Title: Haunting Miss Fenwick
Author: Alina K. Field
Genre: Regency Romance
Thrilled to finally have a permanent home, a Squire’s daughter won’t let a supernatural creature scare her away. While hunting the ghost she doesn’t believe in, she stumbles upon a mysterious flesh and blood man who might be the key to all of her problems.
When the new Squire moves into Fenwick Manor, an ex-army officer secretly searching the sprawling medieval wreck devises a plan. First, the manor’s legendary ghost will chase servants away. Then, he’ll convince the new residents to leave.
But the Squire’s spirited daughter soon has him wondering if he might have found a perfect comrade in arms to help battle old enemies and find the proof that will clear his family name.
Captain Frederick George Sanderford—Freddy to friends and family—vanished into the overgrown hedgerow.
Hell and damnation, he’d spent the last two days dodging the new residents of Fenwick Manor. The new squire’s surprise arrival had disrupted his plans just as he’d got a sense of the lay of the land.
And now, the woman was eying the door of the narrow shed propped at the back of the hill, atop which the manor house had perched for centuries. She commenced jiggling the latch, pushing, and yanking it.
A tall lass, she was, and no tender miss, yet the lock didn’t budge. It was sturdy. He’d just barely had time to make sure of it.
She paused, looked around, and paced back and forth through the ankle high brush fronting the wee structure. A ring of keys emerged from her pocket. One-by one, she poked each stick of metal into the lock. They didn’t work, as he knew they wouldn’t. That was one key she would be missing.
Her hands went to a tidy waist, accentuating shapely hips.
“Blast it.” A stout boot shot out, shaking the structure.
A laugh gurgled out of him, and she spun around. Dark hair sprang out from under her bonnet, and her eyes flashed a blue so true he could see it at twenty paces.
Hell. He caught his breath. He’d not had a proper glimpse of the squire’s daughter before. Her name was Tilly. That much he knew from hearing the old man bellowing for her and her calling back “What, Papa?”.
Tilly was lovely.
Caught out anyway, he stepped out of the brush, tugging off his hat and fumbling it with proper servility, like one of his family’s servants or a soldier serving under him. Footman or footslog, ’twas as good a disguise as any for a man seeking to avoid notice. And never mind the temptations she offered, catching too much of her notice might risk his plans.
“Beg pardon, miss,” he said.
She blinked, and her gaze darted around.
Ach, lass, you’ve just realized there’s no one to come should you need rescuing. The squire would be ensconced in his library, the new servants—well, if they were still there, they’d not hear her scream.
Above them, Fenwick Manor was all but deserted, and across the narrow path the meadow stretched, its stone-fences crumbling up against unkempt hedges that fronted the dense woods. The late Sir Richard Fenwick should have been shot for more than his murderous ways—it was a crime the way he’d neglected his land and his holdings. This woman was strong, but she’d be no match for the work.
She’d be no match for him, either, but he wasn’t a danger to her. He was, after all, a gentleman.
He stood quietly, waiting. The army had taught him that, sure enough. Even an officer had to grovel sometimes.
“Who are you?” she asked, forthrightly, “and what are you doing on Sir Newton’s land?”
Ah. Sir Newton was her papa’s name. A distant cousin to the late Sir Richard, Sir Newton was the lucky heir to the Fenwick estate, such a valuable piece of Yorkshire coast, so close to the smuggling runs, so spotted with caverns and hideaways.
“Passin’ through is all, miss.” He spread his hands wide. “Not poachin’, I swear.”
She blinked again, and that hard gaze softened. “Are you hungry?”
His chest tightened and something inside him stirred. He’d seen damnable hunger in the last many years, both during the wars and in the time since: men unable to work, unable to buy food for their families, and the penalty for poaching a mere rabbit or hare might be death.
The lass had a heart to match her bonny looks.
“Because, you see, I’m hiring men. Women as well, to work at the manor. Grooms, laborers, maids. Have you a wife, or…or a sister, or a daughter in Clampton?”
Clampton was the nearby village he’d been avoiding. “No, none of those. And I’m not needing to addle some brass.”
“Earn wages. I’m not in need of work, miss. Good day to you.”
He turned, plunged through the hedgerow and moved into the trees, stopping to catch his breath.
Miss Tilly was not what he’d expected.
And what had he expected? Years earlier, he’d had his turn with a lady, a jilt who’d decided waiting for a man in the King’s service was too much to ask. But he’d wager Miss Tilly was made of sterner stuff, or his name wasn’t Freddy Sanderford.
Sterner stuff, and curves that would fill a man’s hand nicely.
The thought stirred other parts of him, and he shook it off. He’d been too long without a woman, was all and…
Laughter burst from him. The squire’s daughter wanted to hire him, poor lass. The only work he’d be about was finding the proof needed to bring his brother back and bloody the culprits involved in his false arrest. It was a pity Sir Richard was already dead.
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If you could dress up as anything or anyone this Halloween, what or who would it be and why?
I’m very partial to Regency era fashion, and so, I would dress up as a Regency lady, perhaps this year with a mask to match my fashionable gown!
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When the crafty but honorable hero meets the spirited heroine, he doesn’t have a ghost of a chance of not falling in love! Haunting Miss Fenwick includes a haunted house, a dastardly villain, and a loveable mutt of a dog.
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