Earl of Sunderland by Aubrey Wynne He’s inherited the title of rake. She hides behind her independence... Fate accepts the challenge. Grace Beaumont has seen what love can do to a woman. Her mother sacrificed her life to produce the coveted son and heir. A devastated father and newborn brother force her to take on the role of Lady Boldon at the age of fifteen. But Grace finds solace in the freedom and power of her new status. Christopher Roker made a name for himself in the military. The rigor and pragmatism of the army suits him. When a tragic accident heaves Kit into a role he never wanted or expected, his world collides with another type of duty. Returning to England and his newfound responsibilities, the Wicked Earls’ Club becomes a refuge from the glitter and malice of London society but cannot ease his emptiness. Needing an escape from his late brother’s memory and reputation, Kit visits the family estate for the summer. Lady Grace, a beauty visiting from a neighboring estate, becomes a welcome distraction. When the chance to return to the military becomes a valid possibility, the earl finds himself wavering between his old life and the lure of an exceptional—and unwilling—woman. Excerpt #1: Chapter One “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.” Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility Early May 1814 London, England Lord Christopher Roker slapped his twin brother, the Earl of Sunderland, on the back. “A fit of the blue devils on your wedding day, eh? Come now, the bride seems a prime article to me.” “She’s not the woman of my choice. I’m more than an unwilling groom. I’m downright defiant.” Carson tucked his white linen tails into the pale gray pantaloons, gave his matching waistcoat a tug, and adjusted his neckcloth again. “Yet our parents are deliriously happy over the match because she is the daughter of the Marquess of Landonshire.” “You made your own name.” Christopher shook his head and gave his brother’s shoulder a hard squeeze. “Gambling and womanizing has its place when you’re more boy than man. By Christ, we’ve passed thirty.” “How did I know I’d fall in love and my reputation would haunt me?” Carson walked over to a polished oak side table and poured two glasses of brandy from the crystal decanter. He handed one to Christopher. “Or that the woman who stole my heart would have a self-righteous father who despises me?” “How many times did I warn you to pull back on the reins? There are always consequences to one’s actions. You will be the Marquess of Falsbury in your own right someday. It’s time you accepted some responsibility.” He took a sip of the amber liquid as Carson downed his in one gulp and poured another. “It’s a bit early for that, isn’t it? You might want to pace yourself.” Sunderland sank heavily into a chair, pushing his fingers through a tangle of black waves. “Kit, trade places with me. Marry the chit and take the title. You should have been the heir anyway. You’re better suited to this type of life than I am.” “We had this conversation when we were twelve, and you wanted to be a sheik and live in the desert. And then again at sixteen, when you wanted to run away and join the Royal Navy.” He smirked and sat down opposite Carson. “Besides, Mother would know at once.” “She’d stay quiet for her darling Christopher. You’ve always been her favorite.” He tipped back his head and gulped the second glass of brandy. “A little courage for the ceremony.” “There will be plenty of time for that afterwards.” “I’ve missed you, brother. I’m jealous of the army and your long absences.” He gave Kit a crooked grin. “It’s always been you and me against the world. I don’t like having my other half missing.” “Well, I’m here now! Bonaparte is no longer a threat, and we can enjoy a summer in the country this year.” A knot tightened in Kit’s stomach. He had a bad feeling about this union but knew better than to admit it. It wasn’t the wedding itself. Lady Eliza was a beauty and came with a generous dowry. And he didn’t believe for a moment Carson loved another woman. Infatuation was more likely. He fell for one chit, and before he hit the ground, another had taken his fancy. While Kit loved his brother, he also accepted his faults. His abilities did not include accountability or dependability. No, it was the girl’s father, Landonshire. His breeding was beyond reproach but his vile reputation behind closed doors was not well known. He kept his wife and daughter isolated on their estate and rarely entertained or brought them to London. Some of the whispers he’d heard from another officer could make a seasoned soldier grimace. Kit had mentioned it to his father but the man had waved it away as gossip. “You’re dipping too deep, brother,” Kit said as he took the third glass of liquor from his twin, recognizing the slight glaze in those familiar chestnut eyes. “Let’s get you to the church, shall we? At this rate, you’ll be foxed before the end of the wedding breakfast.” “That’s the plan, sir. I won’t feel those leg shackles I’ve acquired.” Excerpt #2: “Aye, it’s a fine wedding. It gives me ideas for other weddings yet to come.” Her father nudged her gently with his elbow, his mouth set in a firm line. “It’s time we started thinking about your future. I’ve been deficient in my duties. Your mother would be mortified to know I’ve kept you hidden in the country, and you almost twenty.” “I have not been hidden. It was my choice to skip the Season.” Grace had become adept at sidestepping this issue. “Two seasons, Gracie.” “My home is far more important than socializing with those shallow, silly girls.” The thought of standing against a wall, hoping a man would fill her card and not step on her feet during a cotillion, seemed more like a punishment. Making inane conversation while remembering dance steps, and drinking punch fetched by a bored or overeager suitor, was also not a rite of passage that appealed to her. “I’m quite content with my station, Papa. There’s no reason to upset our lives over marriage or romance.” Lord Boldon rolled his light brown eyes. “We’ll see, daughter. There may come a time you’ll eat those fine words.” Then he smiled over her head at someone. “Isn’t it a grand day for a wedding? Is that music I hear?” “Indeed, Lord Boldon. I’ve come to ask Lady Grace for the honor of a dance.” A deep baritone sent a warm flush through her belly. “With your permission?” Her father stood, grasped her hand, and pulled Grace to her feet as she opened her mouth to decline. “My daughter would love to dance.” She looked at her fingers now placed in the man’s palm. The heat in her belly began to pirouette and leap toward her throat. When her eyes moved to his face, the dark gaze pinned her to the spot. The air pushed from her lungs, and she found herself unable to speak. A chuckle from her father spurred her to action. With a slight curtsey, she acknowledged her partner, and they joined the others already gathering to the first notes of a country dance. Grace focused on the gold epaulettes adorning his broad shoulders, as she placed a gloved hand on his wrist. The material did little to diminish the intensity of his touch as they followed the other couples in a circle. “I understand you are a cousin to the bride. Are you pleased with the match?” His tone was conversational, but she sensed there was purpose to his question. The group of four came together and separated. “They make a lovely couple and both families are pleased. Does our opinion matter, my lord?” She risked a peek at her very masculine dance partner as he moved around her. On close inspection, she realized the brothers were not identical as they first appeared. True, their features were the same but their countenances were utterly different. No light-hearted, fanciful expression would ever grace this man’s face. She doubted such a proud military officer would overindulge in anything, let alone lose his temper. Control emanated from him. “No, I suppose not. Forgive my lame attempt at conversation with the second loveliest woman here.” It took a moment for his words to reach her brain as they turned and joined a new set of dancers. They separated again, and when she returned to him, he smiled. Her breath quickened as he spun her around. “You tease me, sir. It is not gallant of you.” “I do not tease, Lady Grace. It is not in my nature.” Best Regency Romance I’ve read in a long time and highly recommend! ~N.N. Light’s Book Heaven Reviews OMG….she did it again. For me a page turner, I fell in love with the book and characters so easily. ~Magic of Books review Wow! The Earl Of Sunderland will suck you in and make the care about the characters like family. I found myself near tears for Grace several times and for the Earl's family. Well worth the price. ~Madame Readsalot Author Aubrey Wynne 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. A Chicago Christmas series and her short stories have won multiple Reader's Choice and professional awards including the Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, and Heart of Excellence. Her upcoming Regency series, "Once Upon a Widow" begins with A Wicked Earl's Widow. It continues the story of Eliza, a character from Aubrey's first Regency, The Earl of Sunderland (The Wicked Earls' Club). Wynne's medieval fantasy series "Medieval Encounters" begins with Rolf's Quest, 2016 NTRWA Great Expectations winner.
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