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USA Today Bestselling Author
Vexed by a Viscount – An All’s Fair in Love Novella
By: Erin Knightly
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: August 11, 2015
Prudence Landon has always done exactly as she should. She’s obeyed her parents’ every word, lived by society’s every dictate, and even agreed to marry a man more than twice her age simply because it was expected of her. In the fortnight before her wedding, she decides it’s high time to bend a few rules before life as she knows it is over.
Viscount Ashby leads a charmed life. Betrothed since the age of seven, he is perfectly content to allow his off-the-market status to keep the marriage-minded mamas at bay. When he returns home to his parent’s estate and finds their prim, straight-laced young neighbor swimming naked in broad daylight, he’s both amused and intrigued.
When Ash discovers Prudence’s upcoming nuptials to the aging squire, he decides to help her live a little before the parson’s mousetrap springs closed. But what started as good fun soon leads to something much more. With her wedding fast approaching, they must choose between breaking all the rules and losing their one chance for happiness.
The question remains, however: Why would a perfectly proper, perfectly betrothed young woman step so thoroughly off the straight and narrow path?”
It was hard to think when he was so close, watching her so intently. Despite the levity in his eyes, she knew he intended to root out the truth. She glanced down and fussed with her gloves, buying a moment to gather her thoughts. “As I said, a whim.”
“One tries a new hairstyle on a whim. One decides to visit a good friend on a whim. One does not swim naked on one’s neighbor’s property on a whim. Especially when one’s name is Prudence.” His hands went to his hips as he lifted an eyebrow and waited for her response.
She blanched a bit at his frank words. Glancing around to be absolutely certain no one could have overheard, she said, “Please, do not speak of it. I have admitted to how ill-advised it was, and I am attempting to pretend it never happened.”
“I see. In that case, let us talk in hypotheticals. A young woman of impeccable manners and with an exceptionally well-regarded family decides to do something utterly outrageous. Why, I wonder, might she suddenly decide to do such a thing?”
Hypotheticals. Yes, she could do that. Lifting her shoulders in an I’m-merely-speculating sort of way, she said, “Perhaps one doesn’t want to live one’s entire life without some small adventure.”
Nodding thoughtfully, he turned and began to walk again. She fell into step beside him, hoping against hope that he would drop it.
“An adventure. But if one is young, there will be ample time for adventure. And entire lifetime, really.”
“Unless one is about to be married off to someone decades her senior who prefers to sit indoors on a perfectly lovely evening and bypass such things as dinner parties and dances whenever possible. One could shortly become stuck in one’s new life, particularly when one has children.”
He cut a glance her way before setting his gaze on the flagstone path before them. “Hmm. Yes, I see how one would feel the need for adventure. I feel the need for adventure, just hearing of such a fate.”
A small seed of panic bloomed in her belly as she realized how very honest she had just been. What was wrong with her? Was she so desperate to let out her worries that she would speak so frankly to a man who was little more than an acquaintance?
Desperate was exactly what she had been feeling lately. Was that not what had caused her to act so rashly in the first place? “And there is no harm in it. Assuming one is discreet . . . as is any person who may accidentally stumble upon the adventure.”
He nodded, only the barest hint of a smile gracing his lips. “Yes, I imagine that is key.”
They had already wordlessly established as much at dinner, but it did make her feel somewhat better to have it said aloud.
“I wonder, though . . .”
She waited, but he didn’t say any more. Against her better judgment, she couldn’t help but give in. “Yes?”
“What other adventures does one have planned?”
She gaped at him. How did he know she had a list?
His teeth flashed white as he smiled hugely. “Aha—so you do have more adventures planned.”
Despite being an avid reader and closet writer her whole life, Erin Knightley decided to pursue a sensible career in science. It was only after earning her B.S. and working in the field for years that she realized doing the sensible thing wasn’t any fun at all. Following her dreams, Erin left her practical side behind and now spends her days writing. An award winning and USA Today Bestselling author, she is living her own Happily Ever After in North Carolina with her tall, dark, and handsome husband and their three spoiled mutts.
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