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A Kidnap Threat To The Ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples!

Despatches from Palermo (1810)
by Lord William Bentinck, English Ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples

Lord William Bentinck, pictured here as Captain in a portrait painted by George Romney. William Bentinck was ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples 1812-1816

My dear Lord Chamberlain,
I enclose this letter to you privately, so it will not appear in official correspondence.

I find myself the subject of a most extraordinary plot – one of kidnap on the high seas.

As you know, I have entered delicate negotiations with the Bey of Tunis for the release of more than three hundred Sicilians who were forcibly abducted from their home by the corsairs of the Barbary Coast.

Not only is it a matter of justice, but freeing of these unfortunate souls would also build immeasurable goodwill among the people whose interest I am trying to further with my reforms.

So far, standard diplomatic tactics have proved fruitless with the Bey. I don’t know if you are familiar with this culture but it appears to be the custom for the all the promises in the world to be made but when it comes time to deliver, it is a never ending litany of excuses.

With Napoleon’s Empire at my back in Naples and the Barbary Coast Pirates at my front, it is no easy task set before me. You know of my penchant to follow my intuition and I have done so once again with two young men.

Let’s hope Captain Hardacre can deal with the captured French Frigate in a less spectacular manner.

Captain Christopher Hardacre is an Englishman who runs a merchant vessel out of Palermo. He’s come to me with the most extraordinary tale. It seems one of the pirates has acquired a French frigate and he harbours ambitions to abduct me and my wife and hold us for ransom.

It sounded like a ravings of a mad man – and I have to confess that if was just his testimony alone I’d ignore it, but in Hardacre’s favour is one of his men, an African by the name of Jonathan Afua who I’ve come to learn is a son of one of Ethiopia’s most aristocratic families. He strikes me as being a much more steady character than his captain. It is his grave assessment I’ve learned to trust.

As for the abduction threat, Hardacre has hatched an audacious plan to keep me safe in exchange for the claiming the French frigate for himself as spoils.

Whether Hardacre succeeds or not is immaterial as I have appraised Admiral Freemantle who has agreed that the next meeting with the Bey of Tunis should be done as a show of force so we will be arriving in Tunisia with a fleet that also contains the flagship The Milford.

I’ll write when I have more news,

William

 

Excerpt

Shadow of the Corsairs

Bagrada

Shadow of the Corsairs – out June 26 2018 – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DM9VJ5Z

Jonathan’s stomach soured.

Even though it had been more than a year since his captivity there, the very sound of its name reminded him there was work still to finish, a past that could not draw to a close until he had answers.

“Bagrada. Are you sure?” Elias asked. “We’ve sailed by several times over the past six months and there’s no noteworthy activity there.”

Hardacre looked up from the map of the Tunisian coastline. “Sharrouf is certain.”

Elias snorted and folded his arms. “I think you put too much stock in what that man says. He’s a snake, Kit, and he’s not to be trusted.”

“I never said he was to be trusted. He might very well hate Kaddouri as much as we do. But so long as he is a member of the inner circle, then he is useful to us.”

“Unless Kaddouri is using him to lure us into a trap,” countered the first officer. “We’ve stopped three of his raids over the past twelve months and helped free more than a hundred enslaved souls. He’d be just as keen to see the end of us.”

Jonathan shook his head. Kit and Elias bickered like he and his older brother used to. It was time for him to step in.

“What’s Sharrouf getting in exchange for telling you the location of Kaddouri’s fleet?” he asked.

“Information here and there to help with something.”

“Which is?”

“Kidnapping Lord William Bentinck.”

“You jest!”

Hardacre said nothing for a moment. The upturn of his lip was trouble, Jonathan knew that, and so did Elias who turned away with an exaggerated groan.

“Go on,” said Jonathan. “Tell us the whole thing before you make Elias’ head explode.”

“I might not have been completely honest with Sharrouf,” Hardacre confessed. This time, both ends of his mouth lifted and there was a twinkle of manic glee in his eyes. “I told him Bentinck plans another trip to Tunis to petition for the release of the Sicilian slaves, but I neglected to tell him Bentinck’s going with a show of strength instead of taking one ship with a single escort. Accompanying The Milford will be a dozen heavily-armed ships from the Royal Navy.”

“And both Bentinck and Admiral Fremantle know to expect an attack,” Jonathan concluded. “That’s a good plan. What makes you sure Kaddouri will take the bait?”

“Oh, he will. Sharrouf has told me he’s just managed to acquire a double gunned frigate.”

Elias rocked back on his feet. “How has he managed to get one of those? That would carry almost as much firepower as The Milford.”

Cousin’s Plans Make Nunnery Look Good

nunneryLady Coira Easton stared out the window whilst she waited in her cousin’s solar with trepidation. It had been many a year since their paths had crossed and she had mixed feelings about their reunion. ’Twas not because she was afraid of him or what she had heard about his reputation over the years as the Devil’s Dragon. Nay… such was not the case. She was just uncertain as to where her life would lead her now that he was her only relation.

She knew most of what was said about Dristan of Berwyck was a falsehood. Rumor’s had reached her as far as France about her cousin’s ruthlessness upon the battlefield. But she was certain his skill with a sword was how he had become a champion knight for King Henry II. Surely he would find a place within his household for her. She hated the thought of having to join a nunnery.

The solar door swung open and he filled the space with his presence. Coira had forgotten what an impressive sight Dristan was but the welcoming smile upon his face set most of her fears to rest.

“Cousin,” he said opening his arms. “’Tis been far too long since our paths have crossed.”


She went to him and was enfolded into a fierce hug. “My Lord Dristan,” she murmured. “’Tis good to see you. Thank you for receiving me.”

“You can cease with any of that title business, Coira. We are family. As such, we need no formalities between us.”

“How are your mother and father?” she asked, wishing her own parents yet lived. He took her hand and ushered her to a seat by the fire.

“They are well, the last I heard from them.” He went to pour them a goblet of wine and Coira had the distinct feeling he did not wish to have speech about his parents.

“I pray you do not mind that I am here.”

“Mind? Why ever would I mind?”

Coira sipped her goblet whilst she watched her cousin take a seat across from her. “Your poor relation comes to beg lodging from her rich cousin does not bother you? Generally this does not sit well with most people.”

“You are hardly poor and I am not like most people. If you would take a moment to recall, I sent Morgan to find you. Hence you are welcome here.”

“You are too kind, Dristan,” she whispered in relief taking another sip of her wine…

“We will find you a suitable husband.”

… and coughed on the liquid as it began to choke her. “A husband?”

“Aye! I have several noblemen in mind that would be more than adequate to provide a good enough life for you. I will ensure none who press their suit is anything less than a knight,” he said with a satisfied smile.

Adequate? Dristan I–”

“No need to thank me. I shall see to all the details and send runners to those who I think will make a good match.” He drained his wine, stood, and came over to her side. Leaning down, he pressed a kiss upon her cheek. “’Tis good to see you, Coira. Relax whilst we have a room prepared for you and I will see you later at the evening meal.”

Dristan left just as quickly as he arrived whilst Coira sat there stunned. She had a notion a nunnery was looking more appealing than a life spent with some unknown man who would only make an adequate husband.


This is an original piece by Bluestocking Belle Sherry Ewing that gives you a behind the scene look into The Piper’s Lady which can be found in the Belles’ 2017 anthology, Never Too Late.

Blurb:

True love binds them. Deceit divides them. Will they choose love?

Lady Coira Easton spent her youth traveling with her grandfather. Now well past the age men prefer when they choose a wife, she has resigned herself to remain a maiden. But everything changes once she arrives at Berwyck Castle. She cannot resist a dashing knight who runs to her rescue, but would he give her a second look?

Garrick of Clan MacLaren can hold his own with the trained Knights of Berwyck, but as the clan’s piper they would rather he play his instruments to entertain them—or lead them into battle—than to fight with a sword upon the lists. Only when he sees a lady across the training field and his heart sings for the first time does he begin to wish to be something he is not.

Will a simple misunderstanding between them threaten what they have found in one another or will they at last let love into their hearts?

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Bio:

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical and time travel romances all with a happily ever after ending. An Information Technology Specialist by day, she enjoys writing romance novels to awaken the soul one heart at a time at night. You can learn more about Sherry and her work on the tab above or on these social media outlets:

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The Pirate’s Baby

Dear Qiao,

I hope this missive finds you and yours happy and healthy. Congratulations on becoming a grandmother. You make a fierce pirate leader, yet I think this baby will find you to be an easy conquest. Please tell me how it feels to hold the child of your child in your arms, since I have nothing to compare, alas.

I am happy for you, my dear, although it means our mid-sea rendezvous will become less frequent, am I right? Please tell me that at lea

st you haven’t given your heart to anyone else but that grandchild.

I write to you today heavy-hearted. Andre and Sophie arrived the other evening, proclaiming they want to spend Christmas with me. You cannot imagine how excited I was. I was sure they were going to tell me I’m a grandpapa. Instead, Andy pulled me aside and told me he’s afraid Sophie is dying. Dying!

Granted, she looks thinner than usual, and has shadows under her eyes, but her personality is still vibrant. I find it very hard to believe that she is wasting away, unless she has been overtaken by some unknown virus. Andre is beside himself with worry, which gladdens my heart to some degree. I never thought I’d see that ungrateful pup settle down and take a wife, let alone fall in love.

Sophie wants to throw a Christmas masquerade ball, the likes no one in New Orleans has seen in years. She is so excited to do so, I can’t tell her no. And if she is ill, I can’t prevent her such a small happiness. So, here I am, stepping out of the way while the long gallery is swept, and dusted, and polished, much like when my dear wife was alive. My reward is the brightness of Sophie’s smile.

Pirate Masquerade

Of course, Andre is not on board with this celebration. He would much rather spend Noël on the open sea, gathering his form of Christmas gifts from unsuspecting merchant vessels. Yet, even my bullheaded son can’t help but notice the transformation in his wife. There is a renewed twinkle in her eye, and a bounce in her step that wasn’t there when they arrived. And, even though they think I don’t notice, I’m aware that they disappear into their room most afternoons.

PirateI hope against hope that, instead of some deathly illness, dearest Sophie is with child. You would think it possible, would you not? They are newlyweds, after all. I hold my breath daily for the news, and in the meantime, my home is readied for the ball.

I toy with the idea of wearing a pirate mask for laughs, but my daughter-in-law doesn’t find that amusing. She tells me I should at least make an attempt at anonymity. I know you see the humor in that request, as well. It has been a long time since you or I have been anonymous.

Sophie wants dancing, about which Andre also complains. Honestly, now that he’s been home for a few days, I’ve noticed he complains a lot. I don’t believe I was ever that vocal during married life. For example, he doesn’t like the minuet; says it’s a prancing dance that makes fools of the men.

Have you ever danced it, dearest Qiao? Or is there something similar in your culture? I tell my son to shut his mouth, and be happy his wife is happy. This younger generation doesn’t know how to get along in the matrimonial sphere. Hopefully, your daughter and son-in-law are managing better.

I feel calmer, now that I’ve voiced my concerns to you, dear friend. Mayhap I will have answers to all my questions by the time this letter reaches you. Pray for Sophie’s health, and my patience with my obstinate son. And, of course, drop a kiss for me on the head of that new grandchild. Congratulations, and know that I miss our time together.

Bon jour,
Louis Dubois

Excerpt

“Sophie? Sophie Bellard? Is that really you?”

Sophie’s head snapped up at the sound of the unforgettable voice from her past, while her purse fell to the cobbled street from suddenly nerveless fingers. Her body began to shudder and vibrate at the nightmare that was Gilbert Harrington’s silky voice.

She felt faint, in danger of collapsing, her past hurtling toward her like an out-of-control mining cart threatening to jump its track. She reached out a steadying hand against the brick wall of the flower shop.

No longer did she occupy a cobbled street of the Vieux Carré during Avent. She’d been transported, trembling and afraid, to that time, five years ago, when she’d lost her innocence. Her innocence, and her youth. Just the sound of his voice, the timbre and its cadence, was enough to catapult her into a shivering mass of fear and dread.

PirateShe had no defense, carried no weapon. How could she? Gone was her pirate garb, her protective armor. In its place, she wore silk and brocade, gilt buttons and a feathered hat. There was no hiding place for a deadly dagger or a one-shot pistol. Just as there was no devilish pirate to come swinging in on a line, clenching a curved blade between his teeth and racing to her rescue. She was his defenseless prey.

As she continued to stare dumbly at the man before her, one part of her mind, not frozen in fear, noticed that Gilbert Harrington hadn’t changed much in five years. He’d bulked up slightly, bore a man’s frame instead of a youth’s, and his eyes glittered like hardened chips of ice.

Gone was the thin, gentlemanly veneer he’d used to woo a star-struck young girl experiencing the first throes of romance. In its place stood a man used to getting what he wanted with little or no resistance; a man stimulated and aroused by feminine defiance. She recognized these traits after living in the company of men for those same five years. Recognized, but could not articulate a properly scathing response.

Like a predatory shark, he moved in, grabbing hold of her upper arm in a tight grip and leaning forward until his mouth rested mere inches from her ear. “I remember you, Sophie. I remember every moment we were together like it was yesterday. Every touch, every sound, every movement.”

His hand began to smooth up and down her brocade-covered arm in an unsettling caress. She remained statue-still, incoherent whimpers erupting from her throat. This could not be happening. He could not be standing here, in her present life. But he was, she acknowledged through the haze of fear blanketing her, as she stared straight into his smiling visage.

“I’ve never forgotten you, Sophie, though there have been plenty after you.” Here he chuckled, running his forefinger down her cheek. He laughed again, while she closed her eyes to the memories he dredged up.

Leaning in until their noses almost bumped, brows lowering and lips peeling back into a ferocious mask, he continued, “Imagine my surprise when I heard you’d become a pirate, marrying into the Dubois family, and becoming the Commandant’s darling daughter. You did alright for yourself after me, didn’t you, little Sophie?”

And then his lips were on hers, crashing against her mouth in a bruising imitation of a kiss, while both hands clasped her arms as he hauled her up against him.

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About the Author
Cathy Skendrovich has always loved a good story, and spent her formative years scribbling what is now called Fan Fiction. The current heartthrob of the time featured heavily in all her stories. Unfortunately, once she went to college, her writing took the form of term papers, written on typewriters instead of computer keyboards.

Upon graduation, Cathy took a job as an English teacher in a middle school. Along the way, she married her husband of now thirty-three years, had two sons, and moved to southern Orange County, California. She chose to work part-time in the school system there.

Now she has returned to writing. Prisoner of Love is her first published novel, followed closely by The Pirate’s Bride. The sequel to The Pirate’s Bride, The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade, is due out Oct. 1. Another contemporary romantic suspense, entitled Protecting the Nanny, is due out in 2018.

She likes writing romance because she feels it’s lacking in today’s technological world. While she enjoys writing contemporary stories, creating romance in bygone times fascinates her. She hopes her ability to write in both genres will be the beginning of a long and satisfying writing career.

You can reach Cathy at the following sites. She loves hearing from readers.

http://www.cathyskendrovich.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Cathy-Skendrovich-249667925220631/
https://twitter.com/cskendrovich
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14232546.Cathy_Skendrovich
https://www.instagram.com/cathyskendrovich/
https://www.amazon.com/Cathy-Skendrovich/e/B015JJZZOW/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Silver eyes. It’s uncanny

1st June 1794

Today, Town will be nearly empty as the ton streams to the border between Wales and England, to a remote valley where the reclusive Duke of Bleidrich rules a fiefdom older than the four kingdoms.

Seldom does His Grace honour Town with his presence, and then to the benefit of Westminster rather than the rounds of Society. Never in living memory has he held a ball. What can be the reason? Is the duke in search of a duchess? Or can the rumours be true? Seven years ago, the duke installed a ward in the castle schoolroom, a maiden understood to be a younger daughter of Baron Whitleaf of Northern Lancashire. Will Isadora Whitleaf defy her humble origins to become the next Duchess of Bleidrich?

And if she does? No one can give details, but all agree there is something uncanny about the Bleidrichs.

1st July 1794

As Society stream back from the celebrations in Bleidrichvale, the Teatime Tattler has been able to confirm that the rumours about Miss Whitleaf were unfounded. The stated reason for the ball was to celebrate the eighteenth birthday of Lord Nathaniel Marrock, younger brother of the duke, before he left for his Grand Tour of those parts of the continent still available to travellers.

The true reason? Our editor has been told in confidence by several Grande Dames of the ton that His Grace was most attentive to their own particular charge. We have also heard from some of the young maidens, who described the duke as remote and scary. Given the gentleman’s high estate, we do not see this as an insuperable bar to matrimony, and even those who shivered at his silver eyes, did not deny him beauty of form to an unearthly degree.

He may be uncanny, but he is rich, titled, and handsome.

 10th October 1794

In an update to our story several months ago about the Duke of Bleidrich and his ward, we have recently heard that Miss Whitleaf has married. And married not the master, but the schoolteacher. Marriage to the highest noble in the land would have been a considerable step up for Miss Whitleaf. Marriage to a village schoolmaster, even one who has been tutor to the younger son of a duke, must be seen as a descent.

But then, Miss Whitleaf, more than any, must know the truth about the Bleidrichs. Has she chosen the better part?

12th August 1804

Ten years ago, the Duke of Bleidrich raised hopes in the hearts of matchmaking mamas and their daughters, when he held a ball at his remote estate. And then, nothing. Until today.

Today, dear readers, the finest in the land have been stunned to receive an invitation to another ball in Bleidrichvale. What surprise has the duke in store for us? The Teatime Tattler will not venture to make a guess, but warns readers that the Bleidrichs are known to be uncanny.

24th August 1804

Isadora Harris, formerly Isadora Whitleaf, is the new Duchess of Bleidrich. Yes, dear reader, you read that aright. The Duke of Bleidrich has reached down into the commonality to lift up his bride.

His Grace travelled to the far reaches of Yorkshire to retrieve his widowed bride, marrying her by special license in York a scandalous five weeks after her husband’s death.

Furthermore, the lady comes with a considerable encumbrance in the way of a family. We have been unable to confirm how many are her own, and how many she and the eccentric Mr Harris added to their family by adoption, but we are told that the ducal nurseries, schoolroom, and dining table have been considerably expanded to add twenty-four place settings for the Harris children.

The correspondent we sent into Bleidrichvale has suffered an unaccountable memory lapse, and has been unable to tell us what else he has discovered. We will report soon.

24th September 1804

Sam Clemens sat at his desk, turning a sheet of paper over and over in his hand, staring at nothing.

Joe the printer, coming through from the workshop, stopped in the doorway.

“Fancy visitors, those, Sam.” Joe had stepped aside to let the lord and lady pass, being careful not to let his inky apron touch the lady’s fine silk.

Sam’s voice seemed to come from a distance. “Hmmm.”

“An advertisement? Not scandal. Not those two.” The man made Joe shiver: silver eyes under a dark wing of brow, and the lady was unusual, too. Eyes of forest green, and the loveliest face he’d ever seen. But they were no gossipmongers, that was for certain.

“I came for the front page, Sam. You said you were writing up the news from Yorkshire. About Bleidrich and the Harrises.”

Sam looked blankly at Joe, and then back at the sheet of paper. Joe moved closer, hoping it was the copy he needed, but it was blank.

“Story?” Sam seemed to shake himself awake. “No. There’s no story from Yorkshire.”

“No story? What am I to put on the front page?”

With a problem to solve, Sam was galvanised into action, and in the rush of moving things around, finding extra copy to fill spaces, and getting the paper to print, the weird incident was forgotten.

But later that night, as they sat over a celebratory mug of ale, Joe remembered where he had heard of silver eyes. “Sam,” he asked his editor, “was that the Duke of Bleidrich and his wife who came to see you today?”

“Yesterday,” Sam said, for it was three in the morning. And then his eyes went suddenly blank and he gave his head a quick shake as if to dislodge a blockage in his thoughts. “Bleidrich? Fine chance that would be. The duke in my newspaper office? No, Joe. You must have been dreaming.”

Someone was, Joe thought. But he wouldn’t mention it again. That way, there’d be no risk of drawing that silver gaze on him.

There was no doubt about it. There was something uncanny about the Bleidrichs.

To find out what happened ten years ago, and what brought about the marriage after a decade, read The Heart of a Wolf, a short story in Lost in the Tale. Lost in the Tale is released on 6 September. Buy links on Jude Knight’s website at http://judeknightauthor.com/books/lost-in-the-tale/

Come sample Jude’s wares in her second short story/novella collection

The Lost Wife: Teri’s refuge had been invaded: by the French, who were trying to conquer their land, and by wounded soldiers from the English forces sent to fight Napoleon’s armies. The latest injured man carried to her for nursing would be a bigger challenge than all the rest: he had once broken her heart. (short story)

The Heart of a Wolf: Ten years ago, Isadora lied to save her best friend, and lost her home and the man she loved when he would not listen to her. Ten years ago, Bastian caught his betrothed in the arms of another man, and her guilt was confirmed when she fled. Ten years on, both still burn with anger, but the lives of innocent children and the future of their werewolf kind demand that they work together. (short story)

My Lost Highland Love: Interfering relatives, misunderstandings, and mistranslations across a language barrier keep two lovers from finding one another again. The Earl of Chestlewick’s daughter comes to London from her beloved Highlands to please her father, planning to avoid the Englishman who married her and abandoned her. The Earl of Medford comes face-to-face with a ghost; a Society lady who bears the face of the Highland lass who saved his life and holds his heart. (short story)

Magnus and the Christmas Angel: Scarred by years in captivity, Magnus has fought English Society to be accepted as the true Earl of Fenchurch. Now he faces the hardest battle of all: to win the love of his wife. A night trapped in the snow with an orphaned kitten, gives Callie a Christmas gift: the chance to rediscover first love with the tattooed stranger she married. (short story)

The Lost Treasure of Lorne: For nearly 300 years, the Normingtons and the Lorimers have feuded, since a love affair ended in a curse that doomed dead Lorimers to haunt their home, the Castle of Lorne.

Now the last Marquis of Lorne, the last of the Lorimers, is one of those ghosts, and the Duke of Kendal, head of the House of Normington, holds the castle.

Kendal doesn’t care about the feud or the ghosts. He wants only to find the evidence that will legitimate the son his Lorimer bride bore him before her death, and to convince his stubborn housekeeper to marry him.

But the time allotted to the curse is running out, and his happiness depends on finding the Lost Treasure of Lorne before the 300 years draws to a close. (novella)

 

Sssh, you did not hear it from me, but…

London, England 1817

Word within the ton is that the Duchess of Roxborough, the Wicked Widow, has finally given up her wicked ways, smitten with the Earl of Cumberland. I’ve been told in confidence that she is ready to marry again. Silly woman, she should have done her homework. It’s such a pity because I have it on good authority that the Earl is not the marrying kind…A Love To Remember, August 29th release.

Rose Deverill the Duchess of Roxborough would like to scratch out the gossip-monger’s eyes. The fact the scandalous note bears the hallmark of truth certainly rubs salt in her wounds. Can’t a woman conduct a love affair without half the ton having an opinion?

What the vicious lady who penned her poison words doesn’t know, is that Philip Flagstaff, the Earl of Cumberland doesn’t have an aversion to her. They have been friends since childhood and lovers for over two years.

Unfortunately, for Rose, who was widowed seven years ago after an unhappy marriage, she became adamant that she would never marry again. She had her son, and her freedom, and so she set about cultivating an unsavory reputation to put off prospective husband hunters after her pedigree and money. She never dreamed Philip would ever become her lover, let alone that she would fall in love with him.

The gossips have painted her in a very unflattering, scandalous light and she is heartbroken to think she has ruined her reputation to the point Philip’s family would not condone a marriage.

Surely Philip does not hold her past against her? He needs to marry. What makes her stomach churn is the fact she’s been waiting two years and still he has not proposed.

Could the gossips be right? Her reputation has ruined her chance at being his wife? Or worse still, maybe he doesn’t love her at all? 

Here’s a snippet from A Love To Remember (book #7 in the Disgraced Lords series):

Wilson,” Philip said when the man entered the room, “please arrange for a bath to be drawn for me in here, and one for Her Grace in her dressing room.”

“Very good, my lord.” Wilson bowed and left.

Rose liked Wilson. The man had been Robert’s valet. After his master’s death he had asked to stay and valet for Philip. He was the soul of discretion and—no matter where he found her—he treated her with genuine respect. He certainly accepted her presence here in Philip’s room.

Philip moved round to her side of the large four-poster bed and held a robe out to her.

“Here, my sweet,” he said. “You’re right. We should be ready and waiting for our guests when they arrive. Cook has planned a light supper in the drawing room as I suspect they will be tired from the journey, and Drake will be eager to see you.”

He escorted her to the door linking his master suite to her rooms. Wherever they stayed, he always gave her rooms connecting with his. He never tried to hide her away, or make her feel ashamed that they were lovers.

He pressed a brief kiss on her lips and then gave her a gentle push into her room. “I’ll be in the study when you are ready. Collect me on the way to the drawing room and we’ll greet our guests together. I promise I’ll be out of my sulk by then. Rose”—he hesitated, then continued—“dearest Rose, I am truly grateful that you’ve come all the way to Scotland to be with me for these weeks. I have missed you.”

Then he stepped back, letting her close the door.

Rose inwardly smiled as she did so, and then called for her maid.

I have missed you.

This was why she stayed with him, even while hoping for more. Philip had always owned a piece of her heart. In moments like this he made her feel like the most special woman in the world.

I have missed you.

Not I love you. He’d never said he loved her. But then she’d never talked of love, either. It didn’t matter. He treated her better than many men treated their wives, or mistresses, and actions spoke louder than any words could.

When the bath was drawn and ready Rose slipped into the soothing heated water. How she wished she were not such a coward. She wished she could tell him what was in her heart, but her years of being the person who ended affairs and tried to ensure no one fell in love with her, had taught her the signs.

Philip didn’t want her love. He wanted her company, her intelligence, her beauty, and her presence in his bed. That was all.

The truth was that one day he would have to marry. He was, after all, an earl. For a moment, alone in her tub, she wanted to weep. But duchesses didn’t weep over hard truths. All she could hope was that, when Philip chose a wife, he chose her. If he didn’t, she hoped her heart was strong enough to become an impenetrable fortress, or her world would crumble to dust.

About A Love To Remember:

A fiercely independent duchess and a brooding, reclusive earl are tested by the demands of desire in this unforgettable romance from the USA Today bestselling author of A Kiss of Lies and A Night of Forever.

For Rose Deverill, one husband was enough. As the wealthy widow of the Duke of Roxborough, she has cultivated an unsavory reputation meant to discourage wife hunters. Thanks to a string of steamy affairs, Rose is perfectly content to be known by polite society as the “Wicked Widow”—until she’s reunited with the man she fell in love with at age fifteen. Their bedroom encounters are scorching, but it breaks Rose’s heart to wonder whether her reckless behavior ruined her for Philip Flagstaff.

The second son of the Earl of Cumberland, Philip never wanted the title. But after Philip’s older brother, Robert, follows him into the Battle of Waterloo, his worst fears come to pass. Now Robert lies in a soldier’s grave, and Philip is determined never to pass on the inheritance to children of his own. Then Rose appears, soothing the pain with her delightful curves and passionate kisses. The notorious Duchess seems to want nothing from him—and yet Philip has never ached to give a woman more.

Buy links: A Love To Remember

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Author Bio:

USA Today bestselling author, Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She writes both historical and contemporary sexy romances for the modern woman who likes intelligent, spirited heroines, and compassionate alpha heroes. Evans is a three-time winner of the RomCon Readers’ Crown and has been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. She lives in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand with her dogs Brandy and Duke.

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