What a treat I have for you today: author Jude Knight shares an excerpt from her story in a multi-author collection called The Wedding Wager.
You can pre-order The Wedding Wager today and have it downloaded to your e-reader on release day, September 27th. Jude’s story is called The Husband Gamble.
The Wedding Wager
The Boast—pride goeth before the fall…
After facilitating the match of the season, Lady Pandora “Pansy” Osbourne, has boasted that she is the best matchmaker The Ton has ever seen. Always willing to bring her cousin down a peg or two, her cousin, Lady Octavia Sewell insists that was no feat of matchmaking at all, as the couple involved were clearly destined for one another despite Pansy’s meddling. A bitter argument ensues and a dreadful challenge is issued. Pansy must do more than say it… she must prove it.
The terms of the wager are set!
Pansy must produce no less than one match per month between people who have been notoriously unmarriageable—spinsters, bluestockings, rakes and fortune hunters, oh my! But there’s more riding on this than simply her pride! If Pansy loses, she will have to give up her most prized possession—a tiara that belonged to their grandmother will be forfeited into Octavia’s grasping hands.
15 authors. 15 original novellas!
Download the prologue here: https://BookHip.com/SVWMCTV
Buy link: https://books2read.com/weddingwager
And now for a treat! An excerpt from Jude Knight’s
The Husband Gamble
The abducted bride; the upright earl. The only place they match is over the chess board.
Lady Osbourne’s famed matchmaking skills may not be enough to find a match for Miss Amaryllis Fernhill, who was abducted right out of the church in front of her groom and has been no one knows where for six years.
Nathan Belvoir, Earl of Hythe, wants a countess that will live up to his illustrious name and embellish his diplomatic and political career. Miss Fernhill is obviously unsuitable. Why, then, can he not look away?
When Lord Hythe came down to lunch, he clearly had something on his mind, but whatever it was, he shook it off and was his usual charming company. When Lady Osbourne stood to invite them all to choose their afternoon activity, Hythe was ready with a suggestion.
“Miss Fernhill, may I escort you for a walk in the picture gallery?”
Rilla swallowed her instant agreement to give the approved response. “I will need to ask my cousin.”
Cousin Felicia insisted on coming with them, but then declared she was too tired for the long promenade, and would seat herself at one end of the gallery where she could watch the couple from a distance.
They set off down the gallery, Rilla on Hythe’s arm. Wall sconces lit the paintings, and what daylight there was filtered in through the windows, so they moved from pool of light to shadows and then back into a pool of light.
Rilla waited for Hythe to raise whatever topic was on his mind. Surely, he was not about to propose? If he did, what would she say? She knew he was an honorable man and a kind one. Was that enough?
The problem was, she liked Hythe too much to saddle him with a wife like her. She would have to refuse him, and then she would have to explain to Cousin Felicia why she had refused him.
For several minutes, Hythe made comments about the various paintings in the gallery. Rilla responded in kind. How foolish she was to think a man like Hythe was interested in a woman like her. He had clearly just latched onto her to defend himself from the crazy antics of those desperate enough to try to trap him into marriage.
It was unfortunate for Rilla, since her other suitors had melted away at his supposed competition, but she could not blame him.
Which reminded her of what she overheard that morning. “Lord Hythe, I heard part of a conversation when I went up to get my shawl before lunch. I think it was about you. Just in case, may I suggest that you take someone with you when you return to your bedchamber tonight, and that you lock the door and perhaps put something against it?”
Hythe stopped in his tracks and looked down at her. He had his polite blank face on.
Rilla hastened to add, “They might not have been talking about you, of course. They just said the most eligible man at the house party.”
“Someone else is planning a compromise?” Hythe asked. “Who was it?”
Rilla hesitated. “I would rather not name names; in case I am wrong. Wait a minute. You said someone else?”
Hythe nodded. “When I went up to dress after riding, I found someone waiting in my room. Fortunately, I had been out all morning, and had Lord Joseph with me when I opened the door. Her mo- her chaperone turned up a moment or two later, with Lady Osbourne.”
“But that is what I heard them plotting,” Rilla said. “I am so glad you had Lord Joseph with you, my lord.”
His smile looked smug to Rilla. “Are you? Is there a particular reason?”
“Should there be?” she asked. “I would not wish anyone to be forced into marriage with someone unsuitable.”
The smug look vanished. “Baron Hargreaves,” he said. “I heard. For what it is worth, I think you did the right thing. Not that I know what you did. But Baron Hargreaves? What was your uncle thinking?”
“He was thinking that the baron would pay him the value of my dowry.” Rilla growled. “The baron only wanted a brood mare, and he had run out of other options. No one would marry him from choice, and nor would any parent who cared about their daughter agree to such a match.”
Hythe nodded. “Especially after the death of his third wife,” he agreed. “You should get a medal.”
That was a surprise. No one had ever suggested that Rilla was justified in running away from her unwanted marriage. Even Cousin Felicia, who said she understood, still accepted that Rilla was ruined as a result.
“Thank you,” Rilla said. “And thank you, too, Lord Hythe, for being so nice to me during this last week. I’ve enjoyed our times together.”
“Have you?” he asked. “Enough to come to Belvoir Close for two weeks in December?”
“Come to…?” Rilla stopped walking to look down the long gallery to where Cousin Felicia was chatting with the footman. She looked back up at Hythe. Was she awake? Or was this a dream?
“I should like you to meet my sisters and their families, and to show you my family home,” he said.
Rilla frowned. “Lord Hythe, are you courting me?”
He grimaced. “Obviously not very well, if you have to ask. What did you think I was doing?”
About the author:
Jude always wanted to be a novelist. She started in her teens, but life kept getting in the way. Years passed, and with them dozens of unfinished manuscripts. The fear grew. What if she tried, failed, and lost the dream forever? The years since 2014 have brought 10 novels, 13 novella, 4 volumes of short stories, 3 awards, and hundreds of positive reviews. The dream is alive.
Jude write historical fiction with a large helping of romance, a splash of Regency, and a twist of suspense. She then tries to figure out how to slot the story into a genre category. She’s mad keen on history, enjoys what happens to people in the crucible of a passionate relationship, and loves to use a good mystery and some real danger as mechanisms to torture her characters.
Dip your toe into her world with one of her lunch-time reads collections or a novella, or dive into a novel. And let her know what you think.
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