The Rake’s Bride
Dry Bayou Brides
Genre: Historical Western Romance
Publisher: Charizomai Press, LLC
Date of Publication: June 27th
Word Count: 57k
Cover Artist: Dar Albert
Tagline: Lies, Fate, Redemption…
Jean-Luc La Fontaine is tired of sowing his wild oats. So, after a disastrous summer in France, he’s back in Dry Bayou, ordering himself a mail-order bride. A new wife will help him forget about the siren with sapphire eyes…
Intelligence, wealth, prestige… It means nothing when you fall in love with the wrong man. So, when scandal chases Isabeau Montefret from France, she runs to America, determined to forget the man with the wicked smile. Isabeau hoped becoming a mail-order bride was the answer to her problems. She’d change her name, start a new life, and lose herself in a small town. When she discovers that the man who disappeared with her heart is the man she agreed to marry, Isabeau settles in for the fight of her life.
When the one woman he’d left France to forget arrives in town, claiming she’s his new bride, Jean-Luc doesn't know what to feel. But when pain gives way to the truth, he must risk keeping a dark secret, one that would steal every chance at happiness. Isabeau once made him believe in happily ever after, now he must learn how to keep his new bride at a distance, lest he lose everything.
Can Jean-Luc be a true husband to the woman he's been deceiving? Can Isabeau convince Jean-Luc she’s his one true love? Will these two rediscover what they had once upon a summertime?
Her thoughts in turmoil, Isabeau watched through the window as two wagons and twelve people passed by on the dusty yet well-maintained streets. While Dry Bayou was a relatively small town—at least compared to Paris or New York City—it was filled with colorful people, smiling children, and plenty of busyness. At least from what she could see through the window.
Having shut herself in her room since her arrival two days before, she had no real idea of the town. But would it matter once she told him she was the woman he was marrying tomorrow? Was she marrying him tomorrow? From what she could gather from his snide comments and hard, glinting expression, he had abandoned her in France… because he’d come upon Louis molesting her in the garden and had thought she’d encouraged the lizard’s advances. The man she loved had turned tail and left her, without a word, without asking her if what he’d seen was the truth. He hadn’t even had the decency to tell her to her face that he didn’t trust her, that his love was faithless.
Her stomach began waltzing behind the hands pressed to her belly. How could she marry a man who’d cared so little for her? No, that’s not true. He loved me once. He still loves me. He must. But he’d never said it, never told her he loved her. Though, his words, his promises, his caresses… he must’ve at least cared for her.
With that thought in her head, she turned to face him, and what she’d planned to say stalled behind her lips. His dark eyes were hooded, his lips turned down, and his expression burned through her. What was he thinking? What was he feeling? Had she been wrong to assume he still wanted anything to do with her?
If there was one thing she remembered about him it was that he appreciated her frankness, that she never hid behind empty words or flattering phrases. Though Jean-Luc had taken on a new name, he was still the Luc she’d known. She was still the Marielle he’d known. The Marielle he’d asked to meet in the garden.
“Luc,” she began, taking a step forward, her heart calling out to him. “I don’t know why you left, but…” She took another step forward, her throat closing around her hard-won resolve. She swallowed and took another step, her toes now touching the tips of his boots. “I believe we’ve been given the chance to start anew.” She met his blank gaze and nearly faltered. “I know you cared for me once.”
His sharp intake of breath brought her gaze to his lips.
She smiled then, a slow, knowing smile. A smile she’d used on him on occasion, to get what she’d wanted. She reached trembling hands and laid them on his chest. His heartbeat thudded against her palms, an erratic pounding she felt in her bones. “Kiss me, Luc,” her voice was stronger than she’d anticipated, but she was glad of it because next, he pushed away from her and strode across the room, his large hands balled into fists at his sides.
“God, Isabeau, why are you here? What do you want from me?” His words were guttural as if pulled up from a gravel pit. Every line of his face deepened in fury, and his eyes darkened to ebony.
Steadying herself against the desk, she forced slow, deep breaths into her lungs. But the more she watched him, the tighter her chest became, and the harder it was to breathe. She couldn’t understand his animosity. What had she done to make him look at her like that? Wracking her mind, she thought back on every moment they spent together in Locronan. There’d been laughter and long conversations about everything and nothing. She couldn’t remember a time with him that wasn’t special. So, what happened? How could a man change so much in eight months?
Taking a deep breath, she met his gaze, noticing the tension in his body, the flat line of his mouth, the impatience in his stance. He was waiting for her to answer. “I want to prove to you that we were meant to be together. I want to spend the rest of my life arguing with you over the best flavor of candy. I want to share a bed with you, wake up to your kisses, fall asleep in your arms. I want to raise our children together. I want to be your lover, your helpmate, your everything… as you are everything to me.” Her impassioned words seemed to echo through the small room, bouncing about on every surface, only to land with a crash against the man staring daggers into her heart.
About the Author:
Lynn Winchester is the pseudonym of a hardworking California-born conservative, now living in the wilds of Northeast Pennsylvania. Lynn has been writing fiction since the 5th grade, and enjoys creating worlds, characters, and stories for her readers.
When Lynn isn't writing she is running a successful editing business, reading whatever she can get her hands on, raising her four children, making sure her husband is happy, and binge watching shows on Netflix.