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Forced into an arranged marriage, Marianne, a slightly plump and plain daughter of a social-climbing merchant, and Andrew, the recognized fop of the ton and son of a constantly beguiled earl, have little more in common than the spark that happens when their fingertips touch. But they will do their duty for their respective families.
When Andrew disappears and is pressed into service on a merchant vessel, Marianne must fend for herself as her condescending, disrespectful father-in-law kicks her out of the family townhouse and hounds her to relinquish her dowry.
But what happens four years later when Andrew returns looking and acting nothing like the fop he was only to discover his now beautiful, self-sufficient wife is being courted by a new suitor?
Geoffrey Chisholm doesn’t want to be the head of a family, no less a marquess. But, his life radically alters when a cousin dies. At five and thirty, he must manage estates, marry, and provide an heir. A difficult chore considering how jaded he has become with affairs in the ton. He refuses to leg-shackle himself to just any woman; she must be one for whom he has some feelings.
Most women live to marry or must do so for family or finances. Angeline Hartley, her father’s estates unentailed, has no requirement to wed. Two years past her thirtieth year, she is on the shelf, her life contentedly complete. After the Marriage Mart and encounters with local gentlemen, she has vowed to remain unattached. After all, men do it when they have no need of a wife.
But Geoffrey meets Angeline and entices her to sample the intimacies of lovemaking. The coupling is explosive and now two strong-willed individuals must decide if they will give up personal stubbornness to make a bond for a lifetime.
Denied the right to marry his beloved Jessica due to his depleted estate, Jonathan Stratton, the Earl of Sheffield, travels the world in search of his fortune. Not only does he gain wealth, he learns the ancient Tantric sexual teachings of the Order of the Crimson Lotus. Returning after a five-year voyage, which was only supposed to take three, he finds Jessica more beautiful and desirous than when he left and married another.
Heiress Jessica Esterly, Lady Wickham, is beside herself. Not only was she forced to marry a man she did not love, she discovers him to be a debauched, avaricious rake of the first water. To make matters worse, she's having nefarious nightmares and hauntings that are threatening to drive her mad.
Then Jonathan returns, handsome, wealthy, and ready to love her and share the ancient Tantric mysteries of the Order of the Crimson Lotus.
How is she to tell Jonathan of her impending madness? How is she to tell him her husband will kill her rather than give up any of the funds her inheritance provides?
Stands Alone: Yes