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The Viscount Who Loved Me
 


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The Viscount Who Loved Me


  The

  Viscount

  Who

  Loved

  Me

  Julia Quinn

  Contents

  E-Book Extras:

  The Bridgerton Basics: Ms. Quinn Fills You In

  Behind the Novel: The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

  Opening Announcement

  Prologue

  Anthony Bridgerton had always known he would die young.

  Chapter 1

  The topic of rakes has, of course, been previously discussed…

  Chapter 2

  At the Hartside ball Wednesday night, Viscount Bridgerton was seen…

  Chapter 3

  Viscount Bridgerton was also seen dancing with Miss Katharine Sheffield…

  Chapter 4

  This Author was, sadly, unable to determine all the details…

  Chapter 5

  It has come to This Author’s attention that Miss Katharine…

  Chapter 6

  Lady Bridgerton’s musicale proved to be a decidedly musical affair…

  Chapter 7

  Also in attendance at Lady Bridgerton’s musicale: Mrs. Featherington and…

  Chapter 8

  As any regular reader of this column knows, there are…

  Chapter 9

  Men are contrary creatures. Their heads and their hearts are…

  Chapter 10

  The country house party is a very dangerous event. Married…

  Chapter 11

  There is nothing like a spot of competition to bring…

  Chapter 12

  A man with charm is an entertaining thing, and a…

  Chapter 13

  There is little to report in London with so many…

  Chapter 14

  And indeed, if a scandal does erupt at Lady Bridgerton’s…

  Chapter 15

  Once again, This Author has been proven correct. Country…

  Chapter 16

  It has come to This Author’s attention that the wedding…

  Chapter 17

  The deed is done! Miss Sheffield is now Katharine, Viscountess…

  Chapter 18

  Although gossip still surrounds the hasty marriage of Lord and…

  Chapter 19

  Lady Mottram’s annual ball was a crush, as always, but…

  Chapter 20

  Has anyone besides This Author noticed that Miss Edwina Sheffield…

  Chapter 21

  It has been whispered that Lord and Lady Bridgerton were…

  Chapter 22

  Contrary to popular opinion, This Author is aware that she…

  Epilogue

  Lord Bridgerton celebrated his birthday—This Author believes that it…

  Author’s Note

  About the Author

  Avon Books by Julia Quinn

  Copyright

  About the Publisher

  E-Book Extra

  The Bridgerton Basics: Ms. Quinn Fills You In

  What is the order of the Bridgerton books?

  Julia Quinn: Book 1: The Duke and I

  Book 2: The Viscount Who Loved Me

  Book 3: An Offer From A Gentleman

  Book 4: Romancing Mr. Bridgerton

  Book 5: To Sir Phillip, With Love

  Book 6: When He Was Wicked (coming summer 2004)

  Will you write books for all eight Bridgerton siblings?

  Julia Quinn: Yes.

  Will you write books about their children?

  Julia Quinn: I don’t know.

  Why was there no mention of Lady Whistledown in To Sir Phillip, With Love? I thought for sure there would be a scene where Eloise learned the truth!

  Julia Quinn: Because Lady Whistledown had nothing to do with the plot for To Sir Phillip, With Love. The introduction of Lady Whistledown and “the big secret” would have been irrelevant, not to mention confusing for readers who have not read the previous Bridgerton books.

  I do like to refer to items from previous books (Anthony’s fear of bees, for example, or Colin’s ravenous appetite), but only when they make sense within the framework of the story I’m currently telling. While the Bridgerton books are a loosely connected series, each title, first and foremost, must stand on its own as an individual novel.

  I did think about this, however, while I was writing the novel, so my answer is: Colin didn’t tell Eloise because he was so furious with her for running off. Keeping her (a woman who likes to know everything!) out of the loop would be, to him, the perfect revenge.

  Will you ever write a story for Violet Bridgerton?

  Julia Quinn: The answer, I think, is no. Her love for Edmund was so strong and deep that I have difficulty imagining her ever remarrying. I have received requests to write their story, but I wonder if it would be too bittersweet, since so many readers would already know that he would die young.

  What about Francesca Bridgerton? She was a widow in Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. What happened to her?

  Julia Quinn: I’m still figuring that out. Look for her story (in which she finds love with her second husband) in summer 2004.

  Who will get a story after Francesca?

  Julia Quinn: Hyacinth.

  Will you ever write a story for Violet Bridgerton?

  Julia Quinn: The answer, I think, is no. Her love for Edmund was so strong and deep that I have difficulty imagining her ever remarrying. I have received requests to write their story, but I wonder if it would be too bittersweet, since so many readers would already know that he would die young.

  What happened to Posy Reiling (from An Offer from A Gentleman)?

  Julia Quinn: Posy married a vicar and now lives a few miles away from Benedict and Sophie in Wiltshire. Check out To Sir Phillip, With Love for a little update on her.

  In Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, you thank Lisa Kleypas and Stephanie Laurens for the gracious use of their characters. Which characters were those?

  Julia Quinn: I thought it would be fun to pay a little homage to my friends and colleagues, so in chapter one of Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, Penelope is reading a book called Mathilda by S.R. Fielding. This book played a big role in Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas (S.R. is actually Sara, the heroine). And in the Lady Whistledown column opening chapter nine, I mention Michael Anstruther-Wetherby, who is the brother of Honoria Anstruther-Wetherby, heroine of Devil’s Bride, the first book of Stephanie Laurens’s Cynster series. (I think he’s supposed to get his own book one of these days.)

  Copyright © 2004 by Julia Quinn

  E-Book Extra

  Behind the Novel: The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

  I went through three outlines for this book before I found a plot and premise that I felt worked. The story required Anthony’s father to have died about ten years before the book began, but in The Duke and I, which was completely edited (but not yet published), his father had died two years earlier. I had to go back and make all the changes while doing the final proofread of Duke. I was terrified that I would miss a mention!

  Regular readers know that I love to include animals in my books. Newton, the overweight corgi, is modeled after Homer, a very friendly corgi who lives on my street. Corgis, while not an officially recognized breed in Britain until the 1920s, originated in Wales during the Middle Ages. Corgis are also very popular with the royal family. Queen Elizabeth’s dogs are “dorgis,” which are corgi-dachsund mixes.

  The Viscount Who Loved Me is second in the Bridgerton series. #1 is The Duke and I, #3 is An Offer from a Gentleman, #4 is Romancing Mr. Bridgerton, and #5 is To Sir Phillip, With Love.

  Lady Whistledown, the gossip columnist featured in, The Viscount Who Loved Me “narrates” her own anthology in The Further Observations of Lady Whistledo
wn. This book is not, however, a part of the Bridgerton series.

  Copyright © 2004 by Julia Quinn

  The season has opened for the year of 1814, and there is little reason to hope that we will see any noticeable change from 1813. The ranks of society are once again filled with Ambitious Mamas, whose only aim is to see their Darling Daughters married off to Determined Bachelors. Discussion amongst the Mamas fingers Viscount Bridgerton as this year’s most eligible catch, and indeed, if the poor man’s hair looks ruffled and windblown, it is because he cannot go anywhere without some young miss batting her eyelashes with such vigor and speed as to create a breeze of hurricane force. Perhaps the only young lady not interested in Bridgerton is Miss Katharine Sheffield, and in fact, her demeanor toward the viscount occasionally borders on the hostile.

  And that is why, Dear Reader, This Author feels that a match between Bridgerton and Miss Sheffield would be just the thing to enliven an otherwise ordinary season.

  LADY WHISTLEDOWN’S SOCIETY PAPERS, 13 APRIL 1814

  For Little Goose Twist,

  who kept me company

  throughout the writing of this book.

  I can’t wait to meet you!

  And also for Paul,

  even though he is allergic to musicals.

  Prologue

  Anthony Bridgerton had always known he would die young.

  Oh, not as a child. Young Anthony had never had cause to ponder his own mortality. His early years had been a young boy’s perfection, right from the very day of his birth.

  It was true that Anthony was the heir to an ancient and wealthy viscountcy, but unlike most other aristocratic couples, Lord and Lady Bridgerton were very much in love, and they saw their son’s birth not as the arrival of an heir, but rather that of a child.

  And so there were no parties, no fêtes, no celebration other than that of mother and father staring in wonderment at their new son.

  The Bridgertons were young parents—Edmund barely twenty and Violet just eighteen—but they were sensible and they were strong, and they loved their son with a fierceness and devotion that was rarely seen in their social circles. Much to her own mother’s horror, Violet insisted upon nursing the boy herself, and Edmund never subscribed to the prevailing attitude that fathers should neither see nor hear their children. He took the infant on long hikes across the fields of Kent, spoke to him of philosophy and poetry before he could possibly understand the words, and told him a bedtime story every night.

  Because the viscount and viscountess were so young and so very much in love, it came as no surprise to anyone when, just two years after Anthony’s birth, he was joined by a younger brother, christened Benedict. Edmund immediately adjusted his daily routine to take two sons on his hikes, and he spent a week holed up in the stables, working with his leatherworker to devise a special pack that would hold Anthony on his back while he held the baby Benedict in his arms.

  They walked across fields and streams, and he told them of wondrous things, of perfect flowers and clear blue skies, of knights in shining armor and damsels in distress. Violet used to laugh when they returned all windblown and sun-kissed, and Edmund would say, “See? Here is our damsel in distress. Clearly we must save her.” And Anthony would throw himself into his mother’s arms, giggling as he swore he’d protect her from the fire-breathing dragon they’d seen just two miles down the road in the village.

  “Two miles down the road in the village?” Violet would breathe, keeping her voice carefully laden with horror.

  “Heaven above, what would I do without three strong men to protect me?”

  “Benedict’s a baby,” Anthony would reply.

  “But he’ll grow up,” she’d always say, tousling his hair, “just as you did. And just as you still will.”

  Edmund always treated his children with equal affection and devotion, but late at night, when Anthony cradled the Bridgerton pocket watch to his chest (given to him on his eighth birthday by his father, who had received it on his eighth birthday from his father), he liked to think that his relationship with his father was just a little bit special. Not because Edmund loved him best; by that point the Bridgerton siblings numbered four (Colin and Daphne had arrived fairly close together) and Anthony knew very well that all the children were well loved.

  No, Anthony liked to think that his relationship with his father was special simply because he’d known him the longest. After all, no matter how long Benedict had known their father, Anthony would always have two years on him. And six on Colin. And as for Daphne, well, besides the fact that she was a girl (the horror!), she’d known Father a full eight years less than he had and, he liked to remind himself, always would.

  Edmund Bridgerton was, quite simply, the very center of Anthony’s world. He was tall, his shoulders were broad, and he could ride a horse as if he’d been born in the saddle. He always knew the answers to arithmetic questions (even when the tutor didn’t), he saw no reason why his sons should not have a tree house (and then he went and built it himself), and his laugh was the sort that warmed a body from the inside out.

  Edmund taught Anthony how to ride. He taught Anthony how to shoot. He taught him to swim. He took him off to Eton himself, rather than sending him in a carriage with servants, as most of Anthony’s future friends arrived, and when he saw Anthony glancing nervously about the school that would become his new home, he had a heart-to-heart talk with his eldest son, assuring him that everything would be all right.

  And it was. Anthony knew it would be. His father, after all, never lied.

  Anthony loved his mother. Hell, he’d probably bite off his own arm if it meant keeping her safe and well. But growing up, everything he did, every accomplishment, every goal, every single hope and dream—it was all for his father.

  And then one day, everything changed. It was funny, he reflected later, how one’s life could alter in an instant, how one minute everything could be a certain way, and the next it’s simply…not.

  It happened when Anthony was eighteen, home for the summer and preparing for his first year at Oxford. He was to belong to All Souls College, as his father had before him, and his life was as bright and dazzling as any eighteen-year-old had a right to enjoy. He had discovered women, and perhaps more splendidly, they had discovered him. His parents were still happily reproducing, having added Eloise, Francesca, and Gregory to the family, and Anthony did his best not to roll his eyes when he passed his mother in the hall—pregnant with her eighth child! It was all a bit unseemly, in Anthony’s opinion, having children at their age, but he kept his opinions to himself.

  Who was he to doubt Edmund’s wisdom? Maybe he, too, would want more children at the advanced age of thirty-eight.

  When Anthony found out, it was late afternoon. He was returning from a long and bruising ride with Benedict and had just pushed through the front door of Aubrey Hall, the ancestral home of the Bridgertons, when he saw his ten-year-old-sister sitting on the floor. Benedict was still in the stables, having lost some silly bet with Anthony, the terms of which required him to rub down both horses.

  Anthony stopped short when he saw Daphne. It was odd enough that his sister was sitting in the middle of the floor in the main hall. It was even more odd that she was crying.

  Daphne never cried.

  “Daff,” he said hesitantly, too young to know what to do with a crying female and wondering if he’d ever learn, “what—”

  But before he could finish his question, Daphne lifted her head, and the shattering heartbreak in her large brown eyes cut through him like a knife. He stumbled back a step, knowing something was wrong, terribly wrong.

  “He’d dead,” Daphne whispered. “Papa is dead.”

  For a moment Anthony was sure he’d misheard. His father couldn’t be dead. Other people died young, like Uncle Hugo, but Uncle Hugo had been small and frail. Well, at least smaller and frailer than Edmund.

  “You’re wrong,” he told Daphne. “You must be wrong.”

  She shook
her head. “Eloise told me. He was…it was…”

  Anthony knew he shouldn’t shake his sister while she sobbed, but he couldn’t help himself. “It was what, Daphne?”

  “A bee,” she whispered. “He was stung by a bee.”

  For a moment Anthony could do nothing but stare at her. Finally, his voice hoarse and barely recognizable, he said, “A man doesn’t die from a bee sting, Daphne.”

  She said nothing, just sat there on the floor, her throat working convulsively as she tried to control her tears.

  “He’s been stung before,” Anthony added, his voice rising in volume. “I was with him. We were both stung. We came across a nest. I was stung on the shoulder.” Unbidden, his hand rose to touch the spot where he’d been stung so many years before. In a whisper he added, “He on his arm.”

  Daphne just stared at him with an eerily blank expression.

  “He was fine,” Anthony insisted. He could hear the panic in his voice and knew he was frightening his sister, but he was powerless to control it. “A man can’t die from a bee sting!”

  Daphne shook her head, her dark eyes suddenly looking about a hundred years old. “It was a bee,” she said in a hollow voice. “Eloise saw it. One minute he was just standing there, and the next he was…he was…”

  Anthony felt something very strange building within him, as if his muscles were about to jump through his skin. “The next he was what, Daphne?”

  “Gone.” She looked bewildered by the word, as bewildered as he felt.

  Anthony left Daphne sitting in the hall and took the stairs three at a time up to his parents’ bedchamber. Surely his father wasn’t dead. A man couldn’t die from a bee sting. It was impossible. Utterly mad. Edmund Bridgerton was young, he was strong. He was tall, his shoulders were broad, his muscles were powerful, and by God, no insignificant honeybee could have felled him.

  But when Anthony reached the upstairs hall, he could tell by the utter and complete silence of the dozen or so hovering servants that the situation was grim.

  And their pitying faces…for the rest of his life he’d be haunted by those pitying faces.

 
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