by Pamela Gibson
Publication Date: July 21, 2021
Soul Mate Publishing, LLC
Series: Scandal Series, Book 4
Genre: Regency Historical Romance
Jane Stafford, raised in America, is shocked to learn she is a wealthy heiress, her late father was an earl, and her English mother is alive. Anxious to meet the woman she long-thought dead, she travels to London, only to be whisked away by her sinfully handsome guardian to a remote estate to be “schooled” in the ways of the ton.
Gilbert Carmichael, Lord Ralston, chafes at having to make a rebellious young heiress acceptable to society, especially one who is impetuous and blatantly democratic. Because the instruction she needs is more than deportment and dancing. It’s also about how to spot a rake who might woo her for her fortune.
When Ralston learns his ward is to be used as a pawn in an elaborate scheme involving a secret impersonation, he will move heaven and earth to keep her safe. Because proximity has brought the uncomfortable knowledge that his interest may be more than duty—it just might be love.
The footman set another cup next to Ralston who asked for coffee and declined food. Studying her guardian’s features, Jane was again reminded of the Prince Charming story.
“Do you ride? Aunt keeps horses for her carriage. I believe she still has a mount suitable for a lady.”
“Yes. I had my own horse in Baltimore. A gray mare, very sweet-natured. Her name was Penny. She now resides with my father’s partner.”
“Being able to ride is important in English society. We can ride in the mornings, unless you like to sleep in.”
“I’m an early riser usually. I have chores to perform that are best done at dawn. What will I be expected to do here?”
He seemed taken aback—his easy smile faded into a distinct frown. “As I explained, you’re here to learn, and Aunt Amelia and I will be your teachers.”
Like school? She already spoke French and could read Latin. She had a sound grasp of higher mathematics, thanks to one of her tutors, and she had devoured the classics while in her teens. She knew a bit about world history, but not a great deal, and while she tried, it was difficult to stay abreast of all the scientific advancements, especially in what was being called the industrial revolution. Did he mean politics?
“I don’t follow. What are you here to teach me?”
“Etiquette, behavior, societal rules. This is not America. You had a great deal more freedom there than you have here. If you misstep in any way, you could be ostracized, pilloried with words, given the cut direct. I’m here to help you navigate shark-infested waters, otherwise known as the bon ton.”
“What if I don’t care? In little more than a year, I’ll be twenty-one. I can return to America, can’t I?”
“If you wish. What would you do there? It was my understanding from your father’s solicitor that everything your father owned was sold. Your father wrote him that you had many acquaintances, but few close friends, which is why he wanted to give you your own establishment upon your majority so you could exercise your independence.” He nodded to the servant as his coffee was served.
“He said your father’s fondest wish, and I am paraphrasing here, was that you marry. Your sister expects to accept an offer by the end of the Season. Next year, you’ll have your own season and can choose a husband. As rich as you are, I’m sure you will have several offers.”
Jane choked and let her cup clatter in the saucer. Ralston jumped to his feet and rounded the table to tap her on her back as she coughed and sputtered. “You . . .” she wheezed. “You cannot be serious.”
“I’m quite serious.” He stopped. “Are you all right?”
“No. I am not. I’m annoyed. Whose twistical idea was this? Not my father’s. It must be that woman’s, for I shall not deign to call her Mother since she has not even had the courtesy to set eyes on the daughter she hasn’t seen since infancy.”
She sat back and hid her mouth with her napkin. Lordy, she couldn’t believe she’d allowed herself to lose control in front of a virtual stranger. Her mother’s lack of attention was beginning to hurt, and Jane’s initial eagerness was becoming resentment.
Ralston sat next to her. He put his hands over hers, forcing her to look into his eyes. His warm hands raised those pesky little tingles she’d begun to feel in his presence.
“You have every right to be angry. This is a very unusual, or should I say bizarre, situation. Whether you believe me or not, I was astonished to find myself named guardian of two young girls, daughters of a man I’ve never met, a man who surely thought he was handing over such a somber duty to my father. Knowing the evils of the ton, I am determined to make you as polished and knowledgeable as a diamond of the first water. Life handed you bitter fruit. I intend to turn you into a delicacy.”
“What of your aunt?”
“Aunt Amelia feels the same. She’s furious with my sister who certainly had a part in this scheme. Lady Siltsbury is my sister Elizabeth’s good friend. Aunt Amelia is as necessary as I am to your education. She lends propriety to the fact that I, an unmarried gentleman, am housed with you, an unmarried lady. Do you understand my meaning?”
“I’m not dense.” She freed her hands, coughed one more time into her napkin to hide her discomfort, then resumed her breakfast.
“I’m going to change, and I will be back later to give you a tour of the premises.” He finished his coffee and left her to her breakfast.
So Mama dearest didn’t want her long-lost daughter to be an embarrassment. Jane narrowed her eyes and tapped her fingers on the tabletop as she contemplated the words uttered by her guardian.
About the Author
Author of eight books on California history and sixteen romance novels, Pamela Gibson is a former City Manager who now lives in the Nevada desert. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in public administration, but her passion is and always has been writing.
Having spent three years messing about in boats, a hobby that included a five-thousand-mile trip in a 32-foot Nordic Tug, she now spends most of her time indoors happily reading, writing, cooking and keeping up with the antics of Ralph, her Siamese rescue cat.
If you want to learn more about her activities go to https://www.pamelagibsonwrites.com and sign up for her blog and quarterly newsletter. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, BookBub, and Goodreads.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, August 9
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Tuesday, August 10
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea
Wednesday, August 11
Review at Michelle the PA Lives to Read
Thursday, August 12
Excerpt at Wishful Endings
Friday, August 13
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit
Saturday, August 14
Review at Up Past My Bedtime
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Review at Bookworlder
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Interview at Books & Benches
Wednesday, August 18
Excerpt at Reading is My Remedy
Thursday, August 19
Review at Novels Alive
Monday, August 23
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews
Tuesday, August 24
Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Wednesday, August 25
Guest Post at The Cozy Book Blog
Thursday, August 26
Review at Two Bookish Babes
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