He’s a second son. She’s a second daughter. A twist of fate and cruel intentions brings this unlikely pair together in an impromptu marriage. Without a proper courtship, the pair must learn to live as husband and wife while facing challenges and dangerous threats that could destroy their marriage.
Andrew is a dominant young Lord who has very strong ideas on how his wife should behave. Cici is an innocent young Lady; sheltered, well-educated and well-bred. She is the image of feminine refinement and gentility that society expects. But if she is such a docile bride, why does she keep finding herself over her husband’s knee for much needed correction? Will she learn to be the submissive wife he demands? And can Andrew exert his dominance without breaking her spirit.
Author Maddie Taylor brings her style of romance, combined with elements of humor and intrigue, to this Victorian Era romp. Included are scenes of consensual and non-consensual spanking where the feisty heroine spends an inordinate amount of time over her husbands knee, desk or settee. When will he learn that she isn’t a child to be spanked and made to stand in the corner? Never we hope.
The slamming door startled Cici and she jumped, jabbing her embroidery needle sharply into her thumb. Placing the puncture wound in her mouth, she sucked away the small drop of blood. Frowning, she turned to face her irate sister who had already started in on her latest self-absorbed tirade.
?Can you believe he wants to marry me off to a Viscount? How humiliating. I am the daughter of an Earl, sought after by every hostess in London. Poems have been written in tribute to my beauty, my hair, my lips, and my breasts even.? Elizabeth angrily flopped down on the settee, arms crossed, and toe tapping in agitation. ?And he wants me to lower myself and become a mere Viscountess. Well, I won?t have it.?
Cici rolled her eyes at her conceit, but asked dutifully, ?Who is this Viscount, sister??
?Viscount Arrandale, a great big nobody.?
?But he is the brother of Sommerville, isn?t he? He is also his heir. That is hardly nobody, sister dear.?
?Oh piffle, he will never inherit. Sommerville is only thirty. He is the one who should be courting me. I won?t settle for less than an Earl, Cici. I won?t be humiliated this way.?
?I hear he is handsome and extremely wealthy. You would be settled for life. You could travel, see all of Europe and beyond. Imagine going to Rome and Greece or to the great pyramids in Egypt. Perhaps you should reconsider; you could do much worse.?
Elizabeth Richards gave her sister a scathing glare. ?Who wants to travel? I want to entertain and be entertained. See and be seen at balls, parties, and the theater. That?s what I want.?
?I?m sure the Viscount can give you all of that.?
?Can he make me a countess, a marchioness, or a duchess? No, he can?t and I?ll not consider him.?
Cecilia looked at her spoiled older sister. She was right. She was beautiful and she?d not exaggerated; there had been sonnets and poems written praising her face and form. She was the fashionable image of female perfection, tall and slender with honey blonde hair and cornflower blue eyes. Her skin was flawless alabaster. She was everything that Cici was not. She should be able to choose any husband she wanted, but this was her third season and she had turned down so many offers her selection of suitors was thinning. She had lofty goals, but the offers from the earls, marquesses, and dukes had not come. Beauty only carried her so far, and her personality was what kept them away. She was an overindulged, stubborn and out of control 20-year-old. Cici feared that if she didn?t change her ways she would have to settle for even less than a viscount or – worse in Elizabeth?s jaded opinion – a commoner. No one wanted to take a shrew for a wife.
Cici sighed, thinking about how her mother had cosseted her older sister. She couldn?t remember a time when their mama had told Elizabeth ?no.? Her mother was easy to read. Daughter of a baron, she had advanced her social standing when she had married an Earl. She was ecstatically happy to let Elizabeth have her way and buy the finest dresses, hats and furbelows for the season?s premier galas, parties and balls. She lived vicariously through her daughter, never having a season of her own before she married Charles Richards, Earl of Benton.
Her father seemed to ignore her sister?s bratty behavior until forced to intervene during a tantrum or sulk. Never an overly affectionate man, he still loved his wife and Charles always bent over backwards to keep his beloved happy. So she couldn?t figure out why her father was pushing for a match that was out of favor with Elizabeth. Cici puzzled over this; something was wrong and she planned to ask her father about it.
?You must help me, Cici.?
?Me? What can I do??
?I am supposed to be introduced to the viscount tonight. You can help by sticking to me like glue at the Berkly?s ball. If he doesn?t get me alone he can?t press his suit. I will make it a point to fill up my dance card straight away. If he does manage to wheedle a dance, I?ll become suddenly ill and insist that you assist me to the ladies retiring room.?
Sighing heavily, Cici felt trapped. She hadn?t planned on attending that evening. But she knew if she didn?t agree to Elizabeth?s scheme, she would just go to mama and get her way. Putting aside her needlework, she rose to ring for her maid. She?d need to find something to wear.
?The Earl of Benton, Countess Benton, Lady Elizabeth Richards and Lady Cecelia Richards,? the steward called out as he announced the family and they advanced to the receiving line. After formally greeting their hosts and making it to the end of the end, Elizabeth and Cici were presented with their beribboned dance cards.
Elizabeth reminded her sister to be vigilant. ?I?ll signal you when I need you so don?t wander off,? she said. She then stepped into the ballroom, where she was besieged by beaus eager to pencil in their name for the multitude of dances, in particular the coveted waltzes and supper dances. Most turned to Cici and filled in their names on her card as well. Both girls were taken for every dance in just a few minutes. Cici accepted this as courteous since it would have been rude to ignore the younger Edward?s girl when she was standing right next to her sister. Many spent the dances talking about Elizabeth or probing for information. It was one of the reasons Cici preferred not to attend, as it quickly became tedious. Used to the hubbub that her sister?s overshadowing presence stirred, Cici moved off to join a group of her friends who were also debutantes and had made their come out that year.
Lady Margaret Ashwick grabbed Cici?s hand and pulled her into their noisy circle of chattering, giggling, simpering young women. ?Oh Cici, your gown is lovely.? Cici?s gown was a hand-me-down, but the seamstress had done a commendable job of cutting it to fit and remaking it to look stylish. The ice blue fabric of the off-the-shoulder gown shimmered in the candlelight as she moved. The cut of the gown and the large elongated hoop accentuated her full breasts and narrow corseted waist. The secondhand gown was indeed lovely and was the perfect foil for her auburn locks. Caught up in a mass at her crown, it then fell down her back and around her shoulders in a mass of loose curls. Although an unfashionable color, Cici had always thought her hair was her best feature.
?Thank you, Maggie. But I have to confess that this is one of Elizabeth?s cast-offs, let out here, tucked there and hemmed up to the knee.?
?Now, now? You are every bit as lovely as your sister and your dance card is already full.? Maggie chided her diminutive friend in a motherly fashion, but as she looked down at her from her average height she couldn?t help but tease. ?But you are a little bit of a thing, aren?t you? Even I tower over you. ?
?Yes, I?m a bit shorter and much rounder.? They laughed as they eyed her sister?s reed thin figure. Cici knew that Elizabeth lamented her sadly lacking bosom. But with the new corsets these days, the modistes were able to design gowns that pushed up whatever few assets a flat-chested woman like her sister had, creating a much rounder and womanly silhouette.
It was then that Cici noticed a stunningly handsome man making his way through the ballroom. Tall and fit, his shoulders were incredibly broad and his coat fit him to perfection. He had a regal bearing and female heads turned admiringly as he passed. She sighed wondering why someone like that never noticed her. She mentally kicked herself for asking because she knew the answer.
Cecilia was a petite, curvaceous redhead with freckles. She loved to read and could often be found poring over travel books and periodicals. Nothing about her was the least bit fashionable, so she was reasonable and understood that her options for a husband were limited. But she couldn?t resist finding out more about the attractive young gentleman who had caught her eye.
?Who is that tall gentleman over there? He is quite stunning don?t you think??
Maggie looked to where her friend subtly indicated with her fan. ?Oh, Cici, don?t make me answer that. It?s just too troubling.?
?How can that be??
?That?s my brother Andrew. And although I do think him handsome, I really can?t comment on him being stunning or otherwise.? Maggie giggled as she looked at her blushing friend. ?I?ll get Papa to introduce you, I think you would get along famously. You have a lot in common.?