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With the season about to begin, Lord Joshua Rutherford arrives in the capital knowing that he must enter the marriage mart and finally find himself a wife. But Rutherford has a problem. He has never found himself attracted to females...his tastes run in another direction entirely.


When he arrives at the first ball of the season and meets the eager ladies all vying to become Lady Rutherford his heart sinks. None stir his blood and none fire his imagination. Rutherford isn’t sure how he will ever bring himself to accept one of them as his wife. But then he meets the enigmatic Lord Hastings and everything changes.


Before long Rutherford discovers that, even in a world where duty is more important than desire, some men have found a way to fulfill both. And that means that not every lord must have a wife....sometimes he can follow his heart instead.



An Unconventional Desire





By


April Andrews



GAY, MM, AND HISTORICAL




Twisted E Publishing, Inc.

www.twistedepublishing.com




A TWISTED E PUBLISHING BOOK



An Unconventional Desire


Copyright © 2018 by April Andrews




Second E-book Publication: January 2018


Originally published in 2017


Cover design by K Designs


All cover art and logo copyright © 2018, Twisted E- Publishing.


ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.


All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.


All characters involved in sexual situations are over the age of 18.






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Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Also by April Andrews

About the Author



Dedication


Georgette Heyer is firmly to blame for my love of Regency romance. And I figured, if someone like the Duke of Avon in These Old Shades can find a happily ever after, then surely my dashing lords can too?


Chapter One


The last time Lord Joshua Rutherford attended a London ball was six years ago. He’d been in his mid-twenties then, his parents had been settled into their Curzon Street home for the season, and his sister had been brimming with a very ladylike excitement as she began the task of making her debut.

Despite Joss’ intense dislike of the capital, of pretty much anything to do with the ton, there was no possible way that he could have absented himself from the proceedings. His presence was expected. And, even back then, Joss had always been very conscious of ensuring that he did what was expected of him.

He couldn’t remember a whole lot about that ball, or the season itself for that matter, but what he did remember about those long months did not incline him to do the whole thing all over again. Crushed routs, noisy balls, stuffy trips to theatre...and then there were the ladies.

He shuddered inwardly as he looked around the ballroom he now found himself in. A ballroom that he had promised himself he would forever avoid like the plague. Not a lot had changed in the last six years. The decorations were much of the same and so was their hostess, the indomitable Lady Henrietta Hastings. She was one of the leading lights of London’s social circle—had been for years—and took her ‘duty’ of kicking off the season in style very seriously.

Joss narrowed his eyes on the scene in front of him. Despite the people laughing and chattering, despite the music playing from the ensemble in the corner, the ballroom did have an air of seriousness about it.

But then, this was a serious business.

The season always had been.

And, that was only one of the reasons that Joss detested it.

He made to lean against the wall as he considered the ballroom, realized a moment later that London gentleman did not lean in such a fashion, and so straightened up. As he did so his gaze settled on the crush of people in the middle of the room. The crush was almost identical to those that he had experienced six years ago as well as those that he had experienced the very first time he’d arrived in London two years prior to that. Dozens of females, almost all of them fresh and young, fluttered about. Their modest dresses covered just about every hue of the rainbow, and the employed their fans vigorously as they eyed up the gentlemen who had been arriving for the last half hour.

No, not the gentlemen.

Their marriage prospects.

Joss shot a look towards those ‘prospects’. Some were crowded around the females, smiling and fawning like fools. Others, like himself, were on the periphery of the proceedings. There were young men, older men, and everything in between. Some were dressed impeccably, some clearly having been bullied into attendance by their mamas, had put far less effort in. In the end though it didn’t really matter what they looked like. No doubt the young ladies had all been briefed in advance on who they should set their sights on. Given entire lists on who could be considered ‘suitable’. Their mamas and their chaperones would have given them reasons why but in the end it usually came down to one thing. Was he the oldest son and heir? It was always about that, and Joss had learned it early on during that difficult first season that he’d experienced.

He only just repressed a sigh as he recalled being in this very ballroom, the first Joss had ever attended outside of the country balls he had grown up with. He’d been just twenty-three then, young, maybe too young, but not completely inexperienced, and perhaps he should have expected it what was to come? Perhaps he should have realized that there would be queues of dainty, determined females all hoping to snag the heir to Rutherford Hall and everything that came with it?

Only, he hadn’t. He hadn’t expected much of what had happened that season. Certainly, not the ruthlessness with which those women went about their business. Joss’ lips twisted as he recalled a conversation he’d overheard as he took refuge outside on the terrace. Under the twinkling fairy lights a mama had taken her daughter aside and berated her for not being more ‘forward’.

“He’s the oldest son,” she had said, her voice laced with steel. “And, from the exact sort of family we’re aiming for!”

It hadn’t taken Joss long to realize what she meant by that. Oldest sons were all well and good but it was preferable to the predatory mamas of the ton that they were the sons of families who didn’t find themselves in financial difficulties—unless they came from a distinguished lineage of course. Financial embarrassments could be forgiven if the family was respectable enough and the female had a large enough dowry.

Marrying above their station, that’s what Joss’ mama had always called it, and then, more often than not, she had patted his cheek as she said that, and assured him that he didn’t need to pay any mind to those females. Their family could be choosy. Joss could have his pick of any female he desired...

Any female he desired.

Stood on the edge of the gaiety surrounding him, Joss only just about contained a shudder. When had he realized that there wasn’t a single female that he did desire? He couldn’t say for sure but part of him suspected that it had always been something he was aware of. And certainly, back home, at Rutherford Hall, he’d never seen a single one that made him feel the things he’d known he should feel.

Interest. Intrigue. Arousal.

Joss simply did not feel it...at least not for any of the females. But then, he’d told himself, almost convinced himself, that was likely due to females that were available. There were not many of them and they were country girls, not charming and polished like those in London.

His stomach clenched as he remembered how hopeful he’d felt coming to the capital that very first time. How he’d imagined that once he entered his first ballroom he would be surrounded by dozens of females who all aroused and intrigued him.

Only, he hadn’t. What he had been surrounded by were dozens of females who wanted to marry him. No, not him. They wanted to marry a Rutherford, and they wanted everything that came with that, and Joss did not want a single one of them. It had been the same a few years later during his sister’s debut, and it was still the same now. Deep down Joss had known it would be.

And yet, he had hoped...he had hoped...

He caught the eye of a young thing in a light blue dress. Frills covered almost the entire thing. Her hair was arranged in a style which Joss suspected had taken her maid hours to concoct but was so complicated it looked like it might topple at any moment. She looked both nervous and hopeful. She should be, Joss thought. Despite the outfit and the ridiculous hairstyle, she was pretty. Some young lord would soon approach her, ask her to dance, call at her house, take her driving... She’d be married before she knew it and probably have an heir on the way before the next season rolled around. And, she would have no idea what she was getting into. None of them did. How could they? The season was one of the most artificial things that Joss had ever experienced. How could anyone trust anything about it?

So, why the hell was he back here?

He frowned as he considered that and found himself leaning into the wall again. The smile on the pretty young girl’s face slipped. She turned away and whispered something to an older female who could only be her mama. That mama turned and shot Joss a look. Confusion flashed over her face for a moment but it was soon replaced by a smile. She couldn’t know who he was, Joss was certain of that, he’d been holed up in the countryside for so long that he was unrecognizable in London. But she could tell by his dress, by his bearing, that he was someone to consider...an older son perhaps...from a distinguished line...the exact sort of family they were aiming for.

What did it matter if he did slump against the wall?

What did it matter if he spent the entire evening doing just that and not much of anything else?

None of that would be important to the young lady or her mama once they found out who he was.

None of it.

Joss turned away from the eagle eyed mama, from the young girl, from everyone. A flash of pure dislike at the whole thing flashed through him. He tried to ignore it but it was impossible. He disliked being back here.

He disliked the atmosphere.

He disliked the decorations.

He disliked the music.

He disliked the entire ton.

Why bother to pretend otherwise? Why bother to even deny it? He should never have agreed to this. Should never have allowed his mama to cajole and plead with him until he did what she desired. No, until he did what she insisted was his duty.

Find a wife.

Produce an heir.

That was what gentleman did. It was what was expected of them. Joss was no different. And yet, what had he possibly imagined might have changed over the last six years? What?

Nothing was the answer.

Nothing at all.

He clenched his fists as that realization flashed through him. A heavy weight seemed to settle in Joss’ chest and for a moment he was torn. Stood on the periphery of everything, watching it all happen around him, he wasn’t sure what to do. Grit his teeth and step into the melee? Or stay exactly where he was until his feelings of intense dislike began to fade...assuming they ever would.

Joss knew what he should do. Knew exactly what his duty was. But what he wanted to do...what his entire being was urging him to do...well, that was another matter entirely. And so, he stood there on the periphery of the ball, the minutes ticking by, the music continuing to play, the females continuing to flutter about, the gentleman continuing to follow them. Joss let it all happen around him as he wrestled with his conflicting desires. But then, a crowd of older females passed by and their sweet perfume was almost overwhelming. Joss gritted his teeth and, mind suddenly made up, and without allowing himself to consider it any further, to consider that this was not what he should be doing, he found himself pushing through the crowd. Past the elegantly dressed gentleman, past the fluttering females, he headed straight for the door.

It didn’t take long before a servant arrived out of nowhere, Joss’ overcoat, hat and gloves in hand. The poor man had probably noticed Joss’ flight from the room and rushed to ensure he was taken care of. Joss gritted his teeth harder.

He took the items from the servant, gave him a nod of thanks, and stepped forward, more than ready to leave. The door opened, an impeccably dressed butler bowing low, Joss moved to rush past him, ignoring the sounds of the ball behind him as he did so. He ignored everything but his route to freedom, his way back to the sanity and silence of his rooms, and a sigh of relief filled him as the cold air of London prickled over his skin.

But then, someone was walking through the door, walking into the house, blocking his path, and Joss had no choice but to come to a halt to let them through. He looked up at the richly decorated ceiling, letting out a sigh of irritation. He clenched his hands around his hat and gloves. The cold air continued to prickle against his skin. It was like a siren’s call.

A laugh sounded. Joss looked down and towards the door. It was at that moment that he actually paused and took in what was happening around him, and the moment he did his stomach clenched.

Someone walked into the house, the laughing someone, and the moment they did... Joss swallowed unsteadily. The irritation and the dislike that had been pumping through him mere moments ago faded and was swiftly replaced with a rush of feelings that Joss did not expect...and yet, he knew exactly where they were coming from.


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