A Traditional Regency Romance
Can Miss Georgina Morton surrender her independence and accept the Duke’s love?
Miss Georgina Morton, at the age of four-and-twenty, with a modest annual income of four hundred pounds, believes she has no need of a husband and can manage quite nicely without one. Yet within a matter of weeks, she’s betrothed to Giles Glentworth, the Sixth Duke of Westbury, and bound for Regency London.
Set in rural Wiltshire and elegant, fast-paced London...a runaway ward, a shooting at midnight, and a visit to fashionable Almack’s, are only a few of the adventures Georgina enjoys while falling for the Corinthian charms of the Duke.
Chapter One Excerpt 3 continued…
Georgina gave a sympathetic smile. “I understand you thought it safer to travel these roads as a man, but my concern is that you were permitted to leave your home at all.”
“Oh, no! I wasn’t allowed to leave, exactly. I’ve been staying with a cousin, and I’ve...I’ve sort of run away.”
“Oh dear,” gasped Georgina, astonished. She’d discovered the situation was far worse than she first supposed. “If that’s the case, I think it best we hurry to Rose Hill, so we can be comfortably seated, and you can tell me all I need to know. Don’t you agree, Miss…?”
Georgina waited, hoping she would be rewarded with a name.
“Please, call me Abigail. But I beg you not to ask the name of my family because I know you will feel obliged to contact them and inform them of my whereabouts. And yes, I’d like to go to Rose Hill with you, for you seem like a person I can trust.”
With the decision made to journey on to Rose Hill, they walked over to The Red Lion and entered. Speaking briefly with the landlord, they asked if he could spare a stable boy to help take Abigail’s travelling bags to the house. When everything was arranged to their satisfaction, and they knew that Ned, one of the stable hands, was to deliver the bags, they set off at a steady pace.
Georgina wasn’t exactly dressed for a long trek.
That morning, she’d left the house hurriedly with Mr Kelley, a friend of her father’s. Mr Kelley had been visiting her Papa, and upon discovering Georgina intended to call upon the vicarage with a basket of eggs, he’d offered a ride in his gig as far as the village. Georgina had readily accepted his offer and without thinking about her return journey, or the fact she might need a sturdier pair of shoes, she’d set off wearing house slippers and not her robust, sensible nankeen half boots.
With her bonnet tied securely upon her head, and wearing a plain beige pelisse over her muslin morning dress, she looked exactly what she was―a refined young lady dressed in a sensible style.
Georgina was practical in outlook. Clothes were to be worn because they were of use, not because they were the height of fashion. And although she would sometimes love the luxury of dressing solely for elegance and not functionality, she was realistic enough to know that, in the country, away from the bustle and trends of the city, comfort and durability were the deciding factors when choosing what to wear.
Spring would soon be here, and today, with a fresh nip still in the air, Georgina was thankful for the warmth and protection her old pelisse was giving.
Crossing the brown, freshly ploughed fields in which crows and ravens were diving for offerings, Georgina and Abigail soon arrived at the tall wrought-iron gates of Rose Hill House.
For most of her four-and-twenty years, Georgina had lived at Rose Hill House with her parents. But since the death of her mother, whom she still sorely missed, it was only Georgina and her father who lived there.
The house was an impressive dwelling.
Although not overly grand and not at all pretentious, it was a modest sturdy stone structure, set in mature, well-manicured gardens. Positioned on the south side of the house was the coach house and stables.
The gardens wrapped neatly around the wisteria-clad walls. And with a lavish green lawn extending down a steep incline until it reached the edge of a twisty, meandering brook, it was indeed a strikingly beautiful place in which to live.
Behind some woodland to the rear of the property was a small expanse of hidden acreage. It was an area Georgina was allowed to keep aside for her horse Splendour to use. There were also a couple of fields in which her father’s farmhands worked, keeping the estate in sufficient crops and vegetables, throughout the year.
Walking to the house and entering through the impressive solid-wood door, Georgina discarded her bonnet, pelisse, and the basket she’d been carrying, carelessly onto a chair before showing Abigail into a parlour.
The sun streamed in through the open French windows, and although it was a spacious room, it felt cosy. In the centre, was a large, pink rug upon which stood a circular table and matching chairs. A fire screen was before the hearth, and above the mantel was a framed portrait of Georgina’s mother.
Pointing to a chair, Georgina said, “Please, take a seat, I shall not be long. I will go and find my father and explain the situation.”
Georgina thought it best if she spoke with her father before ordering tea for Abigail. She wasn’t reluctant to introduce them to one another; it was just that she thought it best if she paved the way. Her father was set in his ways and disliked his routine to be disturbed. And an unexpected guest would definitely be a disturbance.
Georgina found her father closeted in the library where he was accustomed to sit and relax. The day wasn’t cold, but a comforting fire had been lit, and the room had warmth to it.
Mr Morton was a well-built man of sturdy frame and posture. He had strong features and there was a black ribbon tying his dark brown hair back from his face. It could be said that he was not dissimilar to Georgina in looks, but he’d nothing of her soft femininity. He was ageing but not old, and today he was to be found sprawled in his favourite armchair, reading.
Entering the room, Georgina waited for her father to finish reading the page he was on. And when he placed a finger, wedging it between the closed pages of the book, marking the spot he’d reached, she began to explain about Abigail’s predicament.
She had his full attention.
Enlightening him on Abigail’s unexpected eviction from the stagecoach, she then began the daunting task of persuading her father to allow Abigail to remain. She insisted it was to be only until Abigail was reunited with her family, or if not her family, then until someone was found to take on the responsibility of Abigail’s wellbeing.
Georgina walked to a chaise lounge placed near Mr Morton’s chair and sat down, clasping her hands firmly in her lap.
“So, you see, Papa, we cannot permit this poor child to continue on her journey. It would not be safe for her. She is an innocent, and we don’t know what might befall her if she were to travel on to London―alone. She has no concept of danger, and she is willing to place her trust in anyone who comes along. Look how she blindly trusted me! I feel it my duty to offer some sort of protection and guidance to someone so young. Is it not vexing, to be in a position where we are unable to do anything to help?”
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Any names or characters have no existence outside the imagination of the
author or are used fictitiously, and actual events are purely coincidental.
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Copyright © 2019 by – Arabella Sheen
Published by priceplacebooks
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About Arabella Sheen
Arabella Sheen is a British author of contemporary romance and likes nothing more than the challenge of starting a new novel with fresh ideas and inspiring characters.
One of the many things Arabella loves to do is to read. And when she’s not researching or writing about romance, she is either on her allotment sowing and planting with the seasons or she is curled on the sofa with a book, while pandering to the demands of her attention-seeking cat.
Having lived and worked in the Netherlands as a theatre nurse for nearly twenty years, she now lives in the south-west of England with her family.
Arabella hopes her readers have as much pleasure from her romance stories as she has in writing them.
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