Emily Hughes has little patience for the frivolity of the season. Marriage brought out only the worst in her parents and if she has her way, she’ll avoid matrimony altogether. Only the demands of her father are enough to force her to join her aunt in London for the festivities.
Marcus Deming, Earl of Pembridge, refuses to love after watching his father succumb to a broken heart. Marcus will marry, but only for the convenience of producing an heir. Love need have no place in a marriage.
Emily and Marcus agree to spend the season in each other’s company, fending off the worst of the suitors and their aunts’ schemes. It isn’t until Emily is called home to aid her ailing father that she and Marcus realize their pretense has escalated into something far more intense. So alike, right down to a shared stubborn streak, it’s going to take a common enemy and the ability to admit when they’re wrong for Marcus and Emily to secure the future they suddenly can’t imagine living without.
When I am reading an historical romance, I enjoy the spunky, sometimes snarky dialogue between the hero and heroine that eventually leads to a closer encounter. In my previous novel, Regal Reward, a notorious highwayman, kidnaps the rebellious daughter of an aristocrat and gets much more than he bargained for. In A Convenient Pretense, my newest release, a handsome earl refuses to believe that a young, beautiful woman prefers to become an old maid, rather than marry him. Here’s a brief excerpt between Marcus and Emily in A Convenient Pretense:
“Yes, you were going to say something else?”
“Reading,” Emily replied, perhaps too abruptly. “My father and I both love to read.”
Marcus slanted his eyes toward her. He wondered if she used books to avoid looking at her own future, particularly a marriageable one.
“I find no shame in admitting that I am a bit of a bluestocking. We often read Shakespeare’s plays together and argue our varied interpretations. Just before I left we were rereading Hamlet and arguing over the prince’s irrational behaviors. We become quite adamant in our opinions, while at the same time enjoying our debates.”
“And you thought that would shock me?”
“I am well aware that men are not always pleased with women who enjoy intellectual discussions or pursuits.”
Marcus laughed. “And since you have no desire to wed, I assume that my opinion would be the least of your concerns.”
“You are correct, of course. The single life offers the advantage of pursuing interests that a husband might scorn.”
“Scorn? What an interesting word. I find it difficult to imagine you doing anything that might be so disapproving unless, of course, you desired to step into a man’s shoes.” One side of Marcus’ lips lifted in a sardonic grin.
“And take on what would be considered a man’s occupation?” Emily glared, pursing her lips.
“How on earth did we get on this subject? I realize you are an intelligent and independent woman. Any gentleman you might choose in the future would find you quite adequate.”
“Adequate?” She winced. “I shan’t be satisfied with adequate. If I planned to marry, and I don’t, I would expect equal consideration in all matters and appreciation for my talents.”
At that, a slow, crooked grin spread over Marcus’ face. His eyes lowered to her lips and down to her low-cut gown. “I am certain your talents would be highly appreciated.”