BRAND NEW: Rescuing the Countess – Arietta Richmond

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Immerse yourself in the Regency world, and be swept away by love

A Countess unhappily married.  A Viscount forbidden the one he loves.  An accident that leads to death.  An accusation.  A highwayman’s plot uncovered.  A love that defies all odds

Maria Wollstonefort, Countess of Granville, has rapidly come to regret her marriage.  For her husband’s mother is domineering, and makes her life a misery, while her husband does nothing to defend or support her.  She despairs of ever being happy again.

Charles Barrington, Viscount Wareham, has loved Maria for many years, since they were children growing up as neighbours.  But he was only a third son, until the wars changed everyone’s fortunes, and not seen as a suitable match for her.  Now Maria is wedded to another, and he is a man in love, who can never act on that love.  Life seems bleak, yet he cannot simply ignore Maria, no matter how much it hurts to see her, for he senses that she has troubles to deal with.

When he offers her unconditional support, should she ever call upon him, neither of them expect that to ever happen.  But when gossip, highwaymen and accidents come into play, he finds himself, and his family, called upon to save her.

Can either of them be happy?
Will fate deliver a way for their lost love to grow again?
Or will death steal everything from them both?

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About the Author

Arietta Richmond has been a compulsive reader and writer all her life.  Whilst her reading has covered an enormous range of topics, history has always fascinated her, and histocal novels have been amongst her favourite reading.

She has written a wide range of work, from business articles and other non-fiction works (published under a pen name) but fiction has always been a major part of her life.  Now, her Regency Historical Romance books are finally being released.  The Derbyshire Set is comprised of 10 novels (7 released so far).  The ‘His Majesty’s Hounds’ series is comprised of 16 novels, with the thirteenth having just been released.

She also has a standalone longer novel shortly to be released, and two other series of novels in development.

She lives in Australia, and when not reading or writing likes to travel, and to see in person the places where history happened.

Books in the ‘His Majesty’s Hounds’ series
Claiming the Heart of a Duke
Intriguing the Viscount
Giving a Heart of Lace
Being Lady Harriet’s Hero
Enchanting the Duke
Redeeming the Marquess
Finding the Duke’s Heir
Winning the Merchant Earl
Healing Lord Barton
Kissing the Duke of Hearts
Loving the Bitter Baron
Falling for the Earl
Rescuing the Countess (click for your review copy)
Betting on a Lady’s Heart (coming soon)
Attracting the Spymaster (coming soon)
Restoring the Earl’s Honour (coming soon)

Excerpt

Chapter One
Charles Barrington, Viscount Wareham, watched as Lady Maria Loughbridge was wed to Lord Edmund Wollstonefort, the Earl of Granville. It was, they were saying, the wedding of the Season, even though it was the first wedding that Season. Maria looked beautiful, as always. He did not think it possible for her to look anything other than beautiful.

Once, when he had been younger, and foolish, he had looked at Maria, and thought that he would, one day, marry her. Then he had grown old enough to understand that the place of a third son in the world, even the third son of a Duke, was nothing – certainly not high enough for Viscount Chester to consider him as a suitor for his daughter. Nothing had ever been said – he had simply come to understand how the world worked. But he had never stopped seeing Maria as beautiful – beyond the surface beauty that everyone focused on.

He looked away, staring at the stone floor of the church, letting the words of the ceremony, binding her irrevocably to another man, wash over him.

He would find someone else to marry he was sure, for now that his father and Richard, his eldest brother, were dead and Hunter was Duke, he was no longer considering the church as a career. He did not, yet, really know what he would do. When the ceremony ended, he left the church with everyone else, and slipped through the crowd, into the streets. He would not attend the wedding breakfast – for he found little in the day to celebrate. For the first time since Martin’s death three years before, drinking himself senseless in a tavern seemed like a good option.

~~~~~

“How dare you countermand my orders to my servants! You will not do so again, do you understand?”

Constance Wollstonefort, the Dowager Countess of Granville, spoke sharply, her tone scathing, as she glared at her daughter-in-law. Maria repressed a sigh, for that would only draw more of the woman’s wrath, and looked sideways to her husband, hoping that he might defend her. He said nothing, as she had come to expect. She sadly acknowledged that he would never stand up to his mother.

“Yes, my Lady. I will endeavour to remember that instruction.”

It was as close as she could go to rebellion. The woman would make her life miserable, no matter what she said. Whilst the first few months of her marriage had been pleasant, if less romantic than she had hoped, as soon as they had removed from London, to Myniard House, the Earl’s estate in Wiltshire, things had changed for the worse.

Lady Granville had made it instantly obvious that no woman could ever have been good enough for her son, and that Maria fell far short of her standards in every way. Since then, Maria’s life had been miserable. Her only relief was to go walking in the grounds of Myniard Park, spending as long away from the house as she could. The one advantage to her mother-in-law’s attitude was that the woman expected nothing of her – in fact, she forbade Maria from having any influence in the household at all. Which left Maria with her time to herself, and no duties to fulfil, beyond those performed in her husband’s bedchamber, on the occasions when he chose to call her there.

Some days, as she sat under the towering oak trees by the stream, she allowed herself to dream, to wonder what life would have been like, if she had married a different man. It was not that she disliked Edmund – he was kind, and genuinely cared for her. But he did not love her, and she did not love him. It was a cold kind of marriage, the exact opposite of the kind of thing that young girls dream of.

Her mother and father had been so happy when she had received the offer of marriage from Edmund. So proud of her, for marrying well. And she, good, obedient daughter that she had always been, had done as they said, and agreed to marry him. How foolishly innocent she had been.

She knew that dreaming now was pointless – she was married, and that was that. Perhaps, if she was lucky, Edmund would give her a child – with a child, she could spend all her love and energy there, and feel better in the world for it. But it had been months now, and she had not quickened, so, perhaps, it would not happen. The life that stretched before her seemed impossibly grey and miserable.

As always, as she returned from sitting by the stream, she collected herbs and medicinal plants, depositing them at the little gardener’s cottage which she had claimed as her sanctuary, before going back to the house. At least that was one useful thing she could do. Tomorrow, she would hang them to dry, and consider what other plants she needed to gather before winter.

At dinner, she simply sat, watching her husband eat, finding her own appetite lacking. Edmund was a substantial man, whose hair was unfortunately thinning early, and there was no grace about him. Despite her determination not to think of ‘might-have-beens’, her mind would insist on comparing him to the young men she had known – her neighbours in childhood, the Barringtons, had three boys, all of whom had grown into fine looking men. If only Edmund looked more like that! She pushed aside the foolish wish, and forced herself to eat.

Lady Granville glared at her across the table, as if even her table manners were inadequate, and Maria wished herself invisible. There was not a day that passed when the woman did not find something about her to criticise. For Maria, who had been the golden child of her family, always beautiful, always praised, life at Myniard House had been the rudest awakening to the cruelty of the world possible.

In the end, she could not eat, and, pleading a megrim, took herself to her room. Once she had locked the door, like so many other nights, she cried herself to sleep.

Chapter Two
Edmund Wollstonefort, Earl of Granville, sat on his horse, staring at the building in front of him. It was far more rundown than he had expected. He sighed, an unpleasant, yet unavoidable thought coming to him.

It had to be intentional. Ever since his return to Myniard House with Maria, after their wedding, he had been seeing a side of his mother that he had never seen before. He had tried to ignore it, to deny the truth of what he saw, but he could no longer delude himself that way.

Since his father’s death, his mother had been a never-failing support, giving him the strength to deal with his responsibilities as Earl, whilst he dealt with his grief, and then the rest of life. Once his grief was past, it had seemed reasonable to leave her to continue managing his estates, via Edwards, their rather longsuffering estate manager. He had seen no fault in anything that she had done, had never questioned her, as he never had throughout his childhood. But now… he had to face the fact that he may have been misguided in doing so.

For he could no longer deny the evidence of his own eyes and ears. His mother’s treatment of Maria was harsh, and inappropriate. And his own failure to prevent that treatment was the biggest failure of his life. Which was why he was sitting here, today, staring at the dilapidated state of the Dower House.

It had once been beautiful. He remembered it, from when he had been a very small boy, and his grandmother had lived in it. It was well located, with an excellent view to the hills, and surrounded by what had once been a lovely garden. But the state of it now… the gardens were overrun with the wild growth of flowers and weeds that comes from years of neglect. The building itself had some broken windows, a collapsed section of roof, and at least one wall where the mortar was all but gone from between the stones.

It had to be intentional. His mother had ensured that every other building on his estates was in the best of repair, down to the last cow byre. For this to be as it was, there was only one possible explanation. She had specifically directed that it not be cared for.

And the logical conclusion to be drawn from that, was that she had done so to make it impossible for her to ever live there, to ensure that she remained in the main house, where she could continue to direct every aspect of his life. What had seemed an excellent arrangement to him, as a young man who cared more for hunting and drinking than for the tedium of estate management, no longer seemed so good. Now, as an older man, with a lovely new wife, the arrangement was constricting, embarrassing and painful. And all his own fault.

He sighed again, glaring at the building as if to make it magically repair itself.

Of course, nothing happened, except the small sound of a stone falling, as if the Dower House, to spite him, had chosen to crumble faster.

“Damn you! I will not allow it. I will repair the place, even if it means that I must learn far more of estate work than I ever wished to.”

His voice echoed from the stones, and he felt foolish, talking to the old house, as if it could hear. But he had meant the words. He would see it repaired, and he would, somehow, find the courage, and the words, to cause his mother to move into it, to live. He would have some peace, a chance to make Maria happy, a chance to discover what he was, as a man, not as a child. It was both a frightening and a thrilling prospect.

He sat a little longer, considering how best to start, then, satisfied that he had at least the beginnings of a plan, he gathered up his reins, and turned the horse to ride across the wide expanse of his Park, and eventually back to Myniard House.

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