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Their marriage is a fiction. Their enemies are all too real.
Ella survived an abusive and philandering husband, in-laws who hate her, and public scorn. But she’s not sure she will survive love. It is too late to guard her heart from the man forced to pretend he has married such a disreputable widow, but at least she will not burden him with feelings he can never return.
Alex understands his supposed wife never wishes to remarry. And if she had chosen to wed, it would not have been to him. He should have wooed her when he was whole, when he could have had her love, not her pity. But it is too late now. She looks at him and sees a broken man. Perhaps she will learn to bear him.
In their masquerade of a marriage, Ella and Alex soon discover they are more well-matched than they expected. But then the couple’s blossoming trust is ripped apart by a malicious enemy. Two lost souls must together face the demons of their past to save their lives and give their love a future.
*I received a via the author in exchange for my honest review.
This one had me glued to it from the start! There is a mystery from the start with why her in-laws hate her so much and why they are doing what they are doing to her. It was clear from the start that they were a perfect match, but so many things were keeping them apart. I kept hoping that they wouldn’t be ripped apart. I figured out parts, but still got hit with others and loved it. There are so many details that I loved and once it ended I didn’t want it to be over. This is one that you take your time reading for good reasons.
Ella wasn’t going to go down without a fight. I loved her spirit from the start because with everything she had been through she kept her head up. She was a fighter and slowly realized that she a lady even without a title and money. You just love her instantly.
Alex has always cared about and loved Ella. I loved him from the start because he didn’t let his injury get in his way and knew he had to help her. He was a bit surprising at times, but those surprises make you love him more from how he talks about horses and why he won’t breed for the army to the story he told about the lessons his brothers taught him.
I highly recommend this book.
Half an hour later, there was a knock on the door.
Ella, expecting a maid or Susan, called out, “Enter.”
Alex opened the door just enough to slide inside and closed it again behind him.
“Before you say, I know I shouldn’t be here, but I had to tell you first, before anyone else.”
Ella frowned. He looked… stunned. As if someone had hit him on the side of the head with a large plank and he had registered the blow but not yet the pain. Swiftly, she crossed the room and took his hands.
“What is it? What has happened? What can I do?”
“I don’t think there is anything to be done. The King… They said a barony, but I never expected this.” He shook his head. “I am not making sense. I have had a shock.”
“Sit down.” She tugged his hand and he followed her unresisting to the seat by the fire.
“There. Can I get you some water? Where does it hurt?”
“The King has made me a viscount, Ella. Aldridge said a baron, which was ridiculous enough. But apparently, he had a spare viscountcy, so there you are. Viscount Renshaw.” He bowed slightly in the chair, more of a nod of the head. “At your service.”
“But…” She frowned, trying to understand. “That is not a bad thing, Alex, surely? My lord, I mean.”
“See? That is exactly what I was afraid of.” He looked disgusted, but at least less pole axed than when he arrived. “I have spent weeks trying to get you to regard me as an ordinary man, and what does the King do? If you call me ‘my lord’, Ella, I swear I will not be accountable for my actions.”
“You are though. Lord Renshaw.”
“Me and the heirs male of my body,” he agreed, gloomily, then brightened a little. “The estate is not a bad size and is in the Lincolnshire Wolds, which is good horse country. It will be in terrible condition, I imagine, for the King to give it away, but it might be a good base for our horse breeding, do you not think? We could go and see it after Christmastide.”
Ella’s mind was still on the heirs male. He would have to marry. That is what peers did. She should not mind. After all, except for one kiss that burned in her memory, there was nothing between them. Only friendship. But when she had agreed to partner him in the venture, she had owned a colt, and she had not thought of him having a wife. Surely he understood it could no longer be ‘our’ venture?
He misunderstood her silence. “No. I suppose you will not come. I will go and inspect it, and report, Ella.” He pulled himself to his feet. “I had better go before someone catches me in your room. Please do not hate me for being a peer. I could not help it, and I cannot bear to lose you… Your friendship, I mean.”
Her smile was a thing of the lips, not the heart, but she did the best she could. “We will always be friends, Alex.”
About the Author
Jude Knight’s writing goal is to transport readers to another time, another place, where they can enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, delight in a happy ending, and return from their virtual holiday refreshed and ready for anything.
She writes historical novels, novellas, and short stories, mostly set in the early 19th Century. She writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.