His Rebel Countess (Challenging the Ton 1)
Peri Elizabeth Scott
[BookStrand Historical Romance, HEA]
Oliver Birmingham, Earl of Leith, is an aristocrat—albeit socially minded—and in the market for a bride. Beautiful, intelligent Abigayle Windsor is a commoner, one the Earl is impossibly drawn to, and when he accidentally compromises her, he insists they wed.
Despite her misgivings, Abby agrees to marry Oliver and their honeymoon lays the foundation for a loving, wonderful marriage. But back in London, Oliver is again the Earl, and Abby finds herself adrift and uncertain, unable to fit in, and she garners considerable attention from the gentlemen of the ton.
Frustrated with Abby’s apparent refusal to adapt, and driven wild with jealousy he refuses to acknowledge, Oliver disciplines his bride one fateful night. He then decrees that if she won’t act the part of his Countess, providing him heirs will suffice, and effectively breaks her heart.
Have Oliver’s actions cost him Abby’s love? Or can he leave his father’s influence behind, and make it up to her?
No matter how she cajoled, Mr. Landbourne wouldn’t be convinced to share anything with her, other than his information was relevant to a bill being discussed in Parliament on the morrow. He insisted it wasn’t for the ears of ladies, no matter if this lady had her husband’s ear as she implied, and Abby’s mood soured by the minute. Her curiosity ran rampant as well.
Thomas brought refreshments—tea and pastries. Nothing stronger to give the impression the small gathering was anything more than innocent. And he left the door wide open, his shadow passing by frequently. Belatedly, Abby came to the conclusion that entertaining Edwin might not have been the best choice. She wished for Oliver to hurry home.
Be careful what you wish for. The ominous words filled her head as the front door opened and closed, loud in the quiet of the house, followed by a murmur of voices. Her husband’s large frame filled the doorway, incredulity a dire mask on his features before he composed them. Abby chilled to the bone in the face of it. “My lady. Landbourne.”
His freezing tone didn’t totally hide the bubbling fury in his voice. Abby intuited that Oliver was in a towering rage such as she’d never witnessed, and instinctively stood to insert herself between him and Edwin, who was also on his feet and babbling anxiously.
“Leave. Now.” Where was the Earl of Leith, that paragon of manners and proper behavior? The Earl of Hauteur? Mr. Landbourne obviously looked for him too, going pale and blinking frantically. His lips flapped but nothing intelligible emerged.
Then this new Oliver set her aside, merely grasping her upper arms and lifting her clear to set her away from them, before bearing down on the inoffensive Edwin. Twisting the youth’s arm up behind his back, Oliver frogmarched him out of the room before her astonished eyes, ignoring his pleas. The sounds of a scuffle diminished, then she distinctly heard the slamming of the entry. Thomas dashed in to widen his eyes at her, and tried to say something, only to retreat, as with a measured tread, Oliver gained the room again and crossed to loom over her. Had he always been so tall?
“What were you thinking?” His intimidating near growl frightened her but also sparked her temper, a faint hint of guilt fueling the fire.
“I beg your pardon?” She too could sound icy and forbidding, having been schooled by some of the best in the ton, and Oliver’s eyes flashed in response.
“Entertaining Edwin Landbourne. When you were unwell, too ill to attend the Dowager Duchess’s ball. The event of the season and one extremely important to my status in Parliament. I would have thought you’d hope to showcase your considerable charms to a wider audience.”
The attack on her reputation was the final straw. She’d had enough. Damn his status. And damn his insinuations. What about their marriage? What about her? If Oliver chose not to hear Mr. Landbourne out then it wasn’t her place to tell him the young man had come to share information perhaps very relevant to tomorrow’s day in Parliament. To her husband’s oh-so-precious duty.
“There is nothing to say. And certainly nothing to defend. I have no interest in those balls and parties and soirees you insist upon. I have no interest in any part of this social life you have thrust me into, using me to further your political interests! That you no longer even share with me! I have no interest in being your wife.”
A horrible stillness settled over Oliver, and the difference in him became even more pronounced. He somehow grew taller, his shoulders wider, and the very flesh on his cheekbones thinned to give him a cruel, finely etched appearance. She barely recognized him. His next words flayed her, delivered in such a silky tone it nearly masked the venom.
“But you are my wife, Abigayle. My countess. And as my wife you will take my direction and advice and obey me henceforth. Without negotiation. Without complaint or protest, or pay a very dear price for defying me.”
Aghast, she retreated as far as the couch behind her would allow and shook her head. “No. I can’t live like that.”
“Then you leave me no choice.”
Bearing her out of the room with no care to her protests and struggles, he took her to a small room at the end of the hall. Her eye caught the quick movements of the servants and she was mortally embarrassed to be handled in such a way in front of them. What transpired next was something she somehow retreated from in order to deny him further and only consider later when alone again in her room, deposited there by a man she no longer knew, yet was married to and forced to deal with for her lifetime. If only at his time and choosing.
Welcome, my darlings. Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing the amazing Peri Elizabeth Scott, author of His Rebel Countess. Hello there Peribeth, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Why don’t you start by telling us about your latest release?
Thanks for having me. Countess is my first historical romance, inspired by all those Harlequin Romances my mother devoured—she loaned me the tamer ones, lol.
In my research I learned how so many women lost all their status when they married, and rarely did they marry for love but rather, to suit their families, build empires and primarily for money. Class was terribly important and rarely did anyone marry beneath their station.
So I decided to write a romance where the man chose a bride who wasn’t part of the Ton and who frankly didn’t care! Because she loved him, however, she did her best to fit in but didn’t always pull it off. He lost sight of what attracted him in the first place because of his unreasonable jealousy and his staid upbringing, and maltreated her, as was allowed in that time period.
When he finally came to his senses, it was anyone’s guess if she could forgive him…but of course, true love (and a whole lot of righteous grovelling) conquered all.
Oh, I love a good historical romance, this is one for the TBR pile. So, have you always wanted to be an author, and what inspired you to write?
I’ve told stories and written all my life. I have things in my head that must be expressed. It was amazing to submit a story and have it accepted. The honour of knowing others read my work is indescribable.
Tell us, what have you written to date?
I’ve written nine books that are published, eight of which are sweet romances, and one post-apocalyptic novel that I self pubbed. I’m particularly proud of that one.
In my former profession I wrote any number of reports, and in my teen years wrote short stories, poems and newspaper articles.
You've been a busy busy bee! Want to tell us about any future projects?
I have dozens of unfinished WIPs but one in particular stands out. It’s about a woman who struggled in school because of her poverty and ill appearance. She didn’t fit in. She went on to do well in her career while still contributing to her family. She doesn’t have much luck with relationships, but she’s doing okay. Until the ten year high school reunion she attends because she’s been set up to fail. It seems bullies don’t always grow up…
I like the sound of that one. I look forward to seeing it published. Do you have any unusual writing rituals?
I don’t think so. I write any old time, sometimes for so many hours I end up with shoulder and hand issues. Other times I don’t write for days and days. My muse very much dictates what and when I write. Total pantser.
If you get writer’s block when you’re writing, how do you get around it?
I read and read. I content edit a number of other author’s books. I have a small cadre of authors who I love and respect. We all write differently and it’s inspiring. Some are very well known, others are starting out. If I get blocked, it doesn’t last long!
Oh snap, I do the same thing. I always go back to one author in particular, and think it does help with the ole writer's block. Okay, list your top ten snacks while writing:
Chemical coffee. Chemical coffee. Diet Pepsi. Hawkins cheezies. Chocolate. More chemical coffee. That’s about it.
Chemical coffee???? That sounds dangerous! lol So, does your nearest and dearest know what you write, and if so, what was their reaction when they found out?
They know I write and what I write. My husband is frustrated that I don’t treat it like a business, but I am most fortunate to not have to rely on my writing income. I love him dearly but he doesn’t grasp what being an author means to me.
What kind of books did you enjoy reading when you were younger? Who popped your erotica cherry?
I read Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, anything about horses, and the Hardy Boys as a child and graduated to almost anything and everything as a teen. I consumed books then as I do now. I read a lot of romance now, balanced with suspense and mystery.
Maya Banks popped my erotica cherry. Who knew? J
Maya Banks has some great work, she's amazing. So tell us, who is your favourite author?
Hands down, Joey W. Hill. Her Vampire Queen series. I never read paranormal, surprisingly enough, considering how much I did read, but somehow the first book in that series came my way and I was hooked. Vampires, strange sexual rituals and violence aside, the human dynamics Mistress Hill writes are indescribable but it takes me away. I become enthralled and lose track of time when I crack one of her amazing books.
I agree, its a great series. What do you do in your free time?
I write, garden, read, walk, and do yoga.
Tell us five things about yourself not many people would know.
I prefer skinny dipping to wearing a suit.
I can open jars with my monkey toes.
I never read reviews.
I can’t make a chocolate cake to save my soul.
My alter ego writes very dark erotic romance.
Skinny dipping? Monkey toes!?! We totally need to discuss this more later! Final and most important question…. Chocolate or caramel??
Good Answer!!! A woman after my own heart. We totally rock! Thank you again for coming here today and chatting with us Peribeth, it's been fun!
Peri Elizabeth Scott lives in Manitoba, Canada. She and her husband have a wonderful son, and a houseful of animals. She closed her part time private practice as a social worker and child play therapist to spend more time with her husband. Peri has written for years, mostly short stories and poetry, and reads everything she can lay her hands on. She more recently turned to penning contemporary romance, although has published dark erotica under another pen name.