An unseemly proposal…
Juliet Winters has come up with a wonderfully devious plan to avoid marrying her vile cur of a cousin. First, she’ll propose marriage to her handsome, reclusive neighbor, Lord Colwyn. Then, once she has both name and financial support, she’ll be able to pursue her true (if rather unladylike) passion — breeding dogs. But when Lord Colwyn rejects her proposal… Juliet must take matters into her own hands.
The last thing Benjamin Colwyn expected was for the spirited Juliet to blackmail him into marriage — especially not by kidnapping his beloved canine companion. Yet despite his yearning for peace and isolation, he finds himself wanting to help her, if only to protect her from a marriage to a disreputable scoundrel. He certainly doesn’t expect the woman who pilfered his dog to steal his heart, as well…
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“Aren’t you the least bit curious to know why I went against social mores to call on you and ask for your hand?” The slight lilt in her question betrayed her nerves.
His gaze fixed on hers. “Since you have claimed disinterest in the viscountcy and have no need of my meager income, what with the riches of your own dowry to offer, I can only presume it was desperation that compelled you, Miss Winters.”
“Yes, but not the kind—”
“To which I take offense.”
Juliet’s mouth hung open. Did he think she carried another man’s child or some other equally outrageous scheme? Why, the only pregnant one involved in this whole mess was his bitch.
This was not going at all as she had planned. He was supposed to thank her for her thoughtfulness and the willingness to perpetuate his line—something she did not even wish to do. “I did not mean to offend, sir. I meant it as a—”
“A compliment?” He peered at her with a pair of questioning eyes. “I am to believe, then, that being proposed to by a woman at the very last inch of her rope, one who has admitted to being driven by desperation to ask for my hand, is a compliment to my character?”
Well, when he put it that way, she didn’t suppose it was. “I hold your character in the highest regard, sir. Indeed, it was why I sought you above your peers. I thought perhaps if I were to—”
“Forgive me for not conceding to your request, but I find I cannot accept your offer, regardless of your reasons for coming here.”
Juliet gaped. Forcing her mouth into motion, she uttered, “But—but, perhaps if you knew my circumstances, you would then realize how I—”
“You must understand, should any other woman come seeking my hand, I would deny her as well. I do not wish to marry, nor do I have any plans to do so in the future.” He tugged on his cuffs, adjusting the fit of his tailored jacket. “Now, if there is nothing else you wish to ask me, I have some pressing business that requires my attention.”
She had been dismissed, tossed aside as though she were an unwanted piece of toast at a harried breakfast.
But Juliet was not finished. She had desperation on her side. And desperate people were…well, desperate. And persistent if nothing else.
“There is one last thing.” Exasperation drenched her words, but she stared at the man with determination.
The reluctant viscount closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “And what is that?”
“As you have refused my offer, you now force my hand.”
“Miss Winters, please. I have important business—”
“Agree to marry me, my lord, or you will never see your prize English pointer in whelp again.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frances Fowlkes lives in South Carolina with her high school sweetheart, three red-headed sons, and a spoiled standard poodle. When not writing about ardent heroes or strong-willed heroines, she enjoys spending time with her family, fangirling, and planning her next vacation.