A Rogue Lord’s Desire (Preview)

Chapter One

“Shh, Mama, do not cry. It will be all right.” 

There was something strange about comforting one’s mother when the world seemed to be falling apart. A strange, powerless sort of feeling that, after today, Catherine Thompson vowed that she would never feel ever again. 

Never again would she allow herself to fall victim to the follies and vices of others. From this day forward, she would take control over her own life. For her own sake, and for that of her poor mother, who stood beside her every bit the victim as she was. 

“All right? How can you say that! They are trampling everything!” Lady Arabella Thompson sobbed, her voice breaking as the creditors ransacking their whole house seemed to take some sort of sick, perverse pleasure in repossessing their personal effects. 

Catherine could hear them through the whole house as they appraised everything they could see and took what they felt was of any value. Same as they had been doing for hours now. Arabella had begged and pleaded with them for more time, to have mercy or some shred of compassion as they carted off her jewels and the art from the walls. But it seemed that her husband had managed to dig them into deeper financial straits than he had led them to believe. 

“It is only things, Mama. We still have one another.” Catherine pulled her mother into her arms as best as she could as the older woman sobbed and dabbed at her face with a very soiled handkerchief. 

It was not the things that Arabella was upset about, not really. Catherine knew that the wound inflicted upon them both today would run far deeper than that. 

No, it had to do with the lurkers standing on the opposite side of the street from their home as they whispered behind their fans. The gossip would run wild, and their family would be not only ruined but deeply humiliated from this intrusion. 

Naturally, her father had left them to handle things on their own. He had punched his own ticket and left this whole ordeal on their shoulders. 

Arabella had been the talk of the ton in her day. She had married well. Catherine had always been prized as a jewel, whose entrance into society had been much anticipated. These days, Arabella was a shadow of her former self. The grief of her husband was something she could never seem to reconcile. The Thompson family were upstanding, well-beloved members of the ton

At least they were once. 

Now, it was hard for Arabella and Catherine to head into town without being at the center of gossip and having eyes on them. On the worst days, some nosy busybodies would come and inquire about their fall from grace and the way that Lord Thompson’s antics had defiled them with his incessant gambling. 

Catherine tried to take it all in stride. Just as she did now. 

“But it is everything.” Arabella hiccupped and shook her head. 

“We will endure.” Catherine forced an uncomfortable, tense smile in hopes that her mother would take even the smallest bit of comfort from her words. “It will take time, but we shall overcome this. Somehow.”

“I wish that I had your resilience. Every painting that they peel from the walls feels as if it is a part of me that they are taking. I created these rooms. We made our life here, our memories. Now, when I walk into these rooms, they are going to feel…naked and wrong. They will be barren. How am I supposed to…”

Arabella’s words were cut off as a strange, off-key sound chimed from the far parlor, and Catherine felt her heart plummet into her gut. 

“No…not that.” Catherine’s hands slipped from her mother as she gathered her skirts in her hands and took off running down the hall to where three poorly dressed men were attempting to painfully thunk her beloved pianoforte off of the platform on which it rested. “No!” she repeated as she lifted her hands to them. 

“Get out of the way,” one man barked rudely at her.

“Certainly, you cannot need this! Truly! It is far too large and bulky to be bothered with it! I promise!” Catherine pleaded, her voice laced with desperation. 

“Lady, we would take it simply because of how much it meant to you.” Another man sneered. 

Catherine shook her head. “Please, if you mean to take things that mean something to me, I will offer you up my jewels—the pearl pins in my hair, the diamonds that were to be part of my dowry. Anything you like. Please, just do not take that!”

The first man seemed to exhale roughly through his nose as if dismissing her as he smirked cruelly. The men took no care in yanking the antique pianoforte sideways off the platform. Seeing her most beloved possession so abused shattered something in her. Something that she could not quite explain. It was all that she could do to remain upright and keep from sinking to her knees in despair as the instrument was brutally carted out of the room and through the front doors. 

Catherine could not watch it go. No. She could not see it further mistreated upon their wagons and lashed down without proper care and attention. She could not have even been able to guess as to how many hours of her life had been spent at that pianoforte. The keys had started to wear in the shape of her own fingers. She had not skipped a day of practice in as long as she could remember. Music had always been her greatest passion, and just like that, in the blink of an eye, it was gone. 

As if her father had not stolen enough from them as it was. 

Ironic, in that her father had been the one to give her the pianoforte as a gift in her infancy in the first place. Her sire had given them everything. A truly blessed life, a charmed existence…and then whatever demons had grabbed ahold of him had coerced him to take it all away once more. 

When people spoke of coming to the end of one’s rope, this had to be what it felt like. 

Every part of her wanted to wallow. She wished to be overcome with sadness like her mother and dissolve into tears, but she would not be afforded that luxury. Not today, perhaps not ever. She needed to be there for her mother. She had to carry them through this, now that all that they truly had was one another. 

Swallowing back her emotions as completely as she could, Catherine rolled her shoulders back and moved toward her mother once more. There could not be much less for those blood-thirsty creditors to take anyway. 

When she arrived in the foyer, her mother was heading upstairs. No doubt to lay down on whatever was left in her room. Through the open double doors of their home, a carriage pulled into the drive and came to a stop. It did not bear the markings of a family that she readily knew. Whomever it contained would not be here to give any positive news. 

If they thought that they were going to come here and kick them while they were down, they had another thing coming. 

Catherine folded her arms across her chest firmly and set her jaw as rage slowly started to burn inside of her core. Enough was enough. 

Fury and indignation gathered around Catherine as she stomped down the front steps of the home that she had grown up in. 

“Have you not done enough?!” she bellowed at the creditor before they even had a chance to open the carriage door. She was of half a mind to slam the door shut in their face should they try to open it. If it would not have upset her mother further to see her acting in such a fashion, she certainly would have considered doing just that. “You have already taken everything! Can you not leave us in peace?! Must you persist!?”

The carriage door opened to a man who did not heed her indignation one tiny bit. He parted from the carriage in a smooth movement. She had never seen somebody move so fluidly, so at ease in their own skin. 

When he turned to look at her, it took the wind right out of her sails. 

Catherine blustered. She huffed and hemmed as she attempted to pull her rage and sorrow back to her chest, but it was impossible with those emerald green eyes peering back at her. She tried to look away, to break the spell that they seemed to have sucked her into, but every other part of his face that her gaze landed on only proved this man to be impossibly more attractive. 

She had never been so flustered in her entire life. 

“Apologies, my lady. I do not mean to be a storm cloud on your already tumultuous day, but I am afraid that I have business here,” the man said with a bright smile. Wholly opposite of the apparent intention behind his words. 

Catherine folded her arms across her chest, if only for a moment, before her manners took ahold of her, and she extended out her hand in greeting. Begrudgingly. 

“I am Lord Richard Landry, son of the Duke of Wallingham.” He took her hand readily, all smiles and charm. 

Before her was a man who likely got by on his good looks. He had strong shoulders and a broad chest. He was simply large in every sense of the word that she could use. A strong, square jawline and full lips. Sandy brown hair and hazel eyes. Well-muscled and very sturdy seeming, she was certain that he could walk into any room and command the attention of all inside of it simply because of the way that he held himself. He moved as if perfectly comfortable in his skin. Every muscled inch of it. Catherine had never felt quite so petite standing near a man before. 

Well, she was not one of those women who would be simply swayed by looks and a perfect, dashing smile. Least of all when he carried the surname of Landry. He might as well have been her mortal enemy. The very last person that she wished to speak with. 

Catherine snatched her hand back. It was everything that she could do to keep from sneering at the man. Of course, this man had to be related to the very man who now owned her family’s fortune. All of the items being dragged away were going to be sent to the duke for his appraisal or sale. 

“One cannot steal from empty pockets, my lord. I am afraid that there is nothing else that we could, or would, wish to offer you. Now, I am not feeling particularly hospitable, so if you do not mind, I am going to return to what is left of our home.” Catherine tried to keep her tone level. It was so strange that he was perhaps the most attractive man that she had ever seen—and also clearly in league with her personal devil as well. 

Furthermore, Catherine was well aware of the reputation that was attached to that man’s title. She might not have known his face, but now she supposed it made perfect sense that a man who looked like that had raked himself through the better part of London. She had heard all about Lord Landry sowing his wild oats. He had been the talk of the ton two months back or so, when he had chosen to return to claim his duchy. 

Lord Landry followed her up the steps. 

Catherine paused in front of the door and spun to face him. “I bid you good day, sir.”

Lord Landry smiled, nonplussed. “I think you have misunderstood me, my lady.”

“And how is that? Have you not come to gloat? Have you attempted to ensure that the debts owed to you by taking advantage of a clearly sick man at the lowest point in his life that you have to watch his family be miserable and destitute as well? You, my lord, are the lowest sort of sc—”

“I have come to help you.” Lord Landry clasped his hands behind his back, a glimmer in his eye that made her stomach somersault. “I have come to put an end to all this nonsense.”

“O-oh,” Catherine’s voice was tinged with disbelief and a heavy serving of doubt as she stepped to the side of the door. “Then, I suppose, by all means, come in.”

It would not be too much of a hardship to allow herself his company for a few more moments, she supposed. 

Though she did not believe that for one moment that a man with a reputation like this did not have a hidden agenda. 

Chapter Two

Richard

Wallingham Place

Nothing was going according to plan. 

There was no denying how frustrated Richard felt about the poor end to what ought to have been a triumphant afternoon. He was a man who prided himself greatly on accomplishing any task that he set his mind to, and he certainly did not abide failure very easily. 

Even as the heir, the creditors at the Thompson townhouse had refused to listen to him. They claimed that the only person from whom they would take any sort of orders whatsoever was his father, the duke. Something that the old man had likely insisted upon. It mattered not that he was heir to the duchy, apparently. Not to them. Richard would not deny that he had grown rather accustomed to flaunting his title around like it were his own personal key to the city. 

Pair the wealth with his title and his good looks? There was rarely anything that he desired that he was not readily and freely given. 

More often than not, he used those considerable benefits to aid him in undermining his own father whenever possible. If he could get away with irritating the ruthless man in any official capacity, he was going to do it. Yet, it seemed that this time, the duke was a few steps ahead of him. He must have warned those men today that his son might arrive and start poking about looking for trouble. 

Richard understood better than most that a man’s word was his bond. He knew that one ought not to gamble with money that they did not have and to always pay his debts. It had been all but beaten into him at a young age. His father never toyed around with money, and given the delight that he seemed to take in the news of the late Viscount Thompson’s apparent suicide was all the proof that Richard needed to know that his father had finally lost whatever was left of his soul. 

To go to the home of two women still in their mourning gowns and further debase them? To pilfer and rob every joy from their home just to settle said debts? It was tasteless. In his opinion, there had been absolutely no reason as to why his father could not have waited to seize the last of the Thompson’s assets. He might as well have tossed them into the poor house himself. 

Though, somehow, seeing the fiery spirit of the young Miss Thompson had given him the very distinct impression that things would work out for her. Not for circumstances alone but for the fact that she seemed to have the resilience to overcome most things. At the very least, she had the capability to make a man practically wither on the spot with nothing more than a glare and her wit alone. 

It was intoxicating. 

Women did not speak to him in such harsh tones. 

They clung to him like leeches at every social event, naturally. He had more than his fair share of women giving him offers and appealing to his baser urges at every turn, but none of them had ever spoken to him so forcefully or wielded quite so much raw conviction. 

It made him wish to aid her cause, if only because he wished to see the gale-force wind that was Catherine in action for a little while longer. Naturally, she had told him that it was the very last thing on this planet that she wished to endure. She had shouted him off of her property and nearly kicked his carriage door shut while proclaiming that she never wished to see him again. 

So, Richard resolved that he would help to spite her and his father. 

Two birds, one stone. 

It was not as if he could get her from his mind anyway. He kept replaying the brief moments of their first interaction over and over again. Her wide blue eyes narrowed in irritation at him. The disbelief in him and his words that kept the corners of her rosy lips downturned into a perpetual frown. He had seen her in perhaps one of her lowest moments, and yet, the petite woman seemed to be naturally resplendent. He was so much larger than her small stature. 

Assisting her meant that he would have to speak to the brute of a man who sired him. Something he avoided when he could. There was a reason that he traveled far and wide. He simply could not stand being home and under the same roof as such a noxious old man. He would have the opportunity to set things right with her. At least, he hoped so. 

Richard did not bother to knock on the door to his father’s private study before inviting himself inside rudely. The man sat in a well-worn leather chair, pouring over ledgers and betting slips. He did not make any indication that he knew his son stood before him until he was finished with whatever he was presently working on. 

Richard poured them both a large glass of brandy and forcefully set the crystal glass directly under his father’s nose to force his attention where Richard wanted it. 

“I need an explanation,” Richard started with a firm tone. 

“And you think that I owe you such a thing? I cannot fathom a single instance in which I would need to explain any of my actions to you, boy.” Edgar Landry sighed as if the very effort of speaking to his child was cumbersome. 

Richard had not even started to explain what he wished to have answers for, and already, the older man was on the defensive. A default setting for the duke, it would seem. 

“Do you know what I find amusing in a sad, miserable sort of way?” Richard started as he plucked up a random bauble from his father’s desk and recklessly toyed with it in his hands as he spoke. 

The duke attempted to cut him off as if to, no doubt, tell Richard to piss off, but Richard continued speaking as if he could not hear the words of protest in the first place. 

“One would think that after a man has passed, a titled man such as yourself would have the decency to refrain from humiliating and further debasing a woman and her daughter. At least, one would think, that they could be given time to find employment or other means of funds.” Richard knew that morality was not a thing that his father possessed. On the very best of days, the only approximation to decency that his father possessed was a general fear of negative public opinion. 

The duke looked up at his son, his black eyes depthless. “It is not my fault the man met a coward’s end, now is it? Why should that stop me from getting what I am owed?”

“Money is truly the most important thing in the world to you, is it not?” Richard sneered. It was not as if he did not enjoy the finer things in life. Richard supposed that he used to like them a good deal more before he found out just how his father had become so wealthy. He did not personally have the same ruthless ability to cut people down at their lowest in order to turn a profit. It was not the way that he would run the duchy. Though he also would not fully put it past his father to outlive him out of spite alone. 

“Soft,” the duke muttered cruelly with a disappointed shake of his head. “That has always been your problem, boy, and you know it. You have always been far too soft!”

Richard scoffed. He already knew the direction that this conversation was going to go in. It was the same way that all of their conversations wound up going, in some form or another. No matter how logically he would attempt to present an argument, his father would undermine him at every possible turn. As Richard did not, and would not, look at life in the same black-and-white view as his father, he was weak-willed and wrong. 

“Problems are not meant to be handled with your feelings, boy. Honestly, you simper more than a woman does. It is why you have not accomplished anything worthy in your life.” The duke huffed and glared at his son. “A disappointment through and through. Coming to me to plead on behalf of women? To what end?!”

“Have you no soul in that blackened heart of yours, Father? Is money and legacy all that you care about?”

Richard flinched as the duke’s fist banged on the desk. 

“Some legacy that I have, indeed!” The man’s voice rose as he spoke bitterly. “Honestly, it is just about the only purpose left that you have to serve for me. Since you clearly cannot be useful in any other capacity. It is beyond time that you repay my generosity for whelping you, and that you produce an heir of your own to carry on my bloodline. Perhaps one that is not quite so underwhelming as you.”

Richard knew that his list of personal accomplishments was as long as he was tall. It was not without pride that he dismissed his father’s comments about him. He was confident enough in himself to know that his father would never be happy with an heir that was not the mirror reflection of him. 

“You would like that, would you not? A chance to try your hand once more at corrupting the soul of a child? Well, I will never allow that to happen. Even if by some mistake I did have a child, I would do everything in my power to keep it far from you.” Richard laughed humorlessly. 

“We both know you enjoy your position and the wealth that you claim to abhor too much to stray from my desires, boy.” The duke sank back into his chair. “Though, it is amusing that you think you have any choice in the matter. You reside under my roof, and you will abide by my rules, no matter how grown you think that you are. I have plans for you to begin your courtship with your future wife at the Wallingham Place ball. You will be married before the end of the Season, or you will face my wrath.”

“I will not.”

The duke did not bother attempting to object to his words, but merely nodded his head toward the office door in dismissal. 

Richard hated himself for the fact that he turned heel and left the room. He would get no answers, he would have no explanations—he would be forced to do as his father said. 

He did not wish to marry some random decorated lady of the ton as if he were selecting a prize breeding mare for the racing season. He wished to have a love match, something that had always been so lacking in his life. He wished for something that his father could not corrupt. Something good and pure, all for himself. Just for once. He did not care if she came from the ton or was a person of no means, so long as the connection was genuine. 

The few times that he had managed to bring up his desires toward marriage with his father had been wholly unacceptable since the death of his mother, the duchess. 

Richard knew better than to risk bringing it up again now. 


“A Rogue Lord’s Desire” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Miss Catherine Thompson refuses to be defined by scandal as creditors strip her family of everything they hold dear. In the midst of her struggle to hold her broken family together, Lord Richard Landry, the scion of the man who seized their belongings, unexpectedly arrives, casting a flicker of hope into Catherine’s darkest hour. Yet, Catherine’s initial resistance to his charm softens as she discovers his genuine intentions to assist, though she remains wary of his true motives…

Will he be the light in her shadowed world or merely another shadow from her troubled past?

Lord Richard Landry, the dashing heir to the esteemed Wallingham title, is torn between duty and desire. Haunted by the suffocating expectations imposed by his father, Richard finds solace in Catherine’s unwavering resilience and determination. Despite his initial reputation as a charming rogue, Richard’s encounters with Miss Catherine awaken a deeper sense of purpose within him, propelling him to defend her against the insidious schemes of his own kin.

Can he reconcile his burning desire for Catherine with the ruthless ambitions of his family, or will he risk everything for love deemed forbidden?

Amid swirling scandals, Catherine and Richard’s relationship ignites with passion and intrigue. Their encounters are charged with tension as Catherine grapples with the bitterness of her family’s downfall and Richard battles the oppressive influence of his father. As their fiery connection grows, will it withstand the relentless storms of manipulation and betrayal in Regency society, or will it consume them both in a blaze of forbidden desire?

“A Rogue Lord’s 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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