was well pleased with the run. It had been years since he traded along this southern route, and his latest success had him thinking it was time to include it as a regular route. Especially now that theshipping company he had put so much backbreaking work into for the past ten years was starting to show a handsome profit.
"You taste delicious," Suzanne purred. She rested her head against his flat stomach, and heat pooled in his lower body. He could feel her warm breath on his upper thighs, and a raw urgency began to climb.
He buried his hands in her dark, silky hair, guiding her downward. Understanding his need, she cupped him gently in her hands and swirled her tongue around the tip of his throbbing erection. He squeezed his eyes shut and bucked his hips. Suzanne laughed merrily. "Do you like that, my lord?"
Despite the fire she was building low in his belly, Griffin pulled back. "I've asked you not to call me that, Suzanne," he lectured gruffly.
"But why?" She lifted her head to look at him, pushing her hair back from her face. "The letter came from England before you set sail for Nassau. Everyone knows of its contents. Are you not pleased with your new circumstances? The unfortunate death of both your father and older brother have left you with a noble title. You are now Viscount Dewhurst."
"English titles are a ridiculous pretension in the Colonies," Griffin insisted. "I shall not be using mine."
Suzanne's expression was disbelieving. Griffin sighed with frustration. He had told her numerous times he did not wish to be addressed by his newly acquired title. That was part of the life he had left back in England long ago. It had nothing to do with the man he was today.
"I think you are being exceedingly foolish," Suzanne declared. She slid her body against his, her lush breasts pressing against his side. Purring into his ear she added softly, "But I do not wish to argue."
"Nor do I." Griffin flashed her a sensual smile. Placing his large hands on her hips, he swung her around and lifted her in the air. She gave a little scream of surprise that turned to a low moan of delight as he positioned her across his lap.
Their eyes met. Without any warning, Griffin pulled her sharply downward, entering her in one swift motion. She gasped, but not in pain, for her moist body readily accepted his length. Immediately she began rising and falling upon him. He squeezed her hips and urged her to a faster, deeper rhythm, and she eagerly complied.
In the wake of their sexual delight Griffin's previous anger faded. He could not really fault Suzanne for being so impressed with his suddenly discovered nobility. She had lived all of her life here in Charleston, rising to her current occupation through cunning and skill. Though it was rumored that she slept with some of the most influential gentlemen in town, none of them were of the English aristocracy.
Griffin acknowledged it wasn't just Suzanne—everyone had been acting differently toward him since he had received the news of his inheritance. Even some members of his crew had given him strange looks as he stood at the helm and guided the ship. Yet what initially began as a nuisance was fast becoming an annoyance.
As a second son he had always known he would have to make his own way in the world. As a child it had disturbed him greatly, knowing his older brother, Neville, would one day inherit the family titles and lands, yet as he grew to manhood, Griffin learned to appreciate the freedom his birth order gave him.
Their father had expectations of a career in the military for his second son, which the independent-minded Griffin scoffed at, and he had laughed outright when his father next suggested the clergy. Viscount Dewhurst was therefore more than pleased when his younger son decided to strike out on his own, asking only for a modest stipend with which to found his shipping business.
The life had suited Griffin. He kept an infrequent correspondence with his two younger sisters, but that was the extent of his family relationships for ten years. He had felt sadness when receiving the news of his father's and brother's deaths, yet was more dismayed to realize he now had duties and responsibilities awaiting him back in England.
He had chafed at the notion of returning home, knowing once he went back, his life would forever be changed. And not necessarily for the better.
"Harder," Suzanne whispered, biting his earlobe. "Faster." Her hips lifted, and he could feel her body contracting around him. Lord, she was a lush little piece. Griffin lay back and closed his eyes. The room was now pleasantly silent, save for the erotic slapping noises their bodies made as they came together.
The sensual mood was suddenly shattered by a loud, persistent pounding on the bedchamber door. Fearing danger, Griffin abruptly disengaged his body from Suzanne's, moving so fast he pushed her off the bed.
She shrieked with indignity as she fell, but he ignored her, reaching instead for the loaded pistol he always kept at his bedside, no matter where he slept.
"No need to shoot, Captain," a rusty voice declared. "It's just me."
The bedchamber door was slightly ajar. The brave soul who had initially opened it was now wisely hiding behind it. Yet Griffin recognized the voice of the intruder. It was Harry Dobbins, a member of his crew.
"What's wrong, Dobbins? Is there a problem with the ship? Or one of the crew?"
"Not exactly a problem, Captain," Dobbins replied. "I suppose you could say it is more of a . . . a situation. But I need to see you. Right away."
"Come in, then," Griffin commanded. When it came to matters concerning his ships there was never any question of the importance.
Suzanne shrieked again at his words. She scrambled to her feet and dove for the bedcovers. Then she picked up a pillow and threw it at his head. Griffin caught it and grinned.
Still smiling, he watched Dobbins, a tough-looking, bald-headed sailor, poke his head around the bedchamber door.
"I've got someone here I think you need to see, Captain," he explained nervously.
The seaman then opened the door completely, and in a most uncharacteristically gentle manner, ushered in a young mulatto woman and a small boy. The woman was dressed as a servant. However, the child clutching her hand was wearing clothes that were a little small and a little worn, but of costlier material.
Griffin stared at the pair for several long moments. He was fairly certain he had never before seen either of them.
"Explain yourself, Dobbins," Griffin commanded.
The seaman shuffled his feet. "I didn't know what else to do, Captain. She came to the ship and said she needed to see you right away. I knew you were here, so I brought her over."
"It could not have waited until morning?"
"I didn't think so."
"Well, young woman—" Griffin paused, as the servant's blushes and averted eyes reminded him he was reclining in bed without a stitch. With a casual air, he pulled the sheet up higher, slightly above his waist. "What precisely can I do for you?"
The girl glanced down briefly at the child by her side, then looked beseechingly at Dobbins. Astonishingly, the seaman flushed to the top of his bald head.
"She came to the ship, sir, looking for you," Dobbins repeated. "She brought the lad, along with this letter." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded parchment.
Griffin noted the letter was unsealed. With a grave air, he accepted the paper. "I presume you read it?"
"As best I could." Dobbins ran his hand over his bushy side-whiskers. "I never took much to reading and writing. Most of the crew's onshore, enjoying themselves. Those that are left read less than I do, so I couldn't ask anyone for help."
The sailor leaned closer and added in a gruff whisper, "Besides, what I did understand made me realize that this is your private business, Captain. I thought it best not to let anyone else see it. It concerns the boy."
The two men shifted their eyes to the small child clutching the woman's hand. The boy made a small sound of distress and shrank behind her skirts.
"Are you his mother?" Griffin asked the young woman.
"I am his nursemaid. His mother is dead."
Griffin frowned. He hadn't gotten a very close look at the child, yet there was something disturbingly familiar about him.
Turning his back on the trio, Griffin swung his legs over the side of the bed and read the note. He felt Suzanne shift restlessly beside him. Griffin angled his head toward her absently, and she gave him a saucy grin only he could see, running her tongue suggestively along her front teeth.
Her playful sexuality helped to lighten his mood. But not for long. As he read the brief letter, he could feel his jaw tense. He bent forward and took a gasping breath, then reached down and scooped his breeches off the floor.