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Take a rousing romp through 1790s England with this first of four Properly Spanked novels...
The Lady Aurelia has been promised in marriage to the Marquess of Townsend since she was four and he was fourteen. Unfortunately, she grew up into a pillar of propriety while her betrothed grew up into a renowned rake. Of course, no one would expect such an unsuitable match to go forward...which is why they find themselves at a loss when circumstances force them to the altar and into each other’s arms.
Hunter, the beleaguered marquess, believes he’ll survive the uneven match by continuing to frequent his well-trained coterie of whores and courtesans, but Aurelia’s powerful father has other ideas. When he blocks Hunter’s access to the only women shameless enough to cater to his decadent needs, the marquess informs his new wife that something will have to be done.
That “something” will be the immediate commencement of her erotic training...whether she wants it or not.
This 70K word novel contains acts of punishment and discipline, anal play, and other sensual practices.
Chapter One: The Ball
He would not submit.
Lady Dormouse , they called her. His reclusive bride-to-be, shy and shrinking, and by all accounts, ugly as a shrew. Why else would they have kept her so carefully hidden away? Lady Aurelia happened to be daughter to the Duke of Lansing, which was the only reason she was the ton’s most coveted marriage prospect.
But not coveted by him. Hunter didn’t care that her father owned half the countryside around London, or that he controlled a vast swath of society’s brightest statesmen, or that he was King George’s most favored noble companion. Hunter didn’t want to wed Lady Dormouse. Hell, he didn’t want to marry anyone, but he’d just discovered this damned ball was a betrothal ball, arranged by his own father and mother. One day back from a two-week orgy of dissolution at his country estate, to be confronted with a betrothal?
Damn and blast.
His three partners in crime smirked at him from across the ballroom, bemused by his predicament. They wouldn’t find it amusing when he was setting up house with a dull stick of a wife, holding tea parties and formal dinners rather than raunchy routs. Thousands of candles illuminated a sickening swirl of silk gowns, bouncing curls, and sleek-coated men bowing every which way. He’d been instructed to dance with Aurelia at least twice, but he’d be damned if he remembered what she looked like.
He could name every courtesan, actress, and ladybird in London by first and last name, hair and eye color, but he hadn’t seen his betrothed in over a decade. He’d had better things to do. Hunter Lionel, Marquess of Townsend, was a man of the world, wealthy and powerful in his own right. He was a man of strong will and stronger appetites, as evidenced by the previous weeks’ unprecedented descent into debauchery.
But if he must be betrothed this night, as his father had thundered, he would be betrothed on his own terms, for no one, no one, pressed the Marquess of Townsend’s hand. If he was to spend a lifetime in marital agony, it would be to a woman of his own choosing, family promises be damned. He hadn’t made the blasted promises, but sat silently by when, as a boy of fourteen, he’d been betrothed to the neighboring duke’s daughter, a girl of four. Ridiculous.
Why, he barely remembered the formal event or the dinner that followed, except that it was extremely uncomfortable. He recalled two big gray eyes staring at him, and a mop of stringy, indeterminately colored hair. He remembered they’d taken his betrothed away before dinner, for the nursery.
It had seemed as stupid to him then as it seemed now, but they’d both had the misfortune to be born to high-ranking dukes, and thus become pawns in a game of alliances. This marriage, his father insisted, would guarantee a purity of line.
Hunter scanned the room for a different purity of line. Big breasts. That would be a necessity. Shapely waist and large hips to grasp when he plunged into his wife’s pussy in the throes of marital duty. Most importantly, a pillowy, delectable bottom to spank and play with as suited his will.
Ah, what a pair of arse cheeks he’d enjoyed the night before last. Some local whore his friend Warren had enticed to the party, or perhaps she’d been a good girl enjoying a forbidden tryst with some of London’s most notorious rakehells. Whoever she was, she had squirmed and cooed and squealed with delicious enthusiasm as he’d spanked and molested her backside. Hunter smoothed the hem of his waistcoat over his thickening cock, remembering how yielding the tart had been when he slid inside her. Not just her pussy, buther arsehole too before the night was over.
Gossip of his licentious activities must have finally reached his father’s ears, goading him to act in this heavy-handed manner. A betrothal ball, indeed, and not one soul had let him in on the scheme beforehand. Very well. He’d wed, but not to their perfectly pedigreed dormouse. He could very well pick his own shackle. Hunter frowned and scanned the room, searching for a suitably buxom prospect among the sea of slender, stiff-necked virgins on display.
His friends approached, formidable gentlemen in their ballroom black: Lord Warren, whom the ladies all adored for his blond curls, and Lord August, dark and severe like Hunter himself. The three of them had grown up together at Oxford, along with Arlington, a great Viking of a man and a duke in his own right. They were all only sons, dogged from a young age by the specters of “duty” and “responsibility,” and so they had formed a friendship, encouraging one another in congenial rebellion.
Arlington clapped him on the back in sympathy, while August and Warren, both earls by title, guffawed behind their hands at his beleaguered frown.
“I suppose there’s nothing for it now, old boy,” said Warren. “Perhaps you shouldn’t have hosted such a prolonged and lascivious party at Somerton.”
“I’ll sack the whole staff at Somerton for their talk,” Hunter said. “I’m a grown man. I can bedevil whores and doxies if I like.”
“Nonsense. It’s time to grow up,” said Arlington with mock gravity. “And this betrothal has been on the books for an eternity. The Lady Aurelia Dormouse—er—Dumont must be eager to set up at your side.”
“Help me find someone else,” he pleaded over their laughter. “Some pretty girl. I’ll take her into the study and ruin her. I’ll take her out to the gardens and—”
“Tie her to a tree and whip her bottom?” August nodded. “I think that bypasses betrothal and constitutes marriage in certain shires.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes to escape a life with Lady Dormouse. For God’s sake, I don’t even know what she looks like. They’re hiding her in some corner, no doubt, until just before the announcement.”
“Look at that bit of goods.” Warren jerked a chin at the corner. A young woman in a pale blue gown with glittering sapphires at her neck stared back at the handsome blond earl. Damn, why must Warren’s good looks captivate each and every woman of the ton? The young lady in question was practically in a swoon under his friend’s regard. Hunter was uncomfortably aware of how rough and inelegant he must look beside him, with his exceptional height, and broad shoulders. The courtesans liked his build, but he’d heard it whispered by the ladies au salon that he was oversized and coarse.
He scowled at the young chit, annoyed to see she was everything a man like him desired. Her bosom pressed round and pretty as a peach from the constriction of her fitted bodice, while the skirts of her dress flared out over visible hips. No slim, lithe thing, this one. Her hair was glossy and full, rich honey-gold waves curling over her shoulders, a voluptuous temptation framing her innocent gaze. He would like to touch those curls, run his fingers through them. He’d like to grab her and subdue her with a kiss that would leave her far less innocent than she’d started out.
“She’s got her eye on you, chap,” said Warren.
“Her eyes are on you,” he ground out. “You rotting pretty peacock.”
“Go to her.” He gave his friend a nudge. “Look at that body. You can see she’s got a smashing figure, even with the petticoats.”
“Yes, go dance with her, Towns,” August prompted. “No time to lose.”
“I’m going to dance her right out of her reputation, and that’s not going to happen here in front of a thousand eyes,” said Hunter. “I’ll draw her off somewhere and ruin her so the other betrothal will be off.”
“You’ll have to marry her then,” Warren pointed out. “Do you dislike the idea of Lady Dormouse so very much?”
“I loathe the idea of Lady Dormouse, especially being forced into marrying her. It’s the principle of the thing.” He straightened his coat and nodded toward the woman in blue, who seemed more and more alluring. “This pretty piece of arse will do just as well, if I have to marry.”
“Where then?” asked Arlington, stopping him with a hand on his arm. “Where shall we bring everyone so you can be caught in the midst of an illicit embrace?”
Hunter thought a moment. “The path beyond the gardens, the one on the left that leads to the follies. Plenty of moonlight there for discovery. Anyone know who she is?” Several high born gents were paying court to her, ranging around with languid gazes. “Is she betrothed to someone else?”
“Would she be looking at you that way if she was?” Warren murmured.
A flush rose beneath the points of Hunter’s cravat. She was staring at him, really, with an arousing, fascinated expression of...dread. So she’d heard about him and his friends, perhaps heard about their famous parties. Most of the young ladies had, as in Stay away from those dangerous gentlemen. The four of them were as controversial as they were eligible. It was good that she knew his reputation. She would understand even before they married that he was a certain type of gentleman, namely the type of gentleman who didn’t stay quietly at home.
“Your mother’s headed this way,” said Arlington, interrupting his thoughts. “It’s now or never. Lure Miss Pretty Arse out the back door and around to the gardens. Work a little of your dark, seductive magic.”
“Tie her to a tree if you have to,” August added, chuckling. “Whatever it takes.”
“Distract my mother, will you? Just long enough for me to get her away.” Hunter turned his back on them and headed toward the young lady. Such a godforsaken crush, this ball. Why had his mother invited the entirety of the ton? Now he would shame this girl and her parents, and his own parents, and of course the jilted Lady Dormouse in front of absolutely everyone. He paused in his progress to the young lady’s side. Did he really want to do this? Was this woman really the one he wanted? For life?
Her eyes locked on his. He hoped she wouldn’t resist when he tried to finesse her out onto the terrace, and then to one of the more private paths. Perhaps dark features and a tall, forbidding stature served his purpose here. He’d entice her with his piratical air. Who wanted to be a pretty man like Warren, with all the fragile flowers falling at his feet? Hunter didn’t want fragile flowers. He wanted curves and heaving breasts...and curls...
Blast. Her curls were leaving. She shrank back into the crowds as if to elude him. He followed her past the doors and out to the formal garden, pausing occasionally to greet this guest or that. He looked back for his mother and found her exchanging pleasantries with his friends. Faithful chaps. He would have assisted any of them in a caper like this, and probably would one day.
He felt the slightest twinge of regret for Lady Aurelia. Dormouse or no, it was a cruel thing to be jilted. If she’d made the first attempt to get to know him...but then he’d been so rarely at their parents’ estates. By your choice, not hers.
He shrugged off any pangs of guilt, drawn instead to the alluring shape of his retreating prey. To his delight, she was retreating to the exact dark, wooded area where he planned to tryst with her. She took the garden stairs at a frantic pace and looked over her shoulder as she crossed the manicured expanse of lawn toward the tree line. He hung back in the shadows so she couldn’t see him.
Damn. Unfortunate, that he’d frightened the woman. He had to catch her or she’d disappear in the darkness and foil his plan. He cut around a side path and sprinted to where the two ways merged. As she approached, he melted out of the forest and took her arm.
She opened her mouth to scream.
“No,” he said, clapping a hand over her lips. If she screamed now, everyone would come running before he’d had adequate time to debauch her. His other arm snaked around her waist, pulling her close. She didn’t have the manners to fall into a swoon, but fought him instead, pushing at his chest.
“Don’t scream,” he said. “Have I given you any reason to panic?”
She squirmed against him, her breath hissing behind his palm. Her body was every bit as delectable as he’d hoped, firm yet soft, and pleasantly curvy and plump. “Stop, my dearest.” His voice held a note of warning as his cock stiffened against her front, aroused by her struggling and straining. “Promise not to scream and I’ll let you go.”
She stared at him, her eyes wide and frightened. Her fingers curled into fists against his chest.
“Will you be a good girl if I lift my hand away and release you? I mean you no harm, of course.”
As soon as he edged the first finger from her lips, she drew a great gust of breath into her lungs and let out a piercing shriek. In his rush to muffle her, he got tangled in her skirts and they went down together in an awkward heap. If Arlington brought the crowds necessary to discover them, he’d be accused of assault, not seduction.
“Shh, please,” he begged. “I’m not going to hurt you. I only wanted to speak with you. You look so lovely in your...” He looked down again in the dark to double check. “Your pale blue gown. It is blue, isn’t it?”
“Let me go,” she said against his hand. She trembled beneath him, in anger, not fear. No, this one wasn’t a dormouse, which pleased him. She twisted and nearly caught him with a swift knee between the legs. She managed to rise from beneath him, but he blocked her way to the house.
“I wouldn’t storm back and make a fuss. No one will believe I dragged you all the way out here against your will.” His gaze swept down the front of her. “And you look as if you’ve already had a merry roll in the grass.”
She grimaced, brushing at her front. Her gown was rumpled and dirty, scattered with bits of leaves. She plucked at her skirts and touched the sapphires at her neckline. Mussed curls fell against her face.
“Come here,” he said, picking a leaf from the honey-colored mane. How soft her hair was. He put a hand on her shoulder, wishing to soothe her even as he was in the process of ruining her. She looked up at him in entreaty.
“I didn’t come out here to tryst with you. I came out here to escape you.” Tears gathered in her eyes. “Please, I don’t want this. I never wanted this. Please let me go.”
“My lady.” He feigned devastation, clutching his heart. He had to soften her, at least enough to secure a kiss when his friends brought the gawking crowds. “Escape me? Why?”
“It’s Lord Warren I love. I am deeply, deeply in love with him.”
“Are you?” Hunter frowned in irritation. It’s too bad he doesn’t know your name. “Why Lord Warren? Do you find nothing to admire in me?”
She ducked her head at his injured tone. “Lord Warren is so cheerful and handsome and dashing. It’s nothing to do with you. It’s only that he’s so perfectly wonderful.”
Perfectly dastardly , he thought to himself. If only you knew...
“So you see,” she said, “I am very, very sorry that I have no feelings at all for you.”
“Is that right?” A bit of the gentleman leached from his tone as he pulled her closer. “I’m sorry to hear it, because I have a great many feelings for you.”
“But you don’t even know me.”
“I know that you’re out here, alone, and you should not be. It’s as if you were trying to lure me here to have my way with you.”
“As if you were trying to tempt me to this private glade for a kiss.”
He could see that he terrified her. It wasn’t the best footing to begin a marriage, but she was pretty and trembling, and her magnificent bosom heaved against his chest in a very exciting way. He stared down into those alluring pillows. “How beautiful you are.”
“Please let me go.” It was little more than a whisper. A whimper. “Lord Warren is the one I want. I love him. I adore him.”
“But he cares nothing for you, I assure you. So why don’t we make the best of things?” He twined fingers into those soft, springy curls, still marveling at the texture. Her hair was the color of autumn maple leaves, or light, burnished gold.
“Please.” Perhaps now she would swoon. Her trembling had progressed to shudders. Hunter heard voices on the walk, his mother calling out.
“I’m sorry to force this on you,” he said. “But I’m a desperate man, and you could do worse, my pretty dove. I’m the Marquess of Townsend. One day I’ll be a duke and you’ll be a duchess. I’m not as handsome or dashing as Warren, but I’m still quite a catch.”
He tilted her face to his. She looked concerned. Confused.
“Kiss me, would you?” he said. “Let’s make it convincing.” He drew her close, right against his body. How luscious and feminine she was. His hand rested on the curve of her waist, the other pressed to her back. He could feel her heart galloping against his chest. He touched his lips to hers and her mouth tightened as if she’d never been kissed before. He found the thought arousing.
“I say, there they are.” Good old Arlington. His voice was deep and ducal, and appropriately concerned. Yes, there’s the scoundrel and the poor miss in his clutches. Hunter had just enough time to turn from his lady in blue and look guilty as the crowd drew along the moonlight path. His mother pushed through, the massive emerald on her turban blinking in the dim night.
“Thank goodness,” she said, letting out a breath. “Townsend has found her. She’s here.”
His mother, that regal society maven, made her way to them. She took in his exultant expression and the way he still grasped his young victim’s waist. The poor thing shied away from him before all these people, but he grabbed at her elbow, pulling her back. “You’ve caught us,” he said loudly enough for everyone to hear. “We were swept away by passion. I shall make things right.”
Amused chuckles rippled through the assembly. Arlington grinned. Warren choked back a laugh.
His mother shook her head, clearly exasperated. “Make things right, indeed. We might have announced the engagement at the ball, with a toast and speeches as is proper, but you will do things your own way. Bring Lady Aurelia back to the hall so we can fete this joyous occasion with everyone in attendance. Really, Townsend,” she chided in a softer voice. “Mauling her in the dark to begin the official engagement? Her father looks furious.”
Hunter stared at his mother. Over her shoulder, he saw Lansing’s scowling visage fixed on him and the woman in his arms...Lady Aurelia. Her cheeks had flushed flame red. Now, he thought. Now she will faint. But she didn’t. She backed away from him, picked up her skirts and trudged over to her father. The Duke of Lansing took her arm none too gently and guided her back toward the house.
As for Hunter, he glowered at his friends, now red-faced with barely restrained laughter. He communicated without words all the vulgar, hateful, abominable curses he wanted to heap upon their traitorous heads.
* * * * *
Aurelia wished the servants had not lit so many candles in the library. She wanted to creep behind the high-backed sofa in the corner and hide. She wanted to kneel before her father and mother and beg for forgiveness, but instead she kept her seat across from the fuming Marquess of Townsend.
He hated her. His words, his glances made that perfectly clear. He lounged back, enduring her father’s wrath.
“You shamed my daughter, drawing her off and pawing her in that manner. What did you mean by it? What has she ever done to you?”
“Nothing,” Lord Townsend replied tightly. “I don’t know her at all.” He fixed her with a baleful gaze. “Why didn’t you tell me who you were?”
“I thought you knew who I was. I knew who you were.”
“Did you know this was to be our betrothal ball?”
“We sent letters to Somerton,” his father interjected. “They went unanswered.”
“I was busy at Somerton,” Lord Townsend said through his teeth.
“Yes, everyone knows you were busy,” said her father in a scathing tone. “And then you returned here to treat my daughter in the same uncouth and lecherous manner with which you conduct your...your personal life.” He turned to the Duke of Lockridge, the marquess’s father. “I don’t know if I can do it, by God, Neville. I don’t know if I can entrust my only daughter to this...this...”
He didn’t finish the statement. Aurelia wondered what he was going to say.
“I swear to you, henceforth my son will conduct himself with honor.” As Lockridge said it, he smacked Lord Townsend upon the ear with his cane. The son didn’t make a sound, only seethed with even greater intensity.
As for Aurelia, she stared down at her lap, hot, ashamed, remembering things she didn’t want to. The warmth of his lips, the unfamiliar hardness of his body pressing against hers. She’d been so afraid when he lowered his face to hers. She’d thought Lord Townsend’s kiss would feel horrible, damaging, and dangerous because of his poor reputation, but it hadn’t felt horrible at all.
Not that she knew what kisses were supposed to feel like. She was a lady, a scion of propriety, always faultless in behavior. While she’d understood for many years that she was supposed to marry the profligate son of her father’s friend, she’d imagined when it came down to it, everyone would realize he was too much of a rogue.
She’d assumed the betrothal would be broken, allowing her to marry the man she knew in her heart was her perfect companion—the smiling, polite Earl of Warren. Oh, she’d heard gossip about him also, but it was vile, ridiculous stuff, too outrageous to be believed. When she looked at Lord Warren, she could see he was a kindhearted soul, the type of man she could respect and feel secure with. A man like her father. Her father’s admirers called him Laudable Lansing because of his exceptional godliness and rectitude. Some types called him Laughable Lansing, but that was because they lacked moral fiber.
Aurelia’s shoulders slumped. She lacked moral fiber because she hadn’t been able to resign herself to marrying the man her father had chosen for her. She’d fallen in love with another man. She’d tried to run away from her betrothal ball, for all the good it had done her.
Her father paced back and forth in front of Lord Townsend while his parents frowned from across the room. “You shall wed my daughter as soon as it can be managed,” he said, “and then you’ll settle down into a model husband. More than a model husband. The most solicitous, respectable pinnacle of a husband that any fellow ever met.”
“I’ll try my best,” Lord Townsend replied in an acerbic tone.
Her father’s gaze hardened, his mouth thinned in a line. “Indeed you will, or I may see fit to interfere. My daughter has been very sheltered. Very gently bred. You cannot continue to act as if you have no responsibilities.”
“I manage my responsibilities,” said the marquess. “I have increased the profitability of my holdings by seventy percent in the last five years, maintained two residences, and contributed to social programs and charities. I manage all the responsibilities that I find important. Forgive me if marriage isn’t one of them.”
“You will not be so mannerless, Townsend,” his father hissed. “You’ll not show such disrespect to Lady Aurelia.”
She stared between the three angry men. In her agitated state, she was finding it difficult to follow the conversation.
“I’m sorry,” she asked, “but are we still going to marry?”
“I might have reconsidered,” her father said, “but after this evening’s display, there’s no other option. Your fiancé has made free with you in front of half the ton.”
Some part of her understood that she was ruined, the Lord Townsend had caused their marriage to become a necessary thing, but some part of her couldn’t grasp the finality of it. “Can I not...” Her voice caught in the tangle of her emotions. “Can I not marry for love?”
Her father’s brows rose nearly to his hairline. “Are you in love?”
Her eyes flicked to Lord Townsend’s. His eyes darkened with something like pity, or disgust. “Lord Warren?” he said, tracing a finger over the arm of the chair. “Unfortunately, he is not up to snuff. Ducal dynasties are at stake, and he’s a mere earl.”
Aurelia didn’t care if Lord Warren was only an earl. He was still titled, still an aristocrat. She turned pleading eyes on her father but he pretended not to see. He frightened her terribly, he always had. She didn’t want to disappoint him. She’d always been her parents’ perfect, obedient child, though she’d languished, always, in her older brother’s shadow. He was the heir, the next duke. She was the daughter, only good for building alliances.
“Perhaps I don’t have to marry. Perhaps...” Her voice thinned to a desperate squeak. “If only I had been a son, like Severin. Then there wouldn’t be this business of...of marrying me off.”
At that, her mother made a soft, mournful sound and hurried from the room. Aurelia’s vision blurred. Through her tears, she saw the marquess watching, his features taut, his hair a blur of black waves over his fathomless dark eyes. To her horror, tears overflowed and coursed down her cheeks. She covered her face, so her fine silk gloves had darker spots where she wiped away the wetness.
“Have done with this unpleasant business,” said Lord Townsend’s mother, fluttering closer to Aurelia and offering her handkerchief. “The poor child is beside herself. She ought to be home in bed.”
“She’s not a child anymore.” Lord Townsend’s eyes raked her, from her plunging bodice to her slippered toes. His voice was rough, hinting of licentious things. It made Aurelia cry harder.
The duchess rapped her son on the shoulder with her fan. “Comfort her, would you? Apologize to her. This is all your fault.”
“Don’t go near her,” Lansing barked before Lord Townsend could comply. “You’re not to touch my daughter again, not until you’re putting a ring on her finger in the church.”
“No courtship then?” Lord Townsend arched a brow. “But why should there be? It’s been so businesslike to this point.”
Her father bristled. “Oh, you’re going to court my daughter. You’re going to make amends for the mess you’ve made of her reputation. You’re going to behave like the most charming, well-mannered, and attentive suitor of all time.”
“Without touching her?”
“Yes.” He nodded and rapped his cane against the floor. “I don’t care how you manage it, but you’ll convince the entire ton that you’re enamored of her. However you handle it, I expect her wed by the end of June.”
“The end of June?” The marquess sat straighter in his chair. “It’s April now.”
“You’ve enough time to put your affairs in order. Do you comprehend my meaning?”
A look passed between the three men that she didn’t understand. The marquess turned away first, toward her. His eyes narrowed. He despised her. The kiss, the feel of his body against hers, none of it could overcome the dread seeping into her bones. She was to marry him? This man who hated her?
He stood so abruptly that she shrank back.
“Since I cannot touch you, dear Lady Aurelia,” he said in a falsely solicitous tone, “I fear an official betrothal dance is out of the question. Therefore, I’ll excuse myself from this ball and let the remainder of this farce play out without me.”
He made a crisp bow and left. Aurelia watched him go, chewing her lip until his broad shoulders cleared the door frame and disappeared into the outer hall.