Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Annabelle's Courtship


ANNABELLE'S COURTSHIP
by Lucy Monroe
Samhain Publishing

E-book - September 2007
ISBN 1-59998-539-X
Trade Paperback - October 2008
ISBN-10: 1599987740
ISBN-13: 978-1599987743

Buy the E-Book:

Samhain | Kindle | Nook

Prologue - Samhain 2008 ~ (c) Lucy Monroe



This is the first historical I ever wrote and I had more fun with the prologue than I probably have had with any other. :) What do you think? A good addition to the book? Or unnecessary?


Prologue

Graenfrae, Scotland 1816

Laird Ian MacKay, Earl of Graenfrae, wanted to slam his fist into the gray stone wall of his study. “Ye’re telling me that my stepfather left me a fortune, but I canna get it unless I marry?”
Ian impatiently watched the elderly solicitor, Eggleton, as he removed his spectacles and carefully cleaned them with a cloth. Replacing the eyeglasses on his face, the solicitor shuffled the papers before him. He cleared his throat. “Precisely speaking, milord, if you marry within the year.”
A year. Ian clenched his hands and pivoted away from the other man. Bloody hell.
The tenants on Graenfrae’s farms needed seed and farming implements. Many of their homes would not last another winter without new thatch on their roofs. Ian needed blunt. Money that was only available if he wed within a year.
The urge to slam his fist into something grew stronger. Ian’s chest constricted with anger and another emotion. Betrothal and marriage would make him vulnerable to betrayal.
Again.
He had a difficult time believing that the late Earl of Lansing would take such drastic measures to see his wishes fulfilled. “Did my stepfather tell you why he placed this restriction in his will?”
Again the white head bent as the solicitor went through the ritual of cleaning his spectacles. Ian wanted to tear the wire frames from Eggleton’s hands. Were na the man’s eyeglasses clean enough?
“Lord Lansing believed that after the unfortunate incident with your broken betrothal you might hesitate to marry. He wanted you to secure your line, so to speak.”
“Then why did he no just add another rider requiring I set up my nursery?” Ian asked with disgust, ignoring the issue of his ended engagement.
Eggleton appeared to take his sarcastic question seriously. “He did in fact wish to do so. I convinced the earl that these matters are uncertain. It would be difficult to predict, ah hem…” Eggleton coughed delicately. “When your wife might begin increasing.”
Things were not as bleak as they could be. Without the requirement for an heir, nothing would stop him from finding an obliging woman and entering a paper marriage. An annulment could be secured in due time. Feeling better than he had since the solicitor had begun reading the will, Ian sat down.
A look of relief passed across the Eggleton’s face. “There is one final matter regarding the inheritance.”
What could be worse than marriage? Ian raised his brow in question and Eggleton continued. “Your wife must be English.”
“Bloody hell.” Ian shot from his chair. “You canna be serious.”
Eggleton looked offended. “I assure you, I would never make light of the last wishes of one of my clients.”
An English wife.
“How am I supposed to find an English wife and marry her in the next year?”
Were he looking for a proper wife, he knew it would be easy. He could think of several ladies who would be thrilled at the opportunity to be Lady MacKay. He could not envision any of them going without new dresses and fripperies while he made necessary improvements on his tenants’ properties, however. Finding a wife would not be hard. Finding a woman who would sacrifice for the good of Graenfrae might be impossible. Far better to plan a paper marriage.
“The London season opens in less than a month, milord.”
Of course his English stepfather’s lawyer would think in terms of London. It was a fair distance away, but the season attracted many ladies. One of them would surely be practical enough to fit his purpose. He needed a plan of action.
Ian moved toward the desk, amused when the lawyer hastily retreated toward the window. Grabbing paper and a quill pen, Ian dipped it in the ink well. He started writing. Several minutes later he blotted the paper. Blowing on it, Ian read again the words he had written.

Requirements for a wife:
Plain.
Modestly dowered.
Older.

Eggleton cleared his throat once again. Ian looked up from his paper. The solicitor said, “The late earl instructed me to give you a message when I told you the details of the will.”
Ian felt a premonition of disaster on the horizon. “Aye?”
The solicitor shifted from one foot to the other and repeated the process of cleaning his glasses, this time taking an inordinate amount of time to wipe the lenses. “He wanted me to remind you…” The man let his words trail off.
Ian prompted him, “Aye?”
Eggleton coughed. “He said to tell you that when a man takes the holy vows of matrimony, he is giving his word to the woman he takes to wife. The earl wanted you to remember that honor demands the gentleman in question keep that word for a lifetime.”
Ian could no more deny the honor demanded by his stepfather than he could deny the responsibility to his tenants he had learned at his da’s knee. Feeling like a man facing the gaol, Ian accepted that there would be no paper marriage.
After the solicitor had left, Ian settled against the dark leather of his favorite chair and studied his surroundings with a critical eye. A man’s room, his study fit his need for stark simplicity. Bookcases on either side of the massive fireplace relieved the unending gray of the circular stone walls.
Multiple windows high in the walls of the turret’s chamber bathed the room in the fading light of evening. A scarred oak table served as his desk. Only two other items of furniture had made it into his sanctuary, another chair and small round table.
Soon a woman, an English woman, would be living in his home. A wife. He did not have time to cater to the needs of a woman, especially the romantic ideals so many ladies seemed plagued with. Taking a sip from his brandy, he thought of another requirement to add to his list for a wife.
Practicality.
The list would do him well in selecting a woman to wed for a lifetime. He would not make the same mistake he had with Jenna. He would find a woman as unlike her as possible, a woman who would be faithful.