Arabella’s Assistant by @judylynnichkha1 is a Snuggle Up Event pick #historicalromance #giveaway
Title: Arabella’s Assistant
Author: Judy Lynn Ichkhanian
Genre: Historical Romance
Lady Arabella Warwick possesses a passion for cuneiform, a wish to never marry, and an empty reticule. Unfortunately, she also has an ailing mother who needs expensive care. In Victorian England, there is only one way for a lady to raise much needed funds: marriage.
Gabriel, Baron Brynley, knows his nefarious cousin, the Viscount Justin Manning, would never court an impoverished bluestocking like Lady Arabella, no matter how lovely. She must figure into the lawsuit Gabriel has brought to claim his relative's titles. But how? He's determined to find out.
Soon Arabella and Gabriel bond over an obsession with the Epic of Gilgamesh. As their attraction to each other grows, so does the danger from those who oppose them. With so much at stake, do they dare risk love?
“No,” he denied. “It is not possible that you are still considering that pod snapper. You do not even like the dolt.”
Deliberately, he closed his mouth; his lips stretched into thin, tight lines. When he spoke again, he had regained some control. “You made love with me earlier this evening like a woman possessed. You admitted to holding strong feelings for me. What more do you require?”
“My mother will never accept you, Gabriel. Trust me when I say she is unshakable in her stance. A union between us will only exacerbate her illness. I cannot risk her health, not even for my happiness, assuming I could be happy with you, which is no longer clear.”
“You sound uncertain of what should be an unassailable fact.” Suddenly, he was filled with outrage. How could she doubt they were created for each other? Who else on the entire earth could appreciate her passions for Assyriology as he did, and who else was strong enough and rich enough to take care of all the plaguey nuisances of her life so she could pursue that passion? It was almost too much to bear.
She squirmed, and he feared she meant to rise and leave. Ruthlessly, he tamped down upon his ire and breathed deeply through his nose, forcing a calm he was far from feeling. “I shall have to prove your happiness to you in the only way available to me, Arabella. With time. In any event, the matter cannot be adequately addressed now.”
She swiveled her head away again, and took a voluble, quavering breath.
“What may be determined is a way out of your predicament,” he said, standing up slowly and striding over to the desk as he sought for some inkling of how to handle this unexpected development. He flipped through the ledger, his eyes unseeing. Finally, he rotated back to her. “We shall have to cushion the news of our engagement, perhaps tell her only once she has benefitted from the air abroad.”
Gilded pansy eyes widened in question. “How could I—we manage that?”
“Quite easily. I shall give you the money to send her to Nice. No,” he added, when she reared back, “I mean no disrespect. I understand your hesitation, but I have a plan.”
“I cannot accept money from you,” she retorted immediately, “not if I wish to remain a lady. Surely, you are aware of that?”
He leaned against the desk. “You can if I give it to you by purchasing your copy of the Epic.” He held up his hand to forestall her interruption. “I appreciate you would gift it to me, but I cannot allow myself to accept something of such value. A sale serves both our purposes. Shall we say, two thousand pounds?”
“Two thousand pounds!”
“Yes, I think the Epic is worth that. There’s a very limited supply, after all.” He paused and added gently, “You will be free of your obligation to marry anyone you don’t wish to. Including me.”
It took all his willpower to include those last words. He let them hang there, an anvil in the air poised just above his head. “You can live comfortably, albeit simply, for the rest of your days. You might even join your mother in the south of France if that is your desire.”
He could lose her. He watched her face carefully.
Still, there was no other viable course if she was determined to object to a public engagement to him now. Though her mouth opened as if she would protest, she closed it quickly enough. What he hadn’t expected, what made no sense at all, was the expression of sympathy that drew down her eyes at the corners.
“Thank you, my lord. I accept your generous offer.”
There was something about her smile. He frowned and tried to puzzle it out. “You must know I hold every expectation this arrangement proves to be nothing but a ruse,” he blurted, despite his best intentions. “I am hopeful in a few months you will choose to marry me. That is,” he added, trying to feel his way, to assess what she was thinking in that fabulously complex brain of hers, “it is my hope, but not a requirement of the transaction. The choice will be yours, I promise you.”
She nodded, her smile still quivering in place.
“Tell me what you are thinking,” he demanded.
“I think,” she said softly, “you are a wonderful man, heroic and strong. Any woman would be lucky to have your regard. I fully appreciate the honor you do me, Gabriel. I will never forget it.” Her eyes sparkled. “Now, if you will excuse me? I should collect Lady de Veer. I've a bit of a headache, and I'd like to go home.”
Something was very, very wrong.
November is a time to be thankful. What are you most thankful for this year?
It’s funny how I used to take peace for granted, but with the world on fire, I find I am incredibly grateful I have been given the advantage of temporary physical security for my family.
Why is your featured book worth snuggling up to?
“Arabella’s Assistant” is a vacation to a distant world, one filled with grace and clearly written rules – which makes it so much fun when those requirements are broken. With broadly drawn villains it’s easy to hate, and a little bit of suspense to keep one on edge, it’s the perfect fireside read on a crisp, cold day.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon gift card.
You must have an active Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to be eligible. Open internationally.
Runs November 1 – 30
Drawing will be held on December 1.
Judy is a sort-of-retired litigation attorney, a current homemaker with a propensity to ignore any and all domestic chores, and the mother of an outrageously comedic young man and a fur-baby named Chocolate-the-Dog, so named because he thinks he’s a cat.
Judy has been writing since she first learned to read and has stories constantly going through her head. With a passionate interest in archaeology, most especially alternative archeology, she sill hopes to one day uncover the true history of the world.
As a graduate of Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Art History, when she ventures away from books, it is to find the nearest art museum or purveyor of High Tea.
She has lived in four states in France and she currently makes her home in North Carolina, which she loves, except for the bugs, snakes, and humidity.
Visit her at www.judylynnichkhanian.com for excerpts and information, tall tales and small ones.
Social Media Links:
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