Can she save him from the nightmares that haunt his sleep, or will all be lost when her father’s diabolical plan threatening her life?
The Viscount’s Salvation by Vikki Vaught
Publisher & Release: Enticing Pleasures Romance, October 30, 2016
Time and setting: 1803, England
Genre: Historical Romance/Regency
Length: 240 pages
Heat Level: 2 Flames
Vikki Vaught’s Honorable Rogue series started with the award-winning novel, Lady Overton’s Perilous Journey. The Viscount’s Salvation, Book 3, brings you her brother’s story. A historical romance of high suspense and sensuality. Buy this book now to find out how he survived his ordeal in war-torn France.
Captain Cortland Wallingford returns a broken man, plagued by horrific nightmares. While attending a ball, Cortland meets Lady Mary, an Earl’s daughter. Her calm demeanor brings him a peace that has evaded him since his imprisonment.
Lady Mary learns of her father’s diabolical plan, one that threatens her life. She’s desperate to find a way out of marriage to a notorious marquess, more than twice her age. When Cortland discovers the danger Mary faces, he offers her an escape from the earl’s evil intent.
Can Mary chase away his nightmares, or will the person who wants him dead achieve their goal before she has a chance?
Lady Mary hummed as she thumbed through the bookshelf on the upper level of her father’s library in his Grosvenor Square townhouse. As she looked for a novel to read before bed, she heard the door open. She blew out her candle as she ducked behind the drapes concealing the window seat. Her father would be livid if he found her at this time of night…and in her nightclothes. The Earl of Melton believed in strict discipline and did not spare the rod, especially with his nineteen-year-old daughter. Mary held her breath, praying he had not seen the light nor heard her when he entered.
She listened as he began speaking to whoever entered the room with him. “Please take a seat. I’m surprised by your visit this late at night. What do you want, Worthington?”
Mary shrank further into her hiding place. The Marquess of Worthington was one of the men her father brought to the house for his vile, debauched parties. The man had cornered her on more than one occasion, and she had barely escaped with her virtue intact the last time. Thank goodness, her aunt had walked in the music room.
Why did her father sound so disturbed? Normally, he was on good terms with the marquess. Their friendship went back for many years. She wanted to sneak to the railing and peek over it, but she dared not risk it.
“You know why I am here, Melton,” the marquess sneered. “It is time to settle the huge gambling debt you owe me. I demand you honor your marker.”
Her father blustered, “I need another month, or…perhaps we can work something out. I have seen the way you look at my daughter. She would make you a fine wife. I would be happy to give her to you if we can come to terms. She has a fine dowry, and she comes from good breeding stock. Before her useless mother ran off with her lover, she did give me three sons. I know you still need an heir.”
Mary’s heart dropped to her feet. Worthington was a notorious rake and more than twice her age. Surely her father could not be serious. The man had already buried three wives, and the last one under suspicious circumstances six months ago. If the gossip she had overheard was correct.
Several moments passed before the marquess answered. “You say her dowry is large? If that is the case, why do you not use it to pay your debt?”
Her father retorted, “Because the dowry came to her through her grandmother, and my own mother made sure I could not touch it. It was part of her widow’s jointure.”
“Ah, I see,” Worthington mused. “Not that I need the money, but how much is she worth? Besides her value as a wife who can give me sons.”
Her face grew hot, and she fisted her hands. They were talking as if she were a breeding mare on sale at Tattersall’s. She had not thought even her father could stoop so low. What would she do if the marquess agreed? She’d heard the tales the maids told regarding Lord Worthington. They had sounded afraid that he would catch them alone and rape them. Evidently the man had some type of dreadful disease, and they did not want to contract it.
“Five thousand pounds,” her father replied, “and she brings with her a small estate in Northampshire. Winston Hall turns a tidy profit each year.”
Mary covered her mouth to hold in her gasp. She had no knowledge of this. Her life had gone downhill once her sweet grandmother had passed away when she was ten. She should not be surprised, though. Grandmama had told her she would watch out for her, but she thought she’d meant while she was alive.
“That does sweeten the pot.” She could hear the glee in the marquess’ voice. “I have had the chance to talk to Mary on several occasions, and I do find her…very appealing. She seems to be a sweet-natured, biddable, young girl, one I could mold to my…ah, tastes.”
Her father replied, “You will find Mary very willing to please, my friend. She’s lived a sheltered life and is a complete innocent. Do we have an agreement?”
There was a pause while the marquess undoubtedly contemplated her father’s vile proposal. “I leave for my estate in the morning. I shall take this under careful consideration and let you know my decision when I return next month, but rest assured it will be a favorable one.” Mary heard the creak of the leather upholstery and guessed the man stood up. The marquess spoke again. “I will take my leave now, so I bid you a goodnight.”
“Very good, Worthington. I look forward to your decision.” His voice moved away as he spoke, and she heard the door close.
She waited several minutes until she was sure her father had left the library with the marquess before she ventured from her hiding place. Her knees shook as she made the climb down the ladder to the lower level. She crept to the door and opened it a crack to make sure her father had disappeared from sight. Finding the hall empty, she quietly made her way up the stairs to her room. Once she made it inside and closed her door, she slumped against it as tears slipped down her cheeks.
She’d always known her father did not love her, but she would never have imagined he would offer to sell her to settle gambling debts. It would do no good to talk to Aunt Mildred since she was her father’s sister. Her maiden aunt would surely be relieved she would no longer have to act as her chaperone.
She moved over to her bed, then crawled in and burrowed under the covers. Her heart pounded at the thought of becoming that horrid man’s wife, but what could she do? Her father was her guardian and could do whatever he wished with her. If she refused, he would beat her and threaten to harm her fourteen- and fifteen-year-old brothers. Thank goodness Michael and Charles had left for school the previous month.
Possibly, she should write to her elder brother, Ben. Of course, he could not do anything while he was at Oxford. Her twin was only ten minutes older than she, and dependent on their father as well. If he tried to interfere, Father would cut off his quarterly allowance. No, she could not involve her gentle brother. While he might be the eldest, she’d always felt protective toward him because he suffered from asthma. Stress over her could bring on an attack.
Mary buried her head in her pillows and wept bitter tears until at last, she slipped into a troubled sleep.
Vikki Vaught started her writing career when a story invaded her mind and would not leave. Ever since then, the stories keep coming and writing is now her passion. Over the last five years, she has written almost a dozen romances and is presently working on her next, while fighting off the other future characters shouting my turn!
Vikki lives in the beautiful foothills of the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with her husband, Jim, who is a saint for putting up with her when she is in a writing frenzy. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her curled up in a comfortable chair reading, lost in a good book with a cup of tea at her side. She also enjoys walking her little dog, Marlee who has captured her heart!
While all her books are love stories, she also writes sweet contemporary romances as Vikki McCombie.
Amazon Author Page: http://smile.amazon.com/Vikki-Vaught/e/B008EE7TG2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1433778387&sr=1-2-ent
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5208041.Vikki_Vaught