Published by Lyrical Press on January 31st 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Captain Lord Henry Challoner is a young viscount who’s left his ambition on the plains of South Africa. Wounded in the First Boer War, he’s come home and wishes he were anywhere else, until his desperate father sends him to Puddling-on-the-Wold to rusticate and recalibrate. How can Henry have any fun without any alcohol, or worse yet, any women? Kept under house arrest under the watchful eye of his draconian housekeeper and earnest local vicar, he’s bored enough to begin speaking to sheep until he literally stumbles across schoolteacher Rachel Everett.
Rachel knows she’s not on Henry’s improvement plan, but can’t seem to avoid or repel him no matter what she does to keep him at arm’s length. Could it be that she quite enjoys being in his arms, even if it’s against all the Puddling Rehabilitation Rules? Can Rachel circumvent the town fathers and Henry escape his personal jailors and demons?
I’m so excited about my new series, the Cotswold Confidential books. Well, I have to say that, don’t I? But my feelings are shared by the exalted Amazon Editors, who picked Schooling the Viscount as one of the best books of the month in romance! It’s also a staff pick from my publisher Kensington Lyrical, so we’re off to a great start.
Schooling the Viscount tells the tale of Captain Lord Henry Challoner, a war veteran who’s wounded both in body and spirit. He’s sent away to a super-secret strict spa in the Gloucestershire countryside, Puddling-on-the-Wold, for a little rest and rehab. As he’s chafing at his restrictions, restraints and rules, he accidentally meets the village schoolteacher Rachel Everett, who is not meant to consort with the village’s paying guests. Henry has other ideas. Here’s an exclusive excerpt:
“Allow me to introduce myself,” he began.
“I know who you are,” Rachel said, making him sound like Dr. William Palmer, the Prince of Poisoners. It was imperative that she freeze him out and send him back where he came from. In another week she might nod coldly if she encountered him, but not yet.
“Then you have an advantage. Everyone’s in on this caper, yes?”
Rachel tried to make her eyebrows ripple into one dark caterpillar. “I don’t understand what you mean.”
“All of you Puddling persons are in this together. It’s like one charming, open-air jail, with each of you acting as coppers. I thought at first it was just the vicar chap and Mrs. Grace, but I’m beginning to see the error of my ways.”
If only he were. But it was much too soon. Guests stayed a minimum of twenty-eight days, and some took much longer to take the Cure and perform their Service.
“I’m sorry, Lord Challoner, but I must get back to grading papers. Good day.” Rachel turned to go, but as she did, Lord Challoner, using his stick for leverage, leaped over the low stone wall. He stumbled upon landing and fell in a well-tailored heap at her feet.
“Damn,” he muttered, spitting out a blade of grass, “I should have used the gate.”
“You should have gone home!” Rachel said with asperity. She reached a hand down to help him up.
And promptly found herself pulled down into his lap.
“If anyone sees us—” she hissed, punching his shoulder. Her blows were ineffective. He seemed to be made of marble and just grinned at her like one of her naughtier students. Only they would never dream of cuddling her in such a shocking way!
“No chance of that, unless there are Puddling pigeons flying over us, and the sheep over there don’t care, I’m sure. You are lovely when you are angry. Forgive me, I just couldn’t help myself. There you were, above me like a solemn angel, offering succor. What could I do but reach for perfection? I simply forgot myself.”
He took a great gulp of air. “By Jove, you smell like an angel too. Wisteria. Cloves. Pencil shavings. Ah, ambrosia.”
The man was ridiculous.
“When was the last time you encountered an angel, Lord Challoner? In some music hall? I am not that sort of woman.”
“No, more’s the pity. I suppose you want to get up.” He sighed, the breath tickling her ear in the oddest way. “I’ve never held a woman against her will before.”
Rachel could see why not—he was too handsome for his own good, not that she was moved in the least. Women of weaker virtue were bound to be quivering masses of feminine jelly after one smile. “Well, you’re doing so now. Unhand me.”
“But of course. You didn’t get hurt when you fell, did you? Perhaps I should examine you for broken bones.” One fingertip touched her cheek.
“I’m not the one who fell, you—you—”
“Rascal?” he asked hopefully. “I have been called worse.”
Rachel never cursed, but she was very close to that now. And the more she struggled to regain her footing, the odder Lord Challoner’s expression became.
“I’m so sorry,” he said. Then he kissed her.
It is, of course, the first kiss of many. Never let it be said that Henry ever rested on his laurels!
I’m giving away any paperback book or download on my backlist and a Schooling the Viscount promo pack to one commenter.
If you could go to any spa in the world to run away from home, where would you go?
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
Schooling the Viscount is the first book in the Cotswold Confidential series by Maggie Robinson. It is also the first book that I have read by this author, the first, but definitely not the last. I especially look forward to reading more in this particular series.
This is the story of Captain Lord Henry Agamemnon Challoner. He has come back from fighting in the first Boer war, injured physically, but also scarred mentally. He suffers terrible nightmares, and constantly thinks of the war. In an attempt to block those memories, and stop the nightmares he takes up heavy drinking, and womanising. His father doesn’t understand what he is going through, and as his heir he isn’t pleased at all about the changes in his son. He wants him to marry and settle down, but if he carries on the way he is, no proper woman will want him. When he finds Henry in bed, drunk, and with two women, it’s the final straw. He immediately drags his son away to the Cotswolds, to a place called Puddling-on-the-Wold.
It’s a very small village unlike any other. The whole place is dedicated to helping people ‘clean up their act’, to rehabilitate them. Every person in the village caters to the ‘guest’s’ needs. In Henry’s case all young marriageable women are kept hidden, the pub will only serve soft drinks, and Henry must walk daily, have counselling from the vicar, and not be allowed any treats such as biscuits, cakes etc.
Henry is horrified to find himself there, and to know that he has to stay for a whole month. Maybe longer if the vicar doesn’t think he has overcome his wicked ways. His horror diminishes somewhat when he goes off the track that he is told he has to walk daily and ends up at the local school. It’s school teacher is a beautiful, curvaceous woman who Henry instantly feels an attraction to.
Rachel Everett is that school teacher, she is one of the woman that Henry is not allowed to come into contact with. She finds herself attracted to Henry, but puts it down to the fact that he is very handsome, and she also finds out that he is a real charmer too. But she knows he is not allowed to see her, and that any dealings with him would scupper his recovery and also get her into trouble. She might even lose her teaching job. Despite knowing that, when during their first meeting she ends up in his lap and being kissed passionately, she is instantly in awe. It still doesn’t change the facts though, that she isn’t allowed to be around him, and besides, he’s only messing with her because he is a womaniser and she’s the only young woman around. Right? Rachel considers herself too plain, too plump, and has been happy living with her father looking after him, and teaching at the school. She’s resigned to her life.
The story goes on to tell how despite Rachel telling Henry he must leave her alone, he tries his best to keep seeing her. He wants more kisses, he wants her! He doesn’t believe in love, but he knows he very much likes Rachel and wants her to marry him. She tells him he’s mad, she’s not good enough for him, especially as he is a Lord and she is a nobody. Also any relationship between them couldn’t work because it will prove that Puddling-on-the-Wold has failed at it’s rehabilitation of a guest, and when word gets out, the county would lose all future guests and the money they make from them.
Will Rachel give in to at least a clandestine dalliance, what will the consequences be if she gives in? Is it worth it, or is there too much to lose?
I really enjoyed this story, the idea of a whole village being involved in rehabilitating ‘guests’, catering entirely to their individual needs is just wonderful. Most of the villagers are down to Earth and caring. I especially loved Rachel’s dad. He might come across as a grump, but he’s a darling, and I loved the scenes that he was in.
There was much to make me laugh in this story, as well as an emotional scene or two that brought a lump to my throat. There was the passion between our main couple, which was both gentle at times, but steamy at others. A definite will they won’t they, can they can’t they story that kept me wondering until the very end how it could all work out. I really look forward to being introduced to more of the villagers in future books in this series because I am sure they all have a fabulous story to tell.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book.