Cover photo © PeriodImages.com
Cover design by KGee Designs
See the August 2014 isse of InD'Tale Magazine for their 4-star review
When her friend Lady Samantha spies a rather handsome groom from Lady Julia’s second story bedchamber window, Julia agrees the man is far too handsome to be a groom. “He could be a gentleman,” she tells Sam, thinking the servant could be taught how to bow and dance and dress like a gentleman. Doubting her friend can accomplish such a task, Samantha dares Julia to do just that – and in time for the Mayfield ball in just three weeks!
Alistair Comber, the second son of the Earl of Aimsley, was fighting Napoleon's forces on the Continent until his cover was blown. Having assured one of his dying soldiers he would see to the man’s widow and children, Alistair returns to England intending to keep the promise. But when his father refuses to honor the obligation, Alistair is forced to sell his commission to raise the funds. Angered that his son would do such a thing, the earl disowns Alistair. Needing employment and a place to live, Alistair uses his knowledge of horses to gain a position as a groom at Harrington House.
When Lady Julia tells him of her plans to make him into a gentleman in time for her mother's ball, Alistair agrees to the scheme. After all, how hard can it be when he’s already a gentleman? How hard, indeed!
“He is rather handsome,” Lady Samantha commented, one hand pressed against the glass of Lady Julia’s bedchamber window. “In a brutish, very manly sort of way.”
The object of her attention was obviously down below, for if anyone was handsome and directly outside Lady Julia’s bedchamber, they would have to have wings and be able to fly or be perched upon rather tall stilts. There was no tree or trellis to provide a climber a way to reach the bedchamber from below.
“Who is?” Julia wondered, moving to join her friend at the window. Afternoon sunlight filtered into the room as she drew back the heavy velvet drape with one hand. Glancing down, she could see one of the kitchen maids cutting herbs in the garden below. Just behind the garden’s low rock wall lay the paved alley, and beyond that, the mansion’s mews and carriage house.
After a moment, she realized to whom Samantha referred.
A groom was brushing her father’s favorite riding horse, Thunderbolt, at the edge of the pavement. When the young man’s head lifted to draw the brush down the animal’s neck, the brim of his cap no longer hid his features.
Julia’s inhalation of breath made Samantha smile. “You agree then?” she murmured, obviously pleased with her assessment.
Before Julia could respond, the groom had paused in his task, removed the cricket cap that hid most of his facial features from the young ladies, and used his forearm to push a lock of his dark hair from his face.
For just a moment, his face was angled up, his eyes closed against the afternoon sun. Julia sighed her appreciation. “He is handsome,” she agreed, wondering if the groom in question had noticed the two of them spying on him. The young man certainly didn’t look like a typical groom. He was rather tall and lean, although Julia realized his shoulders were quite broad—he wore a shirt, its sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and a waistcoat, but no topcoat. The exposed forearms displayed muscles that shifted beneath his bronzed skin as he continued brushing Thunderbolt.
When he moved around the horse to brush the side facing them, she noted the look of his boots, the shape of his legs in the almost snug breeches he wore.
When had a groom ever looked ... not like a groom? she wondered.