Tempting Scandal- Chapter Two, Part One

tempting scandal sTrailing behind Blithfield and his young lady, Nate arrived with the others just as they began to move on to another room. He dreaded large gatherings like this. He agreed to come only as a favor to Laura. She had been spending more time with the Duchess of Clifford, and her grace had requested Laura’s presence. Or, at least, that’s what Laura had explained to him. Now, seeing her on Linton’s arm, he wondered if she were growing attached to the man. It could never be. Daughters of dukes did not marry mere misters. Furthermore, no matter what Nate’s father had done, dukes did not marry women in trade.

Clifford emerged at his side. “You missed it, but Clara announced our house party. You will come this year and bring Laura?”

“Laura? No, she is far too young!”

Clifford nodded in the direction of where Laura and Linwood stood and chatted. Linwood was apparently enamored with Nate’s sister and judging by her blush and frequent smiles she, at the very least, enjoyed the attention.

“She is not too young for a house party,” Clifford said.

“She is too young for one of your wife’s house parties. You know how she matchmakes!”

“It does not follow that she would do so for Laura. Do you forget that she used to be a teacher of girls our sister’s age? She never advocated marriage for any of them.”

The truth was, Nate did often forget that Clifford’s wife had been a teacher and was not born to the aristocracy. For that matter, Clifford had been the son of a man who had been a baronet and given an earldom long after Nate’s childhood. He earned his dukedom after assisting the Prince Regent. Of course, Nate promptly committed political suicide by then siding against Prinny on a critical Parliamentary debate. Not that Nate ever considered doing otherwise. His integrity had always been to the extreme. It was such actions that garnered Nate’s notice, and their friendship began.

It was not that Nate disliked people of lower ranks. Rising up to a dukedom was something of which to be proud, and Nate congratulated his friend. However, lowering the status of your family to follow your lust for the butcher’s daughter was another thing entirely.

“You do raise a valid point,” Nate admitted.

“It is you Clara would love to find a match for, and I agree with her thoughts.”

“Pardon?”

“You need to ensure your dukedom. A wife, heirs—that sort of thing.”

Nate frowned. If he could, he would leave everything to Laura. However, if he did not marry the title would go to ___. “You know I have the utmost respect for your wife and think of her almost as a sister.”

“Ah, so you will come.” Clifford grinned. “Well, tell her your requirements, and I am sure she can arrange a guest to suit.”

“This idea is ridiculous enough without my having to discuss it with Her Grace.”

“Well, if you tell me, I am just as likely to get all the details reversed. If you tell neither of us a thing, then Clara will invent her own requirements and heaven help you.”

Nate grunted his assent. For the remainder of the outing, he considered what he would like in a wife. She must come from an old and noble family with no hint of scandal. That alone would make it nearly impossible to find a lady. She must have some wealth—not that he needed it. Instead, it would assure they had no rumors of fortune hunting. Considering how he would prefer his future bride to look required more time.

A few days later, the Duke and Duchess of Clifford dined at his home. After the meal, while Laura performed on the pianoforte, Her Grace sat next to him and brought up the conversation.

“Tell me about your ideal lady,” the duchess commanded. After Nate gave his description, the woman laughed. “We can plan, sir, but the heart cannot be dictated by such things. At the very least, what sort of looks do you prefer?”

“Petite but unaware of the fact,” he answered without hesitation.

“How…interesting. Anything else?”

Although Nate felt ridiculous saying something so stupidly poetic, he believed if she truly wished to satisfy she would be up to the task. “Eyes as blue as the ocean and hair the sunshine.”

A slow smile spread across the duchess’ face. “Quite romantic. When you are courting be sure to write her a verse or two.”

“Naturally,” he said with a smirk.

“Is that all?”

Laura had finished her sonata. After their gentle applause, the duchess stood for her turn on the instrument. “Actually,” Nate said before she walked away, “her face should remind one of a heart.”

“I see. Well, I do believe I may find one or two ladies who may suit your requirements after all.”

She dipped into a curtsy then moved to the pianoforte. The night continued without anything worth noting. It was not until he awoke in a cold sweat in the middle of the night that he realized he had described Sylvia Linwood.

Tempting Scandal- Chapter One, Part Two

Last time we stopped right where Sylvia–most embarrassingly–met the Duke! What shall happen next?


 

tempting scandal sOwen pushed forward and offered Sylvia help up to her feet. The gentleman—Sylvia knew he must be a duke given her brother’s words—glared at the spectators and they turned to resume their business.

“Is she injured?” the duke asked Owen.

“I can speak for myself,” Sylvia raised her chin and refused to look away when the man’s eyes met hers.

“I am certain Sylvia is unharmed,” Owen answered and placed a hand atop Sylvia’s. “Are you?”

The duke raised a brow and Owen flushed.

“Not—not that I mean to say you could not withstand my sister’s—well…I do not know what to call the display—not that you were making a display—I see your coat is torn.”

Sylvia could stand in silence no longer. She cleared her throat. “Brother, I believe we are keeping His Grace. Pray, forgive me.” She curtseyed. “I should have watched where I was going. I reacted instinctively and meant no harm. Please, send my brother the bill for the replacement. You have his name?”

“Indeed, Miss Linwood.”

Why did he sound so amused? Sylvia bobbed her head when she wanted to roll her eyes. “Again, please accept my apologies.”

“Yes!” Owen exclaimed. “Sylvia would never accost a duke under normal circumstances, I assure you.”

The duke smirked. “Keep an eye on your sister, then, Linwood. Good day to you both.” He gave the merest bow and strode away.

Beside her, Owen let out a great exhale. “That was bloody awful.”

“You do not need to tell me that,” Sylvia huffed, wishing she could rub the ache out of her backside. “I have never seen you so befuddled!”

Owen winced. “We are late. I may have missed my opportunity to speak with her.” He wrapped Sylvia’s hand around his arm and drug her forward with his long-legged and quick pace.

“Speak with who and who was that? You seemed to know him and vice versa.” Sylvia used her free hand to slam down her bonnet that threatened to fly away as they nearly ran down the street.

“That was Nathaniel Gordon, the Duke of Russell, and I had hoped to spend a moment in his sister’s company today.”

“Owen!” Sylvia planted her feet firmly on the ground and nearly fell on her face when her brother did not stop with her and kept tugging her arm.

“What is the matter?”

“Did you accept Clara’s invitation to meet at the museum to court a girl? We were supposed to return to the estate today. You know how much—”

“Court her?” Owen laughed. “I could never dare to hope for a courtship with Lady Laura Gordon.” He pulled her forward. “I only wished to hear her speak, to look upon her face…”

Sylvia’s eyes widened. Her brother was mooning over a girl, the sister of a duke and an arrogant one at that. Oh, this could mean terrible things. He had never seemed in love before and would have little to offer such a lady. At least it seemed he understood he had no future with the lady.

They gave their tickets to the clerk at the entrance and then rushed through the first few rooms until they met with their group. Clara, now the Duchess of Clifford, had been Sylvia’s most hated teacher until she met and fell in love and married. At the time, the transformation had impressed upon Sylvia and her school friends to vow to marry only for love. All these years later, Sylvia scoffed at the idea of love matches. Not one in a million couples had the love the Cliffords shared, and she knew she could never be so lucky. Who would have her anyway? She had little fortune and only passable looks. Gentlemen desired a wife skilled in embroidery rather than collecting rents.

“Ah, there you are,” Clara, the duchess said before reaching for Sylvia’s hands and pecking her cheek. “I was ready to give you up,” she laughed. “I know Sylvia wanted to return home, and Owen forgets appointments as often as he remembers them, but Laura insisted we linger.”

Sylvia watched as Owen smiled adoringly upon the young lady next to Clara. The girl blushed flame red.

“I do not believe you have met Sylvia, dear,” Clara squeezed Lady Laura’s hand. “Allow me to introduce you.”

The necessary introductions performed, Clara continued to guide them through rooms. “I sent the others ahead, but we should reach them in a moment. Clifford chose not to join us. Gordon needed to visit a shop, and Clifford says he comes too often to the Museum. He is extraordinarily fond of it.”

Sylvia smiled at the way her friend and mentor spoke of her husband. Turning her attention to Lady Laura, she asked, “Do you come to the Museum often?”

“Not as much as I would like,” she answered. “His Grace is often too busy to accompany me. I am very grateful for the Duchess of Clifford’s attention.”

“Nonsense,” Clara called over her shoulder. “And I believe I asked you to call me Clara. Now, here are the others.”

They rounded a corner and met a handful of other friends of the Cliffords. Seeing a friend, Sylvia excused herself. From the corner of her eye, she saw Owen replace her next to Lady Laura.

 

 

The Duchess of Clifford’s Lessons on Love: Tempting Scandal, Part One

I’m so excited to be starting this series on my blog! I first started this series in 2015. For a time, I expected to release a few of these in 2016 and 2017 but my test run in the Regency Romance genre taught me how difficult it is to become visible. I had to focus on JAFF for budget reasons. My heart will always be in JAFF and about 98% of my story ideas start with the belief that the main characters are Darcy and Elizabeth. I have enough ideas to keep me writing in the genre for probably thirty years. However, I also have a creative desire to pursue writing that is not derivative of Jane Austen’s works but set in Regency England. Like Fantasy Friday, I will be going slow with this project. My goal is to have 500 new words each week. I won’t be publishing until all the stories are complete so this will take years. 🙂

I don’t have an official blurb for this story or this series. The premise of the series is that a group of school friends vowed to only marry for love when they witnessed its transformative powers on their most hated teacher. She, shockingy, becomes a duchess and is part big sister, part wise aunt as each girl enters the real world and finds how difficult it is to remain true to their ideals. I am mixing historical events from the Regency Era (1811-1820) with Romantic tropes.

The first novel, Tempting Scandal, will have a forced marriage and deals with Luddites (who you should recall from Sufficient Encouragement). Most of my stories will not have overlapping themes from my JAFF stories but this one does. However, it is not a rewrite (unlike Bridgewater Brides) so all words will be new.

I will also be using a different pen name. The last time I tried Regency Romance, I think it confused some readers and I mostly showed up with JAFF books. I’ve decided to keep Rose as part of my name for any genre I try. Harrison is after my hometown just as Fairbanks was after the town in Alaska in which I resided for a year.

That’s enough chat, don’t you think? Let’s get to it!


tempting scandal sSylvia Linwood scowled at the cobbled London pavement as she blindly followed her twin brother from their carriage to The British Museum. For one, she doubted the visitors who made their current passage so crowded had any mind for history and intellect. She had never seen a member of the ton show a sign of a brain in their well-groomed heads. Secondly, her brother had promised her they would leave for their estate this morning. Yet, here they were as far from their Yorkshire home as ever.

Owen was not a bad brother or thoughtless. He simply overextended himself while desiring to please everyone at once. The same morning he promised Sylvia they would return to Linwood Hall, he had told their friends they would meet at the Museum. If Sylvia did not care so much for her old school teacher, now the Duchess of Clifford, she would be more put out. However, Owen had a way of endearing everyone to him. His smiling face and sunny outlook on life had been their mother’s consolation while she lived and their father’s primary source of pride before succumbing to an early death. By contrast, Sylvia seemed formed to annoy both. Her mother bemoaned her daughter’s lack of interest in ladylike pursuits. Someone had to see to the estate. Mrs. Linwood had been too frail and Owen too fond of leisure and company. The ladies at Almack’s would have a heart seizure if they knew Sylvia acted as land agent for her brother.

“Keep up,” Owen called over his shoulder.

Sylvia had to take two steps for his one. “It is not as though I do not know the way,” she mumbled under her breath.

Some ladies, or rather all as she glanced around her, she supposed would walk arm in arm with their male escort. Sylvia had no notion for the tradition. Owen was nearby, and the streets crowded enough that she could not be accosted without witnesses or assistance. She had no physical malady requiring the aid of a gentleman’s arm. If they walked together, he must awkwardly slow, or she must rush. It suited neither of them. Besides, she had gone to the Museum countless times over the last four seasons. She knew every shop by heart. Nothing but an unlikely and sudden storm would surprise her.

A wall emerged before Sylvia, and before she could move aside, it crashed into her. A yelp escaped her lips as she stumbled backward. To ease her fall, her hands reached out to grasp anything they could.

“What the devil?” the wall spoke as the sound of fabric ripping garnered his notice.

He turned, and Sylvia was jerked by the motion and stumbled once more. It was a man, she realized. He grasped her by the forearms.

“Unhand me!” He pushed against her arms and almost threw her down.

“Sylvia!” Owen came running up to them. “You there! Stop him!” He shouted as he ran. “He has got my sister.”

A crowd circled around them just as Owen arrived. Why had no one come to Sylvia’s rescue? The man had quit attempting to toss her around, but Sylvia’s mind lagged with confusion and exhaustion from the exertion.

“Sylvia,” Owen panted between breaths. “Are you well? Why did none of you help?” He glanced at the witnesses. “Have you no common decen—Your Grace!” Owen hastily bowed.

Sylvia gasped at her brother’s words, and her eyes flew to the man with whom she wrestled. Taking in the expensive fabrics and fine tailoring, she let go of his sleeve so quickly she finally fell backward. Pain seared her backside as the crowd laughed.