Size: 5.00 x 8.00 in
2016 RONE Award Nominee
2016 National Reader’s Choice Award Finalist
Lord Grigsby wants nothing more than to retreat to his study, but a promise to his long-dead sister has forced him back into society to broker the marriage of his nephew to the heiress whose money can save the young man’s earldom. If only the young lady’s starchy hired companion would move out of the way.
Hired to launch an heiress’s society debut, seemingly straitlaced spinster Liliana Ashford’s future as a professional chaperone depends on the girl’s successful marriage. But Liliana had her own close encounter with a scoundrel years ago, and she won’t let her charge be forced into marriage to the same kind of rogue, no matter how hard the man’s widowed uncle tries to woo Liliana around to the match.
Secrets and a Scandalous Murder
A shadow from Liliana’s past appears bearing an unfortunate letter she wrote long ago, and then the earl is murdered, evoking the scandal of the season. While she scrambles to make a respectable match for her charge before her own past can be exposed, Grigsby sets about finding his nephew’s killer—and Liliana’s secrets.
The woman at Grigsby’s side was like a lightning rod expecting a bolt to strike, or like a Fury about to deliver one. This close, scent wafted from her, roses and lemon, he’d guess. Tall, straight, and stiff, underneath her self-possession was a temper ready to unleash. He would bet on it.
Intriguing. He dared to poke her ire. “You clearly don’t approve of the match. Do you intend to openly oppose it?”
Her head whipped around, and she glared. “It’s not for me to approve or disapprove. Katie—Miss Mercer—will decide.”
Passion flashed in her eyes, sending an answering spark through him. She was magnificent—though so very mistaken. “Really? Then her father is more liberal than I expected.”
She looked him over more closely. “What do you know of this matter?”READ MORE
I might ask you the same question. Her tone had been stiff, like the crystallized dome covering bubbling lava. He fixed her with his sternest glare, not entirely surprised at her cheek.
His glower didn’t impress her. She lifted her shoulders higher. Stood a little taller, proud, lovely, and filled with indignation.
Quite righteous indignation. He gave into an unmanly sigh, truly weary of his responsibility for Thomas. “I know a good deal, Miss Ashford. I have been negotiating for these nuptials. The arrangement is my doing as much as Mr. Mercer’s. Much more than it is my nephew’s. He is probably the least culpable, except for his abominable behavior.”
She clenched her hands tightly. “I see.”
“Thomas’s mother was my older sister. I made a promise to her that I would look after him.” Her gaze softened, and she bit her lip in a way that made him want to taste the part that she was nipping.
And where had that thought come from?
“And your nephew needs money and an heir.”
He nodded. As a woman of the ton, of course she would understand how marriage worked. Marriage wasn’t about love, or the bride’s approval, or a plump lower lip that begged to be kissed.
“He needs money most of all. He has a younger brother in the army who would make a far more dutiful earl.”
He covered his mouth with his hand. The words had rolled out, shocking him. He rarely spoke this frankly with any woman.
Very well, he never spoke this frankly with any woman.
She released a soft breath. “And there is the matter of the ore.”
His mouth gaped and he quickly closed it. Mr. Mercer had shared that information?Well. “That part of the county is rich with newly discovered veins of iron.”
That information brought her up straighter. She looked away, gazing intently at a thick, dark spot of foliage, making him want to pry into that sharp mind.
“I see,” she said. “I believe we should go back in now.”
Not yet. He tucked her hand over his arm but did not move. “I had hoped we were not finished talking. I’ve learned your Christian name is Liliana, but I don’t know anything else about you. I don’t know where you’re from or anything about your family.”
He sensed her bristling, and waited for some reaction, perhaps a slap, verbal, or, with a woman of her passion, even a physical one. Strictly speaking, he was importuning her, and damn if he wasn’t enjoying the nerves rippling through her.COLLAPSE
Mr. Mercer is determined that his daughter will marry no less than an Earl. He has chosen Thomas, the Earl of Hackwell, because of his title and because there is ore on his property. Hackwell is a drunken sot who is sixteen years Katie’s senior and is only interested in her for her generous dowry. Liliana Ashworth has been hired to help turn Katie out, since her mother is so ill. Liliana is equally determined that when Katie weds she will be happy in her marriage, and she’s hoping for a love match for her. What Miss Ashworth is not looking for is a husband of her own, but Baron Grisby has plans for Liliana as soon as he sets eyes upon her.
This is a beautiful little story packed with action and intrigue! It is filled with the usual routs associated with regencies, but includes some very colorful characters as guests. Liliana is a strong heroine who can think for herself and her charge. The main characters are well fleshed out, while the secondary characters tend to fall flat and are there to serve their purpose, but have no depth. Although the ending is satisfactory, the murder is never solved, but is promised to be attended to in the next novel in the series. This reader looks forward to reading “Bella’s Band” to learn who the murderer of the Earl of Hackwell is.