A Wicked Song for a Roguish Viscount (Preview)

Chapter One

Adelaide

Her heart was beating so fast, she thought it might work its way right out of her chest. She was nervous, but terribly excited at the same time. This was the moment she had been preparing for. It had taken so long and been so much work, but now it was all going to pay off.

Miss Adelaide Midgley took a deep breath and smiled as she gazed out over the small group gathered before her. They hardly paid her any attention, but she did not let that deter her. She was unknown to them, after all, but very soon they would hardly be able to forget her name.

As she waited for her cue to begin, however, she grew self-conscious. The ladies among the group all looked lovely in their evening gowns with their lace trimmings, satin elbow-length gloves, and sparkling jewelry. Diamonds, pearls, precious stones… a fortune hung around the necks of her audience, yet Adelaide knew none of them gave it any thought. It was just the normal way of things for them.

In contrast, Adelaide wore no diamonds, pearls, or precious stones. Whatever jewelry she had on was made of glass. Costume, to have the appearance of the real thing from far away. Though she was wearing her best dress, it was still patched in places and fraying at others. She had practiced standing just so at home to hide the worn spots as best she could. It had not been so long ago that she would have been dressed as well as the ladies before her, but she could not allow herself to dwell on her misfortunes. If all went well that night, she might find herself dressed in such finery again very soon.

“Are you ready?”

Startled, Adelaide turned to find one of the musicians she would be playing with looking up at her with a quirked brow. He had a guitar clutched in his hands, his fingers poised and ready to begin strumming. In addition to the guitarist, there was a flutist, a violinist, and a fourth man with a little drum. Not the full orchestra of her dreams, but a good enough group for the private dinner party they had all been hired to perform for.

Baron Henkley, she had heard, was not a particularly great lover of music, but he was a lover of showing off his wealth to those of higher rank in society than he. Having musicians and a young and pretty opera singer was just one more way for him to do so.

Holding the guitarist’s gaze, Adelaide nodded. “Yes, I am ready.”

The man jerked his chin to the others standing with them and tapped out the beat on his instrument before he began to play. Adelaide turned her gaze back to their audience, most of whom were not paying attention to them. That was fine. Once she started singing, all eyes would be on her.

Opening her mouth, she pushed the first note from deep within her… and it was wrong.

Mortification instantly flooded through her. She flinched, but she did not stop. She continued singing, hitting the next note perfectly, and the next and the next. Still, she had caught the attention of several of the guests, though not in the way she had hoped to. They regarded her with looks of distaste, but as she continued to sing, their expressions slowly started to change.

As Adelaide lost herself in her song, her audience appeared to grow enraptured with her. Slowly, more and more of the fancy lords and ladies turned to watch with varying degrees of awe in their expressions.

Reassured, she sang with more gusto, her fears melting away and that first note all but forgotten. The song flowed from her smoothly and easily, wrapping around her like a tight embrace. This was what she had been born to do. All her life, she had felt the pull toward song. Her parents had supported her passion, and even when they had lost nearly everything of their previous lives, they had managed to continue her music lessons.

Now, it appeared that sacrifice was paying off. This was just the beginning for her, she was certain. First, it was private dinner parties of barons who wished to flaunt their wealth to prove they belonged. Soon enough, though, she would be performing in the grandest theatres in England… perhaps even across Europe. Royalty would come to watch her and be mesmerised by her talent. People would travel for hours to see her.

Addie knew such thoughts were prideful, perhaps even conceited, but she did not believe it was such a sin to be prideful it if was well earned. She had spent her life working hard to hone her talent and perfect her craft. If she did not believe she deserved all that she imagined for her future, then she had no business pursuing any of it.

When the first song ended, and she had hit the final note perfectly, the party broke out into loud applause. Smiling broadly, Addie bowed her head, but she did not curtsy or offer expressions of thanks. They had only just begun, after all. There were plenty more songs she was meant to sing that night, but she was pleased with their start.

She gazed out over the crowd, for a moment feeling like she had when she had been a young girl. Like she was special. Like she belonged.

Before she could grow lost in her thoughts, however, the musicians started playing the next song and she focused on the task at hand. The next song came more easily, and she knew it would be a night to remember. A night that would change the course of her life for the better.

***

Thomas

He gazed up at the singer in awe, hardly the only person to be mesmerised by her and her magical voice.

It was not only her voice, however, that Thomas Rowe, Viscount of Hayling, found incredibly lovely. She had dark brown hair that appeared nearly black, arranged in an artful chignon on the top of her head. It looked silky, and his fingers itched to touch it. Her eyes were nearly as dark brown as her hair, and her long lashes brushed over smooth, rosy cheeks when she blinked. Her milky white skin did not appear to have a blemish anywhere in view, and her lips were as red as rose petals.

All together, she was a vision. An angel come down from heaven to bless them with her song. Who was she, though? Why did she seem so strangely familiar to him?

Realizing he was practically ogling the girl, he tore his gaze away. He should not be admiring another woman in such a blatant way. Not when he already had a lady in his sights whose affections he was trying to win.

“Ah, Lord Hayling, it is good to see you,” a deep voice boomed next to him.

Startled, Thomas turned to find Baron Henkley, his host, grinning at him. Baroness Henkley hung on her husband’s arm. The two were middle-aged and richly dressed. The baron had grown round with age, and his wife tried to hide her greying hair and wrinkling features with an overabundance of jewels and baubles, as if their shine would distract from her fading beauty.

Bowing to them, Thomas said, “Lord and Lady Henkley, good evening.”

The baron bowed to him in turn as the baroness curtsied.

“We are so pleased that you accepted our invitation for the evening.” The baron grinned. “It is so unusual to see you outside of London, especially this far north.”

Thomas nodded. “Yes, well, your timing was quite fortuitous. I came up for my cousin’s wedding. Your soiree is a welcome break from the demands of my extended family.”

The baron chuckled. “Well, it is an honor to have you here.”

“Though I doubt we can provide the same level of entertainment as you are used to,” the baroness commented with a wry grin. “There are, at least, some pretty ladies about. You should be able to occupy yourself with them well enough.”

Thomas arched a brow as the baroness giggled at her own joke. He was aware of his reputation as a rake, but it was still rather uncouth of her mention it, even in such a backhanded way. Her husband gave her a censorious look before turning a strained smile to Thomas.

“Apologies, my lord. The baroness has enjoyed one too many glasses of champagne already tonight, I think,” the baron declared with a forced laugh.

Keeping his irritation in check, Thomas nodded. “It is nothing to apologize for. I am sure, though, that York holds plenty of entertainment for me. I am rather easily amused. If you will excuse me, I believe there is an acquaintance of mine I should greet.”

“Of course, my lord,” the baron said with a flourish. “We shall talk again, I am sure.”

Thomas nodded and turned to walk away from the couple before his temper got the better of him. As he wound his way through the small crowd of guests, he spotted an acquaintance of his from London, Lord Albert Graves, and made his way towards him.

“Lord Graves, good evening,” Thomas declared when he reached the gentleman.

Lord Graves looked up at him and grinned. “Lord Hayling, what a surprise! I had heard you had made your way north, but I could hardly believe such talk. Yet, here you are!”

Thomas chuckled. It did not rankle him so much to receive such teasing from the likes of Lord Graves. He was a good man who ran in respectable circles in town. Unlike the baron, who tended to irritate and annoy more often than he endeared himself to anyone.

“Yes, indeed, here I am,” Thomas replied. “What brings you to York, my lord? You are as averse to leaving Town as I, or so I thought.”

Lord Graves nodded. “Indeed, I am not one to usually enjoy such excursions, but my wife was eager for a holiday. York is not so bad for such a thing.”

“Where is your lovely wife?” Thomas asked, glancing around.

With an adoring smile, Lord Graves motioned toward the other side of the room. Thomas spotted Lady Graves standing with other ladies, all watching the lovely opera singer as though they were under some sort of enchantment. He could sympathize with them in that regard.

Turning back to Lord Graves, he said, “She is as beautiful as ever, Graves. You are indeed a lucky man.”

Lord Graves nodded. “On that, we can completely agree. What of you, though, Hayling? I heard a strange rumor that you have finally found yourself smitten. Yet another rumor I could not quite believe, but if the first was true, is it possible the second one is as well?”

Chuckling, Thomas nodded. “It is indeed, my lord.”

Lord Graves’ eyes widened, and he appeared thoroughly shocked. “Heaven above, miracles do happen! Who is the miraculous young lady who has swayed your opinion regarding marriage?”

“Lady Philomena Clement, daughter of the Duke of Kinsley,” Thomas replied.

Lord Graves looked even more amazed. “Lady Philomena? Good God, man, you aim for the stars when you dream, do you not? You will be in competition with half the ton trying to win her hand.”

“You might be right,” Thomas agreed. “Trust me when I say that she is worth the adversity, however.”

“She is a great beauty,” Lord Graves nodded. “And her father, the earl, is a powerful man. There would be much opportunity for the man who won the right to marry her.”

“That is very true,” Thomas replied. “But do you know why I have an advantage over all the other gentlemen hoping to win her?”

“Why?” Lord Graves asked with a wry smile. “Do tell. I am fascinated.”

“Because I actually love the young lady,” Thomas answered.

Lord Graves arched a brow. “Oh, indeed? Love, you say? And the young lady shares these feelings of yours?”

Thomas scratched at his chin, feeling suddenly awkward. “Well… I am not certain, exactly. I have not told her of my love for her yet. As I am sure you know, these are delicate matters and must be handled as such. I do not wish to overwhelm her.”

Lord Graves chuckled. “Yes, I suppose you are right, my lord. Ladies have such delicate constitutions, after all.”

Thomas nodded. “Exactly.”

At that moment, the rest of the guests broke out into applause, and he turned back to gaze up at the lovely singer. She was smiling as she accepted the praise of her audience for her flawless second song. Thomas was once more struck by her beauty, but the way she held herself was also stunning. She was so confident with her head high, looking like a queen rather than a mere performer—it made it quite difficult to look away from her as she commanded the attention of the room.

“She is lovely, is she not?” Lord Graves asked.

“She is,” Thomas replied. “Though I feel as though I have seen her before.”

“Is that so?” Lord Graves frowned and studied the singer more closely. “I cannot say that I have ever seen her before myself.”

Thomas’ mind was probably playing tricks on him, he decided. Where would he have seen the girl before, anyway? He did not frequent York, and he was not familiar with even the most notable singers in London. She must just remind him of someone, though he could not think of who that might be.

Still, he found himself struggling to take his focus from her as she began her next song. He would not have been surprised if she turned out to be a true enchantress casting a spell on them all.

At length, Thomas managed to tear her eyes away from her, but he could not stop himself from peeking back at her as the night continued and her voice filled the room.

Chapter Two

Adelaide

A success! That was all she could think when she finished her last song of the evening. Apart from that first note, which had been so wrong, the rest of her set had been perfect. As the crowd broke into applause for the final time, she finally curtsied and allowed herself to truly soak in the accolades.

It was a triumph, and she was happy that her first official performance had proven nearly flawless…

Suddenly, a loud crash cut through the applause, and the entire room turned to the source of the commotion. A servant girl was on the floor, scrambling to wipe up the spilled contents of the tray she had been carrying. It appeared as though it had been filled with flutes of champagne. It was embarrassing enough for the poor girl to have caused such a scene, but she had also spilled some of the wine onto Baron Henkley himself.

There was a moment when the entire room seemed to freeze in time as everyone stared at the poor girl and the baron, whose expression was growing increasingly thunderous as his cheeks turned a dark crimson.

“You stupid chit!” he bellowed. “What do you think you are doing? Is it really so difficult to carry a tray? Is that beyond your abilities?”

“I… I am so sorry, my lord,” the girl stammered, tears streaming down her face as she trembled with fear. “It was an accident…”

“If you are so clumsy that you cannot make it across the room without dropping everything like a bumbling fool, then what use can I possibly have for you in my home?” he barked. “Clean this up and remove yourself from this house! You are no longer employed here!”

The girl was sobbing heavily at this point. Adelaide was so shocked by the scene that she was temporarily frozen, her voice stuck in her throat. However, she could not bear to watch the baron berate and humiliate the poor girl over something so trivial in the grand scheme of things. Before she fully realised what she was doing, she hurried down from the small stage she had been performing on and shouldered her way through the crowd to get to the girl.

The baron was continuing his tirade when she stepped out and put herself between the baron and the maid.

“I beg your pardon, my lord,” she said in as polite a tone as she could muster. She knew her flushed cheeks gave away her anger, however. “I think she understands you well enough. She should be getting on.”

The baron’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. “How dare you! Who do you think you are to speak to me in such a manner?”

“I mean no disrespect, my lord,” she replied through gritted teeth. “I simply do not see the point in shouting at the girl in such a way. It will not unspill her tray.”

“The audacity!” the baron bellowed. “I should have you both whipped for daring to question your betters!”

Addie’s rage exploded at the threat. Still, she would only be viewed as a shrieking shrew if she allowed her temper to get the better of her. If she truly wanted to injure the baron’s pride, she needed to remain reasonable.

“A highborn lord such as yourself should know how to keep a civil tongue and give a better example to his inferiors,” she snapped. “This display is quite inappropriate—such matters should be handled in private, my lord.”

“Get out!” the baron shouted, pointing toward the door. “Get out of my home this instant! You will be lucky if I do not have you blacklisted from performing in every home or hall between here and London!”

Addie felt a jolt of panic at that. She might have just ruined her career before it had even started by opening her mouth when it was not warranted. Still, she just could not stand back and allow someone to be bullied so cruelly. It simply was not in her nature, especially after everything her own family had suffered throughout her life.

Refusing to let the baron see that he had shaken her in any way, she lifted her chin. “I will take my leave then. Good night, my lord.”

Turning from him, she made her way across the room to the door. She could feel everyone’s eyes following her as she walked, making her increasingly self-conscious. Her courage began to falter, but then she caught the eye of a particular nobleman and his expression nearly made her pause in her steps. He was quite handsome. Young-looking, he was tall with broad shoulders, brown hair several shades lighter than her own, and brooding hazel eyes. His skin was pale like a lady’s, as if he did not spend much time outdoors. His colouring made him all the more striking, and he stood out among the crowd.

He was watching her as though impressed. His eyes were locked on her, and something in them bolstered her own courage. It was as though he were silently telling her that she was right. That she had done the right thing and should not be worried about this bringing her harm. Feeling more at ease, she was able to ignore the other eyes that remained on her as she continued forward, marching out of the room with her pride firmly intact.

***

Thomas

“What an awful display,” Lord Graves murmured in obvious disgust. “Baron Henkley has managed to greatly embarrass himself this evening.”

Thomas wholeheartedly agreed. He was disgusted by the entire scene. He was of the firm belief that one did not berate or sack staff in front of visitors. Such matters should be conducted in private to avoid embarrassment.

“Henkley is a boor,” he hissed under his breath. “Though that singer was quite unladylike in her actions, as well.” This night was reaffirming why exactly he should never leave London if he could help it. It seemed as though proper etiquette and decency were simply forgotten when away from Town. 

Lord Graves glanced towards him. “That may be, but I can hardly blame her for her actions. Can you?”

 

Though he was loath to admit it, even to himself, Thomas had to concede that she had not been wrong in interceding on the maid’s behalf. He was not the type to tell another man how to manage his servants, but the opera singer had been quite brave and poised in her defense of the girl, even if her defiant display was nothing he would believe acceptable from a proper lady. He supposed she was not truly a lady, though, not being of the noble class. As such, he should not expect such proper behavior from her.

Baron Henkley was attempting to save face from the incident, declaring that the singer was out of her wits. The servant girl was escorted away, still sobbing, and other maids quickly came in to clean up her mess. 

“I suppose it was rather refreshing seeing someone put Henkley in his place,” Thomas admitted. “Still, casts the whole evening into a rather unfortunate light, I would say.”

“That is quite true,” Lord Graves sighed. Clapping Thomas on the shoulder, he continued, “Well, I suppose we should try to make the best of things, yet. There is still food to look forward to and plenty of champagne to go around. By morning, this incident will be plastered all over the gossip rags, but by week’s end some other incident will have occurred to steal the public’s attention.”

Thomas chuckled. “That is the way of things, I suppose. You are right, though. No reason to let the rest of the night go to waste. Come along, my lord. Let us find ourselves something else to entertain ourselves with.”

The two turned away from the baron and his fiasco and made their way through the crowd to find other acquaintances of theirs to engage with. The conversation of the night eventually moved away from the singer and her shocking display, and Thomas tried to put her from his mind and focus on other things. More important things, like Lady Philomena, for instance.

However, no matter how hard he tried, his mind simply refused to cooperate. The vision of the lovely singer with her dark hair and flushed cheeks lingered in his thoughts. He could not help but recall the way she had lifted her chin and squared her shoulders, looking proud and beautiful and far more fascinating than she had any right to be.

I shan’t ever see her again, so there is no point in continuing to think about her.

Yet, that image of her would not leave him, and for the rest of the evening, he continued to muse about the fierce beauty with the angelic voice.



“A Wicked Song for a Roguish Viscount” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Adelaide Midgley’s life has not been an easy one. Though born into privilege, her father fell into ruin, leaving her to grow up practically destitute and, so, becoming a singer was her family’s only hope for a better future. Yet, when she is approached by a captivating Viscount who has a tempting proposal, will her distrust be enough to keep her from succumbing to his sinful seduction?

If she only knew that his family ruined hers…

Desperate to win a bet against his high society rival, the Viscount Hayling, comes up with a mischievous plan. When he sees an enchanting opera singer performing at a dinner party, he convinces her to help him by making her an offer she cannot refuse. If she agrees, Thomas will pay off her father’s debts. Yet, he has no idea that the talented Adelaide has any connection to his father…

What will happen when what seemed a harmless deal turns into the most scandalous adventure of all?

The more Adelaide and Thomas try to avoid each other, the more they find themselves bound to a sinful affair more powerful than they could have ever imagined. However, the undeniable attraction between them complicates things even further, especially since the prize Thomas is after, is the hand of another lady. Can Adelaide forgive what has happened, and help him undo the wrongs committed by his family? After all, when secrets are divulged, can their burning romance survive?

“A Wicked Song for a Roguish Viscount” 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!

7 thoughts on “A Wicked Song for a Roguish Viscount (Preview)”

  1. The preview is a great tease!
    Of course we know Adelaide and Thomas will
    meet again.What we do not know is when and how?
    It will be interesting to see how!

  2. What a great tease!
    Of course we know Thomas and Adelaide will meet again.
    But it will be enjoyable finding out when and how.

  3. What a great tease for the new book.
    Adelaide and Thomas are very intresting!
    Of course we know they will be together at the end of the book.
    But it will a great read to see how the story ends.

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