The Baron's Rose
The Baron's Rose
- Purchase E-Book Instantly
- Receive Download Link via Email
- Send to Preferred E-Reader and Enjoy!
- Arranged Marriage
Rose Allen was supposed to be duchess when next she came to London. Instead, she was thrown over in favor of her sister. Now, no respectable gentleman, let alone a man of title, will have anything to do with her-except a fortune hunter desperate for her large dowry.
Not only had Lord Oliver Brandon just lost his father, but he had discovered the family coffers are empty. If he is to save his family from total ruin, he needs to find a solution and fast. When approached with an offer for a marriage that includes a handsome dowry, he doesn't know whether to thank his good fortune or curse his bad luck- because the match also comes with a discontented wife.
In choosing a marriage of convenience, Rose and Oliver may forfeit their pride, but what of their hearts?
Intro. Into Chapter One
Intro. Into Chapter One
Rose Allen stepped from the carriage, caressing the pearls at her neck as she looked up at the illuminated yellow stone façade of Lord Trenton's London townhome. Lanterns lit the walkway and staircase. She
pulled her wrap up around her shoulders and tightened it slightly, the chill of spring air only part of the reason she was cold. Rose closed her eyes. I can do this. I deserve to be here. Her
stomach lurched and her cheek twitched. She pushed the feeling of inadequacy down.
The squeak of the carriage behind her brought Rose's attention back and she watched as her brother-in-law handed out her sister. Violet looked up into her husband's face and Rose gritted her teeth to stop from growling. Watching the two moon over each other was enough to turn Rose's stomach.
Violet wrapped her hand around her husband's arm and the two of them preceded Rose up the staircase and into the entryway. Rose glared at her sister's back. It should have been me on his arm, not her.
The butler approached them, and His Grace presented his card. The butler bowed low. "Ah, Your Grace. Welcome to Hawthorne House." He took their wraps, handing them off to a footman standing nearby. "Please, follow Henry. He will lead you to the ballroom."
The duke smiled. "Has my aunt, Lady Mayfield arrived yet?"
The butler gave a slight shake of his head. "No, Your Grace."
The duke's smile faltered slightly, and Rose stood a little taller, a smirk curling her lips. He was new to society. The ton would not be kind to him if he were
The group trailed after the footman, stopping just outside the ballroom. He motioned them inside.
The duke looked into the large room. "I should like to wait a few moments for my aunt to arrive before we enter."
Henry bowed, leaving them to stand in the
The duke took a deep breath and straightened his waistcoat, even as he squared his shoulders.
Rose grinned at his obvious discomfort.
"Well, my love," he spoke quietly to Violet.
Rose bristled at the term of endearment.
"We are not going to get this first encounter over with if we stand here in the corridor." His Adam's apple bobbed a few times before he gave his head a firm nod.
"Can we not wait for your aunt? She was to introduce us."
Rose raised a brow. Must Violet always be so mousy? A duchess needed backbone—something which Violet often lacked.
"She is not here. What are we to do? Stand about looking like a bunch of nodcocks?" Frustration laced the duke's words.
Violet looked up at her husband with worried eyes.
"What if they don't like me, Tad? What if I am a complete failure?"
Rose shook her head. The duke had not been raised in England, which meant this was his first entrance into the London social
scene. Rose should be the one guiding him through it. After all, she had experienced it before, unlike Violet. Her sister and the duke were like one blind man leading another. Neither of them knew what they were about.
A large part of Rose hoped Violet's fears were realized—that
she would be a failure. Perhaps then the duke would understand what a mistake he had made. He should have chosen Rose. She had prepared herself for this role—had done everything she could think of to become a duchess. Her cheek twitched. It had been for naught. Violet had convinced the duke that she was the one he loved, not Rose.
The duke put his free hand on top of the hand Violet had wrapped around the crook of his arm. From the way his muscles
flexed, Rose guessed he was giving Violet a reassuring squeeze. "It’s not possible. No one could ever find you lacking." He smiled at her and Rose's
hands clenched at her side.
"Prattling on out here in the hall is achieving nothing. Can we not continue on inside?" Rose asked, before letting out a deep sigh, her eyes narrowing slightly.
Violet flinched at the harshness of Rose's voice, but she brushed her sister’s response aside. It was just another example of Violet's timidity.
The duke led his wife into the ballroom; Rose walked several steps behind. She looked up at the large chandelier, sparkling
with thousands of crystals, and hundreds of candle flames reflecting off the cut glass.
She swallowed hard. This was everything she remembered from her first and only Season. Ladies and gentlemen dotted the
room, all dressed in the finest fabrics. Rose sucked in a deep breath. This time it will be different. This time she would come away with an offer—she had to. This was her last chance. At one and twenty, her time was running out.
"It's enchanting," Violet murmured over her shoulder. "Do you not think so, Tad?"
Rose moved forward a few steps, bringing her even with Violet and the duke.
He looked down on his wife and smiled. "If you are happy, my love, then I am happy."
Rose rolled her eyes and took several steps to the side, distancing herself from their irritating felicity.
"Stop gawking like a couple of ninnies’ and let's present you to our hosts," Lady Mayfield said, bustling toward them, her niece Miss Standish, following behind.
"Really, nephew," the older woman whispered when she neared. "Do you wish everyone to think you were raised a common shopkeeper? Did we not review this just yesterday?"
The duke breathed in deeply, his shoulders raising and falling. He ran his hand along the back of his neck and narrowed his gaze
at his aunt. "Perhaps if you had been on time, I should not have had to wait about, looking like a commoner."
Lady Mayfield guffawed. "I arrived on time. You arrived early." She shook her head, her jowls swinging back and forth.
"What is their name again?" The duke whispered as he straightened to his full height, his face setting in a stony look of aloofness.
Lady Mayfield let out an exasperated sigh. "Lord and Lady Trenton."
Violet, like her husband, straightened her back, and lifted her chin regally as they neared the start of the receiving line.
Lord Trenton smiled and nodded to everyone he greeted. His wife, however, was a complete contrast. Few of the guests received even the slightest upturn of her lips. Most only earned a frown, or in a few
cases, an outright scowl.
As she neared their host, Rose took a deep, calming breath. This was where it started. This ball would help define her Season and she was not going to ruin it. She pasted a brilliant smile on her lips and gave her cheeks a discreet pinch.
Lady Mayfield approached Lord Trenton. "My Lord, may I introduce my nephew, His Grace, the Duke of Shearsby."
"Ah, Your Grace. I have been most anxious to make your acquaintance." Lord Trenton quite literally bounced with
excitement, as he simultaneously bowed and shook the duke's hand. He then turned his eyes onto Violet.
Lady Mayfield followed his gaze. "And his new wife, Her Grace, the Duchess of Shearsby.” Lady Mayfield nodded in Rose’s
direction. “Miss Rose Allen and my niece, Miss Jessica Standish."
Lord Trenton smiled widely at them and Rose felt her breath slowly drain from her lungs. She clasped her trembling hands tightly in front of her. Dare she hope that society wouldn’t shun her after all?
Lady Trenton turned narrowed eyes on them. "You brought the sister? I don't recall including her in the invitation."
Rose's smile dropped into a sort of grimace, her hope evaporating and her earlier fears pressing down heavily on her shoulders.