I have fellow author, Anne Gallagher on my blog today, who writes Regency Romance with feisty heroines and dashing heroes. Anne believes sexual tension and plain old-fashioned love can keep a reader turning the pages. Her latest release 'The Earl's Engagement' is available now.
Summoned from his castle in Caithness, Gregory Scott, the Earl of Bailey hurries to London, believing his dearest relation on her deathbed. When the true reason for his presence is resolved, Rory is left unoccupied in Town.
Seeking out an old acquaintance, he discovers Lord Briden nearly penniless, mentally unstable, and entirely dependent upon his spinster daughter for the care and upkeep of their estate at Primrose.
The beautiful Lady Rosamund is part hoyden, part bluestocking, part servant. Wanting nothing to do with Society, her uncommon way of life spurs Rory into offering assistance, but Rosamund adamantly refuses. When Rory learns the lecherous lord next door is blackmailing Rosamund, he devises a scheme to help her whether she wants it or not.
The idea to find Rosamund a husband goes slightly awry, as Rory doesn’t bargain for falling in love with the enigmatic Lady Rosamund. And when his plan turns up another beau for Rosamund, can Rory let her go?
Riding out of London, Rory sat tall in the saddle and breathed in the summer air. This outing was just what he needed. Time spent discussing books with men who were dedicated to the art of scholarly interests. Lord Briden’s company would be very welcome indeed.
He turned left onto Primrose Vale Road and rode quite a distance. Where was the house? Just there, behind a dense growth of old oak, elm, and brush, Rory saw the outline of a large manor. But how to get to it? There seemed to be no entrance.
Rory urged his mount through a thicket of overgrown ivy where he found the neglected and forgotten drive. The place looked as if it had been abandoned. A huge tree limb had fallen across the front portico, smashing one of the columns to the ground. Planks haphazardly nailed across the broken window to the left gave the appearance of a winking frown. Another limb held up the roof of the once covered entrance. He gazed again skyward, the smoke seeming to come from around back.
Nudging his mount toward the side of the house, his horse stopped suddenly at the sight of an ancient woman dressed in a young girl’s calico gown.
She hummed as she walked, oblivious to the sight of Rory on his horse. However, when she finally noticed him, her face twisted into a grotesque mask of fright and she let out a keening cry.
“Arreeee! Arreeee!” She gathered up her skirts and fled to the back of the house.
Rory followed, hoping at least to assure the old woman he meant her no harm. Certain he was in the wrong place, he only wanted to apologize and get direction to Briden’s manor.
As he rounded the corner, a servant girl in a dirty apron comforted the crone. “There now, Oona, all is well. No harm will come to you. Run inside and find a biscuit.”
His horse snorted and startled both women. The elder hid behind the younger as the girl picked up a rusty shovel. Rory noticed the hole in the ground and a beaten bush lying on its side. An old wheelbarrow filled with dirt and stone stood to the right of the hole. Had she dug that up herself?
“Who are you? What do you do here?” The young woman held a threatening pose with the spade and stood her ground.
“Forgive me,” Rory said and tipped the corner of his hat. “I was looking for the Earl of Warwickeshire’s home and I seem to be lost.”
“What do you want with him?”
The wench had a cheeky nerve demanding to know his business, but Rory knew these simple country folk looked out for each other. It was the same in Caithness when hunters crossed his land. His tenants always alerted him to their whereabouts.
“I am an acquaintance of his, lately of Scotland, now in London for a short time. I thought to look him up before I departed.”
The girl seemed to ease her grip on the implement’s handle. “What is your name?”
“Gregory Scott, Earl of Bailey.”
Rory couldn’t be sure, but he thought the girl blanched underneath the dirt smudges on her face. She placed the shovel on the pile of earth in the wheelbarrow and took the old woman’s hand as if she now needed comforting.
“His lordship is not receiving today,” she said, her chin jutting forward. “If you leave a card, I will ensure he sees it.” She took a tentative step toward his horse dragging the old woman with her.
“I would be much obliged.” Rory reached into his jacket and drew out a small square of vellum. Handing it to her, she snatched it like a pauper waiting for a loaf of bread.....
....Rory walked his mount past them and followed the small track down through the meadow. Upon entering some trees, he turned back and gazed at the house. If this was truly the Earl of Warwickshire’s home, he could only imagine what he would find when he met the Earl.
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