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A Scot's Pride
Author: Eliza Knight





The Ladies’ Marriage Prospects Bulletin



Bryson Mackenzie Fraser, Lord Lovat: due to inherit the Earldom of Aberdeen Scotland. 20,000 per annum. Several estates and castles in Scotland. House in Mayfair. House in Edinburgh.



The moment his carriage crossed into London, rocking rather uncomfortably on the cobbled roads, Bryson Mackenzie Fraser, Lord Lovat, wished he could knock on the roof and order his footman to turn right around.

But Bryson was in town for a reason. Not a reason he liked or agreed with—yet there was no other purpose for venturing into London, with its stink, literally and metaphorically.

At that precise moment, someone splashed a bucket of something disgusting onto the streets, and several others promptly walked through it. My god, what a mess.

Bryson felt more comfortable on the back of a horse than in a carriage, with the fresh, clean air of the Scottish moors surrounding him.

Ballocks, but he hated all the rules of London society. If he weren’t titled, he wouldn’t have to worry about the rules. He would go about his workday and come home to a hot meal and dram in front of his fireplace, where he could read a good book before falling into bed.

Instead, he would have to wine and dine, dance and romance one dithering fool after another while tucked into a ridiculous, pompous costume. Trousers and jackets and cravats be damned. Give him his kilt and a loose shirt any day.

But his grandfather had made it very clear. If he was going to inherit the Earldom of Aberdeen—and the properties and funds that went with it—he needed to take an English bride. And the old bastard had no problem writing him out of the will—his exact words. Thereby bringing so much of what Bryson hated full circle. What was an earldom with no property or money to fund it?

The idea of not marrying and letting his inheritance go to his cousin seriously crossed Bryson’s mind. To be free of the responsibility, and most importantly, of being chained to a woman he didn’t care for, was enticing. He was happy remaining a baron for the rest of his days and living peacefully at Castle Fraser. There he wouldn’t have a wife to contend with.

Bryson’s only examples of what a wife meant to someone were the faint memories of his parents, which were hardly memories at all given he had been so young when he lost them, and then his grandparents—which wasn’t pleasant—wasn’t that great of an example either.

Dear Old Granny had been a force, but if she was thunder, her husband was lightning. The arguments…my god. It had been a blessing when he’d finished at Oxford and been able to move to Castle Fraser rather than returning to his grandfather’s seat to resume the torment all over again.

So why the hell was he going through with this?

Simple. It was a matter of pride. Well, and he wanted to set up a better life for his sister.

Finding an English bride was going to be a piece of cake. After all, he was rich, and with marriage, his future inheritance of a wealthy earldom would be sealed, and what lady of society didn’t want to be a countess with enough coin to buy a new dress every day of the year?

Bryson guessed those two things alone would be good enough to get him in front of a few simpletons. He had no faith that the women of the ton would be anything but that. So, he had to pick the best of the bunch, have the banns called, and meet her at the end of the aisle. A couple of “I do’s” later, the whole business would be finished. Back to Scotland, inheritance secured.

This was a chore and nothing more. A means to gain what he wanted in the end.

The other thing was an English bride wouldn’t know about the rumors circulating Scotland that had tarnished his reputation. Or at least he hoped not. They’d been printed in the papers, but he supposed English brides didn’t care about Scottish news. They all read the London rags, but from what he had gleaned, not too many covered his past transgressions. He’d yet to make a name for himself that was exciting enough. But this season, he was sure to be up front and the center of attention. Mostly people would wonder who the hell he thought he was waltzing into London to take a bride.

Because of that, rumors might resurface.

The rumors weren’t true, of course. But most didn’t know that because he wasn’t one to air his dirty trews in the wind And he also wasn’t one to correct people who were idiots. They were beneath him. Why should he lower himself to their standards?

He knew the truth. His family knew the truth. And that was all that mattered.

Lady Daven, Aunt Bertie to Bryson, was waiting for him in the drawing room of his house in Mayfair when he arrived, a smile on her ancient face. Though he owned this house, he had never considered it home, and instead, when his aunt had been widowed, he’d given her full rein to make it her own. She was older than his grandfather but with the energy of someone still in adolescence. The old darling was probably going to live forever. With the tragic passing of his parents on a voyage to Canada, his aunt had become like a mother to him, and Bryson adored her.

Visiting her was the only good thing about coming to London. Well, and the ability to get this marriage business out of the way so he could secure his and Lucy’s futures.

“Bryson, my dear,” Aunt Bertie said, refuting all society edicts that demanded she greet him in a much more formal way and use his titles. Perhaps that was also one of the reasons he loved her so much. He’d never tell anyone how much he loved her refusal of society edicts in the home, though. In public, he was the perfect society gentleman, if only because he remembered the sting of her boxing his ears, though it wasn’t as bad as her twin sister Aunt Simone, Lady Heaton.

“Aunt Bertie,” he said, pulling her frail body in for a hug. She smelled the same, like lavender and roses, plus something medicinal.

“Have you gotten taller, lad?” She stared up at him, patting his chest with a wrinkled hand, a twinkle in her still sharp blue eyes as she pinched his stubbled cheek. “Certainly hairier.”

Bryson chuckled. “I haven’t grown a day in over a decade, but ye, my dear Aunt Bertie, I think ye’ve shrunk.”

“Nonsense.” She batted him away and then shuffled to the bell pull ringing for tea.

They settled into chairs opposite each other, and she poured him some tea, adding more sugar than he usually took with a wink as if he were still a lad with a sweets obsession.

“Thank ye,” he said, sipping from the delicate cup. So many memories in the taste of that sweet tea. Most of them were happy.

“It is so good to see you,” she said. “My brother told me about your…predicament.”

Bryson settled his cup back in the saucer. “Then he’s saved me the trouble.”

“Indeed.” She added another lump of sugar to his cup. “He is a stubborn old goat, but I think he knew you’d prefer a Scottish bride.”

Bryson’s mother had been Scottish, his father English, and hence it was his mother’s father who wished to keep the blood thinned, he supposed. Likely out of spite. And with no sons of his own, his grandfather was putting those stipulations on his grandson.

“That is almost exactly what he told me.” He winced at the overly sweet taste of his tea. It had to be half sugar by now.

“Well, perhaps you’ll find a bride here who is English and Scottish and then you’ll both get what you want.” Aunt Bertie grinned conspiratorially and tried to add another lump of sugar to his tea, but he was able to cover it in time.

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