The Lord’s Sweet Revenge (Preview)


Chapter One

Even after three years of marriage, Lady Caroline Monmouth was still unable to keep a dreamy smile from her lips when she gazed at William. He was indeed the most handsome man she had even met, and no-one in the world made her as happy as he made her.

His playful gaze met hers, but before either one was able to utter a word, the carriage jolted violently and Caroline shrieked in surprise. Perhaps it was only the uneven country road that had caused the abrupt motion, but as Caroline glanced out of the window of the coach, three horses appeared, ridden by three men she did not recognise. Their faces were obscured by the motions of the coach, as well as the horses, but Caroline knew nothing good would come of this. The coach jolted again, only this time it managed to overturn abruptly. Caroline reached for William’s hand, calling his name in terror.

Caroline was flung from the coach and landed on the ground, the world spinning viciously around her. Her vision grew hazy and the last thing she heard was William’s voice calling out to her. Darkness engulfed her, and her consciousness eluded her.

A searing pain in her skull woke her but her body was unable to move. The muffled voices of three men nearby struck even more terror into her soul. Where was William? Had those men done something to him?

Overcome with fear of what the men may do to her if they were to realise she was alive, she lay perfectly still, her face half buried in the dirt.

The sweet smell of blood filled her nostrils, yet she remained still as footsteps approached. The men came to a stop beside her, and she felt one of them lightly kicking her leg.

“She is dead.”

“Pity. We could have had a bit of fun. She was a pretty one.”

Caroline inwardly cringed but remained motionless. She was uncertain how much time had passed, but when the sound of their horses had faded, she opened her eyes. The men were nowhere to be seen. For a moment she was relieved, but her heart began to pound in her chest.


Caroline rose to her feet, dizzily reached her hand to her temple, and felt the warm sticky blood on her skin. She drew in a deep breath, needing to be composed to find William.

“William?” she called out faintly.

She stepped towards the tall grass and froze in horror as she saw him. William lay on his back, his lifeless body covered in blood. Her heart stopped for a moment, tears immediately forming in her eyes as she stumbled towards him.


Caroline’s body jolted upright in her bed as a terror-filled scream broke the silence of the midnight air. Her hand automatically reached to the side for comfort, as it had done each time she had been plagued by a bad dream. Her entire life these last years had consisted of dark dreams, but not in such extremes as it had been of late. Regardless of what she had tried to relieve herself from the trauma, her mind simply did not wish to cooperate. Nor did her heart.

It had been two years—which felt an eternity at times to Caroline—since the fateful evening when her life had been turned upside down and she’d lost the love of her life. Yet it felt as if it had happened mere moments ago.

Each night.

It was of course not something she wished to think of, yet the thoughts always remained with her. As did the feelings of guilt.

She had considered every possibility and every possible outcome to the situation. If she’d had the opportunity to do something, anything, to save William’s life, she would have done so. The constant nagging at the back of her mind that reminded her that she could have done something to change the terrible outcome was certainly the most heart-breaking burden to bear.

Regardless of her fighting spirit and determination to save her husband, what chance would she have had against three men with pistols and knives?

Instead, she’d remained motionless on the ground while her beloved was cruelly ripped from the world, and from her life. Despite her mother’s constant assurance that she need not feel guilty, Caroline still battled the dark thoughts of guilt that consumed her mind. They clouded her self-worth and were the leading cause of her inability to sleep peacefully.

The nightmares forced her to relive that evening over and over, much to her horror and dismay, and she often woke with sobs and an aching heart.

Her ragged breathing caused her chest to burn, and hot tears streamed down her face. They were uncontrollable, as if they possessed their own will, and were not affected by Caroline’s inward scolds.

With trembling hands, she peeled the blankets away and slid her legs off the edge of the bed. Her feet touched her cool floor and she slowly made her way out of her bedchambers and into the dark hallway.

Caroline heard the sounds of the city outside her mother’s townhouse, where she had spent her younger years. She had forgotten how lively the nights were in Town, as she’d spent quite a few years living in the countryside with William. He was not fond of the city, and when Caroline happily agreed to live at his country estate, she’d welcomed the fresh air and peaceful surroundings with open arms. The gardens were picturesque, and she was at peace. But that hadn’t lasted.

The skirt of her nightdress swept across the floor as she quietly walked to the parlour, where she and her mother had been playing chess earlier. The wooden chess pieces were still as they’d left them, and Caroline reached out her hand. She began to arrange them accordingly, each piece placed in the square where it belonged.

Staring at the board, she could not help but wonder where she fit in society, or if she would ever regain her own sense of belonging. William had ensured that she did not feel out of place, and his comforting arms were her solace, the place where she felt safe and secure. That was all a thing of the past, and she knew there was only one direction to go, even if she was unwilling to do so.

The floorboards in the hallway creaked, startling Caroline, and her eyes widened. It was far too late, or perhaps too early, for any servant to be wandering around in the dark. After she decided to move back into her mother’s home, quite a few of the servants were politely asked to leave as they could no longer afford them. There was barely enough money to keep the two of them alive, and certainly not enough to still keep servants at the townhouse.

Their time of living lavishly had certainly come to an end far sooner than they would have expected. Caroline’s father, to both her and her mother’s surprise, had had quite a few debts that needed to be settled after his death, which left them with much less than they had expected. Money certainly did not last forever, especially if there were expenses to be paid with no source of income.

A bitter taste still lingered in Caroline’s mouth as she thought of the struggle she had experienced the past two years. After suffering the devastating loss of her husband, she had been removed from his home. Upon William’s passing, his title and estate had transferred to his heir, his cousin. Caroline had been cast out of her house rather cruelly, now that it was not her home anymore. Her husband left her a small amount for her needs, but of course, this was not enough. The only option for her was to return to her mother’s home, although she was not fully aware of the financial difficulty her mother was in herself. Now both of them had to overcome this difficult situation if they wanted to survive.

The floorboards creaked once more, and Caroline reached for a wooden statue of a horse. Clutching it tightly, she slowly and carefully approached the doorway, ready to defend herself from imminent attack.

A shadowy figure appeared around the corner and Caroline raised the horse above her head.

Much to her surprise, the silhouette belonged to her dear mother, who appeared in the doorway. The older woman shrieked when she saw Caroline.


“Caroline,” her mother gasped, clutching her chest. “You nearly made my heart stop beating.”

“My apologies,” Caroline sighed apologetically, lowering the horse. “I thought there was an intruder.”

“As did I,” her mother said, catching her breath.

“What are you doing awake?”

“As I mentioned, I thought there was an intruder in the house,” her mother said. “What on earth are you doing here, creeping around in the dark?”

“I could not sleep,” Caroline answered and placed the wooden statue back on the mantle.

“Were you plagued by another dream?”

“Indeed,” she answered, nodding and running her fingers through her hair. “But there is much weighing on my mind as well.”

“Tell me of it.”

Caroline sighed with misery and shook her head. “I am aware that we are not in a financial position to keep the house, Mother. After Father’s passing, you found it difficult to keep up with payments, and I do not blame you at all. Father did not leave you with much, and now here I am, forcing you to spend even more of the little money you have left.”

“It is not about the money. You are my daughter—”

“You were forced to cut the staff. Do not think me so naive that I have not noticed. I cannot in good conscience simply live here and allow for both of our downfalls,” Caroline said.

“What do you suggest we do?”

We do nothing. You have done more for me than I would ever be able to repay. You have cared for me most of my life, and now it is my turn to care for you.”

“It seems as though you have something in mind.”

“I have, and I am fairly certain it is not something you will approve of.”

Her mother narrowed her eyes and glared at Caroline. “As long as it does not require you to do things for money.”

Caroline crossed her arms and pouted slightly. “Perhaps in a manner of speaking—”

“I will not allow my daughter to become some man’s mistress!”

“Mother, please,” Caroline said and brought her hands up in an effort to calm her mother. “That was not at all what I meant. I apologise profusely.”

“What did you mean?”

“I am a young woman who is still within child-bearing years. I must re-join society and find a man to marry. A man who is wealthy and will be able to care for us both.”


“I will not allow you to live in poverty, Mother. You and Father have done much for me, and I am forever grateful for the sacrifices you both made to ensure I was well taken care of,” Caroline said and approached her mother. She took her mother’s hands in hers and smiled lovingly at the woman who raised her.

“And who would marry a widow?”

Caroline released her mother’s hands and stepped away. “Mother, you need not be so rude or cruel.”

“Think of it, my dear. Most eligible men seek a young and innocent lady, a debutante especially. They are much more sought after than older widows.”

“I’m only older by a few years,” Caroline defended. “Besides, there are many men—sometimes widowers themselves—who seek a widow to marry.”

“A few years can make all the difference.”

“I despise being a woman at times.“ Caroline sighed and pursed her lips. “Expectations are unattainably high. It is rather ridiculous. But I do not have a choice in the matter, Mother. And neither do you. I could not bear the thought of you living in poverty, or losing the house that you and Father built. There are too many memories within these walls, and I will not allow it. This time, however, I have no intention of falling in love or marrying for anything more than simple convenience. My heart belongs to only one man, and I daresay it shall remain that way until my last breath.”

“Your determination is inspiring. And I want nothing more than to see you happy.”

“You mean the world to me, and I will do anything to ensure that you do not lose the house.”

“Your father would be very proud of you for doing what is right,” her mother said sadly and placed her hand lovingly against Caroline’s cheek.

Caroline cast her gaze downwards as the emotions bubbled up inside her. “Mother, it has been two years. Two years and I am not anywhere closer to forgetting, or even processing what happened. Is that not abnormal?”

“You lost the man who captured your heart from the very first time you gazed upon him. You loved and adored him with an intensity I know all too well. It does not merely vanish, regardless of the time that has passed.”

“And I will feel this way until my last day?” she asked, and her mother nodded. “How do you live with yourself? How do you do it, Mother? How do you wake in the mornings knowing that he is not here and will never be here ever again?”

“With great difficulty,” she answered. “I miss your father every day. Our time together was much longer than yours with William, and I am truly grateful for that. But true love is not determined by the length of time spent together. It is measured in the laughter and happiness for those moments, whether it is two years or twenty.”

“My heart will forever be his. And I hope that he will be able to forgive me for what I must do. He will forgive me, won’t he?” Caroline asked, feeling truly helpless.

Her mother wrapped her arms around Caroline and embraced her tightly. Caroline wept in her mother’s arms, her heart once again torn to pieces. It was a difficult thing for Caroline to do, to seek a husband purely for the sake of her family’s survival, but she knew it was what was required of her.

Her mother’s embrace loosened and she glanced at her.

“Dry your tears, my dearest,” her mother said with a slight smile. “In the morn we will start our quest for a husband.”

Although her mother’s words made it sound very much as an adventure, Caroline was well aware that it would be a painful journey ahead.

It was certainly not unheard of for young women to marry for convenience—in fact, not many matches were based on love or even friendships.

It was no secret to Caroline that society demanded that members of the gentry should be paired together in marital alliances, regardless of their feelings for one another. Caroline knew that although the young women were given a choice—to some extent, of course—most matches were made solely for the purpose of bringing noble and influential families together, to create an even more powerful front.

Love matches did occur, of course, but not as often. Caroline knew she was one of the lucky ones, for which she was more than grateful for. She would not trade those moments with William for anything in the world.

Fortunately, Caroline was considered very handsome among the women of Town, and she was certain it would not be too difficult to secure an offer from a wealthy gentleman. Her determination and desperation certainly did not place any restrictions on what she looked for in a man—he simply needed to be wealthy.

Many young women married men they did not have any amicable feelings towards, and Caroline considered herself strong-minded enough to be able to endure it as well. There was certainly no place for love in her heart. Not this time.

As she and her mother made their way upstairs to their respective chambers, Caroline could not help but wonder who would catch her eye, and worse, whose eye she would catch.

Nevertheless, she would secure a marriage as speedily as she could. She did not have any other choice.


Chapter Two

Beads of sweat dripped down Jacob’s clenched fists as he circled the boxing ring. His determined gaze was focused on his opponent as he anticipated the next punch. The sport had helped him sharpen his determination not only in the boxing ring, but in real life as well.

His opponent’s eyes narrowed and his body swayed back ever so slightly. Most people would not have noticed it, but Jacob did. It was his opponent’s tell, and it made Jacob aware that he would need to dodge the impending punch.

Jacob cocked his head to the side, evading his opponent’s powerful punch, and immediately threw multiple quick punches against his opponent’s torso. His opponent stumbled backwards and glared at him.

“Good,” he grunted. “That was well done.”

A slight smile formed on Jacob’s lips, and he nodded at his opponent. Despite the fact that the man was his boxing master and his friend, Jacob had been told that he should for no reason think to go easy on him.

Aaron, whom he’d been friends with since they were boys, had assisted Jacob in becoming the man he now was.

Both physically and mentally.

Aaron was the son of Jacob’s late father’s footman, and the two boys had been instant friends upon meeting. Jacob had been a loner most of his life, and having a friend such as Aaron clearly helped him in ways he would have never imagined.

Jacob began to circle the ring once more, fooling Aaron’s lead, dodging more punches, as he had been taught. He had learned to follow his instincts and to observe people more closely—a skill that would have been particularly helpful when he was a young boy.

Aaron stepped closer, within reaching distance of Jacob, and Jacob threw a powerful punch at his friend, striking him against the jaw. Aaron stumbled backwards again and wiped the corner of his mouth.

“Are you alright?” Jacob asked. “Shall we stop?

“Perhaps that is enough for the day. You can declare yourself the victor today, but only today.”

Jacob scoffed and lowered his fists, breathing raggedly. He had missed these spirited fights with Aaron, despite it only being for practice. Jacob was a gentleman, so there was no chance he’d be participating in any boxing exhibitions, but he did have another mission in mind. A mission that had kept him motivated to change himself for the better.

“You seem rather determined today, Jacob,” Aaron pointed out, spitting blood into a metal bucket beside him.

“Indeed. Perhaps it is being back in Town,” Jacob said as he and Aaron climbed from the ring.

Aaron threw a folded cloth at Jacob, who caught it easily and wiped his face. His black hair was damp with sweat, and he was certainly not at all presentable, wearing only a pair of dark grey breeches. He glanced at his muscled torso and reminisced on how far he had come the past ten years. He had not always possessed such a physique. In fact, he had been rather portly as a child.

Because he was subjected to teasing, he isolated himself from the world, knowing there was no place in society for someone such as him.

“You do not have to go through with it, Jacob,” Aaron said, interrupting his thoughts.

Jacob glanced at Aaron and his jaw clenched. “I did not leave Scotland’s countryside and come all this way for no reason.”

“London has more to offer than what you seek.”

“Do not make me regret telling you of my plan,” Jacob said jokingly.

Aaron chuckled in amusement and shook his head. “I may not be aware of what it is like to be a nobleman, but I do know that resorting to revenge is not the way. It only cuts up your peace.”

“And what would you have me do? Simply forget it ever happened?” Jacob asked.

“That is definitely a better option than what you have in mind.”

“Luckily it is not your decision,” Jacob muttered. “But I do appreciate your cautionary words.

“Jacob, you are my friend, and I cannot in good conscience allow you to do this. Do you really think revenge is the best way to go about this?” Aaron asked as he stepped back, retrieved two glasses and a bottle of whiskey from a wooden box, and placed it on the table.

“She embarrassed me, Aaron. Why do you think I left for Scotland? She ruined my chances of ever being seen as anything other than a fat boy with a speech impediment.”

“Is that what you believe? Is that what you think people dwell on? You should not allow the opinion of a young girl to affect you so deeply, my friend. Look at yourself. You are not the same as you were, nor is she.”

“You have seen her?” Jacob asked.

“I have.”

Jacob paused, wondering whether she was still as beautiful as she had been as a young girl, but he dared not ask Aaron such things. Aaron knew the inner workings of his mind almost as well as he himself did, and he knew better than to venture down that path.

“She is still a very beautiful woman, if that interests you,” Aaron smiled smugly.

“It does not,” Jacob scoffed.

Despite not wishing to, Jacob could still perfectly recall her beautiful face in his mind. Outwardly she had been a lovely young girl, with thick black locks, warm brown eyes, and a delectable laugh. Jacob had been instantly smitten with her, but he had not considered himself worthy of being in her company.

“She and her mother were seen promenading in Hyde Park,” Aaron grinned quietly and poured whiskey into the two glasses.

“Again, that hardly concerns me,” Jacob asked.

Aaron straightened his back and raised an apprehensive brow at him. “Of course it does not.”

“I do not appreciate your tone,” Jacob said, accepting the glass and sipping the whiskey.

Jacob did not appreciate the manner in which Aaron gazed at him and he scoffed in disapproval. “There is no need to pass judgement upon me, Aaron. I have already made up my mind and I will not be swayed. I will make her feel the same embarrassment and pain she caused me all those years ago. I have spent ten years of my life improving myself, training hard, recreating my body—”

“While still carrying this hatred inside your heart. That cannot be healthy.”

“You do not understand.”

“I do. I have heard you speak and complain and scowl while speaking of her in my presence. I have seen the anger with which you spewed her name, the blinding hatred you have for her. It has caused you to lose all those years, not gain them, my friend. It was such a long time ago. Can you not move on and forget of it?”

“Would you be able to forget?”

Aaron drank the remainder of the whiskey in his glass and set it down on the table. “I say this as your friend and nothing less. I understand she caused you embarrassment, but please do not proceed with this plan. You are not required to prove yourself to anyone, especially not to her. You are an accomplished man, and you can have any woman you want. The young women will fall at your feet when they see you now. Why not choose to move on with your life with one of them? Or take them all—it does not even matter. Just stop dwelling on this and move on with your life.”

“It is not what I want,” he answered with utmost confidence.

“You wish to ruin a young woman’s life,” Aaron sighed. “Is that truly what you want, Jacob? Can you tell me, with pure honesty, this is what you want?”


“That is a pity,” Aaron said with a sigh. “That is not what I wish for you. You are my friend and it pains me to see you like this. You are caught in a prison of hatred, and by proceeding with your plan and taking revenge on her for something that happened so many years ago, you will only bring harm to yourself.”

Jacob set the empty glass on the table and extended his hand to Aaron. “You are a good friend to me. I simply hope that this will not taint your perception of me.”

Aaron scoffed and shook his hand. “What I think of you will never change, and I will always remain your friend. It is merely your actions I disapprove of.”

“Thank you.” Jacob nodded.

“It might interest you to know there is a ball the day after next. Perhaps you can make an appearance,” Aaron suggested.

“And how do you know of this?” Jacob asked.

“I am not deaf,” Aaron replied wryly, shrugging. “Two noblemen I train were discussing it. Apparently it will be a grand affair.”

“Perhaps I shall attend…though only if she will be there,” Jacob answered.

“You have been hurt badly if you cannot even bear to let her name cross your lips.” Aaron sighed. “Would you care for another drink?”

“Certainly not. If I do, her name will not be the only word I would be unable to speak.”

“Very well,” Aaron said with a chuckle. “Although, your stammer is much better. Your speech is impeccable.”

“Only when I am surrounded by people I trust implicitly.”

“I will graciously accept that compliment.” Aaron grinned.

Jacob grinned at Aaron in return. Although he had only returned to London a mere week ago, being in Aaron’s presence made being in Town much easier. Remaining in the confines of his late father’s home in Mayfair, he spent his nights in darkness, listening to the sounds of the city, building his courage, and plotting his revenge against the woman who broke his heart.

“I will inquire as to whether she will be in attendance tomorrow evening. But even if she is not, I think it would be a great opportunity for you to announce your own return to Town,” Aaron said.

“Perhaps,” Jacob answered with a hint of indifference.

A night at a social gathering, placing him on display for all the young women to see, would certainly gain attention. And that was precisely what he wished. He wished that the young women recognised him and stared at him in wonder and awe—that they would see how he had blossomed from a portly, stammering boy, to an eloquent, handsome and fit young man.

His revenge would be cold, but his victory would be sweet and satisfying. Finally, the time to get revenge on Caroline Monmouth had arrived.

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