Triumph and Treasure
Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, #1
Would you claim a by-blow to protect your family from devastation?
A disillusioned Scottish gentlewoman.
Angelina Ellsworth once believed in love—before she discovered her husband of mere hours was a slave-trader and already married. To avoid the scandal and disgrace, she escapes to the estate of her aunt and uncle, the Duke and Duchess of Waterford. When Angelina learns she is with child, she vows she’ll never trust a man again.
A privileged English lord.
Flynn, Earl of Luxmoore, led an enchanted life until his father committed suicide after losing everything to Waterford in a wager. Stripped of all but his title, Flynn is thrust into the role of marquis as well as provider for his disabled sister and invalid mother. Unable to pay his father’s astronomical gambling loss, Flynn must choose between social or financial ruin.
When the duke suggests he’ll forgive the debt if Flynn marries his niece, Flynn accepts the duke’s proposal. Reluctant to wed a stranger, but willing to do anything to protect her babe and escape the clutches of the madman who still pursues her, Angelina agrees to the union.
Can the earl and his Scottish lass find happiness and love in a marriage neither wanted, or is the chasm between them insurmountable?
Click HERE for the audio version!
See what Readers are Saying!
“The setting up of a love affair based in reality, with a heavy dose of hot Scottish men, is a remarkable start to a new series that readers should have set to auto-buy!” ★★★★★ ~InD’Tale Magazine, Julie York
“Collette Cameron has an amazing skill with historical romances. This is my first book by this author but I can guarantee it will definitely not be the last.” ★★★★★ ~Night Owl Reviews
“Everything from the setting details to the smallest phrase a secondary character might say is spot-on and makes the reading experience spectacular.” ★★★★★ ~Red Pump Reviews
“It’s rare to read a historical romance novel with such lovely main characters.” ★★★★★ ~Kilts and Swords
“This is one novel that should be on everyone’s to be read list! I highly recommend Triumph and Treasure!” ★★★★★ ~Girly Girl Book Reviews
“Cameron conveys the tone of the Regency era well… highlights for the reader how far we’ve come as women in society… I will seek out further novels…” ★★★★★ ~Rabid Readers Reviews
“Fantastic start to Cameron’s new series. I can’t wait to read more & would definitely recommend it to others.” ★★★★★ ~Pure Jonel
“In all ways this is a fabulous read. I give it five glorious stars.” ★★★★★~Liza O’Connor
2015 RONE Award Finalist and Honorable Mention Winner in Post-Medieval Historical Romance
Boston, Massachusetts, Late March 1818
Angelina Ellsworth—no, she was Mrs. Moreau now—cast her husband of six hours a look of adoration as he escorted her across the marble floor of the luxurious Plaza Hotel. She resisted the urge to dance a giddy jig.
She was really married.
Angelina tried not to gawk at the immense glittering eight-foot crystal chandeliers, marble pillars and life-size, almost nude—er, make that entirely nude—statues of mythical gods and goddesses. Cherubs, their chubby feet and legs immersed in the water, edged a towering fountain burbling in the center of the lobby.
“Rather dazzling, chérie non?”
Meeting Charles’s amused expression, heat tingled her cheeks. She’d been craning her neck, staring at the trompe l’oiel ceiling depicting gods and other immortals, also bare as Norfolk dumplings. Papa would have been scandalized. Nudity, mythical gods, vulgar displays of wealth. Blasphemous.
And utterly splendid.
She released a happy sigh.
If Papa had been alive, he’d never have consented to Charles courting her. Papa had been determined she marry a gentleman of his ilk. A staid, devout, boring fellow. Better yet, a man of the cloth. And with dowries the size of thimbles, Angelina and her sisters had few suitors, let alone debonair young men such as Charles.
Thank goodness, Mama entertained her own ideas, and after Papa’s passing, voiced and implemented them with complete disregard as to what her husband would have preferred. A romantic at heart, once Mama realized Angelina loved Charles, she consented to the match.
Angelina shook off her dreary thoughts. This was her wedding day. A rush of excitement caused her breath to quicken. In two days, they’d sail to the Continent for a lengthy honeymoon in Italy by way of France.
Prior to meeting Charles, Angelina only dared hope that perhaps someday she might visit her aunt and uncle, the Duke and Duchess of Waterford, in England. She’d never met them. Aunt Camille was her mother’s twin, and they exchanged correspondences on occasion.
“Here’s your room key, sir.”
The skeleton key clinking on the countertop reined in Angelina’s ruminations.
“Thank you.” Charles slipped the key into his coat pocket before taking her arm. “Is the room prepared?”
“Yes, sir. Everything is as you requested.” The clerk smiled. “May I offer my congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Moreau?”
“Thank you.” Angelina and Charles spoke simultaneously.
He patted her arm, giving her a crooked grin.
Her stomach wobbled with that peculiar flip-flop it did whenever he smiled at her.
Angelina cast Charles a sidelong peek as he guided her toward the curved staircase. Three months ago this splendid man entered her life.
If it hadn’t been for Mama’s insistence that Angelina attend the Dennison’s Yuletide ball, she might never have met him. She hadn’t wanted to attend, aware her father’s cohort, horrid yellow-toothed Abraham Stockton, would be there. The paunchy man always smelled of garlic and sweat. And he was five and forty, if he was a day.
Despite Mama’s adamant refusal to allow him to call upon Angelina, he’d been trying to court her the three years since she turned seventeen. Mama claimed the man was dicked in the nob.
Angelina suspected, had he lived, Papa would have arranged a match between her and Mr. Stockton. She shuddered at the notion. She’d been hiding from him in a curtained alcove at the Dennison’s when a man darted into the enclosure.
Unaware Angelina huddled on a sofa tucked in the corner, he peeked between the heavy velvet panels, muttering, “A more persistent match-making maman I’ve never encountered, and four plainer, pudgier mademoiselles—”
Angelina had erupted into laughter. “Mrs. Twiggels and the quartet, I’d wager.”
Charles spun around, peering into the shadowy nook. He’d chuckled, a wonderful low vibration deep in his chest. “Non, Twiggels? Please tell me you jest.”
Yes, indeed, God had smiled on her that evening, for Charles had arrived in Massachusetts that day, brought to Salem on business. His presence at the ball had been pure chance. His associate had received an invitation and insisted Charles join him for the festivities.
Angelina swept Charles another love-filled gaze.
His lips skewed into a devilishly wicked smile, and the glint smoldering within his tawny eyes caused her heart to patter in anticipation.
With his black hair and high cheekbones, he cut a dashing figure. The navy blue of his coat enhanced his unusual brandy-colored eyes and emphasized the breadth of his shoulders. Shoulders she itched to feel beneath her fingers.
Despite her gloves, her palms dampened. Angelina brushed her hands against her champagne-colored silk gauze gown, allowing herself to imagine Charles’s hands caressing her.
Soon, they would be.
They’d shared several fervent kisses during their short courtship, and once betrothed, he suggested they become more intimate. Raised by her zealot father, Angelina couldn’t bring herself to sin that way. Not that she wasn’t anticipating the marriage bed.
She most definitely was.
Followed by four porters carrying their luggage, she and Charles climbed the arched risers. Their trunks had been sent to the ship.
Charles’s caressed her spine.
A delicious tremor spiraled outward from where his palm lingered. She suppressed a slight gasp. Something more than curiosity stirred, making her impatient for his touches and kisses.
And he was a most skilled kisser.
A widower, forced at the tender age of twenty to marry a much older woman to save his family’s estate, in the seven years since, he’d made a fortune in commerce.
Angelina held no doubts his handsomeness availed him of many a willing bed partner, though she wasn’t supposed to know of such things. If the Dennison’s ball was any indication, women threw themselves at him in droves. However, much to her astonishment, he’d chosen to make her his wife.
Charles vowed he’d never loved another and that Angelina would be his until the day he died. She had no misgivings about his affection. A man couldn’t pretend the warmth in his amber eyes or the husky timbre of his voice when he spoke of his adoration.
She pressed her fingers against the ruby and diamond ring encircling her finger.
Yes, this is real.
“Happy, mon ange?” He gave her waist a slight squeeze.
His angel? She smiled and nodded, releasing a contented sigh. “Yes, blessedly and deliriously happy.”
She’d found love, something her parents’ marriage lacked. Angelina hadn’t been altogether certain love even existed outside her novels.
“Here we are.” Charles’s hand rested on the curve of her ribs, his thumb rubbing against her gown.
She bit her lip to keep from giggling.
He waited for the attendant to unlock their suite. The door swung open, revealing a room resplendent with roses of every imaginable shade.
Stepping farther inside, she spun in a slow circle, her skirts swishing about her ankles. The heady perfume of a hundred blossoms permeated the air. She sniffed in appreciation. Surveying the chamber, she spied flowers in the adjoining bedchamber and dashed to the parted door.
After peering within, she sent a glance over her shoulder. “What in heaven’s name?”
Speaking to the porters, Charles didn’t hear her.
Untying the ribbons at her chin, Angelina removed her bonnet. Her spencer followed. She placed both on the table beside the door, adding her reticule atop the pile.
She studied the bed dominating the room. A monstrous thing with carvings on the bedposts and along the canopy from which hung scarlet bed curtains, it was a blessed wonder the frame supported the oversized mattress.
She stepped closer, inspecting the engraved posts.
Nude forms entwined in various acts of intimacy coiled around the wood.
Similar images of Greek and Roman gods adorned the walls and ceilings. Wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah. For the first time since entering the dazzling hotel, she experienced a tinge of discomfit. She wandered to the bedchamber’s entrance.
Charles finished speaking to the remaining attendant and passed the young man a coin.
“Of course, sir. Right away.” The porter smiled widely and stepped into the corridor. He hesitated, staring at the luggage piled about the entrance. “Do you wish me to have a maid sent to unpack?”
Charles shook his head. A strand of midnight hair fell across his forehead. “No, we’re only here two nights. We sail the day after tomorrow. I’m sure my wife and I can manage.”
He turned to wink at Angelina.
She grinned. Incorrigible rogue. But he was her rogue.
He closed the door before crossing to her in several elongated strides. Sweeping her into his arms, he nuzzled her neck.
She adored how she fit beneath his chin. At five feet eight inches, she stood taller than most woman of her acquaintance. Yet, within Charles’s embrace, she felt dainty and feminine.
Angelina laughed huskily. “My goodness, why all the roses?”
“For you mon ange rose. I wasn’t able to fill the room with angels, but roses, that I could arrange. I’ve imagined you naked, lying on a bed scattered with rose petals.”
Should she be shocked? For the life of her she couldn’t summon a jot of chagrin.
My, I’ve become scandalous since meeting Charles.
He stepped away, and unbuttoned his cutaway coat. The gleam in his eye caused her pulse to do all manner of odd things. Surely he didn’t intend to . . .
Making love was most improper during the daytime. Wasn’t it? She glanced to the window, searching the sky. Enshrouded in a smoky violet-gray, dusk had scarcely fallen.
Charles wound his arms around her once more, reining in her wayward thoughts. He kissed her like a man long-starved.
Looping her arms behind his neck, Angelina returned the kiss.
He nudged his hips against her belly, his desire evident. “I simply must have you now, mon amor. I cannot wait.”
She hadn’t expected he would be quite so eager to bed her-and before dinner, it would seem. The knowledge both thrilled and disconcerted her.
“Help me with the hooks, will you?” She made to turn her back, needing his assistance to unfasten the gown.
“Non, that will take too long.”
Before she knew what he intended, he scooped her into his arms. In two strides, he reached the bed, then laid her upon the lush counterpane. Charles shoved her skirts to her thighs, and after fumbling with the falls of his trousers, parted her legs.
Apprehension swept her. “Charles, I’m not . . . This is so sudden, I don’t . . .”
She gasped on a cry.
“Mon Dieu,” he groaned against her neck.
Blinking back tears and biting her lip against the stinging pain, Angelina stared at a lurid picture on the wall. Was it supposed to hurt this much?
Charles stiffened and gave a final moan before collapsing atop her.
All the whispered fuss was about that? Awash in disappointment and miffed at his callousness, she barely took note when he rose from the bed and fastened his trousers.
He chuckled, trailing a finger across her lips. “You resemble a femme légère, a wanton, lying there with your breasts revealed and your legs spread.”
Shame and humiliation surged through Angelina. She turned her face away, shoving the gown to her knees with one hand and tugging the bodice over her breasts with the other. She swallowed against the tears burning at the back of her throat.
How could he say that?
“Chérie?” Charles touched her cheek, forcing her to meet his eyes. “Forgive me, mon amor. I’m a selfish oaf. I promise, I’ll take my time the next go round. You will see how wonderful making love can be.”
He bent and kissed her.
Someone knocked on the outer door, then rapped again, this time with more insistence.
“Ah, that must be our food.” He gave her a boyish grin as he fastened his jacket. “I hope you don’t mind. I requested an intimate dinner here rather than the noisy restaurant below.”
After helping her off the bed, he placed another tender kiss on her lips. “I love you, amoureux.”
The outer door rattled once more.
“I’ll answer the door while you repair your appearance.” Whistling, he left the chamber, closing the door behind him.
Repair her appearance? She would much rather take a lengthy bath liberally dosed with scented oil. She’d been anticipating becoming a woman for weeks, and truth to tell, the unpleasant experience didn’t measure up to her naïve expectations.
Something wet trickled down Angelina’s thighs. She rushed to the bathing chamber. Dampening a cloth from the washstand pitcher, she made quick work of cleansing herself, grimacing at the blood on the linen. After cleansing away the evidence of her virginity and Charles’s virility, she smoothed her chemise and dress, shaking the fabric until the folds fell into place.
The pearl pendant above her breasts, a wedding gift from Charles, hung askew. She straightened the necklace, and then adjusted her bodice, wincing slightly. He had certainly been exuberant in his attentions. Mama had explained what to expect, nonetheless. . .
Tidying her hair, Angelina examined her face in the looking glass. Several curly tendrils had escaped the Grecian knot atop her head. Other than rosy lips and cheeks, she didn’t appear different from the woman who had entered the chamber a few minutes ago.
Except, I am no longer an untried maid.
She trusted the next time would be more satisfying.
As she made her way through the bedchamber, men’s angry voices clashed in the other room. She hesitated, listening.
“Up to your old tricks, Pierre?” an unfamiliar, slightly French accented voice said.
Pierre? Angelina opened the door. She stopped short at the threshold.
The man before Charles was no servant. Sporting a thin mustache, the stranger stood attired in the latest fashion. From his gleaming Hessians and cream-colored pantaloons, to his jade green coat and knotted neckcloth—from which a jeweled stick pin glistened—he exuded quality.
He was profoundly handsome. And extremely angry.
Another man stood by the entrance. Much less refined, he grasped the handle of a gun tucked into his waistband.
She slapped a hand to her mouth in an effort to stifle the gasp that tore from her.
As one, the men’s gazes came to rest on her. Charles’s worried and angry, the rough fellow’s, aloof, and the handsome man’s, curious and compassionate?
“Whatever is going on?” To calm her tumultuous stomach, Angelina wrapped her arms about her waist. Charles’s face had taken on a greenish hue, and she feared he might cast up his accounts.
He opened his mouth to speak. No sound emerged.
The mustached man shook his head disdainfully. “‘Charles?’ How unoriginal.”
He bowed to Angelina. “Mademoiselle Ellsworth, allow me to introduce myself. I’m Jacques, Baron Devaux-Rousset.”
Angelina didn’t extend her hand. Instead, she tightened the grip around her middle. Pale, his lips pressed into a thin line, Charles glowered at the Frenchman.
This man was no friend.
“My lord, did Charles not inform you? I’m Mrs. Moreau. We were married this morning. Please excuse my forwardness, but how are you acquainted with my husband? And who, pray tell, is Pierre? Him?” She pointed at the surly man who continued to toy with his weapon.
The brute smiled, a humorless twisting of his lips.
Lord Devaux-Rousset speared Charles with an indiscernible glance before answering. “I’m his stepson, though, paradoxically, we are the same age.”
Oh, the older woman Charles married. He hadn’t mentioned she’d been a baroness or that she had children. Whyever was her son here? Boston was too far from France for Angelina to believe this was a chance encounter. Something was too smoky by far.
She sent Charles a sidelong glance. Why didn’t he say something?
He stood seething with silent fury and glared daggers at the baron.
Angelina angled her head in deference. “Charles told me of his marriage to your mother. Please accept my condolences for your loss.”
For a moment, the baron’s composure wavered. He gaped at her before turning a steely glower on Charles.
“Vous avez dit que sa mère était morte?”
Drat, she didn’t speak French, but the baron had mentioned something about his mother’s death. That much she gleaned. Perhaps she shouldn’t have offered her sympathies. The mourning period had ended months ago. At least she thought that’s what Charles had told her.
Or, perhaps it hadn’t been that long, which explained the baron’s annoyance at the news of Charles’s nuptials.
“Charles, are you not out of mourning?”
“Merde.” Charles stared at the floor and fisted his hands.
“There is a lady present, imbécile,” the baron snapped. “Hold your foul tongue.”
He turned his attention to Angelina, and his expression softened. With a wave of his manicured hand, he indicated the ivory and gold striped sofa beside her.
“Mademoiselle, perhaps you should have a seat, and I’ll explain.”
“Thank you, no. I’d rather stand, my lord.”
Why did he insist on calling her mademoiselle? Rather boorish of him. No, pointedly rude, truth to tell.
The baron regarded her for an extended moment. He gave a slight shrug. “As you wish.”
He turned to the brute blocking the door. “Please wait in the hallway and deter any staff. I don’t wish to be disturbed.”
After perusing Charles contemptuously one final time, the baron’s henchman gave a curt nod and exited the chamber.
Lord Devaux-Rousset sighed and slapped his beaver hat against his thigh. His gaze skimmed Angelina from her hair to her shoes, taking her measure. “You are lovely. I understand Pierre’s fascination. Thank God, I arrived before he compromised you.”
Angelina frowned. Was the man daft?
“Pierre? Who is Pierre? And how, in God’s precious name, can my husband possibly compromise me?”
His voice very soft, and equally as gentle, Lord Devaux-Rousset murmured, “I sincerely regret having to tell you. The man you call husband is the well-known slave-trader, Pierre Renault.”
He leveled Charles a blistering glare. “And, I assure you, his wife, my mère, was very much alive when I left France.”