Book 2 of Bridal Discipline
To escape the scandal of trying to elope with an unworthy man, Gabrielle finds herself married to the man she loves - a charming rake and her guardian's best friend, Mr. Felix Hood. He's the third son of a Viscount, he's darkly handsome, and he's in love with her stepmother. Or so she thinks.
Felix Hood had been fighting the urge to be leg shackled ever since he met Gabrielle Astley, but once her honor was at stake, he knew he'd rather die then allow her to marry someone else. He's not a perfect man, and he has no experience with being in a relationship, but he's determined to make his marriage work, even if he has to spank his fiery bride daily to do so.
They retreat to the countryside immediately following their wedding, where Felix hopes to strengthen their relationship before they return to London for the end of the Season. To his delight, Gabrielle turns out to be everything he'd hoped in private - he's submissive, passionate, and responds beautifully to even his darkest desires. But what will happen when they return to London Society?
Gabrielle is determined to replace her stepmother in Felix's affections. She's been through a multitude of changes in her life, none of which have ended particularly happily for her, but she has to make one last try - because, after all, she's married to him for better or worse, till death do them part. To her surprise, once they're alone, he seems to return her regard and she blossoms under his discipline and care... but will he still feel the same when he's faced with Cordelia, Gabrielle's stepmother again?
Step into a world of alpha males, spankings, very steamy situations, and domestic discipline. Gabrielle's Discipline is approximately 90k words and is a standalone within a series, complete with a HEA for the couple.
Gabrielle and Felix's story began in Philip's Rules and was further explored in Undisciplined, however it is not necessary to read either book to enjoy this one (although it is encouraged for a deeper understanding of the characters).
Leaving Dunbury house was much harder than Gabrielle had anticipated. She'd already said farewell to Arabella after the wedding breakfast, hugging her friendly tightly and exchanging promises to write. Arabella had mourned the loss of Gabrielle at her side for the Season.
"Now I'll be trapped with all the ninnies who just want to speak with me in hopes of an introduction to him," she pouted, jerking her head at her brother, the Duke. The Duke just raised an eyebrow at her and turned back to the Marquess and Cordelia to say something. "Stodgy bore," Arabella muttered. She pulled Gabrielle in for another tight hug. "When you get back, you must tell me all about it. Perhaps you should take notes so you don't forget anything important."
Trust Arabella to make her laugh, even at a moment such as this! Gabrielle clung just as tightly to her friend.
"Maybe it won't be very impressive," Gabrielle murmured back, hiding her real fear, which was that Mr. Hood wouldn't be interested in doing it with her. Although, from what she'd heard, men didn't need to feel any emotion with the woman they did it with. Otherwise, they wouldn't go through so many mistresses. And Mr. Hood was a rake. He must have done it with countless women.
Which just made her feel sick and sad again. She really must push past these emotions that bubbled up when it came to him.
Giggling, Arabella whispered back. "Well then you must tell me all about how disappointing it was."
"What are you two talking about?" The Duke of Manchester's voice was full of suspicion - as well it might be - as he loomed over them. They broke apart, Gabrielle now giggling as well, a nervous burble of laughter that felt perilously close to hysterics. Arabella's brother was an imposing figure with his meticulously styled dark brown hair and brooding eyes; every inch of him was pressed, starched, and - as Arabella would say - stodgy. Although he was certainly handsome enough to be a rake, and had the supreme confidence of one, he lacked the air of danger. There was something very safe about him, as if he exuded honor from his every pore.
It was a sad joke on him that he was responsible for a high-spirited, mischievous, little imp like Arabella. While they looked very alike in facial features and coloring, they were nothing alike in temperament or spirit. Arabella had been an eager accomplice to Gabrielle's romantic misadventures since her come-out, just for the delight of making mischief and so that she could badger Gabrielle for the details at a later date. She was very cynical about her own suitors and their supposed romantic interest in her.
"I was just wishing Gabrielle well on her journey," Arabella said, batting her eyes up at her brother in a way that she probably thought made her look innocent. Gabrielle had discovered very early on that Arabella was a terrible liar. However, she was stubborn enough to just keep silent about a secret once it was told to her, no matter what dire threats her brother might rain down upon her head. Arabella shook her brown curls at the Duke. "You have no faith in me, brother."
"I have no reason to, sister," the Duke said dryly. His gaze moved to Gabrielle's face and his stern countenance softened. "Do have a good journey though, Mrs. Hood."
Gabrielle jerked, a kind of shock going through her as she was addressed by her new name for the first time.
"Oh that does sound strange!" Walter Hood, her new brother-in-law jostled in to give Gabrielle a buss on the cheek. She smiled at him, although weakly. She got along quite well with both of her new brothers-in-law; they were just as charming and handsome as he was, although for some reason they'd never made her heart race like her new husband did. "Mrs. Hood, my sister-in-law. Who'd have thought Felix would be the first to tie the knot?"
"Anyone who's met us knows that I'm the mature one," her Mr. Hood said, stepping up beside Gabrielle and putting his arm around her, tugging her against him. She looked up at him in a kind of shock; the movement had been strangely akin to one she'd seen the Marquess use on Cordelia when one of his friends was flirting with her.
He was giving his brother a dark glare, the way Arabella often did when challenging her brother. Gabrielle had watched the way the sibling relationships worked and she could tell when they were teasing each other and when they were in earnest. This was teasing but... with an edge that wasn't normally present.
Perhaps now that she was his wife, he felt possessive of her?
It shouldn't make her feel happy, but it did. Just a little. At least he wanted her in some way, considered her to be his, and put a small importance on her person. That was more than she'd expected.
"It's time we were off," he announced, tugging her towards the front door of Dunbury house where the carriage was waiting outside. Arabella had been her last - and longest - farewell. "We have a ways to go today, but we can be there before nightfall if we make good time."
"I sent a runner ahead to inform mother that you're coming," the eldest Mr. Hood said with a grin. He was the most serious of the three brothers, probably because he was the heir to the Viscountcy, so Gabrielle was unsurprised he'd taken responsibility for such an important chore. "I wish I could be there to see how you're received."
"I'll just bet you do," Mr. Hood muttered as he escorted Gabrielle out of the door.
She almost balked at the precipice, but there was really nothing to do but allow him to lead her to the carriage and help her in. For all that she'd hated Dunbury House when she'd first arrived, hated how out of place she'd felt, how alone, now all she wanted to do was turn round and barricade herself behind the door.
Why hadn't she thought through the wider implications of what might happen if her plan failed? Although, even when her thoughts had touched on it - during those few times she'd allowed herself to think of failure - she had never imagined that Mr. Hood might put himself forward to save her. At worst, she thought she'd be dismissed to the countryside, to live out her days in seclusion. It would mean giving up the excitement and events in London, but she'd quickly found that such things didn't mean as much to her as she'd thought they would.
While she'd enjoyed having suitors, loved the flowers and poems showered upon her, especially appreciated her friendship with Arabella, and had even begun to value her relationship with Cordelia and the Marquess, it had all paled when she'd realized that her suitors were probably more interested in her dowry and connections than in her, and that her... attraction to Mr. Hood was not reciprocated. The situation had become intolerable when she'd realized that his regard was for Cordelia, and that living in Dunbury House meant being forced to watch him fawn over her stepmother constantly.
And now he was her husband.
Gabrielle's pace slowed as they neared the carriage; she felt as though the air was made of molasses. Of all the changes her life had gone through, this had to be the most frightening. Her breath caught in her throat as panic welled.
Her new husband relinquished her hand to wrap his arm around her waist, driving her inexorably forward.
"It's too late to change your mind," he whispered in her ear, his voice harsh. Gabrielle blinked back tears that threatened, unable to reply, because she knew that if she tried to speak she'd burst into tears and she certainly wasn't willing to let him see her do that. "Into the carriage."