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Loving a Noble Gentleman: A Historical Regency Romance Book
Author:Abigail Agar & Bridget Barton

Loving a Noble Gentleman: A Historical Regency Romance Book

Abigail Agar & Bridget Barton


Introduction

Lady Mary Roberts thought that losing her father was the worst thing that could happen to her. With her sister married and her mother already gone, he was the last family member she had. Little did she know that five years later things were going to get a whole lot worse...

When Duke Edmund Smith receives a mysterious letter regarding the will of a man that he used to work with, he is intrigued. When he discovers that the man wants him to marry his daughter so that she can inherit the family home, the intrigue turns to horror. He wants to wed for love not convenience!

Despite their reservations, Mary and Edmund meet one another and take an immediate dislike to each other. That, teemed with scandal, theft, family secrets, and ruined reputations, suggests that these two will never be able to make it work.

But sometimes, love comes in the strangest of places...





Chapter 1


“Mary Roberts, I understand that this might be difficult for you to hear,” Walter, the elderly gentleman with deep dark brown eyes told her with a firm tone. “But that is the stipulation your father has set. As his lawyer, I must relay this information to you.”

Mary straightened her back, the bones from her corset digging deeper into her ribs. That was not the only thing that made the air squeeze from her lungs, however. The situation closed her throat over and made it challenging to breathe. In all her eighteen years of life, never had she heard anything so terrifying.

“I do not understand.” She shook her head desperately. Her reddish curls shook as her head moved. “This does not make any sense.”

Mary never got to know her mother. Unfortunately, despite the family’s wealth, there was not enough available health care to keep her alive during what turned out to be a very challenging and problematic childbirth. According to what Mary had been told, her mother held her for all of two minutes before death claimed her. Just long enough to smile at her youngest daughter before she was stripped from the world forever. The woman who was supposed to be the most important to her was taken from her before she even got a chance to build a bond with her.

It was a hole that Mary had always felt gaping in her life.

As far as she knew, her father was aware of that. Maybe they could not spend too much time together because Mr Roberts was a very busy and important man, but she always thought that he understood her nature. She was not like the other girls her age, especially not the ones with titles. The label ‘Lady’ usually brought with it a set of expectations, but Mary had always struggled with them. She had no self-confidence, and she battled with shyness that was almost crippling. She thought her father knew; she thought he cared.

“When your father learned that he was battling a sickness that he would never recover from, he knew that he needed to set some rules to ensure that you get everything that you want from life.” Walter relayed this to Mary as if it were matter of fact. To him, it was not shocking, he had known about it for years, and it did not directly affect him.

“So he wishes that I get married? He has decided that, despite the fact that it has been years since he passed away.”

Maybe it was not unheard of, maybe many girls Mary’s age were getting married, but she did not feel ready for anything like that. With no mother, a sister who got married six years ago and left the family home, and now no father, Mary did not know how to communicate well in polite society. She had always found it difficult to make friends, so she did not have anyone to let her know where she was going wrong. She certainly did not feel emotionally capable of meeting a man, let alone get married.

“Now that you are an adult, you are old enough to inherit the family home. Your sister received her financial gain five years ago. Now it is your turn.”

Mary’s heart thumped wildly in her chest, and sickness swirled in her stomach as her brain span with anxiety. She curled her fingers around the chair beneath her, trying to prevent herself from falling to the ground in a heap at the terrible news.

“Did Charlotte have stipulations to her inheritance too?”

In her state of panic, Mary acted out in a way that she had never done before. Usually, she was very respectful to her elders, but she had never been told that she was about to be forced into marriage before. This changed her and brought out a desperate side of her.

“Mary.” Walter clasped his hands together, and he narrowed his eyes. “Your father did not want you to end up alone. You must continue on the family line. As a Lady, you have been given many privileges in life that others do not get. This is what you must do.” He shrugged his shoulders upright and gave what he thought would be a reassuring smile. “It is your father’s dying wish for you.”

Mary pouted out her bottom lip as childish anger raced through her veins. She had heard about the lives of the working classes; the stories were told as horror-filled tales to ensure no one stepped out of line when it came to the unwritten rules of the regency classes, but at that moment, the freedom to do what she wanted with her life would have been preferable.

“Is there a time limit set on this rule?” Mary leaned forward, trying to read the document set in front of Walter. “Does it have to be right away?”

“There is not necessarily a time set,” Walter replied cautiously. “But your father has chosen a Duke that he would prefer you to marry.”

Now I cannot even choose who I marry?

Mary could not believe it; it was all too much. There were supposed to be society events that girls in season attended. There was supposed to be courting. Even Mary, who spent a lot of time shutting the world out, knew that.

“His Grace, Duke Edmund Smith.” Walter continued, seemingly unaware of Mary’s inner turmoil. “He is someone that your father worked with, years back.”

“He is ... is he ...” Mary could hardly bring herself to ask the next question. She felt it essential, though; she needed all the details that she could get her hands on. “Is he the same age as my father would be?”

“I believe him to be four and twenty years of age.”

The tight knot loosened ever so slightly in Mary’s chest. Charlotte had warned her what was expected after marriage as a wife, and that was not something she could imagine doing with a man who was so much older than her. Not that any of this felt acceptable. Surely, there had to be some way out of it?

“What if he is already married?” That was very possible. Eligible bachelors never usually reached such an age. “What shall happen then?”

Walter’s eyebrows knitted together, which gave Mary a little glimmer of hope. Maybe if there was nothing written down, that could be her escape route. “I believe we must focus on making contact with Duke Smith first. Any decisions after that can come later on.”