I’m excited to be joined today by fellow Bluestocking Belles author Jude Knight, introducing her twisted fairy tales series:
Lady Beast’s Bridegroom, (A Twist Upon a Regency Tale Book 1)
Lady Ariel lives retired in the country after being badly scarred by a fire. She hides her burns from others by donning a mask, only enticing more gossip by Society who has dubbed her “Lady Beast”. Now, her second cousin, who inherited her father’s title but not his private wealth, wants to have her committed so he can manage—and steal—her fortune. Only finding a husband will prevent the cousin from having his way.
Peter, Lord Ransome, a man so handsome Society has dubbed him “Beau”, inherits not only his father’s debts but also his burdens. He must manage and care for a stepmother who loathes him, her daughters, and his own two half-sisters, who spend more money than the estate can provide.
His only recourse is to find a wealthy bride to save his estate and his family. For him, that means marrying “Lady Beast”. It’s merely a business transaction, after all. But then Beau learns that true beauty lies in the heart.
When Society tries to turn them away, is the union and love of Beauty and the Beast strong enough to overcome prejudice and rejection?
Peter walked through the London streets, trying to think of some other way out of Arial’s dilemma. He couldn’t reconcile his dignity to the idea of selling himself to a rich wife. On the other hand, leaving Arial to the non-existent mercies of her cousin was impossible. He owed her his help.
Marriage was the only quick way to secure safety for his sisters, and the surest.
It helped to further soothe the raw hurt of being a fortune hunter that the lady needed the protection of his name and title. The idea of a convenient marriage had become a lot more palatable in the past hour or so.
She would not have been a beauty even without the scars he could see, and he shuddered to imagine the damage she kept hidden. That was all to the good. His stepmother and her daughter were beauties, and they were shrews.
Peter was everything she dreamed of in a husband, but that made it all the more likely she would fall in love with him. Mr. Richards said he was reluctant to marry for money, but she thought he would come to it. He was driven by a strong sense of responsibility, and by love for his two half-sisters.
To marry someone she loved who could never love her. Wouldn’t that be a kind of living hell? Far more comfortable and less immediately dangerous than the one her cousin threatened, but lacerating to the soul, nonetheless.
“You look like a fairy princess,” Viv asserted.
Arial thought fairies were frail little creatures, and no-one had ever thought her frail, even before the fire. But when she stepped in front of the mirror, she conceded there was much to be said for Viv’s opinion. It was the gown, of course, and the jewels, and the mask. But she truly did present a gratifying appearance for her wedding. Two impossible things. She’d never thought to have a wedding. She’d never thought to see admiration in the eyes of others.
Would Peter be pleased with how she looked?
Peter turned to look. It was Arial, but not the Arial he had left this morning. Dressed in a golden gown with a matching half-mask, her hair dressed high upon her head, his mother’s jewelry catching the light, she was a queen—no, a goddess—beautiful, mysterious, confident, alluring.
“I have always thought that ugliness of character, while easier to hide, at least temporarily, must be far more disappointing for a husband than a few physical scars. Far harder to live with, too.”
Her voice was steady again. “I think kissing might be plenty.”
Kissing was pleasant with a temporary lover. Peter feared that kissing Arial was going to be so far beyond pleasant it would shatter his world and remake it. “Kissing can be very pleasant,” he said.
In the morning, the half mask was back in place. He expected too much, too soon. She had trusted him enough to give him her body. It would take time before she could bear to be naked with him.
The small bit of distance was to his benefit, too. This marriage was a civil arrangement. He did not intend to spoil it by becoming besotted with his bride.
“I imagine people are curious,” Peter said. “Newlyweds,” he added.
Arial very much doubted that was the reason. “Kind of you, Peter. In truth, they want to see the gargoyle with the mask and the man who looks like a fairy prince.”
“People judge us both by our looks. I don’t like it, Arial. The way we look is not the sum of us. I don’t see ugliness when I look at you. I see kindness and intelligence. I see the lips that kiss me so sweetly. I see the body that was made to respond to mine.” He leaned across the corner of the table to place a kiss on the corner of her mouth.
“And if all you see of me is an outer shell I did nothing to deserve… I would be very disappointed, lady wife.”
Release Day is February 16, 2023.
Pre-order your copy today at https://www.amazon.com/Lady-Beasts-Bridegroom-Twist-Regency-ebook/dp/B0BPN37T99/
Coming Soon in A Twist Upon a Regency Tale:
Lady Beast’s Bridegroom
One Perfect Dance
Snowy and the Seven Doves
Perchance to Dream
About the Author
I write historical fiction with a large helping of romance, a splash of Regency, and a twist of suspense. I then try to figure out how to slot the story into a genre category. I’m mad keen on history, enjoy what happens to people in the crucible of a passionate relationship, and love to use a good mystery and some real danger as mechanisms to torture my characters. Dip your toe into my world with one of my lunch-time reads collections or a novella, or dive into a novel. And let me know what you think.
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