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Rebecca has led a very quiet life working for her father at a small country inn. When she meets Geoffrey she falls in love with him right away. But she’s only the daughter of a baronet and men like Geoffrey never marry country girls like her. Do they?
When Rebecca’s father tries to marry her off to a wealthy old man, Geoffrey intervenes and marries her himself. He wants her very much but he couldn’t possibly love her. Love is for fools. At least that’s what he tells himself. But a sinister enemy soon threatens to destroy all that Geoffrey holds dear, forcing him to face the truth. His marriage depends on it . . . And maybe even Rebecca’s very life.
Now enjoy an excerpt:
Geoffrey Michael Kane, the seventh Earl of Kanewood, was hot, dusty, and tired. At twenty-eight he was still adjusting to the duties thrust upon him with the death of his father two years earlier, making frequent trips to London to meet with his solicitors. Returning from one such meeting, his carriage hit a dip in the road and skidded to a halt.
“Where are we?” Geoffrey called to his driver.
“Rutlandshire, my lord. Not far from Oakham.”
Geoffrey climbed out of the leaning carriage. “Grab the wheel then, Fields. You and I are visiting Oakham today.”
After securing Geoffrey’s travel bag behind one of the saddles, they rode into Oakham. It was late June and the weather was hot and muggy. The ride was rough and with every new bump and stumble, Geoffrey swore under his breath. For the last hour, he dismounted and led his horse into town. He wore no hat, which was the norm for him, and the sun beat down on his head. He squinted and looked at his surroundings.
The town was quite small—a village, really—but picturesque. His sharp eyes noticed a dry goods establishment, a market, a pub, and even a doctor’s office. The shingle on the side of a two-story brick building proclaimed the medical man’s residence and place of business. Just past the outskirts of the town, Geoffrey spotted the only business he was interested in today. The wheelwright’s shop. The wheelwright shared his space with the blacksmith, and both businesses appeared to do well. Geoffrey snorted. No surprise, given the rutted cobblestone road that led through town.
He brushed off his clothes. There was nothing for it. His tan breeches were stained with wheel grease and his white shirt was crumpled and smudged. He retrieved his brown jacket from behind the saddle and saw it was in a sorry shape, as well. “I don’t much resemble the Earl of Kanewood, do I, Fields?”
Fields reddened before realizing no answer was expected. Geoffrey led his horse in front of the wheelwright’s shop as Fields dismounted and rolled the offending wheel to him.
Geoffrey spied a beefy man standing in the large doorway. “Are you the proprietor?”
“Aye. William Bennett, wheelwright. What can I do for ya?”
Standing there, with an obviously-broken wheel at his feet, Geoffrey bit back a sarcastic reply. “I need a wheel fixed. This wheel.”
Bennett fingered the splintered spokes. “Aye. It’s broken.”
Geoffrey kept his exasperation in check. “Can you fix it?” he asked deliberately.
“Aye. Nothin’ to it. Fix it right as rain.”
“Good.” Geoffrey breathed.
“Goin’ ta take a few days, though.”
“A few days? Why?”
Bennett held up his right hand, wrapped in a cloth bandage. “Got me hand a bit crushed fixin’ the doc’s trap. He told me not to use it till he says it’s okay.”
Geoffrey stared at the man incredulously. “There is no one else who could fix this?”
“Nay,” the man answered. “Not around here.”
Geoffrey’s irritation began to grow to anger, but with one look at the guileless face of the wheelwright, it swiftly faded. “Well, do you have someone to get my carriage out of the road? It’s about a twenty-minute’s ride back.”
“Aye, me boy and I’ll go get it. You be wantin’ it brought here?”
“Yes, thank you. Is there a place to keep my horses?”
“Blacksmith’s got a couple stalls. Wouldn’t put these fine animals there, though. You be stayin’ here till this be fixed?”
Geoffrey thought for a moment. Perhaps a few days away from London, as well as Kanewood, would help him ponder the disquieting news he’d received from his solicitors.
“Is there an inn close by?” he asked.
“Aye. Raven’s Inn, just outside of town. Stables to let in back, fine dinin’ room.” The wheelwright scratched his chubby chin. “Can’t attest to the rooms, but I can tell ya the ale is mighty fine.”
“Thank you.” Geoffrey motioned to his driver. “Let’s head over to this Raven’s Inn, Fields. It seems we may be here awhile.”
They mounted and set off for the inn.
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