Destined for a Passionate Lord (Preview)

Chapter One

February in the United States in 1813 was bitterly cold, but it was not that which made William Talbot, second son to the Earl of Hervordshire, shiver. His heavy soldier’s uniform was more than enough to keep him warm. What bothered him was the telegram in his coat’s breast pocket as he travelled through a snowy barracks in search of one of his superior officers. 

The knowledge of his brother’s death was almost too much to handle. In fact, though he had read the telegram repeatedly, he could not bring himself to truly believe it. How was it possible that his brother had succumbed to the plague? It couldn’t be true, and yet he had the proof burning a hole in his pocket. 

I must return home. The thought had haunted him for several hours since receiving the telegram during the evening messenger rounds. And it had taken him that long to decide what it was that he needed to do. Finding the sergeant’s tent, he saluted the guard outside and requested an audience. For a moment, he feared the man might decline his request. There was an uncertain expression on his face, one that suggested the sergeant was too busy to see him. And yet, as though he saw the grief written plainly on his face, the guard disappeared into the tent, returning a few moments later with a simple nod of his head before he pulled open the tent flap and gestured William inside. 

Throat constricted, William stepped inside, suddenly uncertain of how to broach the subject of the possibility of his getting himself discharged to return home to his affairs. My father needs me, he thought, though he knew that would not be enough to convince his superior officer to allow him to leave. Though things on the war front had de-escalated over the last few weeks, the war was not over. Every man was needed, and William knew that although he was now to be his father’s heir, that did not entitle him to any special treatment, or at least he didn’t believe it ought to. After all, what was so special about his life above all the others who had already lost theirs on the front lines? He gulped, already imagining that this conversation would not go well. 

“Sergeant Forte,” William greeted the man in the formal matter, clicking his heels together and saluting respectfully as he stopped before the man’s desk. 

“Officer Talbot,” Forte responded with a nod of acknowledgement before he turned his spectacled gaze back down to the papers in front of him. “I have a question for you, Officer. How do you perceive this war going?” 

William cringed at the question. He should have known it wouldn’t be as simple as just asking to be discharged. He ought to have guessed that the conversation would be long and drawn out, making him even more uncomfortable than he already was. The grief of his brother’s death was still fresh, and it was taking every breath he had in him not to lose control and allow it to take over him entirely. His eyes still felt red raw from weeping upon receiving the telegram, and although he had managed to rein the tears in, he could still feel them pricking the corners of his eyes and threatening to fall all over again.

“I wouldn’t like to say, Sergeant,” William responded, deciding it was best not to share his own opinions on the matter. After all, it didn’t matter what he thought, especially now when he was about to request that he be discharged. With his head bowed, he could feel the sergeant scrutinising over him in silence for several moments. 

“Is all well, soldier?” Forte asked suddenly, making William bite the inside of his lip. Though it was the simplest of questions, it caused his heart to clench, reminding him all too well of why he was even standing there in the first place. 

“Sergeant, I must request my discharge due to a telegram I have received from back home,” William said through gritted teeth. It had to be better just to come out with it rather than just dragging things out, but it didn’t exactly feel it to him. 

Sergeant Forte did not respond immediately, though William could feel the man still watching him as though the papers on his desk were far less important now that something else had caught his attention. 

“I cannot just discharge a soldier because he has requested it, Officer Talbot,” Forte explained, and William could feel the interest coming off the man in waves. “What exactly is the reasoning for your wishing to be discharged from duty? Is there something I need to be made aware of among the men?” 

“Oh, no! Nothing like that, Sergeant!” William exclaimed, finally lifting his gaze to meet the other man’s eyes. He quickly shook his head to illustrate what he had said before he continued, “I have received word that my brother has died, and I request to be discharged to return home and tie up all affairs surrounding his death.” 

As expected, the sergeant did not look the least bit phased by the news of a death. A man in his position had seen enough of it not to be surprised by a single one anymore. After all, what did it matter to him that some nobleman back in France had died when men were dying around him every single day? 

Yet William was relieved when he saw at least a little sympathy in the man’s eyes. “I can put your request in, Officer Talbot, but I cannot promise that it will be approved, and it might take some time to get approval anyway.” 

“I am aware that the process can be a long one,” William said, his gut churning at the thought of having to continue to fight alongside his fellow soldiers when all he could think of was returning home to what remained of his family, to see his father, and be sure that the grief had not become too much for them. He could only imagine how his father had reacted to the death of his eldest and most beloved son. 

“Might I see the telegram, Officer Talbot?” the sergeant asked then, holding out his hand with expectation. With little other choice but to obey the request that was really more of a command, William stepped forward and removed the telegram from where he had shoved it into the breast pocket of his jacket. He placed it in the older man’s hand and waited with bated breath for the sergeant to look it over. 

As though he was satisfied with whatever he had been looking for in the telegram, he gave a small grunt and placed it back in William’s hand. “I shall see what I can do. Until then, return to your post.” 

Knowing he had little option but to continue to follow orders, William saluted the sergeant and quickly made his exit from the tent. It wasn’t until he had walked away and turned a corner, finding a quiet spot between two tents, that he stopped and removed the telegram from his breast pocket once more. Reading it for what felt like the hundredth time, he tried to get the news to finally sink in, but even after several hours, he found he was still in shock. To him, his brother was still in France or even London, an image of him sitting at his desk in his study. Going over whatever papers were important to the heir of an Earldom was all William could see whenever he thought of him. That was how he so often found his brother, working on this or that, making sure that he was the good and dutiful son his father had always expected him to be. And yet now that desk chair sat empty, its owner would never again grace its seat. Dust would collect upon all the heir’s things until a new one arose to take his place. 

I cannot replace my brother, William thought grimly, though he knew all too well that was exactly what would be expected of him. There wasn’t a single person on earth who could ever replace his brother; no matter how hard one tried, it was impossible to be quite so perfect as Stewart Junior Talbot.

Chapter Two 

Returning to France several months after the death of his brother was a real shock to William’s system. Though he had grown used to the grief that still haunted his heart, and it was now manageable, he was not so well prepared for Paris itself as he had expected himself to be. The hustle and bustle of the docks were quite the opposite of the busy workings of the war barracks to which he had become accustomed. Though he was used to dodging horses and carts, he was not quite so prepared for the fishmongers and other business owners of the market stalls through which he had to walk to find a carriage to take him to his father’s townhouse on the other side of the city. 

By the time he managed to find his way to his father’s residence, he was more flustered than he had been throughout his entire time in the United States. Even in the carriage, the noise of Paris had been entirely strange to him, and he was so exhausted by the time he arrived on the porch steps of Talbot House that he would have liked nothing more than to bathe and climb into a warm, clean bed for a change. 

Instead, he found himself immediately dragged before his father. The earl was situated in his library at his desk in the same position that William had imagined both him and his brother over the last year or so before his brother’s untimely death. For all his life, his father had been a workaholic, and he had passed down the trait to his eldest son. Although William knew the importance of hard work, he was also well aware of the other parts of one’s life that could be neglected during such matters. 

“William! Come in, my dear boy!” his father greeted him as soon as the butler showed him into the room. Offering the butler a nod of gratitude, he stepped into the room to greet his father with a bow. 

“Father, forgive me for not arriving sooner,” William stated, standing to attention before his father’s desk, feeling a little put off by his father’s barely even looking up from his desk. “I am sure that you understand.” 

“I am certain that I understand that this war is a farce, and men’s attentions would be much better served elsewhere,” his father announced loudly and with great conviction. William cringed at his father’s words, feeling slightly demeaned at the thought he had been fighting in said farce for what felt like an age. 

“Well, I am here now,” William pointed out, trying to force a little cheer into his voice, even though he felt more than a little let down by the reunion. As though he sensed it in his son, the Earl of Hervordshire finally looked up from the papers in front of him and offered a smile. 

“And I am glad for it!” the salt and pepper-haired earl exclaimed, “I am in dire need of your help!” 

William gulped past the sudden lump in his throat. Though he had been preparing himself for whatever his father would throw at him when he arrived, he wasn’t sure he could ever have prepared himself enough. Taking over as heir would be no easy task. His brother had not left easy boots to fill. Already, even before he had arrived in France, they were feeling too heavy to bear. 

“I will do whatever I can, Father,” William assured him, bowing his head respectfully. “I only wish I had been here sooner for the funeral and such.” 

“Well, that is all over with now! We can talk of such things later when there are less pressing matters to attend to,” the earl insisted, waving a hand in the air as though he wished to wave away all mention of any such thing. “We must look to the future, to installing you as my heir and ensuring that the future of our line continues long after we ourselves are gone.” 

William immediately did not like where the conversation was headed. He gritted his teeth, knowing that whatever his father had in mind, he would be unable to change it. 

“Perhaps we ought to start with the little things?” William suggested, knowing he had absolutely no idea where to start when it came to being the heir. Of course, he was well aware he would have no engagements and events to attend and a certain attitude he would have to give off to all society, but he had no idea where to begin when it came to being as good as his brother had been. Stewart Junior had been a marvel at juggling all the things expected of him, and he barely seemed to break a sweat while doing so. On the other hand, William already felt like a fish out of water.

The earl shook his head and waved away William’s suggestion quickly. William knew his father was about to tell him something serious when the man pushed himself up from his chair and walked around the desk to stand before him. 

“Son, I am sure you are already well aware of the duties that have befallen you,” Stewart Talbot stated, reaching for William’s forearms and holding onto him in the first signs of a fatherly embrace since, well, William could not remember the last time his father had touched him. “But there is one especially important matter that we must discuss before we get into anything else.” 

A shiver ran down the length of William’s spine, and he opened his mouth to speak, only to close it firmly again when he thought once more that whatever he said, his father would likely not hear him. 

His father gripped his arms just a little tighter, and he smiled warmly, though William could see the intent behind it, see the hopefulness in his father’s eyes that he wished for his son to simply hear the command and obey as though he was still the little boy who would fall over himself to please his sire. 

“What is it, Father?” William asked through gritted teeth. The longer his father drew it out, the more painful it would be when he finally heard the words fall from his lips. 

“My boy, do not look so frightened!” the earl insisted. “There is most joyous news I have to impart upon you!” 

I should have seen this coming, William thought, having already guessed what his father was about to tell him. I didn’t expect it to come quite so soon. 

“I am not frightened, Father, merely exhausted from my journey home,” William admitted. It hadn’t exactly been an easy trip from the Americas by cart, ship, and carriage. Every method of transportation was more uncomfortable than the last, likely due to his growing lack of patience in returning home and the fact that the long voyage was uncomfortable no matter how one travelled. From the highest nobleman to the lowest commoner, travelling by ship, nobody was immune to sea sickness and all the other perils that came with boarding such a vessel. 

“Yes, yes, I am sure that you are,” the earl nodded, clapping William on the shoulder. “And you shall rest just as soon as I have told you this happy news.” 

“Then please, Father, tell it and tell it true, so that I might go and rest and wake refreshed and prepared to begin my duties as the heir of Hervordshire,” William pleaded, hoping to reach the part of his father that would sympathise with his son, knowing he intended to be as good an heir as possible. 

“Well, son, now that talks have been concluded and all necessary things put into place,” the earl announced, the smile growing on his face as he placed both his hands on William’s shoulders and gave them a firm squeeze, “I can indeed announce to you that you are to be married!” 

William blanched immediately at the news. Though he had been entirely prepared for his father to have begun searching for the correct bride for his son and heir, a woman of nobility with good standing and a wonderful reputation to fulfil all the requirements of a viscountess, he had never expected that his father would have already chosen any such woman. 

“You mean I am to begin courting?” William gulped, hoping that perhaps he had somehow misheard his father. Suddenly the sunshine filtering through the windows behind his father was too bright, and he felt as though he had bees buzzing in his brain, threatening to make it impossible for him to comprehend whatever answer his father gave. 

“Oh, no, William,” the earl said, shaking his head and strengthening his grip on his son’s shoulders even further. “A promise has already been made between our two families for quite some time. Viscount Ashton’s daughter has been set to be married for quite some time, as I am sure you well know.” 

William felt all the heat and blood draining from his face as he recognised the name of the girl who had always been set to marry his older brother, the woman they had never met due to their family’s important position in France during his childhood. 

“But, Father. She was to be Stewart’s bride, and I have never met her!” William protested. “How am I to marry a woman I have never met?” 

“There are plenty of men and women who marry never having met!” the earl protested, and William felt his father grip hold of him so tightly that he thought he might actually do him some damage. “Besides, you have met her several times. At least, I am sure that you must have before we departed for France.” 

William clenched his jaw and struggled not to grimace openly. “Father, we travelled to France when I was just ten years old,” William pointed out, “and if I remember correctly, Ashton’s girl was a newborn babe at that time. I can hardly go off such an experience to be pleased with the woman I am to marry!” 

“Your brother was all too willing to take the girl on!” the earl growled deep in his throat, and William felt the usual disappointment he felt whenever he was compared to his oh-so-perfect older brother. Even in death, you are still held in higher regard than I, William thought though he tried his absolute hardest not to begrudge his brother. He would have given anything to have him back, especially now in the face of this new development. “Besides,” his father continued as though he had no wish to hear any further complaints on the matter, “there has always been an understanding between our two families, and I shall not be the one to break any kind of promise to an old friend.” 

The lump in William’s throat grew bigger with every word his father spoke, and he felt the hole around him growing deeper and deeper. Once his father had got something into his head, he would not let it go easily, not unless some proof came about that gave him cause for concern. 

“And what if I refuse this bride?” William asked, the lump threatening to choke him entirely as he defended himself against his father’s wishes for what perhaps was the first time in his life. I am the heir now, he reminded himself firmly, sending tension down to his feet to hold himself still and steady, determined not to show his father any hint of fear.  I am due the same respect that my brother had. “Just because Stewart accepted this promise does not mean I now have to accept it on his behalf because he has perished.” 

“On the contrary, Bill.” The earl smirked as though he was at least pleased his son had found a backbone during what his father called “his adventures in the Americas.” “That is exactly what it means you must do.”

“Destined for a Passionate Lord” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

When the enthralling Cynthia Besser learns that the man she was to marry has tragically passed away, she believes she is free to do what she truly wishes. Little did she know, though, that she is now facing a life with the brother of her late betrothed instead. In the hopes of escaping her cruel fate, Cynthia goes into hiding at her sister’s manor, where she meets the most tempting man she has ever seen. Yet, one small misstep leaves her with no choice but to return back to London…

With William Talbot, her rightful betrothed, after her, will she finally choose to accept her fate?

The captivating William Talbot, the second son of the Earl of Hervordshire, has been away fighting for what seems to be a lifetime. Yet, after receiving the dreadful news of his brother’s death, he knows he must return home. Nevertheless, it is only when he claims his inheritance, that he discovers he is to marry his brother’s alluring bride… The tantalising Cynthia has no intentions of ever meeting him, though, and so he comes up with a devilish plan…

The more determined she is to avoid him, the more determined he is to win her fiery heart.

With Cynthia dogged to never meet him and William stubborn to do quite the opposite, things will get quite heated. A pair adamant that they do not wish to marry may just find themselves wishing against something that their heart desires more than anything. Will Cynthia finally marry the son of an Earl, or will she lose it all trying to indulge in her scandalous romance? Will William come clear with her and win her back or will the evil schemes between them destroy their sizzling affair once and for all?

“Destined for a Passionate Lord” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

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