I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Virgin and the Viscount by Charis Michaels
Series: The Bachelor Lords of London #2
Published by Avon Impulse on July 5, 2016
Genres: Romance, Historical, Regency, Fiction
Purchase Links: Amazon | iBooks
ADD TO GOODREADS:
Lady Elisabeth Hamilton-Baythes has a painful secret. At the innocent age of fifteen, she was abducted by highwaymen and sold to a brothel. After two days, a young lord discovers her and enacts a brave rescue to get her out. Now she's a grown woman, working to save other girls from the horror she saw that night and never forgetting the young man who rescued her.
Bryson Courtland, Viscount Rainsleigh has overcome an abusive boyhood, neglectful parents, and a bankrupt title to be one of the wealthiest noblemen in Britain. He works tirelessly to be upright and forthright and proper to a fault. Now he requires only one thing: A proper, forthright, proper wife.
When a charity event puts Lord Bryson and Lady Elisabeth face-to-face, Bryson has no memory of the wounded girl of long ago. All he can see is a perfect candidate to be his future wife. Elisabeth has never forgotten him, but she worries that the brave boy who saved her so long ago has become a rich man with an unfulfilled life.
As a whirlwind courtship reveals the truth, Bryson must accept that Elisabeth is actually a shadow from his dark past, while Elisabeth must show that love is the noblest virtue of all.
Also in this series: The Earl Next Door, One for the Rogue
Also by this author: The Earl Next Door, One for the Rogue
In the next sparkling romance in debut author Charis Michael’s Bachelor Lords of London series,
a proper viscount meets his match in a beguiling virgin who can’t help but break all the rules.
Bryson Cortland had the misfortune of being raised by a set of debauched and neglectful aristocratic parents. His drive and determination allowed him to rise above his situation and truly become a self-made man, earning his own considerable fortune and living a life above reproach. Unfortunately in preparing for, and achieving, his ascension to the title as Viscount Rainsleigh, Bryse lost a part of himself — the part that hoped to feel something as simple as joy or love. Following the previous viscount’s scandalous death, Bryson was even more determined to live a life above reproach and find an intelligent and decorous wife.
Being a successful shipping magnate, as well as a proper aristocrat, Bryse is accustomed to getting what he wants. When he spies Lady Elisabeth at her aunt’s home, he immediately decides she is the one he wants. The fact that Elisabeth is less than accommodating raises his frustration and peaks his interest.
Lady Elisabeth has lived the last fifteen years in the shadows of society. After the tragic murder of her parents and her own abduction at the tender age of fifteen, Elisabeth has dedicated her life to charity, hoping to drown her pain and shame by keeping herself too busy to mourn her past, and in the process, hopefully, offer other women a chance at a respectable future.
Seeing Bryson Courtland again after so many years is both a blessing and a curse for Elisabeth. A curse because they first met when she was help captive in a brothel, and a blessing, because with his kindness, courage, and honor, she was able to escape and find the strength to return to her remaining family. If Bryson remembers her, her reputation would be ruined. Even worse, if he doesn’t, she will have to remind him before their mutual admiration and attraction goes too far.
Elisabeth tries to keep Bryson at arms length and he pursues her relentlessly. There is a spark there that draws him like a moth to a flame. He doesn’t always like the way Elisabeth makes him feel: confused, rejected, passionate; but the important thing, although of course he doesn’t realize it for quite a while—almost too late!— is that Elisabeth makes him feel. His heart never knew what love was, but with Elisabeth, Bryson finally opens himself to feeling emotions beyond ambition and fear.
Bryson’s emotional journey was a difficult one, and I admit there were times I doubted his ability to embrace the love, and life, Elisabeth offered. On occasion, he was an absolute ass, failing to treat Elisabeth with the compassion and respect she deserved — and Elisabeth called it him on it. I cheered at her self-respect and determination, breaking her own heart by finding the strength and courage to demand better. Bryson could have grovelled a hell of a lot more 😉 but I understand his fear and upbringing practically crippled him emotionally. The author managed to make him likable and vulnerable enough that he earned Elisabeth (and my) forgiveness.
Author Charis Michaels follows up her entertaining debut, The Earl Next Door, with the more emotionally nuanced (and very rewarding) The Virgin and the Viscount. Both works demonstrate Ms. Michaels’ deft hand at dialogue and characterization. I have no doubt readers can continue to expect great things from her.
Excerpt from The Virgin and the Viscount
On April 12, 1809, Franklin “Frankie” Courtland, 6th Viscount Rainsleigh, tripped on a root in the bottom of a riverbed and drowned. He was drunk at the time, picnicking with friends on the banks of the River Wylye. According an account later given to the magistrate, his lordship simply fell over, bumped into a fallen log, and sank.
It was there he remained—“enjoying the cool,” or so his friends believed—until he became too heavy, too slippery, and, alas, too dead to revive. But they did dislodge him; and after that, they claimed he floated to the surface, bobbed several times, and then gently glided downstream. He was later found just before sunset, face down and bloated (in life, as also in death), beached on a pebble shoal near Codford.
At the time the elder Courtland was sinking to the bottom of the river, his son and heir, Bryson was hunched over a desk in the offices of his fledgling shipping company, waiting for the very moment his father would die. It had been an exceedingly long, progressively humiliating wait. Years long—nay, decades.
Luckily for Bryson, for his ships and his future, he was capable of doing more things at once than wait, and while his father drank and debauched his way through all respectability and life, Bryson worked.
It was an unthinkable thing for a young heir and nobleman—to “work”—but Bryson was given little choice, considering the impoverished state of the Rainsleigh crest. He was scarcely eleven years of age when he made first foray into labor, and not so many years after, into private enterprise. His life in work had not ceased since. On the rare occasion that he didn’t work, he studied.
With his meager earnings (he began by punting boats on the very river in which his father later drowned), he made meager investments. These investments reaped small gains—first in shares in the punting station; later in property along the water; later still, in other industry up and down the river.
Bryon lived modestly, worked ceaselessly, and spared only enough to pay his way through Cambridge, bring up his brother, and see him educated him, as well. Every guinea earned was reinvested. He repeated the process again and again, a little less meagerly each time ‘round.
By the time the elder viscount’s self-destructive lifestyle wrought his river- and drink-soaked end, Bryson had managed to accrue a small fortune, launch a company that built and sailed ships, and construct an elaborate plan for what he would do when his father finally cocked up his toes and died.
When at last that day came, Bryson had but one complaint: it took fifty-two hours for the constable to find him. He was a viscount for two days before anyone, including himself, even knew it.
But two days was a trifle compared to a lifetime of waiting. And on the day he learned of his inheritance—nay, the very hour—he launched his long awaited plan.
By three o’clock on the fourth day, he’d razed the rotting, reeking east wing of the family estate in Wiltshire to the ground.
Within the week, he’d extracted his mother from the west wing and shipped her and a contingent of discreet caregivers to a villa in Spain.
Within the month, he’d sold every stick of furniture, every remaining fork and dish, every sweat-soaked toga and opium-tinged gown. He burned the drapes, burned the rugs, burned the tapestries. He delivered the half-starved horses and the fighting dogs to an agricultural college and pensioned off the remaining staff.
By the six-week mark, he’d unloaded the London townhome—sold at auction to the highest bidder—and with it, the broken-down carriage, his father’s dusty arsenal, what was left of the wine stores, and all the lurid art.
It was a whirlwind evacuation, a gutting, really, and no one among polite society had ever witnessed a son or heir take such absolute control and haul away so much family or property quite so fast.
But no one among polite society was acquainted with Bryson Anders Courtland, the new Viscount Rainsleigh.
And no one understood that it was not so much an ending as it was an entirely fresh start. Once the tearing down ceased, the rebuilding could begin. New viscountsy, new money, new respect, new life.
It was an enterprise into which Bryson threw himself like no other. Unlike all others, however, he could only do so much, one man, alone. For this, he would require another. A partner. Someone with whom he could work together towards a common goal. A collaborator who emulated his precise, immaculate manner. A matriarch, discreet and pure. A paragon of propriety. A viscountess. A proper, perfect wife.
About Author Charis Michaels
Charis Michaels is thrilled to be making her debut with Avon Impulse. Prior to writing romance, she studied Journalism at Texas A&M and managed PR for a trade association. She has also worked as a tour guide at Disney World, harvested peaches on her family’s farm, and entertained children as the “Story Godmother” at birthday parties. She has lived in Texas, Florida, and London, England. She now makes her home in the Washington, D.C.-metro area.