A Desperate Proposal by Allegra Grey and Emily Sloan

Heat Level 3
SKU 978-0-3695-0933-8

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Desperate Desires, 1

War hero Major Tristan Ruthven never expected to inherit his rakehell father’s title. The new Earl of Asherton finds himself in need of a respectable wife to help bury his family’s scandal-ridden past. Unfortunately, no daughter of the Ton is desperate enough to accept him unless he discloses the true size of the fortune he’s inherited. He refuses. Not after a money-match destroyed his mother.

Vulnerable, beautiful commoner Elinor Harcourt enchants Tristan the moment they meet. But he's seen what happens to sheltered young ladies dropped into the 
Beau Monde. Elinor’s happiness must prevail. She deserves the comfortable, quiet life she dreams of.

Elinor can’t risk her future on a fleeting fancy. Tristan makes her feel more alive than anyone else, but he's not just an Earl— he's a soldier like her father. That's too many chances for tragedy. If only she could stop thinking about him…



“My lord Asherton!” A familiar voice rang through the misty, chilly breeze, cutting off whatever Tristan might have said. He turned to find his sister rushing down the path from the house of all places, another golden-haired nymph beside her—somewhat younger than the one he’d been speaking to, her hair partially fallen down and her dress a bit more ruffled. Surely that’s a sister, not a cousin? Did Evie choose two different virgin sacrifices instead? “You beast! You weren’t meant to be here for hours.” 

“Some of us are capable of leaving a place earlier than we plan, dear sister.” 

Evelina’s hair was a little windblown, her sculpted cheeks bright pink with the chill. While her two blonde guests wore modest white dresses and simple wool shawls, Evie’s shot-green silk gown and embroidered pink pelisse must have come straight from a fashion plate and set off her hazel eyes to dazzling effect even as she narrowed them and made a most unladylike face before throwing herself into his embrace. “Thank God you came to no harm! Summersby has gotten the most dreadful reports of a highwayman on the London road.” 

Tristan hugged her as tightly as he dared. “I am sorry I didn’t get the chance to sort the problem for him.” 

“I think you’ve served the nation well enough without clearing the highways as well as the continent.” Evie slid her arm through his and steered his attention back to their company. “And before you accuse me of dereliction in my own duties, may I present Miss Weston of Bath, and Miss Harcourt from Bristol, two of the merriest guests I could ever wish for. Elinor, Arabella, my dears, this is my brother, Lord Asherton.” 

Harcourt? That last name was familiar. But worse, did that mean she was the cousin, and Evie was intending him to eye the young woman who appeared scarcely old enough to dance in company? Miss Weston couldn’t have been more than eighteen, and although beautiful he felt a headache coming on at the very thought of conversation with her. Bad enough trying to talk to an English girl who’d passed twenty years, but at least they generally had some idea as to the location of Portugal and who Wellington was. 

“Miss Harcourt and I were just discussing your excellent library,” he said instead of commenting on his sister’s scheme, though he fixed her with a warning eye. Evie’s glinted in return.

“Is that true, Miss Harcourt? Or has he been bullying you as he does everyone else?” 

Miss Harcourt’s smile was sweet as honey. “He has done nothing of the sort. A complete, and absolute gentleman to be sure.”

“And if Elinor is saying that, it must be true. She doesn’t know how to tell a lie,” Miss Weston added. This cut Miss Harcourt’s laugh short, and a brief but noticeable tension passed between the cousins. A warning? A threat? “All she does at home is read. I half feared once she saw the library, we’d never get her out of it.”

Miss Harcourt’s jaw tensed though her smile remained. “Arabella, please be still.”

Evelina took Tristan’s arm. “Well, she would have excellent company. I can scarcely stir the general out of his library whenever he is home. Yet it is still so cold out here! What say we go investigate the new package of books my dear Summersby ordered from Town. They arrived last evening. I had meant to have them arrayed out to impress you, Tristan. But you do spoil the best laid plans.” 

“Would you like me to leave and return for supper?” He arched a brow at his sister, already knowing the answer before she squeezed his arm. 

“In this chill? Never. We shall have to muddle along. At least you weren’t late. Cook has devised your favorite orange ice cream for dinner.” 

Evie gestured toward the path up to the house, and Tristan dutifully led her where she wished to go, the two blondes trailing behind. Tristan glanced over his shoulder once, catching the effect of Miss Harcourt’s simple dress as she walked, close enough to her dainty cousin that he almost didn’t hear her hissed reproof of Miss Weston. He did catch Evie’s wicked look, and cast his own eyes straight ahead, lest he be forced to admit some merit to Evelina’s mad schemes. 


He turned again at a feminine cry. Miss Harcourt pitched forward. Miss Weston attempted to catch her, but her cousin’s arm slipped through her gloved hands. Elinor’s graceful posture broke, her bright eyes wide as moons. He acted on reflex, darting back in time to keep her from tumbling into the roses. He pulled her against his chest, bracing for both of them, aware of her body pressed to his as much as the precarious positioning. The world stilled, and once he was sure neither of them would fall, he straightened his posture, helping her upright. 

She quickly pushed herself away but froze at the first step back. “Oh,” she said on a whimper. “D-do be careful when you step there. It is a touch slippery. Thank you, my lord,” she added quickly, speaking to his shoulder, without quite letting go of his arm. 

“Slippery?” Evie glared at the pathway. “Oh, drat. I told Corden a dozen times to see to these bricks…” 

“Elinor, are you all right?” Miss Weston demanded. “What happened? Is it your ankle again?”

Tristan was more concerned with the odd pallor sweeping Miss Harcourt’s high cheeks in place of any maidenly blush. Studying the pinched edge of her full lips, and the odd tension in her posture told him enough. Pain. Fifteen years of marching and warfare taught the signs, ill-fitting on a lady though they might be. 

“Miss Harcourt, are you able to walk?” He asked, his voice quiet while his sister and her cousin set to moaning about the fickle nature of gardeners. 

“I don’t believe I am injured.” She shifted her weight and her expression gave away the truth. He’d seen enough injuries to know that look. “Perhaps, um, inconvenienced,” she amended.

“You broke it again, didn’t you?” Miss Weston’s previous antagonism had vanished with what seemed to be genuine concern. “Don’t walk on it, Ellie! You’ll only make it worse.” 

“It’s not broken,” Elinor said softly as her cousin retreated. “Though, I may need some help getting back into the house.” She bowed her head as she admitted that, avoiding having to meet his eyes or Evelina’s.

“Arabella, go tell Morgan to fetch Lord Summersby and the doctor, and send us a footman.” 

“Of course, my lady.” Looking warily at the path, she carefully but quickly navigated it, her arms extended out dramatically as though afraid her own balance might give way upon such cursed paving stones.

“If you will forgive the forwardness, Miss Harcourt?” Tristan didn’t wait for her answer or Evelina’s permission to haul the young lady into his arms. She weighed less than some soldiers’ packs and had the benefit of smelling like rosewater instead of mule teams or wet wool. And was an altogether more agreeable passenger than his comrades. Miss Harcourt went stiff for a moment, looking at Tristan like she didn’t know what to do with herself, and then he felt her relax in his arms, and her hand came up to his shoulder. 

“May I ask what the previous injury was?” Evie hovered anxiously to the side nearest Miss Harcourt’s head. 

“I broke it a few years ago. Just a minor accident. The surgeon set it without difficulty. Poor Arabella was there when it happened and has been skittish ever since.” Tristan glanced sidelong at her, suspecting she wasn’t telling the whole truth from a sudden quaver and hesitation in the words. Nor would a minor accident require a physician’s ward to have a surgeon attend.

It wasn’t his business to pry, of course. But if she had rebroken a serious injury to her leg, that was no trifling matter. 

“A surgeon?” Evie paled. “I hadn’t even considered … of course. We shall have to call Doctor Moreland at once!” And with that, Evelina rushed after Miss Weston, leaving Tristan to grimace in her wake and try to appear reassuring. 

“Pray, excuse my sister, Miss Harcourt. She will recall propriety once her maid’s fussed over her. She never dealt well with injuries.”

“I really don’t believe it is anything serious,” she said, her other hand going to her knee, her chin lifting toward the black leather shoe which peeked out from beneath the hem of her skirts. Tristan decided not to offer his opinion. 

“Hm. At least she didn’t faint. I couldn’t have carried you both.” 

She finally turned her head to look at him, perhaps understanding the reason behind his apology. “I’d hate to accuse you of lying, Lord Asherton, but I somehow suspect you’d have no trouble carrying both of us if you set your mind to it.”

“For a short distance in extreme necessity, perhaps. Though I thank you for your faith in my abilities.” He adjusted his hold on her before starting up the steps. Her muslin gown and petticoat were not the best grip a man could wish for, not least because feeling the warmth of her skin through it was … distracting. He welded his focus on the stone path before them. “I hope you will accept the surgeon’s opinion. He is at no great distance and surely will not regret the dinner my sister will insist on giving him.” 

“To be honest, I know myself to be quite useless at the slightest discomfort, and I hate that he should come only to reaffirm that.”

“You could scarcely touch your foot to the ground. That isn’t the same as fainting over a needle prick.”

“I fainted after the first injury.” He felt her shiver. She must have tried to recall it.

“When you fell?”   

She cleared her throat. “More than once.” 

“I’ve seen hardened soldiers lose consciousness, and their stomachs, when moved with a broken limb. I don’t know who taught you to expect more of yourself than His Majesty’s army, but you’ve a good reason to trounce the idiot.” 

“I—Oh! Oh, no. The book! I left it at the gazebo. If it were to rain…” She shifted in his arms, her left hand going behind his neck, her upper half pressing more fully against his chest as she lifted her face above his shoulder. If she hadn’t been light as a summer’s breeze, he might have dropped her. If he didn’t need to be a true gentleman these days, he might’ve done one or two other things as well. But he was not a rakehell or impetuous officer anymore. He couldn’t distract a pretty girl from her pain by kissing her senseless. Not until he knew her longer than half an hour at least.


Product Reviews

Score: 4 out of 5 (based on 15 ratings)
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Tristan & Elinor
Written by Nate on 14th Jan 2024

I enjoyed Tristan and Elinor’s story. It was an intriguing and entertaining read. And am voluntarily leaving this review.

A Desperate Proposal!
Written by Mary on 14th Jan 2024

This historical romance is a slow burn about two people from deferent social standings. Major Tristan has surprisingly just become Earl of Asherton. He has inherited a tittle that is marred by prior ancestors scandals. Elinor raised from more humble back grounds, is living with her aunt and uncle to help relieve the burden of her parents. These two are enamored and puzzled by each other. This is a good story. I like the characters. My only negative is that is drags in some spots.

An historical, slow burn romance with twists and turns
Written by EPM on 14th Jan 2024

This story between Tristan and Elinor was a slow burn, with their relationship developing overtime, as well as twists, turns and uncertainty over how matters would develop for them. I did struggle a little to get into the book at the beginning, however I am glad I persevered with it as I did end up enjoying it. I also enjoyed the side characters, Tristan's siblings and Elinor's cousins (well, most of her cousins were enjoyable). It would be interesting to see if other books in the future which focused on those characters.

drama, excitement and seduction
Written by jcb on 14th Jan 2024

What a story! It has a Major who recently inherited an earldom; his sister, a general’s wife who is suffering from morning sickness; a cousin expecting a marriage proposal from another cousin; a wild boy-crazy young lady; and a half-brother who likes to torment governesses and destroy things. Add to that an injury, a betrayal and an all consuming attraction, and you have a story filled with emotion, excitement and seduction. Major Tristan Ruthven, now the Earl of Asherton, was back on English soil, a rarity in the past fifteen years. He was visiting his sister Evie, who was determined to find him a wife, despite her queasiness. Enter Elinor and Arabella, two young ladies, cousins actually, whose aunt and mother had been friends with Evie and Tristan’s mother. His attraction to Elinor was instant, but he was a soldier and a new earl from a family with a very tarnished reputation. He feared Elinor, the daughter of a soldier and a commoner, would never hold up under the strain caused by his carreer and the ton. But the heart wants what the heart wants, and drama, heartache and potential absences couldn’t change that. This story is fast-paced, well written, full of surprises and steamy encounters. It is hard to put down, so be prepared to read well into the night!

Tristan and Elinor
Written by Bobcat on 14th Jan 2024

These authors are new to me, and A Desperate Proposal is the first book of their's that I've read. This is supposed to be the first book in a series, yet it is still interconnected a great deal through secondary characters. This was a bit disconcerting if you hadn't read the earlier books. Elinor is a sweet young woman who doesn't see her own self-worth. She comes from a poorer, yet honorable, family. She has lived with wealthy relatives in their care for a few years now. Tristan's family is friends with her family. This is how they meet. They are both attracted to each other, but don't think they are what the other needs. Tristan is older and being pushed to take a titled lady for a wife, even though he just wants to continue his military career and forget his title. Elinor is the daughter of a heroic, but poor, major. She doesn't feel she can ever aspire to more than a clergyman's wife. This is a sweet romance where they dance around each other before they accept that no matter what others say they are perfect for each other.

Characters who feel real
Written by Emmellen on 14th Jan 2024

What I liked best about A Desperate Proposal is that these characters felt like people I could truly meet one day. There are siblings who argue, but who also care deeply for one another. There are people being judged by the actions of their family members, not their own. And there’s someone who’s been undercut just enough that she can’t feel secure in her situation, our heroine Elinor. She’s the poor relation, the eldest daughter of a large family who’s farmed out to relatives to help reduce her family’s burden of living on her father’s army salary. Her cousin has married well, and that brings her into the orbit of Tristan. Tristan feels like an imposter as well; he’s the third son of a nobleman, so he made a military career for himself. When his brothers pass away and he becomes the earl, he knows he’s ill-suited for it and is searching for a good wife who will understand the Ton and ease his siblings’ way into that society. Tristan and Elinor shouldn’t really marry—especially when Elinor expects one of her cousins to propose. But the heart will what the heart will, and watching these two figure out their way to love is just charming. I also adored the many family members in this story, each of whom brought a certain flair to this tale. There are some elements in A Desperate Proposal that jarred a bit. For example, Tristan remaining committed to the military after gaining his title seemed odd, particularly after the loss of two brothers. Many other men in his situation would have been able to leave the military with little difficulty. And how Elinor’s cousin married into the nobility would be a great prequel to this book—I’d like to know how she managed it! Grey and Sloan write this well; I was impressed to realize this is their first historical romance! They wisely stick to a country-home setup for most of this book; that lets them focus on character rather than Regency society structure. I hope these two write more in this series, because A Desperate Proposal is a great start!

Great read
Written by hgrainger88 on 14th Jan 2024

This one pulled me in. I enjoy historical books. and This one has the great characters that make you feel like your involved in the story. A wonderful page turner and I highly recommend.

well written
Written by PeroP on 14th Jan 2024

This book had a charming beginning, middle and a lovely ending. The story was charming. Well written plot.

Great period romance book-with great steam
Written by Andrea R on 14th Jan 2024

I really enjoyed this book. It had the right amount of steam to the period type romance. This was just enough to pull you back into earlier times but keep you intrigued.

Enjoyable regency romance
Written by Izzy N on 14th Jan 2024

I really enjoyed this book. The story moves at a good pace and the plot is engaging. There are also some unusual twists along the way. I liked the character development and that you got to know them as the progresses. There are some fantastic side characters who I hope will make a return in future stories as it will be interesting to see what they do next. I liked the writing style and the story was easy to get into and difficult to put down, which is a good combination in any book. I look forward to reading more by the author in the future.

Great novel
Written by Bobby's Dark Angel on 14th Jan 2024

This historical romance novel is a very well written great storyline enjoyable characters I very much enjoyed reading this novel

The Cover Couple Hooked Me
Written by MetraHarvard on 14th Jan 2024

I'd never heard of this author before, but I like the cover models, so I thought I would give this book a shot. It started out well by introducing the characters and establishing their background. I initially thought that this was the second book of the series because of the happily married Evelina and Edward. Turns out, Evelina is the sister of the hero Tristan, and she really wants him to marry and settle down. Next, a bunch of people are introduced, one of them being Tristan's future intended, Elinor. Elinor and Tristan were a likeable couple, but I feel like I got a bit lost with all of the other goings on. They had a slow burn romance and once things got steamy, there was no looking back. The story also had some clever humor. At one point, Edward was either engaging in "target practice or a disappointingly petite military uprising." The author did a good amount of world building in this story, so great things will hopefully be coming from her in the future!

Good read
Written by Rose S, on 14th Jan 2024

Well written, full of drama, love, society, romance, intrigue, suspense, light steam, sweet but some twists. Elinor is living with her uncle and cousins, where she is given to believe that all she can hope for is a marriage to her cousin at the best. She and her cousin are spending time with another who is pregnant and having a really hard time of it. It's there that she meets the new Earl- Tristan, who had been in the service. As she trips and hurts her ankle, Tristen carries her to the couch. It's at this time that feelings are noticed by both. Time helps them to discuss what they need and want. Tristen wants Elinor for his wife but he has some military issues that he will have to deal with plus she is still wearing the promise cross by another man. At his sister's ball that Elinor finds out that Henry has asked another to marry him. She then asks Tristan for the governess job but he wants her for his wife. Lots of action to read about in his book. Would strongly recommend to others.

Tristan & Elinor
Written by Babs on 14th Jan 2024

The first book in the Desperate Desires, War hero Major Tristan Ruthven, the new Earl of Asherton and commoner Elinor Harcourt's story. It is well written with drama, intrigue, suspense, light steam, and romance. I want to read more in this series. I received a copy of this book via Evernight and am voluntarily leaving a review.

Slow, sweet romance
Written by Lys on 14th Jan 2024

I liked how the characters were introduced at the beginning of this novella, when Elinor and Tristan meet and forge a friendship. There are some agreeable dialogue exchanges when they are in each other's presence. The couple’s attraction is gradually growing. Everything moves slowly and smoothly. The characters are lovely, but they lack the sparks that would make them more appealing to me. It was a beautiful story, yet it took some time to grow on me.