Convincing the Countess
A penniless widowed countess with trade in her blood descends upon the country manor of her sons’ negligent guardian, intent on confronting him about her boys’ futures. Instead, she finds his younger brother, a business-minded aristocrat with a penchant for widows and a distaste for emotional entanglements. A man who once witnessed her greatest humiliation. A man offering enticing distractions that threaten to derail all her plans.
Called home at Christmas to bring his older brother to heel and sort out the family finances, a baron’s younger brother wishes nothing more than to finish the task and return to his railway project. But when he finds his mother entertaining a fetching widow he met many years earlier as the unfortunate bride of a ne’er-do-well earl, temptation steers him along a different track, one that may derail all his plans.
Can he convince the reluctant countess to set a course for her future that includes him?
Convincing the Countess first appeared in the Mistletoe & Mayhem Holiday Regency Romance Anthology
Publisher: Havenlock Press
Sophie spooned a mouthful of soup, her insides churning.
For the sake of her cook and the hungry boys, Lady Loughton had started dinner without Fitz. Though she hadn’t entirely given up. Not one, but two empty places remained, one at the head of the table, and one directly across from Sophie, and the footmen made no moves to clear away dishes.
“Who else is coming, Mother?” Twelve-year old James called from his place near the vacant seat at the head of the table.
“You shall see,” Lady Loughton said.
“Is it Fitz’s fiancée?” Cassandra asked.
Nancy leaned over her plate and peered down the table. “Why have you placed her between Charlotte and me, Mama, and not next to Fitz?”
Lady Loughton smiled.
“Mama,” Cassandra said. “Tell us.”
Sophie glanced at her hostess and cleared her throat. “The soup is delicious, my lady.”
“Not too tepid?”READ MORE
“Not at all,” she lied. As in many great houses, the kitchens were a good distance away.
“Lady Glanford,” Cassandra said, “you are purposely diverting our mother.”
Just as Sophie opened her mouth to defend herself, the dining room door burst open.
“Here we are.” Windblown and damp, Fitz filled the doorway and paused with a grin and a flourish. “And look who I’ve found. Your favorite brother.”
A man appeared next to Fitz and Sophie’s heart leapt into a gallop.
“I knew it would be you,” Cassandra cried.
Sophie steadied her spoon and tried to quiet the bolt of instant, unbidden attraction, and the rollicking tumult inside her. Taller than Fitz, the brother’s profile revealed a strong stubbled jaw, straight nose, and full lips. Dark hair brushed the edge of a white collar and crisply tied neckcloth; wide shoulders filled the dark superfine of a coat that tapered down to buff breeches covering the powerful legs of a man who must spend a great deal of time in the saddle.
Her gaze traveled back up and met blue eyes, and her breath left her. The same hard-planed cheeks, the same stubborn jaw, the same sardonic lips—but young Lovelace had grown into a shockingly handsome man.
It would have to be that brother.
She stiffened her spine as she’d done on that long-ago day in the Townsends’ garden, fighting the sudden attraction, holding the piercing blue gaze. Oh, he was delicious, and challenging, and…interested. Heat flooded her insides and rose into her cheeks.
“George.” The Lovelace boys swarmed him and pulled his attention away.
She took in a much-needed breath. She’d won this round.
As the tumult increased, she cast her gaze up the table. Artie squirmed in his seat, watching his friends. At the other end, Lady Loughton’s lips twitched as if fighting a frown. Or a smile.
The woman had ten children, but this new arrival was special to her, and as Fitz said, a favorite of his younger brothers and sisters. He was equally windblown and ruddy-cheeked, and likely showing up for dinner in the same clothing he’d traveled in.
Her own father—another hard-edged man—might have done the same, arriving late from the mill after a business meeting. Her vision blurred again.
She shook herself and glanced around—anywhere but at him.COLLAPSE