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Pride and Prejudice meets Fifty Shades of Grey in this steamy tale of a stern lord and his new wife…
Widowed and desperate, Cordelia Astley knows the Marquess of Dunbury didn’t marry her for love, but once they’re married, she finds herself falling in love with him. It would be a fairy tale ending if not for her wicked stepdaughter, Gabrielle.
Philip desires nothing more than a happy marriage and, at first, his new wife is perfect – except that she allows her stepdaughter to denigrate and manipulate her. His method of correction for both Cordelia and Gabrielle isn’t what either lady expected, but Cordelia finds confidence in his support and care of her… unfortunately, Gabrielle appears determined to drive a wedge between them.
I love historical romances and I love domestic discipline romances and I knew when I started writing the Bridal Discipline series that I wanted to marry the two together. I also knew that the majority of domestic discipline romances (including mine) are about headstrong heroines, bratty heroines, heroines who know they’re going to get into trouble but throw caution to the wind and an “I’ll deal with the consequences later” attitude!
With Philip’s Rules, I knew I wanted to write something a little different from the norm. I couldn’t help but think about heroines who wanted to be good, who needed the discipline not to help them behave but to help them grow.
Cordelia is absolutely a rule follower. At the beginning of the book she’s insecure about her place in the world, she’s a bit of a pushover, she has trouble standing up for herself with her stepdaughter, and she is a bit overly meek at times. She was not at all my usual heroine because, for this book, I was less interested in having a heroine be disciplined for breaking the rules than I was in having the hero use discipline to help the heroine grow.
I absolutely loved writing Philip and Cordelia’s story, seeing how he laid down rules to push her into a position of strength while she softens some of his harsher edges. They pair together so well, and I hope you enjoy their book as much as I did!
“Cordelia, darling, what’s wrong?” Philip’s brow creased as he came forward and put his cool hands on either side of her face.
She let out a puff of air as his thumbs replaced her fingers over her temples, soothing away the lingering tightness and finally relieving her entirely of her headache. Cordelia closed her eyes, practically humming with appreciation as her anxiety was forgotten under the caress of Philip’s wonderful hands.
“Just a bit of a megrim,” she said, happy to have an easy and honest answer. “How did you know I was in here?”
“I came looking for you, and one of the maids said she saw you in this hall. I’ve been looking in every room.”
Cordelia stifled a groan. If one of the staff had seen her, that meant Gabrielle could probably find her just as easily.
“Sweetheart,” her husband said, his voice becoming just a touch sterner. “What are you doing hiding away in here?”
With her eyes closed, her headache soothed, it was somehow easier to tell Philip everything that was wrong. Once she got started, it was as though she couldn’t stop; the words coming in a confused tumult as he sat down on the chaise beside her and gathered her into his arms. She didn’t want him to think worse of Gabrielle, but she’d been holding all her tension inside of her for so long that once she began to release it, it was as though she couldn’t hold anything back.
Just venting the problems gave her relief.
Although he’d relieved his wife’s tension, Philip was consumed by his own strain once Cordelia had explained.
“Sweetheart,” he said, trying to keep his voice as gentle as possible despite the thread of anger and – yes – hurt that had worked its way through his chest. “Why haven’t you told me how difficult Gabrielle is being?”
“Well…” she hesitated, and his frown deepened. He was no longer going to be able to put up with her prevarications on the subject of Gabrielle, not if this was the result. The bags under her eyes had grown much darker in the past few days, and she’d barely been eating; he’d assumed it was just the stress of the upcoming ball since that’s what she’d implied during their conversations. Now he knew that Gabrielle had been piling onto that stress, and Cordelia had not only been allowing it, but she’d been hiding it from him! “I supposed because she’s my responsibility and-”
“No,” he interrupted her, determined to put an end to this once and for all. He was the head of the household, and he’d obviously been too lenient already, allowing this nonsense to continue. Apparently, the first spanking Cordelia had received for putting Gabrielle ahead of herself, to her own detriment, had not made enough of an impact. “She is our responsibility. I came into this marriage expecting a partnership, where we should share our burdens, not where you would hide them from me.”
He couldn’t keep the disappointment and the little bit of hurt from his tone. Philip wanted to be the person his wife came to, the one that she would lean on, but instead she was concealing part of her life from him, and he truly didn’t understand why. While he might be occasionally harsh with Gabrielle, he was also fair, and he certainly didn’t expect anything from her that he wouldn’t expect from any other well-bred, young lady.
While part of him understood that Cordelia was unused to support from her husband and had been dealing with Gabrielle on her own for years now, he thought he’d shown her that he would be a different kind of husband to her. He thought she understood. Now he couldn’t help but feel both a little rejected by the fact that she had sought to hide her troubles from him rather than share them, and pained that she might have lumped him into the same category as the late Baron.
Twisting slightly so she could look at him, her eyes imploring, as she registered the hurt in his voice.
“I didn’t mean… I didn’t think…” Her voice tapered off because of course she had meant to hide it from him and of course she had thought that was for the best.
Philip appreciated that she didn’t try to lie to him, but that wasn’t going to make him any more lenient with her. If nothing else, there were two things he was determined his wife would learn. The first was that they would share their lives together and be able to turn to each other for support, and the second was that there was no good reason for allowing anything to have a detrimental effect on her health.
It would be so easy to turn her over his lap and imprint those lessons on her bottom immediately, but Philip decided it was best to take her back to the bedroom. More privacy, and obviously his hand hadn’t made enough of an impression last time.
Helping her up, Philip’s lips thinned. As much as he loved spanking Cordelia, the disciplinary spankings were much less fun than the erotic ones.
“Come,” he said firmly, taking her hand in his, ignoring the adorable way she bit her lip as she looked up at him. “We’ll talk this over further in the bedroom.”
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