Lord Grigsby wants nothing more than to retreat to his study, but a promise to his long-dead sister has forced him back into society to broker the marriage of his nephew to the heiress whose money can save the young man’s estate. If only the young lady’s starchy hired companion would move out of the way.
Hired to launch an heiress’s society debut, seemingly straitlaced spinster Liliana Ashford’s future as a professional chaperone depends on the girl’s successful marriage. But Liliana had her own close encounter with a scoundrel years ago, and she won’t let her charge be forced into marriage to the same kind of rogue, no matter how hard the man’s widowed uncle tries to woo Liliana around to the match.
Secrets and a Scandalous Murder
A shadow from Liliana’s past appears bearing an unfortunate letter she wrote long ago, and then the earl is murdered, evoking the scandal of the season. While she scrambles to make a respectable match for her charge before her own past can be exposed, Grigsby sets about finding his nephew’s killer—and Liliana’s secrets.
Her head whipped around, and she glared. "It's not for me to approve or disapprove. Katie—Miss Mercer—will decide."
Passion flashed in her eyes, sending an answering spark through him. She was magnificent, though so very mistaken. "Really? Then her father is more liberal than I expected."
She looked him over more closely. "What do you know of this matter?"
I might ask you the same question. Her tone had been stiff, like the crystallized dome covering bubbling lava. He fixed her with his sternest glare, not entirely surprised at her cheek.
His glower didn't impress her. She lifted her shoulders higher. Stood a little taller, proud, lovely, and filled with indignation.
Quite righteous indignation. He gave into an unmanly sigh, truly weary of his responsibility for Thomas. "I know a good deal, Miss Ashford. I have been negotiating for these nuptials. The arrangement is my doing as much as Mr. Mercer's. Much more than it is my nephew's. He is probably the least culpable, except for his abominable behavior."
She clenched her hands tightly. "I see."
"Thomas's mother was my older sister. I made a promise to her that I would look after him." Her gaze softened, and she bit her lip in a way that made him want to taste the part that she was nipping.
And where had that thought come from?
"And your nephew needs money and an heir."
He nodded. As a woman of the ton, of course she would understand how marriage worked. Marriage wasn’t about love, or the bride’s approval, or a plump lower lip that begged to be kissed.
"He needs money most of all. He has a younger brother in the army who would make a far more dutiful earl."
He covered his mouth with his hand. The words had rolled out, shocking him. He rarely spoke this frankly with any woman.
Very well, he never spoke this frankly with any woman.
She released a soft breath. "And there is the matter of the ore."
His mouth gaped and he quickly closed it. Mr. Mercer had shared that information? Well. "That part of the county is rich with newly discovered veins of iron."
That information brought her up straighter. She looked away, gazing intently at a thick, dark spot of foliage, making him want to pry into that sharp mind.
"I see,” she said. “I believe we should go back in now."
Not yet. He tucked her hand over his arm but did not move.
Character Interview with Liliana
My brother and his friends always called me “Lil” as a nickname.
Sadly, I was forced by circumstances to take employment as a companion to a wealthy young woman coming out into society. My job was to help her make a very good marriage.
3. Level of schooling, or self-taught
Like most of the girls of my class, I did not attend school. From time to time I had a governess or tutor, and I found solace, and much education, in books.
Must a lady as old as I am and still unmarried share her date of birth? No, I think not.
I was born at our family home in Cambridgeshire.
About Alina K. Field
Her debut novella, Rosalyn’s Ring, was the 2014 Book Buyer’s Best winner in the novella category.