The Duke and the Spinster Preview

A Historical Regency Romance Novel

About the book

When he has to marry for convenience, his heart is stolen by a spinster…

Lady Marina Andrews is a spinster. After her mother’s death, she put all of her heart into caring for her sisters, refusing to even look at acceptable suitors. But when a Duke finds interest in her sister, she finds herself intrigued…

Daniel Lock, the Duke of Nealton, is back on the market. While he’s searching for the ideal Lady, he finds the perfect candidate. But there’s only one problem; her sassy sister stands in the way.

In his mission to please Marina, Daniel finds himself falling for her. When he has to prove himself to her, he’ll do everything to show the truth. Even if it means risking his happiness and reputation in the process…

Chapter One

Marina Andrews always knew that she would be a mother. Only, not once did she think that the role would find her far before the time she would be ready for it.

She stared at the room at large, not really focusing her gaze on either of her two sisters, who were busily whispering something to each other, then blushed fervently, only to turn to Marina, as if to make sure they were not overheard.

“Please don’t tell me you are discussing gentlemen again,” Marina rolled her eyes with a patient sigh, the likes of which she had aimed at her two sisters, younger by as many as five years.

“How could you tell?” Bridget, the older of the twin sisters asked.

Bridget glanced at herself in the mirror, adjusting a loose curl that seemed out of place. With Bridget, nothing could be out of place, lest the world would come to an end. Her assertiveness sometimes shunned her ladylike manners, but only up to the point where Marina could tell that Bridget was ready to take the ton by storm with her debut that seemed torturesome three hours away.

“I can hear Julia giggling like a kitten with a ball of yarn,” Marina explained, as her loving glance flew to Julia.

The twins giggled again, but so hard this time that their motions seemed to shake the peach-colored damask sofa they were seated on. While the twins were inseparable and quite alike, Marina could easily distinguish them, although she knew this was not always possible for anyone outside their household.

“I was merely telling Julia that tonight is an important event, because many eligible gentlemen will be in attendance,” Bridget urged.

“Indeed,” Marina nodded. “Although eligible does not always mean appropriate,” she reminded them.

Here they were, one-and-twenty, and ready for their first ball. A pang of some old, forgotten remorse awakened deep inside of Marina, but she easily managed to suffocate it back into slumber. Wishful thinking was merely that, wishful thinking, while reality had placed another role upon her, one which she accepted with as much grace as she could muster. Although, grace was not something many would identify with the woman that was Marina Andrews.

“But appropriate is so boring,” Bridget pouted, more in an effort to irk her sister than to truly mean it.

Marina lifted an eyebrow instantly, and the twins once again burst into a bout of giggles, with Bridget giving Julia a poke in the arm. There was little Bridget liked better than teasing her sister, and Marina had learned a long time ago that it was all in a good-natured manner.

“I read in the newspapers about Lord Whittley,” Bridget continued.

“If that man is in attendance this evening, we shall make sure to keep our distance,” Marina reminded them. She, too, had read about that man and did not like it one bit. He was exactly the sort she wished to keep away from her sisters. “That man is a rake of the highest order. I wonder why anyone would write about such men in the first place.”

“That is because no one likes to read about boring, old people,” Bridget explained matter-of-factly.

“Well, those will be the only kind we shall socialize with this evening,” Marina replied in the same manner. Her verdict seemed to cut at the root of the good mood which reigned up to a moment ago.

But she had already grown accustomed to this. At the already ripe age of six-and-twenty, Marina knew that her days as an eligible young woman were not only numbered but were dying out. Her sisters, on the other hand, with their honey-colored hair and striking blue eyes, seemed to be the talk of the town. It was simply the truth that everyone had to accept, even her. Not that Marina ever questioned her place in life, solely for the fact that there was no other choice but to accept.

As the eldest, Marina had fond, although increasingly foggy memories of her mother, who suddenly took ill only to depart this world shortly after. Her death left a devastating mark on the entire family, rearranging the usual family structure into something new. Marina had to take the role of the mother onto herself, although she was barely old enough to realize the ways of the world. Knowing that her little sisters needed a motherly hand to guide them through life, Marina accepted this new path without objection.

To be perfectly honest, Marina knew that she never really wanted a Season for herself. The truth was always there in the reflection of the mirror. She was never the type to capture the attention of the ton, or a particular gentleman for that matter. She was too plain, with her unusual height, mousey-brown hair and brown eyes.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, years of playing the mother of the household had rendered her unwilling to turn a blind eye to stupidity and lies, and the idea of laughing at a joke she did not find funny made her nauseous. She had lost the ability to play the lady, if she ever had it, which she honestly doubted. Marina never learned to walk delicately, to play the pianoforte, to giggle melodiously at jokes that made no sense, or to learn any of the things other ladies seemed to have learned while they were still crawling. Marina had made sure that her sisters were proper ladies, but in that effort, she had forgotten all about herself, and now, she did not have one ladylike bone in her entire body.

She glanced at her sisters once more, wondering how difficult or how easy it would be to find sensible men for the two of them. She had given up the idea of marriage for herself a long time ago. The only thing she had left, the most important thing, was a responsibility to her sisters, to see them married off happily. Her own life would be an homage to her poor mother, who never got to see her daughters grow up.

Suddenly, the three young women were interrupted by a knock on the door. All three sets of eyes darted toward the cause of the interruption, well aware of who it was.

“Come in,” Marina called out.

The door opened, welcoming in Benjamin Andrews, the Earl of Brooks. On first glance, there was little to differentiate him from other equally elderly gentlemen of his stature. His shoes were always shined to perfection. His hair was combed without a single strand out of place. His tone of voice was always cordial enough. Yet, those willing to look past the initial pleasantries would notice a sadness that was characteristic of those who had suffered a great misfortune in life, such as losing someone essential, someone without whom their life would never be the same.

Her father never admitted it to her, at least not in those exact words, but Marina could tell not only how much he missed his late wife, but also how inept he was at raising daughters alone. He never asked anything of her, but there had always been an underlying sense of gratitude in her father’s demeanor. That was how, silently, Marina Andrews’ fate had been sealed before she even knew what fate might have in store for her.

“Are we almost ready, my darlings?” the Earl spoke tenderly, as his gaze flew from one daughter to the next.

“Just a few finishing touches, Father,” Bridget announced as she stood up from the sofa and walked over to him. She had her usual, cheeky grin, which illuminated her face like a naughty cherub. “There is only one chance of leaving a good impression, and I do not plan on failing.”

Julia, on the other hand, remained seated, a gentle flush having fallen on her cheeks. Marina could tell that Julia was far less inclined on leaving a good impression and was probably wondering if it would be rude of her to take a book to read on the carriage ride there.

“Well, you both look absolutely lovely,” he said with a smile. Then, his lips parted in a silent gasp, as if he had forgotten something. “I mean, all three of you are lovely.”

Marina appreciated the correction, although there was no need for it. All four of them were aware of the current state of affairs, and knew that it would probably not change now, nor would it ever.

“Thank you, Father,” Marina smiled back, although the unease on her father’s face did not escape her. “But I will not be there to appear lovely, if such a thing is even possible. It is my good sense that is needed, in assessing the people tonight, especially the gentlemen.”

“We read enough newspapers to know most of the people who will be in attendance,” Julia dared to intervene, but the moment Marina’s eyes befell her, Julia looked down at her own lap.

“One should not trust what the newspapers say,” Marina gently reminded her.

“So, we should not trust what the newspapers say about Lord Whittley?” Bridget’s eyes shone devilishly.

“No,” Marina replied confidently. “You should not base your opinions on gossip columns. It is beneath a lady like yourself. What you should learn to do is make your own judgment based on factual information and the gentleman himself, his actions, his mannerisms.”

“Do listen to your sister, Girls,” their father said, already eyeing the door. He had learned to excuse himself in time for such conversations that demanded a woman’s presence. However, seeing there was no mother, a substitute was called upon for attendance. “Now, finish getting ready, and come fetch me in the study once we are to leave.”

“Yes, Father,” both twins chirped at the same time, and all three seemed to sigh with relief upon the sound of the door closing, which meant that the three were left alone.

Sometimes, Marina felt sorry for her father. It could not be easy for him in a household with three women, all of whom reminded him dearly of his beloved, late wife. As a father, he had always been there for them, but female conversations were something he dreaded.

“Are you certain that this mint-green color suits me?” Bridget suddenly asked, eyeing her reflection in the mirror. “I do not fancy this ruffle on the sleeve.”

“But that was exactly the reason that made you purchase it in the first place,” Marina frowned, sighing heavily. “In any case, there is no time to change now. You will simply have to make do with it.”

Bridget pouted at herself in the mirror, silently agreeing. At least Julia seemed content with her pale-yellow dress that made her resemble a blossoming daffodil. She would shine like the sun among all the other girls at the ball. All Bridget needed to do was smile, and that would be enough to draw the attention of anyone she wished. As for Marina… she would be left on the sideline because no matter what dress she wore or how many times she pinched her cheeks, she would never dance the waltz without trying to take the lead, she would never laugh at a joke that was not funny. And that was a fact of life.

“I feel like life is about to change after tonight,” Bridget said as if she were whispering a long-guarded secret. Julia chuckled softly at the idea, her eyes closed in awe of the wonderful things yet to come.

 Marina knew Bridget was right. She somehow felt it. Only she wondered if this change would bring something wonderful, or something completely the opposite.

Chapter Two

“So, you are saying I have to get married,” Daniel Lock, the Duke of Nealton, spoke with a sigh that brought no relief.

He was sitting in his leather chair which occasionally squeaked under the weight of his body, but this time, not even the chair dared to make a sound. He was alone in his defiance before the woman who had tried to dictate his life for as long as he could remember.

“I am not saying you have to get married,” Barbara Lock, the Dowager Duchess of Nealton stared at her son, whose striking blue eyes mirrored her own. “I am saying that it is your duty as the Duke. You yourself should feel it as your obligation. It is a matter of tradition, Daniel.”

“If it were a matter of tradition, my son never would have married you,” the most ingenious player in this game announced her presence, as she always did, from the darkness of the corner. “And yet, here we are.”

Daniel grinned at Miriam Lock, his paternal grandmother, who refused not to have her voice heard. Fortunately for him, she was on his side. Then again, it seemed she usually was.

“With all due respect, Miriam, my beloved late husband, your dear son, and I always upheld tradition, and you know how much–”

“Oh, pish posh,” Daniel’s grandmother waved her hand dismissively. “Daniel is still young. There is plenty of time for marriage.”

“He is eight-and-twenty,” the Dowager scowled. “And he is not getting any younger.”

“None of us is, my dear,” his grandmother chuckled. “Which means we need to enjoy life. Relish every single moment. Make it count.”

“He can make it count with a nice young lady by his side, and a family to care for,” the Dowager was relentless, as Daniel expected her to be.

Not like any of this was a surprise. He knew that this day would come, only he hoped it would not come so soon.

He got up from his chair and went over to his liquor cabinet to pour himself a drink. He lifted the glass with amber liquid close to his eyes for closer inspection. He swirled the whiskey about, enjoying the sound of clinking ice inside. Only he did not drink it.

Every single person in this room knew him to be exactly who he was. He was a rake. There was no other way of putting it. That was they called gentlemen who search for pleasure wherever they might find it. The very thought of marriage was a distant torture easily forgotten in the arms of a nameless lady. He enjoyed betting on horse races and playing cards. He even managed to win a few games. In this, he agreed with his grandmother. Life was short. One should enjoy it to the fullest. Now, he was wondering if life could be enjoyed to the fullest with a wife that would be… understanding to his needs to keep up with old pursuits. That was the crucial question.

“You have a duty to your family, Daniel.” His mother’s words brought him back to the present moment. “You have a title to pass on to your son. You can’t keep being selfish and think only of yourself.”

His mother was right. He had been selfish, thinking only of himself during these past several years. A pang of guilt appeared from somewhere deep down inside of him. The thought of spending the rest of his life with just one woman terrified him. There was not a single comfort in that realization, just the hanging sword of Damocles over his head: his dynastic responsibility. Once he married a certain young lady, the life as he knew it would be over. Unless he managed to find the right young lady who would have no objections to him occasionally resorting to his old ways. If only such a thing were possible.

“Well,” he sighed, taking a sip of his drink. “You can make me attend this ball, but you can’t make me choose a bride tonight.”

“It doesn’t have to be tonight.” His mother shook her head. “Just… behave nicely to the young ladies there. That is all.”

“It is a market, after all,” his grandmother suddenly added, and Daniel couldn’t help but chuckle.

“I swear,” his mother pouted. “That is not very helpful.”

“Oh, I apologize.” His grandmother leaned back in the sofa she was seated. “I am usually not here to help, but to enjoy the sight.”

Daniel could barely stop chuckling. The banter between his mother and grandmother seemed to be one endless conversation which would eventually cease when one of them was laid to rest. Judging from the fact how utterly feisty and unwilling to succumb to anyone’s thumb his grandmother was, this perpetual conversation was bound to last a long time to come.

“All right, Mother,” he finally decided to appease her. “I shall do as you require. I shall be on my best behavior, and I shall dance with whichever lady you see fit.”

“Oh, Daniel, Darling!” The Dowager clapped her bejeweled hands together in joy.

Despite her age, she still bore signs of her youthful good looks. Daniel liked to think that it was because she smiled only when it was necessary, and when a proper situation demanded it. Other than that, she was a strict mother, though not unloving, although the very reason behind her every action was not his happiness. Rather, it was the prolonging of a tradition, the necessity to do what was right, what was required and deemed as proper.

He could not imagine her being a loving grandmother, not like his own grandmother at least. The thought of his grandmother not living long enough to meet his child saddened him. But to have a child, one first needed to find the adequate young lady for that.

Daniel always considered himself an organized young man, organized enough at least to have a certain list of basic conditions his future wife would need to meet in order to fulfill this role successfully. The first thing on that list was, of course, physical attraction, which deemed the young lady in question to be pretty. Requiring her to be a beauty of the highest order was somewhat immodest, but if they were to have children, it was a must that he be physically attracted to her. He would hate having to be sotted every time he took her to bed.

Secondly, perhaps even more importantly, his future wife had to be smart. Not because he had any particular desires to have late night conversations of the highest intellect, but merely because he did not wish to have stupid children. No. His children needed to be smart, witty, charming, and any other characteristic that befell those who were meant to rule the world.

Yes, those were two simple, yet utterly necessary conditions that needed to be met. The first one was easy. He had seen numerous beauties and was certain that he would see countless more tonight. However, the second condition was not so easily met. The mental prowess of young ladies he conversed with left much to be desired. This unfortunately meant that he would need to speak with them before he could make up his mind. The thought of spending the entire night speaking to debutantes and young ladies bored him to infinity. Yet, he had promised.

“I need to fix my hair before we start,” his mother announced, leaving the room.

Daniel glanced at his grandmother, who looked effortlessly graceful in her old-fashioned dress, and a cane that rested by her right foot. The silver fox handle glistened in the candlelight, even more than her eyes did.

‘Your mother always needs to fix something. Even when there is nothing broken,” she noticed, although there was no ill will behind it. Not any longer, at least. Many years of living together had rendered these two women numb to each other’s presence, with the occasional verbal clash that never escalated.

“But she is right, you know,” she suddenly added, shocking him.

He lifted his brow at her. “Are you going to tell me I need to find true love?” he scoffed.

“Are you afraid of love, my dear?” she asked with a teasing note.

“Hardly,” he frowned. “It brings no good.”

“How can you know what it brings, when you never loved a woman?” she inquired curiously.

The last thing he wanted to admit to her was that love was something that always complicated things, things that were meant to remain simple. All he had ever heard of love was that it broke hearts. Why would anyone in their right mind want that?

“I’ve heard enough of love to know that I do not wish it in my life,” he explained calmly. “I shall find a lady to bear my children. A lady who will fulfill the duties of a Duchess perfectly. A lady I will not love but will respect and appreciate. What more could a woman want in life?”

The wise old lady opposite him shook her head. “You’ve known so many women, and yet you never truly knew a single one.”

That was because I never felt the need to know them. A little voice inside of him spoke rebelliously, but he had enough common sense not to say it out loud. He knew what he wanted, and he knew that he would find the kind of woman he needed. Life did not need to change just because he was being forced into familial obligations.

He decided to end this conversation on a more pleasant note, so he walked over to his grandmother, took her withered old hand into his and placed a soft kiss upon it reverently.

“I did not need to know any of them because I have already met the best woman there is,” he graced her with a smile she could not resist.

She caressed his cheek tenderly, staring right into his eyes. “There is so much of your father in you, Darling, especially when you speak like this, hoping to change the subject.”

They both chuckled at the same time. He felt like even the bond he had with his mother did not run as deep as the bond he had with this woman who was now seated before him. Her understanding and compassion had always been a beacon of hope in his life, even now when she herself seemed to agree with his mother, the person she always either ignored or refused to listen to. What an unlikely event this had turned out to be.

“Let us go see if your mother is done fixing her hair,” she suggested, lowering her voice down to a whisper, as if someone might overhear them in their conspiracy. “The sooner we arrive at the ball, the sooner we might be allowed to leave.”

He chuckled again. He liked that idea.

Chapter Three

Marina’s fears had materialized sooner than she expected them to. Much sooner.

Taking the time to sort out proper suitors from the rogues that had no business being anywhere near her sisters was turning out to be far more difficult than she had originally thought. Fortunately, Lord Whittley was nowhere in sight, but she did not fail to notice the presence of someone whose reputation reeked even worse than Lord Whittley’s.

With her sisters giggling and chuckling at the huddled group of suitors around them, Marina did her best to focus on them and not on the man who seemed to throw a casual glance in Julia’s direction, obviously endeavoring to catch a moment when her sister was alone to ask her for a dance.

Over my dead body! Everything in Marina rebelled against the very idea of the Duke of Nealton speaking to Julia, let alone dancing with her. Yet, no matter how hard she tried to keep her focus on her sisters, she could not help herself from throwing an occasional glance in his direction, as he stood opposite the ballroom with his mother and another elderly lady, conversing.

She had read about him far more than she was willing to admit. Bridget was right. The newspapers always write about rakes and rogues, who else? They would never write about the boring people, the marrying kind. This man was not the marrying kind.

Every time she stole a glance at him, she realized with increasing irritation how handsome he was. He had a smile that could light up the room. No wonder he was such a success with the ladies. Well, not my ladies, she snorted silently to herself, vowing to keep him as far away from both Bridget and Julia as possible.

He was dressed in a dark-blue suit with a burgundy-colored cravat that stood in stark contrast to his white shirt, his black hair and his blue eyes. He was tall, much taller than she imagined him to be. Then again, he was far more handsome than she imagined him to be as well. Not that any of that mattered.

The ladies seemed to flock around him as if there was an invisible magnet inside of him, and it simply drew everyone toward him. His good looks, his obvious charm, his devilish lock that fell over his brow… all of this pointed to one inevitable fact. He was the most handsome man in the room. Perhaps even in all of London.

“He is quite handsome, isn’t he?” Marina suddenly heard Bridget whisper into her ear.

“What?” Marina’s eyes widened in shock. “He is… too tall.”

“Lord Blakesley?” Bridget asked, confused, and only then did Marina realize that Bridget was referring to the last man she spoke with.

“Oh, Lord Blakesley,” Marina nodded, turning her back to the man who still stood at a safe distance from her, at the other end of the ballroom, where she hoped he would remain for the rest of the evening. “Yes, he is handsome.”

“He asked me to dance,” Bridget confided. “But I said that I would think about it.”

Marina smiled taking her sister by the hand. “Lord Blakesley is a good man. Tell him that you would gladly dance with him, Dear.”

Bridget’s eyes shone with joy as she squeezed Marina’s hands with her own. “I shall,” she chimed, fumbling to find her dance card which stood neatly tied to her wrist with a red-silk ribbon. This would be her first dance. Marina was glad that it was someone like Lord Blakesley and not someone like—

The Duke of Nealton.

The name just popped inside of her head, like the distant ringing of old church bells. In an effort to fight off the vision of his face in her mind’s eye, she made her way to her sisters, and grabbed them both by the hand, just at the moment when Lord Blakesley had finished writing his name down on Bridget’s dance card.

“Accompany me to the lemonade table, Girls,” she urged, not waiting for either of them to reply.

“I honestly wasn’t that thirsty,” Bridget admitted, apparently irked that she had been dragged away from Lord Blakesley, whose gaze seemed to pine after her still.

“Some patience for your thirst, Bridget,” Marina spoke softly, as she poured all of them a glass of lemonade. “I know this is the first ball of the Season, and like you said, Bridget, it is imperative to leave a good impression. A good impression also means to be patient. This refers to both you as well as Lord Blakesley.”

“You like Lord Blakesley!?” Julia squealed, to what both Bridget and Marina turned to her, pressing their index fingers on her lips.

“Shh,” Bridget frowned. “Why don’t you publish it in the morning papers, silly?”

“Sorry,” Julia chuckled softly, hiding her lips with her entire palm.

She was truly the softer of the two sisters, the one Marina wished to protect from the entire world and keep safe. She had no worries about Bridget. Bridget was all too capable of taking care of herself and making good decisions. But Julia… she was far too lost in her romance novels to realize that real life did not always follow a romance plot. Marina feared that Julia’s heart would be easily broken because of her inability, or perhaps unwillingness to accept reality and live according to its rules. Marina could not remember how many times she found her sister sleeping over a book or expressing desires that could only be fulfilled inside the pages of a romance novel. Marina believed Julia would outgrow those inclinations, but even at the still tender age of one-and-twenty, that was not the case.

“Do you see Father anywhere?” Bridget wondered, looking about.

Marina’s eyes flew about the ballroom, making a conscious effort not to identify the beforementioned duke upon seeing him. Needless to say, that was impossible. She noticed him immediately and the fact that he was seen dancing with a young lady made her relieved. Hopefully, his interest in Julia was substituted by interest in someone else.

Good riddance, she could not help but think.

The very idea that this man considered himself worthy of either of her sisters was preposterous. A rake of the worst reputation, Marina could not imagine anyone being a worse candidate for being a suitor to either Bridget or Julia. Especially Julia.

“I think he is over there,” Julia suddenly said, pointing into the crowd.

“Don’t point,” Marina patted her sister gently on the hand, making Julia immediately pull away. “It’s impolite.”

“Where?” she asked.

“Over… there,” Julia said, once again having endeavored to lift her index finger and point, but then quickly reminded herself of the mistake, so she merely glanced in the direction she was referring to.

Marina pointed her gaze, only to realize that her father was standing right in the vicinity of the Duke she wanted as far away from her family as possible. At least the two were not conversing. That was a silver lining in all this.

The moment they turned around, Marina noticed the presence of Lord Blakesley. Marina had heard little about him, so her opinion was not fully formed as of yet. But he was courteous, kind and respectful. In addition to this, his reputation seemed to be devoid of any tarnish, which in itself spoke much of a gentleman’s character. So far, the man was proving himself to be a worthy suitor to Bridget, whose blushing cheeks assured everyone present that she considered him more than worthy as well.

“Miss Bridget,” he spoke softly, tenderly almost. “The next dance is about to commence. If I may be so bold as to remind you of your promise.”

His smile was completely unlike the Duke’s smile. This man smiled genuinely. There was even a tremble in the corner of his lips, caused by the fear that he might be rejected for what was promised to him. But one glance at Bridget proved otherwise.

“I would be happy to dance with you,” Bridget replied in a tone Marina had never heard.

The Bridget she knew was ambitious, confident, bold. This Bridget knew what she wanted but she knew the proper, ladylike manner of obtaining it. There was a meekness in her voice, but it was not due to a lack of boldness. On the contrary, it seemed to stem from that very same courage and confidence that there was already someone who deemed her worthy of love and devotion.

Bridget glanced at Marina, as if to seek silent confirmation. Marina just nodded, and the two disappeared among the other dancing couples.

Marina’s hand found Julia’s, determined not to let go for anyone not worthy of her sister.

“Father seems to be enjoying himself,” Julia noted, lifting her chin in the direction where she could see him.

Marina chuckled softly. Their father was indeed enjoying himself. He was never particularly fond of balls and dancing. Instead, he preferred to be seated with his friends, and discuss the latest stocks and potential investments he could make. He was holding a cigar in his left hand, a habit he only had when joined by other gentlemen. He had so few enjoyments left in life. Marina could not hold this single one against him. Soon, the twins would be married and leave the Manor, leaving only the two of them.

Marina could not imagine what life would be like then. Empty, she supposed. Up until this moment, her life revolved around the twins, their upbringing, their education, assuring that they became proper ladies with good opportunities for marriage. Judging from this point, Marina could tell that she had done a fine job of raising them both. Only, the price was her own childhood, her own existence as a young lady with marital prospects.

That possibility was now long gone. Although a few gentlemen had made the mistake of approaching her with the intention to woo her, she quickly assured them of their mistake and sent them on their merry way… as far away from her as possible. She did not regret a single one of those refusals.

Now, however, she wondered what she would focus her life around. Her father was growing old. He would need her around. Tending to him would be her new duty. Perhaps in this tending, they would find a way to each other once again. There was no lack of emotion on their father’s part, but as it was the case, young ladies needed their mothers to guide them in life. The Earl had done a fine job providing all the love and comfort his daughters could ever need, but there were always things only a mother could teach, only a mother could explain, only a mother could make sense of. He was helpless in that respect, and he knew it.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” Marina wondered, turning to her sister.

How lovely she looked, how anticipant of life and joy to come her way. Marina could only hope to feel the same way, although she could not hope for the same things.

“Very much so,” Julia gushed. “Although not a single gentleman has approached me for a dance yet.” She looked down, biting her lower lip in apprehension.

“Julia, that isn’t–” Marina started, but she was not allowed to continue, as someone’s voice interrupted her own.

 “Perhaps you would allow me to rectify that terrible mistake and ask you for a dance?”

The higher we are placed, the more humbly we should walk

~ Cicero 

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baron, duchess, duke, earl, historical romance, regency romance, victorian romance

  • This book is exciting to read and puts hope of love in your heart. I can’t wait to read the ending.

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