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Polite society has its rules for marriage. But for Ella Quinn’s eligible bachelors, their brides will show them that rules are for the faint of heart . . .
Phoebe Stanhope is not a typical Lady. As feisty as she is quick witted, no one can catch her, especially when she is driving her dashing phaeton with its perfectly matched horses. And unlike her peers, experience has guarded her against a growing list of would-be suitors. But when she encounters Marcus Finley, what she fears most burns deep within his blue-eyed gaze . . .
For Lord Marcus, the spark of recognition is but a moment in the love he has held these many years. Now that he’s returned to England, all the happiness he desires rests on Lady Phoebe never finding out that he was the one who turned her heart so cold and distant. He must work fast to gain the advantage—to convince her what she wants is exactly what she denies—but in order to seduce her into his arms, he must be willing to give up more than he can control . . .
Read an Excerpt
Phoebe walked briskly into the large, sunny breakfast room, the train of her pale green nankeen riding habit draped over one arm.
She greeted her brother, Geoffrey, the sixth Earl of Cranbourne. “Good morning.”
When he looked up from his newssheet and met her gaze, Phoebe saw the fatigue etched in his face.
“Oh, you poor dear,” she said. “Is it the baby?” Miles was Geoffrey and his wife, Amabel’s six-month-old son.
“Yes,” Geoffrey replied. “He’s getting his first tooth. I dare say, had I’d known he would be in this much pain, I would have recommended to him that he not bother.”
Grinning, Phoebe said, “I am sure he would have appreciated the advice.”
Geoffrey handed her a section of the newssheet, and they sat in companionable silence until her sister-in-law joined them.
After pouring a cup of tea, Amabel asked Phoebe, “When do you leave for Town?”
She swallowed a piece of toast. “Next week.”
“I do wish I could go with you,” Amabel said.
“What a whisker!” Phoebe smiled. “You have no desire at all to go to London and dance attendance on me, and, indeed, I have no wish for you to have to do so. I am quite content to stay with my Aunt St. Eth. I much prefer the political parties the St. Eths attend.”
Her sister-in-law pulled a face. “But they are so dry.”
Phoebe laughed when Amabel wrinkled her nose. “I know, for you the subject is a dead bore, but I enjoy it extremely.”
Her sister-in-law frowned. “My dear, how will you ever find a husband if you are attending only political parties?”
“It is not as if there are no unmarried gentlemen at the parties,” Phoebe retorted. “Besides, I daresay I have met every unmarried gentleman the length and breadth of England. Not one has given me the smallest desire to marry. Perhaps I shall set up a salon and become a famous bluestocking.”
Her sister-in-law’s mouth dropped open in shock. “You cannot mean that!”
Phoebe tried to hide her exasperation. “I know you’ve tried very hard to bring about a match for me. I wish you would not persist. I shall marry when I find a gentleman I can love and not before.”
“But you must marry,” Amabel said. “You are almost twenty-four, and you are much too beautiful to become a spinster.”
“I am well aware of my age,” Phoebe said as mildly as she could. “I’m not on the shelf yet.”
After taking a sip of tea, Amabel said airily, “I have invited my brother to visit us.”
Phoebe creased her brows. “Evesham? I thought he was too ill to travel.”
“No, Arthur is indeed too ill,” her sister-in-law said. “I have invited my other brother, Marcus. He shall arrive in three days’ time.”
Amabel hesitated before continuing, “He needs to marry now, and I immediately thought of you.”
At the mention of Lord Marcus Finley, Phoebe’s stomach clenched, and the humiliation she had not felt in years burbled within her, feeding her anger.
She took a breath and calmly but firmly said, “I have met Lord Marcus, we did not suit. Amabel, pray excuse me. I have just remembered something I must do.”
Phoebe rose and left the room. Upon entering her chamber, she closed the door with a snap. The control with which she had been holding herself threatened to unravel. Lord Marcus Finley was back.
Myriad feelings of fear, hurt, and despair assailed her. It confused her to feel almost as raw as she had eight years ago when he’d shattered her childish romantic ideas. She had pushed him out of her mind then and, other than the bad dreams, had not purposely thought of him since.
She’d hoped never to hear his name again and certainly did not want to meet him. She’d learned to protect herself, but still mourned her loss of innocence he’d stolen. She would not weep over Lord Marcus. No good could come of thinking of him. Forgetting that day had been easier when he had been safely across the ocean.
Phoebe breathed deeply and strode to her writing desk, a beautiful cherry secretaire. She furiously mended her nib then took a piece of hot-pressed paper, dipped the pen in the standish, and wrote her first letter to her aunt, the Marchioness of St. Eth.
USA Today bestselling author Ella Quinn's studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape. Eventually her love of historical novels led her to start writing them.
She is married to her wonderful husband of over thirty years. They have a son and two beautiful granddaughters, and a Great Dane. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe, she and her husband decided to make their dreams come true and are now living on a sailboat. After cruising the Caribbean and North America, she completed a transatlantic crossing from St. Martin to Southern Europe. She's currently living in Germany, happily writing while her husband is back at work, recovering from retirement.
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