What it’s about:
Book 1 in the Gentlemen of Honor series
She was known as The Spinster of Brightwood Manor, and that suited Lady Beatrice O’Brien just fine.
She was happy being a spinster; happy running her father’s estates while amassing a fortune of her own; happy tending to the needs of her community; and most of all, she was happy not having a man around to tell her what to do.
But when Beatrice accidentally shoots her new neighbor, the Earl of Drennan, her life turns upside-down. Suddenly, this very arrogant gentleman, who also happens to be charming and attractive, makes himself at home at Brightwood Manor, and proceeds to court her!
Beatrice knows one thing for certain. Marriage will complicate her life. But falling in love? That’s an entirely different matter.
Faith, he really was one of the handsomest specimens of manhood she’d clapped eyes upon since the war against Boney started, despite that nasty looking scar he wore. She had to admit, even if he were a bit of a tiresome bore, he was pleasant to look upon.
Distracting herself from the sight of his almost bare chest, she nervously recited by rote her planned introductions. “Sir, I am Lady Beatrice O’Brien, mistress of this house. And this delicate beauty standing beside me is our healer, Mistress Sarah Duncan. I must add she’s the same witch who had the kindness to sew your leg up for you.”
Wise Sarah gave a deep curtsy and smiled warmly at him. Her light blue eyes, the same shade as bluebonnets, sparkled down at him in warm welcome.
“Indeed,” he said looking in astonishment at the lovely vision. She didn’t appear to be someone who’d choose to seek out the more unsavory parts of life, let alone be seen boiling a cauldron of eye of newt under a full moon.
“Mistress Sarah, you must amuse our patient here sometime with tales of how you manage to stay aloft at night on your broom,” said the lady of the house with a bemused smile. “I must tell you your patient is vastly interested in such witchery and would be delighted to be instructed about your more unusual practices.”
“Now, Lady Beatrice.” The pretty healer laughed in feigned indignation. For most of her life Wise Sarah had lived under superstitious peasant eyes. She knew the numerous wild tales concerning her adopted mother and herself.
“I’ve told ye before that we modern day hexes don’t use those uncomfortable conveyances anymore. Why they proved to be far too drafty and terribly dangerous to ourselves. What with one good gust of wind there’s been many a good hex that’s gotten herself lost over the North Sea.” She laughed and winked impishly at the lady of the house, relishing the silliness of her own tale. She and her adopted mother had never touched a broom, let alone tried to make it fly, except to clean their plain plank floor.
“Nay, dear lady and lord, we modern sorceresses ride about in smart pony carts these days like the rest o’ ye mortals. It being far saner and safer. Though ’tis true, less romantic.”
The stranger smiled at her quaint explanation, flashing a row of healthy teeth. “But all the same, ma’am, despite your being a witch. Demme, if I’m not grateful for the service you’ve rendered me by tending to my leg.”
The pretty healer blushed under the handsome English stranger’s praise. “It was nothing, sir. Truth be told, it was mostly Lady Beatrice here who did the work, putting your leg back into place and binding it tight like she did. Aye, ’tis she you ought to be looking to when giving your thanks.”
His arctic blue eyes turned themselves upon his nemesis, the lady of the house, or the “vanithee” as he’d heard the servants refer respectfully of her in whispers. She stood proudly erect wrapping her title as lady of the manor about her like a protective cloak. Her bright green eyes the same shade as new leaves, carefully watching and observing his every word and gesture, her body rigid in anticipation to what he would say. It would be quite easy for him to slight her in front of the wise woman if he wished. But he did not.
“Tell me, is there no master of the house to greet me?” he asked, wondering if the lady was married, intrigued by her apparent aloofness. It was as if she had no one but herself to answer to for bringing home a stranger. Would not someone, her guardian or husband perhaps, wish to speak to him? To assure himself that such an unknown English stranger would not bring harm or scandal to his household? Surely there was someone?
“Aye, there be one,” the lady answered. “My father, Lord Patrick O’Brien. He is the master here. He’d like to have greeted you in person, but at present himself is suffering sorely from the gout and begs that you excuse him. In his absence, he requests that you accept his daughter’s welcome.” She then gave a short bob, in lieu of a proper deep curtsy of welcome, which was normally the due she gave to guests in her father’s house.
His eyes narrowed, he’d not missed the slight. “Ah . . . yes.” He nodded with understanding, his voice liquid cool, chilling the peat-heated room. “Considering that it was a member of his household who shot me off my mount that would be the least one could expect him to do. Don’t you agree, my lady?”
She gasped, stepping towards the ungrateful English dolt. She clenched her hands at her side, ready to give him a proper show of her famous spinster temper. “If ye’d only taken the time to look before ye leaped, we wouldn’t have had to put ye in this bed. And I’d not be saddled with the obliging care of ye!”
“Please, Lady Bea—,” intervened Wise Sarah, placing herself strategically between the attacking hostess and her wounded patient. “Behave yourself! Now what will your da say when he up and learns you tried to attack this wounded gentleman? And this time in pure aggression, if you please. One would think that you truly wished him harm.”
Chastised, Beatrice obediently took a step back. The last thing she desired was to have her father’s wrath fall upon her head. He’d warned her that if another one of her notorious escapades brought any disgrace upon the family name, he’d see to her punishment himself. A dire threat she knew he would follow through with if she were not careful.
She sighed audibly, her hands were tied. She could do nothing to dislodge this ingrate. And once more she regretted her part in acting the Good Samaritan to this English pudding-headed lout. She ought to have left him in the muck and mire where she’d found him, instead of seeing to it that he was brought here and properly tended.