‘I cannot wait to see who will be there,’ Lady Cassandra Drummond said excitedly as the carriage trundled over the rough snow-covered road, rocking the group of ladies from side to side with the movement.
‘Mrs Phillips does throw the most eloquent parties,’ Lady Rachel Drummond, Cassandra’s mother, replied with a broad and knowing smile.
‘It is only that she likes to know all the latest gossip.’ Cassandra grinned.
Lady Rebecca Brewen lifted her head from reading the book on her lap. Looking towards Cassandra, her best friend and closest companion, Rebecca only smiled. Cassandra was lively and far more outgoing than Rebecca, who much preferred her solitude and reading. Along with Cassandra’s energetic spirit, however, was a kind and open heart, even if she did like to cross the line on occasion.
Where Mrs Phillips was concerned, though, Cassandra was not wrong. An older woman of middle age, Mrs Phillips was a widow. Her husband had passed about ten years ago, leaving her with his vast wealth and many properties. Before his death, Mr and Mrs Phillips, while not nobles, had a great many connections in the upper classes. Since her husband’s death, Mrs Phillips had been careful not only to retain such connections but to garner many more. Her parties were renowned in Lincolnshire, where both Rebecca and Cassandra’s families lived, and if one was fortunate enough to receive an invitation, it was prudent not to refuse it.
Rebecca’s mother, Eleanor Brewen, Baroness Brownlow, nodded in agreement. ‘You are indeed right, Cassandra. I have found, over the years, that if there are things you do not desire to be known, you do not let them slip to Mrs Phillips.’ Eleanor smiled kindly.
‘Though it is always nice to hear the news from London,’ Rachel added, feeling she ought to contribute something to the conversation.
Cassandra shivered. ‘Well, I only wish we could hurry up and arrive. It is so bitterly cold this evening.’ She pulled her fur shrug tightly around her shoulders as though such a small item would make much difference.
Rebecca shivered herself, as did the mothers. It was dreadfully cold, but then, it was creeping into December, and this winter appeared more bitter than the several before it. Rebecca quite liked the winter season. It meant long, dark evenings before a warm fire, reading a book, and enjoying her own company. There were balls to attend, but nowhere near as many as the summer, and certainly nothing as demanding as when the Season began.
‘At least there will be dancing to warm us when we arrive,’ Rebecca replied.
‘Oh, yes.’ Cassandra beamed. ‘I am certain there will be many eager gentlemen lining up to spin me on the dance floor.’
Her tone was tainted with light sarcasm, which made them all laugh, but Rebecca did not think Cassandra was that wrong. She was a very pretty young lady and with her outgoing character, often entertained anyone who listened to her. Her soft curls were not quite black but not far off, complementing her beautiful pale skin and chocolate- brown eyes. Rebecca, on the other hand, could not be more opposite. As a quiet and shy lady, her blonde hair framed her flawless skin and highlighted the blue of her eyes. In fact, the only similarity the two friends shared, in appearance at any rate, was their slender figures and petiteness.
‘You will make certain to put that book away, Rebecca, or you will enjoy no dances at all,’ Cassandra quipped, throwing Rebecca a knowing smile.
‘You know I will.’
It was rare to see her without a book in her hand, even at such events as these. Rebecca’s friends and family were well used to seeing her engrossed in the latest novel that had caught her interest, though when she arrived at the ball, as at other times, she would make certain to put it away out of respect for others in attendance as well as their host.
‘I cannot wait to see who will attend,’ Cassandra continued in a lively fashion. ‘Let us hope we will come across some new faces. It must be said that Lincoln’s prospects are few and far between.’
‘Oh, I do not know,’ Rachel replied to her daughter. ‘I rather thought Lord Anderson had his sights set upon you, my dear.’ There was a twinkle in Rachel’s eye, and Rebecca knew well why.
‘Lord Anderson is nearly old enough to be my father, Mother!’ Cassandra blurted. Rachel’s smile only widened at her daughter’s reaction. ‘And do not get me started on that paunch tummy of his. It nearly enters the room before he does.’
This statement sent all the ladies into fits of laughter, a talent Cassandra was well known for. Her wit and humour could always lighten any situation, no matter how dire.
‘Indeed, his wealth is well known,’ Cassandra continued, ‘but frankly, if I had a choice between him and the workhouse, I must admit, the latter sounds far more appealing.’
She was joking, of course, and they all knew it. No one in their right mind would want to end up in the workhouse, yet she did make her point.
‘I will keep that in mind when looking at future prospects for you,’ Rachel replied. ‘Like Rebecca, you are now two and twenty. It may well be the workhouse for you if you are too fussy.’ Rachel winked at Cassandra teasingly.
It was clear from where Cassandra had inherited her wit and humour. Mother and daughter had a close relationship, probably because they only really had each other. Her father had died while Rachel was pregnant. Cassandra had never met or known her father. While he had left the family financially stable, and Rachel’s own parents had supported their daughter in her loss, once Cassandra had been born, she had not really known anything other than her mother.
‘Well—’ Eleanor began, but suddenly stopped as the carriage jolted to a halt.
For a dazed moment, the women all looked at each other, wondering what on earth was happening. After the initial shock, Cassandra jumped up and hurried to the carriage door, sliding down the window to discover the cause of their sudden stationary situation. Leaning out, she called to the driver, ‘Jackson. Why are we stopped?’
‘The snow, My Lady,’ his distant reply came back. ‘The wheels are stuck, and I can’t get the horses to pull us out of it.’
‘Oh, my goodness,’ Eleanor cried. ‘Jackson does not even have any help this evening.’
The carriage belonged to Rebecca’s father. With the heavy snowfall, other servants, what was left of them, had been sent on other duties. Rebecca had no idea what they were; those things hardly concerned her. But Jackson had assured the baron that he would be fine taking the ladies by himself. Clearly, the driver had not comprehended the severity of the weather.
‘We will come and help,’ Cassandra said, opening the door and jumping down before anyone else could stop her.
‘Cassandra!’ Rachel cried. ‘You will tear your good dress. Do not even attempt to try and help.’
Rebecca tucked her book into her pocket and went to the door. Taking Cassandra’s hand, she jumped down beside her friend. Turning to the driver, Rebecca said, ‘Is there nothing we can do, Jackson?’
‘Well, I suppose it might make it easier if the carriage were empty, My Lady. But it’s bitterly cold out here.’
Rebecca turned back to the mothers. ‘We must all get out. Jackson said it might be easier if the carriage is empty.’
Neither Rachel nor Eleanor looked particularly pleased at having to move from the already cold carriage, but it was either that or they might be stranded there until help arrived. Cassandra and Rachel helped their mothers down, and Jackson jumped back into the driver’s seat. Flicking the reins, he called to the horses. Though they strained to pull the carriage forward, it moved but an inch. Their predicament was not good – the wheels were completely stuck.
‘Oh, whatever will we do?’ Eleanor lamented.
‘We must all get back inside,’ Rebecca said sensibly. ‘Jackson,’ she turned toward the driver who had now jumped down from his elevated seat at the front, ‘you must unhitch one of the horses and fetch some help.’
‘Yes, My Lady.’ The older man nodded. ‘I will travel as quickly as I can. Let me help you all back inside the carriage first.’
Jackson began edging towards them, slipping slightly in the thick snow when, looking up and past them, he abruptly stopped. Lifting his head a little more, he screwed up his eyes. Everyone turned to see what he was looking at, and sure enough, a faint light from a carriage lantern appeared to be approaching.
‘Oh, what luck,’ Jackson blurted.
When the carriage eventually reached them, the driver swiftly jumped down and approached the group. By now, all the women were shivering with the cold.
‘Are you in trouble?’ the driver asked Jackson.
‘Indeed, we are. The wheels are stuck, and I cannot move them.’
‘What seems to be the trouble, Carter?’ An approaching voice came from behind the newly arrived driver.
Carter turned toward two men who had evidently climbed down from the carriage.
‘They’re stuck, My Lord,’ Carter replied.
‘Then let us get them unstuck,’ the man replied determinedly.
Extremely well dressed, he was tall with dark hair, but by the dim light of the carriages, Rebecca could see little else, only that he did appear handsome. The man beside him was equally as well turned out, but a little shorter and not as broad at the shoulders as his companion.
Without hesitation, the four men got to work on trying to shift the carriage. Jackson went to the front and called to the horses while at the same time pulling at the carriage. Carter had retrieved some levering tool from their carriage. He pushed it deeply beneath one of the carriage wheels before he and the two other men pushed the carriage from behind.
With a lot of huffing and straining, the wheels slowly began to move. Cassandra stood with her arms linked to Rebecca’s, both close together to keep warm. When the wheels began moving, Cassandra cried out. ‘Oh, good show. It is working. It is working.’
Rachel and Eleanor huddled together, their breath misting with each exhalation. Jackson had retrieved blankets from the carriage, and while they were hardly the height of fashion, Rachel and Eleanor wrapped them around their shoulders. They were more concerned about keeping warm than how they might appear.
The men continued to work, their breath misting far more thickly than the ladies with all their effort. They grunted, calling out instructions to each other. ‘Come on, men, push,’ the taller man cried. At each effort, the wheels moved a little further through the thick snow until, after gargantuan exertion, the wheels finally released, and the horses pulled the carriage with ease a little further ahead.
‘Oh, bravo,’ Eleanor cried out. ‘What wonderful efforts. We are entirely indebted to you.’
The tall man strode over to them and bowed his head respectfully. ‘It was the least we could do, My Lady,’ he said presumptuously. ‘We could hardly leave you out here in this wicked weather. My name is Vincent Asgill, Earl of Harrington. This,’ he gestured to his companion, ‘is my cousin. Lord Gregory Asgill.’
‘It is a pleasure,’ Eleanor replied. ‘This is Lady Drummond and her daughter, Lady Cassandra,’ Eleanor said, gesturing towards them. ‘I am Lady Brewen, Baroness Brownlow, and beside Lady Cassandra is my own daughter, Lady Rebecca.’
‘A pleasure,’ the earl said.
He had looked at each person as they had been introduced, but his eyes appeared to linger as he gazed at Rebecca. In fact, as she returned his gaze, she could not help noticing the strangest sensations in her tummy. It was the most unusual experience, and Rebecca felt a little confused by it, for she had never felt such a sensation before.
It is only because he has rescued you that you are feeling this way.
‘Hopefully, you can now proceed to where you were going, My Ladies.’ The Earl of Harrington smiled warmly before continuing, ‘Perhaps it is not too far, and you can all warm yourselves when you arrive.’
‘We are actually attending Mrs Phillips’ ball,’ Cassandra offered energetically. ‘And yes, she does have several rather large fireplaces, which will be gratefully received, for I can no longer feel my toes.’
The earl smiled and lifted his eyebrows slightly. ‘How fortuitous. That is the very place we are going.’
‘Oh, what a wonderful coincidence,’ Rachel declared. ‘We must all meet up again when we arrive.’
‘Indeed, we must,’ Gregory Asgill agreed. ‘I would imagine after a stiff sherry and a warm by the fire.’
They all chuckled before eventually saying their farewells. Rebecca found her gaze lingering upon Vincent Asgill as the men returned to their carriage but soon turned away and followed the others. One by one, they climbed into their own carriage. It was a little warmer, but not by much.
Once she had settled herself and the carriage began to move, Rebecca thought about Vincent Asgill. It was bizarre, for she hardly considered the opposite sex overly much, yet the Earl of Harrington seemed to have made an impact on her. She was not the only one rather taken by them, for as they continued their journey, Rachel could not seem to praise them enough.
‘I can hardly believe the good fortune of those gallant and kind gentlemen arriving just at the right moment.’
‘I agree,’ Eleanor replied. ‘I do believe we would have been stranded for hours had they not arrived when they did. We are certainly in their debt.’
‘One has to wonder if they are single,’ Rachel said with a knowing smile.
‘Mother.’ Cassandra rolled her eyes.
‘Well,’ Rachel shrugged, ‘either gentleman would make a fine husband for any lady. Brave, strong, helpful, and respectful. And they were not too shabby in appearance either.’
Rebecca expected Eleanor to agree and add to the conversation, and yet, as she waited, she could not help feeling a little surprised at her mother’s silence. Normally, her mother would readily agree on such a subject. Her lack of input made Rebecca wonder, for it struck her as rather odd.
The party was in full swing when Vincent and Gregory arrived. As usual, Mrs Phillips had spared no expense. Her palatial home was always decorated to the highest and most fashionable standard, but this evening, there were ferns and seasonal ribbons draped and hung about in every room. Guests bustled together with many simultaneous conversations, an occasional burst of laughter heard over everything else.
Vincent followed Gregory into the great ballroom, for as agreed in the carriage on their way there, the first port of call was a warming beverage after the bitter cold of rescuing those poor ladies.
‘Ah, Vincent,’ a voice called out, halting them in their tracks.
The men turned towards the sound, and upon seeing Lord Makin, Vincent smiled. ‘Harry. How wonderful to see you. It has been some time.’
‘Yes, well. One has only returned from France. The wine business is flourishing, I can tell you.’
Vincent felt slightly jealous at those words but did not react outwardly. He only wished he could report the same to his boarding school companion. Lord Harry Makin was a good man who had worked hard for his spoils. They were justly deserved. He was short and slender, and while his looks were hardly what one might call dashing, he more than made up for it with his kindness and charm.
‘You have met my cousin, Gregory, have you not?’ Vincent gestured towards Gregory, who stood beside him.
‘I do believe I have, but it was some years ago, Gregory. Is that not correct?’
‘Indeed,’ Gregory replied amicably. ‘We were in London if I recall.’
‘That is right. My goodness. Where does the time go?’ Harry said whimsically. ‘One moment, we are young boys, and the next, we are grown men with heavy responsibilities to bear. Do tell me how things are, Vincent. I was sorry to hear about your father. I am also sorry I was unable to make it to the funeral. I was still out of the country, you see.’
‘Please, Harry. Do not worry yourself. I know you would have been there if you could. Life does not always accommodate our needs.’
‘I do know that,’ Harry replied with a melancholy tone. ‘Yet, I still feel as though I need to apologise.’
‘I received your missive,’ Vincent said, trying to placate his friend, ‘and I was grateful for your kind words. But it has been several months, and life must go on.’
‘How is your mother, the Dowager Countess?’ Harry asked, clearly not entirely feeling as though he deserved such appeasement. ‘Is she here this evening? I would like to offer my condolences to her personally.’
‘She did not really feel up to it this evening.’ Vincent shrugged. ‘Mrs Phillips’ events are always so large. Mother did not feel she could cope with facing so many people soon after losing Father.’
‘That is understandable. Well, I will be certain to call in and see her now that I am returned to England, Vincent. I promise you that.’
A little later, Vincent and Gregory finally found the refreshments they so sorely desired, and now alone, Gregory nudged Vincent’s elbow. ‘Look, there is Lady Eugenia Bland,’ Gregory said in a hushed tone. ‘Are you going to go and speak to her?’
Lady Eugenia Bland was the daughter of an extremely wealthy lord in London. While she was a beautiful woman, with her petite appearance and dark hair, Vincent had concluded, over their last few meetings, that neither of them had much in common. Yet, her looks or interests had not been why he had sought her out in the first place. It pained him to admit it to himself, but the match was only for her wealth.
‘Am I such a dreadful person, Gregory, to at times despise my father?’
Gregory knew Vincent’s financial situation well, for though they were cousins, Gregory was also his best friend and confidant. When Vincent had inherited the earldom at his father’s death, he could not have known that he was also inheriting nothing more than a legacy of debts. His father had squandered any money the family had and had hidden his circumstances behind the reputation of a good name and his title.
It was, in fact, one of the main reasons Vincent’s mother, Heather Asgill, had declined the invitation to that very evening’s events. Like Vincent, she discovered her husband’s incompetence and poor management only after his death. The man had not even the courage nor decency to share their dire circumstances with his wife, even when he lay on his death bed.
‘Uncle John has left you in a precarious position, Vincent. But you are already making pathways to rectify it. To answer your question, though, no, I do not blame you. Yet, I have said it before, and I will say it again. You cannot live your life for your late father or Aunt Heather, for that matter. Marriage is no small thing.’
‘Believe me, Gregory. If there were another way, I would certainly choose it,’ Vincent said with a heavy sigh. ‘I suppose I ought to make my way over and speak to Lady Eugenia, but perhaps I will leave it until later in the evening.’
‘Oh, wait,’ Gregory said, his tone suddenly sounding far livelier. ‘Are those not the ladies we rescued earlier?’
Vincent followed Gregory’s gaze, and true enough, the four ladies stood across the room, chatting with several other guests. While the group stood close together, Vincent’s concentration was aimed at only one person in particular. As exciting and unexpected as the rescue had been, he had experienced an unusual feeling in his gut at being introduced to Lady Rebecca. He could hardly put his finger on what it was, but something about her had held his attention.
‘We ought to go and say hello,’ Gregory said eagerly. ‘We did promise we would meet up with them again when we arrived. Besides, I do find Lady Cassandra rather appealing.’
Vincent could have replied that he felt the same about Lady Rebecca, but he refrained. Perhaps it had more to do with the fact that he did not have Gregory’s freedom in choosing a wife, or maybe he did not trust Gregory not to let it slip. Vivacious and outgoing, Gregory was far more lively than Vincent and quite the chatterbox.
‘Then let us go and greet them,’ Vincent replied eventually. ‘But, Gregory. Please be respectful.’
‘I always am,’ Gregory quipped back. Vincent could not help chuckling a little at the glint of mischief in his cousin’s eyes.
‘Good evening to you all,’ Gregory announced once they neared the group.
‘Oh, it is our rescuers.’ Lady Cassandra beamed with delight. ‘How wonderful to see you again, My Lords,’ she said brightly.
‘We are eternally grateful for your assistance, My Lords,’ Lady Drummond added.
‘Please, My Lady,’ Vincent said, raising an objecting hand. ‘You do not need to continue saying such things. We did what any other decent person would have done. We are only glad that you arrived safely.’
The surrounding guests appeared to look a little confused, something quickly noticed by Lady Cassandra. With little hesitation, she began regaling the group with what had occurred on their journey.
‘Oh, but it was quite dreadful. We were already freezing as it was so pitifully cold inside the carriage when, without any warning whatsoever, the carriage suddenly came to a halt, and we found ourselves stuck.’ Lady Cassandra spoke eagerly and with great enthusiasm.
‘The snow was very thick on the ground,’ Gregory added by way of an explanation. Not that anyone really needed it, for most had travelled to Mrs Phillips’ ball in the same manner and were well aware of the dreadful conditions outside.’
‘Yes, yes,’ Lady Cassandra said with a nod, but now looking directly at Gregory. ‘That is right. The wheels would simply not move, and our poor driver was about to mount a horse and seek help when these wonderful lords,’ she gestured to Gregory and Vincent, ‘came to our rescue.’
‘Well, they were actually in our path,’ Gregory quipped, a mischievous smile dancing on his lips. ‘We had to help them, or we would never have made it here ourselves.’
This comment elicited a chuckle from those eagerly listening to the story. Vincent shook his head but smiled along with the others.
‘We had to stand outside in the freezing cold so there was less weight in the carriage,’ Lady Cassandra continued. ‘Even now, I still do not have full feeling in my toes.’
‘Our driver managed to retrieve a lever from our carriage,’ Gregory continued, ‘and with a great amount of effort—’
‘A huge effort, in fact,’ Lady Cassandra interjected.
‘Well, yes,’ Gregory nodded, ‘it did take some strength, but eventually, we did manage to budge it, just a little at first.’
‘Yes, but you did manage to free us in the end,’ Lady Cassandra replied.
‘Of course,’ Gregory said, ‘or we would not be here to tell the tale.’
Once more, Gregory and Lady Cassandra looked at each other and laughed, joining the small titters from those still entirely absorbed in the tale. Clearly, Gregory loved the admiration and attention, and much like Lady Cassandra, appeared to bask in it. On the other hand, Lady Rebecca remained silent, smiling and giggling along with everyone else but allowing her friend to tell the story.
Vincent, now standing beside Lady Rebecca, bent his head a little and spoke quietly to her. ‘It would appear our two companions are cut from the same cloth.’
Lady Rebecca looked up at him with a soft smile. In the dim light earlier, Vincent had not really managed to see her very clearly. Now, however, as a soft light danced in her eyes, her beauty was rather captivating.
‘Yes, I think I would agree,’ she replied shyly.
Only then, as he was looking down at her, did he notice a book in her hand. It looked quite familiar, and certain he had read it, he enquired of its title. ‘Is that Tristram Shandy by Laurance Sterne?’
This question appeared to both surprise and delight Lady Rebecca. She looked even more beautiful as her face danced with joy at his question, and at that moment, Vincent felt that same deep sensation in his gut that had arisen earlier.
‘Yes, yes, it is. Have you read it?’ she asked, her shyness overtaken a little with excitement.
‘Indeed, I have. I find Sterne’s rather larger-than-life characters quite entertaining.’
‘As do I,’ Lady Rebecca agreed. ‘Though I do find the narrator seems to jump from one subject to the other. Sometimes, it is hard to keep up.’
Vincent nodded sincerely. ‘I do know exactly what you mean. He tries to relay the journey from youth to adulthood, but I did find that he did not really go beyond his own conceptions.’
‘Oh, yes,’ she cried, her face displaying the same realisation. ‘That is so true.’
‘That being said,’ Vincent continued, ‘I still enjoyed the book. Are you far into it?’
‘I am actually nearly finished and will be looking for my next novel to read soon. I do like to read, you see.’
‘As do I,’ Vincent replied.
Their conversation was now quite separate, and while Gregory and Lady Cassandra continued regaling the group of the harrowing rescue, Vincent could not be more pleased that he and Lady Rebecca were having a moment that involved only themselves. She was giving him an insight into herself and already, they had more in common than he and Lady Eugenia.
‘Tell me. What have you read recently? What are your favourite novels?’ Vincent continued, eager to know if their commonality went further than just enjoying reading.
‘Well, I finished Gulliver’s Travels last month. Quite the bizarre novel, and yet, I felt the author quite a genius in its execution.’
Vincent smiled. ‘Oh, yes. Swift does have the ability to make a rather fine mockery of our political governance. I especially enjoy his description of the overly large, pointy shoes,’ Vincent said knowingly.
Lady Rebecca smiled and nodded, clearly understanding his meaning and seemingly agreeing with him.
The conversation continued for a little longer until Gregory eventually appeared to run out of steam, and Vincent was forced to join the group conversation again. Before they departed to go and speak to other guests, he turned to Lady Rebecca.
‘You must let me know what you are reading on the next occasion that we meet.’
‘Oh, well,’ Lady Rebecca said, looking a little disheartened. ‘There is one novel I have my heart set upon, but I cannot seem to find it anywhere.’
‘What is the title?’ Vincent queried.
‘I am not certain you will have heard of it, My Lord. It is a Gothic novel. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe.’
‘Vincent,’ Gregory interrupted him. ‘Harry desires to speak to you again.’
‘Will you excuse me, Lady Rebecca,’ Vincent replied, feeling a little more than frustrated at Gregory’s bad timing.
‘Of course,’ she said, a soft smile on her lips.
Moving across the ballroom, and after a suitable distance lay between themselves and the group of ladies, Vincent glared at Gregory. ‘What was that all about?’
Gregory shrugged. ‘I thought you might need rescuing, that is all.’
‘Rescuing?’ Vincent blurted. ‘From Lady Rebecca? Are you quite mad?’
An expression of realisation lit up Gregory’s face. ‘Oh, my,’ he said, grinning, ‘I see I am not the only one.’
Vincent frowned and shook his head. ‘The only one what?’ he demanded.
‘Who is smitten, of course,’ Gregory said in a tone of knowing. ‘This works out quite wonderfully, in fact, for while you have your eye on Lady Rebecca, I cannot deny a fondness for her close companion, Lady Cassandra.’
Vincent opened his mouth to deny Gregory’s deduction but swiftly closed it again. There were only two years between them, Vincent being the oldest at five and twenty, but Gregory was no fool. In fact, he knew Vincent nearly as well as he knew himself. The truth of the matter was obvious. He was rather smitten by Lady Rebecca. In fact, he could not remember meeting anyone quite like her.
Many ladies had shown an interest in him, but whereas their interests lay in the latest fashion and gossip, Vincent was always seeking out new books, studies, and ways to increase his intelligence. Indeed, he was aware that he was known as a kind and charismatic gentleman who could more than hold his own in a conversation. He was sociable when he needed to be so. And yet, not unlike Lady Rebecca, he also enjoyed his solitude and was intent on furthering his knowledge.
‘Well,’ Vincent replied, reeling in his annoyance, ‘it does appear that you and Lady Cassandra are made for each other. The way the two of you were speaking earlier, anyone would have thought you had known each other for years.’
‘Yes, yes, I did feel exactly the same,’ Gregory rushed on excitedly. ‘I do believe I could talk to her for hours and neither of us would ever run out of things to say.’
Vincent raised an eyebrow, the side of his mouth turning upwards in a slight smirk. ‘You hardly need Lady Cassandra for that,’ he quipped.
Gregory chuckled good-naturedly. ‘Well, you ought to know me by now, dear cousin,’ he teased. ‘Now, were you not meant to go and speak to Lady Eugenia?’
Vincent now raised both eyebrows, and Gregory beamed a smile. ‘Or perhaps,’ Gregory continued, ‘you have found another prospect for your attention.’
‘Meeting Lady Rebecca does not take away the responsibility I have to my family, Gregory,’ Vincent replied, now in a far more serious tone. ‘But I do believe I will leave speaking to Lady Eugenia for another day.’
As the evening drew to a close, Vincent sought out Lady Rebecca, for he desired to tell her something of importance.
‘Oh, My Lord. I had thought you and Lord Asgill had left already,’ Lady Rebecca said after he had approached her once more.
‘We are just about to make our departure, Lady Rebecca. However, I could not leave without telling you that I do, in fact, have that very book that you seek. Perhaps, I could lend it to you.’
While she looked delighted at the news, the shyness appeared once more, and though she had made mention of her great desire to read the book earlier, she now looked more than a little coy.
‘Oh, I would not desire to put you out, Lord Asgill.’
‘You are doing no such thing. It would be my pleasure to lend it to you. In fact, perhaps if I find myself in the area of your residence in the near future, I could bring it to you.’
In Vincent’s mind, the near future meant tomorrow, for he would certainly ensure he would be nearby her home. In conversation with Gregory earlier, he had discovered where Lady Rebecca was situated, though Vincent had no idea how Gregory had found out such information. Vincent suspected it had occurred when he had been in rapid conversation with Lady Cassandra.
‘I would like that very much, My Lord,’ Lady Rebecca replied softly. ‘Thank you for your kindness.’
‘You are welcome. For now, I will bid you farewell, Lady Rebecca.’ Vincent bowed to her before turning on his heels and heading towards the entrance of Mrs Phillips’ large home. It was only as he took a step out into the freezing cold air that he thought about Lady Eugenia. Gregory had not been wrong. Vincent had found another prospect for his attention. The entire evening, after speaking with Lady Rebecca, Lady Eugenia had not entered his thoughts at all.
“A Valentine Romance for the Earl” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Lady Rebecca Brewen has been content with a simple life, shying away from the gentry, finding solace in the magical world of books. However, when her father loses a lot of the family’s wealth, Rebecca’s marriage prospects become nothing more than a business transaction. That is exactly when the unexpected happens; Rebecca meets the handsome Earl of Harrington, and falls deeply in love with him.
What will happen though when Rebecca’s father makes an arrangement for her and a coldhearted Duke? Could a miracle save her romance with her loving Earl?
Vincent Asgill has only recently inherited the title of the Earl, along with his father’s debts. Even though he finds himself irreversibly mesmerised by Rebecca, his mother pushes him to wed a lady with a far more impressive financial standing. Will Vincent be brave enough to defy his overbearing mother and save this newfound love?
A brokenhearted lady and an Earl wishing he could spend eternity with her…
Disaster strikes when Rebecca and Vincent’s feelings are discovered, and Rebecca’s enraged father decides to send her away until her wedding with the Duke. With their hearts deeply aligned and the pain of parting too much to bear, will Rebecca and Vincent find a way to be together? Or will they have to sacrifice their tender love by surrendering to their parents’ crushing demands?
“A Valentine Romance for the Earl” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.