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Authors: An Arranged Mariage

Jo Beverley - [Rogue ]

 

 

 

 

 

An Arranged Marriage

The Company of Rogues

Book One

 

by

 

Jo Beverley

New York Times & USA Today

Bestselling Author

 

 

 

 

 

AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE

Awards & Accolades

 

Best Regency Novel, Romantic Times

Romance Writers of America RITA, finalist

Bookrak Bestseller

"A splendid love story.... This immensely appealing pair of lovers will utterly captivate readers, while Ms. Beverley's commanding ease with the Regency period provides a veritable feast of delight for the true connoisseur. Bravo!"

~Romantic Times

 

 

 

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ISBN: 978-1-61417-445-5

 

 

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Please Note

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

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Copyright © 2013 by Jo Beverley. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.

 

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Chapter 1

 

April 1814, London

Eleanor Chivenham lay in the big bed and shivered. There was no fire in her room, and for late April the weather was unseasonably cold. The ill-fitting window rattled and let in a steady stream of chilly, damp air, but this was not what caused her tremors. They came from the noises reaching her from the lower floors of her brother's house. Crashes, raucous singing, and shrieks of feminine laughter told of yet another debauch.

It had been the same nearly every night during the two months she had lived in the narrow house on Derby Square. The days were little better, for the house was constantly dirty and stale from the previous evening, and the staff were slovenly and impudent.

Eleanor sighed for her home, Chivenham Hall in Bedfordshire. She had been left there in peace by her brother, Lionel, until he had finally sold the place to pay his debts. True, it had not been a life of luxury, for only three servants had stayed to receive Lionel's mean wages. So little money had been provided to run the place that they had been reduced to eating only what they could grow themselves, and repairing and patching the old building as best they could.

But it had been tranquil and she had been free. Free to read in the library, to walk about the countryside and visit with the local people she had known all her life. Here in Derby Square there were no books a lady would care to read, no parks nearby to compare to the country, and no friends.

She was sometimes tempted to run back to Bedfordshire and live on the charity of friends, but not yet. For under her father's will, if she left her brother's "protection" before the age of twenty-five, she would forfeit her inheritance to him. That would suit him well, she knew, as he had already run through most of his patrimony.

A particularly loud shriek made Eleanor cower down further and pull the thin blankets around her ears. Her brother's poverty did not seem to moderate his entertainment. Could she endure this for two more years until she came into control of her own affairs? She had rarely been successful in opposing Lionel. He fooled people so easily, not least their parents, and he was skilled at maneuvering Eleanor into situations where she showed to disadvantage.

If Lionel had sold the country estate solely in order to make her life under his protection impossible, she had to admit he might well succeed.

Footsteps, accompanied by giggling whispers, passed by her door. Eleanor reassured herself that she was quite safe from the debauchery, slipping out of bed to check that both the door to the corridor and the one to the adjoining dressing room were securely locked as usual. She smiled slightly at her own fears. The latter had been locked for so long that the key was lost.

At the same time, she felt it was wise to take every precaution. Though she believed there were limits to what her brother would do to obtain her inheritance, he was becoming increasingly desperate. His debts were doubtless mounting.

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