If you enjoy Regency romance, the latest novel in our Eardleys of Gostwicke Hall series has just been published.
The Lady And The Adventurer: Win My Heart is Henry’s story. Henry is ready to make her comeout, at her first season.
Here’s an excerpt.
Regency romance excerpt: The Lady And The Adventurer
Henrietta Eardley blamed Frances Lovett’s ridiculous jealousy and insults for her predicament.
If it weren’t for Frances, she would never have become engaged to Lord Mortney.
Her problems started with the Woolston-Marriott ball.
Henrietta, called Henry by her family and friends, had accepted an invitation to a New Year’s house party at Woolston-Marriott.
Sir William Tratton, the owner of the vast Woolston-Marriott estate, was known for the quality of his hunters, and also for his winning racehorses. Henry could never resist horses. Sir William indulged his guests with comfortable rooms and meals from two French chefs, as well as all the hunting and gaming that anyone could wish.
Henry knew that her eldest sister Catherine would never have countenanced her visit to Woolston-Marriott. But Catherine was recovering from an illness and was unaware of Henry’s activities.
Sir William was something of a rake. All the guests knew that although Sir William’s sister, Miss Tratton, was ostensibly his hostess, the real hostess of Woolston-Marriott was Sir William’s mistress of longstanding incumbency, Amelia Lovett.
Henry had cajoled her companion Susan Hoxton into the visit to Woolston-Marriott. She wanted to get away from London, because of Lord Mortney. That young man had pursued her like a hunter after a hart.
Despite her best efforts to put him off, he’d proposed to her. Of course she’d politely refused Mortney’s offer, but he was persistent. He called on her at Eardley House every day. He sent gifts, and accosted her in Bond Street and in the park.
He couldn’t seem to get it through his fat head that even if half the debutantes of the ton wanted his attentions, Henry didn’t.
Unfortunately, Frances Lovett was the debutante who was most enraptured by Mortney’s handsome face — and wealth. Since Frances was Sir William’s de facto daughter, Henry couldn’t avoid Frances and her coterie of sycophants at Woolston-Marriott.
One morning, five days after their arrival, Henry strolled into her companion’s comfortable room. Susan was in bed, with her breakfast tray on her lap. Very pretty although past her first youth, Susan wore a frilly cap and a shawl about her shoulders.
“I’ve been thinking,” Henry said, after greeting her companion fondly, “let’s return home to Gostwicke Hall tomorrow. People will begin leaving after the ball, so we shall too.”
Susan’s cornflower blue eyes widened. “You don’t wish to stay another week?” She eyed her charge carefully, and set down the toast she’d been eating.
Henry rubbed her neck. “No, I think not. Frances Lovett has taken me in dislike, and I’ve no idea why…” she lied cheerfully. She knew.
Mortney, the devil take him.
“Frances’s dislike makes my situation uncomfortable,” she went on. “I’d rather return home than put up with the chit’s constant insults.”
Those insults included sly remarks, sharp pinches whenever she was in reach of Henry, and cuts direct from Frances’s circle of intimates. Frances was jealous. She considered Lord Mortney her own property, and told everyone that dear Timothy wanted her to marry him and accompany him to India, where everyone knew that he was A Very Important and Coming Man.
Henry wondered whether Mortney had told Frances that he’d proposed to her, but no, he couldn’t be that stupid, surely — after she’d made him promise not to say a word. Unfortunately Mortney wasn’t clever. Perhaps he had been stupid enough to mention Henry to Frances?
Susan nodded. “Of course, if you wish it. I think it best, after I learned… My dear, Frances’s mother Amelia – do you think she could possibly be —” Color rose in Susan’s face, and she put her hands up to face. “Oh dear, what am I thinking — I can’t say such a thing to you…”
“You’re quite right. Amelia Lovett is Sir William’s mistress.”
Susan dropped her hands and stared wide-eyed at Henry. “Oh no,” she gasped. “Catherine will be furious. Henry, did you know of this before we came?”
“No. And I don’t know it now, and neither do you. Most improper to know something like that…” Henry grinned. She wasn’t missish, and was aware that mistresses existed, but would deny to the death that she did. “I don’t care about that, but I don’t wish to stay. Frances’s brother has taken to following me about. It’s most irritating.”
Henry’s story is the fifth novel about the Eardley women
Did you miss the earlier books in the Eardleys of Gostwicke Hall?
Catch up with the Eardley women in the earlier novels:
• The Lady And The Rake: A Scandalous Arrangement (Melly’s story)
• The Lady And The Duke: A Dangerous Season (Elaine’s story)
• The Lady And The Man Of Fortune: A Wicked Secret (Anne’s story)
• The Lady And The Military Man: Conquer My Heart (Lady Jane’s story)
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