Sam, you made a good call when you sent me to listen to the debate in the Lords. Whoever told you the Duke of Haverford was up to something, didn’t hint at the half of it! Here’s a transcript of what he said.
Your Graces, My Lords, it is with a heavy heart that I come before you today. Not long ago, it was our sad duty to recognise that our esteemed monarch was no longer able to meet his responsibilities and needed to be placed in the care of his loving wife.
Today, we face a like task, as one of the foremost peers in the land falls victim to the ravages of time and illness, so that his judgement is impaired and his decisions dangerous for his family, his estates, and the realm.
I refer, dear colleagues, to one of my oldest friends. With the greatest of regret, I must disclose to you that the Duke of Winshire has succumbed to the blandishments of a rogue and the yearnings of his own heart, and has recognised an imposter as his heir.
This man, claiming to be Winshire’s only surviving son, arrived on these shores only days ago. I have reason to believe he is not even English, but comes from the far reaches of Persia, or even further into those godless lands.
My lords, the Duke’s sons are all dead. I, myself, wept with him when the news came from the East of the death of the man this reprobate claims to be.
Moreover, the rogue brings with him six young people whom he claims to be his legitimate children. You and I, my lords, will know how to answer such a ridiculous attempt to lay hands on one of the treasures of England, the duchy of Winshire.
So there it is, Sam. I can’t wait to see what happens next! Fun times to be a reporter, that is for certain.
In 1812, high Society is rocked by the return of the Earl of Sutton, heir to the dying Duke of Winshire. James Winderfield, Earl of Sutton, Winshire’s third and only surviving son, has long been thought dead, but his reappearance is not nearly such a shock as those he brings with him, the children of his deceased Persian-born wife and fierce armed retainers.
This series begins with a prequel novella telling the love story of James senior and Mahzad, then leaps two decades to a series of six novels as the Winderfield offspring and their cousins search for acceptance and love.
To Wed a Proper Lady, the first novel, is on preorder and will be released on 15 April.
Everyone knows James needs a bride with impeccable blood lines. He needs Sophia’s love more.
James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her, he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.
Sophia keeps secret her tendre for James, Lord Elfingham. After all, the whole of Society knows he is pursuing the younger Belvoir sister, not the older one left on the shelf after two failed betrothals.
The racing curricles had negotiated the bend without disaster and were now hurtling towards the village. Long habit had James studying the path, looking to make sure the villagers were safely out of the way, and an instant later, he put Seistan at the slope.
It was steep, but nothing to the mountains they had lived in all their lives, he and his horse, and Seistan was as sure-footed as any goat. Straight down by the shortest route they hurtled, for in the path of the thoughtless lackwits and their carriages was a child—a boy, by the trousers—who had just escaped through a gate from the village’s one large house, tripped as he crossed the road, and now lay still.
It would be close. As he cleared one stone fence and then another, he could see the child beginning to sit up, shaking his head. Just winded then, and easier to reach than lying flat, thank all the angels and saints.
Out of sight for a moment as he rounded a cottage, he could hear the carriages drawing closer. Had the child recovered enough to run? No. He was still sitting in the road, mouth open, white-faced, looking as his doom approached. What kind of selfish madmen raced breast to breast, wheel to wheel, into a village?
With hand, body and voice, James set Seistan at the child, and dropped off the saddle, trusting to the horse to sweep past in the right place for James to hoist the child out of harm’s way.
One mighty heave, and they were back in the saddle. James’ shoulders would feel the weight of the boy for days, but Seistan had continued across the road, and just in time. The racers hurtled by so close James could feel the wind of their passing.
They didn’t stop. Didn’t even slow. In moments, they were gone.
The boy shaking in his arms, James turned Seistan with his knees, and walked the horse back to the gates of the big house. A crowd of women waited for them, but only one came forward as he dismounted— a gentlewoman, if her aristocratic bearing and the quality of her fashionable gown were any indication.
“Forgive my temerity in speaking without an introduction, my lady,” he said, “but have you perchance mislaid this child?”
“How can we ever thank you enough, sir?” Her voice confirmed her class. She took the child from him, and handed him off to be scolded and hugged and wept over by a bevy of other females.
The woman lingered, and James too. He could hear his father and the others riding towards them, but he couldn’t take his gaze off her. He was drowning in a pair of brown-gray eyes, like a pond in the deep shelter of a nurturing forest. Did she feel it too? The Greeks said that true lovers had one soul, split at birth and placed in two bodies. He had thought it a nice conceit, until now.