Book: A Husband for Hire
Author: Patricia A. Knight
Genre: A Regency Historical Romance
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Synopsis:Lady Eleanor Russell needed a husband. Immediately. With no male heir, when her father died, the vast family estate would revert to the Crown. But no man would choose an unattractive, outspoken, independent, spinster of mature years as a bride—so she’d buy a husband. An impoverished third son of aristocratic birth, Lord Miles Everleigh, tall, elegant and immensely handsome, relied on wealthy widows to clothe, house and feed him. In exchange, they received a charming, accomplished companion, both in and out of the bedroom. But this lifestyle wore away a man’s self-respect; he was not the male whore his step-brother had named him. When Eleanor “bought” Miles as a husband, she never intended to lose her heart. When he accepted her proposal, Miles never imagined he’d want more from Eleanor than her money.
Excerpt of A Husband for Hire by Patricia A. Knight
© Patricia A. Knight
London, late February 1814
hese are the best marital prospects you can discover? In all of London?”
The Lady Eleanor Constance Russell, sole offspring of The Right Honorable Earl of Rutledge and The Right Honorable Countess of Rutledge slapped the sheet of paper she’d been reading down on top of the mahogany desk and bestowed on her London barrister the look of a woman at her wit’s end. Grief for her dying parents and a sense of utter desperation had driven her to actions she considered borderline insanity. If she accepted any of the names on this list, she might as well rent rooms in Bedlam. Eleanor fought the hysteria surging in her breast and tried for a more cajoling tone. “Surely you can come up with more worthy candidates?”
The barrister who had served her family for the last forty years sat immobile in his great chair, hunkered down behind his great desk, his hands steepled in front of his narrow-lipped mouth. “This was no small task you set before me, Lady Russell. We are at war with France. Many of our most eligible men fill our army and navy.”
Her troubled gaze swung outward. Outside the windows of Elsington & Elsington, the London hansom cabs clopped past in the traffic-clogged street. Everyone had business to conduct it seemed. With a heavy sigh, she returned to the issue that had torn her away from the bedside of her failing but beloved parents and the celebrated stud farm into which she’d poured twenty-plus years of her life.
Her eyes flicked to the sheet in front of her, and she jabbed at it with an index finger. “Sir Clive Wellery. Fifty-six years of age, just interred his fourth wife, has no property of worth, eleven dependents ranging in age from two months to twenty-two years, known for a propensity to overindulge in spirits and gambling, currently renting a six-bedroom house in Bloomsbury.” She shuddered and whispered, “Eleven children.” Her eyes rose and gazed at the gentleman across the desk from her then dropped back to the paper.
“Lord Hilary Vance. Sixty-four years of age, of no property or spouse. No dependents, an unfortunate victim of the ‘China disease.’” She cleared her throat. “I understand there is no opium den he does not frequent.”
The barrister sat motionless in his chair and gave her a disapproving frown. She rolled her eyes. “I am thirty-years-old, sir. I’m not an ignorant debutante.”
“I disapprove of your unorthodox education, Ma’am. It did you a great disservice, and so I told your father.”
You old fusspot. Eleanor swallowed her retort and returned her gaze to the page on the desk. “And then there is Sir Aubrey Dedham… really, Mr. Elsington? Really? The fellow lives at the molly houses.” She frowned as her barrister stirred awkwardly in his high-backed chair. “Did you think I didn’t know the meaning of the term? How am I supposed to persuade a sodomite into marriage with a woman when he is not inclined toward women in the first place?” She scowled. “Though perhaps my possessing no feminine attributes is a recommendation.”
“Lady Russell, please…”
Eleanor held up a gloved hand. “Stop. I know what you are going to say. £30,000 will make any man blind. And this last entry.” She sighed and relaxed her upright spine for one moment before resuming her erect posture and folding her hands in her lap. “This last marital candidate.” She could feel the heat climb her neck into her cheeks at the thought of a man that elegant ever giving her a second look and if he did… she’d probably turn and flee.
“The Lord Miles Everleigh, twenty-five, the third of four sons, whose eldest brother is the new Duke of Chelsony. I understand Lord Miles lives on the charity of “friends” in return for his convivial companionship and educated guidance on the purchase of fine bloodstock. What could induce…”
She closed her eyes and fought back the tears that threatened. How had she come to this? Was she going to go through with an action that in her more rational moments caused her to lose the contents of her stomach? In short, yes. The alternative was even more appalling.
One thought of the manor house with its 100,000 acres of attached properties and villages all peopled with men and women who relied on her family for their livelihood... the thought of all this reverting to the Crown because of some quirk in the laws of primogeniture? Accompanying the loss would be the upheaval and complete displacement of the lovely Thoroughbred mares and stallions of impeccable breeding whose pedigrees she could recite to the nth generation and all their offspring, in short, the entire racing stud she’d helped her father make so fabulously successful. Well, it was enough to make anyone cry.
Despite having three torturous seasons on the marriage mart ten years ago, no eligible man—there’d been numerous made ineligible by virtue of being unacceptable to her parents or unacceptable to her—had stepped forward with an offer to make her his wife. All the wealth and property she would bring with her was insufficient incentive to overcome her plain features, awkward deportment and utter lack of the slightest feminine attribute, so… she’d have to buy a husband—and soon. With no male heir, upon the death of her father, the estate, and all its entailed properties would be subject to the peregrinations of escheat.
“Mr. Elsington…please. What could possibly recommend me to Lord Miles Everleigh? Even rusticating as I have been, I hear the on-dits about the ever-so-handsome and sophisticated Lord Miles Everleigh. There will always be other options for a man like this, much better options than a gawky plank of an ape-leader with shriveled social skills who reeks of the stables and is his senior by five years.”
The man across from her cleared his throat. “My lady…if I may be allowed…” He looked over his pince-nez. “The marriage agreement that you have required me to draw up demands a gentleman of a certain …” He shifted uncomfortably. “Ah…”
“Let me assist you. The word you want is desperation. It wants a gentleman who has reached a point of desperation. Well, Mr. Elsington, find more candidates. This week. I’m running out of time.”
“Err, yes, Lady Russell. Quite.” His eyes softened. “How is your father, my lady?”
Eleanor dropped her eyes and fought for composure until she was sure she could speak without succumbing to tears. “The physicians tell me, ‘at most a few months’. He could go at any time.”
“My sincere regrets, ma’am. Lord Rutledge is a fine gentleman.”
With a murmur of thanks, she inhaled and rose to her full height. Mr. Elsington was not a short man, but as he stood to escort her out, she topped him by a full head, reminding her yet again of her abysmal lack of any physical feature possessed by an even a moderately desirable woman. She hardened her jaw as she marched out of the law offices to her waiting carriage. There was no point in dwelling on a source of immense hurt that her adoring parents and formidable fortune hadn’t protected her from, nor the reasons for her present desperate action. She decided on the instant to go to the one place in all of London where she’d always felt at home regardless of the strictures of polite society and Richard Tattersal’s distinct lack of welcome for those of her sex.
“Take me to Tattersalls, John. They have advertised some young breeding stock I want to inspect. We need some outside lines to cross on Dare To Dream.”
“Yes, your ladyship.” With a tip of his beaver brim, he helped her into the carriage and climbed onto the box. At John Coachman’s instruction, the groom stepped away from the leaders, sprang to the back of the carriage and the team of beautifully matched bays stepped smartly away.
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Let me start off by saying that I've wanted to read a historical book for awhile now, but I've been hesitant just because I wasn't sure what to expect and because sometimes I worry that (with a good one) the language would kind of go over my head and the time period and society in general. I wanted to wait for the right book to come along to break my v-card if you will that could get me into a historical romance. I'm so glad I waited until this book. This book was amazing and pulls the reader in from the first few pages. A 30ish year old woman needs to marry to keep her family's estate among other things because she's a woman and not a man and therefore, needs to proposition a man to marry her. She will pay him very handsomely to basically just take his name and maybe at some point have his kid, to transfer the deed of the estate, other than that he's free to do whatever he wants. For that time period could you image the scandal this would have caused. So of course I'm immediately enthralled with this book. :)
Eleanor is apparently super plain and tall. She's not the dainty woman from this time period and so she sticks out and apparently because of this, she hasn't had any luck in the romance department. My heart really goes to her, because that's a sh*tty reason for someone not to want you. Because beauty isn't always on the outside, and let me just say I'm sure not all the men in this era were all that great looking either so ya know you shouldn't pass that kind of judgement. Anyways Eleanor was all about her horses and she knew so much information it was really impressive and while looking into a horse she sees this man, who is taller than her, actually looking back. Later we find out this is Miles who is one of the gentlemen she is going to proposition. He's really good looking and even though she's never been interested in a man in her life, she's interested in him.
I thought I might not like Miles because most of the guys are always douches in the beginning, but I really didn't get this feeling from him. More than that, he was truly a gentleman. My biggest issue with reading a book like this, is in this day and age women are all equality and I do for me and feminism and who needs a man, and if I go on a date I'm paying or paying for my half. And while I agree with some equality, I miss gentlemen manners and jesters. Holding doors or carriages, or when Miles and Eleanor go horseback riding, he dismounts first to help her off. Stupid little things like that make me miss this time and era and some the way men were. Now don't get me wrong I don't miss all of it, like the fact that if I was my parents only child and a woman I shouldn't inherit the estate because I was born with the wrong body part between my legs.
Anyways...so Miles accepts Eleanor's terms and they begin their courtship and friendship into knowing one another. Miles has plans and with this money will truly see them come to life. He's gentle with Eleanor and accepts all her quirks and oddness and I love that even more about him. Beyond that Eleanor really likes him too and I want that for her. I want something to come of this. But after mishaps and pride and stubbornness they go their separate ways. However, when people come knocking and questioning Eleanor's marriage she must seek out the help of Miles and even though she was horrible to him and hurtful, he is there the instant she needs him. I LOVE IT!!!! It was probably my biggest awww....moment in the book. Next to Mile's gift to Eleanor for their marriage. But because they are spending more time together feelings and and other things keep getting in the way. I like the way Patricia didn't beat around the bush with some things because some romance stories people NEVER talk and you are always yelling at your tv or book or kindle like OMG if you would just say what you are feeling at this moment everything would work out. GRRR....you had some of that here, but not all, which was a nice change of pace.
OHHHHHH and let me tell you the parents are AMAZING and I could not in my wildest dreams do what they did. And Eleanor's mother telling her husband to not die until Eleanor is married and such and then going further with things. She cracks me up and I love it. Overall, this book had everything you could want in a book, friendship, hardship, romance, mystery, suspense and so much more. This is definitely a must read.