Cover photo © RomanceNovelCovers.com
Cover design by KGee Designs
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4787-0273-3
iBooks ISBN: 978-0-9893973-1-5
See the October 2013 isse of InD'Tale Magazine
for their 4-star review
Henry Forster has loved only one woman his entire life. Sarah, a farmer's daughter, bore him a son when he was merely the nephew of the Earl of Gisborn. Despite Henry's numerous proposals, Sarah has refused to marry him, claiming he must seek a wife suitable to his rank. And now that he's inherited the earldom and needs a legitimate heir, he is determined to find a biddable wife but keep Sarah as his lover and his young son in his life.
Lady Hannah Slater, the daughter of the Marquess of Devonville, decided long ago that men have no regard for their wives and only ever love their mistresses. Husbands, she thinks, are for fathering children. Her large dog, Harold MacDuff can provide protection, but she wants desperately to have a child. So when the Earl of Gisborn offers for her hand, she readily accepts.
When the earl doesn't bed her on their wedding night – he thought it inappropriate to take her virtue in her childhood bed – Hannah is upset and makes her displeasure known while the two are on their way to Oxfordshire. In an effort to appease her, Henry agrees to the proviso that he bed only Hannah until she is with child – then he can resume his relations with Sarah. He is unaware that his true love has set her sights on a different future – one that doesn't include him.
It will take the antics and devotion of man's best friend to teach Henry and Hannah that sometimes love is right in front of your nose in The Seduction of the Earl.
“How do you take your tea, my lord?” Hannah asked as she lifted a cup and saucer.
“Gisborn,” Henry stated emphatically. At Hannah’s widened eyes, he wondered if he had erred in insisting she use his name so soon after their introduction. “No sugar, a bit of milk,” he added. He dared a glance in the dog’s direction. “Will Harold be joining us, milady?”
Hannah was pouring the milk and didn’t see the glint in Henry’s eye as he asked about the dog. She did wonder how he knew her pet’s name. Did Father talk about Harold with him? She lifted her gaze to his as she handed him the tea. “I’m sure he would love to. That is, if you were not asking in jest.”
Henry smiled. “I was not,” he answered with a shake of his head. “Unless I have taken his chair, in which case I should like the opportunity to move to another before we invite him.”
Smiling at his comment, Hannah turned her attention on her pet. “Would you like a biscuit, Harold?”
The Alpenmastiff raised his head in surprise. A very small but deep ‘woof ’ erupted before the beast raised his entire body off the floor, a move that seemed to take a great deal of effort and at least two or three whines before he lumbered over to Hannah’s side. He appeared to notice Henry for the first time, but, not sensing any danger to his mistress, he pulled his haunches under him and sat up as straight as his bulk would allow.
“May I?” Henry asked as he pointed toward the dog’s treat. Hannah regarded her guest with a bit of uncertainty. “I ...I suppose.”
Lifting the biscuit from the plate, Henry rose from the chair and walked over to the dog. Standing directly in front of Harold, he allowed his eyes to make contact with the dog’s. They were large, brown eyes, rather expressive despite the overall look of boredom the rest of his expression seemed to convey. His huge black nose was surrounded by a white snout that featured a collection of black freckles. Beyond that, his body was covered in brown fur which extended to a white band of fur around his entire neck. The rest of his body seemed covered in the brown fur, except his front legs, which were quite white, as if the dog had been recently bathed. Henry wondered if there was a copper tub anywhere in London large enough to accommodate such a huge beast.
Henry lowered the biscuit until it rested on top of the dog’s rather wide snout. Harold stared at him with lazy eyes, as if he had done the trick a thousand times and was bored by it. Henry returned to his chair and sat down. “Now, Harold!” he commanded. Harold dutifully tossed the biscuit into the air with an upward shake of his nose and caught the treat in his mouth as it came down. For a few seconds, a crunching sound emanated from the animal.
Hannah’s mouth dropped open before one of her hands could cover it. “How did you ... how did he know how to do that?” she asked in surprise. “I... I didn’t know he knew that trick!” She stared at Henry for several seconds. “I haven’t taught him how to do it!”