Susanna Fraser | Historical Romance Author
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Historical Romance
Carina Press
Length: 88,000 words
November 5, 2012

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An Infamous Marriage

An Infamous Marriage

Northumberland, 1815

At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.

Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he’s back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her…

Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife’s love may be the greatest battle he’s faced yet.

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“Is Lady Armstrong at home?” Jack asked with careful carelessness.

“I’m right here.”

Jack spun on his heel and almost tumbled on his backside into the wintry muck. So much for the element of surprise. She’d got the advantage of him after all.

The woman who stood ten feet away at the edge of the stable yard was nothing at all like he’d spent the last five years imagining.

She’d been a plain, mousy nonentity when he’d married her, and women who weren’t beauties at five-and-twenty were rarely improved by the passage of half a decade. He’d imagined her growing ever plainer and more dowdy, dragged down by the demands of managing the Grange.

She was still no striking beauty. She had undergone no magical transformation. She was not even dressed in the height of fashion. No curling tongs had touched her straight hair, nor had her pale skin been given new color with cosmetics.
But she carried herself with confidence now, and her air of command made her seem taller than her actual height. And command was the only word for it. Jack seen the look—and its reverse—often enough in young officers as they began to rise. Some men lacked the knack. The more he asked of them, the more they bent under the weight of the responsibility. Others…grew. They looked taller. Surer. More themselves. As Elizabeth did.

And if she was no diamond of the first water, neither was she displeasing to the eye. When they had married, she’d been thinner than he liked, with an anxious, gaunt look. Now, he still wouldn’t call her buxom, but even beneath her warm, sensible brown wool dress and scarlet cloak he could see the womanly sway of her hips and the swell of her bosom. Oh, yes, she had good breasts, the kind that would fill his hands with their heavy softness when he freed them from her corset and set his mouth to them. To think he’d taken comfort in the idea that it would be dark when the two of them joined in bed! No indeed. They would leave candles burning, so his eyes as well as his hands and mouth could feast.

She cleared her throat. “Have you nothing to say to your lady wife?”

She hadn’t been like this before, had she? So assured, with that edge of sarcasm to her voice. “You are not as I remembered,” he managed.

“Nor are you,” she said coolly. Jack was suddenly conscious of how gray the hair above his ears had gone, of the silver strands threading throughout the brown, of how lined and weathered his face had grown in his years of war and pain. The years had aged him far more than they had touched her.

“It’s been a long time,” he heard himself say. This wasn’t how he’d imagined this reunion going. He hadn’t felt so out of control since his ship had got caught in a hurricane the first time he crossed the Atlantic.