Bethany has a guilty secret that if discovered, will scandalize Polite Society and her new love, the Earl of Ingraham. What would Jane Austen do?
After Bethany's elderly aunt dies, she is left without a home. When a distant relation, the Earl of Ingraham, offers her a London Season, it would seem to be the answer to her dilemma.
But Bethany has no interest in attracting an eligible suitor. She has other plans for her future. Her dream is to support herself by writing a novel, following in the footsteps of her favorite author.
However, literary ladies are frowned upon, not only by Society but by the Earl, who is smitten with Bethany's beauty and character.
Fretting about her guilty secret, she agrees to further intrigue by acting as secretary to one of the royal dukes.
Will Bethany give up her chance for true love to continue her writing career? Or, will the Earl find a way to solve this noble dilemma?
David’s wish had been granted. The next dance would, indeed, be a waltz.
The vigorous music began to float throughout the ballroom. He set his hand on Miss Branford’s slender waist. He felt her tremble, like a fearful fawn might, newly taken from her mother’s side.
He smiled to reassure her, then took her hand. With a rush, he twirled her about in time with the music. Warm air sailed past them fueling their movements.
It was wonderful. Magical. As they danced, the delicate flush on her cheeks deepened. She cast her gaze everywhere but up at him.
Holding her as closely as the constraints of polite society would permit, he murmured into the shell of her ear. “I have been remiss in my attentions to you, my dear Miss Branford.”
She started to protest, but he stopped her.
“No, it is true, I have been negligent. As your guardian, tonight’s first dance should have been mine.” He inhaled her sweet fragrance of jasmine. “Is it any wonder I intend to challenge Penning to a duel?”
“No!” She pulled away, her face a study in conflicting emotions.
Surprise, shock, indignation--all these and more flitted across her lovely features.
David couldn’t help but laugh. “Peace, my dear Miss Branford. I jest.”
She resisted his resolve to bring her back into the folds of an intimate embrace.
A few seconds passed without her speaking. Finally, she scolded, “That was unkind of you, sir.”
“Perhaps.” He tightened his hold. “However you must admit the sight of Penning and me battling it out would surely prove to be a nine days wonder.”
“I admit nothing of the sort, my lord.” She turned her pert nose up at him. “Indeed, I believe you were correct in your first statement. You are remiss.”
She wasn’t averse to ringing a peal over his head, that much was certain. He found her righteous attitude to be delightful in the extreme.
He grinned. “Mea culpa, my dear. I shall endeavor to mend my errant ways and resume my guardian demeanor, eh?”
He executed a turn rather sharply, duplicating a movement he had espied Penning indulging himself in. The effect on his partner was the same: Bethany bumped into his chest.
That brief melding of her bosom to his stoked a fire burning wildly in his heart. He wet his lips, tapped down his desire, then apologized.
The blush on her cheeks changed to crimson. She apologized as well.
She gazed up at him earnestly, her yellowish brown eyes deepening to pure gold. “I realize I am foolish, and perhaps I am even badly mistaken in this case. But I do sometimes worry about inappropriate situations.”
“To be truthful and honorable are virtues to be commended, my dear. May I say how pleased I am that you have joined the Greyle household here in London.”
His words were meant to praise, not to cause consternation. But oddly enough, Bethany did indeed look alarmed.
When the waltz ended and they made their bow and curtsy, she gave a wan smile, then professed a desire to return to his mother’s side.
As David escorted Bethany back to the countess, he puzzled on the enigma that was his new protégé. Just what the devil had distressed her?