An arrogant earl looking for the perfect wife; a strong-minded governess determined to transform him into the perfect man--who will win?
The Earl of Greyley's sins have finally caught up with him. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving man.
Lady Fetchwythe to the Dowager Dutchess of Roth, while taking a breath of fresh air on the terrace at the Hotchkiss soiree.
Greyley House, outside London
June 15, 1816
"Your brother will not be happy to see us."
"Nonsense." Sara Montrose, the Countess of Bridgeton, regarded her husband from across the rumbling carriage. "Anthony will be delighted we came to visit."
"Not if you engage in your usual heavy-handed matchmaking attempts," Nick said, a warning threaded through his silky voice.
"Me?" Sara slipped off her shoe and rested her foot on the edge of the seat opposite hers, very near her lord's muscled thigh. "Heavy-handed?"
He lifted a brow, his blue eyes fixed on her with unwavering regard.
"Truly, Nick, I only wish to see if he is well."
He said no more, and after a moment, Sara frowned, a niggling worry settling between her shoulders. Her husband suffered from horrendous headaches, though it had been almost six months since he'd succumbed to an attack. "You seem out of sorts. Is your head--"
"No." Nick's gaze softened. "I'm fine. And so is Anthony. Leave him be, Sara. He's over thirty and well able to live his own life."
Sara wiggled her toes once more. "I just want to visit my brother. Surely there's nothing wrong with that."
Nick snorted inelegantly, responding to her not-very-subtle demands by capturing her foot. His warm hands cupped her ankle as he kneaded the pad of her foot. Sara closed her eyes, almost purring as his hands made their way up her calf.
But before he could proceed further, the carriage rumbled to a halt. "Damn." Nick sighed and released his hold.
Sara hurriedly pushed her skirts back down and thrust her feet into her shoes just as the footman opened the door.
Moments later, they were climbing the stairs to Greyley House. Surrounded by a wooded park, the house sat on a small knoll and cast a forbidding shadow across the front lawn. Large and square cut, the manor conveyed all the welcome of a mausoleum.
"It makes me yearn for Hibberton Hall," Nick murmured.
"We won't be long." She was just as impatient to return home as he. She hated leaving their daughter for more than a day or two at most. The thought of little Delphi made Sara sigh. She would say what she came to say to her brother and then leave, not that Anthony would pay any attention. He rarely did. Still, it was her duty as his sister to keep a watchful eye on him and to offer advice. Whether he wanted it or not.
She and Nick had just reached the top step when the door opened and a horse-faced woman dressed in a sturdy traveling pelisse stomped onto the portico. A bandaged dog was tucked under her arm, a flowered bandbox dangling from her fingers.
Her clothing proclaimed her a step above a practical servant, but the state of her coiffure made Sara pause. The woman's long, dull blond hair tangled to one side, a mass of feathers seeming to grow from the lump.
Jenkins, Greyley's most proper butler, followed hard on the woman's heels. "Miss Turner, pray reconsider. They were only teasing--"
Miss Turner whirled to face the butler. "Teasing? Were they teasing when they rubbed poor Fanny with catnip and then locked him in the loft? That orange tabby in the barn frightened him so badly he nearly had a seizure."
"It was never proven that the children-"
"Are you suggesting that my sweet little dog opened the window in my room, climbed down a trellis from two stories up, and locked himself inside the barn loft?"
Sara's glance slid to the nearly bald dog. He was as fat as a stuffed hen, his legs splayed in a...