Title: A Viscount’s Heart for Christmas
Author: Debra Elizabeth
Genre: Regency Romance
An innocent young beauty, a seasoned spy and a mystery in the north that rages out of control sending their worlds on a collision course no one could foresee. Charles Bainbridge, Viscount Edgerton, is the regional spymaster and has no time for a wife. His work for the Home Office is a top priority for him, that is, until he meets Lady Courtney Darkin, the sister of his best friend the Duke of Wetherby. The last time he saw her, she was running wild, her pigtails flying behind her at the duke’s country estate. She wasn’t a little girl anymore and Edgerton felt like a thunder bolt had struck him when he first laid eyes on her. But he wasn’t the only one with an eye on the young beauty. Lady Courtney Darkin is excited to come to London in preparation for her debut Season. There would be teas, musicals, dinners and balls—everything she’s been dreaming about for years. The first time she meets Lord Edgerton, however, her knees go weak. She’s smitten. No man had a right to be so beautiful—like a marble statue come to life. Can Courtney melt the tough exterior Lord Edgerton shows the world and open his heart to love?
Courtney hurried back down the hallway, wanting to take advantage of the few minutes she had alone with Lord Edgerton before Bethany brought in the tea tray. She smoothed her skirts and patted a stray curl back in place before entering the parlor. “A tea tray will be delivered momentarily, my lord.”
Edgerton was standing by the window with his back to her. She drank him in as the sun drenched him in light. He was tall and broad-shouldered, with muscular thighs that filled out his breeches and blond hair that was longer than was fashionable but fit him well. He was indeed the most handsome man she’d ever seen. Granted, she had met only a few gentlemen in the country, but none had stirred the fluttering in her belly that Lord Edgerton had when she first laid eyes on him.
When he turned and flashed a smile of perfect white teeth, her knees went momentarily weak. His gaze seemed to bore into her very soul, unveiling every secret wish and desire. Her body flushed, and she stood rooted in place.
“Lady Courtney, are you well?”
His deep voice brought her out of her trance. “Yes, thank you. Won’t you have a seat?”
Courtney sat on the sofa, and Edgerton took a chair opposite her. Her hands were trembling slightly, and she asked the first thing that came to mind. “Was traveling difficult today?”
Edgerton nodded. “It was treacherous. The horses barely kept their footing. Luckily, I don’t live far from here.”
“Oh dear. In that case, I fear my mother will not be able to return today.”
“If she went visiting by coach, she will probably not be able to travel for another day or two at the very least, unless the snow melts rapidly.”
“I see,” Courtney said, secretly happy that she would have more time to talk with Lord Edgerton without her mother’s interference.
With a light tap at the door, Bethany brought in the tea tray loaded with sandwiches and sweets. “Lady Courtney, where would you like the tray?”
“Here on this table will be fine,” Courtney said, pointing to the low table between them.
Bethany set the tray down and discreetly took a seat in the corner.
Courtney swallowed hard, trying to bring some much needed moisture back into her mouth before looking at Lord Edgerton. “How do you like your tea, my lord?”
“One lump of sugar, please.”
Courtney fixed the tea and piled sandwiches and sweets on his plate before handing it to him. Their fingers momentarily touched, and a delightful shiver raced up her arm. What was happening? She’d never felt so unsettled before, and it took a moment to fix her own tea. She took a sip, but quickly put the cup back on the saucer, hoping that Lord Edgerton hadn’t noticed how badly her hands were shaking.
As Edgerton accepted the tea, their hands brushed. A jolt of awareness flooded his senses. What was that about? It had never happened before upon meeting a young lady. He’d been in the company of many beautiful women before, but none had captivated his attention like the dark-haired beauty sitting opposite him. He’d known Wetherby had a sister but had no idea she’d grown into such a stunning young woman. He smiled as he accepted the tea. “Thank you.”
It was unusual for him to be drawn to an innocent, since his tastes usually ran to willing widows who knew how to please a man. There were no commitments or misunderstandings with widows—it was just mutual satisfaction. However, there was something about this blue-eyed beauty that held him captive, and he wanted to know more about her. Was he actually thinking about settling down?
With Wetherby’s sister?
He dismissed the thought. He had responsibilities to the Crown and no time for a wife. He determined to keep the conversation pleasant. “Are you enjoying London, Lady Courtney?”
A smile lit up her oval face. “Yes, very much, thank you. I will be forever grateful to my brother for allowing us to come to London early.”
“Is this your first time in Town then?”
Courtney shook her head. “No. I’ve been here before, but the last time wasn’t a very long visit, and we barely left the townhouse. My mother prefers living at our country estate and does not often come to Town.”
“I see. Do you prefer the country?”
“No. That is to say, I like it fair enough, although there’s no excitement there. I much prefer London and can’t wait to come out in the spring.”
“I assume all young ladies look forward to their Season.”
Before Edgerton had a chance to talk to Lady Courtney further, Wetherby entered the parlor.
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Debra writes sweet romance in contemporary romance and historical romance. She enjoys telling stories and has been pouring out her passion for romance since her teenage years. When she's not writing, she enjoys working in her garden, motorcycle rides throughout New England with her husband and playtime with her granddaughter.
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