Let’s start with the winner of Sally Mackenzie’s book, In the Spinster’s Bed. Congratulations to Jacque McNeal!!
In book news, it is less than a month until the release of Lady Beresford’s Lover!! Naturally, it is on pre-order. For you bloggers and reviewers, it is on Netgalley. If you are already a Marriage Game fan, you’ll see a lot of the characters you’ve already met.
I really love this book, and I hope you will as well!! Just to pique your interest, I’ll tell you a little more about it.
Here is the cover.
Ella Quinn’s bachelors are quite sure of what they want in life—and love—until the right woman opens their eyes…
After a painful heartbreak, Rupert, the handsome young Earl of Stanstead, has decided that when it comes to love, avoidance is best. Until he meets a woman who makes him forget his plan—and remember his longing for a wife and family. Yet he senses that she too has been hurt, though she attempts to hide her feelings—and more—in the most baffling and alluring way. Intrigued, Rupert is willing to play along, if winning her is the prize…
Crushed by her late husband’s scorn, Vivian, Countess of Beresford, believes she is monstrously undesirable. Sadly childless, she has moved to London resigned to a solitary life. Still, when she encounters Rupert at a masquerade ball, her disguise as Cleopatra emboldens her. Convinced he doesn’t recognize her, she begins an after-hours affair with him, always in costume—while allowing him to innocently court the real her by day. But when Rupert makes a shocking choice, will Vivian be able to handle the truth?…
And an excerpt.
“My lady—” Hal, who’d been her personal footman since her come out, hovered in the open door. “The new Lord Beresford asks if you’ll receive him.”
What could he possibly want? Since the reading of the will, Vivian hadn’t had much to do with her husband’s cousin and best friend who’d come into the title.
Well, whatever it was, she would not allow it to stop her from leaving.
“I’ll see him. Please bring tea and ask Miss Corbet to join me.” Silvia Corbet, the vicar’s eldest daughter, had been Vivian’s companion for the past year, and during that time Vivian had come to love Silvia like a sister.
“Yes, my lady. I’ll get her first.”
“Thank you. That would be best.”
Vivian was not completely conversant concerning the rules of being a widow, but she could not think they would allow her to be in the same room with a gentleman who was not a close relation. Or perhaps that was incorrect. She had heard that some widows took lovers. Still, she did not want to be alone with the man. In any event, he could have nothing to say that would interest her.
A few moments later, Silvia entered the room. “Hal said we have a visitor.”
“Indeed, the new Lord Beresford.” Vivian moved to the sofa. “Thank you for coming so quickly.”
“I was on my way to you in any event.” Silvia’s demeanor had changed from her normal friendliness to barely suppressed anger upon hearing his lordship had come. She chose a chair in the corner of the room near one of the windows, took out her embroidery, and gave a short nod.
As soon as Vivian’s companion had settled, his lordship was announced. At the same time, Hall brought in the tea tray, setting it in front of her, and obviating the need for her to stand and greet the man. “Good afternoon, my lord.”
Lord Beresford glanced at her, bowed, and smiled, apparently not even noticing that Silvia was in the corner. “Good day. I hope I find you well.”
“Yes, thank you, quite well.” And she’d be even better when she left this place. What she did not understand was how the man could fail to notice Silvia; however, he hadn’t glanced her way. What could he want that had him so focused on Vivian? “Would you like some tea?”
“Please. Two sugars and milk, if you would.”
The Queen Anne sofa opposite her groaned as he lowered his large, muscular frame onto the delicate piece. Vivian winced, expecting it to splinter at any moment. Nothing in this parlor was made for persons of his size and weight. Finally satisfied the sofa would not break, Vivian handed him the cup.
He took a sip, focusing his solemn brown gaze on her. “Have you made plans for what you will do after your year of mourning is over?”
Vivian glanced up, then lowered her eyes. By any standards, he was a handsome man with thick sable hair, a straight nose, and well above medium height. However, his resemblance to her late husband was too strong for her to be comfortable in his presence, and she had no intention of telling him of her cousin Clara’s invitation. “Have you need of the dower house?”
“Of course not,” he assured Vivian hastily. “You are naturally welcome to remain as long as you wish.” He set his cup down, clearing his throat. “There is, however, a proposition I’d like to place before you, if I may?”
He probably wanted her to act as his hostess until he married. She would tell him she was not interested. Vivian wanted no more dealings with anyone by the name of Beresford. Unfortunately, curiosity had always been another one of her faults. She raised her brows and returned his gaze, praying she presented the image of a calm, composed widow, when in fact her stomach churned as it had when facing her husband. “Go on.”
“I’d like to propose a marriage between us.”
In the year Lord Beresford had been at the abbey, he hadn’t once sought her out, and now he proposed marriage? Did he think she was simply to be a piece of property to be traded at will? Fury pierced her like lightning during a summer storm. After what his cousin had put her through, he must be mad. It was all she could do to maintain her countenance. How could he think she would exchange one Lord Beresford for a newer version? She would never even consider such a suggestion. And if she did, she’d be made a laughingstock among the servants and the villagers. If his expression weren’t so serious, she would have thought he was playing a sick joke.
When she didn’t respond, he continued. “You are, after all, familiar with the abbey and the area. It would not be a love match, but neither was your union with my cousin. I believe I can promise I will never embarrass you or cause you any distress.”
As her husband had done when she’d discovered his long-standing affair with a local farmer’s wife. She took a few shallow breaths, attempting to gather her wits and find a way to end this conversation civilly. “We barely know one another.”
For some reason, that seemed to hearten Lord Beresford. “A state which may be easily remedied. The fact remains that I am in need of a wife, and you fit the bill. I can give you children.”
Vivian’s cup rattled. She was that close to throwing cup, saucer, and pot at him all at once. The next thing she knew, the delicate china was taken from her hands. Silvia put her arm around Vivian’s shoulders and sat next to her.
Beresford jumped to his feet as if a bee had stung him. “What are you doing here?”
“Why am I not surprised?” Silvia replied in a voice of icy distain. “Apparently you have forgot I am Lady Beresford’s companion. Now, my lord”—her tone took on the manner of a queen—“I believe you’ve said quite enough, and it is time to take your leave.”
He flushed as he stood, strode to the door, opened it, and fixed his fierce look on Silvia. “You may leave. I wish to speak with her ladyship alone.”
“Over my dead body,” Silvia mumbled just loudly enough for him to hear.
He opened his mouth, and Vivian decided to step in before all-out war could ensue. She knew nothing about his lordship’s manner, but, as much as she appreciated her companion’s championship, she’d never seen Silvia so exercised or rude.
In a calm but unapologetic tone, Vivian said, “I asked Miss Corbet to remain with me.”
He glared at Silvia as if he’d argue.
“However,” Vivian continued firmly, “I do not believe I need to hear any more of your proposition, my lord. My answer is no. I have no desire to wed you. In fact, I have no desire to marry anyone ever again. Once was quite enough, thank you.”
As he stalked out of the parlor, he glanced over his shoulder. “I’ll speak to you again when you are in a better frame of mind, my lady.”
“Not if I have anything to say about it,” Silvia hurled at his retreating form.
His shoulders hunched, then the door snapped shut behind him.
Buy Links: Kensington ~ Amazon ~ B&N ~ Kobo
On to boat news. As you know, I’ve been sailing up the east coast.
After leaving Deltaville, we spent the night in the St. Inigoes River and caught up with one of Alicianna’s (our puppy) sisters.
Then on to the Solomons, Maryland for a night.
And finally Annapolis where we’ll remain until July 5th.
Contact me if you’re in the area and wish to get together.
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