Excerpt for The Dissolute Rake by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The Dissolute Rake


Copyright © Francine Howarth 2017

Black Velvet Books

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All characters in this book are fictitious.

Any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental: whether alive or dead

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Real persons and places of note may feature.

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All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior consent of the author.



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One

Exmoor, Somerset: 1819

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Feeling more dissolute than usual he rolled away from the woman whose limbs entwined his own. His interest in bestowing pleasure to others the night previous had fallen short, and his behaviour overall had been less than engaging despite the fact he had readily accepted pleasure bestowed. He cursed his sorry hide in turning over for he was confronted with a second scantily clad voluptuous young woman, whose name he could not recall, nor wished to. She stirred momentarily as he clambered over her outstretched body, and mumbled a curse at him thence buried her head to the pillow. Sharing a bed when foxed had become the norm of his life whilst indulging pleasurable pursuits at house parties where orgies were a surety. Albeit the majority of invitations that came his way were of the standard variety, just occasionally, if the host’s intentional bent was for post supper layovers, little star markers to top right corner were thus dispatched to those of like tastes for extra-marital or other pleasures of a sexual nature.

Always assured a good mix of people inclusive upright members of the community, oft the gentlemen were flush with daughters borne of innocence all things men and therefore easily flattered and ended up in huddles of giggling mischief, though of little interest to the serious minded pleasure seeker. One or two of the mamas were renowned for indulging a secret kiss and a teasing fondle now and again, but rarely brave enough to venture as far as did the liberated women who were in attendance and masquerading as wives, cousins, nieces to several gentleman from out of town, so to speak. On this occasion Constable Williams, Justice Parsons, and Squire Thorne, the late town mayor had arrived with their wives, and one or two young bachelor bucks were in attendance for the same reason as he, Marcus Fairweather, Earl of Sheldon. Thus, as soon as wives and daughters of fellow degenerates were dispatched homeward bound at around eleven of evening, along with daughters and the more genteel folk given to routine of early to bed early to rise mantra, and all in belief the men who’d stayed behind were about to set to with a wager or two on carding, hidden desires were thence enacted.

Despite hedonistic joys to be had a plenty, for the first time in his life he hadn’t indulged in full manly glory, and had instead accepted oral pleasure bestowed to satisfy needs another had stirred and had declined to engage with him. Feeling decidedly tainted he moved across to a wash bowl and jug containing water, and there set to in washing the odorous smell of others from his person, and whilst doing so mulled the prior evening’s events. Of the married ladies present earlier in the evening, one had stolen his eye, a rather lovely beauty with the bluest of eyes and dark lustrous hair with a deep red tint and piled atop her head, which had enhanced a delectable slender swan neck. Quite tall and svelte, her firm and enticing breasts were a delight to behold denoting no child had suckled at will. Having established she was childless, and well aware of Squire Thorne’s penchant for young male companions, it was down to him, the Earl of Sheldon, to at least render her attendance at Will Tranter’s supper party a memorable event. Thus he had endeavoured with charming deceit to lure her to a quiet nook, and there partake of her at his pleasure.

Whether she was indeed genuinely innocent and unworldly proved impossible to define, but she had indeed outwitted him at every turn of his wicked artifice and near driven him insane with lust and not a caress or embrace granted. Never had the like happened to him in all his raking days, and given to extremes in pleasure in normal circumstances and not caring who performed what when thoroughly out of his cups, he had sought to latterly quash overt desire for Squire Thorne’s wife, and all to no avail. The mere thought of her caused hardness about him as he dried himself in brisk manner, and whilst donning his breeches he near laughed at a burgeoning erection; one of the whores in the bed would oblige by spreading her thighs, or the young man lying across the foot of the bed would embrace his rampant cock with lips as he had in equal measure as had the two women the night prior.

Unwilling to remain a moment longer in the host’s country retreat, the old man as degenerate as the guests lounging abed, all of whom would rise late of morn, he rapidly clothed self and departed the bedchamber. ‘Twas as he could see, nearing the crack of dawn, and whilst walking the corridor of Merchant Tranter’s residence, a house of ten bedchambers and more and furnished with flamboyance of gilt cornice’ and architravings, he opened doors along the way, as much out of interest as a means to determine if Squire Thorne had taken leave from the house in the early hours. But no, the man was content and slumbering betwixt to young bucks, and no doubt on waking the debauched squire would resume, as would others, the delights available to hand.

The sheer thought of Squire Thorne’s svelte delectable wife rattling around in the man’s modest country mansion, which lay not too far distant from his own residence, all manner of excuses to call at Porlock Down House leapt to mind, but none plausible for a woman who seemed averse to his amorous overtures.

As soon as his horse was saddled by a sullen stable hand who was not all that impressed to see a gentleman about so early of morn; Marcus Fairweather rode away with purpose and still wracking his brain on nearing the gates of Porlock Down with paltry excuses to pay visit, he espied the squire’s conveyance on the carriageway minus a wheel and leaning at a precarious tilt. There were no horses and no sign of persons, his assumption therefore that Squire Thorne’s wife had walked away unharmed. Thus he reined his horse onward, until guilt and excuse materialised as one lightning strike, for he now had every excuse to assure self that Mrs. Thorne was safe and not in any way injured. It was unlikely the shaft had broken and the horses had bolted in fright and thence dragged the coachman from up top, but it wouldn’t be the first of such catastrophes, so he reined about.

Affording his trusty steed a hefty pat to his neck, he addressed it with due respect: “Sorry Tarquin, but duty calls.”

On close inspection of the carriage there was no lady, merely a long white glove left on the seat. Thinking it a strange thing for a lady to leave one glove, instinct and inner need bade him ride to the house, not mere lust by any stretch of licentious desires, he genuinely needed to know she was safe and unhurt.

It was all too easy to dismiss a discarded glove as bearing little or no significance in light of a missing carriage wheel which may have been due to a collision with a gatepost by drunken coachman, but strange things oft happened on highways at night. Besides, she was a woman travelling alone with merely a coachman, perhaps a groom if Thorne prided himself on full turn-out. Though liveried coachman and grooms were few and far between in the district barring Devon Howard, Duke of Malchester’s well-turned out coaching teams and equipage, and never did Devon let his duchess travel alone at any time without an armed guard.

On arrival out front of the house all seemed quiet as would be expected so early of morn, thus the main door left ajar seemed odd indeed. Whilst dismounting Tarquin he quite expected the appearance of a stable lad to come rushing forth from the nearby yard, for surely someone had heard him trotting along the driveway.

At no response to his arrival it was only natural to suspect all was far from well at Porlock Down. In haste he tethered Tarquin to a boot scraper located on the side of the second step, and feeling a tad uncomfortable in crossing the threshold without invitation; he nonetheless ventured into a hallway not unlike his own. Its panelled walls and oak staircase bearing a cosy ambience; in particular pink and white roses arranged in a crystal bowl atop a half-moon table and markedly that of a woman’s touch. The fragrance alone reminded him of the lady of the house, for it was the rose essence of her and the roundness of—

Hell and damnation, for once curtail your lustful thoughts, Marcus.

No damn it. He wanted her, and despite having made it abundantly clear she would not play footsy with him, here he was, ever hopeful her reluctance was all a ploy to drive him to drink in the first instance. In fact he was damnably sure she had taken a fancy to him; else why indulge much fluttering of eyelashes and coy looks over the top of her fan, eh?

Clearly no one had heard him, thence to make his presence known, and loud of voice he called, “Hello; anyone at home?” which echoed up the stairwell.

Silence prevailed for a moment or two, until the scuttling of paws sounded behind him. Turning away from the bottom tread of the stairwell, his eyes prior lured to a window situated at a bend in the staircase, he was confronted by a pug with a wet nose, and lolling tongue. The little dog seemed friendly enough and had clearly returned by the way of his earlier escape, but who had left the outer door ajar for the dog?

“Well young man; are you the only one up and about this fine morn, or is something amiss here?”

“No, there is nothing amiss,” said the delectable Mrs. Thorne, who swept down to the halfway point of the staircase. Her lace-trimmed night robe part cloaking fine raiment adorning her svelte contours was little short of teasingly provocative, and if she but knew it, as near as transparent with sunlight at her back. Or perhaps she did know, hence momentary pause on the halfway point of the stairway. “May I ask why you are here, Lord—” said she, stepping down to again pause in step. “Oh dear, I’ve quite forgotten your name.

“Marcus Fairweather, Earl of Sheldon, enquiring as to your health, ma’am,” declared he, whilst performing a courteous bow, well assured she had no more forgotten his name, than his intentions of a lustful bent the night prior had escaped her memory. “I was passing and noticed your carriage minus a wheel. Hence, here I am to assure myself all is well.”

“As you see,” said she, glancing down at her white lace déshabillé overlaying a fine white linen nightgown. “I am quite well, and had not expected a guest so early of morn.”

“Apologies, ma’am, but in the circumstance of your carriage, I came else my conscience would have sat ill, and eventually led to my return here in due haste.”

A little chuckle escaped as she descended the stairs, her blue eyes holding his gaze, and closer to, without powder to face, freckles; adorable freckles were plain to see.

“Ah, so it was a spontaneous gesture of heartfelt concern for my wellbeing. Then I thank you, kind sir.”

The mellowed mahogany glow to her tresses; unadorned cascading tresses enhanced her lily white swan neck and décolletage; and a rising rosy glow to her cheeks he prayed was solely accountable to his presence; and a naughty thought or two for her part. “Another thing, dear lady, your husband won’t be along anytime soon.”

“No, I hadn’t supposed he would return here much before three after noon, perhaps later. Like yourself, he is of the manly social whirl and oft away days at a time. Where Aubrey delights in heady gatherings of a gambling bent, I confess taking tea with the church ladies is more usual for me. You see, I rarely attend at supper parties, as of last eventide.”

Of that he was aware, and her nervous chatter in response to his presence was utterly captivating. “Forgive me, but I can think of better things to do in killing a few idle hours than setting to in gossip over tea.”

“So can I, but few of the ladies I am acquainted with are given to the riding of horses, so it is a solitary occupation, with exception of one young lady who does accompany me on occasion of her mother granting her permission to do so.”

“Have you been introduced to the Duchess of Malchester?”

“No I cannot say that I have, though she was pointed out to me at a civic function on one occasion of her attendance as an honoured guest.”

“Ah, then you must let me introduce you to her. You will surely love her once met. Be assured her grace is no high-minded aristocrat, and she loves nothing more than riding out, though at present, is again with child. The hoped for spare I suspect, but his grace voiced desire for a daughter, which has eased Liliana’s mind somewhat.”

“I presume you are good friends of the duke and duchess, in that you refer to her as Juliana,” said she, drawing her lace déshabillé about herself as though suddenly aware that she was inappropriately attired for entertaining guests, and confirmed with a blushing smile: “I should not by good and wifely behaviour be here dressed as I am, standing in the hall, and in discourse with a man I barely know. But as you came here on a mission of goodwill, perhaps you would care to join me in the withdrawing room. It’s to your left.”

“Delighted to, ma’am,” said he, stepping forth to open the door, which led to a panelled commodious room not so unlike his own.

Far from being shown to the outer door, he’d gained greater ground than anticipated. Well done Marcus.

Two

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She made past him and swept to the far end of drawing room, that same essence of rose water she had worn the night prior no doubt assailing his nostrils as before. What was it he had said? Oh yes, ‘Your perfume is quite the potent aphrodisiac’. She had thought of him then as a man hell-bent on getting beneath her gown last evening; and perhaps no less intent on getting beneath her present raiment, unless she was seeing more to his visit than implied. She really ought not to afford him more than a gracious moment of her time and thence gentle him on his way. After all, resorting to lies never sat well on her conscience, and she might have to dream up a fib to dispatch him anon.

“The duke and I go a long way back in friendship,” said he, closing the door as soon as sweet Jemmy was safely in the room, “and I do think of the Duchess of Malchester, as a sister. And honoured am I as godparent to the first born.”

Having made toward the far seating area, she settled to a single chair set aside from her escritoire, and gestured for him to take a sofa. She did indeed like the look of the Earl of Sheldon, his reputation a little over exaggerated by her husband; who may have sought to counter self guilt and to prevent any interest in the dashing earl for her part as a sensible notion given her inexperience with men of the earl’s calibre. As for other disparaging remarks in relation to the earl, she had sensed envy from males and a touch of jealousy from women who had failed to attract the earl’s attention.

It was true he had paid an inordinate amount of attention to her person, but he was affable and entertaining and she had given no inclination of having fallen for his charming and engaging manner. Even now, with his having paused in step to fuss over Jemmy, it was plain to see her little love was as taken with earl as all who met him.

She couldn’t quite determine whether it was the earl’s large brown owl eyes beneath heavy brows that appealed most? For not only worldly wise in countenance they held one captive and enchanted in their seeming innocence. His Roman nose too was admirably in keeping with the Corinthian look. And as one or two women had oft imparted in knowledge of assessing a man’s hidden secrets, the earl’s long masculine fingers had oft been noted as significant in relation to that which in all probability dwelled in his groin. Was that possible? If she were to judge the earl’s fingers against her husband’s fat stumpy ones and the reality of that which dwelled in her husband’s groin, then surely the earl was an admirable prize for any lady. If as those ladies had said, the bigger the better.

Drawing a deep breath and attempting to rid herself of indecent thoughts, she said: “There are times when I envy women their children, and would that I could be godparent to a little one as you are.”

“Is that unlikely?” said he, regaining full height after squatting on his haunches. “After all, you have in-laws and siblings I trust.”

“Oh Mr. Thorne’s nephews were quite out of skirts when he and I were married, and my sisters are both in India with their husband’s, so my three nieces and a nephew are but names in letters, and much telling of their little lives is all I have to know them by.”

“Two years wed, dear lady, is not so very long, you know. A child may yet fall your way.”

“In normal circumstances; you are correct, for two years is not all that long. But my marriage is far from normal, and I suspect you are well aware that is so. You see, Aubrey was convinced he could beget an heir to Porlock Down during the first week of marriage, and on failing in that endeavour, it was naturally my fault as he was quick to determine. Whilst it is unseemly to reveal the fact he has not ventured to my bedchamber in the remaining years of our marriage, I shall not beat about verbal bushes, for I am now fully aware, though not at the time of our getting wed, that Aubrey desires his own kind beneath the sheets, therefore our marriage is a charade. To his way of thinking, I am a necessary encumbrance so that he can attend functions and soirees with a wife on his arm, all innocence personified I might add, whilst he swoons and drools over young bucks. He is duly resigned to a childless marriage, which is why he is adamant his brother’s eldest boy will inherit a sizable portion of this estate, the rest, who knows? As for me, he cares not a jot what I do, though I suspect were I to indulge with another man and consequences I could not hide from materialised, I will for sure be cast out on my ear and no charity afforded. So you see; if you are here in hope of seducing me, then you might as well quash the notion here and now.”

Having settled his lordly rump to the sofa, she sensed he was as far from quashing the notion of sinking his hardness within her, and all the more determined to achieve his aims. There was a most definite glint in his eyes, a devilish glint, and if she could only cast inner fears of eventual compromise aside, she could be tempted to indulge in a little love play with the handsome earl. Even his relaxed countenance gave sway to sense of familiarity betwixt them, and the mellow tone of his voice stirred a frisson of wicked delight as did the fact he had sought her out as daringly as he had.

“If I were to say my intentions are honourable, would that endear you to my becoming a friend in the first instance, and perhaps you would allow me to secretly escort you whilst riding out. After all, what harm can come from riding horses, hmmm? Be assured dear lady, I am damnably attracted to you, and a long-term arrangement could prove satisfactory for us both.”

Well, he was a man who laid his cards quite matter of fact, and she liked that better than obsequiousness as was the bent of another admirer whom she had no wish to tangle with. “I shall not deny I am as attracted to you now, as I was last eventide. But you can no more guarantee there would be no consequences from wicked indulgences than I can guarantee I would not fall in love with you. And I am of mind the latter would set you to flight sooner than my heart could withstand, so becoming lovers is quite out of the question.”

“Dear lady, my house is but a few miles along the way, and I love the place dearly, thus I shall not be taking flight from the district, nor would I take flight from your arms if you could see your way to trusting in me.”

“I have heard it said; you acquired Endcombe by devious means.”

“Some folk are wont to imply that is so, despite the truth dictates otherwise and that old Charles Hamilton mortgaged the place and squandered a vast inheritance. Might I also enlighten you to the fact I won the house on a wagered gamble and by lieu of unpaid debts owing to me, to which the Duke of Malchester will attest to. But aside from that,” said he, gaining his feet and strolling across to the window next to the escritoire, “is there any chance you will grant me favour of your company in the days and weeks to come?”

Never had she felt so tempted by a man to the extent of wishing herself brave enough to indulge and enjoy more than a little remote flirtation. “You are asking much of me, and while I am tempted, so very tempted, I do fear the consequences should Aubrey discover infidelity for my part.”

“Discretion would be uppermost at all times, I assure you,” said he, whilst clasping her outstretched hand resting to the escritoire’s leather writing pad. “Believe me, if granted permission, this very minute, to pleasure you the like I’ll wager your husband has never bestowed upon you, I would deem it an honour. What is but a kiss or two, a caress or two: hmm?”


I hope you enjoyed this little taster from The Dissolute Rake, which is available in full via Amazon.


whilst it is difficult to imagine a man so given to extremes in lustful pursuits could eventually settle to a contented and faithful married existence, many aristocrats did after having outgrown youth and wild ways, even at a time when it was customary to have a mistress or two. Indeed, there were a good many who found precisely what they were seeking within a wife, and oft not recognising it for what it was until lust was overridden by a love that knew no bounds. Likewise there were those who indulged in illicit affairs as and when outside of the marital sphere, and a despicable few who lodged their mistress and illegitimate offspring within the marital abode alongside the wife. As for arranged marriages, it was a given the majority were loveless matches, barring those where love grew from mere familial relations to passionate romances. After all, Marcus had seen what love, true love could do to a man when the Duke of Malchester fell head-over-heels in love with Liliana at first sighting her, and albeit they didn’t appear in this story, Marcus played a leading role in their love story: The Reluctant Duchess.

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If you are intrigued with the discovery of the deceased Thornes’ within the cellar, you may be interested in the time of the Monmouth Rebellion, as featured within the novel Love & Rebellion, the fourth book in the Royal Series, a 17th – 18th century saga involving two families.

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The Reluctant Duchess is a Regency tale of romance, abduction, murder and mystery. The setting is Exmoor in Somerset, a place made famous by the novel Lorna Doone, of which the local inhabitants refer to as Doone Country.


Devon Howard, the Duke of Malchester, acquires a bride by dubious means. Well aware Liliana is a reluctant duchess, and although his new wife submits to his ardent advances on the wedding night, he cannot be sure, that even if given time, she will ever surrender her heart to him. While his past continues to damn him, he sets out to win Liliana by inciting jealousy and rivalry ‘twixt her and Serenity: a would-be mistress?


Likewise Liliana has a dilemma, for although she despises her circumstances and feigns disinterest in Devon, she cannot deny his desirability. Twice married, rumours abound. Devon has twice bedded and broken a wife. Liliana believes otherwise. Nonetheless, evil does exist within the walls of Calder Hall, and Liliana fears for her life when she’s brutally abducted from her coach whilst en route from Dorset to Exmoor. But it is Devon’s blood that is sought, and while revenge for one person proves bittersweet, for another it proves fatal.

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The Duke’s Gypsy: Steamy/Erotic

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...Dark secrets are lurking within a lakeside grotto and a garden temple...

With a strange mystery surrounding the murder of his brother, Nash Beresford is forced to return to the family fold and assume guardianship of the Enderly Estate. Little does he realise his brother’s evil nature had drawn others to a garden temple, where akin to wasps at a honey pot they enacted despicable acts of a sexual and perverse nature, the ramifications of which slowly unfold and are disclosed by a ravishingly beautiful gypsy.

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The Highwayman’s Mistress – (Steamy)

It is 1793: era of the French Revolution.

Richard Courtenay Viscount Somerton, gallant as heroes come, has agreed to see Miss Diamonta Whitaker, safely delivered to the Palace of Versailles. Half French by birth and daughter of a French countess, Diamonta has more than one reason for accepting a gracious invite to stay at the Royal Court at Versailles. Her heart lies at court, with Francois de Boviere, Count of Saint Mont Marche.

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Unfortunately, tide of revolution has swept from Paris to Versailles and heads of French aristocrats are seriously under threat of Madame Guillotine. With Diamonta's coche still en route to Versailles, strange as it seems a highwayman delivers a message by way of robbery to save her life. Can she, upon return to England, ever recover from her mother's wrath once her relationship with a highwayman is discovered, and can he survive a duel to the death?


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Celeste – Erotic short novella. A Gothic tale of lust and love in the vein of Beauty and the Beast: the classic fairytale with a twist.

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Thus, on Putney Heath in the year of 1783 stands a house renowned for two ghosts of a scandalous bent, none of which deters patronage to Madame DuPont’s infamous abode by wealthy gentlemen. With the sudden death of Madame DuPont, and accrued debts of which her daughter has no hope of paying, Celeste is faced with the horrors of the debtors’ prison or the unspeakable of having to sell her body for monetary gain: as had her mother. But fate intervenes with a guardian angel, and marriage to Captain Wendover is soon the answer to her prayers but not her dreams. Life though has cruel twists and turns and Celeste discovers true love runs deep, much deeper than she had anticipated when a man from her past steps back into her life.



A Devilish Masquerade – (Steamy)

A Coaching Accident, a Regency New Year Fancy Dress Ball, and a Devilish Masquerade will ensue.

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The cynical Melbourne, Earl Standish, has resigned himself to a bachelor existence in which a mistress is a damn sight safer than young chits with mother’s who are hell-bent on securing a title for their daughters. Stealing the cherry as sporting game has never been his gambit, until that is, a coaching accident involving his sister and the Danby family, thrusts an irresistible young lady into his sightline. Conventions of hospitality must be afforded to the rescuers of his sister, and with a New Year ball imminent at Norton Priory, Standish is hopelessly smitten, but he has two brothers and the elder of the two is a renowned cherry stealer. Can the Earl overcome his misgivings and rejoin the Marriage Mart – and will the rakish brother let him steal away with Cecily Danby?

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Lady Louise de Winter – (Steamy).

One grave transgression in her past, and Lady Louise de Winter, has accepted all hope for love and romance is but a dream she dare not embrace. Aware her semi-closeted existence on the Harcourt Estate is no more, and a substantial inheritance awaits her pleasure, her friend Count Casarotto suddenly brings his personal troubles to her door and seeks sanctuary. Worse, pursued by officers of his majesty’s regiment of horse, Louise endeavours to conceal his presence despite qualms as to his innocence. What is more, devastatingly attracted to the senior officer, Louise battles to retain sense of propriety as burning desire within takes hold. But despite Major Fitzwilliam’s reassurance he cares not a jot about her past, the truth remains she is not as other young would-be brides. Therefore, dare she give her heart into his care?


The Earl’s Captive Bride- Steamy/Erotic

...she had never thought it was possible to fall in love at first sight...

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An arranged marriage against her will and Erica Townsend is at odds with her father, and worse, he is not the father she had thought he was when friends and acquaintances of his pay visit to the family house. Albeit initially intrigued and voyeuristically mesmerized by an event that unfolds within the garden arbour, she and her younger sister decide they cannot remain within a house where Erica’s betrothed debauches other women at will, as does their father. Desperate in seeking the help of a gentleman neighbour who is sweet on her sister, their chosen escape route is fraught with temptations along the way. Whilst Erica dares to appear bolder than she is, can she truly trust the Earl of Epsom, or is he as much a libertine as her betrothed?


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The Bath Series

Infamous RivalRegency Romance and Murder Mystery – Book 1 – Sensual/Steamy

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She was once the darling of the beau monde, but Georgette Lady Beaumont’s reputation lies in tatters after the apparent suicide of Lord Brockenbury’s heir. Shunned by society, Georgette embraces a secretive lifestyle in which she endeavours to evade Adam Brockenbury, whom she loathes as much as he desires her. Believing him capable of murder to gain his heart’s desire, she is not alone in thinking his elder brother’s death as somewhat suspicious, and whilst on a clandestine visit to her dearest friends she encounters a stranger of note.

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Her travelling companion, although of charming disposition and of considerable handsomeness, something about him errs dark and secretive but unmitigated mutual attraction exists that neither can deny. Unfortunately he’s a Brockenbury too, and as love, jealousy and hate take precedence, three murders are committed and Georgette quite believes she will be the murderer’s next victim, but who is the real murderer?

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The Dark Marquis – Regency Romance and Murder Mystery - Book 2 – (Steamy)

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Characters from book 1 (Bath Series) feature in this novel

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Despite a dark secret and aware his father the duke will likely disinherit him for marrying below his rank, Rupert Marquis of Ranchester is nonetheless determined to wed his mistress. But Caroline Lady Somerville, an old flame of Rupert’s has returned from India a widow, and has every intention of once again leading him into vices of the flesh, gambling and the dream smoke.

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Nervous but happy about imminent wedlock life becomes Hell for Estelle, when one man’s inner desires lead to blackmail, betrayal leads to revenge, and a string of murders place the duke in the frame as the killer. But what possible reason could the Duke of Leighdon have for terrorising Estelle, for killing the duchess, a portraitist, a whore and Caroline?

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The Damnable Lady Caroline – Murder Mystery – Book 3

A Romantic Gothic Regency Murder Mystery set within a remote Scottish Castle. – (Steamy)


Whilst young Lady Caroline Douglas is plotting to take flight from a disastrous marriage and escape the confines of KilKenneth Castle, betrayal, lust, and the financial bank crisis of 1825 suddenly opens a Pandora’s box of intrigue, murder, and mystery. The newly widowed Lady Caroline faces few choices in light of imminent poverty, the best being to hunt down and marry a wealthy man, the worst to runaway with a penniless lover. Thence unbidden attentions of a would-be laird and with assistance from his strange sister, they conspire to keep Caroline prisoner to his every whim. Thus Caroline turns to essence of the dream smoke to thwart their plans, until a lewd painting leads to dark desires and threat of forced submission to the would-be laird. But romance and escape to love and happiness Caroline had so sought, and never encountered, her fate seemingly lies within a stained glass window depicting a mediaeval knight.

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The Trevellians’ of New-Lyn: Now available as one complete novel or as individual novellas. An emotional and poignant murder, mystery, and romantic family saga.

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The Admiral’s Prize: book/part 1 – (Sensual Romance throughout the books)

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After the dreadful murder of la Comtesse Montacute and her sons, within the grounds of the family château, le Comte and his daughter are mortified by turn of events. Who did it and for what reason? Utterly distraught, they accept the help of an English marquis and return with him to England. But a dreadful dilemma then unfolds. A secret tryst between Adelle and a young admiral leads to untold heartache, when her aunt declares she is spoken for. Thus Adelle would rather risk life on the streets with a fellow countryman than abide to her father and her aunt’s desire to see her wedded to the marquis. But when a man of cold countenance and vengeful nature is hunting her, as he would a fox running ahead of his hounds, she fears the marquis will win the day by means most cruel and dastardly.

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The Admiral’s Sin: book/part 2

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Wanting to believe the past is in the past and that friendship can be reinstated with an old adversary, Admiral Trevellian loses far more than he ever bargained on by trusting Landford, who is now the Duke of Norfleet. Betrayal runs deep, so deep Trevellian awakens to discover his wife has stolen away with her French coachman, and fearing the worst that she’s taken their son, Trevellian is further shocked to discover the boy has been left in his charge. Wielding a sword in battle is quite different than wielding one in pure anger and grievance at another’s insane jealousy. But hold the duke to account, Trevellian will until satisfaction is met with cold steel to flesh. And whilst he believes death will cease his unbearable pain, his son determines otherwise.

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For Love of Captain Jack: book/part 3


It is 1814 Regency England, and Captain Jack Trevellian RN (Royal Navy) has returned home to South Devon. But on the eve of his return, a young woman is murdered. Three more murders occur in quick succession, and Captain Jack is convinced someone wishes to see him dangling from a hangman’s noose. Determined to uncover the identity of the killer, Captain Jack and his army friend Captain Lester Knight, stir more trouble than anticipated when their aristocratic neighbour brings rank to bear in matters of the judicial system. Nonetheless, wilful, bold and daring, and all for love of Captain Jack, Alathea Velvet Hawkesworth attempts to lure the murderer from the shadows at a grand masque ball. The true identity of the murderous villain is not as imagined, and she fears she will die a terrible death whilst laughter, music and heady scent of roses drift on a balmy evening breeze, and all within a palatial setting.

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Venetian Encounter – (Steamy)

A Georgian Romance & Murder Mystery:

The year is 1800 – Naples/Venice/England.

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Amidst a gathering of nobility and gentry a daring jewel theft occurs. A young naval lieutenant suggests the notorious Venetian jewel thief could well be a woman, but a beautiful Russian countess scoffs at his suggestion albeit in coquettish manner. Determined to unmask the identity of the thief, at the same time intrigued by the countess, Lt Herne covertly follows Therese around Naples. But where the countess treads murders occur with frequency and she suddenly takes flight to Venice. Ordered to the Adriatic on naval business Herne drops anchor in Venice. Tempted ashore by Carnivale a second encounter with the countess proves fatal for both. Madly in love they indulge in pleasurable pursuits but become embroiled in the mysterious death of a Russian count. Therese fears a secret is best kept secret but Herne asks a potent question and she cannot lie for the truth is staring him in the face!

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Her Favoured Captain – (Attempted Rape/Steamy)

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News of an arranged betrothal shatters Emerald Lady Penhavean’s dreams of one day wedded for love. Her instinct to rebel causes severe conflict between her and her brother, and Lord Penhavean insists she will marry the Earl of Moorby no matter what: with or without her consent. To ensure her compliant to his bidding he resorts to cruel measure and destroys the one thing she loves above all others.

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Distraught, she flees to the creek with intention of setting herself free from betrothal to a man more than twice her age. There she encounters a stranger, a young buccaneer of wise if witty countenance. Something in his eyes and tone of voice stir feelings Emerald cannot ignore, and life once again seems preferable to that of death. But how can she now return to the house and the fate that awaits her, when she knows her heart finally captured by a man she could truly love?

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Scandalous Whisper – (Sensual/Steamy)

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It is England, September 1818, and the Hon Mrs. Napier views the Earl of Kilder as a most desirable suitor for her daughter’s hand in marriage. Forced to engage with the extremely handsome and charming earl, a darker side to his nature is revealed and Christina despises his very presence. Worse, her twin brother cavorts with the earl in unmentionable pursuits, and equally bent on seeing her married to his favoured friend. Luckily, with the return of the 11th Dragoons from France, their eldest brother’s homecoming affords Christina brief respite from the earl’s overt attentions.

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So too, the man Christina admires above all others has returned to the Netherwood Estate. A chance meeting and lingering eye contact with her heart’s desire stirs rebellion within her. Her mother impervious to an act of wilful subterfuge insists Christina will marry the earl, but Christina indulges in secret liaisons with the man of her dreams. With deception retribution must follow and a cruel price is to be paid when Robert Lord Devonish is recalled to duty, the regiment bound for India. What will become of her now there is no one to save her from the earl’s clutches?



17th Century Series – Royal Secrets.

By Loyalty Divided. (All Steamy)

A 17th century swashbuckling romance set within period of English Civil War 1642-1649.

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Orphaned at royal court and gypsy at heart, Anna Lady Maitcliffe has embraced freedom from courtly restraint whilst residing at Axebury Hall Estate. Now grown to womanhood, wilful and impulsive she wins hearts with ease, but the one she loves above all others is seemingly immune to her charms.

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Morton Viscount Axebury, duly smitten with Anna, nonetheless rejects her during a brief moment of intimacy, for Civil War is marching across England, and he knows by loyalty divided they will be torn apart…

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His refusal to swear allegiance to the King sees him banished from his family seat, though a small price to pay in return for his life. But when news of Anna’s sudden betrothal reaches his ears, short of taking war to Axebury Hall with a regiment of horse, how else can he rest her from the clutches of his father: her betrothed? In secret and alone he ventures to Axebury Hall, perchance his fate in Anna’s hands. For should she declare his presence, there will be no escape! What toll then must be levied for undying love?


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Toast of Clifton: Royal Series Book 2 –characters from book 1 feature in book 2.

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This steamy romance is set against the backdrop of Charles Stuart’s attempt to wrest England from Oliver Cromwell’s clutches (1651), and that of the royal court in exile.

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Once renowned as the Toast of Clifton, Elizabeth Mountjoy strives to shake off rumours she was ever mistress to Charles II, for she’s madly in love with Captain Thomas Thornton: a Parliamentarian Captain of Horse. Unfortunately, past betrayal haunts Thomas, and when the chance to right a wrong comes his way he once again fights for the King. But to lose his estate lands is a high price to pay for heroism in defeat. Worse, the love of his life suffers the wrath of one of Cromwell’s officers, and Thomas is finally forced to decide who must come first whilst in exile, wife or King? He’s not alone in facing a dilemma, for the King too is forced to put his country first before his heart as the court intrigues in exile take precedence.

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Royal Secrets: Royal Series Book 3 – characters from book 1-2 feature in book 3.

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A 17th century romance involving forbidden passion, lust, betrayal, abduction and all set within Restoration England and the royal court of Charles II.

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It's 1669, and Justine Thornton's heart is lost to that of Richard Viscount Axebury. Although wise and malicious counsel from family and friends warn of his reputation as a courtly rake, a chance encounter with James Scott Duke of Monmouth causes her heart to waver and suddenly her life seems infinitely charmed. But family indiscretion at the court of Charles II turns Justine's life from one of carefree bliss to that of surviving rogue intrigues and political ambitions.

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As old and new feuds take precedence at court Justine becomes party to information that cannot be allowed to reach the King's ears, for not only does she pose a threat to one of the King's mistresses, the King’s brother too will be called to account for his actions. Upon Justine’s sudden abduction the heroic camaraderie of Viscount Axebury and the Duke of Monmouth pose an even greater threat to her kidnapper, and her father the Earl of Loxton is soon face to face with an old adversary. But who will prove to be Justine’s champion, the viscount or the duke, and can the king’s mistress be toppled from her elevated position?


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Love & Rebellion – Book 4.

The Hon Henry Gantry’s covert life, in service to the royal household, is anything but secure. Riddled with guilt over hidden desires and acts of betrayal, Henry’s loyalty to the crown is tested in extreme as anti-Papist fervour reaches a peak of discontent across England. With the sudden illness and death of Charles II, speculation countrywide is of foul play, and the newly declared monarch, James II, takes the throne. Rebellion thus seems the only way to achieve the Protestants’ aims to rid the country of its new Catholic King. Thus, Henry is forever affected by tragic events as they unfold, and the Gantry and Thornton families are once again drawn into a web of courtly deceits.

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From the midst of defeat and despair... a scrap of paper is a talisman and hope for a new dawn.


If you would like to know more about the author you are welcome to pay visit at her blog: http://francinehowarth.blogspot.com




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