His Unsuitable Viscountess

His Unsuitable Viscountess
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From hard-headed businesswoman… A lifetime of living in a man’s world has given sword-making factory owner Eleanor Blackwell some very definite opinions – particularly about the duplicity of men! …to blushing bride? Benjamin Grayson, Viscount Whittonstall, seems to be cut from a different cloth – Eleanor responds to his touch with a passion normally only reserved for fencing!She may be spectacularly unsuited for aristocracy, but Ben has different ideas when he plans to safeguard her business with a very convenient proposal…

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‘Marry me.’

Eleanor froze. A thousand disconnected thoughts flew through her brain. A huge part of her screamed that this was the miracle she’d been longing for. Lord Whittonstall had asked her to marry him. But she also knew she didn’t want him offering out of pity. She had her pride.

‘I wasn’t begging you for help. I was attempting to explain.’

‘Is there something wrong with marrying me?’ Ben stared at Eleanor Blackwell. He had not intended to ask her to marry him when he arrived at Moles, but now, seeing her here and hearing her story, he knew it was the right thing to do. The perfect solution to his problem and to hers. Mutual assistance.

She pulled away from him. ‘You have no reason to want to marry me. Don’t patronise me. I can’t stand it.’

Ben watched the crown of her head. Her bravery impressed him, but he also wanted to touch her hair. His desire to kiss her had grown, not diminished. Most unexpected. He desired her.


This book had two major inspirations. First, it amazed me when I learned that the finest swords in England during the Regency Period were manufactured in Shotley Bridge, County Durham. Second, I have been intrigued for a number of years by successful Regency businesswomen—women like Eleanor Coade, whose factory made the famous Coade Stone statues which so evoke gardening in this period, and Sarah Child Villiers, Lady Jersey, who inherited Child and Co from her grandfather because he disapproved of her mother’s elopement.

Lady Jersey served as the senior partner from 1806-1867. She never allowed the men in her life to take an active part in the bank, and retained the right to hire and fire all the other partners. Lady Jersey was also the Lady Patroness of Almack’s, and was responsible for popularising the French Quadrille—the precursor to traditional square dancing.

In 1812 in England fourteen women literally held licences to print money because they were senior partners in a variety of private banks. The two wealthiest bankers in London in the 1820s were the Peeresses—Lady Jersey and the Duchess of St Alban’s, who was the senior partner at Courts. However, for some reason Regency businesswomen have often been ignored or overlooked in the history books, and it is hard to find more than snippets about them. The sole biography of the Duchess of St Alban’s dates from 1839. One of the best books on the subject that I have found is Women Who Made Money: Women Partners in British Private Banks 1752-1906 by Dawes and Selwyn (Trafford Publishing, November 2010).

Hopefully you will enjoy my story of Eleanor Blackwell as much as I enjoyed writing it.

As ever, I welcome all feedback from readers.


About the Author

Born and raised near San Francisco, California, MICHELLE STYLES currently lives a few miles south of Hadrian’s Wall, with her husband, three children, two dogs, cats, assorted ducks, hens and beehives. An avid reader, she became hooked on historical romance when she discovered Georgette Heyer, Anya Seton and Victoria Holt one rainy lunchtime at school. And, for her, a historical romance still represents the perfect way to escape. Although Michelle loves reading about history, she also enjoys a more hands-on approach to her research. She has experimented with a variety of old recipes and cookery methods (some more successfully than others), climbed down Roman sewers, and fallen off horses in Iceland—all in the name of discovering more about how people went about their daily lives. When she is not writing, reading or doing research, Michelle tends her rather overgrown garden or does needlework—in particular counted cross-stitch.

Michelle maintains a website, www.michellestyles.co.uk, and a blog, www.michellestyles.blogspot.com, and would be delighted to hear from you.

Previous novels by the same author:


And in Mills & Boon HistoricalUndone!eBooks:


His Unsuitable


Michelle Styles


To my mother-in-law, Mary Styles.

Chapter One

May 1811, Durham County

What were the precise words you used when proposing marriage to a rake? Not necessarily the polite ones, but the words guaranteed to get results?

Miss Eleanor Blackwell paced Sir Vivian Clarence’s library, banging the newly forged rapier against her palm.

Proposing to Sir Vivian had seemed straightforward back at the foundry. In fact the ideal solution to her current dilemma. She needed a husband and Sir Vivian had debts to clear. But as she waited for Sir Vivian to appear doubts warred with desperation and she fought against a rising sense of panic.

Even if she did succeed in her proposal, was Sir Vivian the sort of man she wanted to be married to?

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