From your special correspondent
All eyes will be on young, up-and-coming horse trainer Captain James Bentley and his cousin Captain Sir John Bentley, Viscount Tyrell, at this year’s York Races.
The pair of cavalry veterans have sunk every last penny into the Tyrell estate with ambitions to turn the dilapidated pile into Yorkshire’s finest training facility. This year they will enter a young colt, Crimson Lad, into the stakes.
It’s a risky venture made even more perilous by an imprudent contretemps witnessed by your correspondent.
The Earl of Seahaven, 0ne of this season’s regulars, was seen at the concert held at the Merchant Adventurers Hall openly mocking the Bentley cousins’ enterprise directly in front of Sir John himself.
The handsome young Viscount– who has newly come by his title, it must be noted – did not take kindly to the insult, and wagered the Earl the princely sum of One-Hundred Pounds on the outcome of a horse race of the Earl’s choosing.
Such fits of impetuousness are not unknown in these events, dear reader, but the matter becomes all the more intriguing when one learns there is more than just gentlemanly pride involved.
Earlier that evening, Viscount Tyrell was seen sitting alongside the dowager Countess of Seahaven, Lady Patience Bigglesworth, and her step-daughter Lady Ivy Bigglesworth, who is considered to be one of this season’s diamonds. The Viscount and Lady Ivy were also seen in conversation prior to the confrontation with the Earl of Seahaven.
A good source tells me that the Earl was quite surprised to see his late cousin’s young widow and her brood of step-daughters so well turned out, as it has been long rumoured that pleas to improve the dowry of the late Earls’ six eligible daughters have fallen on deaf ears.
I don’t wager as a rule, but if the young Bigglesworth ladies have found champions in the Bentley cousins, I would put my guinea on a victory for Crimson Lad at this year’s York Races.
About The Four-to-One Fancy
Fate has given twins Ivy and Iris Bigglesworth a season in York. They vow to marry only brothers so the sisters will never be apart. But what are the odds of finding and falling in love with two eligible brothers? Hearts race when they meet two handsome cousins who are betting their future on a risky racing venture. Soon the twins learn there are more than fortunes to be lost on a four-to-one fancy.
Excerpt from The Four-to-One Fancy:
The Earl of Seahaven was about a decade-and-a-half older than himself, John estimated, which would put him in his late thirties. Already there were signs that the man was not as healthy as he ought to be.
A redness in the nose indicated a fondness of a little too much drink. A bit of softness around the middle indicated an equal love of food.
He was also introduced to the Countess who, no doubt, was a diamond of the first water in her day. At a distance, she could still claim the title of handsome, but her beauty now was brittle.
After bowing to the woman, John found himself wishing more than anything else to be back in the convivial company of Ivy and her stepmother.
“Did I hear right, Tyrell? You have an interest in the ole gee-gees?”
John gritted his teeth at the use of such a juvenile term for horses. He answered: “Indeed, we do, sir. A very promising colt we hope will do well at the York races.”
“Well, I’ve been known to back a few winners in my time,” the Earl boasted. “A bit of success with the fillies, if you know what I mean.”
John did know and his contempt for the man grew.
“Oh, there’s more to Lord Tyrell’s interest than just the horse,” said Lady Clune, cheerfully oblivious to the rising tension between the two men. “The Viscount and his cousin are looking to build a training facility for racing horses.”
The Earl burst out laughing. “I’d say you’re a damned fool. It’s one thing to have a flutter, quite another to sink your life savings into it.”
John’s jaw ached from gritting his teeth to prevent himself from setting the man on his arse—peer or not.
“Would you care to wager on it, my lord?” he found himself saying.
He watched the Earl’s changing expression closely—humor, smug satisfaction, surprise, then curiosity.
“A wager, you say?”
“A hundred pounds on a winner. You pick the race.”
John heard Lady Clune gasp.
If his rational self had been in charge of his brain, he’d have simply ignored the Earl, but the insult had been given, not just to himself, but also to the Bigglesworth girls. The idea of becoming their champion greatly appealed.
Find out the full story: The Four-to-One Fancy in Desperate Daughters.
Elizabeth Ellen Carter is a USA Today bestselling author and an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats.
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