Author Caroline Warfield has a gem of a book out, Book Four in her Ashmead Heirs Series:
A notorious will left David, the very proper Earl of Clarion, with a crippled estate and dependents. He’s the one left to pick up the pieces while caring for others—his children, his tenants, and the people of Ashmead. He cares for England, too. Now that the estate has been put to right, he is free to pursue his political ambitions. But loneliness weighs him down. Then he meets his new neighbor.
Her uninhibited behavior shocks him. Why can’t he get her out of his mind?
Happily widowed Lady Delia Fitzwallace revels in her newly rented cottage, surrounded by flowers and the wonder of nature, thrilled to free her three rambunctious children from the city of Bristol and let them enjoy the countryside to the fullest. If only she can avoid offending her very proper neighbor, the earl, when their children keep pulling her into scrapes.
She has nothing he needs in a countess. Is she exactly what he needs as a man?
David has forbidden his children to go anywhere near Delia Fitzwallace and her children after an accident. Then his daughter disappears and he found her being led home by Delia.
Temptation to lash out warred with a suspicion he owed the lady an apology. Desire to chastise his daughter for running off warred with the impulse to hug her. Confusion drove his good sense to the winds.
“What the devil is this about?” he snapped, immediately embarrassed by his rudeness yet determined not to give the woman the satisfaction of seeing it.
“This young lady arrived on my doorstep and threw herself on my mercy.” Lady Fitzwallace, chin high and jaw tight, spoke as if every word was forced out.
“She made me come back,” Marjory muttered, staring at her feet. Her head bobbed up. “But I needed to talk to her. I did.” She cast a sour glance at the woman.
“I’m grateful to you for returning her,” he said. It was true enough.
“I hope I don’t regret it.” The woman eyed him as if he were some species of monster who might eat his young.
His head jerked up. “I beg your pardon, madam?” Her outspoken disrespect gave his words a sharp edge.
The Fitzwallace woman shuddered and sighed, as if struggling for self-control. As well she might.
“You forbade her my house,” she said. “I certainly didn’t plan to shelter her like some sort of criminal. I brought her to face you. I merely hope you’ll hear her out. She has some important things to say.”
He studied his daughter, eight years old, and worldly beyond her years. She met his gaze steadily, her expression comically similar to that of the woman who held her hand. More forceful than her mother ever was.
She has backbone, my daughter. A niggle of pride overtook him. “Come inside then, Marjory, and I will hear you out.”
The girl clung to Delia Fitzwallace’s hand and glanced up at the woman with pleading eyes. “Only if Lady Fitz comes too.”
‘Lady Fitz’ is it?
The lady knelt right there in his lane like the farm wife he first thought her, ignoring her gown, grasped both of Marj’s hands, and spoke softly. That he found it endearing was a complication for another day. “What did we talk about, Marj?” she said. “Remember the words.”
“I’m to apologize and, and make my case,” the girl replied. “But about Alf—”
Lady Fitzwallace tugged on the tiny hands. Marjory sighed, her gaze on the woman, and went on. “Defend but don’t defy—and warn.”
“I have confidence in you, Marj,” the woman said.
David reached out to help the lady rise as a gentleman ought. She blinked, as if stunned by the gesture. He soaked in the troubled whirlpool of emotion in her expressive eyes, but his hand never wavered. She wore no gloves; David resisted the urge to tear his off, to feel the texture of her skin. When she placed her hand in his, their eyes holding, warmth flowed through him, setting off a flurry of improper thoughts followed by immediate irritation at his weakness.
The lady broke eye contact whispering to his daughter. “Confidence.”
Confidence. It must have been the magic word. Marjory walked directly to him and said, “I apologize for disobeying you by going to see Lady Fitzwallace, sir, but I would like to have a word, if you please.”
Spoken like a diplomat. How could he resist. “Then we shall have a word.” He glanced behind her. “Perhaps, Lady Fitzwallace might be so kind as to join us.” The words were out before he thought. He hoped he wouldn’t be sorry. He didn’t wait for an answer
Buy Link: Amazon
About the Author:
Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—award-winning and Amazon best-selling author Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all, she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, writing family-centered historical romance set mainly in the Regency and Victorian eras.
Caroline believes firmly that love is worth the risk; she sits in an office surrounded by windows and nudges readers to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.
In addition to her weekly blog, But First Coffee, she hosts guests on her Highlighting Historical Romance series, and contributes to the SMPAuthors Blog, and (on a lighter note) The Teatime Tattler, a blog in the shape of a fictional nineteenth-century gossip rag.
Find out more at https://www.carolinewarfield.com/