Once upon a time, the younger brother of a marquess fell in love with his sister’s companion. He was sent off to war, and she was just sent off, and they both landed in very different worlds.
Now Virgil Radcliffe has returned from his self-imposed exile on the Continent to take up his late brother’s title and discover the whereabouts of the only woman he’s ever loved.
Abandoned by her lover and dismissed by her employer, Ameline Dawes has found a respectable identity as a Waterloo widow, a new life as a midwife, and a safe, secure home for her twin girls. Called to London at Christmas to attend her benefactress’s lying-in, she finds herself confronted by an unexpected house guest–a man determined to woo her anew and win her again.
But, is loving the new Marquess of Wallingford a mistake Ameline cannot afford to repeat?
Ye gods, but her ladyship needed more maids, and a couple more footmen with both arms and both legs, at least for this type of fetching and carrying.
Ameline chided herself for being insensitive and balanced the steaming bucket. She set down the lamp momentarily to gather her skirts, along with the lamp handle.
A pair of men’s boots moved into view and the lamp bobbled. Fine boots they were.
She sighed, gritting her teeth. Lord Hackwell’s visits had unnerved his lady, and Ameline had counseled him to leave.
Very well, she’d thrown him out, once almost literally. He would wonder what she was doing below stairs. He might send for the accoucheur he was mumbling about, and his lady would not like it.
“I’ve just popped down to the kitchen for a word with Alton, my lord,” she said. “All is going well, except he’s a bit short on staff.”
“We have noticed that.”
The skin on her back rippled and she shivered. This wasn’t Hackwell—it was him.
Panic flared in her and her hands and ankles began to tingle. He carried no light. She let her own lantern dip lower and stepped to one side. What was he doing on the servants’ staircase in the middle of the night?
If he saw her, he would remember her, but he would not want to, unless he would think to befriend her again. Heat flamed in her.
She took in a breath. “Let me pass, Lord Hackwell,” she said.
“Let me carry that bucket for you.”
“No.” She forced in another breath, willing herself to speak calmly. “That is, no thank you. I shall send a servant for you when it is time.”
Footsteps scurried on the stairs. “Mrs. Dawes?” Jenny called, breathless.
Her heart raced again. She’d tarried too long in the kitchen. “I’ll be right—”
Heat touched her hand as the bucket came out. The lantern, too, lifted higher, and she looked up into the face of Lord Virgil Radcliffe, now the latest Lord Wallenford.
“Mrs. Dawes?” His eyes widened and then narrowed, and his lips curved down.
Anger spiked in her. “Lord Wallenford.”
He moved down to the step below her, putting them at eye level, and crowded her against the hand rail.
“Give me the bucket, sir. I can manage quite well without your help.” Quite, quite well.
“Can you, indeed?” he drawled, sounding just like his brother the day he’d sacked her.
Blast him. Blast the Wallenfords. Blast the Hackwells. “Alton has a bottle set out. Best go and fetch it.”
His lips quirked.
She gritted her teeth. “Give me the blasted bucket, Virgil.”
Author Bio and links:
Award winning author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but her true passion is the much happier world of romance fiction. Though her roots are in the Midwestern U.S., after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California and hasn’t looked back. She shares a midcentury home with her husband, her spunky, blonde, rescued terrier, and the blue-eyed cat who conned his way in for dinner one day and decided the food was too good to leave.
She is the author of the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner, Rosalyn’s Ring, a 2015 RONE Award finalist, Bella’s Band, and a 2016 National Reader’s Choice Award finalist, Liliana’s Letter, as well as her latest release, The Marquess and the Midwife. She is hard at work on her next series of Regency romances, but loves to hear from readers!
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