on June 13th 2017
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A duchess disguised as a lady’s maid; a viscount parading as a highwayman.
She’s on the run from a murderer, he’s in pursuit of one…
In a remote Norfolk manor, Lady Phoebe is wrongfully accused by her servants of her brutal husband’s murder.
There’s little local sympathy for the duchess who’s taken a lover and made clear she despised her husband. The district’s magistrate also has an axe to grind since Lady Phoebe rebuffed his advances.
When Phoebe is discovered by a highwayman in the forest wearing only a chemise stained with the blood of her murdered husband, she resorts to subterfuge to save her life. If she can convince the handsome adventurer who is himself on the run that she’s merely a lowly lady’s maid, surely her chances of survival are improved?
But Hugh Redding has his own reasons for hunting down the very man who would have Phoebe tried and hanged for murder and he’s highly suspicious of Phoebe and her motives.
Only if they can break down the barriers between them and admit to their mutual attraction can they form the united front necessary to thwart their sinister and tenacious nemesis, Wentworth.
But first they need to learn how to trust one another.
Hugh stared after her and when he’d regained his senses he found he was unconsciously touching his mouth with the fingertips of his right hand.
Damn, but she’d taken him by surprise with that kiss of hers. Even still his lips were burning.
At the window he gripped the sill and stared down the modest drive that led from the cottage to the road.
She’d asked him what he’d hoped to achieve by accosting Wentworth at pistol point. Honour for his sister. Yes, it had been rash but he’d been in his cups when he’d come up with the plan to prove to Ada that not all men were smooth-talking confidence tricksters who led vulnerable women down the road to ruin.
There was also the small chance of exacting some retribution from the man. A marriage proposal had been his ultimate aim though when he’d confidently told Ada he’d ensure Wentworth did the honourable thing she’d burst into tears and said she’d not marry him if he were the last man on God’s earth.
Well, Hugh didn’t much fancy Wentworth for a brother-in-law either but he did love his sister exceedingly and surely marriage was better than ruin or the convent, as Ada had at one stage desired.
And contrary to what Phoebe believed, Ada and he had grown up without a mother and Hugh had had a more than usual guiding influence on his young sibling which was why’d felt Ada’s failure was somehow his.
He fingered the scar on his wrist, sustained during a childhood show of chivalry on behalf of his sister’s honour. Phoebe’s talk of just now had unleashed a veritable storm of emotions. Surprisingly, her talk about exacting retribution in the form of depriving Wentworth of what he most wanted kept replaying itself in his head.
She’d sounded so confident but what could a maidservant know about exacting retribution from a man like Wentworth? Who was she really? A village child born in some humble hovel? Her beauty had no doubt opened a number of doors. Could she have had a noble protector who’d left her to slide back into servitude? Is that where she’d learned to speak and act like a lady?
He touched his finger to his lips once more. Ha, that precious innocence of hers for which she’d not barter a dress was a tall tale. Only a woman experienced in the ways of men would have been so bold as to plant a kiss like the one she’d given him. A woman used to being paraded and feted by a gentleman.
Perhaps, as she claimed, she could be useful to him.
But she’d need a little coaching. He couldn’t afford for her to embarrass them both by proving her low birth during an unguarded moment.
He smoothed back his hair and regulated his breathing. Yes, he would take Phoebe in hand and teach her how to be a lady.
Then he’d make her his mistress and she could have all the gowns she chose, within reason.
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