EXCERPT: His Scandalous Viscountess by Sorcha Mowbray
Once upon a time, a boy and a girl fell in love…but prestige, power, and a shameful secret drove them apart.
Julia fled abroad after the death of her husband, Lord Wallthorpe. She has finally returned to England, but little has changed.
Except for her.
As a dowager marchioness, Julia lives and loves where she pleases. And the obnoxious son of her dead husband does not please. But what can an independent woman do? Why, create a scandal, of course!
Viscount Wolfington is no stranger to the wagging tongues of the ton. Between being a Lustful Lord and the scandal of his birth, he learned long ago that society had little use for him. So when he walks into The Market and finds the woman who once stole his heart being auctioned for a night of debauchery, he jumps at another chance to hold her–even for just a single night.
As Julia and Wolf unravel their pasts, will villainy win again, or will love finally conquer all?
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“Gather round, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight, we have a most unique entertainment.”
Madame de Pompadour’s voice quivered with excitement as Grayson Powell, Viscount Wolfington, walked into The Market. He was late, but the unusual announcement grabbed his attention.
Despite the frustration that pulsed beneath his skin—not uncommon after a confrontation with his father—curiosity had Wolf veering away from the stairs and edging into the back of the half-filled salon.
The attractive madame continued her pitch, exciting the men, and a few of the women. “In a rare occurrence for an establishment such as The Market, tonight we shall have…an auction!”
Murmurs ran through the crowd. Moving closer, Wolf couldn’t help but find himself intrigued. Auctions occurred all over London, but most of them were of a questionable nature, typically featuring a virgin prize. He found the practice disturbing for multiple reasons, primarily because if the woman being auctioned was in fact a virgin, it was doubtful she was participating of her own free will.
Most of the time, the woman in question was not a virgin at all, which meant the buyer was being duped. Toss in the notion that buying and selling human beings smacked of slavery—a practice he could not condone, and England had outlawed in 1833—and all around it made the auctions an objectionable practice.
All of which made The Market holding one entirely outside the norm.
“The woman up for bid this evening is not a virgin.” Madame paused, drawing out the moment. “In fact, she is a woman of experience, who has been a wife to a peer of the realm and lover to a desert sheik. Tonight, she seeks an enthusiastic lover—or two—for a night of unrestrained passion.”
Wolf spotted his friends, Flint, Linc, and Arthur, milling about toward the back of the crowd. He stepped up and greeted them with a quiet nod.
“Interested in the auction, Wolf?” Linc grinned, a clear indication that he was most certainly intrigued by what Madame might have on offer.
“Not particularly. I have my doubts about these spectacles. Honestly, I would have thought The Market above such practices,”Wolf said and returned his focus to the front of the room as Madame raised her hands to quiet the murmuring crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lady Eatifi ‘Ahmar.” Wolf’s heart suddenly leapt from his chest, only to lodge in his throat. A woman had appeared next to Madame de Pompadour, her hair a deep, fiery red that seemed to ignite in the gaslight. She might call herself Lady Eatifi ‘Ahmar now, but Wolf would know Julia Fairchild—or more aptly, Lady Wallthorpe—even if she were covered in robes from head to toe. And covered, she was not. Next to him, Linc murmured, “Bloody hell, that woman is brazen. Wanton and brazen.” And she was. Julia stood before a room full of mostly men wearing a puffy-sleeved chemise that ended far short of where such a garment should. Just below her breasts, the material banded and stopped, leaving her torso uncovered and exposed to all and sundry. The rest of the garment reappeared at her waist, creating a full-skirted look that swished about her ankles, offering suggestive peeks at her lower legs. Around her hips, she had wrapped a brightly colored scarf and a coin-draped belt, which tinkled as she paraded around the makeshift stage in her bare feet. When she stopped at one end, she turned and flicked her hips, causing the coins to jangle and the material to swirl about her legs. Wolf’s mouth felt as though he’d ridden across the dells, only to be rewarded with cotton in lieu of water. Finally, Lady Eatifi ‘Ahmar returned to Madame’s side and finished her tempting display with a shimmy of her shoulders that set everything to jiggling in the most enticing manner. And with that, the bidding commenced. “One hundred pounds from Lord Glennmore,” Madame announced. It took mere moments for the bidding to reach a thousand pounds. With each subsequent raise in price, Wolf’s fury swelled. How could Julia do such a thing? What of the scandal this would mire her in? Had she no care for her reputation? He listened to the lascivious men call out ridiculous sums of money for the privilege of slipping between her long legs, all the while watching for the point when the bidding slowed.
Wolf leaned over to Linc and nudged his friend. “How much blunt do you have on you?”
“Not interested?” Linc jabbed an elbow in his ribs. “I’ve got seven thousand pounds. Hit a run of luck at the tables tonight.”
“Can I borrow it? I’ll write you a draft on my bank.”
Linc grunted and handed him the wad of cash. “I don’t want the money. Share her with me.”
Wolf’s gut churned. Could he do such a thing? There was a time when he had been deeply in love with Julia. But he’d long ago closed off that part of himself, and willed it to wither and die. His intervention tonight was nothing more than common decency, a way to ensure she didn’t suffer at the hands of some pompous, overblown lord who wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“I plan to release her from any obligation to us.”
Linc sighed. “I rather figured. Go on, then.”
As the offers reached the five-thousand-pound mark, Wolf made his move. “Ten thousand pounds. Ready.”
The room grew quiet, except for a few mutters of annoyance from the previous highest bidders. Madame looked fit to burst, she was
so pleased. Julia appeared surprised, almost as if she couldn’t fathom such a large bid.
Or perchance it was because it had come from him?
“Sold to Lord Wolfington!”
Madame’s excitement bubbled over, even as Julia leaned over and whispered in her ear. The enigmatic owner of The Market merely held up her hands, as if to say it was already done, and Julia frowned in response.
A few men grumbled, but it was clear Madame had achieved whatever her goal was, and she would not continue the auction.
Wolf pressed through the now-dispersing crowd until he reached the raised platform. Stepping up, he towered over the petite Madame de Pompadour, as usual, but the statuesque Julia still all but looked him in the eye. Years ago, when they had been young, her height and her refusal to appear of lesser stature was one of the many things he’d loved about her.
Wolf bowed over the proprietress’s hand. “Good evening, Madame.” And then he turned toward Julia, who automatically lifted her hand. Good manners always won out—even hers, so it
seemed. “Ju—Lady ‘Ahmar, such a lovely surprise to see you again.”
Madame waggled her eyebrows. “Ah-ha! Now I understand. You know each other already.”
“Yes, we were acquainted many years ago,” Wolf replied. “But alas, she left me behind and gallivanted off to tour the world with her new husband.”
The bitterness over that turn of events was hard to squash down again, since it currently felt as though someone had ripped the bandage off the wound, causing it to seep anew.
“Well, that is what one does when they are deserted on a London street corner and left to be married off.”
Julia’s green eyes flashed sparks he’d never seen from her before. When he’d known her, she had been strong-willed, but soft-spoken
“And I suppose one also stays away from England for nearly ten years after his death?” Wolf let one of his brows rise, his anger refusing to be quelled.
“Such passion between you two, it gives me chills.” Madame’s eyes appeared glassy, and her cheeks flushed. “Alas, we must conduct business before pleasure.”
“Of course, Madame.” Wolf looked about and spotted his friend standing nearby. “Linc, can you take Lady…uh, ‘Ahmar, upstairs? I’ll be along in a moment.”
“My pleasure.” Linc held out his hand and assisted Julia down from the platform. Leaving Wolf to quickly follow Madame into her office to settle their business.
When he finally headed upstairs to find Julia and Linc, he tried to tamp down his more hedonistic instincts. He’d told Linc he planned to let her leave unmolested, which he fully intended to follow through with. But images of her standing on the dais with her torso exposed kept flashing through his brain. All that smooth, creamy flesh bared, and then the small peeks of her ankles as she’d stood barefoot.
Next his dastardly mind retrieved images that took him up her calves, over her thighs, and presented him with the notion of feasting on her sweet pussy. His cock flexed in his trousers, rising to the occasion, regardless of it being all in his mind.
Determined to be a gentleman, he willed his lusty thoughts to retreat and his shaft to soften as he steeled himself to see the woman he had once wanted more than his next breath.
Julia sat beside the man Grayson—no, Wolf—had called Linc.
Wolf? She tested the name out in her head, and thought about the man who had strode onto the makeshift stage to claim her. There had been a predatory quality to him that had not been part of the young man she had once known and loved. The moniker suited him far more than Grayson.
Linc eyed her speculatively as she sat across from him in the growing quiet. “Lady ‘Ahmar, it appears you have already met Lord Wolfington.”
Julia tried not to sigh as she thought of the idyllic young man she’d once known. “We were neighbors, many years ago.”
The blond man seemed to ponder that notion for a moment. “You must have been quite young.”
She couldn’t repress the smile that came to her lips as she remembered their youthful romps across the countryside near Marribone Manor, and then later, when they’d met again after he finished school and she had been launched into Society. He had acted the earnest, doting suitor during her first seasons, and made her believe in fate and fairytales.
While not the daughter of a peer, Julia’s father had been very successful in his business endeavors, which had afforded them the ability to move amongst the ton. Of course, as she later learned, that had all been done with a very precise purpose. Specifically, for her to marry into the peerage, thereby making her parents related to that upper echelon of Society versus the fringe dwellers they had been relegated to as nouveau riche upstarts.
“We were young and blissfully ignorant of gender and class expectations at the time.” Not to mention naïve about how unreliable love could be. Following her heart again was not a mistake she would make anytime soon. Memories of her past tasted bitter on her tongue, even as she waited for the source of all her heartache to reappear.
The door suddenly swung open, and she peered at two men and the ladies that accompanied them. However, Wolf was not among the sma
“Hello!” One of the men, whose short-cropped hair fell in a soft wave of golden brown across his forehead, lifted a glass of amber liquid in a salute. “Where has Wolf gotten off to? I figured you two would be relishing your spoils by now.”
Julia’s cheeks heated at the obvious reference to their having won her in the auction. She drew a deep breath. She had known what would occur. Had even arranged for the event downstairs, but that knowledge didn’t mitigate the fact she had all but been forced into the event. Nevertheless, she had intended to make the most of an untenable situation.
Why shouldn’t I have the opportunity to explore a new sexual experience while holding the jackals of Society at bay?
Linc glared at the friendly man. “Hold your tongue, Dunmere. Lady ‘Ahmar is our guest.”
Dunmere’s eyebrows rose, but he ceased asking uncomfortable questions, which Julia was grateful for.
Then the door of the room swung open once again, and this time Wolf strode through, looking fiercely determined. About what, she had no idea. However, she hoped it had something to do with having hot, sweaty sex with her. And if that happened to include
the boyishly handsome Linc, all the better. The man owed her a little pleasure after all the pain he’d caused.
“Julia—uh, Lady ‘Ahmar.”
Wolf seemed unsure for a moment as he pulled up short and stopped.
She rose to her feet. “Please, Julia is fine. My identity is no great secret, despite the nom de guerre.”
“Very well.” He nodded sharply. “I came to escort you home.”
“Home?” She was confused by his words, as images of the two men wrapped around her still teased her brain.
“Yes. Shall we?” He indicted the door, which he held open.
She crossed her arms under her breasts. “I believe we have some business to attend to first.”
Wolf’s golden-brown brows drew down over his clear blue eyes. “We do not.”
Her spine stiffened in indignation. “On the contrary, you won a night of sexual adventure with me, and I have no plans to renege on that promise.”
Just then, a group of noisy men and women stampeded past the open door of their room.
She let one brow rise. “Perhaps we could have this argument with less of an audience than the one both currently in the room with us, and the one passing by?”
Wolf grunted and waited until the man called Dunmere and the rest of his party departed. Then he closed the door with an imperious thud. “I bid on you with the full intention of releasing you from your obligation.”
Julia drew a deep breath. The man was going to be impossible about this. With no warning, she turned and wiggled onto Linc’s lap as he sat in a wing chair. Completely caught off guard, he had no chance to block her maneuver.
“Unfortunately, I have no such good intention on my part,” she continued. “You bid on me and won, and I fully intend to extract my night of pleasure from you and your friend. I believe you won together, did you not?”
Linc looked distinctly uncomfortable as she wrapped an arm around his shoulders and pressed her breasts closer to his chest and face. He coughed, then answered. “Yes, I provided some blunt.”
“Excellent. It was my preference that two men would win the night with me. Wolf, will you be joining us, or am I to be disappointed by you once again?”
She winced inside at her reference to their past, but she needed to move him off the mark. She needed to know what having Wolf as a lover might be like, just this once. Because despite her lingering anger with him, her body still responded to his mere presence.
To her excitement, Linc appeared to be game for her plan. His cock grew harder by the moment beneath her thighs. She turned her face so she was close to his ear and could whisper to him. “What will it take to get him to join us, do you think?”
“This secret conversation alone might do the trick,” Linc whispered back. “But if not, then maybe you could kiss me. That ought to get him moving…though hopefully not to punch me in the face.”
She chuckled and then leaned in and captured Linc’s lips with her own. Pushing past his teeth, she swept in to taste the whisky on his tongue and explore his mouth. He met her with a vigorous twist of tongues that reminded her of what it was to have a man touch her again. It had been nearly a year since she’d last felt the touch of a desirable man in his prime. And Linc fully met both requirements.
Though Wolf might easily obliterate the competition if he would remove himself from hovering near the door like a clucking hen.
And then his presence suddenly loomed over them, casting a shadow from the gas lamps along the wall. Rough hands, like those of a laborer, cupped her face and pulled her mouth from Linc’s. As she turned to look up at Wolf, their gazes met. His expressive blue eyes had shifted to a more stormy gray, and he slammed his mouth down on hers in a move that was pure declaration.
Julia’s senses reeled as Wolf kissed her. He tasted of man, and the faint hint of mint, which triggered the echo of a memory as their tongues tangled and twined. The wet slide was an erotic caress that had her nipples hardening and her pussy dampening in immediate response. Then one big hand slipped around to the back of her neck and hauled her up and off Linc’s lap. Once she was standing, Wolf pressed closer to her, deepening the kiss, as though he wanted to crawl inside her.
Behind her, Linc rose and pressed closer to her back, sandwiching her between them. He unfastened her belt, letting it fall to the floor with a muffled tinkle. Then he loosened the scarf at her waist and slipped it free from her hips.
Wolf broke the kiss, finally retreating for a much-needed breath. Julia’s head spun as she tried to take in the truth of the matter. The man she’d dreamed about for a decade was here in her arms, if only for one night.
How could she let the opportunity to bring every fantasy she’d had to life pass?
Wolf’s tumultuous blue gaze bore into her, demanding the truth. “Do you truly want this, Jules?”
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About The Author: Sorcha Mowbray
Sorcha Mowbray is a mild mannered office worker by day…okay, so she is actually a mouthy, opinionated, take charge kind of gal who bosses everyone around; but she definitely works in an office. At night she writes romance so hot she sets the sheets on fire! Just ask her slightly singed husband.
She is a longtime lover of historical romance, having grown up reading Johanna Lindsey and Judith McNaught. Then she discovered Thea Devine and Susan Johnson. Holy cow! Heroes and heroines could do THAT? From there, things devolved into trying her hand at writing a little smexy. Needless to say, she liked it and she hopes you do too!
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