The Marriage Bed (Seduction Series #3)

The Marriage Bed (Seduction Series #3)

by Laura Lee Guhrke

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Everyone in society knows that the marriage of Lord and Lady Hammond is an unhappy one. Everyone knows they have barely spoken to one another in over nine years. But what no-one in society knows are the reasons why ...

Lady Viola Courtland was a romantic and impulsive young girl when she fell instantly in love with the handsome and dashing Viscount Hammond. Unbeknownst to Viola, John Hammond had already given his heart to the only woman he would ever love—his cousin's wife—but he was in dire financial straits and desperately needed to marry a wealthy heiress. In Viola, he thought he had found the perfect woman—beautiful and rich with a sweet nature. But Viola was neither practical nor sensible when it came to marriage, for she fully expected her husband to love her and was determined to settle for nothing less. Soon, however, John's secret was unwittingly revealed, but by then they were married and it was too late. Until one day, John finally came to his senses and prayed it wasn't too late to win back the love of his very own wife.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060774738
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/28/2005
Series: Seduction Series , #3
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 733,518
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

Laura Lee Guhrke spent seven years in advertising, had a successful catering business, and managed a construction company before she decided writing novels was more fun.  A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Laura has penned over twenty-five historical romances. Her books have received many award nominations, and she is a two-time recipient of romance fiction’s highest honor: the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. She lives in the Northwest with her husband and two diva cats. Laura loves hearing from readers, and you can contact her via her website:

Read an Excerpt

The Marriage Bed

Chapter One

London, 1833

When those in society talked about Lord and Lady Hammond, there was one conclusion about the viscount and his wife no one bothered to dispute: They couldn't stand each other.

This dictum was mentioned in drawing room conversations with the same unquestioning certainty given to English rain and Irish trouble. Gossips could only speculate about the reasons that had divided the couple only six months after their wedding, but eight years later, Lady Hammond had not provided her husband with the customary heir, the pair lived thoroughly separate lives, and even the greenest hostess alive knew never to invite them to the same dinner party.

Despite the lack of a direct heir to the viscountcy, the marital estrangement of Lord and Lady Hammondshowedno signs ofbeingbreachedby either party. Until the fifteenth of March 1833. That was the day a letter changed everything, at least as far as the viscountwas concerned.

The missive came by express, reaching Hammond's London residence about eleven o'clock in the evening. The viscount, however, was not at home. Since it was the midst of the London season, John Hammond, like most men of his social position, was out about town, engaged in the unholy trinity of male excess: drinking, gambling, and skirt-chasing.

His friends, Lord Damon Hewitt and Sir Robert Jamison, were happily assisting him in these endeavors. After several hours at their favorite gaming hell, they arrived at Brooks's just before midnight. Once there, they proceeded to empty their sixth bottle of port as they discussed where to spend the remainder of their night.

"I say, Hammond, at some point during the evening we have to go to Kettering's ball," Sir Robert said. "Just for an hour or two. Lord Damon and I both promised Lady Kettering we would be there, and you know how she is if you don't show. Makes a terrible fuss. We have to make an appearance at least."

"Then I shall be forced to take leave of you before then," John replied and poured himself a glass of port from the decanter on the table. "Viola was invited to Kettering's ball and accepted the invitation. Therefore, I was impelled to decline. You know my wife and I never appear at the same functions."

"No gentleman appears at the same functions as his own wife, Sir Robert," Lord Damon explained to their younger companion. "Besides, it would be wise if Hammond steered clear. Emma Rawlins will be there, and the fur would surely fly."

John almost wanted to laugh at that. His last mistress was not likely to create any emotion in his wife other than more of the same disdain she had displayed toward him for years. A sad end, given the adoring young woman he'd married. But marriages were seldom happy, and he had long ago given up any stupid notions that his would be one of the few to beat the odds.

"Mrs. Rawlins is a pretty creature," Sir Robert added. "You might see her and regret putting an end to that amour."

John thought of Emma's possessiveness, the smothering possessiveness no mistress had the right to claim, and which had caused him to terminate their arrangement two months before and pay off her contract. "I doubt it. The end was not amicable." He swirled his glass and took a swallow of port. "I believe I am done with women for a while."

"You always say that!" Damon laughed. "It never lasts for long. When it comes to women, you are a Turk, Hammond. You should have a harem."

"One woman at a time is enough, Lord Damon! My last two mistresses have given me reason enough to be soured on romance."

His mistress prior to Emma, the opera singer Maria Allen, had gotten him shot in a duel two years earlier by her husband. Allen, after years of neglecting his wife, had suddenly decided her affairs with other men bothered him. The two men had each put a bullet into the shoulder of the other and honor had been satisfied. The reconciliation of the Allens had not been happy. He had eventually taken off for America, and she was now Lord Dewhurst's mistress.

Emma Rawlins, however, did not seem inclined to finding herself a new protector. She had been writing to him at weekly intervals from the cottage he had given her in Sussex, letters chiding him, scolding him, and begging him to come back to her. His replies of polite refusal had not satis- fied her, however, and she had followed him to London, but he had no intention of seeing her.

In fact, since breaking from Emma, John found himself at loose ends. He was not inclined toward a new mistress, and his reason was difficult to de- fine. Aman's relationship with his mistress, to his way of thinking, ought to be simple, straightforward, and purely physical. It so seldom turned out that way, and perhaps that was the reason for his reluctance. He had no desire to become involved in another imbroglio, for he hated emotional scenes. Always had.

John did not express these feelings to his friends, however, and his friends, being gentlemen, did not inquire. If they had, he would have sidestepped their questions with a witty remark or a change of subject.

"No, my friends," he said, shaking his head. "Women are charming, intriguing creatures, but they are also expensive in many different ways. I intend to go without a mistress this year."

"The entire year?" Lord Damon made a sound of disbelief. "And it is only March. This has to be another one of your jokes. You love the ladies too much to do without a mistress for the entire year."

The Marriage Bed. Copyright © by Laura Lee Guhrke. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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The Marriage Bed (Seduction Series #3) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The basis for this book was really solid, and I was excited about the possibilities for this story. I ended up being very disappointed. While the couple is estranged, the husband, John, has numerous relationships with other women. I felt like the heroine, Viola, was more of a doormat than a herione for accepting this behavior for years. I had no respect for her or him which made it hard to enjoy the book. Also, the ending was horrible with John's former mistress giving up their baby to the reunited couple. Reduce the number of liasions during separation and do not create children with mistresses!
StephLB More than 1 year ago
I could barely make it through this book. I've liked several of Laura Lee Guhrke's books, which is why I picked up "The Marriage Bed," but it was really disappointing. I couldn't like the main character, John Hammond, no matter how much I tried. The fact that he kept multiple mistresses during their marriage kind of made me sick. I didn't care that he felt Viola's neglect permitted him to do it. One month of totally justified coldness just doesn't equate to years of adultery, no matter how I try to look at it. This is one book where I actually wished the heroine would abandon her supposed "hero." If I were her, I would of left without looking back.
theshadowknows on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Marriage Bed isn't an easy read, for it doesn't tell the happiest of stories. Viola Hammond and her husband John have been estranged for 8 years, and he's been cheating on her with a series of mistresses. Upon the death of his cousin, John needs an heir and so he demands a reconciliation with his wife, who is, to put it mildly, resistant to the idea of returning to his home, let alone his bed. This is such a well written romance. The characters and their interactions are explored with stunning insight and sympathy. Neither Viola or John are perfect. The book will try and tell you she can be cold and unforgiving (though personally I say she has every right to hate her husband for what he¿s done to her.) John especially is a true scoundrel who is all the more a cad because for much of the book he lacks crucial self-awareness. He doesn¿t even know what he¿s done wrong. But the book makes you think hard the whole time about the rights and wrongs of John and Viola's relationship, and questions of blame are not easily resolved. You know a book is good when it can make you feel sympathy for a character like John. And he really is charming. Viola never stood a chance. Whether the book manages to convince me of his side of the story is another matter, but The Marriage Bed gets a lot of points for depicting it thoroughly and making sure all those grey areas don't escape the notice of readers whose gut reaction to John might be "Kill the cheater!" Maybe the book tries too hard to make John sympathetic - but, even while I was on Viola's side the whole time, I was still pulled into his struggles and tribulations as he tries so desperately to win his wife back. And at the same time I felt sorry for Viola and all John's discarded mistresses (Guhrke's treatment of the latter in particular offers an unexpected, understanding take on the "other woman"). A lot of the time I wished Viola could resist John's seduction of her - always a bad sign. She seems so helpless in the face of her love for him, and he seems so unrepentant. This imbalance defining their relationship can have some disturbing undertones. Ultimately, you'll like this book if, like the heroine, you believe in John's sincerity and remorse, his eventual awakening, his pledge of fidelity. If you take the opposite view, then The Marriage Bed is a very depressing book indeed. For the sake of a happy ending and even though I should know better, even though John's redemption is tenuous at best, I decided to be optimistic and take John at his word, and so I can give The Marriage Bed (an admittedly reserved) five stars. It¿s a complex, at times heartbreaking romance that doesn't shy away from harder issues and realities, the pain that can so often go hand in hand with love.
reneebooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can see why this is such a controversial book. Adultery is not an easy subject to tackle. I didn't particulary care for either H/H but I found myself asking "Was the story believable and did I buy the HEA?". My answer was yes to the first but maybe to the second. The whole subject made me a bit uncomfortable and was very thought provoking. But, heh I'm not Dr. Phil, so I guess I gave them the benefit of the doubt because I ended up liking it. (Grade: B)
phyllisd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A husband that falls in love with his wife 9 years after he said that he did. A lot to overcome. A good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you want a feel good story...don't read this. I understand it takes a strong woman to stay with an adulterer...but when do we change from strong to doormat? Yes they have a hea in the end. But the hero was a self-centered jerk 99% of the book. He was very...end justifies the means. I would have left him years earlier. Whoopie. He's becoming responsible now. 5 mistresses, a baby, and a sudden epiphany was all it took. That being said, the writing was great and definitely provoked feelings. Although, not the kind I wanted.
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I just loved this book...kept me on the edge of my seat! Great author!
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Lenaloo More than 1 year ago
Okay i will admit that the first time i tried to get through this book i found it tedious and the hero not at all likeable, so i speed through it with furious zeal just to get it over with. However i could not bring myself to get rid of the story just yet, which by the way is usually my automatic reaction in being disappointed with a book.I usually just give it away to someone else in the hopes that they will appreciate the story in a way that i couldn't. But i kept this one for some reason and i was glad i did. What i missed on my first try of the book i picked up on the second read and i found that there was indeed a story there, that the characters deserved notice and their story some patience from its perspective reader to watch it build, and it does grow on you in time if you have the patience to get past the hero's title of the philandering husband. The characters were human i felt for them, they were full of faults and doubts like anyone else. They also made mistakes and were imperfect. i think a reader should know this from the beginning that this is definitely not the average romantic love story. The characters needed to grow up in many ways to get past old wounds and the like. They also needed to work through all their issues to repair their cold non-existent relationship first before they could even think about rebuilding their empty marriage. It took effort on both their parts to establish trust and work through their problems one step at a time.It wasn't easy and sometimes you will be detested by the hero and his previous actions but however they both do indeed have some redeeming qualities. I found that i enjoyed this story more the second time around, emotions are there, human qualities are there and so is the redeeming aspects. This story is different and i enjoyed it.
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jacobi More than 1 year ago
i liked this book. i did not love it because i did not like the way that the hero feels after all he did, as if everything he did was right. but i liked the heroine, she was strong and stobborn maybe a little to much but i liked her.