Cover photos © The Killion Group, Inc. and iStockPhoto.com
Cover design by KGee Designs
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9915075-7-3
iBooks ISBN: 978-0-9915075-8-0
The illegitimate sister of the Earl of Trenton, former maid Lily Harkins has spent the past two Seasons attending balls and soirées and learning everything she needs to know to be a proper lady of the ton. She's also garnered a group of suitors—four, in fact—and every one of them has indicated their intention to make her their wife. Trouble is, she can't decide if they're truly fond of her or of her dowry.
William Overby has spent almost his entire life working at Wellingham Imports. Despite his poverty-stricken past in the Seven Dials, his position as a clerk has afforded him all the trappings of the middle class and what he thinks is a satisfying life. That is, until the day he meets Lady Lily. The beautiful blonde, a cousin of his employer, reminds him of a maid he once met at Vauxhall Gardens. A maid he saved from certain ruination. A maid he's been unable to forget since that fateful night. Could Lady Lily be the same girl?
Having read the stories in the gossip sheets suggesting his sister is being courted by no fewer than four aristocrats, Gabriel invites Lily to spend the summer in Staffordshire. He's determined to hear her side of the stories before deciding which man is good enough to be her husband. He wants her to have a life of privilege, after all.
Lily decides a few tall tales told over evening meals should help cast the men in a not-so-flattering light. But what of the young man she met at Wellingham Imports? The clerk who reminds her so much of the honorable man from her past? Can she convince the earl that William is the man for her? A struggle with class and the expectations of her brother may override The Desire of a Lady.
Sarah Wellingham, Countess of Trenton, speared her fingers through her husband’s butter blond curls. “Why, give me a glance with those beautiful blue eyes and toss me a sovereign and I’ll give you a tumble right here and now.”
Gabriel Wellingham, Earl of Trenton, straightened at his desk and regarded his wife with widened eyes. “What?” he replied in shock. “It didn’t cost me anything last night!” he claimed in mock dismay.
Grinning in delight, Sarah shrugged. “It’s those blue eyes and that blond hair,” she whispered as she ruffled up his hair with her long fingers. A gold filigree bracelet dotted with sapphires encircled the wrist at the base of her hand. Although the piece of jewelry was more appropriately worn at balls and the opera, Gabriel had insisted she wear it everyday. “You’ll need a reminder you’re a countess now, and no longer a commoner,” he had said when he first wrapped it around her wrist.
Sarah tore her eyes away from the winking blue jewels and settled them back on her husband’s blue eyes. “And speaking of your very best trait, you must know your sister is receiving a good deal of attention, and not all of it because of those blue eyes and blond curls of hers,” she said with an arched eyebrow. “She was mentioned again in The Morning Chronicle.”
The earl rolled his eyes and sighed. “I am a bit concerned about that,” he admitted, “Which is why I’m considering sending the coach to London for her. It would do her some good to spend some time in the country.”
Sarah nodded her understanding, not about to tell him she had already sent a letter to her sister-in-law with the invitation to visit Trenton Manor. “I fear those who pay her such attendance don’t necessarily have her best interests at heart,” Sarah said as she took the chair across from her husband’s desk. Although she had only been his countess a bit more than a year, Sarah had settled into her role much like she had when she agreed to manage the Spread Eagle Inn.
An earldom, as it turned out, was very much like a business.
Gabriel frowned. “You think they mean to ruin her and... what?” he asked in alarm.
Allowing a sigh, Sarah leaned forward and lowered her voice. “Ruin her and marry her,” she clarified. “She’s a very pretty girl, but there is another reason all the young bucks, and some not so young ones, are interested in taking her as their wife.”
His blue eyes widening in alarm, Gabriel shook his head. “Her dowry, do you suppose?” he asked finally.