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K.J. Jackson

Oath: A Lords of Action Novel 3, (EBOOK)

Oath: A Lords of Action Novel 3, (EBOOK)

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Steamy Historical Regency Romance

A lady out for vengeance collides with the one man that can stand in her way.

A lady bent on vengeance.
Lady Canton has a list. A list of men she is ruining, one by one. The work is satisfying—as each and every one of the despicable men deserves it—and if Livia has to bend the rules of propriety for success—so be it. What she doesn’t anticipate is a past love barging into her life, determined to stop her.

The man that will stand in her way.
Lady Canton threw him over years ago to marry a lecherous old fool for his title, so the last thing Lord Reggard wants is to entangle himself with her again. But when Livia threatens to ruin one of his best friends, Tieran is forced to take matters into his own hands to stop her.

A second chance at first love.
Livia never stopped loving him, and Tieran is intent on using that fact to his advantage. Never mind the callousness of his actions—his loyalty to Livia died years ago and he has no desire to revisit the past with her. Yet the past may be the one thing Tieran cannot escape, and he may very well discover he never stopped loving her as well.

Note: The books in the Lords of Action series by K.J. Jackson are each stand-alone stories and can be read individually in any order. These historical romances are set in the Regency and Victorian eras, and do not shy away from scenes with steamy heat, occasional naughty language, and moments that might possibly make you squirm.

The ebook of Oath is currently available on Amazon to buy or read for free in Kindle Unlimited.


{ Chapter 1 }

Cheshire, England
May, 1812

The tapping of boot heels coming down the marble stairs made Miss Livia Somerson lean tight against the cool stone. She knew she needed to hide, and she hoped the darkness of the slight shadow casting downward from the stone staircase was enough—at least until the source of the clomping boots disappeared into the night.

Breath held, her head crooked at an odd angle, she watched from the dark corner where the staircase met Baron Swenhall’s manor. The back of her cerulean blue skirts ground into the wall, surely getting impossibly dirty. But that, she would just have to suffer.

Concealing herself from the descending lone man was far more important.

His boots crunching onto the granite gravel of the pathway, the man paused at the bottom of the staircase, looking both to the right and left.

Please to the left. Please to the left. Please.

He stepped to the right, moving from the direct light spilling down from the ballroom and along the path to the outer perimeter of the neat boxwood-lined gardens. Stopping, he surveyed the gardens, or the fields and forest beyond them, or the half-moon night sky—she wasn’t sure which, and didn’t care, just so long as his attention stayed in the exact opposite direction of the house.

Liv stared at the backside of the man. He was tall—very tall, with black boots and breeches, and a crisp dark jacket that sat tightly on his shoulders, making his form blend into the massive darkness beyond. Only his hair, dark blond and unruly enough to be rakish, but cut longer than fashion dictated, reflected the scant light from the ballroom.

The smooth stone behind her chilled the flush on her neck—the whole reason she had dived into the shadows—and she prayed the sheep she could hear bleating past the gardens kept up their racket, as it was the only thing that could drown out the pounding of her heart.

It started just below her ribs. The air bubble she could not control.

Drat that punch. Drat that her mother had never let her taste something so deliciously wonderful as that drink until tonight.

If only she had known.

Blast it. Even if she had known, she still would have sipped her way through six glasses of the concoction in the last hour. Probably more.

She swallowed against the air. It fought back.


Her gloved hand slammed against her mouth, mortification setting in at the sound. It had been as loud as the great bell of Bow. She hadn’t fathomed that uncontrollable body sounds would be part of the delicious dizziness in her head.

The figure in front of her spun around and took a step toward her.

Heaven help her. Wrong. She had been very wrong. He wasn’t just tall. He was huge. Huge and looking straight through the shadows at her face.

Her hand dropping to her side, Liv dug the heels of her slippers into the ground, pressing herself flatter against the stone. Not that it would do any good.

He took another step toward her. “Are you spying?” His voice was a low rumble. From any other man, the deep baritone would sound odd, but the voice perfectly matched the size of him. He looked at her with suspicion, the hard lines of his face culminating in a frown that looked permanent.

“Spying?” Hiccup. Her humiliation reached a new height of ridiculousness. Her hand clamped over her mouth again as she glanced upward, trying to see past the French glass doors that led to the ballroom at the top of the stairs. “Far from it.”

“What are you doing out here…Miss…?”

Her gaze dropped to him, her voice just above a whisper. “I apologize. I have no nefarious intentions here in the shadows. I just did not expect anyone to remove themselves to the Baron’s gardens just yet. It is still early in the eve.”

“Yes, it is early.” He looked up at the ballroom doors. “But I am out here to escape an inordinately ambitious title-hungry mama that cornered me direct and was entirely too forward about her daughter that recently came out and…” His sentence rambled before he realized the inherent rudeness, and his words faded.

Liv sighed with a groan, tucking a dark strand of hair that had escaped her upsweep with the last hiccup behind her ear. “My mother? Mrs. Somerson?”

 “I did not hear her name, as she interrupted introductions to rush on so.” His look dropped to her. “So you are the pup she was glowing about?”

“I imagine, yes.” Liv nodded. “Of the eligible women inside, I am the only one present that has an ambitious matchmaking mama. She was dressed in silver, crown to toe?”

His lips drew back into a tight line with a nod. Almost apologetic, but not quite.

He looked over his shoulder awkwardly—searching for escape once more, Liv imagined.

“I take no offense, sir.” Liv couldn’t hold him at fault for his lack of contrition. Her mother had one goal in mind that evening, and that was to gain an introduction between her and Lord Reggard—or any other eligible bachelor at hand, as this poor gentleman had just experienced. “My mother is an enthusiastic bulldog when it comes to making a proper match for me. I fear for Lord Reggard when he appears. She will latch onto him, teeth bared, and refuse to let go.”

His look snapped back to her. “Lord Reggard?”

“Yes. Do you know the man? As the highest ranking gentleman to be in attendance tonight, he does not know what is coming for him when he arrives. My mother is determined to achieve introductions with the man and then serve me up to him. A stuffed pig on a platter, so to speak. She has been planning this for weeks—months.” She stopped, sighing. “No. If I am adamantly honest, the last six years.”

His eyes squinted, searching her out in the shadows as he took another step closer. “How old are you, Miss Somerson?”


“That seems a bit young to be served up.”

“Not according to my mama. She has been in a flurry the last two years, waiting for me to come out. Ever since Papa’s business has done well. She can only think of marrying me upward. This is her first ball with me to parade about, so you must forgive the hysteria she is in.” Hiccup. Her mouth clamped shut. Blast it. Her tongue rambled and she had hoped she was done with the bubbles creating havoc in her lungs.

She craned her neck to look fully up at him.

Had he moved closer? Or had she shrunk?

Granted, she had been trying to make herself small against the wall of the building, but now she suddenly felt downright tiny. Foreign to her, for she had never felt tiny in her life—she was always a full head and a half taller than every other girl her age—courtesy of the blood from her father’s Norse ancestors, he would always tell her proudly. Pride for him, awkward for her, as she had looked downward upon every boy she had ever known.

Liv’s chin dropped, her look going to the lapel of his jacket. Her tongue suddenly felt huge, a great wad of fat stuck in her mouth. She mumbled words out anyway. “I have said far too much. The punch inside. I did not know it would do this to my head. Or my mouth. It is running wild without any regard to proper decorum.”

His head tilted to the left, his right brow arching. “Is that why you are hiding in shadows?”

Hiccup. Liv swallowed again. The mortification of being discovered cowering in the shadows was wearing thin, and even with the fog in her head, she already recognized there would be no recourse back from the disjointed ninny she had just presented herself as.

She nodded. “Yes. You can plainly see I am in no position to be introduced to even the fifth, illegitimate son of an earl, much less an earl himself. I very well recognize that fact, even if my mother does not.”

He nodded, a slight smirk lifting the side of his face. “I can see that.”

The indiscreet smirk rankled Liv, sending ire in her belly brewing. She knew she was foxed. She knew she was acting like a dolt. But for him to agree? To smirk about it?

“The smugness lacing your assessment of my current state is not appreciated, sir.” Her arms flew up, folding in front of her, the blue silk reticule dangling from her wrist swinging wild. “I may be soused, but I can still recognize eyes that reek of arrogant condemnation.”

His head bowed, slightly awkward at the scolding. The whole of him, suddenly slightly awkward in his size. Awkward in his height, in his mass. “I did not intend to judge.”

“I would think not.” Her finger flung out from her belly, pointing at him. “Especially as I now know you are out here to hide, just the same as me.”

His cheeks lifted into a smile. The smile was not awkward. The smile he wore well. Even in the dim light, she could see the smile took away all the hardness in his face. He inclined his head to her. “There, you have me. I am a fully grown man, hiding from your wee mama. You know my secret as I know yours.”

She laughed. “Exactly. I will withhold my judgment if you withhold yours.”

“Deal.” His head lifted as a new set of music started from beyond the French doors above them.

A swath of light from the ballroom cut across his face, lighting his eyes. Free from the shadows, they looked gentle, a light color Liv could only barely make out—maybe it was the smile that unleashed it. Not a trace of hardness remained on his face—none at all. A rather handsome face, in fact.

Staying within the line of the shadow from the staircase, she chanced a small step forward. “I cannot tell in this light—are your eyes truly blue?”

“My eyes?”

She shifted her head back and forth as she looked upward at him, trying to catch sight of his eyes in different light. “Yes, they are an interesting shade—blue when the light catches them—almost a deep violet in the shadows.”

He chuckled. A low, warm sound that cut through the night air.

“What is so funny?”

He looked down at her, his eyes curious. “I believe you are the first person, other than my mother, to ever have commented on the color of my eyes.”

“Well goodness, why not? They are most unusual. Even in the dim light I can see that.”

He shrugged. “People usually don’t bother looking up high enough to see my eyes.”

“They talk to your chest?”

“Or my neck. That seems to be the tolerance for most people on how far they would like to stretch their necks backward.”

Liv laughed, almost a chortle. She slapped her gloved hand over her mouth for a moment to strangle the awkward pitch. Fingers slipping from her lips, she shook her head at him. “That is terrible. I don’t think I believe you.”

“You will notice my cravat is impeccable. I fully well know what people will be staring at.”

Liv guffawed—a true and obnoxious sound that she had never heard from her lips before. She did like this man. She liked him quite a bit. Even if he did make all manners of disturbing sounds spill from her lips.

He chuckled at the sound, the smile widening on his face. “I would presume your mama has never heard you laugh like that? I daresay she wouldn’t let you out of the house if she knew you were capable of it.”

Her hand thumped onto her chest, her belly still clenching in silent laughter, now at herself. “I have never heard me laugh like that. You, sir, never should have turned around when you heard that first hiccup. Your ears have surely been ruined for all of time. And let that be a lesson for you.”

“Which is?”

“To walk away the next time you hear hiccupping in a shadowy corner. Nothing good can come of it. There is no treasure to discover wherein hiccupping exists.”

His eyes met hers. “Treasures come in all shapes and sizes, Miss Sorenson.”

“And sounds?”

He laughed. “Yes, and in sounds. Ear of the beholder, and all.”

She grinned. “I do enjoy you, sir. Or maybe it is the punch. But I now fear what a disappointment the droll Lord Reggard will be.”


“How can he be anything but? Especially after the time I have had chatting with you, Mister…Mister…?”

His head tilted to the side, his right eye scrunching up as though he was bracing himself. “Lord Reggard.”

“No, sir. Your name.”

He sighed. “Tieran Vistel, thirteenth Earl of Reggard.”

Her jaw dropped, air rushing into her throat.

He nodded, reaching out, the knuckle of his forefinger slipping under her chin and gently closing her mouth.

She slapped his hand away. “You? You are Lord Reggard? And you didn’t think to advise me of that fact earlier?”

“There was not a spare moment.” He shrugged. “Not between your...chatter.”

“My chatter?” Her hand thumped flat onto her chest, instant indignation narrowing her eyes at him.

The natural frown returned to his lips. “Is there a better word for it?”

She exhaled, her annoyance deflating from her chest. She had been chattering. A tongue out of control. And in front of Lord Reggard, of all people. An earl. What he must think of her boorish behavior. Her mother would be mortified—all her dreams dashed.

Her eyes went wide and her gaze snapped up to him. “Please, my lord. My mother…”

“Miss Sorenson, I can see by the thousand emotions flashing across your face that you seem to be under the impression that I have not enjoyed our conversation.” He took one step closer, looking down upon her. “That could not be further from the truth. I have enjoyed your company. Enjoyed it very much.”

Her jaw slipped downward again. “Oh. I would have thought…”

“That as a droll earl I could not laugh—could not enjoy the amusement in the situation?”


“But you are now disabused of that notion?”

A small smile, apologetic, found its way to her lips. “Yes.”

“Do not worry. Your mother will only hear glowing tidbits of how I enjoyed your company. To that purpose, we will need to spend a few moments together inside the ballroom so the gossips are not forced to conjure imaginations on where our paths intersected.”

She nodded, her practiced, formal debutante smile masking her face the moment he mentioned the ballroom. “Of course.”

In that moment, Liv realized how very close the earl was to her, and how very petite his mass made her feel. Her eyes dropped from his face, stopping at the cut where his dark vest closed.

“The joy left your face.”

Her look jumped upward. “What? I am smiling.”

His frown deepened. “I never want to see a fake smile on your lips again, Miss Somerson. Pass them out at will to others. But not me. Can you do that?”

She nodded, suddenly aware at how very adept this man was at reading her every thought. While she had no inclination as to what was in his mind or even what he wanted of her—if anything at all.

“And you do not need to feed the worry that has invaded your eyes.” His blue eyes raked down and then up her body. “You are far too young for the platter that I would want you presented upon. While I imagine you would be delectable, I enjoy my meat slightly seasoned.”

Liv swallowed hard, not sure if it was an insult or a compliment.

He smiled, banishing the frown from his face once again. “But someday. Someday I may very well come for that platter.”

“You are assuming it will not have already been eaten by another.” Good heavens, her tongue had gone more wicked than she could have ever imagined it to be. If this was how she acted soused, then she needed to never touch a laced punch again.

Or touch it often. She hadn’t quite decided yet which was a more enjoyable state.

Lord Reggard chuckled. “Maybe. But I don’t think so. I think the meat will age properly, patiently, and be quite ready for me when I come for it.”

She gave him a wicked smile. “Or it will go rancid out of sheer boredom waiting to be devoured. Especially when there is no proof of intention.”

His mouth quirked into a partial smile. “No proof of intention?”

The giddiness in her head commandeering all good sense, Liv nodded.

He leaned forward, the air around him swallowing her, wrapping her, becoming her whole world. He paused for only a moment before his lips found hers.

For as large as he was, she recognized instantly his lips fit perfectly against hers—soft, slightly tangy from the punch he must have also sipped. It warmed her body down to her toes—in a way the punch could never hope to do.

The kiss so quick and so very new upon her, she kept her eyes open, taking in every specific, individual sense—smell, sight, touch, sound, flutter in her belly—and locking it into her memory.

His mouth opened against hers, his tongue slipping past her teeth, tasting her. Liv’s eyes closed, surrendering to his mastery. A kiss that reached so deeply into her soul, she could feel it mark her, for all of time, as his.

He drew away slowly, that same smile that transformed his face playing along his lips. His eyebrow cocked in question. “Proof?”

The edges of her lips curled up as her mouth opened, breathless. She opened her eyes to meet his and offered one nod to his question. “Proof.”

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