Title: The Courtship of Lord Blackhurst, part of the Secrets and Soirees anthology released July 1, 2020
Author: Regina Jeffers
Genre: Regency Romance; British Historical Fiction
Regency Summer Secrets and Soirées: A Regency Summer Anthology (June 29, 2020)
A delightful anthology of Regency Romance Summer stories from best selling authors! Fall in love for Summer, with these wonderful romantic reads! Seven novellas to keep you reading all through Summer, each centered around Summer.
The anthology includes:
The Courtship of Lord Blackhurst by Regina Jeffers
A Lady promised to a man she has never met, who yet answers his request for assistance in preparing the home they will share, a Marquess unsure what to expect, an unplanned deception, a seemingly improper affection, misperception untangled to love.
A Hero for Harriet by Victoria Hinshaw
A young woman whose family want her to marry well, a gentleman, nobly born but uninterested in society, two matchmaking aunts, assumptions and misconceptions, the intervention of a donkey, love found despite it all.
Her Absent Duke by Arietta Richmond
A Lord and a Lady promised from birth, an avaricious uncle with plans of his own, an impossible choice which leads to disaster, an unplanned compromise, a love fulfilled despite all opposition.
The Magic Garden by Janis Susan May
A beautiful young woman, shut away in the country so that her less appealing sister may shine, an Earl set upon visiting a never seen estate, simply to escape the demands of his aunt and the pursuit of unwanted young women, an accident, a garden left to run wild, a new perspective on the world, a love which defies all expectations.
Grace’s Story by Summer Hanford
Trying to save her dearest friend from heartache will unravel a web of secrets that just might get Miss Grace Birkchester killed. Doctor Andrew Carter is determined to help those in need – but doing so draws him ever deeper into a web of danger. When their worlds collide, love may be the only thing which can save them.
What if I Loved You by Cora Lee
A man who needs to marry for his career, a woman who needs a new location in life, a proposal born of friendship, a shocking family secret which could ruin them both. Will love triumph, or will all be lost?
The Masked Wicked Duke by Sandra Masters
An opera singer who is cousin to royalty, a Duke with an artist’s soul, who is yet reputed as a rake, a chance meeting, an overwhelming attraction, a masquerade, a love which burns away all past resolve.
Over and over again, she played the prelude, changing the phrasing—adding a different chord—dropping a half note she once thought essential.
So engrossed with the process, she failed to hear the faint footfall behind her. When she finally realized she was no longer alone in the room, it was too late not to gasp, as she spun around to gape at the handsomest man she had ever beheld.
“Oh, botheration!” She clapped a hand over her mouth, as she blushed thoroughly. “You startled me, sir! I did not hear you come in. May I assist you?”
What could only be called an arrogant lift of his eyebrow rose in disapproval. “Perhaps it is I who should assist you.”
Her eyes could not deny her private desire to study the the man’s countenance. Nervous, Cilla instinctively reached for her riot of curls, many of which had worked free of the pins supposedly holding them in place. For all her customary bravado, she found herself stammering, “Although ... although I appreciate your offer, you are not dressed as a servant. The house maids shall return shortly. We will see to the room. I am certain Lord Blackhurst would object to your varying from whatever occupation you have been employed to do.”
The gentleman’s lack of a smile validated his disapproval. “Despite being impressed by your aptitude upon the instrument,” he chastised, “I doubt Lord Blackhurst would provide his consent for a maid to play his family’s pianoforte.”
“A maid?” Cilla inclined her head in an equally unfavorable gesture. “You think I am one of his lordship’s maids? You think I play no better than one without any formal training? I am more than just a bit offended, sir.”
Just as she stood from the bench, he stepped closer. Although he was the most intriguing man she had ever encountered, she suddenly wondered if he had simply wandered in, without anyone knowing. Was he supposed to be in the abbey? Brazenly, she lifted her chin and spoke in her best “lady of the manor” voice. “Mayhap you should explain your purpose in being in Lord Blackhurst’s home, sir.”
He matched her cynical look with his own cynical amusement. “I am prepared to ask the same of you.”
She cursed herself for discovering she enjoyed his smile, ironic though it may be. The man before her, in spite of being dressed as a country gentleman, rather than a Town dandy, was clearly a man of means. His posture and his manner of speaking suggested he was aware of his consequence. Yet, it was the way his coat stretched taut across his shoulders that had her heart beating out an unfamiliar tattoo.
“I am waiting,” he said in stern tones that drew her from her musings.
Cilla presented him her best scowl, crossing her arms across her chest and lifting her chin a notch higher. To emphasize her frustration, she tapped her foot as she said, “As am I.”
A slight chuckle escaped the gentleman’s lips before his scowl deepened. “Ladies first.”
However, neither of them had a chance to know an end to their standoff, for the maids had returned—Audrey leading the way and carrying the tray she promised Cilla. “Oh, miss,” Audrey said as she spotted the gentleman while managing an awkward curtsey. “I’d no idea you’d company. Would you prefer us to fetch another cup for tea?”
The gentleman looked suspiciously to the maids and then to her. “Perhaps you might provide me the lady’s identity,” he instructed.
Cilla motioned Audrey to place the tray on a nearby table before responding, for the girl appeared quite intimidated by the gentleman. She turned to the man. “Such shall not be necessary. I am capable of answering for myself,” she said in a waspish manner that seemed to seep from her when she was near this particular man.
“Finally,” the man growled under his breath.
Standing stiffly, her shoulders taut with irritation, Cilla reprimanded, “A lady should not be expected to introduce herself to a true gentleman. Yet, if you insist, I am Miss Keenan. I have been asked by the marquess to ready the abbey for his return. I have a perfectly legitimate reason to be in any room I choose in the manor.”
Surprisingly, instead of frowning at her again, the man executed a proper bow. “Miss ... Miss Keenan?” he spoke in what could only be called a lack of composure, one matching her earlier befuddlement. “I did not expect—” He paused as if he thought better of what he was saying. “Lord Blackhurst would not desire his intended actually to go to battle with the dust that has occupied the family estate in his absence.”
She had no idea of what he spoke until a quick glance to the maids, who each pointed to a different part of her own body, warned Cilla the dust from earlier had landed on her hair, shoulders, and forehead, respectively. Defensively, she said, “How else might I examine the quality of the drapes and other furnishings?” She made herself not reach for the dust to remove it from her person. “Now, might you provide me your identity in return?”
The gentleman regained his composure. With an aristocratic nod, he said, “I am ... I am ...” Again, he paused awkwardly to gather his thoughts, and she wondered if this was a characteristic of which he was unaware or was it purposeful? “Mr. Alden. Mr. Johnathan Alden, at your service, miss.”
“Mr. Alden?” she questioned. Cilla’s first assessment of the man standing before her said he was too top-lofty to be a simple man of all works, and his Christian name was too “ordinary” for a man of his consequence; after all, even in her limited circle of acquaintances, she knew nearly two dozen men called “John.” In her opinion, the man required the name of one of the gods or something along the lines of “Valentine” or “Zepher.” Yet, she swallowed the words rushing to her lips. “I did not expect you until tomorrow.”
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What I love most about the holiday season:
The true spirit of Christmas is not receiving gifts, but placing the happiness of others before our own. It is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It boils down to loving others.
Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?
If you have ever read Henry Wadsworth’s Longfellow’s narrative poem “The Courtship of Miles Standish,” you will rejoice at the love that grows between John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. Although Longfellow’s poem is fictionalized history, John and Priscilla, along with the real Miles Standish, were quite remarkable people who survived a voyage marked by death and carved out what many in America consider as the roots of our country. I have always loved Longfellow’s tale, for you see, he and I are both related to the Aldens. Longfellow’s ancestral line flows from the Aldens’ daughter Elizabeth, while mine can be traced back to Rebecca Alden. This happily ever after tale has the right mix of angst and the true meaning of Christmas any time of the year to satisfy the reader.
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