By Janmarie Anello
ISBN Print: 978-0-9885505-2-0
ISBN Digital: 978-0-9885505-3-7
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Available for pre-order now.
A Marriage of Inconvenience
Sophie Treneham thought she’d left scandal behind her when she retired to a quiet country estate to raise her daughter alone. But her peaceful refuge is shattered when a stranger with dark hair and a menacing scar across his cheek arrives in her drawing room and claims she is his betrothed! Marrying this pirate of a man is out of the question and Sophie is sure he has come to pillage what is left of her home. Only as an irresistible attraction builds between them and desire turns to love does Sophie realize her true danger: the treasure Jagger Remington has come to plunder is her heart.
An Unexpected Love
A debt of honor forces Jagger to abandon his life and agree to wed Sophie sight unseen, but the lady he finds is more beautiful than he expected, and more spirited. She soon makes it clear that she never consented to her brother’s matchmaking scheme. Despite her protests and his suspicions surrounding the match, decency demands they wed. But what begins as a marriage based on duty, soon turns to irresistible attraction. Jagger never expected to find love—and redemption for his past sins—within his makeshift family. Now he faces his greatest challenge: to win Sophie’s trust and earn her love…before the truth behind their hasty marriage emerges to destroy them. that becomes irresistibly seductive. But will it strengthen fragile bonds of trust…or become the undoing of them both?
Copyright © JanmarieAnello.com
The bamboo shutters, pulled tight against the monsoon winds, trapped the stench of cigars and unwashed bodies in the crowded tavern. Orange lamplight flickered through the silvery haze, casting shadows over the room.
Jagger Remington eyed the man seated across from him at the table. He wished the man would go away. Conversation was not on his list of things to do tonight. He wanted nothing more than to get drunk and bed a willing wench or two, preferably in that order. Still, he owed this man more than he could ever repay. He had to listen to what the man had to say, even if it did concern the odious subject of matrimony.
He downed his brandy, then called for another.
The tavern maid sauntered over and refilled his glass. She slowly circled her tongue around her full, sensuous lips. “Need anything else?”
Her blatant invitation teased a reluctant smile out of Jagger, despite his foul mood. For reasons he did not understand, women seemed to find his black hair and blue eyes wildly attractive, so much so that they rarely seemed to notice the hideous scar that marred the left half of his face. He fingered the jagged flesh beneath his eye, a grim reminder of the past he had left behind, the promises he had yet to keep.
The tavern maid crossed her arms on the knife-scarred tabletop. Flashing him a saucy smile, she leaned toward Jagger until the scooped neckline of her smock gaped open, giving him a tantalizing view of her big breasts bulging out of her stays. Honey-blond hair curled around her face. Sea-green eyes opened and closed seductively.
He was about to suggest they head to his room when the tavern keep, who was as big as a bear and looked just as mean, growled her name in a tone that clearly bespoke ownership.
Jagger grinned. “Just leave the bottle.”
She shrugged her shoulders and strolled away, her hips swaying flirtatiously as she walked toward her man.
The slurred voices of drunken soldiers and sailors mingled with sultry laughter as a kaleidoscope of painted whores circled the room, plying their trade. All the while, the man sitting with Jagger droned on and on about the benefits Jagger would gain in a match with the man’s sister.
“How on earth did you ever find me?” Jagger asked when the man finally paused for breath.
Stephen Treneham, the fourth Earl of Hallowell, crushed his handkerchief in his fist, then mopped the sweat from his brow. He glared at Jagger. “What difference does it make? I have followed you through the backwaters and malarial swamps of this godforsaken region for nigh unto a year now.”
The earl’s voice trembled with anger, but Jagger refused to rise to the bait. He would explain himself to no one, not even to Stephen, whom he had once loved like a father.
The space between them filled with a charged silence, broken only by the incessant chatter of voices in the taproom and the drumming of Stephen’s fingertips on the table.
Murky lamplight played over the earl’s bony hand.
Jagger was amazed at how much the man had aged since the last time he had seen him. Gone was the full head of blond hair, replaced by thin, silver strands combed from ear to ear. Harsh lines cut into the flesh around his mouth, as if he never smiled, and his sagging cheeks were flushed from the heat.
His eyes were the same as Jagger remembered, though—vibrant blue and burning with determination as he pointed at the legal documents spread out on the table. “With no entail attached to that estate, once you sign the papers, it’s as good as yours. Granted, I have made no recent improvements, but you know as well as I what that property is worth. Why, there is a fortune just in timber on that estate!”
Jagger couldn’t mask the momentary interest that no doubt flashed across his face. The fact that Stephen noticed, as evidenced by his satisfied smile, goaded him into irrational anger. “I am not for sale.”
Stephen shrugged. “Nor am I buying. I am merely making a settlement upon my sister.”
“She is agreeable to this?”
“She signed the papers, did she not?”
Jagger picked up the documents. Her signature was at the bottom of each page, a graceful, flowing sweep across the paper. It was the most bewildering aspect of this outrageous scheme. Why would she agree to wed a man she had never met?
“I didn’t even know you had a sister.”
Stephen snorted. “Why would you? You have been gone from England for what, fifteen years now without a word?” His voice had grown louder with each word he’d spoken until he finally bellowed, “Did you never think to let me know you were alive?”
The accusation rang through the room. Conversations stopped as the drunkards around them turned to stare.
Jagger clenched his fist but said nothing. He could never explain the anguish he had suffered over his exile from England. Nor did he want to. He would return when he was ready. When the time was right.
Then he would have his revenge.
“Did my mother never mention my letters?” Jagger asked, pinching the bridge of his nose. He had written to her as often as he could, and he’d provided for her maintenance, but he’d never invited her to join him. Given her delicate health and the drastically reduced life span of a European in India, he had not thought she would survive.
“I’ve not spoken with her,” Stephen said in a voice so low, Jagger had to strain to hear him. “Not since the arrangements were finalized and she retired to the country.”
Stephen cleared his throat, waved his hand. “Never mind. It does not matter. Sophie is my stepsister. From my father’s third marriage. There is no blood between us, but I would see her safely settled before I die. In truth, I should have seen to it long ago. So, what do you say?”
Jagger laughed. “You honestly expect me to do this thing?”
“Why not? I admit it’s a bit out of the ordinary way.”
“That’s a mile short of nowhere,” Jagger drawled.
“But I see nothing wrong with it,” Stephen continued as if Jagger hadn’t spoken. “That is, of course, unless you are already engaged?”
Jagger shook his head. He tossed back his brandy, relishing the warmth as the smooth liqueur slid down his throat.
Stephen smiled. “Then I see no reason not to proceed. What say you?”
“I say you have gone daft, man. I have no need of a wife.”
“Why not? Every man needs a wife, if for no other reason than to care for him in his old age.”
“Then why don’t you wed?”
“Because I am already old.”
“Nonsense.” Jagger poured himself another bumper of brandy. “You cannot be more than fifty. I am certain there are any number of nubile, young maidens eager to wed a man of your station, regardless of your years.”
“No.” Stephen stared into his drink. A hint of despair crept into his voice. “I loved a woman once…”
Wretchedly uncomfortable at the mournful expression on the man’s face, Jagger shifted on his seat. Romantic drivel, he thought harshly. He had never met a woman who inspired anything more in him than momentary lust, and that was easily assuaged by a night spent in carnal bliss.
Stephen drew a shuddering breath. “But she was lost to me, so I did my duty and married another.”
He leveled his piercing gaze on Jagger. “When everything is said and done, duty is all we have. Unfortunately, my wife died in childbirth, along with the babe. Now the title will go to my brother, but I need to see to Sophie’s future. I need to know she is safe.”
“Why me?” Jagger asked bluntly. “There must be a dozen or more eager young bucks vying for your sister’s hand. Choose one of them.”
Stephen shook his head.
Jagger narrowed his eyes. He stroked his thumb and forefinger over his stubbled chin as he studied the earl. The man was definitely hiding something.
“What’s wrong with her?” he said.
“There is nothing wrong with her!”
“Oh, cut line, Hallowell. Why else would you be fishing in India for a man to marry the chit?”
The earl slammed his fist on the table. “There is nothing wrong with her. Watch what you say!”
Jagger merely lifted a brow.
Stephen sighed. “I admit, she is a bit headstrong and set in her ways. But given the right man to guide her, she will make an exemplary wife. And, I assure you, she is fair of face and form. You will not find her displeasing.”
“I tire of this game,” Jagger said. “I ask you again—why me? And this time, give me the truth.”
"FOREVER YOURS by Janmarie Anello is a heart-touching romance that will have you sighing over the love and caring that is present between Jagger and Sophie. I loved Sophie's determination and strength. She had experienced the worst life had to offer but had emerged stronger and ready to fight for what she wanted. Jagger had faced demons of his own, but remained a man of honor and dignity. I was deeply impressed with the love Jagger showed toward Sophie and her daughter. He was truly a hero to melt my heart. I loved this book and I highly recommend you pick it up." --Char, Romance Junkies, 5 Blue Ribbon Review
"Suspicions run high in this love story. Filled with adventure, intrigue and romance, this is one book that you will be hard pressed to put down. Sophie and Jagger have come from backgrounds that are similar. They both feel the pain of betrayal from family and friends alike. This is a tale that will warm your heart and prove that no matter the obstacles, true love can be found in the arms of the person you least expect. Ms. Anello has written a wonderful first book and I can only hope to read more of her stories in the near future." --Liadan, Coffee Time Romance
"Ms. Annello creates a hero and a heroine destined to be together. . . Achingly poignant and at times sad and tragic, in the end love conquers all. I enjoyed this story very much and look forward to more stories from the talented Janmarie Anello.." -Virginia, Historical Romance Writers
"This interesting debut is a tension-filled historical romance sure to hold readers' attention. Ms. Anello's debut is an interesting tale that holds readers' attention with sexual tension and conflict between the characters. The proud hero and feisty heroine meet the challenges life throws at them with dignity and courage. And as they solve the murder, Jagger and Sophie find that family has many definitions." --Suan Wilson, FreshFiction.com
"The story of two complete strangers who are blackmailed into a marriage that neither one wants, the secrets they hide and the obstacles they face as they try to make their unwelcome marriage work, should have been just your normal, run-of-the-mill historical romance fare. But Anello throws enough obstacles, twists and outside characters into the mix that you simply can't help but keep reading this fast-paced, event filled story...
...Janmarie Anello definitely has what it takes to write a good, historical romance. When you read FOREVER YOURS, its evident that her knowledge of the times and her ability to write good dialogue are on prominent display throughout, as is her ability to toss a wrench or two into the plot as the storyline progresses. This is one author that's definitely worth watching, and one I look forward to reading again in the future." --Nancy Davis, Romance Reader at Heart
Forever Yours was originally published in April 2007, by Kensington Publishing Corp.
This was the original cover.