Dazzled by a Tempting Viscount (Preview)

Chapter One

“Is he here yet? What time is he expected?” The young woman was standing at the parlour window, clutching the lace curtain in her hand tightly as she gazed out. “Perhaps he has gotten busy at work and is delayed.” There was a note of hope in her voice.

“Ada, come and sit down,” said an older woman in a calm voice. She carefully poured tea into china cups. “You are getting yourself into a state. Come and have some tea. Your father will be back when he is back.”

Ada bit her lip, glancing back at the older woman. Her Aunt Cordelia was sitting next to her sister, Madeline. Both looked as serene as the sea on a calm day. Unlike her. But that was not unusual, in the least. Neither her dear aunt nor her placid sister had any reason to fear the homecoming of Robin Curtis, her father. Whereas Ada was always doing something wrong, anticipating his wrath.

With an irritated sigh, she flounced over to the two other women, sitting down as her aunt had told her to. Aunt Cordelia believed that any problem could be solved with a good cup of tea. It was her answer to everything. A panacea to all of life’s woes, both big and little.

Ada took the proffered cup, sipping it. It was hot and strong, just the way her aunt liked it. Aunt Cordelia ran the Curtis household with tranquil efficiency. Morning and afternoon tea in the parlour at the duly allotted time. Ada appreciated her aunt’s touch. It had been a rather more chaotic household before her father’s sister had come to live with them. But Aunt Cordelia was loyal to her brother, and she didn’t understand at all why Ada was constantly at loggerheads with him.

She glanced at Madeline, who was sipping her own cup of tea, unruffled by her sister’s anxiety. Madeline was very dear to her, but Ada felt like her sister was always walking a fine line between their father and herself. Madeline was constantly trying to keep the peace in the Curtis household, along with Aunt Cordelia. Ada was sure they were both secretly sick of all the drama, but neither ever uttered a word.

Suddenly, they heard the wheels of a carriage pulling up outside. Ada’s heart fell to the floor. Her father wasn’t delayed after all. Soon, he would be striding into the parlour. And then it would be a showdown. She braced herself for it.

It didn’t take long. Within five minutes, he was marching through the parlour doorway. He stopped abruptly, staring straight at Ada. His colour was rather puce, and his nostrils were flaring.

“Well?” he demanded. “What have you got to say for yourself this time?”

Ada took a deep breath. “I am sorry, Papa. I did not feel like going to Lady Litchfield’s morning tea party, that is all.” Her heart was pounding in her ears.

Her father glared at her. “I see. Even though it took me quite a lot of careful wrangling to procure an invitation to it for you and your sister? Even though you assured me before I left for work this morning that you were going to attend?”

Ada’s face burnt crimson. “I am sorry, Papa,” she repeated. “But the day was just too lovely to spend indoors with that stuffy woman and her cronies! You know that I do not like Lady Litchfield in the least, nor the circle she dwells within. Why do you keep insisting that I attend engagements with them?”

Robin Curtis rolled his eyes. His face turned a darker shade of puce. Ada was alarmed for a moment, thinking that he might suffer an apoplexy. A flash of guilt shot through her. She was always upsetting her father in this manner, but she just couldn’t seem to help it.

“Lady Litchfield is the doyenne of the district,” he said slowly in a condescending voice as if he was talking to a recalcitrant child. “It is only through attending engagements with the lady and her cronies, as you call them, that you and your sister will rise in society. We have been over this a hundred times before, Ada. A thousand. I know that you are not a foolish woman. So why must I explain it to you all over again?”

Ada’s lips tightened. She hated it when her father talked to her like this. That tone of voice that seemed to be reserved just for her. He certainly never talked to Madeline with it, nor Aunt Cordelia. Nor to anyone else in the world.

“You have explained it,” said Ada, her face flushing deeper with anger. “As I have explained to you, a thousand times, that I simply have no interest in rising in society like you want me to. I despise high society. I always have, and I always will. Why can you not just let me be?”

His face darkened further. He ran a hand through his hair in frustration. There was a distressed intake of breath from Aunt Cordelia. Madeline was pale and looked a bit ill, her eyes flickering with alarm. 

But Ada stood up, facing her father. She wasn’t going to be cowed by these domineering tactics of his. She wasn’t going to be browbeaten by his anger. He thought he could control her, get her to live her life the way he wanted it to be lived, and she would not let it happen. She could not.

He swore underneath his breath. “I just want the best for you and your sister. Opportunities that I never had and would have given my right hand for. I have had to climb my way up to give you everything that you have now. A fine home, fine gowns, a fine carriage. And all I am asking for in return is for you to toe the line. To attend a few social engagements.” He shook his head angrily. “It is not much to ask. You are a headstrong and reckless woman. I know exactly what you were doing this morning instead of going to Lady Litchfield’s tea party.”

Ada stomped her foot in pure frustration. Aunt Cordelia’s eyes widened, making her look a bit like a startled horse. Madeline turned her face away. Ada knew the distress she was causing her sister and aunt, but it wasn’t enough to stop her. Not when her blood was up, and she was being challenged like this.

“You were out riding the horse,” her father continued, his lips tight with rage. “You were seen, riding like a madwoman over the hills, as far away as Sommerfeld.”

“What of it?” said Ada, raising her chin in defiance. “I was hurting no one. I am an excellent horsewoman. I was in no danger. Why can I not be free to do what I like with my time?”

Her father stared at her, with an expression on his face that said he thought she had finally lost her mind. “I will tell you why, young lady. Because that is not what proper young ladies do. They do not go out riding by themselves for hours, with no chaperone. Especially when they are supposed to be somewhere else.”

“I do not want to be a proper young lady,” she cried, stamping her foot again. “I want to be myself. I have no interest in joining high society.”

Her father’s nostrils flared again. “You must make a fine marriage, Ada. How are you expected to do that if you insist upon shirking social engagements to ride around the countryside? How are you to ever find a good husband?”

Ada took a deep, ragged breath. It always came back to this. Finding a good husband. Being a proper lady. Two things she had no interest in at all. 

“I do not care if I never marry,” she declared defiantly.

There was a shocked intake of breath from the two ladies in the room. Aunt Cordelia looked appalled. Madeline just looked frightened. 

Her father strode up to her, looking her straight in the eye. Ada could see a vein twitching in his left temple.

“You will make a good match,” he said in a low voice. “I will walk over hot coals to ensure it. You will be obedient and do what a proper young lady should. There is no other option for you in life, daughter. You had better resolve yourself to that, now.” He exhaled slowly. “If you do not, then I am afraid I will sell your horse.”

Ada gasped. “Sell Whiskey? You are bluffing! You cannot do that! He is a part of the family!”

“I can do whatever I like, my girl,” he said slowly. “I bought the horse. I pay for its feed and a stable to keep it in. The horse is mine to sell if I so choose. Do not push me, Ada. I am warning you.”

Ada gave a cry of distress, rushing out of the room. She could not listen to another word of it.

She ran up the stairs, bursting into her chambers, collapsing across the bed. She was so angry and upset that she pounded the pillows. She couldn’t lose Whiskey. The horse was one of the only things that made her life bearable. But if she didn’t comply with her father, that was exactly what would happen. What was she going to do?


She didn’t know how much time had passed when the knock at the door came. Ada raised her head, pushing back her hair. She had been sobbing hard for a long time but had finally gotten it out of her system. Now she just felt drained and wrung out, like a dishrag.

It was Madeline, of course. Her sister slipped into the room, sitting down on the side of the bed. She didn’t say a word. She simply gazed at Ada.

“He cannot do it,” said Ada, taking a deep breath. “He is bluffing. He would never sell Whiskey!”

Madeline sighed heavily. “Ada, I would not push him. I have never seen him so angry as he was this afternoon.” She shook her head incredulously. “Why did it have to come to this? Why can’t you just go to the engagements? I do not understand.”

Ada gazed at her sister. Madeline had such a gentle, placid nature. Her sister was so biddable and compliant, never challenging their father at all. Madeline was more than happy to attend high-society engagements. She truly couldn’t understand why anyone would see things differently or want something different out of life.

Ada loved her sister dearly. She loved her for her gentle nature. But she couldn’t be the same person, no matter how hard she tried. Sometimes, she fervently wished she was like Madeline. How much easier life would be then.

“We must be dutiful daughters,” continued her sister, biting her lip. “Papa only wants the best for us. He wants us to rise in society, to have all the chances he never had. And you know that the way to do that is to find a good husband.”

Ada shook her head bitterly. “I know what you mean by a good husband, dearest. You mean a high-society prig, with more wealth than sense. You do not mean a man of fine character, who I may love and be loved by in return. Do you?”

Madeline coloured slightly. “It is the way of the world, Ada. As women, we must be practical and make the best matches we can. We have the opportunity to marry above our station if we are clever. You know that Papa will never accept a suitor from a lower class or even our own. He is ambitious for us. He is just trying to give us each the best life he can.”

Ada’s mouth twisted. “But I do not want that life, sister. It might suit you, but never me.”

Madeline smiled sadly. “And what life do you envision for yourself, Ada? To become a spinster like Aunt Cordelia, living in someone else’s home, on the fringes? To never have your own home, your own children, or family?”

Ada raised her chin defiantly. “It is not a fate worse than death. Perhaps I could become a bluestocking. Perhaps I could live in a garret in London. Mary Wollstonecraft asserts that women can be anything they like if they are only given the chance.”

“You are living in a dream world,” scoffed Madeline. “Papa would never let you do such a thing. He would never finance it. And how would you support yourself in your garret? I do not know what would defeat you first—the misery or the starvation. It would be a perilous existence, Ada. Have you quite lost your senses?”

Ada turned her face to the wall. She didn’t want to hear this. But she knew that her sister spoke the truth. She could never hope to become independent and live her own life the way that she wished. She could never become a bluestocking and live an uncompromised life on her own terms. The best she could hope for was a life like her aunt’s. An old maid, without home or status of her own. A lonely future, but at least she would be herself. At least she wouldn’t have compromised by marrying some chinless wonder from the ton who would try to control her just like her father did.

She sighed deeply. There were so few choices for women in this life. And her father made it even worse by being such an obvious social climber, wanting his daughters to marry above. Insisting upon it. And it was only because of his own insecurities. Robin Curtis was a self-made man, a merchant who had acquired great wealth through the sweat of his brow and the fierceness of his vision. Ada was proud of him, but she didn’t like his social climbing. Not at all.

She didn’t want to be part of the ton. She didn’t want to marry one of them. She despised that world—all of its pretensions, its prejudices, and its rigid, stuffy rules. And the ton didn’t like her or her sister, either. They saw through them. They knew they were just upstarts, trying to claw their way up the ladder. It was mortifying.

She just wanted to be left alone to live her life the way she wanted to.

Madeline took a deep breath. “After you stormed out of the room, Papa informed me that we have another engagement tomorrow.” She hesitated. “A lady’s high tea at the Mansfield estate. He informed me that he moved hell and high water to get us there, Ada.”

Ada gave a painful sigh. Her father would not give up. He was determined. And if she didn’t start complying, he was going to take away her beloved horse. A fate worse than death.

Is this what it came to? Being broken down, bit by small bit?

“Of course,” she said to her sister, the words tasting like ashes in her mouth. “I will go. What else can I say?”


Chapter Two

Lord Jeremiah Spencer, the younger son of Viscount Spencer, adjusted his cravat with a nervous hand. He was always nervous going to dinner with his father after being away from home for so long. But he was even more nervous this evening because he had brought a friend home from university to stay. A friend who he was almost certain his father wouldn’t approve of.

He glanced around the foyer as he waited for his friend, Mr Jonathan Watts, to descend from his guest-chamber. Stonefield Manor, his ancestral home, nestled within the rolling hills of Lincolnshire. A world away from the bustling streets of Oxford, where he was studying for his medical degree. 

He tensed. He didn’t want to be here. He didn’t want to be here at all. But it was the holidays, and he didn’t really have anywhere else to go. His mother had written ardent letters asking him to return home, saying how much she missed him. And his father, ever the practical man, wasn’t going to pay for his lodgings in Oxford over the holiday period. And he who paid the piper called the tune.

Jeremiah’s lips tightened. He didn’t want to think about the fact he was so at the mercy of his father. But what choice did he have? It was the only way he could become a physician. If his father didn’t pay the tuition costs, there was no way he could study. He had to toe the line until he graduated and could make a living on his own, strike out, and become independent. It was as simple as that.

There was the sound of clattering footsteps down the stairs. Jeremiah turned, looking up, smiling. It was Jonathan, his hair still a bit wet, his cravat slightly lopsided.

“There you are,” said his friend, looking relieved. “I thought I might be a bit late. I didn’t want to go into the dining room by myself. It wouldn’t be a good first impression at all.”

Jeremiah’s smile widened. He really liked Jonathan. They were in every class together at Oxford. He still recalled the first time he had met him. Jonathan had been arguing with an anatomy tutor over whether leeches were a sound medical cure. The young man had expressed himself eloquently. Jeremiah had been impressed by his cleverness and forthright nature. A friendship had been born.

Yes, he really liked Jonathan. But he knew his father would be suspicious of him. Jonathan was from an upper-middle-class family. His father was a solicitor, far below the noble Spencers, and Jeremiah’s father was such a pretentious elitist in that regard. He truly believed that nobles should only mix with nobles or the aristocracy.

“Well, you are here now,” said Jeremiah to his friend. “My parents shall be waiting in the dining room. Let us get there. My father is rather a stickler for meals at set times.”

Jonathan took a deep breath. Jeremiah could tell his friend was nervous. And he didn’t blame him in the least. Stonefield Manor was intimidating. It was one of the largest estates in Lincolnshire. Jonathan had looked awestruck when he had first seen it on the carriage ride here, claiming that his modest family home in London wouldn’t fit into a tenth of it.

Jeremiah sighed. He hoped his father would be on his best behaviour. But there was simply no telling where the formidable Viscount Spencer was concerned. His father was a force of nature. Something his friend was about to discover.


The Viscount was ensconced at the head of the long table, in his usual position, holding a crystal glass containing his very best claret. Jeremiah’s mother, the Viscountess, sat to his right. She looked like an acolyte before the high priest. Jeremiah felt Jonathan tense beside him.

His parents turned, observing them, as they walked to their chairs. Jonathan’s eyes were flickering around the room, taking in the long antique mahogany table, the ornate upholstered chairs, the large pewter candle holder in the middle of the table, as well as the two bewigged footmen, standing sentinel against a wall.

They sat down to an awkward silence.

“So, the prodigal son has returned,” said his father, fixing Jeremiah with a stern look. “I rather thought you would make an excuse to not return to Stonefield for the university holidays, Jeremiah. It seems like we have not seen you in an age.”

Jeremiah tensed, forcing a smile onto his face. “You know how it is, Father. I am very busy with hardly a spare moment. My studies take up all of my time, and it is such a long journey to Lincolnshire from Oxford. I can hardly drop in for afternoon tea, can I?”

His father raised his eyebrows. “Perhaps not. But your mother and I still expect regular visits home from you. It is only proper, considering I pay for your lodgings and tuition at the university, my boy.”

Jeremiah smiled tightly, feeling like his cheeks were about to crack. His father always did this to him. He made him feel guilty for taking his money to live and do what he wanted. He never stopped reminding Jeremiah of the fact.

The Viscount took a swig of his claret, slamming the glass onto the table. “I still do not understand why you were so insistent you must do it. You are the younger son of a viscount with no need for a profession.” His tone turned sneering on the last word. 

Jeremiah felt his face colour. “We have already been through this, Father. I want to study medicine because it is my vocation. My calling. I have no desire to lead the life of the idle rich. I would feel it pointless and futile.”

“I am so very proud of you, Jeremiah,” said his mother warmly. “You were always so very clever and inquisitive. Much more clever than all of us, including your older brother.”

“Charles is the heir,” said his father, frowning. “He doesn’t need to be an intellectual. He just needs to know how to run an estate.”

“Well, Charles isn’t here either, is he?” said Jeremiah, in a tight voice. “He is playing soldier in the army in France.”

“An honourable duty,” said the Viscount, his frown deepening. “I served in my salad days, as did your grandfather and his father before him. Not like this foolish business of studying medicine. You should have joined the clergy. That is the usual thing that younger sons do if they have a mind to live a worthwhile life.” He took another swig of his claret.

There was an awkward silence. Jeremiah picked up his own wine glass, drinking deeply. It might be the only way to get through this torturous meal. And it was only the first of many. He was here for the entire length of the holidays. He thanked the Lord again that his friend had accepted his invitation to join him here. Jonathan would be a great distraction.

As if his father had read his mind, he turned suddenly to the other man.

“And you are my son’s colleague at Oxford?” he barked. “What did you say your name is again, and where are you from?”

Jonathan looked like a rabbit caught in the glare of a predator. He cleared his throat. “Jonathan Watts, Lord Spencer. My family is from London.”

“Watts?” The Viscount sounded dubious. “What part of London?”

“Cheapside,” said Jonathan, looking a bit mortified. “My father is a solicitor.”

There was another awkward silence. The Viscount didn’t look pleased. Jeremiah’s mother leaned forward towards Jonathan.

“I adore London,” she said, smiling brightly. “I love attending the theatre and the opera. Covent Garden is one of my favourite places. Have you been there?”

Jonathan nodded, looking gratified by the Viscountess’s kindness towards him. “I have, Lady Spencer. A musical in my younger days. Jeremiah tells me you have a house in London?”

Lady Spencer nodded. “We do indeed. A townhouse in Grosvenor Square. But we do not get there as much as I would like.” She glanced quickly at the Viscount. “My husband prefers the country. Tell me, Mr Watts, do you ride?”

Jonathan nodded again. “A little. I would certainly not be as good as any of you, not having lived in the country, but my equestrian skills are tolerable.”

The Viscountess turned to her son. “You shall have to take him out, Jeremiah. Show him the countryside.” She turned back to Jonathan. “It is so very beautiful, Mr Watts. And there is much to see. An old, ruined castle. And some standing stones….”

“Yes, yes,” said the Viscount, in an irritated tone, waving a dismissive hand in the air. “You can play tour guide later, Georgina. Let us concentrate on our meal.”

Lady Spencer bit her lip, staring down at her plate. Jeremiah’s anger flared to life again. It was so typical of his father to talk to her like that. He wasn’t just curt and belligerent with his sons. He was the same to his wife as well. 

Jeremiah gazed at her with pity. His mother was still a very beautiful woman, not looking a day older than her nine and forty years. She was also charming, gentle and clever. She didn’t deserve an ogre for a husband, but she never complained. She was always trying to keep the peace and smooth things over.

They finished the first course in strained silence. As the second was served, Lady Spencer glanced at Jeremiah, smiling.

“Do you have anything planned for your time at home, Jeremiah?” she asked.

“Not much,” he said, smiling back at her. “It will be good to just have a break. I am looking forward to riding. I don’t get to do too much of that at Oxford.” He paused. “I was thinking of going into Darnley to find a microscope, which would greatly help my studies. I have heard that the merchant Curtis is a supplier through his wholesale warehouse there.”

There was a deathly silence. It was so bad that Jeremiah swore he would hear a pin drop. Too late, he realised his mistake. He had said the wrong thing entirely. It had completely slipped his mind.

His father glowered at him. “Stay away from that man. Do you hear me? I do not care if you need a microscope or any other damn thing.” He pointed at Jeremiah with his fork. “You are not to go anywhere near him or his godforsaken warehouses. The Spencer’s are not about to give that man good coin.”

Jonathan looked astonished. Jeremiah flushed. His father took a deep swig from his wine glass. His face was mottled with rage. Jeremiah glanced at his mother. She had turned pale. He glanced down at his plate.

They ate the second course in silence. Jeremiah kicked himself for ever mentioning the merchant from Darnley. But the bad genie had escaped its bottle now. Jonathan stared at him questioningly. Jeremiah could tell that his friend was going to ask what exactly that was all about when they had a private moment.


His friend got the chance not long after dinner. Jeremiah suggested they take a walk through the gardens. He was wanting some fresh air after all the tension at the dinner table, and he could see his friend probably needed it, as well.

“Sorry, old chap,” said Jeremiah, glancing at his friend. “The old man can be a bit of a bore. I did warn you.” He hesitated. “I apologise for the fact he cross-examined you like that and wouldn’t talk to you after you admitted your family lives in Cheapside. He is an elitist.”

“It’s all right, Spencer,” said Jonathan, with a wry smile. “I expected it. You did warn me. I know that not all high-born gentlemen are as tolerant as you.” He paused. “I am more curious about why he lost his block when you mentioned getting a microscope. It seemed an extreme overreaction.”

Jeremiah sighed, rubbing a hand on his neck ruefully. “It is an old story, my friend. My father harbours animosity towards the merchant I mentioned.”

“Go on,” said Jonathan, staring at him with curiosity.

Jeremiah sighed again. “It was many years ago. Apparently, the merchant—his name is Robin Curtis—challenged my father. He was in love with my mother and wanted to marry her. The two men ended up duelling, and the merchant was shot and injured in the leg.”

Jonathan’s eyes widened. “How dramatic! But he lived?”

Jeremiah nodded. “He did. But they are sworn enemies. I shouldn’t have mentioned the man’s name. I just forgot about the old feud entirely. Curtis is one of the biggest suppliers of medical equipment in this area. Professor Morris mentioned that I might procure a microscope from one of his warehouses when I mentioned that I was on the lookout for one.” He shrugged helplessly.

Jonathan shook his head incredulously. “It always amazes me how bitter these things can get. How intensely people cling to them. It was years ago, after all.”

Jeremiah grimaced. “My father lets nothing go. He is intractable. He can hold a grudge over a person inadvertently ignoring him. And this was huge. I think that Father almost lost Mama to the man. At the very least, it was a bitter fight for her.” He hesitated, frowning. “I think it is the reason why my mother is so deferential to him. She never argues with him. I think she still feels guilty about what happened all those years ago and is trying to make it up to him.”

Jonathan sighed. “You might have to go somewhere else for that microscope, Jeremiah.”

Jeremiah laughed, clapping him on the back. “So, I will. Let us forget all that, anyway. It is old business, long gone, and we are here to have a break.” He paused. “Mama is right, we should go for a ride, and I should show you the area. How about tomorrow? Are you up for it?”

Jonathan nodded, looking pleased. “I most certainly am! Raring to explore, old chap.”

Jeremiah clapped him on the back again. They kept walking, down the long path, towards the gazebo, passing statues that looked luminescent white underneath the light of the full moon. He stared up at the sky, gazing at that moon, feeling like he could breathe for the first time since they had arrived at Stonefield.

It was going to be a trying visit. But then, it always was. He couldn’t change his father. He just had to dodge him, as always. He was used to it. His father had always been the same. And one day, very soon, he would be free of him entirely. As soon as he graduated and received his medical licence. As far as Jeremiah was concerned, that day couldn’t come soon enough.

“Dazzled by a Tempting Viscount” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

The ravishing Ada Curtis was never destined to be a proper Lady. Convinced that no man could ever offer her the thrill she is dreaming of, her only desire was to ride her horse over the countryside and live a rebellious life. Until the unforeseen happens; after a riding accident she unexpectedly falls for the scandalous Viscount who rescued her. She never intended to fall for the enemy, though, but lust has a way all of its own…

Is it possible for passion to persist if it was built on a lie?

Viscount Jeremiah Spencer has always obeyed his father’s caprices, until the day he encounters an injured Lady. Their attraction is undeniable and he takes her to his estate, but to his misfortune, his father has other plans once he discovers that she is the daughter of his mortal enemy. However, the instant connection he felt towards Ada is so deep that Jeremiah is ready to sacrifice everything for her.

He never knew she was against the rules…

Wanting and having are two different things, and Ada and Jeremiah know they can never be together. Yet, it is against their power to tame their growing desire… When their parents try to tear them apart, will their passion be strong enough to reunite them? After all, can these enemies ever be together?

“Dazzled by a Tempting Viscount” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

3 thoughts on “Dazzled by a Tempting Viscount (Preview)”

  1. Jeremiah and Ava are two people in a separate canoes without paddles at the moment. I can’t wait to see what happens when they find the paddles.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear Christy. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the preview! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

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