Seduced by a MarquisBy: Carole Mortimer
Regency Unlaced 8
Masefield House, London.
“God, these events are tedious in the extreme!” Lysander dropped down heavily into an armchair.
“I must say, you have quickly settled into the title and role of the Marquis of Trent,” his half brother, Sebastian, the Duke of Stowmont, observed dryly. The two of them were sitting with four other gentlemen in the library of their host for the evening, Lord Masefield, having briefly escaped the crowded ballroom to avail themselves of a glass or two of that gentleman’s excellent brandy.
Lysander had not wanted the title of marquis in the first place. Now that he’d had possession of it for three months, he found it to be as much of a burden as he had imagined it might be, from having observed all the demands made upon Sebastian’s time once he became a duke.
Society had been slowly migrating back to the city for several weeks now, but the Season had only begun in earnest this past week. Already Lysander found himself bored beyond endurance at meeting the same people at every social event, so God knows how he would feel in three months’ time when the Season thankfully came to an end.
As for the eager young debutants and their enthusiastic mamas… None of those ladies would have given him as much as the time of day six months ago, when he was only Mr. Lysander Falkner, the Duke of Stowmont’s private secretary. Now they fawned and flirted and flattered the Marquis of Trent to a nauseating degree.
Was it any wonder he had very quickly become hardened and cynical?
Oh, the title had some plusses, to be sure. Eligibility and easy entrance to all the gentleman’s clubs in London, hitherto denied him. An invitation to every social event on the calendar. His own estate in Warwickshire, a London town house, carriages and horses, and servants to run the former and grooms to care for the latter. He also had a fortune at his disposal.
Most gentlemen would believe themselves to be rolling in clover.
Lysander was not most gentlemen. He was the illegitimate son born to Mrs. Angelique Falkner, a woman who had scandalized Society three and thirty years ago when she had a brief affair with a man married to an invalid wife he could not abandon or divorce without appearing the biggest bastard in all of London. As if having an affair at all did not already make him that!
As soon as Angelique learned of her pregnancy she had chosen to end the affair. She had then taken herself off to the country, given birth to her second son alone, and remained there ever since.
Lysander had always assumed his mother had been abandoned by his father after she informed him of the child she was expecting. It was only recently Angelique had told Lysander that had not been the case. Unable to bear putting her married lover in such an untenable position, Angelique had kept the knowledge of the pregnancy from him. But as the Duke of Landingham’s wife had recently died, Angelique now felt the time was right to inform the duke of his son’s existence.
For Lysander to suddenly learn, at the age of two and thirty, not only was his father very much alive and a duke, but that Lysander was his only son and heir, had been a hard pill to swallow.
Even more astounding, the now widowed duke had legitimized his son when he belatedly married Lysander’s mother three months ago—three and thirty years belated—causing such a scandal in Society, the gossip now followed Lysander wherever he went.
Unfortunately, not enough to discourage those eager mamas and their female offspring!
Lysander sincerely wished his mother and father well in their marriage, had seen the deep love they felt for each other. But he was not particularly pleased with either of them at the moment for having disrupted his life in this way.
“I used you as my example, Seb,” he answered his brother dryly. “Along with a smattering of all of you,” he observed to the other four gentlemen in the room.
“Glad to be of assistance,” the Duke of Blackmoor drawled in the uninterested voice he had perfected to a fine art and which Lysander had also mastered these past three months to a slightly lesser degree.
“Certainly.” The Marquis of Oxbridge nodded.
“You have only to ask,” Viscount Brooketon mocked.
“Any time, Trent,” the widowed Earl of Latham offered, brother-in-law to Blackmoor. “As the only other unmarried gentleman in the room, I know it can be the very devil avoiding the Society ladies once they set their minds on leading you to the altar.”