Anthony Rusell, Earl of Lever, has to marry before his thirtieth birthday – his father’s will dictates it. A man who has always been socially awkward and at a loss of how to communicate easily with people is determined to marry to save his heritage, but has no real idea of how to avoid making a blundering mess of the situation he is faced with.
Mrs Julia Price is a widow escaping from a brutal past of living with an abusive husband. Wishing to give her son everything, while living in straightened circumstances, she is determined to appear as undamaged as she can be. She will no longer be intimidated or treated poorly.
Two damaged souls brought together amid a mix of family conflict, old friendships and Bath Society.
Dare they risk their hearts? Are they able to forget the trauma of the past? One thing is certain, after meeting, neither will be the same again.….
The Lonely Lord is a Regency romance which is topped with a generous dose of humour, chemistry, teasing and tears. If you like complex, but strong characters, a huge dose of romance, with some laughs along the way, then you'll love Audrey Harrison's Regency tale. Everyone deserves that happy ending.Buy The Lonely Lord and fall in love today!
Release date: May 20, 2019
Publisher: Independently published
Print pages: 262
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The Lonely Lord: A Regency Romance
I am alone. Completely alone. Strange really when a ballroom full of people surround me, but
the reality is that I’ve always been alone. I’ve never actually felt as if I belonged to anyone. Perhaps
there is one person who cares, but that’s probably more to do with familial obligation than any real
fondness for me, so I’ve never actually opened myself to him completely. What would be the point
when his affection is not really mine?
It hurts. Sometimes at least. Most of the time I can ignore the emptiness that swirls inside me,
but occasionally it hits me when I least expect it. It is like a dark mass pressing on my insides and
nothing shakes it off. I’ve learned to function whilst trying to ignore it, but it is always there — this
feeling of being different from everyone else, being separate, a watcher of what is happening in the
world, rather than someone who takes part in life.
I don’t know how to be a part of society. Not finding it easy to express what or how I’m feeling,
I usually utter the wrong words and alienate myself further. How do people communicate with ease?
Make others laugh? Stir sympathy? I just blunder my way through. It is sometimes easier to remain
aloof. I often wonder if I am a misfit in society, or if I am truly devoid of any emotion beyond feeling
adrift. I don’t honestly know the answer.
I wonder if all these people have a clue how any of us really feel. Do they ever stop to think,
perhaps behind that smile, those meaningless words we all utter, that there might be hurt or pain or
loneliness? Probably not. I idly wonder why as the dance continues in its long-ways set. This ball is a
prime example of my life: meeting people, but not really touching them in any meaningful way. In
most ballrooms, all anyone is interested in is how can their friends and acquaintances benefit them?
If the answer is naught, then they look beyond them in the hope of seeing a better option in their
wake. Even I have been considered as a possibility by some of the scheming mamas who frequent the
chaperone seats. Very soon, though, they move onto an easier target, someone who does not
blunder or insult almost every time they speak.
No one has ever been close enough to really get to know me. Perhaps I have nothing of value
to offer, and I’m the last person to realise it.
I have sometimes wondered what it would be like to be connected to someone. To care
unconditionally and wholly for that one person. Is it fulfilling, or does it bring pain of its own? If I
wanted to care about another person, I would have to release the tight hold I have on my inner self.
That would risk the emptiness I feel taking over and destroying me completely, and I cannot let that
happen. I am tense inside, but at least there is some sort of control.
I doubt I will ever have the courage to find out if there is anything to feel other than emptiness,
so, I’ll never find out if there is an alternative state to mine. If that is the case, my constant thoughts
are little more than wasted energy. I know this, but sometimes the musings intrude in a way that I
cannot so easily dismiss.
A sigh escapes. I will have to force myself to rally soon. I need to join this noise, this chatter,
and pretend I’m one of them. To pretend I’m a member of the ton, the top of Society. In some
respects I am already at the top; my ancestry is of the highest calibre, but that is part of the problem.
I am expected to marry before my next birthday; my father’s will dictates it.
Do I want to? No.
Do I have a choice? No.
Do I pity the person eventually persuaded to attach themselves to me? Yes. Utterly.
Anthony Russell, Earl of Lever, entered the large townhouse on Great Pulteney Street. He’d
worked his thoroughbred, Belle, to her limits, cantering over some of the seven hills that surrounded
the limestone spa town. He’d needed the fast physical exercise to free him of the after-effects of the
previous evening. It had been yet another tedious foray into Bath society. He wasn’t sure how much
more of it he could take. The thought of remaining for goodness knew how many more days
darkened his brow even more than normal as he entered the marble-tiled hallway of his rented
home. After he was helped out of his greatcoat, he nodded to his footman once he was free of the
heavy garment. The servant stepped back to almost disappear into the fabric of the building, as good
staff were wont to do.
Striding into the large square dining room on the ground floor of the many-floored
townhouse, Anthony acknowledged his grandfather who was seated at the round table in the centre
of the room, finishing off a large plate of eggs, ham, and steak.
“Aren’t you supposed to be eating something purging?” Anthony asked, helping himself to
coffee from the long side table that was filled with numerous delights of breakfast fayre to tempt
the two gentlemen of the house.
“The problem with food that does you good is that it tastes like sawdust or worse,” Gabriel
Bannerman, Anthony’s maternal grandfather responded. He was a gentleman of more than sixty
years, handsome and distinguished looking, his features still firm, albeit showing signs of age. Salt
and pepper streaks gave a hint of the dark mop of hair he’d had in his youth. He had the unlooked-
for distinction of being Anthony’s only full-blooded surviving relative on both his maternal and
paternal sides of the family. Although Gabriel’s grandson did have a stepfamily from his father’s
second marriage, neither of them dwelt on those relations if they could help it.
“As you have only looked at it before dismissing it, I’m surprised you can say what it tastes like
with any authority,” Anthony said, noticing an untouched mound of unappetising-looking Bath Oliver
biscuits on one of the plates.
“They look like they taste vile,” Gabriel countered.
Anthony seated himself opposite his grandfather. “If you no longer have faith in the healing
qualities of Bath, does it mean you’re ready to leave this God-forsaken place?”
“Are you not worried it would be of detriment to my health if we left?” Gabriel responded, a
twinkle in his grey eyes. His grandson took after him in eye colour, but Anthony’s very often looked
like dark turbulent seas, whereas Gabriel’s appeared paler and constantly sparkled with merriment.
“As you are unconcerned about your health, why should I try to convince you otherwise? It
would likely result in your boxing my ears if I were foolish enough to attempt it,” Anthony said with a
Gabriel chuckled. “I knew there was a reason why you are my favourite grandson.”
“I’m your only grandson,” Anthony pointed out.
“Be thankful you are not my least favourite then!” Gabriel became serious. “Are there no
ladies to tempt you in this fine town?”
“This town is well beyond its best,” Anthony responded. “As are most of the ladies residing in
“You have to marry before you reach thirty, or the main portion of your father’s will is lost to
you and goes to that brat of a brother of yours,” Gabriel was open in his dislike of the late-Earl’s
second family. He’d married a silly, young chit and had produced two equally silly sons. Most
presumed that the death of his daughter and jealousy over her replacement made Gabriel caustic
towards Anthony’s stepfamily, but anyone knowing his stepmother and half-brothers could
understand his dislike.
“I’m fully aware of that fact, but there is time yet.”
“Four months is hardly any time at all!” Gabriel expostulated fiercely.
“As I can hardly slow down the passage of time, it will have to be enough,” Anthony
responded, crossing his ankles, showing off his high-quality boots to their best, and putting the cup
of coffee to his lips. This was a conversation they had several times each day, and it added to the
tediousness of his situation.
“I suspect, as there is no one who has ever made you smile let alone light-hearted and
besotted, I feel time is against you in finding a suitable lady who will set your heart alight,” Gabriel
“Thankfully, those traits were not specified in the will. I need to find a wife; turning into a
love-struck fool were not the words father used or one of the conditions he placed on me,” Anthony
“No. The least said about your father’s terminology, the better,” Gabriel said grimly.
“Although to be fair to him, he probably knew that, without being pushed, you’d never marry,” he
“He should have just given the money to Giles, if that was his intention,” Anthony said. “As it
is, Fanny is hoping I will not marry, so her son will have the biggest portion of the wealth, even
though he won’t have the title. You know what a fuss my stepmother makes when she does not get
exactly what she wants. Perhaps it is easier to just give in to her wishes than bow to my father’s
terms. It is not as if he will ever know the outcome.”
“I disliked your father, especially his brutish, idiotish ideas. He must have known it would split
the family. You have to stand up to that foolish woman and marry before your birthday. Don’t roll
over and let Giles access money he isn’t entitled to.”
“Without funds, the title is worthless and without someone with money at the head of the
family, the estates will fall quickly into disrepair. With Giles unable to inherit the entailed estate, just
the unentailed money would go to him. Separating the wealth in such a way would be disastrous.
My stepmother did her best to try to bankrupt father whilst he was alive. I have no objection to my
brothers as such, but I refuse to let three hundred years of history be wasted because I cannot find a
wife in a timely fashion. So as much as it galls me, I am looking to marry,” Anthony admitted to his
grandfather for the first time.
“I’m glad you are seeing sense, but by Gad! You sound a real cold fish!” Gabriel exclaimed.
“A suitable lady who is willing to attach herself to me will suffice enough to meet the
ridiculous restrictions of the will. I am asking for nothing more,” Anthony said with a slight shrug.
“With such a limited list of requirements, it must be easy to choose someone for a life-
partner. I am surprised you are still unwed. There must be a large number of eligible young women
for you to consider.”
“You would think so, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, the task seems beyond me,” Anthony said
with a grimace, for the first time allowing that finding a wife wasn’t the easy task he was making it
out to be. “I have yet to meet someone whom I could bear to face every day for the remainder of
“That’s because deep down you are a romantic fool,” Gabriel said with a grin at his grandson.
Anthony let out a derisive laugh. Any form of amusement was a rare sound where Anthony
was concerned, and a laugh full of humour was even more scarce. “With comments like that, we
should be looking at your mind, not your body, for what ails you. You are clearly deluded.”
“It happens to the best of us,” Gabriel prophesied.
“What? Losing our minds? Is there something in my family history I should be aware of?”
“Get away with you, you coxcomb! You know exactly to what I’m referring. I have a good mind
to box your ears after all, impudent pup! Even the most heartless of people can fall in love when
they least expect it. You might not be as immune as you think,” Gabriel scolded.
Anthony smiled slightly. “I doubt that. When you stop being a romantic old fool, I will stop
“I never had you down as a liar. We both know full well you will plague me until my dying
“Only if you’re lucky,” Anthony said. He was fond of his grandfather, despite them being
strangers for the first part of his life. He thought his grandfather liked him, but there were often
doubts that made Anthony question his relation’s true feelings towards himself. Theirs wasn’t a
fawning relationship, but one of banter and teasing. It was the closest thing to a loving family
Anthony had ever experienced, and although sometimes he was suspicious of it, it was precious to
For Gabriel’s part, he could never express his true feelings to his grandson. Without a doubt it
would result in a withdrawal on Anthony’s side. The boy had never received love from those around
him, his mother dying when the child was still being wet-nursed by a tenant on the estate. When
he’d returned to his family home, he was brought up in a cold, formal environment. Gabriel had not
had any contact with Anthony until he was fifteen. Despairing at the clashes between the young man
and his stepmother, the late Earl had contacted Gabriel, asking for his help.
A lesser person would have refused to come into their lives after such a long exclusion, but
Gabriel had taken it as an opportunity he’d only been able to dream of: finally meeting his only
grandson. With care and intuition, Gabriel had built a relationship with the aloof, detached child and
had the reward of seeing a little thawing of his nature towards himself. Not enough that Gabriel
didn’t lament the difference his daughter would have made to the boy if she’d lived, but he’d
learned a long time ago that repining over what was lost was of comfort to no one.
“Time for the parade around the Pump Room, I feel. I quite like taking the waters,” Gabriel
said, rising from his seat, his plate empty.
He could have gone to Brighton to take the sea air when his doctor advised a change of diet
and scenery, but he had wanted Anthony to shine. In a location where the best of the ton would be
staying, Anthony’s idiosyncrasies would not show him in a favourable light, but in the town where
women vastly outnumbered men, Gabriel was certain there would be more opportunities to find a
good wife. It wasn’t only the previous Earl’s will that made Gabriel hope to see his grandson settled.
Anthony was reasonably rich without the extra legacy, maybe not to live as he could now, but he
would by no means be destitute. Gabriel’s motivation had more to do with the fact that he couldn’t
stand the thought of his grandson being left alone in the world without someone to love him when
Gabriel eventually died.
Anthony groaned, putting down his coffee cup. “Lead me to my daily penance.”
Gabriel chuckled. “You think every entertainment is a penance!”
“In this town especially,” Anthony said, before joining his grandfather on the walk to the Pump
Although Bath was in decline as a resort that the wealthy normally attended, there were still
many people frequenting the place. The highest in society might have moved on to Brighton, but the
new upcoming middle classes were quick to take their places. So, although not bustling with the
finest titles in society, it was still a busy city.
No one with a title and fortune would necessarily seek out anyone from the growing middle
classes — the ones who’d made their fortunes through trade and enterprise — but Gabriel was of
the opinion that Anthony needed someone who was as far away from his father’s ilk as he could
find. He cursed his son-in-law to the devil almost every moment of every day for the damage he’d
done to his own son.
Gabriel’s family were well-to-do but not titled aristocracy, so there had been quite a
commotion when his daughter, Eliza, had attracted the young Earl of Lever. It was only after the
wedding that Gabriel had realised a controlling, vicious man lay underneath the polite exterior.
Understanding that his new father-in-law wouldn’t stand for the ill-treatment of his daughter, even
when married, the Earl had immediately cut-off contact and forbidden his wife to see her family ever
Gabriel and his wife had been banished from his daughter’s marital home, and it had broken
their hearts. It had been the last time he’d seen his darling Eliza, only reading of the birth of her son
and then subsequently her death in the newspaper years later.
He’d been astonished when he had received notification that he was invited to the estate of
the Earl of Lever for an extended stay, having accepted that he would never see his grandson. He’d
grasped the unlooked-for opportunity and built a relationship with his only living relative, being a
widower by the time the invitation was issued. He was thankful for every day of the last fourteen
years he’d spent with Anthony, but now it was time to look to a future in which he wouldn’t be in his
grandson’s life, and he was determined that the young man would not be left alone and unloved.
Entering into the busy Pump Room, Gabriel retrieved a glass of the warm, foul-smelling water
and seated himself on a chair at the edge of the large space but one that was in clear view of the
“You’re nothing but a nosey beak,” Anthony muttered, standing grimly next to his relative, his
hands behind his back, a firm frown marring his features.
“Society watching is one of the undervalued pastimes I enjoy. It gives an insight into people’s
lives that they wouldn’t allow you to see when in conversation with you. It is fascinating to watch
what an individual can inadvertently reveal about themselves.”
“I’m not interested enough in anyone to waste my time on such a venture,” Anthony
“You are missing out, my boy.”
They were soon approached by some acquaintances of Gabriel. They’d been in Bath for barely
four weeks. In that time Gabriel had gathered around him a large set of friends. Anthony had made
no new acquaintances, as such, other than those his grandfather had made. The master of
ceremonies had suggested he introduce some young ladies in order to expand Anthony’s
acquaintance when it was clear the eligible young man was not going to ask to be introduced to
anyone himself. The master of ceremonies had acted mainly because of the words Gabriel had
spoken quietly to the man as a result of Anthony not exerting himself. It still didn’t result in anything
beyond having the occasional dance, and even then it was usually as a result of his grandfather’s
instigation and cajoling.
Soon the men were chattering and laughing uproariously at some tale Gabriel was imparting.
Anthony couldn’t help but shake his head in wonderment; his grandfather knew how to keep an
audience entertained. It came naturally to him. Anthony wondered, not for the first time, if they did
indeed share any history, or if some mistake had been made about the family connection. Anthony
didn’t resemble his maternal side, apart from his dark hair and clear grey eyes, which weren’t unique
to their family. His facial features were very much of the aristocratic line he came from, sharp and
angular. He was considered attractive, having an athletic build and being tall and muscular, but he
would never be one of the main ringleaders of his peer group. His abrupt personality and
awkwardness in many situations caused most in society to give him a wide berth. Anthony presumed
his nature, as far as he knew, he took after his father’s side. Cold and unfeeling, which even though
he was rich and titled, was not an endearing quality.
The group eventually dispersed from around Gabriel, and the older man sat back with a
“Had enough adoration from your gaggle of gentlemen?” Anthony asked.
“There’s nothing like a good laugh to set you up for the day,” Gabriel admitted. “You should
try it sometime.”
Anthony rolled his eyes. “I admit, I almost smiled at the story about the grouse shoot.”
Gabriel laughed. “I will get a chuckle out of you one of these days!”
Anthony grimaced at the comment, but was prevented from making a retort by the approach
of a woman.
She was of middling height and still of a slim build although she was an older lady. Her
features were such that she looked as if in her younger days she would have been considered a
beauty. She was followed by a younger woman, who was hanging back a little. The elder person was
wearing a slight frown when looking at Anthony’s grandfather.
“Gabriel? It is you, isn’t it?” the elder stranger asked.
Gabriel had been looking at Anthony and hadn’t noticed the approach of the pair but turned
when his name was called. He took only a moment before he stood quickly, holding out his hands in
“Patience Hancock! As I live and breathe! How the devil are you? I have not seen you in these
last twenty years or more,” Gabriel exclaimed.
Patience laughed at the welcome. “It is more than forty years, Gabriel.”
“I am only thirty-one; it can’t have been that long!” Gabriel responded with a smile.
“Still deluded, I see,” Patience said fondly. “You are looking well.”
“And so are you. You haven’t changed a bit, Patience, still as beautiful as ever.”
“I see your penchant for flummery has not yet left you,” Patience responded, but she
squeezed Gabriel’s hands, which had grasped her own once he’d recognised her. She was an elegant
woman, her figure not having spread as the years had passed. Her hair was completely grey, mostly
hidden under a cotton-frilled cap, but her warm brown eyes danced with pleasure at seeing her old
Gabriel turned to Anthony. “Let me introduce you to the woman who rejected me and broke
my heart in the process. Patience, this is my grandson, Anthony Russell, the Earl of Lever. Anthony
this is Mrs Patience Hancock, the love of my life.”
“Ignore him, my lord. His wife was the love of his life. I was a fleeting infatuation. I am pleased
to make your acquaintance. Please allow me to introduce you to my granddaughter, Mrs Julia Price.”
The younger woman moved forward when being introduced and curtsied. She was an
attractive woman, not beautiful but pleasing, with pale skin and rich chestnut hair. She was of
middling height with a slim figure; her eyes were a warm brown and smiled at the pair. “It’s very nice
to meet you both.”
“What are you doing here, Patience?” Gabriel asked.
“My great-grandson, Julia’s boy, is taking the waters. He has been unwell these last few
months, and so we decided a trip here might be of benefit,” Patience explained.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Gabriel sympathised. “I hope he will rally soon.”
“I am sure he will. Grandmother was being over-cautious,” Julia said with a fond smile at her
“Can’t be too careful where the child is concerned. My Miles is one of the two most important
people to me. Whatever medical care he needs, he will have. He is the most delightful child, a
perfect grandchild,” Patience said firmly.
“A few weeks in the outdoors will return him to health. He does not need the dubious merits
of the baths or the waters,” Julia continued.
“Where is the boy now?” Gabriel asked.
“Gone with his nanny to obtain tickets to watch the balloon flight on Friday.”
“Are you all going?” Gabriel asked.
“Oh yes! Miles is insisting on it,” Patience said.
“In that case, let’s make a party of it,” Gabriel said. “We can bring a picnic and get a prime
“What a good idea,” Patience smiled with approval.
“Anthony will buy our tickets and arrange the food for us all,” Gabriel said, glancing at his
grandson and almost laughing at the look of astonishment on Anthony’s face. “His carriage will
collect you on Friday. What is your address?”
“We’re staying in Henrietta Street,” Patience answered.
“We can walk. It is hardly any distance and would inconvenience his Lordship,” Julia said
quickly. Having noticed the expressions flitting across Anthony’s face, she was under no illusion that
he didn’t want to be a member of their party. It wasn’t a surprise really; he hardly knew them and a
Lord in his prime was hardly likely to want to attach himself to two women and a child whom he
“Not at all! Anthony will oblige; won’t you, boy?” Gabriel insisted, enjoying Anthony’s
“Of course. It would be my pleasure,” Anthony said grimly, leaving none of them in doubt that
it would be anything but.
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