Virtuous LadyOh, my sweet dears, I do hope you are able to publish this in your naughty scandal sheet, because I have witnessed it first-hand. Yes, first hand! I must pause for a moment and fan my face. I shall also take time to fix a nice cup of tea. Love that on a rainy day, don’t you?

Now, where was I? Yes. Oh, yes. I must tell this story to you.

Despite my aching pains, I attended the Ashbourne ball last evening. I find great pleasure in keeping an eye on the young ladies, to make sure there are no missteps, which I’m sure you agree is very important.

The charming Lady Grace and her mother, Lady Spencer, attended also. The gel looked as lovely as ever. I have always liked Lady Grace, she is the epitome of virtuous English womanhood. Never a step out of place, always does the right thing. She would make some man a wonderful wife, would run her staff with an iron hand, and make sure her children have the best of nannies and governesses to guide them through life.

After conversations with her and her mother, I can assure you she would take no pleasure in the marriage bed, and would be most accommodating with a husband slaking his baser needs in other places. A true gem.

However, I digress.

It has been known for some time that Lord St. George was courting Lady Grace, and it was assumed an offer would be forthcoming. I had thought that would be a good match, but was I fooled! St. George is not gentleman, I can assure you.

At the ball, I was on my way to the ladies’ retiring room when there was a commotion in the Asbourne’s library. Anxious to see what the kerfuffle was, in the event I could help, I joined the gathering in the library. I was truly shocked, and would have swooned as poor Lady Grace had, except for my vinaigrette, which I always carry with me.

Right there in front of our eyes was Lord St. George with that Lady Arabella! They had been caught embracing in Asbourne’s library—in the dark! Oh, my dears, I suffer from nerves now just thinking about it.

Lady Arabella has a reputation for being quite odd, and I have heard tales that she actually delves into some sort of animal venture! As a true lady, I’m not completely sure what that means, and have no intention of asking. My nerves can only take so much.

So, there you have it. Lady Arabella is in disgrace. I heard St. George has offered for her, which is, of course, the only gentlemanly thing to do. But one does wonder what sort of wife Lady Arabella will be.

Most Sincerely,
Lady Beauchamp, Marchioness of Huntington

virtuous ladyAbout The Book

She didn’t want to marry anyone, let alone the wrong one…
Lady Arabella Danvers is happy with her life just the way it is. She is free to be herself and take care of broken and abandoned animals. Her mother is desperate for her to marry, and has decided to take things into her own hands. There is just one little problem with her plan.

Nash, the Earl of Clarendon has determined it is time to take a wife. He has selected a woman to whom he intends to propose. However, the annoying Lady Arabella has stumbled into his life at the wrong time, and in the wrong place.

But he of all people should know when Lady Arabella is involved plans will go awry…

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~An Excerpt~

“Your cat?”

“Yes. She got out of my basket.” She pointed behind her to where a woman, obviously a maid, hurried up, carrying a basket with a blanket draped over it. Lady Arabella looked behind him, up at the branches of the tree. “Oh, dear. She’s climbed up and now she can’t come down.”

Just as she uttered the words, a loud howl came from above. The devil take it, was the animal now going to drop on his head?

Lady Arabella glanced frantically from the top of the tree to him. “My lord, can I ask a favor of you?”

Still trying to process everything that had just happened, he just looked at her for a minute before answering. “A favor?”

“Yes, please. Can you climb the tree and rescue my cat?” She chewed her lower lip, which would have appealed to him if he wasn’t standing in wet, muddy breeches, with an animal yowling over his head.

“Climb the tree?” Surely the woman was daft. This was Hyde Park, for heaven’s sake, not his country estate where he’d done such things as a lad.

“Please?” Her irresistible brown eyes filled with tears. Bloody, bloody, hell. The one thing he could not countenance was a woman’s tears. He ran his hand down his face before he remembered his glove was muddy.

She winced.

“I just smeared mud all over my face, did I not?”

She nodded, and continued to chew her lip. At least she had the good sense not to laugh, as he was sure she was wont to do. The cat continued to screech, and they were gathering a crowd. “Very well.” He stripped off the muddy gloves, then his coat. The sooner he got the blasted animal out of the tree and back into its basket, the sooner he could go home, have a bath and a very large glass of brandy.

“Oh, thank you so much.” She stood, wringing her hands.

“Yes, well. Let’s have at it.” He grabbed a low lying branch above his head and swung himself up. He balanced on the branch and reached, but was not high enough to grab the irritating cat.

“Miss Aphrodite, come down, please. Let this nice gentlemen help you.”

Nash looked down, his eyes wide. “Miss Aphrodite?”

“Yes. That’s her name.”

Miss Aphrodite.

“If you call her by her name she might warm up to you and come down,” she shouted up at him.

He was already making a spectacle of himself in the tree, his arse covered in mud, and dried, caked dirt on his face. He would damn well not call the animal by that ridiculous moniker. “Come here, kitty.”

That sounded no better. The cat wailed and looked down at him. He grabbed another branch and moved higher. Reaching out, he almost had her when she hissed, and leaped right in his face. her nails clinging to his waistcoat. “Ouch!”

He grabbed the animal by its back fur just as a loud sneeze erupted from his nose. Nash wrapped his arm around the branch next to him as he sneezed several more times.

“Oh, my lord. Are you allergic to cats?”

He looked down at Lady Arabella. “Since I’ve never been this close to one before, apparently so, my lady.” He began his descent, trying to hang onto the hissing, scratching cat. More sneezes. “I will drop the animal, if you can catch it.”

“Oh, no, my lord. She will just run off again.”

Bloody hell. The best thing that could happen to any of them was to have the blasted cat run off. As far away from him as possible. He continued to hang onto the feline until he jumped to the ground. He heard the sound of fabric tearing as his feet hit the ground. Nash closed his eyes and groaned when he realized the back of his breeches had just split.

Virtuous ladyAbout the Author

Callie Hutton, the USA Today bestselling author of The Elusive Wife writes both Western Historical and Regency romance, with “historic elements and sensory details” (The Romance Reviews). She also pens an occasional contemporary or two. Callie lives in Oklahoma with several rescue dogs and her top cheerleader husband of many years. Her family also includes her daughter, son, and daughter-in-law. And twin grandsons “The Twinadoes.”

Twitter: @calliehutton