An Innocent Proposal

An Innocent Proposal
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Mistress for a night…Lord Dunstan found Miss Louisa Fraser captivating, though she was another man's mistress. He couldn&##39;t have been more startled–or pleased–when she offered herself for one night of passion if he would save her and her misguided brother from financial ruin. So, on the appointed night, Lord Dunstan received the shock of his life. His bewitching miss was a virgin!Beloved wife for eternity…What started out as an innocent proposition turned into a marriage of convenience where neither party could trust the other. Would the birth of their child and imminent danger bring these two lost souls to a confession of their soul-searing love?

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“Let us cut the preliminaries, shall we?

“I find you extremely attractive and it is obvious we were made to know each other better—that our paths were destined to cross. Should Mr. Fraser find he has another engagement tomorrow night, you could accompany Mr. Hacket to Dunstan House or come by yourself. You will be well received and find it extremely rewarding.”

Even though Louisa had spent all her life buried in the country, away from the sleaze and corruption of London, she would have had to be a simple, naive fool not to have known the implication of his words. Insulted, hot, angry color flooded her cheeks again and she took a step back abruptly, gazing at him with pure loathing.

“I think you are mistaken, Lord Dunstan. I am not for sale.”

An Innocent Proposal

Helen Dickson


was born and still lives in south Yorkshire with her husband, on a busy arable farm where she combines writing with keeping a chaotic farmhouse. An incurable romantic, she writes for pleasure, owing much of her inspiration to the beauty of the countryside. She enjoys reading and music. History has always captivated her, and she likes to travel and visit ancient buildings.

Chapter One


It was the golden blaze of her hair and the wonderful sound of her laughter that first drew Alistair’s gaze to Louisa. He was as quick as any other man to look at a beautiful woman.

She was at the centre of a group of boisterous young bucks who, if their loud and coarse laughter was anything to go by, had drunk too much wine than was good for them. Several he recognised, two of them being James Fraser and Timothy Hacket. They appeared to have an enormous capacity for enjoying themselves as they partook of an evening of music and dancing at the Spring Pleasure Gardens at Vauxhall on the Thames at Lambeth.

It was a place of informality, where extravagance and pleasure were fashionable. Vauxhall had long since been established as one of London’s favourite resorts; its covered walks and dark paths leading from lamp-lit alleyways, with so many intricate twists and turns that even the most experienced could get lost, made it an ideal place for flirtation, assignation and intrigue, where ladies of the town loitered in the shade and many a stolen kiss was to be had.

Following a long and tedious debate on foreign policy in the House of Lords, and feeling replete and in a strangely mellow mood after a good meal and a glass or two of fine brandy, Alistair had left the supper box where he was dining with friends to listen to the strains of the orchestra, and to watch idly the crowds that always flocked to Vauxhall. Pavilions of entertainment shone brightly amidst illuminated trees, and he stood close to one where country dancing was being enjoyed by a good many of the younger people.

The June air was cool after the day’s heat, and the gardens were a popular site for summer pleasure, a place of respectability and intrigue, where people from all walks of life could combine. Everyone was there—double-chinned, bewigged politicians, lauded writers, artists, actresses, courtesans—all resplendent in shimmering silks and satins, the women’s dresses cut low to reveal smooth, bare shoulders. The gardens were illuminated with lighted lamps, beneath which the people strolled, chatting and laughing, with expectancy on their faces as they thought of the good food, good wine and pleasant music to be listened to and enjoyed.

That was when the young lady first caught Alistair’s eye. With a good deal of pleasure he allowed his gaze to dwell on her, noticing that she seemed to be endowed with a boldness second to none as he witnessed the effect her intense personal charm had on those around her. It lurked in her playful eyes, in the tilt of her head, and in her soft seductive smile, which she seemed to use on any of the gentlemen who gave her the opportunity.

Thinking of her with a good deal of curiosity and interest, he hardly noticed when Lady Bricknell, having noticed his absence from their supper box, came to stand beside him, following his gaze and smiling when she detected the source of his interest. Lady Bricknell was wise in many ways, and recognised something in Alistair’s expression she hadn’t seen in a long time.

His gaze was warm as he looked at the young woman, and at the same time ablaze with a passionate awareness. She could see his interest and curiosity, which broadened the smile on her lips, for it was a rarity indeed to see Alistair Dunstan—self-proclaimed single man from bitter experience, who regarded all women as being dispensable and irrelevant—look at a woman as he was doing now.

“So, the young lady has taken your fancy, I see, Alistair,” she murmured. “You always did have an eye for a pretty girl, but I think you will find that that particular young lady may be spoken for.”

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