A Marquess’s Rhapsody of Desire (Preview)

Chapter One

The graceful sound of expertly composed music filled the room with a sweet melody that transported all who heard it to another place and time. Even the people on the street stopped for a moment to rest in the embrace of the soothing song as it drifted out of the open window and into the afternoon sky. 

Charlotte Grey’s slender fingers danced over the worn keys of her favourite pianoforte. Years of playing her favourite songs had left very noticeable grooves in the yellowing ivory.  Her father had wanted to buy her a new piano, but life had intervened, leaving her at the mercy of her uncle. She sighed, thinking of her parents and how they had encouraged her to practice as often as she could. The viscount had harboured many musical talents of his own before his untimely demise. 

A light breeze drifted through the open window drawing room window, gently tousling her dark brown tresses as she flicked them back over her shoulders. Her hazel eyes were intensely focused on the keys as her mind wandered far away from the song she had learned by heart. A melodious lullaby that reminded her of her mother and the grace she had brought to all who knew her, until that night …

The night she had lost her parents had been a stormy one with fierce bolts of lightning and raging winds. She had been lying awake reading a book by candlelight when a frantic knock sounded on the door. 

“My Lady! You must come at once!” She could still hear the note of panic in the maid’s voice as she shut her book and pulled back the covers. The manic pounding had continued relentlessly until Charlotte answered in annoyance. 

“What’s the matter, Ana?” she had called out to her lady’s maid, wondering what could have possibly happened in the middle of the night. The house had been quiet and peaceful besides the persistent attempts of her maid to arouse all and sundry. 

Her parents had gone to a ball at their uncle’s insistence, leaving her behind to nurse the headache that had been plaguing her for days after a cold. Her uncle had been more than just a little annoyed that she couldn’t attend but had ultimately relented when her father stepped in. 

“There’s a man downstairs saying that he needs to speak with the lady of the house at once,” Ana’s frantic voice carried through the door like a hungry bird boring for bugs with unrelenting force. There was something very unsettling in the woman’s voice that made Charlotte uneasy. 

“Could he not leave a message and come back in the morning?” Charlotte frowned as she checked the position of the moon in the sky through her open bedroom window. It had to be past midnight already by her calculations; she had left the window open to allow the sounds of the raging storm in the distance to distract her mind from the headache. 

“I did suggest that, but he was most insistent that he needed to speak with you at once. I think it’s best that you come down and speak to him, My Lady,” Ana seemed to hesitate for a second, keeping quiet as if there was more that she wanted to say but didn’t know how to say it. 

Feeling a wave of panic run through her body, Charlotte quickly slipped her feet into her slippers and reached for the white silk gown that hung over the back of the chair in front of her dresser. There had to be something wrong if someone needed to see her in the middle of the night while her parents were away. 

My parents …

A cold chill ran down her spine as she thought of them being away for the night. She was almost certain that someone would have alerted her already if anything had happened; the ball they had attended was not too far away, after all. Hurrying to the door, she pulled on the handle to reveal the white face of her beloved maid. 

Ana’s blonde hair was tousled and messy beneath the nightcap pinned to her head. One hand clasped the front of her gown in the hopes of preserving some form of modesty after being dragged from her bed at an unruly hour. Her doe-like brown eyes were wide with concern. “I’m sorry to have woken you at this hour, My Lady, the constable was most insistent,” she gulped before flicking her tongue over her dry lips. It was clear to Charlotte that her maid had been in the throes of a deep sleep when she’d been aroused. 

“The constable? You never mentioned that the man is a constable.” Charlotte froze with her hand on the door as she looked at her maid. 

Ana returned her gaze with all the sympathy and understanding in the world, her usually rosy cheeks pale with fright. “We best see what the man wants, My Lady, before we jump to any conclusions.” 

Understanding the precariousness of the situation, Charlotte quickly nodded and hurried ahead, rushing down the hall and taking the stairs two at a time without looking behind her. The main hall felt deserted and cold as she waited for Ana to catch up with her lantern and point the way. There was a certain coldness about the entrance hall late at night; it felt almost criminal to be downstairs without the watchful gaze of the butler to oversee things. 

“I left him in the drawing room, My Lady,” Ana huffed breathlessly just as she caught up to Charlotte. A semblance of colour had returned to her cheeks thanks to her hurried steps. 

Charlotte hadn’t even realized she had been running as she turned to the shut door of the drawing room, where a single sliver of light was emanating from beneath the wood. Pushing the door open, she took a deep breath and stepped inside. 

Please let them be okay …

She said a silent prayer before opening her eyes. 

The constable stood as soon as Charlotte entered the room, holding his black bowler hat in his hands. His black coat was neatly pressed with silver studs, accompanied by light grey breeches and polished boots. “I’m sorry to have drawn you out of bed at this hour, My Lady,” he said respectfully and bowed his head. The solemn look in his eyes made Charlotte’s breath catch in her throat.  

“Has something happened to my parents?” she asked the man without the formalities of greeting. The sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach was far more demanding than any kind of propriety. 

Keeping his eyes downcast, he squeezed the brim of his hat between his finger and thumb before looking Charlotte in his eyes. The sadness she saw reflected there was confirmation enough for her. 

“Oh Lord,” Charlotte clutched her chest and sat in the nearest chair before her legs had a chance to give way. It suddenly felt to her as if all the warmth and happiness had been sucked from the world in the space of a few simple words. She wanted nothing more than to go back to bed and wake up early to realize that everything had been nothing more than a bad dream. 

“There was an incident with highwaymen, My Lady. I’m afraid that help could not reach them in time,” his voice trailed off on a sad note in the same kind of manner that Ana’s had done. 

Ana came up by her side and placed her arm around her mistress’s shoulders, offering what little comfort she could under the challenging circumstances. 

The memory suddenly became hazy after that as tears filled her eyes. Charlotte could recall the way she had felt, a deep and intense aching that filled her chest, but not what the constable had said after that. His voice had somehow become muffled through the lens of her pain. 

“Must you continue with that noise all the blasted time!” The door suddenly slammed shut with a loud bang. 

Charlotte jumped as her hands froze over the keys, the past had so consumed her mind that she hadn’t even heard her uncle entering the room. She wasn’t even sure if she had finished the song or not. Turning in her seat, Charlotte calmly placed her hands in her lap and faced the man who had become her guardian after her parents had died. Years of experience had taught her to keep her wits about her whenever he drank.

The unwelcome stench of hard liquor filled her nostrils as he stumbled forward, nearly tripping over the rug as he struggled. 

“I apologize if I disturbed you, Uncle Reginald. I’m afraid that my mind was far away,” she apologized with a stiff smile on her thin lips, straightening her back. Her father’s brother hadn’t mistreated her in the years since he’d adopted her, but he hadn’t exactly been the loving father either. He’d doted on her in the eyes of the ton and always ensured that she had everything she needed. Yet there was never a moment of caring where he’d ask her if she was truly happy in life. 

“Disturb me? My dear, you have been disturbing our neighbours for three years. Your incessant playing at all hours of the night has long been the bane of my existence.” He sneered at her with a nasty grin as he swayed from side to side, holding a half-empty bottle of liquor in his hand. A few drops sloshed from the neck, falling to his feet and staining the red Persian rug that Charlotte’s late father had purchased on one of his business trips. 

His words reached her heart with a dull ache despite the intoxication she knew was clouding his mind. Lord Reginald Grey, Viscount of Grey Manor, was a charming and likeable man when he was sober but a man to be reckoned with when he took to the bottle. He glared at her with beady brown eyes that matched the colour of his hair and spindly moustache. His neatly tailored suit clung to his bony frame like cloth that had been draped over a scarecrow. 

“Besides your off-key musical skills that are lacking in both grace and timing, I have come with news.” He stumbled slightly to the side before steadying himself on the back of a leather armchair. 

Charlotte braced herself for whatever her uncle had cooked up in his altered state of mind, clenching her fists over her knees. He always seemed to come up with schemes that involved selling her to the highest bidder when he was drunk. 

“There is to be a ball tomorrow night at Lady Carter’s manor. Anyone who is anyone in the eyes of the ton will be in attendance.” He hiccupped before taking another swig from the bottle.

“Is it really necessary to attend another ball so soon? Surely, we have fulfilled our social quota this season.” She recalled all of the balls her uncle had dragged her to in the past month. She’d lost count of all the men she’d been forced to dance with at her uncle’s behest.

Reginald’s eyes suddenly narrowed as he glared at her and pushed himself up straight. “How dare you question a decision that I have made. Have you not had a roof over your head and food to eat these past three years? I could have thrown you away the minute your parents left, but instead, I chose to raise you as my own.” The hint of darkness in his voice made Charlotte recoil slightly as she shifted on her seat. 

It was true that he hadn’t cast her off or sent her to live at some finishing school or forgotten country home, but she hadn’t had a choice in the matter either. If she’d been given half the chance, she would have chosen to live the life of a country mouse rather than be forced to marry a man of good standing she hardly knew. 

“You will attend the ball tomorrow evening, and you will behave in a manner that is befitting of your family name. And I do not wish to hear any more complaints on the matter.” His bony fingers curled around the neck of the bottle.

A shiver of fear ran down her spine as Charlotte locked eyes with her uncle. The lack of familial love she saw there made her wonder if she was indeed safe in his care. Did he see her as his niece or just an inconvenience that needed to be dealt with as soon as possible? She knew that the man must have had some form of love for her father; they had been brothers, after all. She just wasn’t certain if he loved her enough to keep her in his care. 

“Be ready by six; one of the most eligible bachelors of the season will be there tomorrow night,” he snarled at her through his yellowing teeth before turning to leave. His unkempt moustache boasted a few drops of the liquid that altered his mood. 

Watching him leave, Charlottle wondered what the future would hold for her if her uncle persisted in forcing her into a marriage of his choosing. What would the man be like? Would he abuse her and use her for his own personal gain? Or would she be cast aside like so many of the ladies who entered into arranged marriages of convenience? Only time would tell. Heaving a deep sigh of sorrow and burden, she turned back to the keys and began to play a sad song that depicted her innermost thoughts. 

***

Reginald stepped into the hall, shutting the door behind him as he leaned against the wood. His plans were beginning to come together nicely; it may have taken a little longer than he had intended, but soon, the girl would be out of his hair forever. Shutting his eyes for a moment, he listened to the sad melody his niece banged out on the pianoforte he wished he could hurl through an open window. It had been three long years of listening to her disrupt his peace. 

He thought of the tears he saw in her eyes when he had entered the room. 

Was she crying over her parents again? 

A wave of anger made him clench his jaw and grip the neck of the nearly empty whisky bottle even tighter. Things could have been very different for him if the night of the ball had gone as planned …

Shaking his head, he heaved a heavy sigh and downed the rest of the amber liquid that singed his throat on the way down. None of it would matter soon if he could just enact the final part of his plan. Things would fall into place as they should have done three years prior when his brother had left him his title, home, and daughter. 

Chapter Two

Jameson took a deep breath before pushing the door to the study open. It had been five long years since their family had fallen prey to an embezzlement scandal, yet his father still lived in the hopes that he would someday uncover the identity of the man who had brought ruin upon them all. The constant meetings his father arranged were tiring at times but necessary for the family. 

The study that the duke preferred to conduct his business in was smaller than all the other rooms in the mansion. Some would even say it appeared cramped, with one desk nestled at one end between the shelves. There was only room enough for two comfortable chairs and a table for tea. His father kept the room dimly lit in an attempt to create a better atmosphere in which to conduct business. Although Jameson could not say that he agreed with his father’s methods, he humoured him nonetheless out of respect. 

“Ah, there you are.” Laurence Sinclair stood and welcomed his son into the room with open arms. His light brown hair was neatly slicked back with a fair amount of brill that left its oily mark on the strands. Both father and son were tall and muscular, with broad shoulders and handsome features. The only difference in appearance was the colour of hair and eyes and possibly the fine wrinkles around the older man’s eyes and mouth. 

While his father was of a darker complexion, Jameson had dark blond hair and bright blue eyes that shone with passion whenever he spoke of anything dear to his heart. 

“I apologize for being late, Father; there was a spot of bother with one of our affiliates, but that has all been taken care of.” He gave his father a reassuring smile before coming into the room and noticing the man in front of his father’s desk. The study door had partially been obscuring his presence from view, undoubtedly another tact that his father had developed in handling business. 

“You must be the shining star of the Sinclair family that I have heard so much about.” The man stood and held his hand out to Jameson in a warm greeting. Jameson placed the man in his late fifties, judging by the round belly and weather-worn skin. 

Laurence’s chest swelled with pride as he lifted his head. “This is my son, Jameson. Havish, as you can see, he is everything I made him out to be. Jameson, this is Mr Havish McArthur, the esteemed business partner I was telling you about.” 

“I’m afraid that my father embellishes my contributions to our family; you must forgive his fatherly pride in my works. I merely help wherever I can,” Jameson said humbly. He liked the look of the slightly chubby man in his brown suit. His dark brown eyes were slightly beady but seemed to match his black hair, which had been slicked back in the same manner as his father’s. There was an air of sophistication about him that spoke of a wealth of knowledge. 

“Nonsense, the family’s restoration is largely thanks to my son’s efforts. We would still have been in ruin if it hadn’t been for his sheer determination and dedication to see us in the right standing once again.” Laurence chuckled heartily and gestured for Jameson to have a seat beside their guest before shifting his heavy wooden chair back into place. 

“Now that we are all here, we can go over the proposed contracts and finalize the details before anything is signed,” the duke began confidently and reached for the stack of papers in the middle of his desk, smacking the bottom of the pile against the polished surface of his mahogany desk. 

Jameson’s mind wandered to the past as he watched his father shuffle through the stack of documents. Their dealings with a charlatan in the past had left their reputation shattered in the eyes of the ton, severely damaging years of trust and ties. Although they had been able to repay the lost investments after quite a bit of effort, the family was still left with the tiresome task of rebuilding the broken bonds and mending the fences. 

While their father applauded his dedication to the family business and restoring their reputation, his mother, on the other hand, fussed over his future and happiness. The duchess wanted nothing more than for her son to find a young woman that would make him happy, and if that happiness included a few grandchildren for her to love, all the better. Jameson smiled to himself despite the seriousness of the discussions held in his father’s study. It had been a while since his mother had brought up the matter of children; he just knew that a lecture was imminent. 

It wasn’t that he didn’t think himself capable of love; he just hadn’t found a woman he felt he could trust for the rest of his life. All the willing and eager young women of the ton seemed to be fortune-seeking ladies who acted on the behest of their overbearing mamas or guardians. If he were ever to bring anyone into his life, she would have to be unlike any other woman he’d ever met, outshining all others in dignity, grace, and above all else, honesty. 

He listened with half an ear as he thought of all the possibilities his future could hold. 

***

The meeting had gone on for hours, leaving Jameson with a depleted sense of energy once he’d left the study. Things had gone well with the new businessman. He didn’t feel as if he were quite at the point where he was willing to trust anyone again, but at least his father was making new connections. He made a mental note to thoroughly investigate Mr Havish McArthur before anything was set in stone. 

Making his way down the corridor, he walked towards the grand hall where the pianoforte was kept. The only thing that would set his mind at ease after a tiring day was playing the songs he’d composed in the early hours of the morning when he couldn’t sleep. His mother had often commented on the dark circles beneath his eyes after sleepless nights where his mind wandered to the past. 

“Penny for your thoughts?” Helena Sinclair’s sweet voice stopped him in his tracks as he looked up to see his mother smiling at him. Her light-yellow dress complemented the flecks of gold in her amber eyes. 

The duchess was an elegant woman with long blonde hair and fair skin that had only just begun to show the tell-tale signs of ageing. A tall and thin woman in stature, she always drew attention at balls with her modest gowns that somehow still managed to steal the show. Her husband maintained that it was the way she carried herself that made her stand out above the rest. 

“I was just on my way to play a bit after the meeting with Father.” He gave her the same kind of reassuring smile that he used on both of his parents. The embezzlement scandal had left him with a deep sense of protection towards his parents, never allowing him to show his true feelings to either of them willingly.  

Coming forward with her hands clasped in front of her abdomen, his mother smiled at him before lovingly patting his cheek with a white-gloved hand. “You do not have to pretend in front of me; you know I can always tell when you’re worn out.” Her smile was light and warm, bringing back fond memories of his childhood and his mother’s love. Helena Sinclair had been a constant in his life despite any turmoil tossed his way. 

“I am stretching myself a little thin these days. I only want to make you and Father proud.” He reached up and cupped her hand in his, feeling the warmth seeping through her fingers. 

“Oh, but you are, my dearest if only you knew just how proud we are of you. I wish you would find a lovely young woman and settle down; having a stable partner would do you a world of good,” she said with the loving concern of a mother who only wanted the best for her only son. 

“There will be time enough for that in the future, Mama. Right now, I have to see to Father’s business dealings,” he said, trying to reassure her as best he could despite the emptiness he felt in his chest. Jameson wasn’t sure if it was because of the years that had gone by or the steady ticking of the clock in his mind, but his heart yearned for something more in life. 

“I want you to be happy, my dearest, and a couple of grandchildren wouldn’t harm the equation either,” she said with a mischievous glint in her eyes. 

Feeling the mirth building within his chest, he leaned his head back and laughed from the pit of his stomach. “Thank you, Mama, I haven’t laughed like that in quite a long time.” He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand once he’d stopped laughing. 

“I’m not sure what you find so amusing. I want grandchildren from you, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I didn’t go through hours of labour just so that you can lay back and not give me any grandbabies.” Lady Helena pursed her lips and pretended to scold her son with a loving look of warmth and affection in her eyes. 

“It’s just that I was wondering earlier when you would be broaching the subject again.” Jameson chuckled and shook his head. 

“I do not bring it up that often. I only bring it up when it seems necessary to remind you of my wishes.” Helena playfully swatted his arm with a mock look of shock. 

Taking his mother’s hand in his, Jameson looped her fingers over his arm, leading her into the great hall. “Whether you like to admit it or not, Mama, you have a schedule by which you like to remind me of the grandchildren you desire. You are a creature of habit if nothing else,” he teased her with a playful wink.  

“Away with your teasing.” His mother laughed and squeezed his arm. 

“There is something I wanted to show you, Mama. I’ve been composing a new song in my free time,” he casually explained as they made their way towards the pianoforte. 

The grand hall was big enough to host a ball of two hundred people or more. The marble floor shone brilliantly in the late afternoon sun that filtered through the large glass doors on either side of the room. Yet it was the chandelier that drew the most attention upon closer inspection. Hundreds of candle holders glimmered in the light, boasting polished silver mouldings as they awaited the next ball or social event. 

“Have a seat beside me.” Jameson guided his mother over to the bench in front of the mahogany pianoforte. The polished piece had been a gift from Lady Helena herself when she realized that her son showed musical talents beyond his years as a child. 

“I’m sure that I will love it,” she said with a contented smile as she waited for her son to take the seat beside her, her eyes shimmering with pride. 

Jameson took up his position, shifting the tails of his coat behind him as he made himself comfortable on the bench. His mind was never at ease as much as it was when he played the songs he’d composed. Music had become a constant source of relief for him in the days of the scandal, providing his mind with a much-needed escape. 

Fingers danced across ivory keys, creating solid melodies that filled the room with an enchanting song. The burdens of worry suddenly faded into oblivion as Jameson played his original composition with ease. The heavy notes carried a semblance of sadness that wrenched his heart, depicting the inexplicable longing he felt within his chest. 

Watching his mother from the corner of his eyes, he noticed the way her hands were poised to join his song, uncertain but ready. Turning his head, he smiled at her, giving her the go-ahead to add her expertise. 

Falling into step with ease, Lady Helena began to add a sweeter melody that complemented the harsh notes of the ballad her son had composed. 

Jameson shut his eyes and took a deep breath, allowing the notes to wash over his soul as they both finished on opposite notes. 

“That was quite something.” She turned to him with tears in her eyes. 

“It came to me early this morning; it was almost as if I were remembering a sadness and longing I hadn’t experienced yet. I know that doesn’t make any sense,” he added afterwards with a heavy sigh, lowering his hands onto his lap. 

“It makes perfect sense, my dear.” Lady Helena placed her hand on his chin and gently guided his face until he was looking at her. 

The moment between mother and son seemed filled with things unsaid yet still understood as he waited for her to speak once again. 

“Your song seems harsh because you haven’t yet found the sweetness that your heart and soul long for.” She seemed sad as she smiled at him. 

“The notes you added seemed to cheer things up,” he added half-heartedly in an attempt to cheer her up. He hadn’t meant to make her sad with the song he’d composed in the early hours of the morning. 

“No, you need another kind of sweetness that cannot be found in maternal love. There will come a time when you realize just what that sweetness is.” She shook her head and continued to smile sadly at him. 

Starting at the wisdom in his mother’s eyes, Jameson wondered if she was alluding to a partner or something else entirely. “You don’t think you could cut to the chase and tell me what that something is?” he asked, attempting a light-hearted joke. 

“Absolutely not, but I would like you to accompany your father and me to the ball tomorrow night. I know you don’t like those kinds of things, but I think it will do you a world of good to get out and focus on something other than business with your father.” She shook her head again and chuckled before sounding more serious. 

“Alright, I will go to the ball to keep you quiet, if nothing else,” Jameson answered with a sigh and accepted the hug his mother offered with a smile. 

What harm could possibly come from attending a ball in any case? The worst thing that could happen to him was meeting a woman and falling in love. Only time would tell if that was something he wanted or not. 


“A Marquess’s Rhapsody of Desire” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Lady Charlotte is haunted by a dark family secret that threatens to shatter the newfound love she’s discovered. Her days are filled with the enchanting melodies she weaves on her pianoforte, but the nights are tormented by secrets that refuse to stay buried. When Lord Jameson Sinclair, a man of honor and dedication, enters her life, their connection ignites a passionate flame that transcends the boundaries of society.

What hidden melodies of Lady Charlotte’s past compose the haunting symphony that jeopardizes the blossoming affection, submerging it in a tide of enigmas?

Lord Jameson Sinclair, a distinguished figure in the aristocracy, embodies a rare blend of honor and lust. Having dedicated much of his adult life to rescuing his family from financial ruin, Lord Sinclair is a man of resilience and determination. As he unravels the threads of a financial scandal that once tore his family apart, he becomes entangled with Lady Charlotte, drawn to her not only by desire but by an unspoken understanding of the burdens they each carry.

What secrets from Lord Sinclair’s own past could jeopardize the fragile connection he’s forming with Lady Charlotte?

As their intense desire intensifies, the heat between them grows more scorching with every secret kiss and lingering caress. Lady Charlotte and Lord Sinclair are swept away in a tale of tragedy and love, where fervor and danger dance hand in hand. Will they succumb to the intoxicating pull of passion and conquer the shadows of their pasts, or will the concealed truths they carry threaten to tear them apart?

“A Marquess’s Rhapsody of Desire” is a historical romance novel of approximately 60,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

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