Three Proposals and a Scandal - Anna Campbell

Three Proposals and a Scandal

A Sons of Sin Novella

by Anna Campbell

Published by Anna Campbell

2015 Anna Campbell

Cover Design: Hang Le

978-0-9863160-3-6

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems - except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews - without permission in writing from the author, Anna Campbell. This book is a work of fiction. The characters, events, and places portrayed in this book are products of the author’s imagination and are either fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

License Notes

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Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Epilogue

A Scoundrel By Moonlight

Prologue

Chapter One

Her Christmas Earl: A Regency Novella

Chapter One

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Chapter One

Chetwell House, London, April 1829

Once a duke has jilted a lady, she should be grateful to have any suitors at all.

Lady Marianne Seaton was blessed to have three men vying for her hand.

Marianne didn’t feel blessed. She felt hunted.

As she waltzed with Lord Tranter, she made herself smile into his blue eyes. It was an effort, although surely being sought out was better than ostracism. But her shoulder blades prickled with uncomfortable awareness that she was under constant scrutiny.

Of course, society had always watched her, the Marquess of Baildon’s only child. Watched with a critical eye, waiting for the paragon of behavior to make a mistake so they could revel in her downfall.

This last year, the observation had become particular and oppressive. After Camden Rothermere, Duke of Sedgemoor, had so publicly rejected her, she’d endured spiteful gossip. Even worse, with Sedgemoor out of the running, London’s bachelors had rushed to express their interest in the Seaton heiress.

Most of those men had no chance with her and they knew it. But not all of them admitted defeat.

Now it seemed that wherever she went, her most persistent swains followed. Tonight she might dance with Tranter, but two other men watched her from the edges of the crowded ballroom. And their eyes were covetous.

A headache throbbed in her temples and she wished herself anywhere but at this glittering event. The music was too shrill. The chatter was too loud. The room was too stuffy. After all these years in society, she still shrank from playing the center of attention. She’d been born shy and to her father’s disappointment, she’d never conquered the affliction.

With each turn around the overheated room, she glimpsed Lord Desborough standing with her father. Desborough was a force in the land, a major political powerbroker, and her father’s choice for her. A pity he was forty-five and as dull as a rainy month in the Outer Hebrides.

“Lady Marianne, you seem distracted,” Tranter said. “Would you rather we took a stroll on the terrace?”

She battled to keep her smile. His hold on her waist was just as decorum decreed. It shouldn’t feel encroaching. “I’m sorry, my lord. I was thinking about this week’s travel.”

It wasn’t altogether a lie. She and her father joined a house party at Viscount Hillbrook’s extravagant home in Wiltshire. She’d long been curious about Ferney’s vaunted luxuries, but her father’s ultimatum that she use the visit to settle on a husband blighted anticipation.

Desborough or Tranter?

Or the third suitor. The impossible option. The man no woman in her right mind would choose.

Tranter guided her through a smooth turn—he was all that society admired in a gentleman and he danced like a dream—while Marianne’s gaze focused reluctantly on her least eligible admirer. Dark and carelessly elegant, he leaned against the doorway to the card room. His gaze homed in on her like a falcon on a field mouse.

Elias Thorne, Baron Wilmott.

Son of a scandalous family. Inheritor of a bankrupt title. No political influence to speak of.

“Are you cold?”

Tranter’s concern for her welfare should please her. Instead it made her strangely wary. William Frayne, Earl Tranter, always said and