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A Missing Fiancé

Scandal in Mayfair: Earl Deserted by Promised Bride at Betrothal Ball 
–by a Lady of Quality

We’ve received a delicious piece of gossip for my followers of the ton:

Last night, at a ball held by the Lord and Lady F— to celebrate the engagement of their daughter C— to Lord S—, everything was perfection save for one minor detail.

Fully one half of the betrothed couple was missing.

The evening began as a triumph for the Baron and his lady wife. The crush of titled lords and ladies who attended in their elegant attire and glittering jewels all but guaranteed the soirée’s success.

However, at the appointed hour for the happy announcement to be made, no one could locate the bride-to-be. The Earl was left standing alone, with no fiancée by his side and no reason to accept the crowd’s felicitations.

Under rigorous questioning, the girl’s weeping maid admitted the truth: the Honorable Miss F— had fled her home! What’s worse, she did so by dressing as a boy and climbing out her bedroom window.

Revelers passing on the street that moonlit night told the night watchmen they observed a ragged boy scrambling down the outer wall of the Baron’s townhouse using a makeshift rope.

Furthermore, an ostler at the White Horse Cellar claims to have seen a young lad, dressed in the clothes described by the maid, enter the innyard late last evening.

The White Horse Cellar

Could this “boy” have been the wayward miss in her disreputable disguise? Indeed, though I never gamble, I would wager it was her.

The on-dit is that his Lordship’s marriage proposal is the first he ever tendered to any woman. It is no secret that the highly eligible Earl, having spent decades sowing his wild oats, is ready at last to wed and produce a legitimate heir. My sources say he picked the Baron’s young daughter for her beauty, her youth, and her sweet docility.

But as a gentleman might observe at a racecourse, the Earl clearly bet on the wrong horse!

Despite a frantic search undertaken by her distraught parents, the whereabouts of the runaway chit remain unknown at this time. Lord S— refuses to speak about the incident, but his butler let slip that his master is infuriated by this humiliating insult.

In my opinion, dear readers, it staggers belief that any young lady would turn down an Earl’s offer of marriage for any reason. Her desperate escape can only be a manifestation of a peculiar madness.

Although where the Honorable Miss F — has gone is a mystery, one thing about this affair is known only too well. Her impulsive actions will no doubt carry serious consequences for her and her parents, who certainly face social ruin because of their daughter’s hoydenish behavior.

When news of this disgraceful escapade gets thoroughly circulated, no high-born, eligible bachelor will be foolish enough to step forward to offer for the disgraced girl. Through her own rash imprudence, Miss F— may have indeed avoided one offer of marriage, but she is most unlikely ever to receive another.

About the Book

Lord Peter’s Page is a sweet Regency romance currently for sale at Amazon Books. Here is more about the story:

The match between Baron Finbury’s daughter Charlotte and Lord Satterly seems ideal to everyone but Charlotte. She longs for Cyril, the older brother of a friend. Desperate to escape the arranged marriage, Charlotte runs away from her parent’s Mayfair home on the night of a grand soirée to announce her engagement.

Disguised as a boy, she stows away in a carriage bound for Bath, where her sympathetic aunt lives. At the reins is Lord Peter Randolph, son of the Duke of Wickersham, and his friend Geordie. Hidden in the carriage, Charlotte hopes to get to Bath undetected by the men, but a carriage accident and an unplanned night at an inn makes that plan go awry.

Lord Peter soon sees through her disguise, but not before “the boy” proves to be a hopeless assistant, unable to polish a boot or tie a cravat. When Lord Peter discovers his clumsy page is a young miss, he goes to extraordinary lengths to protect her reputation, even bringing home to his family’s estate where she is accused of stealing the family rubies.

As Charlotte struggles to clear her name, she realizes the naïve affection she felt for Cyril is nothing compared to the passion she develops for Lord Peter. But is it too late for Lord Peter’s “page” to win his heart?

Buy link: Lord Peter’s Page: A Regency Romance – Kindle edition by Mackey, Maureen. Romance Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

~An Excerpt~ 

The placid water mirrored the leafy canopy of leaves and the blue skies above. The pool looked so cool and inviting! The inviting scene made Charlotte keenly aware of how hot and dirty she felt.

She clambered halfway up the bank, and saw where the men lay motionless, sleeping in the sun. Then she looked back to the serene water.

The temptation was irresistible.

She spread her shawl, along with the rest of her clothes, on a bush nearby. Peering around, she reassured herself she was alone, and stepped down into the water.

Oh, but it was glorious! The water was just as cool and fresh as it looked.

She didn’t want to stop but she dare not stay too long. Reluctantly she swam towards the bank, stepped in the soft mud and grabbed the long shawl from the bushes. She used the rough fabric to towel off and was resignedly pulling on the filthy trousers when she heard a twig snap.

She whirled around in horror. There, not five feet away was Lord Peter.

Quickly she whipped the shawl in front of her, clutching it tightly.

“How dare you!” gasped Charlotte. “Turn around! This instant!”

“Certainly, Master Charles. But then you had better be prepared to answer some questions. Though I believe I have discovered some answers already.”

Charlotte picked up one of her heavy shoes and threw it at him. It landed squarely in the middle of his back.

He staggered a step. “Ouch!”

“That is just the beginning. When my father finds out what you have done, why, he’ll curry your hide and hang it out to dry! Cyril will, too!”

“I think a light is dawning. I must congratulate you, Miss…”

“Finbury,” Charlotte replied, as haughtily as she could. “Miss Charlotte Finbury. My father is a Baron.”

“Miss Charlotte Finbury. This is the most elaborate ruse I have ever heard of to try to entrap a man into marriage. After spending a night with me in the same chamber at an inn, not to mention this little incident on the stream bank, you are well and truly compromised. Can I expect to see an irate father with a pistol, or perhaps a blunderbuss, coming around the bend?

“Entrap? Why, you conceited, arrogant coxcomb! As if I would go to all this trouble, not to mention discomfort and embarrassment, to force you to marry me! Why do you think I left London in the first place? If it was marriage I wanted, I could have stayed and gone along with my parents’ wishes.”

She took a deep breath, struggling to regain a modicum of control.

Lord Peter bent down and thoughtfully picked up the shoes she ‘d flung at him.

“If compromising yourself with me was not your aim, why did you threaten me with your father and brother just now?”

“My brother? Oh, you mean Cyril! He is not my brother. He is the man I intend to marry.”

“Poor devil,” murmured Lord Peter.

Ab0ut the Author

Maureen Mackey is an award-winning romance author who also writes mysteries. A California native, she earned degrees in English and journalism and worked as a reporter before getting the courage to pursue her real ambition, writing Regency romances. Now she and her husband live near Portland, Oregon, with their two grown sons and their families nearby. When she’s not working on a novel, writing blog posts, or researching her favorite era, she enjoys cooking, crocheting, and taking walks in the rain.

Links:

Website: www.maureenmackey.com

Blog: www.regencylookingglasscom

FB Page: (2) Facebook

 

 

Image info:

The Next Dance, by George Goodwin Kilburne

Hatchett’s, The White Horse Cellar, Piccadilly, by James Pollard

Both images are in the public domain and sourced through Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Jude Knight

    Love the excerpt!

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