Anne drew in a breath to steady her nerves at what lay beyond the gilded doors of the London estate of the Duke of Somerset. Her mother gave Anne an encouraging smile. The carriage they were riding lurched to a halt in front of the doors of the estate.
“Best behaviour, Anne. We must give the new Duke of Somerset a good first impression of us. I will not let my dear friend Sarah down by having her son judge us as useless.” Baroness Moore adjusted her hat as if it had somehow been dislodged on the ride.
Anne did not begrudge her mother the nervousness the woman exuded. Her mother’s friend had written to beg help for her son who had just returned from America to take over his title of Duke of Somerset. It would be a daunting task without guidance, and that was why Baroness Moore and Anne were here to offer their aid to the new duke.
A few moments later, the doors swung open, and the footman held out his hand to help Anne’s mother out of the carriage. “Careful, Lady Moore. This step stool is a bit wobbly.”
“Honestly, it feels firm enough,” Baroness Moore said in a tone that clearly said the man was being ridiculous.
Anne smiled where her mother could not see her and then put her face swiftly back in line when her mother looked around at her. “Coming, Anne? Or are you going to wait until they offer to carry you inside?”
With a sigh, Anne eased out of the carriage. “Thank you.” She dipped her head with gratitude to the footman who was swiftly packing the stool away and getting back in his position lest the driver leave him.
There it was, just as she pictured it from her last visit to the estate, that dark wooden door with the grotesque face. Why anyone wanted such a thing on their door was beyond Anne. It was positively frightening.
The face’s mouth leered open, the doorknocker hung between its jaws, its face contorted in a perpetual life. Anne grimaced as she peered up at the thing. “What a horrible monstrosity.”
“I have seen worse. Remind me to take you to the Marquess Bristol’s tea party sometime.” Her mother did not bother with the knocker, and the door still swung open a moment later.
The doorman, a spry young man greeted them with excitement. “Your Ladyships, please come in.”
Baroness Moore regarded the man’s manner with a hint of disdain but smiled and dipped her head in thanks for his assistance. “His Grace is expecting us.”
“Oh, yes, certainly he is,” the young man babbled out. “He’s in the library, Your Ladyship.”
Baroness Moore walked past the doorman who was trying to give her directions now without even glancing at the man. She had clearly judged him useless. Anne gave the young doorman a smile of sympathy. Everyone had to be new sometime, but it was a pity he apparently had not been trained very well.
Her mother knew where she was going, and Anne just trailed along behind her. As they turned down a hallway, Baroness Moore exclaimed, “Gerald, it is good to see you still on staff.”
The butler gave Baroness Moore a warm smile and a bow. “Baroness Moore, it is good to see you. It has been a long time since you visited.”
“Indeed, too long,” Baroness Moore agreed. “Say, who is that buffoon at the door?”
Gerald, the butler, chuckled. “That would be one of the newly hired staff. He will learn.”
“I did not see what was wrong with the last doorman.” Baroness Moore grasped her gloved hands in front of her.
Gerald paused for a moment then said, “Well, he did die.”
Anne had to cover her mouth to keep from laughing out loud. Anne’s mother shot her a look, and Anne bit down on her lip hard to ward off any further outbursts. Baroness Moore frowned. “That’s horrible to hear. He was a good doorman.”
Gerald inclined his head. “He was a fine man. Are you on your way to visit His Grace?”
“Yes. We were told he was in the library of all places. He knew we were coming.” Baroness Moore pressed her mouth into a thin line of disapproval.
Gerald cleared his throat. “He is new. Come let me guide you to His Grace.”
“Thank you,” Baroness Moore said as if relieved.
It was quite a bit more proper to be led through a house than to just be sent wandering. Anne followed along behind them and eyed the pictures. She recognised a few faces, but most she did not know. She had not been in this house for years, yet it all looked the same, albeit with more dust.
She frowned at the dust that was layered on one of the tables. Did the previous Duke not have any maids? The house was certainly never this dusty when Anne and her mother visited frequently. Then again, that had been years.
The previous Duke had been a flamboyant man. He had struck Anne as a nasty sort. The man was certainly nothing like what a true gentleman should have been. She could only speculate that it was the drink that finally did him in, but she had no way of knowing the truth of that because the rumours surrounding the Duke’s death were all whispers and hushed conversations that resulted in distorted versions.
She was brought out of her ponderings as they reached the library doors, and Gerald announced them loudly, “Their Ladyships, Baroness Moore and Lady Hope are here to see you, Your Grace.”
There was the sound of something dropping, and Anne’s eyebrows went up a notch. Had the man fallen? Gerald cleared his throat and slipped into the library with a motion for them to wait. A few moments later, and the butler reappeared as he swept the door open and bowed as he begged them to enter.
Baroness Moore stepped into the library as if she expected rogues to attack her at the door. With the state of the house, perhaps she had a right to be wary. Anne stepped through the door behind her mother, her eyes sweeping over the tables piled up with books as if someone were looking through them.
A man straightened, smoothing his jacket down nervously. “Baroness Moore, my mother spoke of you often.”
“Ah, Thomas, you have grown so tall,” Baroness Moore said with obvious affection. “I almost expected to find your mother here. It is a shame she did not return with you.”
The Duke of Somerset bobbed his head up and down, his shaggy hair twisted and curled here and there. Anne was reminded of the face on the doorknob and wondered if perhaps they were related. He smiled at Anne’s mother as if unaware of Anne’s presence. “She could not stand to leave my stepfather. She has my younger half-sister to worry about, after all.”
“I do hope she is well. I miss her terribly,” Baroness Moore said with a sincerity that touched Anne. She knew her mother had dragged her here out of loyalty to an old friend and Anne felt herself longing to help more now, even if the current Duke seemed quite hopeless.
The man was not even wearing a waistcoat that Anne could see. If not for the jacket, the man might as well be naked. Anne felt her face flush at the very thought, and she hid it behind the fan at her elbow. Baroness Moore turned toward Anne. “Allow me to introduce my daughter, Lady Anne Hope.” Her mother, in turn, told Anne, “Anne, this is His Grace the Duke of Somerset.”
Anne dipped down into a curtsey as it was clear the man was not going to acknowledge the introduction. She put it down to American manners or lack thereof. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Your Grace.”
Duke Somerset bobbed his head up and down yet again like some trained pigeon. “Yes. You too.”
Baroness Moore shook her head. “Your mother was right. It will take much to prepare you for the coming Season and taking over your role here in London.”
“Season.” Duke Somerset said the word as if it were a death knell. “My mother told me of the London Season. It sounded rather frivolous. Am I really expected to take part in that?”
Baroness Moore patted her chest as if she might just hyperventilate. Anne watched her mother with a worried frown. Eventually, Baroness Moore managed to speak again. “Yes. You are a Duke, and it will be expected of you to be out in society. Having a successful London Season to your credit can go a long way to improving your standing among the peerage.”
“That would be the same group of people responsible for my mother fleeing England and heading to America, I assume,” Duke Somerset said with a deep scowl. “I fail to see why I must play anyone’s game in order to simply inherit what is rightfully mine.”
Baroness Moore shook her head at the indignant Duke. “Thomas,” she said his given name much as she would a child. “Your mother sent me here to ensure that you would be a success. I intend to do that. I understand that we shall have to overcome certain American eccentricities, but we can use that to our advantage to make you interesting.”
“Like you did my mother?” The way he asked the question did not sound as if he thought very highly of what Anne’s mother had done for his own mother back in the day. Anne took offence to that. Her mother had gone out of her way to help the Duke’s mother make her first steps into society.
Baroness Moore heaved a sigh. “I understand that you are sore about what happened, but that was on no one but your brother. He was quite mad at the end.”
“You could have offered her a safe harbour or defended her,” Duke Somerset said as he turned away towards the books he had been looking at when they entered.
Anne felt compelled to say something. Her mother’s face was etched with old pain. “It is not my mother’s fault that your mother fled to America. Was your life in America so bad then?”
Duke Somerset looked over at Anne in surprise, almost as if he had forgotten she was there. Anne felt slightly insulted by that. His dark eyes sparked, but the light of indignation died out before he ever spoke. “My upbringing in America was comfortable. Not anything like this,” he said as he waved his hand to the surrounding room, “but comfortable. I have no real complaints over it.”
“Then why do you attack my mother so when she has done nothing but come here out of loyalty to your own mother?” Anne put her hands on her hips and stared the man down. If he was going to be improper, then she might as well do so too.
Baroness Moore interceded. “Anne, remember yourself, and stop this nonsense. He has a right to be angry at how his brother treated his mother and himself. That right stops with his brother, of course.” Baroness Moore looked at the Duke of Somerset pointedly, and the man conceded to her as he hung his head.
Anne relented and cupped her hands in front of herself while looking at the floor. She had not meant to get so defensive, but her mother was a fair woman and of good standing. Baroness Moore sighed. “Now, about the Season, you really should have a new wardrobe.”
Anne looked up as she heard Duke Somerset grunt. “Why? To spend money?”
“Because you are not properly attired,” Baroness Moore said as she gestured towards the man’s clothing. “You are practically unfit for company let alone to be out in society.”
The Duke looked down at his clothing. When the man looked up, Anne could see his eyebrows firmly knitted together in confusion at Baroness Moore’s words. “And what is wrong with this?”
Baroness Moore tapped the fan she held against her dress sleeve. “I know that America is a bit less stringent on modesty, so allow me to be gentle. Men here wear more clothing than that unless of course you are not concerned with your reputation.”
“Well then I’m not concerned with my reputation,” Duke Somerset said as if that would end the matter.
Anne shook her head at the man. Baroness Moore squared her shoulders. “You will care by the time I am done with you. I owe that to your mother. You cannot go shaming your father’s name.”
“I suppose my brother was a fine example of a good English lad.” He hit his hand against a nearby table causing Anne to jump slightly. “This country has some strange ways of holding people accountable only when it does not matter.”
Baroness Moore inclined her head. “Your mother had a hard time adjusting as well. I know it seems daunting, but it will get easier.”
“I don’t know that I want it to get easier.” He rubbed his face. “I appreciate that you are trying to do right by my mother, but I don’t know that I’m cut out for all of this.”
Baroness Moore leaned her head to the side, a motherly softness taking over her stern gaze. “You are cut from the right material, we just may have to hem a few seams.”
Thomas sat in the library after the ladies had taken their leave. His mother had told him that the Baroness would visit, but he had not expected the woman to be so determined. He felt as though he had little choice but to let her help him even if he did not feel it necessary.
He had been well-regarded at home, and surely England could not be that different. What was it his mother had said? The English were a queer lot.
Perhaps he should have taken his maternal grandmother’s advice to simply remain in the states. He could have had a fairly comfortable life, even if it was not one dripping in luxury. He sighed up at the ceiling.
His fate and fortune were here, and he had to accept that. There would be no running away this time. Thomas would stand firm and shove the fact that he was Duke right down their stuck-up English throats. A smile crossed his face at the thought.
His mind, without his agency or permission, brought forth the image of the Lady Hope. She had not been what he was expecting. Truthfully, he had not prepared for her at all. Baroness Moore was the only person that his mother had spoken of, but clearly, the daughter would need to be taken into account now.
A knock at the door brought his head around. “Yes?”
Gerald stood with his hands clasped behind his back as if he had not knocked at all. The man was swifter than an Indian brave and as stealthy as one too. “The cook sent me to ask if you would like your tea now?”
Tea. There was a dreaded word. Thomas grimaced. “I don’t suppose I can get coffee?”
Gerald chuckled. “I can instruct her to make some, but I do not think you will appreciate the brand that we have on hand.”
“I shall decline and make my own,” Thomas said with a shake of his head.
Gerald offered, “Do you think it an offence to your American roots to indulge in tea?”
Thomas slapped his leg as he lost himself in mirth. “No. I simply find the idea of putting so much milk in tea offensive. The cook makes it taste like a caramel treats more than a tea.”
“She does have a heavy hand, but I can insist that she leave it plain. You are, of course, welcome to drink coffee if you choose. I shall instruct the cook that you will see to your own teatimes if you like?”
Thomas nodded at the man’s words. “I’d be obliged if you would. Truth is the woman is a bit frightening.”
“I think all cooks are,” Gerald said with a grin as he dropped into an elegant bow. Thomas wondered if the man would teach him how to bow like that. Apparently, such skills might come in handy. Soon enough, Gerald was gone, and Thomas was left to the quiet of the library again.
Thomas got up finally and headed towards the kitchen. He might not want any of that fancy English tea, but he could do with something to drink. When he reached the kitchen, he paused and listened for a moment. He could hear a woman’s voice humming.
He hesitantly pushed the door open. “Ah, Mister Tom come to call on me,” chimed out Ellie the cook.
The woman clearly remembered Thomas from his youth, but Thomas could never place her. He had only vague memories of England as he was so young when his mother had fled with him. “Ellie,” Thomas responded as discomfort made his collar feel too tight and his hands too large as he wrung them.
“Gerald said you would be by to make your coffee. Teach me how ye like it, and I can whip it up for you next time.” The cook wiped her hands on an apron that clearly was once a crisp white under the stains.
At least the cook did not seem offended by his very manner of breathing as the Baroness had been. He relaxed a bit. The cook had been nothing but kind to him, and he could not hold her clinging to a fondness for the child he had been against her.
“I can try, but I fear that making coffee is more of an art.” Thomas brought out a tin from his coat pocket. “I fear that when I run out of this, I might not be able to get anymore.”
Ellie peered at the tin. “If we can’t get it here, then I am sure we can have it shipped. It is a benefit that your brother has afforded you by dying before he wasted the family fortune.”
Thomas sat down on a stool and eyed the woman curiously. “You are the only one here who ever speaks of James openly.”
“See no reason not to speak of him.” Ellie shrugged. “He was just a man. I knew him when he was a youngster, as I knew you. His mother hired me on right before she passed away. I think that’s why he kept me around when he let so many of the others go.”
Thomas set the tin on the table in front of him. “Gerald is on to me to hire some more, but I fear I don’t even know where to start.”
“Well, some maids would be nice,” Ellie suggested.
Thomas laughed. “Yes, I do suppose so.” He was quiet for a bit. Ellie picked up the tin and eyed it curiously. He smiled and told her how his mother had prepared it. Ellie was an astute woman and quick too. She picked up the recipe quickly, and soon they were sitting around two cups of coffee, steam rising off the brown liquid.
Thomas leaned over and breathed in the scent of the coffee. “Ah, there’s home.”
Ellie gave him a warm smile as she dropped some sugar into her own cup. “The variety of coffees here tend to be a bit bitter,” she said almost as if to explain her sugar use.
Thomas took a sip of the coffee and let it stay on his tongue as he visited memories of home. “I would not know. I grew up as a youth drinking coffee with my stepfather. He liked a large cup to start his day.”
“They do say that it helps keep the mind sharp.” Ellie sipped the coffee. Her face screwed up a bit. “I think I might stick to tea.”
Thomas chuckled. “Still you made it well. I shall have to write home and see if I can’t get Mother to send another tin to me.”
“I do not think you’ll have to worry about anyone else but you drinking it.” Ellie shook her head as she dropped another spoonful of sugar into her cup.
Gerald came in. “Sir Edmonton is here to see you, Your Grace.”
“Oh, right.” Thomas could not muster any enthusiasm. Sir Edmonton was the solicitor that was responsible for the handling of the estates and such. The man’s arrival meant droll hours of him rambling about properties that Thomas had never seen or heard of, let alone found interesting. He would have to sign things, and Thomas always dreaded that. The flowery language of the papers left a bad taste in Thomas’ mouth.
Gerald nodded as if Thomas had not muttered the phrase with contempt. “He is waiting in the observatory. I shall tell him you will be along shortly, Your Grace.” Gerald did not wait long enough for Thomas to dispute his words.
“Gerald is a slippery fellow.” Thomas shook his head and took another sip of coffee.
Ellie tapped the table. “You should listen to his advice on things. He has a good head on his shoulders. One doesn’t get to be a butler for as long as him without good sense.”
Thomas saw no reason to doubt her words. He nodded his head. Perhaps Ellie was not as frightful as he had thought her. She might just be the nicest person he had encountered since he stepped off the boat from America.
He got up reluctantly. “I suppose I should not keep my guest waiting.” Thomas made his way out of the kitchen wondering why he had to accept guests anyway. Could he not simply send them away? What was the good of having a title if all it did was make him powerless?
It was not until a few minutes later that Thomas realised he had forgotten where the conservatory was. The townhouse was larger than any house he had been in previously, and he stared at the hallway blankly. “Hello?” Thomas looked down the hallway and waited.
A few moments later, Gerald called, “Your Grace.” He came around the corner and waved for Thomas to follow him. “I feared you had forgotten your way.”
“Indeed.” Thomas sighed. “I feel as if I should carry string with me.”
Gerald gave Thomas a look of amusement, his moustache quirked up as he smiled. “I dread what you will do when you visit the family estate then. This London home is much smaller in comparison.”
Thomas turned and followed Gerald as the man led him back onto the right path. “I predict that I shall only use a small percentage of the rooms. Why are these places so large if it is just the Duke that lives here?”
“Well, often family members stay on the ancestral estates when visiting and such. Plus, sometimes the duchy offers guests rooms after parties.” Gerald’s voice was light and measured. He clearly saw nothing wrong with a personal home being practically open to the public. What sort of life must royals live?
“I do not like the idea of having strangers stay in my home,” Thomas admitted.
Gerald replied, “Well, they would not be strangers by that time, Your Grace.” He stopped outside a set of double doors. “Here we are. Shall I bring refreshments for your guests?”
“Better bring alcohol if I have to listen to much of this,” Thomas muttered as he opened the doors to the conservatory. He caught a glimpse of his reflection and grimaced at the way his brown locks were going whichever direction they chose at random. Perhaps Gerald’s suggestion of getting a dedicated valet to help him get ready and such was worth considering.
“Your Grace,” Sir Edmonton exclaimed as if merely being in Thomas’ presence made him rapturously happy. It was a strange trait of the English that Thomas had noted in others when they addressed him.
He took the hand the man offered him in a hearty shake. “Sir Edmonton, I forget… what were we due to see about today?”
“I was to go over the Eastern holdings, but more importantly ask you what your plans of enterprise were? Your brother sold a couple of your father’s ships to amend some costs that he put upon the duchy, but there are still a considerable amount of ships that are set on courses to bring cinnamon and such into England.”
Thomas cleared his throat and tugged at the top button of his button-up shirt. “I do not feel as if I am the right person to make a decision concerning the fleet. Whatever my father and brother have set in motion surely will be good enough.”
“For the time being,” Sir Edmonton agreed. “Plans do need adjusting occasionally though, Your Grace, and we should stay on top of it.”
“I have all this information at my disposal, Sir Edmonton. You have already given me the documents pertaining to the spice trade and the fleet.” Thomas sat down heavily on an overstuffed chair that looked out on a garden that Thomas never got a chance to visit. “I fail to see why you must keep coming to check on me.”
“You have not yet appointed a steward, and in that respect, I have to act as one.” Sir Edmonton acted as if that should be perfectly clear.
Thomas schooled his face not to show how annoyed he was. “I was not aware that I needed a steward. I shall find one. I have a lot of hiring to do for the household, and I should get on that. Actually, I think I shall do so right this instant.” Thomas stood up and walked out of the room while the man spluttered out some nonsense that Thomas had no interest in listening to.
Thomas located Gerald easily enough. The butler generally stayed near the front of the house so he was alerted when people came or left but close enough to the butler quarters that he could hear if Thomas rang the bell. “Gerald,” Thomas said as he approached the butler who was wiping down a table.
“I thought you were in with Sir Edmonton.” Gerald looked at him in surprise. “I was just about to go round up some brandy.”
Thomas waved off Gerald’s words. “I think it is time that I get my household set up as well as I can. What do you know about stewards?”
Gerald’s face brightened. “Ah, well, they fill in for the master or mistress of the house while they are gone or simply otherwise occupied. Often there is one for each estate.”
“I need one of those, thing is, I don’t know anyone who fills the role better than you do. So, is it against a rule to ask you to promote yourself?” Thomas gave the man a hopeful look.
Gerald chuckled. “There is no rule against it, Your Grace. If you wish me to be steward, then I will gladly do so. We will need to hire support staff and such.”
“Is that something a steward can do?” Thomas felt a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of filling out the household ranks.
The newly appointed steward nodded. “I can, but do you want a steward for both this estate and one for the country estate as well?”
“Is that customary?” Thomas did not really want to step on anyone’s toes, but he honestly had no idea.
Gerald put his hand on Thomas’ shoulder. “I don’t think you will have to worry much over the country estate. Bradley House has been a family seat for the Seymours for generations. The head of staff there does a good job of keeping things running smoothly. I can write to him if you wish, and we can coordinate with him on what needs to be done.”
“Bless you,” Thomas said with more gratitude than he could ever express.
“I do not know that he seems that interested.” Anne smoothed out the piece of fabric she was currently labouring to embroider. A gentle breeze brushed a strand of Anne’s blonde hair against her cheek as it came meandering into her mother’s sitting room through an open window.
Her mother placed her own work in progress aside and reached for her tea. “He reminds me much of his mother. She was adamant that people would just have to like her for herself, but she eventually saw the merit of having some coaching.”
“But the Duke is a man and a man’s ego, as you often say, can lead them to do some troublesome things.” Anne was not entirely sure that she wanted to help the man who seemed to completely ignore her presence. Let him go bumbling into the Season and find out how unforgiving the English really were.
Baroness Moore sank back into her chair. “Well, we shall just have to pray for Sarah’s sake that her son is a bit more reasonable than most men.”
Anne frowned. She did not remember Sarah. She had heard her mother talk of her friend, but she had not been born until after Sarah had already left to go home to America. “Yes, I do hope so for his mother’s sake.”
“I have cajoled your father into lending his aid as well. He shall take the young man under his wings as much as possible. Which, knowing your father and his schedule will likely be very little.”
Anne did not see what she could really do to help the man. Perhaps he would listen to her father. Certainly, he had seemed a bit hesitant about her mother’s suggestions.
Anne’s father had a loud booming voice that tended to make people take notice. Never had Anne thought that it would be a good thing, but it might be the only thing that could get Duke Somerset’s attention. Perhaps if that did not work, they would call in her uncle the Earl of Chatham. The booming voice was a hereditary trait that all the Seymour men shared, and it was a daunting thing when witnessed in groups.
“Anne, are you listening?”
Anne blinked and looked at her mother. “I am so sorry. My mind must have wandered off somewhere.”
“I had hoped you would outgrow that old daydreaming habit of yours.” Baroness Moore’s eyes narrowed as if she were searching for a way to stamp out Anne’s daydreams once and for all.
Anne smiled. “I was actually thinking of how to help with getting His Grace to come around. Perhaps Father can make him see sense. It is in the man’s best interest, after all, and I dare say that I cannot believe anyone would go against their own best interest.”
“Who knows what goes through the mind of an American,” Baroness Moore whispered. “They are all brash and bravado, the ones I have met. That sort of nonsense is not going to win him any favours at society functions.”
Anne had to admit that her mother was right on that score. Speaking of society functions made Anne remember her own plans for the Season, and she grew excited. “That reminds me that I need to check on the progress of my dresses.”
“Oh, yes,” Baroness Moore remarked as if she had forgotten the dresses that she and Anne had ordered to be made.
Anne clapped her hands together. “I am ever so excited to see them finished. I have a good feeling about this season, American men aside.”
“I just hope that you have given up those designs of yours. You know that your father and I only want what is best for you.” Baroness Moore took a dainty sip of her tea. “This wind keeps pulling my curls out of the pins.”
Anne watched her mother with outward amusement as she sat her teacup down in disgust. “Well, the breeze is nice barring hair woes.”
“I shall look like I just came in from the fields before long,” Baroness Moore complained loudly.
Anne stood up with a sigh. She went over and closed the window. “Better?”
“I already look preposterous.” Anne’s mother patted her head as if trying to locate loose strands.
Anne rolled her eyes where her mother could not see her. “That is not true. Besides no one goes into the fields wearing a dress like that.”
“I pray that the Lord gives you children who mock you so. You got that from your father, that much I know,” Baroness Moore grumbled as she pinned a wayward strand back to her head.
Anne came to her mother’s aid, and Baroness Moore let Anne find and pin her hair back the way it should be. “Good as new,” Anne proclaimed as she proudly sat back down.
Baroness Moore looked over at her daughter. “You never said if you had given up your schemes.”
“I suppose I did not,” Anne said with a smile playing on her lips. She relented at the look her mother shot her. “I will admit that I still do wish you and Father would give Lord Belmont a chance.”
There was a long pause before Anne’s mother closed her eyes. Her voice was soft, and that was not a tone her mother was known for using. “Please, try to understand, Anne. Not everyone is going to see the same thing in a person.” She opened her eyes and looked at Anne. “Trust that your parents see truthfully.”
“But if it is true that not every person sees the same thing, then how can I not try to get you to see what I see.” Anne could no more give up this fight than stop breathing. She just felt like she owed it to Lord Belmont to try. He seemed so set on their match, and he was so kind.
Baroness Moore dusted her skirt as if some imaginary dirt had settled there. “I was like you once. I was enamoured with this Marquis, and I swore that he was the man for me against all advice that I was given.”
Anne gave her mother a curious look. “I have never heard this story before.”
“That is because you have never needed to hear it before. It is not something I would normally share, but if my folly can aid you, then I consider it my duty as a mother.” Baroness Moore sat up straight in a way that made Anne wonder if she truly wanted to hear her mother’s story.
“The Marquis, who I will not name, was a polite and quiet man who was given to lapses of poetry at times. I thought him splendid. He was just like the gentlemen in the romances that my sister and I had read often. He just needed someone to encourage him.” Baroness Moore laughed at her past self. “Truth is I would not listen to anyone. I thought I knew better.”
Anne protested, “It is not that I know better, Mother—”
“You simply feel as if you have to make sure you do not make a mistake,” her mother finished for her. “I know. I felt that way. I also know that no matter what I say, you will carry on because I did the same thing.”
Anne leaned forward, her elbows braced on her knees. “But you married Father.”
“Oh, yes,” Baroness Moore said with a sigh of affection. “I met your father after declaring that I would never marry. Men were vile things.”
With a giggle, Anne asked, “Was Father a vile thing?”
“The vilest of all,” Baroness Moore declared with a laugh. “Why he made me forget my own thoughts, and instead, I was suddenly marrying him.”
Anne covered her mouth to attempt to quell the laughter that her mother’s words brought out of her. She could see the love visible on her face. That was what she wanted. The story of her mother’s marquis hardly mattered because love had brought her mother here.
“There see, he has done it again.” Baroness Moore tapped her knee almost in disbelief. “I was here telling you a story, and now we are talking of him. He is jealous even when he is not here.”
Anne chided her mother. “That is not true. I have never seen Father show much jealousy.”
“That is true, but do you know why that is so?” Her mother raised her eyebrow curiously at Anne.
Anne thought about it and then shook her head. “Why?”
Baroness Moore patted Anne’s hand. “It is simply because he knows that there is no need for him to be. Love knows when it is true. Jealousy is there when love still has to question.”
“Her Duke in the Making” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Anne knows exactly what the Season will hold for her. The only thing she has to do is convince her parents that the man she has chosen is a good match for her. That seems like a trifle until her mother enlists her help to get the new Duke of Somerset ready for the Season as well. Ever the dutiful daughter, she agrees to give him etiquette lessons but only if he agrees to help her with her own plans as well. Will their unusual deal pave the way for them to grow true feelings for each other?
In order to keep him safe from his brother, Thomas’s mother took him and fled to America. Now that his brother is dead Thomas must return to England to claim his birthright and become the Duke of Somerset. Raised an American and suddenly thrown into English society, Thomas has no one to turn to except perhaps the same woman who had once helped his American mother assimilate. Will he be willing to let her beautiful daughter teach him the British ways?
When matters of the heart are concerned, the future can never be predictable. In undertaking a bizarre, yet fascinating task, will Anne and Thomas be able to see that what they need is right in front of them? Will love blossom in a most unusual place?
A Regency romance topped with a generous dose of humorous situations, chemistry and sparks! Perfect for those ready to have their hearts taken!
“Her Duke in the Making” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.