***First Place Winner, Novella Category, 2014 Book Buyers’ Best Contest***
November 2015 Amazon Top 100 Best-Selling Regency Romances
With her true inheritance lost, Rosalyn Montagu has reluctantly fallen into her elderly cousin’s tidy London life of do-gooder spinster. When a young woman from the district of Rosalyn’s childhood is put up for auction in a wife sale, Rosalyn seizes the chance to rescue her—and to recover a treasured family heirloom, her father’s signet ring, purloined by the woman’s innkeeper husband.
Intent on liberating the young wife with the money she has scraped together, Rosalyn braves a precarious Christmas Eve coach ride in the company of a mysterious nobleman. She soon finds she is not the only determined buyer attending the sale. Her rakish opponent not only succeeds in thwarting her purchase; he reveals himself as the man who took everything that should have been hers. Everything, that is, but her father’s ring, which she manages to recover before being tossed out of the inn into the snowy night.
The newly anointed Viscount Cathmore has accepted there is no way to avoid living his father’s dream of accession to a social class he disdains, but he has drawn the line at marrying a blue-blooded miss. Then he meets Rosalyn, a provoking beauty with an upper crust manner, a larcenous streak, and enough secrets to rouse even his jaded heart, including the truth of her identity—she is the woman whose home and inheritance he has usurped. But more mysteries swirl around Rosalyn’s lost inheritance, and Cathmore is just the man to help her uncover the truth.
Rosalyn Montagu has just been outbid in the sale of her maid’s cousin, the wife of a seedy inn-keeper, Ned Morgan. During the fight that broke out at the end of the sale, Lord Cathmore witnessed Rosalyn stealing the innkeeper’s ring. The crowd has disbursed, and Lord Cathmore has departed in his carriage.
The horses had only picked their way as far as the edge of the road when the front door of the inn opened and they heard Morgan’s unmistakable bellow. A bundle of black fabric flew out of the inn, followed by a smaller dark mass and a hard, dark object. The larger bundle stood, brushed itself off, and shook out the snow-damp mantle. A glint of copper sparkled in the twilight before she pulled up her hood and extinguished the shimmer. She found her valise, straightened, stared hard at the coach, and turned decidedly in the opposite direction.READ MORE
Foolishly, away from the village and her only chance of shelter. Rosalyn, or whoever she was, had lied, he supposed, about her purpose in visiting Glen Murray. And lied about the maid being Mindy’s cousin, since neither Mindy nor the maid had exchanged a word or a glance. The auction was a chance to pick pockets, perhaps. The maid would stay behind to warm Morgan’s bed and then pick him clean, while her supposed mistress waited elsewhere.
Hamish had not grown up here, but since his father had acquired the estate, he had become acquainted with the area and most of the families. There were no towns or villages or even hovels for miles in the direction Rosalyn was heading. If Morgan had caught Rosalyn stealing, she was lucky to get away with her life, but she would surely freeze to death before she reached shelter.
His instincts roused, the way they had through torments at school, his business endeavors, and, especially, his brief military career.
“Stop, Cheevers.” He clambered down from his wet seat.
Oh heavens, it was so cold. Rosalyn wrapped her cloak tighter, and then patted again the slight lump in her pocket. She had feared it lost when that vile man had tossed her into the snow. As soon as she could, she would fasten the band around her neck with a ribbon.
She must find some kind of shelter. The town was the other way, she knew, and as soon as the new Lord of Brockton had moved his dawdling self down the road, she would turn back to the village.
Rosalyn heard trudging behind her. Fear flashed through her. Morgan would kill her, she had no doubt, if he noticed the ring missing and if he found it on her.
Rosalyn flipped back the hood of her mantle and glanced over her shoulder.
Cathmore. The insufferable man would not leave her alone. His long legs carried him far faster through the drifts then she could move.
She turned on him. “What do you want, sir?” she shouted.
“You will freeze to death.”
Before she could react, he closed the distance between them, her feet were swept from under her, and he was carrying her back across the yard.
“We know we shall not have to worry about your virtue,” he said ignominiously.
Rosalyn squirmed. “You will put me down now!”
“I will not.”
“You will not take liberties with me.”
“Will I not?” He smiled at her, a smile of calculation that chilled her more.
“I will throw myself upon your Mrs. Sullivan.”
“You may try, but I warn you, she is an excellent judge of character.”
Rosalyn choked and fought tears. It had come to that. She had let a man she’d only just met kiss her, a man not her husband, and she had kissed him back and then committed a theft.
No one else would see that she had stolen back her father’s promise. He was right. Mrs. Sullivan would not see it her way. This lord had ruined her reputation in one afternoon. He had ruined the last Montagu.
She must find a way to escape him, or he would take the very last thing she had, what was left of her innocence. Her hand rested on the hard knot of the ring, and she prayed for the promised luck.
He handed her into the coach and climbed in behind her.COLLAPSE
Available from Soul Mate Publishing at Amazon.com