Claiming Lady Marianne

After Marianne is caught en compromise with another woman, her husband Viscount Cobham is fed up. He remands Marianne to the care of her beastly grandfather with orders that she take a lover—a male lover. She is to get herself with child by the time he returns from his travels in six months. He will have his heir, one way or another. Marianne’s grandfather charges his stable master with the task, and Marianne is bound to her bed every third night to await the burly man.

Michael Ainsworth is no stud horse himself, and Baron Thurlow’s task is too ghastly to consider. But Michael longs for a glimpse of the pretty girl who used to cling to the paddock fence to watch the horses, and when he finds her terrified and unwilling, his honor demands he protect her. While he knows the viscountess can never love a lowly servant, every day his feelings grow stronger.

With their brief six months together quickly disappearing, can Michael endure the day he must step aside and let the woman he loves return to the cruel viscount?

“A sensuous tale that will capture your heart.”
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Emily, Sensual Reads

“Crystal Kauffman gives the readers an adventure spiced with danger and love that will shock and thrill them. Claiming Lady Marianne is not your typical historical romance but it is most defiantly an attention getter. Ms. Kauffman has taken this love story to the extreme and her readers will love her for it. Marianne and Michael’s relationship far exceed my expectations and I could not put it down…”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Sonya, Fallen Angels Reviews

“…I fell in love with Michael. He’s nothing more than a servant, but his heart is pure and his devotion to Marianne is all a woman could imagine… In the end, this was a excellent book that I didn’t want to put down.”
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Seriously Reviewed

“…This novel is an emotional roller coaster ride full of sadness, anger, hope, love, joy, and desperation. With many different facets in the plotline, you too will find yourself enjoying this tale.”
⭐⭐⭐ Danielle Coffee Time Romance & More

“Claiming Lady Marianne is a perfect escape for the reader seeking a short, thrilling journey. With equal amounts of spice and love, Kauffman’s novella is entertaining and immensely satisfying…”
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Audrey, Night Owl Reviews

“This is a fun romp. I adored Michael, and was totally thrilled with the twists that made their HEA.”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Kay at Goodreads

Two days passed in which Marianne sat alone in her rooms, always locked there by Greta. The first day her meals were delivered by a timid young maid who never announced her name. On the second day it was either Greta, or a brusque, masculine maid she had never seen before, who brought her trays. Marianne saw the young maid’s absence for what it was—the removal of temptation presented by the sweet young flower. Foolish old codger. Her grandfather believed her relationship with Louisa was nothing more than sexual perversion, satisfied by any warm body.

That was a man’s way of thinking.

Her affair with Louisa was so much more than that. The dear woman had been her very best friend long before their relationship turned intimate. And yet, Louisa was so much more than a lover. She had been a source of encouragement to Marianne, and truly listened to her. Louisa had spent countless hours reassuring her worries, chasing away the fears. Marianne would not have survived a single month of her miserable marriage if it hadn’t been for Louisa.

Not a knock, but a rattle of the key in the lock announced a visitor after her evening tray had been removed. Her grandfather rolled his squeaking chair into the room, followed by one of the men needed to carry him up the stairs. Next came Greta, and the burly maid whose name she’d learned was Radostina.

Marianne squeezed the lapels of her robe together at her throat. She glanced over the lot, as uneasy under Radostina’s disapproving gaze as she was in the presence of this man and her grandfather while in a state of undress.

“Grandfather,” she said, but her gaze remained pinned on the large man.

She’d glimpsed him at the stables when she lived at Brookmoor, though she’d never known his name. He stood out as the tallest, strongest man she’d ever seen. In her years away, first at finishing school and then Viscount Cobham’s Tally Ho, he seemed to have blossomed from an awkward youth into proud manhood. Dark hair, slightly too long at the brow, swept over one eye. His were soft eyes, though, he the only member of this macabre group who didn’t glare at her like she was filth.

Greta moved into the room to straighten her vanity and Radostina headed the other direction to turn down the bed.

“For the sake of your reputation, your presence here will remain a secret,” the baron began loftily. “As far as anyone who is anyone knows, you are in Italy with your husband.”

There was a devious gleam in his eyes she didn’t like. At least she felt herself lucky he hadn’t taken a switch to her, or bade this brute of a man to do so.

“You’ll remain in your room. Greta or Radostina will deliver your meals.”

A prisoner? In her own room? She straightened her back. They would not make her feel guilty for loving Louisa.

“Michael will visit you every third night.”

She frowned, confused. Why on earth…

Hissing rose in her ears and her face became unbearably hot. Surely he did not mean…

“W-What?” She shot a look at Radostina, still rustling by the bed. What in Hades was the surly woman doing?

“You’ll be bound and put upon by him until not only are you seeded with child, but cured of your depravities.”

The entire world stopped moving. “You cannot be serious.” Her voice was so far away the words seemed to have been spoken by someone else.

“I am as serious as death, child! This is no laughing matter you’ve gotten yourself into.”

“I have done nothing wrong!” she shouted back.

“You were found in bed with a woman, both of you naked.” He flipped a hand. “While I could not possibly care less what you do, your husband is mightily offended. I took great pains to arrange that marriage. You should have been thankful for your step up in society. Instead you throw it all away! Consider it a blessing he’s willing to give you this chance to redeem yourself.”

“This chance?” she echoed, stunned. Beside the old baron, the stable master, Michael, shifted from one foot to the other. The tips of his ears were bright pink, and he wouldn’t meet her eyes.

“Give Lord Cobham his heir. I don’t suppose he’ll care what you do if he gets a son. But for the time being, he’s entrusted me to put a cure on you, and by God I’m going to do it.”

“You’re mad!” She started towards him, intending to drop at his knee and beg for mercy. Greta caught one arm and Radostina appeared at her other faster than Marianne believed the brawny woman capable of moving. They clutched her viciously, digging their fingers into the soft underside of her upper arm so precisely it seemed they had conspired their brutality ahead of time.

Marianne screamed at the pain and reared back. Her knees gave out but her captors hauled her back onto her feet, Greta giving her a shake.

“Grandfather! Don’t do this!”

“Fear not, child. Medicine is always unpleasant but you’ll thank me when you’ve been cured of your depravity.”

“My depravity!” she screamed at him. “You set about having me raped and you call me depraved? You’re insane, and this is criminal. I’ll report you!”

Greta and Radostina dragged her to the bed. Marianne’s screams peaked as fear swirled around her like a choking fog.

“You’ll tell no one, if you know what’s good for you.” He shook the cane he always clutched in his gnarled hand. “Scream all you want. The house is empty.”

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