Earl of Sunderland
by Aubrey Wynne
He’s inherited the title of rake. She hides behind her independence… Fate accepts the challenge.
Grace Beaumont has seen what love can do to a woman. Her mother sacrificed her life to produce the coveted son and heir. A devastated father and newborn brother force her to take on the role of Lady Boldon at the age of fifteen. But Grace finds solace in the freedom and power of her new status.
Christopher Roker made a name for himself in the military. The rigor and pragmatism of the army suits him. When a tragic accident heaves Kit into a role he never wanted or expected, his world collides with another type of duty. Returning to England and his newfound responsibilities, the Wicked Earls’ Club becomes a refuge from the glitter and malice of London society but cannot ease his emptiness.
Needing an escape from his late brother’s memory and reputation, Kit visits the family estate for the summer. Lady Grace, a beauty visiting from a neighboring estate, becomes a welcome distraction. When the chance to return to the military becomes a valid possibility, the earl finds himself wavering between his old life and the lure of an exceptional—and unwilling—woman.
“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”
Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
Early May 1814
Lord Christopher Roker slapped his twin brother, the Earl of Sunderland, on the back. “A fit of the blue devils on your wedding day, eh? Come now, the bride seems a prime article to me.”
“She’s not the woman of my choice. I’m more than an unwilling groom. I’m downright defiant.” Carson tucked his white linen tails into the pale gray pantaloons, gave his matching waistcoat a tug, and adjusted his neckcloth again. “Yet our parents are deliriously happy over the match because she is the daughter of the Marquess of Landonshire.”
“You made your own name.” Christopher shook his head and gave his brother’s shoulder a hard squeeze. “Gambling and womanizing has its place when you’re more boy than man. By Christ, we’ve passed thirty.”
“How did I know I’d fall in love and my reputation would haunt me?” Carson walked over to a polished oak side table and poured two glasses of brandy from the crystal decanter. He handed one to Christopher. “Or that the woman who stole my heart would have a self-righteous father who despises me?”
“How many times did I warn you to pull back on the reins? There are always consequences to one’s actions. You will be the Marquess of Falsbury in your own right someday. It’s time you accepted some responsibility.” He took a sip of the amber liquid as Carson downed his in one gulp and poured another. “It’s a bit early for that, isn’t it? You might want to pace yourself.”
Sunderland sank heavily into a chair, pushing his fingers through a tangle of black waves. “Kit, trade places with me. Marry the chit and take the title. You should have been the heir anyway. You’re better suited to this type of life than I am.”
“We had this conversation when we were twelve, and you wanted to be a sheik and live in the desert. And then again at sixteen, when you wanted to run away and join the Royal Navy.” He smirked and sat down opposite Carson. “Besides, Mother would know at once.”
“She’d stay quiet for her darling Christopher. You’ve always been her favorite.” He tipped back his head and gulped the second glass of brandy. “A little courage for the ceremony.”
“There will be plenty of time for that afterwards.”
“I’ve missed you, brother. I’m jealous of the army and your long absences.” He gave Kit a crooked grin. “It’s always been you and me against the world. I don’t like having my other half missing.”
“Well, I’m here now! Bonaparte is no longer a threat, and we can enjoy a summer in the country this year.” A knot tightened in Kit’s stomach. He had a bad feeling about this union but knew better than to admit it. It wasn’t the wedding itself. Lady Eliza was a beauty and came with a generous dowry. And he didn’t believe for a moment Carson loved another woman. Infatuation was more likely. He fell for one chit, and before he hit the ground, another had taken his fancy. While Kit loved his brother, he also accepted his faults. His abilities did not include accountability or dependability.
No, it was the girl’s father, Landonshire. His breeding was beyond reproach but his vile reputation behind closed doors was not well known. He kept his wife and daughter isolated on their estate and rarely entertained or brought them to London. Some of the whispers he’d heard from another officer could make a seasoned soldier grimace. Kit had mentioned it to his father but the man had waved it away as gossip.
“You’re dipping too deep, brother,” Kit said as he took the third glass of liquor from his twin, recognizing the slight glaze in those familiar chestnut eyes. “Let’s get you to the church, shall we? At this rate, you’ll be foxed before the end of the wedding breakfast.”
“That’s the plan, sir. I won’t feel those leg shackles I’ve acquired.”
Best Regency Romance I’ve read in a long time and highly recommend! ~N.N. Light’s Book Heaven Reviews
OMG….she did it again. For me a page turner, I fell in love with the book and characters so easily. ~Magic of Books review
Wow! The Earl Of Sunderland will suck you in and make the care about the characters like family. I found myself near tears for Grace several times and for the Earl’s family. Well worth the price. ~Madame Readsalot
Author Aubrey Wynne
Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding, and all things Christmas.
A Chicago Christmas series and her short stories have won multiple Reader’s Choice and professional awards including the Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, and Heart of Excellence.
Her upcoming Regency series, “Once Upon a Widow” begins with A Wicked Earl’s Widow. It continues the story of Eliza, a character from Aubrey’s first Regency, The Earl of Sunderland (The Wicked Earls’ Club).
Wynne’s medieval fantasy series “Medieval Encounters” begins with Rolf’s Quest, 2016 NTRWA Great Expectations winner.
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