An Unwilling Earl
by Sharon Cullen
Series – Mayfair Men of Mystery Book One
Publisher – Entangled Amara
About the Book
Jacob Ashland’s life has taken an unexpected turn. He’s now the Earl of Ashland and expected to marry. But he’s done that before and had his heart ripped from his chest. When Charlotte shows up at his door needing protection, he offers to marry her––in name-only.
Charlotte, an orphan, suspects her sinister cousin of terrorizing London. When her maid disappears, she fears for her own life and runs away. Lord Ashland offers marriage, and it’s the perfect solution. But it isn’t long before she finds herself falling for her new husband.
Unfortunately, he won’t allow himself to love anyone ever again. And she knows her dark secret could destroy everything.
He found his friend, Armbruster, sitting in his usual nook, reading The Times. Other London newssheets were stacked neatly beside him.
Armbruster lowered the paper enough to eye Jacob’s wet and muddy trousers. “What happened to you?”
“Just another day saving lost boys from death by horse’s hooves.”
His friend grunted and folded the paper to place it on the table between them. Jacob read the headline and shook his head at the words meant to incite fear. “How many bodies has this been?”
“Four. Another woman. The police are speculating she was a servant, but it’s hard to tell since she was found with no head nor hands.”
The city was nearly in hysterics, although Jacob was hard-pressed to determine exactly which kind of hysterics. People were alternately horrorstruck and enthralled—locking their servants inside while devouring the newspapers for more sensationalized details. Preachers were screaming from the pulpits that the devil was at work, and women—especially women of the serving class—were afraid to go outside for fear of being the next victim.
A bottle of their favorite port appeared, and the servant poured two healthy glasses before moving on.
Armbruster took a swallow of his. Jacob was not in the mood for port. Strangely, the encounter with the boy had shaken him. It wasn’t often that one saved a life. It was a peculiar feeling, and he wondered where the boy lived and what circumstances had brought him so low.
“Have you looked through the rest of the papers?” Jacob asked.
“Some. A woman’s husband was poisoned. That one is simple. She surely has a lover and wanted the husband out of the picture.”
Love and jealousy. It was a common theme. He’d learned that most crimes were solved by looking to the ones closest to the victim.
“What else?” he asked.
Armbruster leaned back and eyed Jacob speculatively. “Word has it you’ve been elevated in Society.” This was said in the bored way that he affected when in fact he was anything but bored.
“You can’t believe everything you hear,” Jacob said, but he couldn’t match the blandness of Armbruster’s tone. His heart had suddenly dropped to his stomach. He was surprised Armbruster had said something and then surprised he’d been surprised. Of course he would say something.
“Oh, I have this from the most trusted source.” He paused. “My mother.”
Jacob winced. If the Dowager Countess knew of the inheritance, soon all of London would know.
“You are an earl. An earl, Ashland. With all of the benefits it entails.”
Jacob tapped the arm of his chair in irritation upon hearing his title come from his friend’s mouth. “I’m a solicitor, Armbruster. It’s what I’m trained for, and it’s what I want to be.”
“An earl is much better than a solicitor.”
Armbruster would say that. From the moment the man had drawn breath he’d been trained to be an earl. He’d been groomed for it before he could eat solid food. It was in his blood, and he fit the role well. He liked being an earl.
Jacob knew nothing about any of that and wasn’t sure he was even interested.
“I guess I should give my condolences on the death of your cousin.”
“Thank you, but I never met the man.” And now he’d inherited the title. “I don’t know the first thing about being an earl.”
“Never fear, friend. That’s where I come in. I’ll teach you all you need to know.”
Jacob snorted. “Spending your days at Brooks and your nights in houses of ill repute?”
“I don’t do that every night.” Armbruster appeared to be offended, but Jacob knew the opposite was true.
The man had a certain reputation that kept the matchmaking mamas away, for fear their lily-white daughters would be infected with whatever it was that he exuded.
He’d perfected the image of a classic rogue. A wretch who drank too much, slept too late, and was a general ne’er-do-well. But Jacob knew he was so much more. He was a shrewd businessman, skilled at making money. He’d catapulted the Armbruster earldom into one of the most successful and richest of the realm.
“Wasn’t your cousin married?” Armbruster asked.
“He left a wife and young daughter behind. Unfortunately, the wife has proven that she is not in delicate condition with an expected heir.”
Armbruster grunted. “And what will you do with the widow and her daughter?”
“I have no idea what I’m going to do with myself most days. How the hell am I supposed to decide what to do with them?”
“Well, let’s not think about that now.” Armbruster reached for the stack of newssheets. “Let’s find out what London’s underbelly has to offer us.”
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of AN UNWILLING EARL by Sharon Cullen, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 3/29/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted.
About Sharon Cullen
Bios are the hardest things to write. I always want to be interesting and make it sound like I’m a world traveler. Unfortunately I’m not a world traveler. Yet. And I like to think I’m witty but my bio doesn’t seem so witty. So here is an unofficial bio–bulleted and in list form. 1. I wrote my first book when I was nine years old. It was about a girl and her horse and it was written on a flip top spiral notebook. I designed and drew the cover myself. 2. I attended three high schools and met my husband on the first day of my third high school. I’m not uber-religious but I believe that God had a hand in that. 3. When I was thirty-three I decided to get serious about my life-long dream of publishing a book. I gave myself a deadline of four years to get published. I figured people earn a college degree in four years and that should be adequate time for me to learn to write a novel. 4. My first published book, A Forever Kind of Thing, was published four years after I started writing. 5. I have three very talented kids. One is talented in music, another in writing (hmmmm) and another in sports. 6. I love dogs. If I could I would adopt every homeless dog out there.