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Диксон Хелен

A Vow For An Heiress

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«A Vow For An Heiress» - Хелен Диксон

The vow of a lordIn exchange for an heiressWith his bankrupt and crumbling estate, Lord Ashurst and his situation are well known to the ton. He needs a wife, and she must be rich! He leaps at a marriage of convenience with heiress Rosa Ingram. She might be beautiful, kind and brave, but when he discovers the truth about her past and her family wealth he’s torn by his sense of honour. Should he marry her now?
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Prologue 1816

The vow of a lord

In exchange for an heiress!

With a bankrupt and crumbling estate, Lord Ashurst’s situation is well known to the ton. He needs a wife, and she must be rich! He leaps at a marriage of convenience with heiress Rosa Ingram. She may be beautiful, kind and brave, but after discovering the truth about her past and family wealth, he’s torn by his sense of honor. Should he marry her now?

“An intriguing and uncommon opening will have readers wondering what could possibly happen next.”

RT Book Reviews on Carrying the Gentleman’s Secret by Helen Dickson

“A Cinderella-like tale, Dickson’s newest is one of healing and hope.”

RT Book Reviews on The Foundling Bride by Helen Dickson

HELEN DICKSON was born and still lives in South Yorkshire, with her retired farm manager husband. Having moved out of the busy farmhouse where she raised their two sons, she now has more time to indulge in her favourite pastimes. She enjoys being outdoors, travelling, reading and music. An incurable romantic, she writes for pleasure. It was a love of history that drove her to writing historical fiction.

The Devil Claims a Wife

The Master of Stonegrave Hall

Mishap Marriage

A Traitor’s Touch

Caught in Scandal’s Storm

Lucy Lane and the Lieutenant

Lord Lansbury’s Christmas Wedding

Royalist on the Run

The Foundling Bride

Carrying the Gentleman’s Secret

Discover more at millsandboon.co.uk.

A Vow for an Heiress

Helen Dickson


ISBN: 978-1-474-08863-3


© 2018 Helen Dickson

Published in Great Britain 2018

by Mills & Boon, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 1 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9GF

All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. This edition is published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, locations and incidents are purely fictional and bear no relationship to any real life individuals, living or dead, or to any actual places, business establishments, locations, events or incidents. Any resemblance is entirely coincidental.

By payment of the required fees, you are granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right and licence to download and install this e-book on your personal computer, tablet computer, smart phone or other electronic reading device only (each a “Licensed Device”) and to access, display and read the text of this e-book on-screen on your Licensed Device. Except to the extent any of these acts shall be permitted pursuant to any mandatory provision of applicable law but no further, no part of this e-book or its text or images may be reproduced, transmitted, distributed, translated, converted or adapted for use on another file format, communicated to the public, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of publisher.

® and ™ are trademarks owned and used by the trademark owner and/or its licensee. Trademarks marked with ® are registered with the United Kingdom Patent Office and/or the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market and in other countries.




Back Cover Text

About the Author


Title Page



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

html#litres_trial_promo"> Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten


About the Publisher



The Indian sunset was magnificent, illuminating the towers and domes of the Rajinda Palace in a princely state in the north of India. They caught the light—bright gold in the flaming glory of the setting sun. On the wide horizon the gold gradually turned to rose and purple. It was a vision of fantastic splendour—one William had marvelled at since he was a boy. A deep, aching sadness touched his heart. He was soon to leave this beautiful country, the land of his birth—his home, never to return.

Having served as an officer with distinction in the honourable East India Company, William’s ambition and ability elevating him to the position of Colonel, on receiving a letter informing him of the demise of his cousin, bound by the ties of family, he had resigned his post. He was to go to England to take up the position of the sixth Earl of Ashurst, an event he looked on with little joy. India held his heart and his imagination, and it would be hard adapting to life as a member of the English aristocracy.

Throughout the years with his regiment he had been motivated by a sense of adventure and driven by the excitement of battle, but the sights of the battlefields and the loss of his friends had left their scars.

He passed through an enormous gated entrance, large enough for elephants two abreast and an army to pass through. Being a familiar figure at the palace, allowed to come and go at will, he was not apprehended. The vast, marble magnificence of the ornately decorated royal residence with its orchards and groves inside the massive, crenellated Mogul walls never failed to impress him. He walked beneath tall archways and through scented courtyards full of statuary and on through marble pavilions to a place where a cool breeze drifted through detailed latticework from the flower-scented gardens. Colourful ring-necked parrots graced the branches of mango trees, loud with quarrelling monkeys and squabbling mynah birds.

As a surgeon in the British East India Company, William’s father had come to the palace on the request of the Rajah—the present Rajah’s father—to treat his youngest son, Tipu, who had been thrown from his horse and almost trampled to death. His medical skill had saved the boy’s life, although the accident had left him crippled. His father had been highly thought of by the Rajah and he had brought William with him on many occasions to spend time with the Rajah’s youngest son.

William watched as a figure materialised from the shadows. This was his friend Tipu Chandra, dressed in silks and winking jewels. He was small and slight, his eyes brilliant and watchful. Tipu was intelligent and imaginative, a man of brains and breeding whose enthusiasm for life had been broken by the crippling riding accident. He was twenty-six years old, yet he shuffled towards him like a frail old man, dragging his injured leg behind him. There was close friendship and brotherhood between them, and a great measure of mutual respect. The two men embraced, then Tipu stepped back.

‘William, my friend. I am so glad you have come. I understand you are to go to England.’

‘I am. I have had word that my cousin has died. I am his heir and must return to take over the running of the estate—such as it is at this present time. According to his solicitor it is practically bankrupt, so you understand my haste to leave India.’

‘Knowing you, my friend, you are most reluctant to leave. I know you look upon India as your home.’

‘You are right, I do, and I would not have left without seeing you, Tipu.’

‘And you will not forget me when you are no longer in India?’

‘I could never do that.’

‘That is good. You are much changed from the boy who came to the palace with your father all those years ago and took pity on the crippled child.’

‘I never pitied you, Tipu. You know that.’

‘I do and thank you for it. I always looked forward to your visits and valued the time you spent with me.

Few people wanted to spend time with a cripple, but you were different.’

‘I’d like to think I saw beneath your disability. You are my lifelong friend and I shall miss you. I got your message saying you wanted to see me. What about?’

‘My nephew—Dhanu. I have an important and rather delicate task for you to do for me. In fact...’ he paused, studying William’s face ‘...it is a task I am taking a tremendous risk in entrusting to you. But I know that you can do it. If anybody can, it is you. I want you to take Dhanu with you when you go to England.’

William’s eyes opened wide. ‘What? Why would you want me to? Tipu—has something happened?’

‘I am afraid for his safety. Here anything might happen to him. It is not only wild beasts that prowl beyond the walls that are a danger to him. It is here, within the palace. My brother’s wife, the Rani, and her brother Kamal hate him. Kamal is ambitious. All he wants is power, lots of it. He is greedy and cruel and if he could get rid of my brother so much the better, once he has dealt with Dhanu. He will use his sister’s children like counters in the games he likes to play and once he has achieved his aim, he will sit upon his achievements like a large spider and weave his plots. The boys will be like pawns in his games, to be put forward as bait, to draw rich prizes into his web. I do all I can, but I cannot watch Dhanu all of the time.’

William knew Kamal Kapoor and how throughout the years he had taunted Tipu mercilessly about his crippled state. He also knew how much Tipu loved the boy, the five-year-old son of his brother, Rohan, the Rajah. He also knew how deeply he had loved Zoya, Dhanu’s mother, how devoted to her he had been. But her ambitious family had overlooked the crippled Tipu in favour of the more able-bodied, more powerful Rajah. Something in Tipu’s eyes caught his attention. Ever since Zoya had died, he had seen a deep sadness in his friend’s eyes. But now it was worse. It was more than sadness—it was fear. Fear for Dhanu.

When Zoya had died, the Rajah had taken another wife, Anisha. She was very beautiful. Her position was strengthened by the birth of their twin sons. Courtiers flattered and fawned on her and hastened to ingratiate themselves with the new power behind the throne—not so Tipu. Intrigue and ambition haunted the new wife’s quarters. Anisha was a devious woman, a woman whose heart would never rule her head. She would not rest until she had put her firstborn son in Dhanu’s place, such was her jealousy of the boy.

Unfortunately, the Rajah was besotted with his new wife and he did not see what was happening. On the birth of their sons, suddenly his firstborn was of less importance. He would do anything to please her. She held him in the palm of her hand. Her hatred of Dhanu knew no bounds. She would not be secure in her position until the Rajah’s eldest son was removed. Accidents had begun to happen and Tipu now employed an official taster for the child lest she try to poison him.

‘Steps have to be taken to protect Dhanu,’ Tipu said. ‘He is still grieving deeply the death of his mother—he misses her every day. Take him with you—in secret—until it is safe for him to return.’

‘And his father—the Rajah?’

‘My brother is weak. He would do anything to please his wife. Despite my own aversion to the woman and other differences, as brothers we have always been close. He has agreed to let me remove him from the palace.’

‘But not to have him go to England.’

‘He is so blinded by his love and susceptible to his wife’s influence, I doubt he will notice he is gone. I will deal with him when he finds out what I have done.’

The Rajah’s deep affection and his protection of his younger brother could not be denied, but how he would react when he discovered Dhanu had been spirited out of India William could not imagine. ‘You have been more of a father to Dhanu than his own, Tipu. Zoya should have married you.’

A sad smile touched Tipu’s lips. ‘No. She was very beautiful—such beauty would have been wasted on a cripple. It was enough for me that I could be near her. You are my good friend, William. I beg you, do this for me and you will be suitably rewarded.’

‘You and I are friends, Tipu. I look for no reward.’

‘Nevertheless I will not forget what you have done for me, my friend—or your father. Had he not treated me when I was thrown from my horse when I was a boy and everyone almost gave me up for dead, I would not be here now. Better to live the life of a cripple than to have no life at all. So—you will do it, you will take Dhanu with you?’

‘Yes—I will take him.’

‘You will protect him, I know.’

‘I will protect him with my life. You know that.’

‘Do not underestimate Kamal Kapoor, William. You know the depth of his cruelty, his deviousness and his mastery of poisons and debilitating drugs. Keep what you are to do to yourself. If he hears of it, he will strike before you have a chance to board ship.’

William’s expression was grave. ‘I will not utter a word, although I would not put it past him to follow me to England to do the deed—or hire someone to do it for him.’

‘That is my concern. Take care, William—of yourself and Dhanu. You are precious to me, both of you. Because of our friendship Kamal hates you enough to tear your life to shreds. Be warned.’


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