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“A small matter of a sum you owe me.”
Damn it, he wasn’t about to allow Sparks to pay off his debts. The man had an estate to oversee. “Something we might have resolved between ourselves without involving my brother.”
“Your brother, it so happens, came up with a scheme whereby you can pay what you owe. Not only that, you’ll be solvent within, well, a week at the most. If you’re fortunate, you might even remain in that state for the rest of your life.”
Rowan took a step back. Impossible on all counts. He didn’t possess the sort of luck that would allow him to lose a fortune and gain another in the space of an hour. “You’re asking me to believe my brother came up with such a brilliant plan?”
Sparks merely blinked, a slow shuttering of his eyes before he opened them again. It was the most emotion he ever showed unless electricity was involved. Sparks. Good Lord. The man took an entire morning deciding what to wear and then the rest of the afternoon selecting the evening’s entertainments. And God help the person who offered him a choice of dinner items. He might waste the entire evening wavering between Dover sole and roast beef. Thank God he employed an astute estate manager for the really important decisions. For Sparks to come up with anything intricate enough to be termed a scheme was unheard of.
“I will not allow him to pay my way out of my difficulties.” Whatever Rowan had done, he’d done it to himself. No reason to get his brother involved. “He wasn’t even supposed to know about them,” Rowan added pointedly. For Sparks to come up with a plan, he would have had to learn of Rowan’s financial difficulties. Good Lord, it must have been weeks ago.
“I am not going to pay for you,” Sparks said. “Your wife is.”
A bolt of lightning crashing through the ceiling to strike him dead would have been less shocking. “My wife?”
Heaven knew he’d been turning over the possibility of courting an heiress during the upcoming Season if any likely candidate caught his eye, but the idea had never gone beyond a vague notion. He’d long since resigned himself to never marrying. Not only had he proven an idiot when it came to money, such that he couldn’t afford a wife, but his track record where ladies were concerned hardly predicted success on the marriage mart.
And now his brother was suggesting he’d gone out and found a suitable match for Rowan? When Sparks himself was still a bachelor? Preposterous.
“Lord Sparkmore has suggested you marry my daughter.” Jennings pronounced that sentence mildly enough for a man consigning his own offspring to a potential life of misery.
“Your daughter?” Surely the girl in question had been in the sitting room just now when Rowan had made a drunken arse of himself. But there’d been two young ladies present—one bespectacled and whey-faced, and the other impossibly stiff and pinch-lipped. He was damned if he knew which one was the daughter. He hadn’t the luck to hope she was neither. “And what does the young lady in question have to say about this arrangement?”
“She doesn’t know about it yet. But never fear, she will go along with the plan if I ask it of her.”
Worse and worse. Although on the surface a biddable wife might make matters easier, he couldn’t imagine life with some quiet little mouse dropping curtseys like a servant at every turn. “In that case, there must be something in it for her. Might I inquire what?”
“Eventually, she will have the honor of being addressed as ‘my lady.’ ”
A title? The Jenningses were so desperate to climb the social ladder that they’d shackle themselves to the likes of him? “In that case, oughtn’t she marry my brother?”
Sparks blinked once again. “As I’ve told Mr. Jennings, I’ve mused on the matter quite a long time, and I’ve come to a conclusion. This whole marriage business is far too much bother. I’ve decided to let the title pass on to you and your heirs.”
Page Count: 231 pages
Publisher: Loveswept (March 31, 2015)
Perfect for fans of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries, Ashlyn Macnamara’s blazing hot novel tells the story of mismatched newlyweds who discover a simmering connection.
Unlike every other proper young lady, Miss Emma Jennings views marrying well as little more than a means to an end. Such a merger would provide her industrious father with social credibility, and Emma with a chunk of her vast inheritance. Emma’s practical views are shattered, however, when her father ties her to the fabulously handsome ne’er-do-well Rowan Battencliffe, a man she loathes on sight—from the smile that promises all manner of wickedness to the way he ogles her with those striking blue eyes.
Deep in debt, especially to his wine merchant, Rowan figures the sooner he gets his finances in order, the sooner he can go back to doing what he does best: burning through ridiculous sums of cash. Which is why Rowan agrees to marry the merchant’s daughter, a prim and proper woman with delightful curves and an ample dowry. But Emma seems to think it’s her business to reform him! Their marriage is a tinderbox—and it’s just too tempting to resist playing with fire.
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