Of Risk & Redemption

A Revelry’s Tempest Novel…

Historical romance with strong women, undeniable men, and hold your breath adventure.


A past she needs to right. A bargain he has to make. An attraction neither can deny

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THE SHORT SNIPPET ABOUT Of Risk & Redemption, A Revelry’s Tempest Novel:

A past she needs to right. A bargain he has to make. An attraction neither can deny.

A wary widow.
No stranger to love, Lady Desmond is well-versed in the heartache that can accompany it. Burned by her traitorous heart again and again, Cass has determined her life will include only what she can control—and has made her work as the proud proprietress of the Revelry’s Tempest gaming hall her sole mission.

A reluctant viscount.
Inheriting an English title was not something American Rorrick Trowlson wanted in life, nor was the mess that came with the title. His brother’s mess. A mess he now has to clean up. But to do so, he needs a tract of land his brother flippantly lost in a stupid bet at the Revelry’s Tempest.

A past that needs to be righted.
After mistaking her for a madam of a brothel, Cass wants nothing to do with the brash American—until she realizes he may be just the key to righting her deepest regret. She strikes a bargain with Rorrick—take her to America and she will sign the land back to him.

As the spark between them quickly turns into a flame, Cass resists, as she had sworn long ago to never be careless with her heart again. Once, twice, she had been a fool—but three times would be the death of her. But can a brazen American with a new title batter down the stalwart defenses of a widowed countess?


Sneak Peek…

{ Chapter 1 }

London, England
November 1822 

The shot still ringing in his ears, Rorrick walked across the field, the seed tips of the tall grasses brushing against his boots. He could hear the gurgle, even at twenty paces away. Every step forward, his feet slowed, heavy.

Ten paces.



He stopped, looking down. His brother splayed deep in the grasses, the earth swallowing him. Johnny looked up at him, his dark blue eyes bewildered, all anger gone.

He didn’t know what was coming.

His brother coughed, droplets of blood spraying upward, then falling, splattering along his cheek. Johnny’s mouth moved, opening and closing again and again before words thick with blood formed. “Da—damn you, Rory.” His body jerked. “You ha—had it in you. Yo—you damn well shot.”

Rorrick’s look travelled downward, stopping at the hole in his brother’s chest that had torn through the white linen shirt Johnny wore. Frayed threads of fabric, soaked with red. Red that seeped, spreading wide.

Rorrick’s arm twitched, drawing his attention to his own hand. The pistol. Gleaming silver. Heat still radiating from the barrel.

His body lurched forward, yanking him from sleep as his eyes flew open.

The carriage.

The carriage stopping.

Before Rorrick could orientate himself, the door of the coach opened and the driver looked in at him. “We are here, sir.”


Cass shut the door behind her, cutting off the boisterous din of gaming currently underway in the ballroom of the Revelry’s Tempest. She paused with her fingers on the knob, staring at the back of the slicked brown hair of the man sitting in her office.

Logan, her head guard, had told her hours ago that Mr. Peaton had arrived at her gaming house. But his appearance had coincided with a most scandalous night of gambling at the Revelry’s Tempest—Lady Canton had thoroughly trounced Lord Fodler at the hazard table—and Cass’s presence had been a necessity in the gaming room.

Cass inhaled a quick breath and stepped further into her office. “I apologize, Mr. Peaton. I understand you have been waiting a good portion of the evening for an audience with me.”

Mr. Peaton stood from his chair as Cass walked past him to sit behind her desk.

His forehead dipped slightly toward her and he sat after she took her seat. “Need I remind you, Lady Desmond, that it was you that had requested my presence here?”

The manner in which he said his last word indicated exactly how disgusted he was in having to come into the Revelry’s Tempest during an evening of festivities. It was far beneath him—her gaming house was clearly a horrible outrage to society.

Yet his moral superiority had never stopped him from taking her money. Her soiled, ill-gotten coin.

She forced a serene smile onto her face. Let him have his righteousness. If he had brought her what she needed, then he could judge her from heaven to hades and back again.

She set her hands on the desk, clasping her fingers together to stop them from scratching nervously along the wood. “When Logan reported your ship had arrived, I did not wish to wait on the news.”

“A full report would have been forthcoming, m’lady. I did not need an escort directly to your office.”

Her head angled to the side, a slight frown setting on her lips. “I apologize for that as well. I am most eager and I will ensure that you are duly compensated for the discomfort.” She lifted her clasped hands, her frown flipping. “As it is, you are here now. Please, tell me what you have found.”

Mr. Peaton glared at her, his sallow cheeks sucking inward as the grease of his hair caught the light from the sconces by the door.

“The offer of extra compensation is waning, Mr. Peaton.”

An exaggerated sigh left his mouth. “The woman had arrived in Savannah, as we had speculated. We verified she then travelled to Beaufort and then to Charleston. From there…”

“From there, what, Mr. Peaton?”

“From there we lost her.”

Cass leaned forward. “You lost her?”

His eyes lost their righteous indignation as they slipped downward, turning sheepish. “We did, m’lady. Her trail disappeared. It disappeared in Charleston. There was insinuation that led to the mountains, but nothing real to follow. She just disappeared.”

“Disappeared? How can that be? People do not just disappear, Mr. Peaton.”

Mr. Peaton cleared his throat and his hand lifted to tug at the collar of his coat. “I understand it is hard to hear, m’lady. But she cannot be found.”

Both of Cass’s hands flipped out, slapping onto her desk. “One woman, I understand, might just slip into thin air, Mr. Peaton. But two people? How could you lose the trail of a woman travelling with her young son? Two people do not just vanish, sir.”


“What am I paying you for, Mr. Peaton?”

“There is only so much I can do, Lady Desmond. America—Americans are a different sort. Especially when they look upon anyone with a British accent with distrust, if not outright disdain.”

“But why? We are the mother country.”

Mr. Peaton shrugged. “Forgive me, m’lady, but I don’t think they take quite the same view upon it all as that. The distrust runs deep. Not a one in Beaufort was going to speak to me. T’was a miracle I traced her to Charleston.”

“A miracle?” Cass sat back in her chair, staring at her right forefinger scratching along the divot she had long ago worn into the wood. She looked up to Mr. Peaton. “So where does that leave it? Do you think there is still a chance to find her?”

“Not with me, m’lady.”

“With who, then, Mr. Peaton?”

“You would do well to hire an investigator from their land. One the townsfolk would trust to speak to.”

Cass let a pointed sigh slip from her lips when he didn’t continue. “Do you have a suggestion in that regard?”

“I do not, m’lady.” He shook his head. “I have some American contacts that do well to a degree. But they operate in the larger cities and lean more toward the uncouth—I would trust none of them to handle the…the delicacy of this matter.”

“I understand.” Her look travelled to the top shelf of her bookcase by the door as her lower lip slipped between her teeth. The anxious hope that had knotted her stomach the entire evening had turned into a snarled mess of despair. “I do appreciate your uncompromising discretion, Mr. Peaton.”

“If I may ask, m’lady, just how far are you willing to go to find her?”

Cass’s gaze drifted down to the man.

As far as she needed to.

But she wasn’t about to tell him that.

He was no longer of use to her.

“That will be all, Mr. Peaton. I assume your full report will be delivered within the next day? All of the contacts? All of the locations?”

He nodded. “It will, m’lady.”

“Thank you, Mr. Peaton.” She waved her hand to the door, dismissing him. “Payment in full will be ready at the deliverance of the report.”

With a quick nod, he stood and put on his overcoat and then moved to the door. She watched his movements—precise and exacting—the very reason she had hired him. Of the four investigators she had hired, he had been the only one to find a trail that brought him onto American soil.

But still he had failed.

Mr. Peaton slipped out the door and a rush of light and racket spilled in from the ballroom to break the stillness in her office.

The heavy door closed, and with it, the last of her hope trickled into oblivion.


“There is an issue with one of my men that requires my attention.” Standing in the foyer of the Revelry’s Tempest, Logan glanced over his shoulder into the lower-level drawing room. His dark eyes swung back to Cass, his loyalties obviously torn. “But I can stay in attendance.”

Cass looked past Logan’s upper arm to the man sitting in the drawing room, already regretting her decision to arrive at the Revelry’s Tempest so early in the day. After a sleepless night caused by Mr. Peaton’s news of failure, she had given up on sleep and had thought to lose herself in work.

But the man sitting in the drawing room was definitely not how she intended to lose herself.

Her look lingered on his form.

He emanated trouble. A great deal of trouble, from the way he lounged on her kissing swan settee, his long arm casually draped along the elaborately carved mahogany that lined the upper back of the sofa. He was a large man. Thick. His fingers, weathered, rough, tapped out a silent beat on one of the two carved swans’ heads that centered the back of the settee.

The man’s clothes, though crisp and dark and cut to the latest fashion—expensive—were secondary to his form. A form that exuded such a casual swagger that she had to look at the fabric three times to convince herself he wasn’t a common tradesman.

Her eyes went to his profile. Though he was almost entirely turned away from her, looking out the front window, she noted the strong line of his jaw, his light brown hair that was cut short, no pomade in sight.

“I did not care how the man insisted upon Mr. Walt his need to have an audience with you.” Logan glanced back over his shoulder once more and shook his head. He turned to Cass. “My guard can wait. I will stay. I don’t trust him.”

Cass looked to Logan. “You said Lord Bridden sent him here?”

Logan nodded. “That was what he told Mr. Walt.”

“Lord Bridden would never compromise my safety.” She glanced to the man in the drawing room. “I am positive his business here can be handled quickly. He is probably just another gentleman that would like a line of credit at our tables.”

She set her fingers on Logan’s forearm and he tensed, just like he always did when she moved too close to him. Her hand dropped away. “Go, handle your man, and I will handle this gentleman. Mr. Walt is within calling distance should I need assistance.”

Logan craned his neck to look back at the man one last time, then nodded at Cass before moving down the main hallway and disappearing into the back of the townhouse.

Smoothing the front of her simple cerulean blue muslin skirt, Cass stepped into the drawing room.

The man sitting on her settee didn’t stand as she entered the room. The lack of the basic courtesy was startling and she slowed, stumbling a step as she waited for him to move to his feet.

He didn’t.

Her head tilted as she studied the side of his face. Was he blind? Deaf? Did he not know she had just entered the room?

His head turned, his dark blue eyes looking directly at her. Her breath caught.

The devil.


Just as she had presumed.

Handsome as sin, with blue eyes so sharp, so calculating as they looked her over head to toe, that she almost halted and backed out of the room.

This was a man that was not one to be controlled. His entire being pulsated with mastery of his world and everything in it—her drawing room included, notwithstanding the fact that it was not actually his.

She forced a breath into her tight chest, wishing she hadn’t sent Logan on to his business so quickly.

But there was nothing for it. She willed her feet forward and moved further into the room, not stopping until she stood in front of the man, looking down at him.

He still hadn’t made the slightest movement to gain his feet.

“Mr. Trowlson?” She cleared her throat. “Lord Bridden sent you, sir?”

His blue eyes not wavering from their stark assessment of her body, his gaze drifted up to her face. Whatever he saw—whatever he had just calculated—made the corners of his mouth lift upward. Not quite a smile, not quite a smirk. “He did. Lord Bridden made the kind recommendation that you would be the one to call upon to discuss the ownership of a certain piece of land.”

The low rumble of his voice filled her drawing room in the oddest way—the tenor so low it vibrated the air around her. But even more interesting was his accent.

An American.

Her eyebrows drew together. The man was an American. Mr. Walt had left out that fact.

An American that came with first, a pointed refusal to stand at her entrance, and second, a complete dismissal of proper introductions. He hadn’t even indicated the slightest curiosity as to who she was—he had just gone directly to his business.

She cleared her throat. “A piece of land? This is what you have demanded an audience with me for at this unearthly hour?”

“Unearthly? Most of this city has been at work for hours.” The upward curve of his mouth dropped, his thick, but not too plump, lips drawing to a line. “My brother, Johnny—Lord Vandestile, he—”

“Your brother is Lord Vandestile—or rather was?” Luck was with her, for her immediate gasp was overrun by her insistent question.

Annoyance set into his eyes at her interruption. “He is.”

Her hand flattened along the expanse of her stomach, pushing in against the sudden spike driving through her belly. “My condolences on your loss. His death from the duel was a shock to us.”

A long moment passed without any reaction to her words. The man just stared at her.

She bit her tongue. How had she missed the connection? Mr. Trowlson. If she hadn’t been so tired she would have recognized the name sooner.

The spike in her gut twisted. Just what was his actual business here? He couldn’t know the truth—could he? Battling back panic, she inhaled, letting the breath settle deep into her lungs. She was overreacting—the man was an American—he was merely uncouth because of it.

Or maybe he was just this rude to all women.

Cass clasped her hands in front of her, drawing up a veneer of perfect, tranquil patience—patience she had honed over the years in keeping belligerent rogues in line at the Revelry’s Tempest. She fixed a placid smile onto her lips. “So you are the brother that I had heard was coming from America? Is there another relation in line for the title before you, or may I presume you are the new Lord Vandestile?”

“So they tell me.” He shrugged. The fact that he was the new holder of a prominent three-hundred-year-old title clearly held little concern to him. “My brother lost land here at your establishment. Gambled it away and I do imagine it was probably the only debt he ever made good on. That you collected on his loss is a testament to your obvious charm.” His hand atop the carved swan flipped upward, his forefinger swooping in a pointed circle at her body.

Her instinct to step back, to remove herself from this man reared, but was overshadowed by the instant ire his words sparked. Her hackles spiking, her heels dug into the Axminster carpet. He wasn’t the first man to come into the Revelry’s Tempest and try to bully back what had been honestly lost at the tables. “I assure you, sir, I am not charming. I am, however, most assuredly fair. Your brother understood that.”

His eyebrows cocked at her.

“The late Lord Vandestile appreciated my fairness when it came to choosing a gaming establishment. He chose to gamble at the Revelry’s Tempest specifically because of our reputation.”

“My brother never had a problem losing money at any establishment.”

Her arms lifted, clamping across her ribcage as she glared down at Mr. Trowlson. “He did when he thought he was being swindled. Too many of the gaming hells saw him as…well…forgive my frank terms…but as an idiot American ripe to be duped.”

He sputtered a cough, jumping to his feet.

So he could stand. And it only took an insult.

“My brother was not an idiot, Lady Desmond.”

Her head snapped back. So he did know her name.

She stifled a sigh as she looked up at his scowl, at the way he leaned forward, attempting to take over the room—intimidation by sheer mass. Intimidation she sloughed off. The ottoman sitting in between them distanced him enough to cut the obvious threat. Truth told, his blue eyes were more of a threat than the imposing width of his shoulders. “No. I did not think he was an idiot either. But as an American on English soil, for many of society there is only one possible conclusion as to his intelligence.”

“That’s pompous idiocy.”

Her head gave a slight bob. “Yet it is the way of things. Regardless, here at the Revelry’s Tempest your brother was treated the same as any other patron. I only tell you this to explain why he chose to gamble here, and—as you noted—explain why he gambled here with honor, always promptly paying off his debts.”

His dark blue eyes seared into her, weighing her words. After a long breath, the hard lines of his face softened, and his posture relaxed. “Well, there is a first time for everything.” He exhaled a low whistle, the toe of his boot tapping. He dropped down, once more settling himself onto the settee. Tossing his legs out in front of him, he rested his boots atop the low ottoman as he leaned back. His blue eyes remained pinned on her. “So do you have the land, Lady Desmond?”

“And if I do?”

“I want it back.”

“I don’t look empathetically upon men with their dirty boots on my chintz ottoman.”

“And I don’t look kindly upon a woman who bamboozled my brother out of what little land is left in the Vandestile estate.”

Her arms tightened around her waist. “Is your intention to insult me so grievously that I will agree to return what I honorably acquired just to get rid of you?”

“I need the land, Lady Desmond.”


“I am a man of business. A successful man of business.” His eyes left her for a moment to gaze out the front window. “The Vandestile estate holds within it a unique opportunity and I did not find success by ignoring opportunities.”

His hawk-like blue eyes off of her for the moment, she was able to take a real breath. Able to stop her stomach from flipping. “How long have you been in England? Maybe you have not been made aware—do you realize those of the peerage do not normally lower themselves to actual work?”

“I also didn’t find success by being lazy and sitting in the comfort of a wingback chair in a club all day.” His look travelled back to her face. “Hard work, Lady Desmond. That is what the Vandestile estate needs. That is what the Vandestile estate has sorely lacked for a very long time. Hard work.”

She stared at him for a long breath, her left fingers tapping on her hip. “And if you don’t get the land back?”

He shrugged. “Then I will refuse claim on the title and it will go dormant. Opportunities are only opportunities until they become annoyances.” His feet slipped off the ottoman and he sat upright, resting his forearms on his thighs as his blue eyes pinned her. “But I think I can convince you, Lady Desmond.”

“Do not be so assured on that fact, Lord Vandestile.”

He gave a perplexed shake of his head, his eyebrows drawing together. “Lord Vandestile.”

“That is you, is it not?”

“Though it is not official, I was told courtesy would dictate others using it. Though no one has called me that as of yet. None except for a butler or two and that wastrel crew my brother hired for servants that are too lazy to learn a new name.” He scoffed. “More like whores and vagabonds, per my brother’s tastes.”

He looked her up and down again. “Yes, you are right in line with Johnny’s tastes. I can see well why my brother was entirely happy to lose in your establishment.”

Bile ran up her throat at the words.

She was in line with whores?

Cass instantly stiffened and she took a step backward, her voice turning impossible icy. “My lord, you go beyond too far. I entertained this unannounced meeting, and now it is time for you to vacate the premises.”

His right eyebrow lifted for a quick moment, and then he nonchalantly moved to stand. “You may dismiss me now, but I do not give up that easily, Lady Desmond.”

“You should.” She pointed to the open doorway. “Good day, Lord Vandestile.”


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