Kay Springsteen and I are happy to announce that our Regency Romance A Lot Like A Lady is currently on sale for $.99!! SQUEE!! You can pick it up at:
AMAZON.COM or BARNES & NOBLE
BLURB: Ladies’ maid, Juliet Baines has gotten herself into a pickle by agreeing to go to London and taking the place of her mistress and best friend, Annabella Price, stepsister to the Duke of Wyndham. After all, what does a servant know about being a lady? But Juliet soon finds that pretending to be a lady isn’t nearly as hard as guarding her heart against the folly of wanting a man who’s completely out of reach.
Graeme "Grey" Roland Dominick Markwythe, Sixth Duke of Wyndham, approaches his duties as a nobleman with great dedication and meticulous care. And he’s a man who is not easily fooled...except when he tries to convince himself he's not utterly and madly in love with the beautiful imposter who has turned his life upside down. Will society and his responsibilities to his noble status keep him from opening his heart to the woman he loves?
And here's a sneak peak of one of our favorite scenes from Chapter 2:
“I’m sure I didn’t understand you, Higgins. Did you say my father’s coach is here?” Grey glanced up from the ledger opened before him with a frown.
His heart clenched and his throat tightened at the thought of the beautiful town coach his father had personally designed being used by someone else. Let alone by a virtual stranger. Burning irritation flooded Grey’s veins at the thought. He should have had the ducal carriage removed from the country home and brought to London. But it had been a source of distress to think of seeing the coach his late father had loved so much every day. Even now, four years later, it was still too much to bear.
Four years. Had it really been that long since his father had died? Since he’d seen his brother…
Grey raked his hands over his face to dislodge the direction his thoughts were taking and breathed deeply. The arrival could only mean one thing. His stepmother had deemed it necessary to come for a visit. No doubt to ask for more money, if the condition of the country estate’s finances was correct.
“Yes, your grace.” The butler stood straight-backed in the doorway of the study, neatly attired in black and unruffled as usual, his long, gaunt face devoid of any expression. Behind him, daylight flooded the normally dim foyer.
Distaste crowded Grey’s throat. “Inform Mrs. Markwythe that I am indisposed and send her on her way.”
”I beg your pardon. I wasn’t clear, your grace. This appears to be more than a social call. The footman who accompanied the carriage is unpacking it—”
Grey stared in disbelief at his manservant and nearly choked before he found his voice. “Why the deuce would he do that?”
His secretary cleared his throat, drawing Grey’s attention toward the slight man behind the mahogany writing desk across the room. Petry shifted uncomfortably in his seat. The heavy damask draperies behind him had been pulled back, leaving his face in shadow. As if gathering his wits, he hastily pushed to his feet.
“What is it, Petry?”
“If I may, your grace? Mayhap the letter you received from the Duchess of Wyndham a few weeks ago discussed the visit.”
Grey’s hand tightened around his quill. The note. The blasted note from his stepmother. He had forgotten about it. Squeezing his eyes shut, he struggled to recall what Regina had said in the message. Something about Annabella needing a season in London. Whyever for?
Gently, Grey set the pen down, struggling for a modicum of composure. He stole one more look at the figures that weren’t quite adding up and decided they would have to wait in view of more pressing circumstances. Such as uninvited company. With a sigh, he slammed the book shut and tapped the cover with the tips of his fingers. Impatience tugged a breath from his chest and he stood. “Send the Duchess of Wyndham in.”
“I-I beg your pardon, your grace. The duchess isn’t with her daughter.”
“Not with—” Grey broke off and let out a curse.
He lifted his gaze heavenward. What had he done to deserve this?
Looking after his stepsister was the last thing he wanted to do, next to staying in town for another Season of mothers shoving their debutante daughters toward him at every social function. And now, not only would he have to worry about that, but he’d have to care for a debutante of his own. Bile threatened his embarrassment.
Grey ran his hand through his hair and let out a sigh, cursing himself for not dealing with this sooner. He’d made London his home these last four years, and the longing for his country estate had finally subsided as the comfort of his townhouse had begun to fit him like his favorite breeches. He caressed the top of the walnut and rosewood desk that had once been his father’s. Fulfilling the responsibilities that came with his father’s title hadn’t come easily, but moving the furniture from the country had made him feel like Alexander was still with him somehow, guiding him through his initial uncertainty.
“Your grace?” The butler’s soft query startled Grey from his reverie.
“Where is she, Higgins?” Irritation took root and his eye began to twitch.
“She is still outside, your grace. Shall I show her in?”
Grey wanted to tell the servant no, just send the girl away. But he knew that wasn’t an option. “Yes, show her in. Then send the coach to the livery for fresh horses.”
“Right away, your grace.” The butler gave a stiff bow and backed from the room.
Grey refused to spend the Season caring for the spoiled girl. It was bad enough his father’s second marriage had bound him to the chit and her mother. He provided them with a home — his beloved Wyndham Green no less — a generous allowance, and the protection of his title and status. His generosity was stretched to the limit, and he had no intention of inconveniencing himself any further. He would explain the misunderstanding to the girl, apologize, and send her back to the country.
Before he could put action to his thoughts, the gentle peace of his home was fractured by the clatter and scrape of nails against the wood floor of the foyer, approaching with the grace of a runaway horse. Grey groaned. The last thing he needed was his uncle’s bulldog attacking someone, even if it might get rid of his unwelcome guest. He hurried to the door and stepped into the hallway, but leapt back as the nasty brown and white animal pushed past him, racing straight for the surprised footman who held open the heavy front door.
“Blasted dog! Lucien, if that mongrel bites someone, so help me, I will shoot you!” Grey warned as the older man hurried by.
Lucien had the nerve to give him a disgruntled look. “Why, nephew, Lord Perceval Randolph Neville—”
“Stop calling him that or I shall have to pick my second with the marquess,” Grey snapped. Bad enough his uncle had named the fiendish dog after a neighbor; now it was running loose around London terrorizing an arriving guest. Unwanted though she may be.
Why did Lucien continually insist on shocking people? The man had once named his horse, a sorrel thoroughbred stud, after the vicar’s wife because, as Lucien had so graciously explained, “The horse was the spitting image of the woman.” Grey’s father had lined the coffers of the church well for almost a year to appease the insulted vicar and his wife.
“Be a dear boy and grab the leash,” Lucien said with a flick of his hand. Straightening his rotund form, he managed a majestic waddle as he followed the bulldog outside.
Grey gritted his teeth and turned to retrieve the leash from its undignified resting place wrapped around the iron umbrella stand. Before he’d gone two steps, a loud, shrill scream punctured the air, followed by the dog’s wheezing bark. Grey wheeled around. His great uncle stood as motionless as one of his stone statues just outside the front door, both hands clutching his chest.
“Lord Perceval, get off that woman this instant!” Lucien’s voice rose an octave and ended in a wheezing squeak as he regained his senses and hurried down the walk.
“I’m going to shoot that blasted dog!” Grey yelled as he stomped out the door. First he’d ensure the rotted beast hadn’t taken a hunk out of someone. After that, he’d send his unwanted guests on their way. Maybe then a return to his normal routine would restore peace to his home.
On the landing, Grey froze. His stomach performed a slow turn like a rabbit on a spit.
Lucien’s monstrosity stood growling on top of his victim, who lay sprawled half in and half out of the coach, her skirts up around her waist. The beast shook his head, sending spittle flying through the air.
“Oh my heavens!” Lucien approached the fallen victim. He raised his voice. “Madam! Madam, can you hear me? Have you been wounded?”
“Her ears were not injured, you old fool,” snapped a slender woman of middle years wearing a black velvet pelisse. She proceeded to whack Lucien repeatedly with her reticule. “Get that wretched creature off my sister this instant.”
Lucien raised one arm against the attack while reaching for the irate lady’s reticule with the other. But she only changed hands and continued to lash out at him. The driver stepped between the prizefighters, receiving a thwack to his shoulders for his effort. The footman abandoned his task of unloading the coach and hastened to the lady’s side, placing a tentative hand on her arm, evidently trying to still her agitation.
A yelp came from beneath the dog as his victim flailed her legs.
Grey glanced about. Lady Rossington and her ridiculously giddy debutante daughter had halted their walk along Newport Street and stared enraptured at the sight. He bit off a curse. The whole of London will be laughing about the scandalous scene by nightfall.
He stepped forward only to be stopped again when a young girl darted from the rear of the carriage. Presumably this was Annabella, though she’d grown some since their last encounter. Her yellow and cream traveling gown swirled about her legs with each step, and she tugged a short dark green jacket into place as she walked. Golden curls peeked from beneath a green bonnet decorated with flowers and cascaded over her shoulders.
With quick movements, she grasped the dog’s collar and gave it a yank, tugging against the massive brute. Grey’s stomach twisted into a tight knot. He’d soon have two injured people on his hands.
He opened his mouth to tell her to get back when the animal let out a high-pitched yelp and the girl stood, dragging the dog up with her.
“You naughty boy, that’s quite enough.” She spoke sharply, her tone brooking no argument.
The dog jerked its head around and snapped at her.
She simply thumped him on the nose and he let out a shocked yap. “You mind your manners.”
The dog growled and wheezed and showed his teeth; all the while the rest of his body wiggled and his tail wagged wildly.
I wonder if she could do that with Lucien.
The girl shifted, presenting Grey with a view of her profile, and his breath caught in his throat. She crouched on the ground in front of the beast, removing remnants of an ostrich feather from the corner of his mouth. Instead of the creamy white skin most of the gentry favored, which, in Grey’s opinion, made the girls look like death, she had a slightly darker sheen that enhanced the golden locks framing her face. Her mouth curved upward in a gentle smile. Soft laughter bubbled from her lips and combined with the way she now stroked the dog’s head to send a shiver up Grey’s spine.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt! Happy Reading. And don't forget to pick up your copy of A Lot Like A Lady while it's on sale!
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