Read An Infamous Marriage Online

Authors: Susanna Fraser

Tags: #Romance, #General, #Historical, #Fiction

An Infamous Marriage

An Infamous Marriage
By Susanna Fraser

Northumberland, 1815

At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.

Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he’s back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her...

Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife’s love may be the greatest battle he’s faced yet.

88,000 words

Dear Reader,

Exciting things happen in November. It’s the month we first
announced the creation of Carina Press, the month of my Harlequin employment
anniversary and it’s the month when we in the U.S. get
gorge-yourself-on-bad-carbs-and-turkey day (otherwise known as Thanksgiving). We
also get Black Friday (I think they call it that because of the color of your
bruises after you’ve been run over by crazy shoppers).

This November, we’re excited to release our first Carina
Press book in trade print format.
The Theory of
Attraction,
an erotic BDSM romance collection featuring novellas from
Delphine Dryden, Christine d’Abo and Jodie Griffin, is on shelves and available
for order online.

We also have fourteen new stories in digital for you to enjoy
post-turkey coma, in that long, long line outside the mall on Black Friday or,
if neither of those is your thing, to enjoy just because you like a good book!
Try to avoid the crime and violence of some of those crazy holiday shoppers and
enjoy some on-page suspense instead. Marie Force is back with her popular Fatal
series and ongoing protagonists Nick and Sam, in her next romantic suspense,
Fatal Deception.
Also returning is author Shirley
Wells with
Dying Art,
the next Dylan Scott
mystery.

I’m happy to introduce debut author Jax Garren’s new trilogy,
which kicks off this month with
How Beauty Met the
Beast.
This novella grabbed my attention when I read it on
submission, with off-the-charts sexual tension, a wonderful, character-driven
futuristic world, a smart, sassy heroine and a tortured, scarred hero who yearns
for nothing more than to keep the woman he’s secretly falling in love with
safe.

Looking for something out-of-this-world to take you away from
the pre-holiday madness? J.L. Hilton offers up her next cyberpunk
science-fiction romance,
Stellarnet Prince,
continuing the adventures of futuristic blogger extraordinaire Genny. Meanwhile,
Cáit Donnelly’s
Now You See It
gives a paranormal
edge to a thrilling romantic suspense, while erotic fantasy romance
Dark Dealings
by Kim Knox is guaranteed to give you
that “take me away” feeling.

Joining Kim with erotic romance releases this month are Jodie
Griffin with her next Bondage & Breakfast novella,
Forbidden Desires,
and Lynda Aicher’s first of a BDSM trilogy,
Bonds of Trust.
All three books in this trilogy are
both smokin’ hot, while delivering a wonderful, captivating story.

We have two authors with male/male releases this month,
including L.B. Gregg’s contemporary romance
Men of
Smithfield: Adam and Holden.
Also in the male/male niche, author
Libby Drew has her first Carina Press release, paranormal male/male
romance
40 Souls to Keep.

Susanna Fraser’s
An Infamous
Marriage
is our lone historical romance offering this month, but one
that won’t disappoint. Anchoring us in the here and now are several
contemporary romance titles. Jeanette Murray’s
No
Mistletoe Required
aims to get you into a holiday mood and
December Gephart bursts onto the publishing scene with her debut, the witty, fun
and romantic
Undercover Professor.

And don’t miss the upcoming conclusion of Shannon Stacey’s
second Kowalski family trilogy,
All He Ever
Dreamed.

Wherever your reading pleasure takes you, enjoy this month’s
variety of releases as we gear up for the holiday season.

We love to hear from readers, and you can email us your
thoughts, comments and questions to
[email protected]
.
You can also interact with Carina Press staff and authors on our blog, Twitter
stream and Facebook fan page.

Happy reading!

~Angela James
Executive Editor, Carina Press

www.carinapress.com
www.twitter.com/carinapress
www.facebook.com/carinapress

Dedication

In loving memory of Lee and Scott,
old friends gone too soon.

Acknowledgements

To Chris Compton for advice on the foaling scene and to Jim and Nathan Stone for tips on speaking to and of lieutenant-colonels and major-generals. Any errors are my own.

My critique partners, the ladies of the Demimonde—Alyssa Everett, Rose Lerner, Karen Dobbins and Vonnie Hughes—continue to provide constant advice and wisdom. Thanks are also due to Melissa Johnson, my wonderful editor.

And, as always, the biggest thanks go to my husband and daughter for their patience, encouragement and love.

Prologue

Aboard the H.M.S.
Antigone,
the North Atlantic,
January 1815

“To peace!”

Dutifully Jack lifted his glass. “To peace,” he echoed, along with the rest of the officers dining at Captain Tizley’s table. A dozen men feasted and drank together in the narrow, low-ceilinged room, but Jack alone wore army red amid a sea of naval blue. The captain’s cook had outdone himself in honor of the evening’s celebration. The last survivor of the ship’s pigs had been sacrificed and devoured as a succulent roast, and now a spotted dog
and
a jam roly-poly graced the table in a double measure of pudding.

How many of us truly want peace?
Jack hid a sigh as he downed what he believed was his seventh glass of wine. He couldn’t say he did. He had begun this journey to England hoping not for peace or even a lengthy respite at home, but to argue for a better strategy to take back to Canada with him. He thought he knew how to regain control of the Great Lakes, and he believed he could make arguments for the utility of an Indian buffer state that would sway even the most hard-hearted and pragmatic politicians into doing right by their native allies for a change.

But today they had met a westward-bound ship carrying word of a treaty with the Americans, and all his scheming was at an end. Peace at last. Peace with America, as they had made peace with France last year when Bonaparte finally gave up and abdicated. Peace! Jack wasn’t ready for it. He had been too long convalescing from the wounds he’d received at Queenston Heights. He needed another chance to prove his courage and talent, that he actually deserved the knighthood and promotion to major-general he’d been awarded while he lay in hospital.

“What will you do with this peace, Sir John?” Captain Tizley raised his brows in inquiry.

Jack smiled. “I must see what Horse Guards wants of me. Perhaps they shall send me back to Canada.” He hoped so. He’d lived most of his adult life there, and when he thought of home, he pictured its woods and wildernesses, not the Northumberland village of his childhood. Whatever the terms of this peace with the Americans, Canada would still need to be garrisoned, and who better for the command than a man who knew and loved the place as he did?

“Have you no desire whatsoever to return to England and a settled life, then?” the captain asked.

Jack certainly didn’t want to go back to Selyhaugh. Everything he had ever loved about his native village had died first with his best friend and then his mother. All he had left was a wife he hadn’t wanted even when he spoke his vows. “I’ve never had a settled life,” he said. “Have you, Captain?”

“No, sir. But if I should ever make admiral, I might begin to desire one. A country estate, a place in society, a family of my own.”

It sounded seductive in the abstract, Jack admitted. Despite his long years away, he still felt the weight of his lineage. His mother would have wanted grandchildren to live on the family land. His uncle would have raged to think that after all his efforts to get Jack established in the army and raised to high rank and dignity, his wayward nephew might willfully fail to father a son to carry on the warlike Armstrong traditions. But Jack had been avoiding Elizabeth for too many years to feel sanguine about the prospect.

“You’ll be all the rage in London, sir,” said Devenish, the
Antigone’s
shockingly young and cheerful first lieutenant. “A war hero, and I daresay the only gentleman on the Marriage Mart who can claim to have lived among red Indians... The debutantes will be lining up.”

Would that it were true. “Alas, it cannot be,” Jack said lightly. “I fear I am already wed.”

“Why, you’ve never mentioned a wife,” Devenish blurted, then had the grace to look abashed. “I beg your pardon, sir.”

“Not at all.” It was no more than the truth. Jack rarely spoke of Elizabeth, nor thought of her more than he had to. There had certainly been no cause to talk of her with these newly made naval acquaintances. “We lived a quiet life in Northumberland,” he said, honestly enough, “and Lady Armstrong has chosen to remain there all this while.” Which was also true.

He did not confess that their only communication for the past five years had been her dutiful letters accounting for how she managed his lands and property. When he’d received them, months later, he would write back, approving her measures—Elizabeth was nothing if not frugal and steady, he had to give her credit for that—and feeling relieved that another season or two must pass before he had to force himself through the whole farcical exercise again.

Rather than endure any further impertinent questions from young naval puppies, he gestured to the waiting servant to pour another round. “A glass of wine with you, Mr. Devenish.”

“Yes, sir.” The young officer grinned and lifted his glass. “To wives and sweethearts.”

“May they never meet,” several voices chorused from around the table.

Jack hid a sigh. It was absurd to be afraid to face his own wife, when he’d never flinched from the perils of musket, cannon and sword on the battlefield. He couldn’t avoid her forever. Deep down, he did want a son to follow after him. He owed that much to his family and his name. So his wife was a dull, cold mouse of creature. What of it? He would close his eyes, think of Sarah or Marie-Rose or Hannah, and get Elizabeth with child. With any luck she’d bear a son on the first attempt and they could go back to avoiding each other. He’d wager Elizabeth would be as glad to see the back of him as he would to be quit of her.

He’d been a fool to marry her on such a slight acquaintance. A deathbed promise was no way to choose a wife, and he had been ten thousand kinds of a fool to agree to it. Yet it had seemed such an excellent notion at the time...

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