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Foul Play on a Baron or the Foul Baron Played?

Thomas, the second Baron Lyttelton, has died under mysterious circumstances.

Rumors concerning his death abound. He was an infamous rake, known for using his charm and talent to seduce women and gain influence. He fought duels, gambled away a fortune, and married the misguided Aphia Witts to pay his debts before fleeing to Paris with a barmaid. Upon his return in, he entered the House of Commons in 1768 and exited the next year after being accused of bribery.

Thursday last, 25 November, 1770 Lord Lyttelton told friends of an extraordinary dream he’d had the previous night. A bird had flown into his room, transformed into a woman wearing white, and informed him that he’d die within three days. He discounted the dream, attributing it to a recent party he’d attended where a robin had flown into the room. He was accustomed to a woman’s scorn, so that part of the dream seemed easy enough to explain.

By Saturday evening, he boasted he would “bilk the ghost” and ordered breakfast for the following day. He retired shortly after. Just before midnight, lying in his bed, Lyttelton’s valet said his master died “without a groan.” There was no inquest.

According to close friends, the only legacy he leaves behind is a reputation of questionable character as a compulsive gambler, drug addict, and debaucher of women. So, The Teatime Tattler asks,  was his death an act of vengeance? Or did karma finally come calling for the wicked baron?

About the Book

Upon a Midnight Dreary is up for preorder and will release this month, October 21.

This amazing anthology contains dark, romantic tales of ghosts that haunt and taunt, written by some of your favorite historical romance authors. Each novella will include a romance and a “real” ghost story. Aubrey Wynne’s contribution includes the wicked Lord Lyttelton.

Buy Link: (https://books2read.com/midnightdreary)

Excerpt from “Percy’s Perdition” in  Upon a Midnight Dreary Halloween anthology

Ellie nibbled at a candied apricot as she snuggled against Percy’s chest. They had foregone supper, moved to their bedchambers, and now ate a cold repast spread about the counterpane. “I heard the most delicious tale the other day. Did I tell you of the wicked Lord Lyttelton?”

Percy smiled and kissed the top of her head, the blond waves spread over her bare shoulders. His limbs were heavy, and he couldn’t care less about some rakish peer. “No, love.”

“He was a baron with no regard for mankind, wasting his money and seducing innocents. One mother was so horrified when her daughter succumbed to his advances, she died of a broken heart.” Ellie paused while she took sip of wine. “But the mother had the final word.”

“They always do,” he agreed.

She slapped his arm but grinned. “Anyway, she returned as a ghost and told him of his looming demise. Three days and he would be dead.”

“Ah, but one can do so much living in three days.” He picked up a hunk of cheese and offered Ellie a bite. She shook her head.

“Well, a quarter hour before midnight of the third day, he dropped dead! Can you imagine?” She sank her teeth into the blue and white Wiltshire and smacked her lips.

“People die every day, my dear. It doesn’t mean an apparition caused it.”

“This happened forty years ago, but there is much documentation. And it gets stranger.” She kissed his cheek. “The wicked lord stopped by his friend’s bedchamber on his way to Hell. The man saw the baron at the foot of his bed, miles away in another county, the same night he died. He woke his household to look for the scoundrel since Lord Lyttelton was known for his pranks. But alas, he was never found.”

“Because he was dead.”

“Exactly!” She beamed at him as if he’d done something very clever.

Percy snorted. “You have a way of maneuvering our conversations until it appears I agree with you.” He kissed her soundly on the mouth.

“Don’t you?” she asked, batting her eyelashes.

About The Author

Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule, and barn cats. Obsessions include wine, history, travel, trail riding, and all things Christmas. Her Chicago Christmas series has received the Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, Heart of Excellence, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and twice nominated as a Rone finalist by InD’tale Magazine.

Aubrey’s first love is medieval romance but after dipping her toe in the Regency period in 2018 with the Wicked Earls’ Club, she was smitten. This inspired her spin-off series Once Upon a Widow. In 2020, she launched the Scottish Regency series A MacNaughton Castle Romance with Dragonblade Novels.

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Duke’s Mysterious Kin Sighted

Exclusive to the Teatime Tattler

The Duke of G__ arrived in town this week with a highly irregular guest. A Mr. K_, a Welshman with three children stays at the duke’s elegant townhouse where he is being treated almost, dare we say it, as family. Our usual sources—servants do talk, especially when in their cups at certain taverns—imply the men act like brothers.

That can’t be, of course, as this K__ is several years older than the duke. The previous duke acknowledged no illegitimate children so one is left to wonder. Who can this man from Wales be, and why is the young duke eager to spend time with him?

We’ve been told the man has a pronounced limp, and our sources tell us the previous duke once took in a young man with a similar disability, but was forced to show the ungrateful miscreant the door. Is K_ the same person? Of course they’ve attended no social events so it has been difficult for society to get a good look.

We’re led to understand that there was a recent reconciliation with his father’s wife, the Dowager Duchess. Can she be involved in this family tangle?

The Tattler can only wonder what the Duke of H_ thinks about this turn of events. The Duke of G_ is well known to have been courting H__’s granddaughter during the recent Season and an offer is expected. Indeed it may have already been made. Will an irregular family situation derail young G__’s hopes?

The Dowager Duchess of Glenmoor was indeed involved in her stepson’s complicated relationship with that mine owner from Wales. The story is in The Defiant Daughter.

About the Book

Madelyn assumed marriage as an old man’s ornament would be better than life with her abusive parents. She was wrong.

Now the widowed Duchess of Glenmoor, she wrestles with ugly memories and cultivates a simple life. She is content. At least, she was until her half-brother returned to Ashmead bringing a friend with knowing eyes and coal black hair to capture her thoughts.

Colonel Brynn Morgan’s days as an engineer in his father’s coal mines in Wales are long behind him. With peace come at last and Napoleon gone, he makes a life for himself analyzing the reports about military and naval facilities worldwide for a shadowy government department. What income he has is committed elsewhere. He has nothing to offer a wife, much less a dowager duchess.

More lies between the duchess and the man she wants than money and class. They have personal demons to slay.

Preorder for only 99 cents! October 21 release. https://bit.ly/TheDefiantDaughter

About the Series

When the old Earl of Clarion leaves a will with bequests for all his children, legitimate and not, listing each and their mothers by name, he complicated the lives of many in the village of Ashmead. One was his defiant daughter. He left her nothing.

One sleepy village

One scandalous will

Four tormented heirs

 

About the Author

Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun. She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Visit Caroline’s Website and Blog                http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

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Lies, Damned Lies, and Gossip

The Teatime Tattler wishes to go on record as saying that it does not believe the scurrilous rumours currently circulating throughout society regarding the Merry Marquis, the Saint of Mayfair, and other members of the renowned H. and W. families.

Had these rumours been true, you can be sure that your intrepid Teatime Tattler correspondents would long since have uncovered the facts and reported on them. We are pleased to rank ourselves with the two highly respectable families to deny the rubbish that is being printed elsewhere in lesser journals.

To Tame the Wild Rake

The whole world knows Aldridge is a wicked sinner. They used to be right.

The ton has labelled Charlotte a saint for her virtue and good works. They don’t know the ruinous secret she hides.

Then an implacable enemy reveals all. The past that haunts them wounds their nearest relatives and turns any hope of a future to ashes.

Must they choose between family and one another?

Buy Links

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09944JGMR/

Or find other links on Books2Read: https://books2read.com/CMK-ToTame

Excerpt

Her first hint that something was wrong was in the reception line. She smiled a greeting at an acquaintance, who suddenly found it necessary to turn away to speak to someone else. It kept happening, and a space opened up around the three of them—a space surrounded by backs, frowns, and the hum of whispers.

When they reached the reception line, the hostess flushed a deep red. “Lady Charlotte… I did not expect… that is…” She turned to her husband, who spoke to Nate. “Under the circumstances, Lord Bentham, perhaps it would be best if you took—er—the sisters home.”

Nate’s face had turned to granite and his voice was icy. “What circumstances would those be, Lord Fenton?”

The man cast a desperate look around him and stammered, “No smoke without fire, what? Best just to go home.” His wife slipped her hand into his and he pressed her hand to his heart, before pleading, “Look, Bentham, my wife has planned this for weeks. Don’t make a scene.”

Nate stood his ground. “What. Circumstances.”

“Not the place to talk about it,” Fenton insisted. “Ask me tomorrow. Ask anyone. It’s all over town.”

They’ve found out about me and Aldridge. Charlotte touched her brother-in-law’s arm. “Let us leave, Nate. We are not welcome here.”

“I will remember this, Fenton,” Nate commented, his statement all the scarier for its conversational tone.

They left, Charlotte on one of Nate’s arms and Sarah on the other, the crowd separating before them as if afraid of contamination.

Uncle James had not gone out that evening, having shelved his plans to attend the Opera after the altercation with the Duchess of Haverford. He was in his study with Yousef, but called through the open door when they arrived.

Drew was there before them. “Bad evening?” he asked.

“That prat Fenton threw us out,” Nate told him. “Something about ‘circumstances’.”

“Circumstances, eh?” Drew commented. “The manager of my club told me, very politely, that my membership had been temporarily suspended pending investigation of ‘circumstances’.”

“Did the club or Fenton give you any information about these ‘circumstances’?” Uncle James asked. He had poured each of them a brandy, even the twins, and was handing them out.

Another arrival in the hall proved to be Jamie and Sophia.

“Surely you haven’t been shunned, too?” Charlotte asked, as Uncle James poured a brandy for his eldest son and a port for Sophia.

“Oh dear,” Sophia replied. “Has it come to that?”

Uncle James summarised the situation. “Charlotte, Sarah, and Nate were turned away from the Fentons, and Drew’s membership of his club has been suspended. Do you know what this is about?”

Sophia accepted her port. “We came to tell you that the whole town is buzzing with stories, many of them about the Winshires, others about the Haverfords. People have been dredging up history going back to Aldridge’s childhood, and every scandal he has ever been connected with, plus a few I’ve never before heard. Jessica has gone home in tears.”

“And the same with our family,” Jamie added. “Every incident that can be misinterpreted or cast in a bad light, right back to your duel with Haverford when you were a young man, Kaka.”

Yousef swirled his coffee thoughtfully. “It sounds like Wharton, Yakob,” he suggested. “Were not he and his witch of a sister masters of the nasty rumour?”

“You’re right, Yousef,” Jamie agreed. “Let us track the stories to their source and stamp on the snake’s head.”

“Which will not stop people repeating them,” Sarah pointed out, “and how are we to prove they are not true?”

“We cannot,” Charlotte said, slowly, remembering her conversation with the Duchess of Haverford. “We should not. We simply face the scandalmongers down and refuse to bow our heads. We speak not to petty people with evil minds but to those with real power. The Queen will receive Mama, I am sure, and you could talk to the princesses, Sophia. Kaka, you have influence with the Prince Regent. If they will show their support in public, that will help.”

Sophia nodded approvingly. “Yes, Charlotte is quite right. For every rumour we disprove, another will pop up, even worse. Why, they are saying that you seduced your own brother, Charlotte, and that he killed himself as a result. Yes, and that the reason Sarah ran away with Nate was that you and she were disporting with the rakes at one of Richport’s orgies, and Grandfather was threatening to make you each marry one. Also that Charlotte has been Aldridge’s mistress ever since. How can people swallow such rubbish?”

The room swirled around Charlotte. Someone took her hand in a firm grip and advised her to breathe. Sarah. She took a sip from the brandy glass held to her lips and the burn of the alcohol brought her back.

“A kernel of truth,” she croaked, then took the glass from Sarah and sipped again. Her voice steadier, she said again, “A kernel of truth. Richport had an estate next to Applemorn Hall, where Sarah and I were living when Sarah fell in love with Nate. I met Aldridge that summer.” She smiled as her uncle and cousins, without moving, shifted into warrior mode, alert as hawks sighting the rabbit. “He was a perfect gentleman, and kind to a little girl,” she assured them.

She looked around the room. She knew her family loved her, and Yousef was fiercely loyal. But surely, they would look at her differently if she told them the other morsels of truth in that litany of lies. Her brother Elfingham had raped her. She had spent a night with Aldridge.

Sarah squeezed her hand. “I imagine we shall find other morsels of truth buried in some of the other rumours. Although some seem to be made out of whole cloth. I imagine it unlikely in the extreme that Aldridge killed a circus performer who happened to look like the Rose of Frampton in order to allow his mistress to adopt a new identity and marry his friend Lord Overton.”

Drew, Sophia and Jamie each had a rumour to quote, all of them ridiculous.

The attacks on Uncle James and the rest of the family three years ago had been staged to win public sympathy and disguise the fact that Uncle James was an imposter—an Easterner who had known the real son of the deceased duke when he was in prison in Persia. The attacks were real enough, as Charlotte knew. The rest was nonsense.

Aldridge had sold his brother Jonathan to slavers, along with his brother’s wife, Prudence Wakefield, who was a former lover of his. They would be slaves to the Saracens yet, but Prue whored herself to buy her escape. Or Jonathan did. Charlotte had heard Prue speak of how she and Jonathan had been kidnapped from the London docks, and of how they’d escaped into France. So another farrago of lies.

Uncle James and Aunt Eleanor had been lovers in their youth, and had resumed their affair when Uncle James returned to England.

Charlotte spoke again when the chuckles died down. “We need Aunt Eleanor.” She or Mama, but Mama had gone to Leicester to be with Ruth in her confinement.

Sarah started to protest and Uncle James frowned, but Charlotte held up a hand. “No one is better at the politics of Polite Society. And these rumours concern her and her family, so she will be working to combat them. It is better strategy to work together.”

“Charlotte is right,” Sophia said, oblivious to the undercurrents. “A pity that Aunt Grace and Aunt Georgie are both from town. Still, Aunt Eleanor will be able to marshal Society’s dragons on the side of right.”

“Yes, and the Wakefields will know how to track the rumours back to Wharton, wherever he lairs,” Uncle James agreed. “We have a plan, my children. I suggest we sleep on it, and send for the duchess and the Wakefields tomorrow.”

Matchmaking and Secrets in Falmouth

Judging from this missive that went astray and was, er, rescued by The Teatime Tattler, bachelors in Falmouth best beware the designs of matchmakers.

Falmouth, 1811

My dear Hannah,

I hope you and Reverend Simpson are in good health.

Although I long to see you in person, I’m afraid that yet again I will have to put off my trip to Oxfordshire as Admiral Pridham is still rather tied up with naval business, so this letter will have to suffice. You wouldn’t think that a gentleman who has given up active service would still be embroiled in naval matters, but I suppose I must accept that in dangerous times like these with Napoleon rumoured to be poised to invade, an experienced naval man like my Priddy will be of value to the Admiralty.

But enough of sombre thoughts, let me move to the real purpose of my missive, which is to thank you for sending Sophie Turner to me. I am delighted with her. I simply cannot understand why her erstwhile guardian held her in such poor regard.

A View of Bath

The little that Sophie has shared with me about her past paints a dismal picture of her childhood, as have you when you recommended her to me. Indeed it must have been a blessing for Sophie when you arrived in Crawley and took her under your wing.

Her arrival in Bath did more for me than any amount of taking the waters, it was almost like having dear Kitty with me (who, by the way, is very much enjoying life as a naval officer’s wife in Deptford). Sophie and I attended the Pump Room every morning to join the gossip, I no longer needing to take the waters – ghastly stuff! We visited Bath’s fabric warehouses, which I swear are as good as any in London and I spent a great deal of money. Thank goodness the Admiral has deep pockets.

Despite her reluctance, I insisted on new dresses too for Sophie – the dear child needs to look the part as my companion. The lending libraries on Milsom Street are very good, I recommend them, and we indulged ourselves with all the latest novels.

Falmouth Harbor

As you can see, I am now returned to Falmouth and reunited with my Admiral. Alas, I hardly ever see him, so caught up is he with naval business. I planned to meet with him in Falmouth town for nuncheon this morning and took Sophie with me to show her the sights – would you believe that she has never seen the sea? Alas, just as Pridham arrived, accompanied by a certain Mrs Harris – an overpainted and encroaching creature in my opinion – poor Sophie fainted away. It took a feather from my hat to revive her and once I got her back home a dose of Daffy elixir soon set her to rights, so there is no reason for you to worry.

Between you and I, I am hoping to find a suitable match for Sophie here in Falmouth; there is a single young gentleman friend of my husband – not a naval man – yet I think he will do very nicely. I will write soon and let you know how things go on.

Your dear friend, Emmaline

About the Book:  A Bachelor’s Pledge

The woman who haunts his dreams

Secret agent Phil Cullen is upset when he discovers that the young woman he rescued from Mrs Newbody’s establishment has absconded from his housekeeper’s care without a word. Thinking he has been deceived, he resolves to forget about her… something easier said than done.

The man she wants to forget

Sophia Turner is horrified when she is duped into entering a notorious house of ill-repute. Then a handsome stranger comes to her aid. Desperate that no one learns of this scandalous episode, Sophia flees to the one friend she knows she can trust. With luck, she will never see her mysterious rescuer again.

But fate has other plans…

Months later, Phil is on the trail of an elusive French agent and Sophia is a respectable lady’s companion when fate again intervenes, taking their lives on a collision course.

Traitors, spies, and shameful family secrets – will these bring Sophia and Phil together… or drive them apart?

Heart-warming romance combined with action-filled adventure make this third book in Penny Hampson’s Gentleman Series a must-read for all lovers of classic Regency fiction.

Purchase link: mybook.to/ABachelorsPledge

An Extract~

 After walking for a while longer and stopping in various shops to make some small purchases, Emmaline decided it was time for some refreshment. ‘The respectable tavern I told you about is just along here. I’ll bespeak us a private parlour and ask the landlord to send a boy with a message for the admiral.’

Sophia followed her employer into an old-fashioned but tidy-looking inn. Emmaline was obviously well known in these parts, for the landlord swiftly joined them and led them to a pleasant parlour. ‘My Annie will be with you in a moment, ma’am, and I’ll send my lad Jack to you just as soon as he returns from the stables.’

Before long, the boy Jack was sent off with a message to the admiral, who was visiting the custom house, and Emmaline bespoke them some savoury patties, meat pies, cheese, and bread. At Sophia’s look of surprise – for she was still replete from her breakfast – Emmaline explained.

‘The admiral will want something substantial, no doubt, when he joins us. The man neglects to eat if I do not prompt him. He left quite early this morning, and I daresay he barely broke his fast.’ She settled herself on a bench under the parlour window, which looked out on to the busy street. ‘Come, let us sit here, Sophia, where we can entertain ourselves by watching the world go by while we wait.’

Sophia took off her hat and sat down at the other end of the bench, so that she and Emmaline both had a view of the bustle outside through the salt-encrusted windows. Emmaline commented on the uniforms passing by, pointing out the different ranks to a mystified Sophia.

‘See that gentleman there with an epaulette on each shoulder? He has made post and commands a ship. His companion has also earned his own command but has less seniority. Now, how do I know that, Sophia?’

Sophia watched as the two officers walked past, feeling guilty at making such close and unseemly observations of them. ‘Erm… Oh, I see it now. He only wears an epaulette on his right shoulder.’

‘Very good.’ Emmaline smiled. ‘We shall make a naval wife of you yet, my dear.’

Sophia smiled but said nothing.

The food was brought in, but the ladies ignored it, in order to carry on their observations. Suddenly, Emmaline’s face brightened.

‘Ah, here he is at last.’ Her smile was quickly replaced by a frown. ‘Oh dear, now he will be delayed while he exchanges pleasantries. So inconvenient that she should cross his path just now.’

Sophia looked out to where Admiral Pridham was standing. He was doffing his hat to a smartly dressed female whose broad-brimmed hat obscured her face from view. She was accompanied by a young, dark-skinned maid carrying several bandboxes. There was something in the older woman’s attitude that seemed familiar. Prickles of apprehension ran down Sophia’s spine. The woman turned and Sophia saw her take the admiral’s arm. He pointed to the inn, and they both walked on together. As they drew closer, his companion’s face came into full view. Sophia’s breath caught in her lungs. Dear Lord, it was Mrs Newbody.

Sophia’s eyes lost focus, and her heart was pounding in her chest so loudly she was sure Emmaline would hear it as she clutched the table to stop herself from sliding off the bench.

About The Author

Penny Hampson writes history, mystery, and romance. Her first published novel, The Unquiet Spirit, a ghostly, romantic mystery set in Cornwall, was published by Darkstroke in 2020. Penny has also written a series of Regency romances because, as a historian, there is nothing she likes more than researching her favourite period in history and bringing it to life. She lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).

Website: https://pennyhampson.co.uk/

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/pennyhampsonauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/penny_hampson

Penny’s blog: https://pennyhampson.co.uk/blog/

 

 

A Nasty Piece of Work

Ashmead, May 1805

Dear Bessie,

Good to hear grandfather has recovered his ague from April, and  I thank you for keeping  me informed.

You asked about doings in Ashmead. Mary Norton sends greetings. Her boy Issac is well on his way to joining his father in the carpentry. Arthur Corbin’s wife died in  February, grieving many. She was missed by the ladies’ flower committee this Easter past I can tell you.

There has been much dissension about needed repairs at Saint Morwenna and the continued neglect by the folks at Clarion Hall who ostensibly endow the holding. The Earl of Clarion, as you know, prefers his house in London and the fleshpots over to the simple joys of Ashmead.

The son, Viscount Ashmead, Lord David that was, is cut from different cloth. Perhaps he remembers our little village fondly because those parents of his left him and  his sister in the hands of Ashmead servants as children. Whatever  the case, now that he’s at university he makes sure to come to Ashmead between terms. He even attends Sunday  services sitting up there alone in the family pew. He’s no more than eighteen, God love the  boy, but he takes estate business seriously and  shows  an interest in folks here about.

Sometimes I think too much. Rumor from servants at Clarion Hall is he went to the earl on the vicar’s behalf.  Told the old bag of wind to repair the road up to the Hall that runs by  The Willow and the Rose, too. His da didn’t like none  at all.  Treated the lad to a tongue lashing for his troubles, threatened  to cut him off.

Some folks are miserable in their parents, Bessy, I  can tell  you. Ours weren’t perfect, but compared to Clarion, we  did well.

Maud

PS I held this missive waiting a few extra pennies for postage. I’m glad I did. This will shock you. Last time the young viscount came home, he found  his favorite hound  and his prize gelding gone, sold on  his father’s orders. Elsbeth Simmons says, when he came here between winter terms, he encountered Alice Wilcox, her all of nine years old. Maybe just took a good look for the first time. The nipper is a Clarion butter stamp for sure. Looks just like the viscount, his  sister, and truth be told, the oldest Benson boy from up at the Willow, the one that  ran off  to war. Was in a taking about her treatment.

Lord David rode off and  had words with  the earl about looking after his by-blows, and the old man took  offense. The sneak waited until the boy was back at university and sold off the young lord’s prize possessions, including those beloved animals for spite. Said if Lord David was worried about Alice and the Benson boy, he could pay their way himself. Nasty bit of work is the Earl of Clarion.

About  the Series

When the old Earl of Clarion leaves a will with bequests for all his children, legitimate and not, listing each and their mothers by name, he complicates the lives of many in the village of Ashmead. One of them grew believing he was the innkeeper’s son. He is the first of The Ashmead Heirs.

https://www.carolinewarfield.com/bookshelf/

About Book One, The  Wayward Son

Sir Robert Benson’s life is in London. He fled Ashmead the day he discovered the man he thought was his father had lied to him, and the girl he loved was beyond his reach. Only a nameless plea from his sister—his half-sister—brings him back to discover he’s been left an estate with a choice piece of land. He will not allow a ludicrous bequest from the earl who sired him turn him into a mockery of landed gentry. When a feisty little termagant with flashing eyes—and a musket—tries to turn Rob off the land—his land—he’s too amused and intrigued to turn away. But the longer he stays, the tighter the bonds that tie him to Ashmead become, strengthened by the powerful draw of the woman rooted on land he’s determined to sell.

Lucy Whitaker’s life is Willowbrook, its land, its tenants, its prosperity, but she always knew it wasn’t hers, knew the missing heir would come eventually. When a powerful man with military bearing rides up looking as if he wants to come in and count the silver, she turns him away, but her heart sinks. She can’t deny Rob Benson his property; she can only try to make him love the place as she does, for her peoples’ sake. A traitorous corner of her heart wishes Rob would love it for her sake.

His life is London and diplomatic intrigue; hers is Ashmead and the land. How can they forge something lasting when they are torn in two directions?

(As to David, the future earl, his story is The Upright Son.)

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