Midnight Marriage
A GEORGIAN HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Roxton Family Saga Book 2
Click to see Roxton Family Saga book 3… Click to see Roxton Family Saga book 4… Roxton Family Saga book 1…
Two noble teenagers are married against their will.
Drugged, Deb has no recollection of events.
Disgraced, Julian is banished to the Continent.
Nine years later, Deb falls in love with a wounded duelist,
only to later discover it is her husband returned incognito!
Can Deb forgive his cruel deception?
Can their marriage survive beyond seduction?
Meanwhile, Julian's nemesis plots to destroy them both…
Set in the opulent world of the 18th century aristocracy and inspired by real events, Midnight Marriage is the standalone second book in the acclaimed Roxton family saga.

Standalone Book 2 in the acclaimed ROXTON family saga
Character-driven romantic adventure
Non explicit (mild sensuality)
Story length 100,000 words


Deluxe Trade Paperback  ISBN 9780987243027
Hardcover  ISBN 9780987073822
Ebook  ISBN 9780980801316
Kobo   ISBN 1230000118370
Kindle  ASIN B004QTOHMS
2013 Silver Medalist: Romance – Historical
eBOOK
Midnight Marriage in your closest Amazon store...
Midnight Marriage in your closest iBookstore…
Midnight Marriage in the Barnes & Noble store…
Midnight Marriage in the Google Play store…
Midnight Marriage in the Kobo store…
Midnight Marriage at Scribd…
Midnight Marriage in the Smashwords store…
PRINT BOOK
Hardcover
Paperback
AUDIOBOOK
Coming soon!
Coming soon!
Coming soon!

FEATURED REVIEW

Another gem from Lucinda Brant’s pen takes readers back into the loves and lives of the Roxtons and to the Georgian era. The plot is intriguing as hints of dark secrets and strange motives gradually unfold. People with both personal and political motives in engineering this match (or sabotaging it) surround Deborah. Whom can she trust? The energy in this novel starts on page one with a mysterious midnight marriage that sets the tone and pace. The action continues and never lets up. Brant isn’t afraid to subject her heroine to a tumultuous roller-coaster of events, and feisty Deborah is up to it! The love story between Julian and Deborah is tender, and filled with the kind of blunders young people make when setting out on the rocky road of true love. Nice twists and turns, dramatic revelations, and some enjoyable chaos make this a book that keeps the reader turning the pages. They will not be disappointed. Highly recommended!

  — Fiona Ingram for Readers’ Favorite

Click to see the Family Tree…
See the review…
★★★★★  Top Pick—I loved it
Midnight Marriage carries on the Roxton series tradition with still another wonderful tale set in the 1700s where life is anything but simple. In this engaging story you will once again be reminded why Lucinda Brant’s books are such a treasure.
—SWurman for Night Owl Reviews
★★★★★  iBookstore (UK)
Magnificent! It's been a while since I read something that actually had a surprising plot line. This truly had me in constant suspense. The writing is very well done and the historical accuracy is impressive. Even the “good” characters demonstrate a shocking level of class-snobbery, which is perfect! They should. It is the the mid 18th century, after all. I do not exaggerate when I say that this is on par with Dangerous Liaisons, though there is no sex (only alluded to). Wonderful book!
—Lydia Gastrell
★★★★★  Amazon (USA)
If I could get in a time machine and travel back to the 18th century for a visit, I undoubtedly would, but given that that's an impossibility, the next best thing is pick up a Georgian historical by Lucinda Brant and settle in for a trip back in time just the same. This was the first book I have read by Ms. Brant, and I was thoroughly enchanted. I can honestly say, has turned out to be one of my favorite stories in this genre (and I've been reading this genre for a very, very long time). The characters are well-developed, convincingly aristocratic yet all too human, and altogether sympathetic. The dialogue is witty, the plot is fast-paced, the writing elegant, confident, and engaging. I can't wait to read the other two books in this trilogy: Noble Satyr and Autumn Duchess. Thank you, Ms. Brant, for allowing me to travel back to the Georgian age— and to have so much fun during my visit. I'll be back soon!
—DFC
★★★★★  iBooks (USA)
I have been a fan of Georgette Heyer since 1970, and if my guess is correct, so has the author. Having suffered through reading many aspiring writers in this genre I can say with enthusiasm that this writer reaches in the right direction. The attention to detail is remarkable without being obtrusive, and that the details are correct is a delight. I ask myself about the size and depth of the writers library, and I sincerely hope to meet her at one of the many conventions I attend. I will most definitely be reading her other titles, and I truly hope she maintains this level... And kudos to editors who don't fiddle unnecessarily!
—casacooper
★★★★★  Amazon (USA)
Excellent Georgian Historical Romance with all the details and drama that come with a true complete novel! As you read this precious jewel of a book you laugh and cry and you will not want to put this book down until you are done! Each character is so delectable and with unique personalities that you will feel withdrawals as you finish reading it. Ms. Lucinda Brant has totally got me started on Georgian Historical Romance and now I'm looking to read more by her and by same genre. Enjoy, and be sure you have a box of Kleenex handy because you will need it. Great love story.
—Bellamar



P REVIEW



 

GLOUCESTERSHIRE, ENGLAND, 1760

DEBORAH WOKE from a deep sleep to the sounds of a hasty late night arrival in the cobbled courtyard below her bedchamber window. Commands were barked out at drowsy-eyed stable boys and carriage wheels spun and slid to an abrupt halt. At first the girl thought it all part of her dream but the clip clop of horses hooves on uneven stone did not seem possible in the cool of a forest clearing. Otto was making beautiful music with his viola while she swung higher and higher on the rope swing, her silk petticoats billowing out between her long stockinged legs. She was sure if she swung higher her toes would touch the clouds. They both laughed and sang and it was such a lovely sunny day. Then the sun went behind a cloud and Otto disappeared and she fell off the swing at its highest point. Someone was shaking her awake. Fervent whispering opened her eyes and she blinked into the light of one taper held up by her nurse.

Before she had time to fully wake, Nurse pulled back the warm coverlet and threw a dressing gown over Deborah’s thin shoulders. Then with shaking hands the woman pushed a tumbler into her hand and guided the cup to her lips, telling her to drink up. Deb did as she was told. She grimaced. The medicine was the same foul-tasting brew she had been given just before bedtime. It had put her into a deep, deep sleep. So why was she being got out of bed if she was meant to fall asleep again?

Nurse evaded the question. She straightened the girl’s lace edged night cap, brought forward over one shoulder the single long thick plait of dark red hair, needlessly straightening the white bow; all the while muttering for Miss Deb to be a good girl and do as she was told and her prayers would be answered.

Drowsy and barefoot, Deborah was abandoned by her nurse at the door to Sir Gerald’s book room. The passageway was dark and cold and the book room was no better. At the furthest end of this masculine sanctuary blazed a fire in the grate but it did not beckon her with the prospect of warmth and comfort. She went forward when ordered by her brother Sir Gerald, a glance at the two strangers taking refreshment after a hard ride. They had divested themselves of their great coats but the tall gentleman with the white hair and strong aquiline nose still wore his sword, the ornate hilt visible under the skirts of his rich black velvet frock coat with silver lacings.

Deborah could not help staring at this imperious ancient stranger, whose close-shaven cheeks were etched with the lines of time; his hair and eyebrows as white as the soft lace ruffles which fell over his thin white hands. She had never seen an emerald as large as the one in the gold ring he wore on his left hand. She imagined he must be a hundred years old.

When he turned bright dark eyes upon her and beckoned her closer with the crook of one long finger she hesitated, swaying slightly. A sharp word from her brother moved her feet and through a mental fog that threatened to overwhelm her she remembered her manners at last and lowered her gaze to the floor. When she came to stand before this imperious ancient stranger she shivered, not from fear because she did not know what or whom to fear, but from the cold night breeze coming in through the open window. She made a wobbly curtsy and placidly waited to be spoken to first, gaze obediently remaining on the Turkey rug.

The stranger’s voice was surprisingly deep and strong for one so old.

“What is your age, child?”

“I had my twelfth birthday six days ago, sir.”

He frowned and over his shoulder said something in French to the little gray-haired man who stood at his elbow. He was answered in kind and the ancient stranger nodded and addressed Sir Gerald in his own tongue.

“She is far too young.”

“But—your Grace, she is of age!” Sir Gerald assured him with an eager nervous smile. “The bishop raised no objection. Twelve is the age of consent for a female.”

“That is true, Monseigneur,” agreed the little man. “But it is for your Grace to decide… I do not know of an alternative.”

“Surely your Grace has not changed his mind?” whined Sir Gerald. “Bishop Ramsay was not pleased to be summonsed here, your Grace, and if the ceremony is not to go ahead…”

“Your sister is not fifteen as you led me to believe, Cavendish,” enunciated the ancient stranger in an arctic voice.

Sir Gerald gave a snort that ended in a nervous laugh. “Your Grace! Twelve or fifteen: three years hardly matters.”

Deborah glanced up in time to witness the look of disgust that crossed the lined face of the ancient gentleman and she wondered what he found to fault in her. She knew she was only passably pretty. Sir Gerald despaired of her plain, brown looks, but she was not disfigured and her features were unremarkable. She was considered tall for her age but she was not so awkwardly big boned that this stranger had the right to pull a face at her in her own home. And why did her brother wear such a silly smile on his round fleshy face and stare expectantly at the arrogant ancient man as if his whole dependence rested on his will? He was acting as one of his own lackeys did before him. She had never seen her brother bow and scrape to anyone. It was strange indeed.

Deborah felt the black eyes regarding her from under heavy lids and she forced herself to look the ancient gentleman in the face without blinking. But she could not stop herself blushing when his gaze dropped to her bare feet and traveled slowly up the length of her nightgown to the brush tip of her single thick plait of dark red hair which touched her thigh, then on up over the swell of her budding breasts to rest on the lopsided bow tied under her chin that kept her nightcap in place. He then looked into her brown eyes again and she met his gaze openly through eyes that felt filled with oil and thus did not see clearly because the medicine she had drunk was beginning to take effect. A small crooked smile played on the ancient gentleman’s thin lips and Deborah wished she had the courage to tell him his manners were lacking in one so old. His question to her brother bleached her cheeks.

“Has she commenced menstruating?”

Sir Gerald was dumbstruck. “Your—your Grace?”

“You heard the question well enough, Cavendish,” prompted the gray-haired companion of the ancient one.

But even though Sir Gerald’s mouth worked he could not speak.

Deborah, feeling as if her head was full of cotton wool, sluggishly answered for him. “Two—two months ago.”

All three men turned and looked down at her then, as if finally acknowledging her mental as well as physical existence. Sir Gerald frowned but the ancient stranger and his friend smiled, the ancient one politely inclining his white head to her in thanks for her response. He seemed about to address her directly when a commotion in the passageway distracted them all. The gray-haired companion disappeared into the shadows and out of the room. He was gone for several minutes and in the interval no one spoke. Sir Gerald brooded; once or twice looking at his sister with mute disapproval while the ancient stranger calmly waited by the open window and fastidiously took snuff from a gold and enamel snuffbox.

Into the book room came a gentleman dressed in a cleric’s robes, but these were no ordinary robes; they were edged in ermine and were of velvet and gold thread. He carried an ornately decorated Bible and wore a magnificent, old-fashioned, powdered wig with three curls above each fleshy ear. Deborah knew this to be Bishop Ramsay. He had arrived at the house earlier that day and set the servants on their ears with his imperious demands. Nurse said Cook was at her wits’ end. The bishop took one look at Deborah in her nightclothes and put up his bushy brows. He ignored his host in favor of the ancient stranger over whose outstretched hand he bowed deeply. Deborah thought it odd that a bishop should bend to this old gentleman; he must be someone very illustrious indeed. Just then the little gray-haired man came out of the shadows looking worried.

“They’ve dragged him out of the carriage, your Grace,” he announced then hesitated.

“And… Martin?” asked the ancient gentleman with uncanny perceptibility.

“He’s downed another bottle, your Grace,” Martin apologized.

“Then he will endure the ceremony better than the rest of us,” came the flat reply.

“The marriage is to go ahead as planned?” Sir Gerald asked eagerly.

The ancient stranger did not look at him. “I have no choice.”

He said this in such a weary tone that even Deborah, for all her youth and inexperience, heard the deep note of sadness in the mellow voice. She wondered what troubled him. The fact that these men were talking about a marriage ceremony barely registered with her. After all, no one had spoken to her of marriage. And everyone knew that when a girl was of marriageable age she had to leave the schoolroom and be launched in society during the Season and attend plenty of balls and routs and meet many eligible gentlemen, one of whom she would fall in love with and hopefully he would be the one who asked her brother for her hand in the usual manner. Marriages did not happen in the dead of night, between strangers. And they certainly did not happen in nightgowns after taking a measured dose of laudanum. There were formalities and mysterious things called settlements and a proper order to such a momentous step in a girl’s life.

But Deborah was wrong and knew she was terribly wrong when her brother led her to the bishop, who called her a little sparrow of a bride and pinched her chin in a fatherly way, saying what a great honor had been bestowed upon her and her family for she had been chosen to be the wife of the Duke of Roxton’s heir.

Her first thought was that she was asleep. It was the medicine Nurse had woken her to take had changed her beautiful dream with Otto in the forest to this nightmare in which she appeared to be the central character of a Shakespearean tragedy. Perhaps if she tried hard enough to think about waking it would happen and Nurse would be there with a glass of milk and soothing words. She closed her eyes, swaying and dry in the mouth. But she did not wake up from the nightmare. She was so bewildered she could not speak nor could she move. Panic welled up within her. She wished with all her heart that Otto would come home and save her. She wanted to cry. There were hot tears behind her eyelids but for some reason she was incapable of crying. So why was she sobbing? She soon realized it was not her. The quiet sobbing came from the doorway and distracted her enough that she momentarily forgot that she was in a nightmare.

A tall, well-built youth with a mop of tight black curls was being supported at each elbow by two burly servants in livery. He was not so drunk that he could not walk and so he told his captors in a growl of angry words. But the more he struggled to be free of them, kicking out his stockinged legs and balling his fists, the harder the grip on his elbows and he soon gave up the fight and returned to weeping into his velvet frock coat.

An awkward silence followed as the boy was brought to stand beside Deborah. A languid movement of dismissal from the ancient gentleman and the burly servants retreated into the shadows.

Deborah stole a blinking glance at the weeping boy but he had turned away from her to face the ancient gentleman and addressed him in French, his voice breaking into sobs between sentences. He spoke faster than she could ever hope to understand but he used the words mon père: Father, over and over. Deb could not believe that this white haired old man could possibly be this boy’s father. Surely he meant grand-père? And as she continued to stare at father and son, the boy suddenly broke into English. His words were so full of hatred that Deborah’s face was not the only one to brighten with intense embarrassment.

“It’s all your fault! Your fault,” the boy screamed at the ancient gentleman, his fists clenching and unclenching with rage. “Why should I be banished for your sins? Does my presence make you uncomfortable, Monseigneur, now that I know the sordid truth? You can’t bear the truth about yourself, there’s the irony!” he added bitterly. “Poor Maman. To think she’s had to live with your-your disgusting secrets all these years—”

“Alston, that will do,” cut in the gray-haired companion. “You’re drunk. In the morning you will regret—”

The boy tore his tearful gaze from his father to stare at the man at his side. “Regret?Regret knowing the truth about him? Never!” he spat out, lip trembling uncontrollably. “You’ve known all along, haven’t you, Martin? Why didn’t you tell me? I’m his heir. I have a right to know. A-a right.” He began to sob again and dashed a silken sleeve across his wet face. “Mon Dieu, I’m cursed. Cursed.”

“It’s all in your head, my son,” the ancient gentleman said quietly.

This made the youth give a bark of hysterical laughter that broke in the middle. “In my head? Then it’s a lie? A lie that His Grace the most noble Duke of Roxton, my father, has littered the land with ill-gotten bastards—”

The slap across his face knocked the boy off his feet and left the Duke nursing a smarting hand. Deborah watched him turn his back and walk into the shadows while at her feet the boy picked himself up to his silken knees, a hand to his stinging cheek. The gray-haired gentleman known as Martin put an arm about the boy’s shaking shoulders and with a glance at Deborah said in a soothing voice,

“If you ever want to see your mother again, marry this girl. Then you and I can be on our way to France.”

The youth gripped Martin’s arm convulsively, his tear-stained face close to his. “If I do as he wants, may I see Maman before we sail? May I, Martin? Please. I must see her before we go. I must.”

Martin shook his head sadly. “The early birth of your baby brother has left her very weak, my boy. She needs time to recover; the rest is up to God.”

The youth broke into fresh sobs. “He’ll never let me see her again! I know it, Martin.Never.”

Deborah’s brown eyes widened and she held her breath, awaiting the gray-haired gentleman’s response. When he looked over the youth’s bowed head of black curls and smiled at her kindly she felt a great relief. Though why she should feel anything but panic and dread at the prospect that lay before her she could not explain. Perhaps it was because she did not believe any of this was real. It was a laudanum-induced dream and soon she would wake up. If only she could shake her head free of cotton wool.

“After the ceremony, I am taking my godson to France and then on to Rome and Greece,” Martin told her in a confiding tone, adding for good measure, as if living up to the promise in his smile, “We will be away for many years. Do you understand, ma cherie?”

Deborah nodded. There was something oddly reassuring in Martin’s smile, as if he would protect her from this strange sad boy and the consequences of this hasty midnight marriage. France was over the water. And Greece and Rome were so far away that it took months and months of traveling to reach such exotic countries; Otto had told her so. Suddenly she felt safe. Soon she knew she would wake up. All she had to do was lie still and wait for Nurse to wake her with the breakfast tray. This boy was going away for many years. She would never see him again after tonight. The sooner the bishop performed the ceremony the sooner she would wake up and forget this bad dream ever happened.

Martin’s words of reassurance had an effect on the boy too for he pulled out of the man’s embrace and dashed the curls from his eyes. The bishop quickly came to stand before these two children with his bible open and proceedings began in a rush; as if there was no assurance the boy’s capitulation would last long enough for the exchange of vows, or that the girl who swayed on her feet and had a gaze that seemed incapable of blinking would be able to stand upright for very much longer. The bishop’s fears seemed justified when all of a sudden the boy began to chuckle under his breath, disconcerting the bishop enough for him to pause on two occasions, and Deborah to blink uncomprehendingly up at the boy to see what he found so amusing. Finally the boy had to share his amusement with his ancient parent who stood behind him like a sentry made of marble.

Monseigneur. Is this plain, awkward bird witted creature the best you could find to marry your heir?” he threw over his shoulder in arrogant bitterness. “Surely my lineage begs better?”

“Her pedigree is as good as yours, my son.”

The youth sniggered. “What an illustrious union to be sure! Something of which you all must be very proud. Pshaw,” and snatched up Deborah’s hand when requested by the bishop. Obediently he repeated the words that would make them husband and wife. Deborah too had repeated the words after the bishop but she had said them without comprehending and had no idea what this boy’s Christian names were, despite there being a string of them, because she could not take her eyes off his face. Her nightmare had unexpectedly turned into a wondrous dream. Her youthful husband was the handsomest boy she had ever seen in paints or real life; but it was his eyes that held her mesmerized. They were green, but not just any green, a deep emerald green. The same color as the large square cut emerald on the thin white hand of the ancient stranger Deborah was convinced had to be a hundred years old.

© 2014 Lucinda Brant. All rights reserved   |   email me