Saved by the Duke Preview

A Historical Regency Romance Novel

About the book

“All I ever wanted was you..”

Natalie feels like she is trapped in a nightmare when her father arranges her marriage to one of his gambling friends. When he tries to make advances on her before the marriage, she has no choice but to run away, and seeks shelter at the only place she knows she can be safe: the house of her childhood friend who she hasn’t seen in years, since a big fight they had.

Harry has finally moved on from the heartbreak of his childhood love rejecting him. He has just started to court another young lady, and is ready to leave the past behind. Until that very past shows up on his doorstep, with a suitcase in hand, and a promise to change everything once more.

As much as Natalie and Harry try to let bygones be bygones, old memories and feelings resurface as they are forced to share his estate. But not everyone is as willing to forget the past.. And when Natalie inexplicably goes missing from Harry’s life for the second time, he knows he will do anything to save her this time. Even risk his own life.

Chapter One

The darkness around her was complete, and every shadow lurked with long talons to grab her. Not even the safety of her carriage could provide the solace and shelter she had become so desperate for. The horses rushed through the night, through the narrow, unpaved roads that led out of London and away from the only life she had ever known, the life that she knew she would never be able to return to.

She dared not even pull the curtains open, lest some of that darkness oozed inside and claimed her. Because that was exactly what others wanted her to do. They wanted her to pay for sins that were not hers, to atone for transgressions that were not the burden of her own soul but rather someone else’s soul, someone who was supposed to lay down his life to protect her, yet, instead, he was doing exactly the opposite.

Somewhere in the distance, thunder rumbled. It was getting closer, she thought to herself. She could hear the rain drumming against the roof of the carriage incessantly. It had been raining for hours with no intention of stopping. She gripped at her cape collar with her hood still on her head. She could only hope that this, along with the cloak of the night, kept her identity a secret from the carriage driver whom she stopped in the street, just a few minutes after she ran out of the house. Fortunately, she always carried some coins inside her reticule, all of which she offered to the driver if he would take her to Winthorpe Estate.

She swallowed heavily, wondering how much longer she would need to travel. In the entangled mess of her mind, she had completely lost track of time. She felt as if she had already been traveling an eternity, but she knew on a conscious level that it could not have been more than an hour. That left at least twenty minutes more of this limbo while she did not know whether her destination would be the shelter she had been searching for.

She closed her eyes but not out of a need for sleep. She hoped that by closing her eyes, she would also close her eyes off to the world, to the anguish that had become her burden as well as her fear for safety and her future. But that was impossible because that fear had infected her very soul, and she knew that wherever she went, she would not be safe, not until she was as far away from her home as she could be.

Suddenly, the carriage came to a halt. A slight tap on the door to the carriage signaled that she had arrived at her destination. She inhaled deeply, silently praying that she had come to the right place. In all honesty, she did not know what place in the entire world would now be the right place for a young lady who no longer had a home.

She exited from the carriage, and a powerful gush of wind threatened to blow her right back in. She clutched at her cape, assuring that her hood was in place and that she was turned away from the lights in the background when she was handing the man the promised coins.

“Are ye sure ye dun wan’ me ta drive ye closer?” he asked cautiously, gesturing at the manor house in the distance.

“No, thank you,” she shook her head at him, already feeling her cape soaked from the rain. “I shall walk.”

He gave her a suspicious look, exactly what she had been trying to avoid then shrugged dismissively, hopping back onto the carriage. She waited until he was gone from sight then she continued on foot towards the entrance to Winthorpe Estate. On the way there, she fought the wind, the rain, and her own swarming mind telling her that she was making a terrible mistake. She tried not to listen to that voice, to banish it from her mind.

One last time, it endeavored to force her to turn away when she was right by the door, at the exact moment when she grabbed the brass lion knocker and announced her presence to the inhabitants of the manor house. Again, somewhere in the distance, thunder exploded loudly, angrily, as if the very earth had separated in two. She trembled under the following gush of freezing wind, hiding underneath the already wet cloak which now provided very little shelter.

The door suddenly burst open from the inside, and the butler’s eyes widened in shock at seeing her. She recognized him as well. It had been well over ten years, but he was still unmistakably himself, just as she was herself. His long jaw parted in shock while his eyes, round and curious, stared at her.

Just as she was about to speak, he pushed the door open even further, allowing her in, silently. She accepted the silent invitation and sighed a sigh of relief upon seeing the doors close, almost as if that small action managed to close all of her troubles behind. If all were that easy, she thought to herself.  

He could immediately see she was trembling. It confused him, even more than seeing her here after all this time.

“I shall fetch His Grace immediately,” he told her with a respectful nod, “and I shall send Mrs. Higgins with some warm blankets for you.”

“T-thank you,” she managed to muster, realizing only now that she was freezing.

She rubbed the sides of her upper arms with her opposite hands, but that did little to warm her up. She looked around, allowing the memories to flood her. She could remember the feeling that washed over her every time she was brought here as a child, and how she never wanted to leave because she was having too much fun. How different her visit now was from all those other visits.

The sound of footsteps brought her back to the present moment, and she turned in the direction where the sounds were coming from. Both of them were here. Both of them equally shocked to see her. It had been so many years since she saw them last, and yet, she felt like they had not changed a bit.

“Natalie?” He spoke first, and the sound of his voice almost made her cry. “What in the world are you doing here?”

Stunned to immobility, he could not move. All he could do was gasp at the sight of his soaked, unexpected guest who had arrived in the middle of the night in weather that no one should be caught outside in.

“Come, Natalie!” The woman next to him spoke with her arms flying towards the guest in a protective gesture of inviting her in. “We must get you out of those wet clothes before you catch your death.”

Natalie allowed them to lead her to the drawing room. Her memory served her well. She still knew exactly where it was. As soon as they entered, the leftover warmth from the fire made her shiver.

“Go fetch Mrs. Higgins,” the lady instructed the man, who seemed like a puppet, lost without the guidance of his puppet master to tell him what to do. Just as he was about to head to the door, Mrs. Higgins appeared, carrying a blanket and some clean clothes.

“My word!” she exclaimed upon seeing Natalie, who could only smile in gratitude. “Should I run a warm bath for her?” she asked the lady.

“Perhaps Natalie has had enough water for one night,” the lady replied. “We should help her change into these warm clothes and get her in bed immediately. Do we have some leftover soup from supper?”

“I think so,” Mrs. Higgins nodded.

“Then, please, bring some for our guest if you would be so kind, Mrs. Higgins.”

“Right away.” With those words, Mrs. Higgins disappeared from the room.

“Harry, why don’t you give us some privacy?” she urged, and Harry immediately nodded awkwardly, leaving them alone.

Natalie was so exhausted that she allowed the lady to help her disrobe and put clean, dry clothes on. Once she was dressed again, she watched as Harry was invited back in. Natalie immediately recognized the look in both their eyes, yearning for an explanation which Natalie wasn’t certain she could provide right now.

“I know this must be a shock,” Natalie started, realizing that offering them nothing would be highly inappropriate of her, especially seeing that they welcomed her inside, helping her without asking for anything in return. That gave her hope that she could still trust them, despite what happened all those years ago.

“That is the understatement of the year,” Harry said with a frown, and Natalie almost chuckled out loud when she noticed how his sister elbowed him softly, urging him to keep quiet.

Natalie always loved how close they were, even as children, and she was happy to see that this hadn’t changed now that they were grown up. She wondered if her life would have been the same if she also had a brother like Harry, who would protect his sister no matter what. But there was no point dwelling on things that could not be changed.

“I will be happy to share everything with you,” Natalie continued, feeling her exhaustion increase with each passing moment. “But could we please do it in the morning?”

Harry and Peggy exchanged a meaningful glance, as if to silently discuss this between themselves, then they both turned their attention back to Natalie. She could see compassion and understanding in Peggy’s eyes. She remembered that nothing had really happened between the two of them. They had always been good friends. It was merely the circumstances that tore them apart, only to bring them back together so mysteriously once more. However, it was obvious that Peggy was as shocked as Harry was to see Natalie at their door, soaked to the skin in the middle of the night.

“Of course,” Peggy agreed. She was obviously the one who had enough wits about her when faced with such a strange situation. She had always been the more reasonable of the two. “Would you like us to send for your clothes or –”

“No!” Natalie caught herself exclaim much more loudly than she expected to. “No one must know I am here, please.”

Hearing this made the shock on their faces even more palpable. They didn’t speak. They didn’t even exchange another glance. They were trying to make sense of this situation although it was obvious that until Natalie told them everything, all they could was guess.  

“I cannot trust anyone,” Natalie admitted softly, her voice down to a whisper. Her strength was leaving her. She could barely keep her eyes open. “I know we haven’t spoken in such a long time, and I have no right to ask this of you, but I have no one else to turn to.”

She gave them a pleading look, and Peggy smiled and walked over to her. “I do not know what burden you carry, but it must be something dreadful. It is probably best you get a good night’s rest, and we shall talk about all of it in the morning.”

Natalie was hoping that Harry would speak more, especially after all this time. He could not take his eyes off of her, but that was solely because of the shock. Nothing else. She had no right expecting anything of either him or Peggy, and yet, they welcomed her back into their home, offering shelter.

“Thank you,” Natalie managed to smile, accepting Peggy’s hand.

As she passed Harry, she dared to look at him straight in the eyes, hoping to see… something. But all she could see was her own reflection in those deep pools of dark blue.

“Good night,” she heard him say just when she left the room, allowing Peggy to take her upstairs to one of the guestrooms. Peggy helped her in bed, wished her good night, then closed the door, leaving only a single candle lit to illuminate the entire room.

Natalie was still trembling, even though she wasn’t cold anymore. It was fear. The same fear that followed her here which would not leave her alone until she was as far away from the city as she could be.

Chapter Two

Harry could not sleep one wink that night. How could he when Natalie was under the same roof as him? Even that thought defied all logic. Yet, she was there.

The following morning, he was the first one up. He was also the first one at the dining room, which was not common at all. Peggy was usually the one to wake up first, and by the time he joined her for breakfast, she was already in the middle of it or even finished with it. They would exchange a few pleasantries regarding the day that was ahead, and then everyone would go about their own business.

This particular morning, he was surprised to find the dining room devoid of his sister’s presence. Shrugging, he sat down, ordering for breakfast to be served. He tried to focus on the newspaper, which was left on the table where his seat was, but there was little regarding the war in France or the new ships which were of interest to him. The only thing he could focus on was the presence of their guest, most probably still slumbering in one of the guestrooms just above his head.

If someone had told him that Natalie Johnson of all people would be soaking wet at his door in the middle of the night seeking shelter, he would tell them they were stark raving mad. Now, it turned out he was the mad one for not believing it.

Finally, relief came in the form of his sister. She smiled at him as she entered the room, walking past him only to bestow upon him a soft peck on the cheek, and then, she settled into her own place.

“Quite a commotion last night,” she said with a curious smile.

“Quite,” he acknowledged, hoping to keep his attitude regarding it composed although he was anything but.

“What on earth do you think happened to her?” she wondered absent-mindedly.

Just as he was about to reply that he had absolutely no idea in the same dismissive tone, the breakfast arrived. They both waited for it to be served, and only when they were once again left alone did they continue their conversation.

“Well, whatever it is, I do believe that you should be the one to ask her,” she concluded as he took a piece of toast and started buttering it up.

“Me?” he frowned.

“Why, of course,” Peggy returned his quizzical gaze. “You used to be the best of friends.”

That was true. What else was true was the fact that he did not like to be reminded of it.

“We are not any longer if you had so conveniently forgotten,” he reminded her.

“She hasn’t,” she replied immediately. “I noticed that you were too shocked to act last night. So, I did what should have been your duty. I took care of our guest. However, it seems that there is much more to this story, and I do believe it should be you she reveals it to.”

“But you are… I mean, you were friends, too,” he said, wondering what that would feel like, to speak with her again regarding such intimate affairs. He could not have imagined ever being put in that situation again, yet life seemed to have a way of surprising one when one least expected it.

“While that may be so,” she nodded, lifting her gaze from her toast to meet his eyes, “I do believe that she has come here in search of protection because of you, not because of me.” She paused a little then continued much more sympathetically than before. “Something dreadful must have happened to her, Henry. I could not imagine her coming to us otherwise and asking for secrecy.”

Harry nodded with a sigh. He did not have much of an appetite to begin with this morning, but now his appetite was downright nonexistent. All he wanted to do was run upstairs and see whether Natalie was awake, so he could hear this mysterious story of hers. But he did not want to seem too eager.

“If you do not plan on having any breakfast, why don’t you take some up to our guest?” Natalie suggested, reading his mind. He always wondered how she managed to do that.

About fifteen minutes later, Harry found himself standing in front of the guestroom, hesitating to knock. A part of him was certain that this was a bad idea. He should simply turn around and wait for her to get up and come down. Then, he and Peggy should speak with Natalie together. He could still remember how easy it was to share secrets with her. She was his most trusted confidant, and he knew she would never tell another living soul what was told to her in trust. He owed her at least that much. There was still anguish in his soul regarding everything that happened, but he was slowly moving away from it all. This would be his way of proving it to himself.

Confidently, he curled up his fingers and knocked on the door. He swallowed heavily, feeling his throat becoming more and more dry with each passing moment he was left to wait. Then, she called out for him to come in.

He pushed the door open and saw her still in bed. Her hair was pulled back into a lose bun, and she was wearing one of his sister’s old dresses.  

“Good morning,” he said with a slightly awkward smile. He was relieved to see that her smile was equally awkward. “I brought you some breakfast.” He gestured at the tray he was carrying.

“Thank you,” she replied. He expected her to say that she wasn’t hungry, but she said no such thing, so he placed the tray on a small bedside table at an arm’s reach.

He stood awkwardly for a moment, wondering how to start the conversation that brought him up here in the first place. He had always been a direct man who knew how to ask direct questions, but this was an unusual situation. This time, he did not know how to ask that direct question. Perhaps just asking it, as simple as that sounded, was the way to handle this.

“You said you would offer an explanation for your… unusual behavior,” he said, still trying to choose his words carefully and not make her feel even worse than she obviously was feeling.

“Yes, I did,” she nodded, adjusting herself in the bed a little. He considered pulling up a chair to the bed, so they could be closer, but he immediately decided against it. He needed this safe distance from her, both physically as well as emotionally. “I honestly do not know where to start,” she admitted, crossing her hands in her lap.

“It is always best to start from the beginning,” he said clumsily, knowing that he was expected to say something, but he could not think of anything more clever.

She smiled at his words. “I suppose that is true,” she agreed, looking down at her lap as she always did when she needed to speak about something that brought anguish, something that embarrassed her and filled her with shame. He wondered if this had anything to do with her father.

Lord Daniel Johnson, the Viscount of Garvey was a notorious gambler — that much was evident to anyone who had the misfortune of knowing him. As a child, Harry always considered the Viscount an amusing man, but as he grew older, he realized that there was nothing amusing about him. The Viscount was able to gamble away a fortune in just one night, promising to pay it all the next day, and chipping away at his family fortune little by little.

“Over the years, my father’s gambling debts have accumulated,” she commenced her story. “Usually, he is able to keep it all under control. People are willing to wait for the money he loses, and more often than not, he does pay them what they are owed. But…”

The way she said it made his entire body shiver.

“But?” he repeated.

“But not this time,” she revealed. “This time, he lost to the Earl of Brooks.”

Harry did not know the man personally, but he knew enough about him to wish to never make his acquaintance at all. If Brooks was involved in this story in any manner, that was a bad sign.

“My father owes him so much that I doubt he would be able to pay it off in his entire lifetime,” she continued. “So, they struck up a deal. My father promised my hand in marriage to him to pay off the entire debt.”

Harry was shocked to hear that a father would be willing to do something so atrocious to his own daughter. He was unable to speak.

“We had dinner at the Earl’s home, my father and I. And the Earl…” She suddenly got silent, looking down at her hands again, fidgeting with her fingers nervously. “He advanced on me inappropriately while my father was not paying attention.” Her voice was on the verge of breaking. A sudden need to rush over to her and wrap his arms around her took over him, but he managed to resist the temptation. “I ran away, stopped the first carriage I could find, and came here.”

He never doubted that she was a brave young lady, but this surpassed all the expectations he ever had of her. Only, there was one thing he could not understand.

“But… why would you come to me?”

Perhaps he ought to have said here, to this place, making it more impersonal, but his words were already manifested in his mind. To me. That was where she had come.

She lifted her gaze. Her cheeks were slightly flushed. She was also burdened by the knowledge that they were no longer friends, and as such, she had no business coming to him. Yet, she did exactly that. He didn’t know how to feel about all this. It was confusing him; it was making old, forgotten emotions rise to the surface just so they could torment him again.

“I could not trust anyone else,” she confided in him. “All I am asking is to be allowed to stay here for a short while, just until I see where I can go next because I cannot return home ever again.”

Harry sighed heavily, raking his fingers through his hair. He could not remain put, so he walked over to the window, glanced out of it for a few moments, then returned where he was, still keeping a safe distance from her.

Under normal circumstances, having a guest in his home would be no issue. After all, he was living with his sister, and Natalie could be considered Peggy’s friend. However, that was only if he wasn’t courting anyone, which he was. If word got out of there being a young lady in his house, living there for an indefinite amount of time, then his chances of a successful courtship might be ruined. And that was not all he was worried about. There was still the issue of their friendship which ended so abruptly, and they never even discussed it. There were so many things he did not know. So many things he could not make sense of. But there was one thing he was certain of, and that was the fact that he could not turn his back on her.

“All right,” he finally said, defeated. “You may stay here as long as you need to.”

The smile she bestowed upon him was one of those old, radiant smiles he loved her so much for. His heart rebelled at the sight, and he had to keep his own lips pressed tightly together, so he did not to smile back at her in an equal manner.

“I should leave you to your breakfast then,” he said, glancing at the door. His escape. Being in her presence was becoming overwhelming.

“All right,” she said, still smiling.

He nodded a few more times, going backwards to the door which he opened and closed again with such swiftness he never knew he had in him. His heart was beating wildly, threatening to jump out of his chest. He had no idea how he would handle her presence here for the next several weeks.

Chapter Three

“I had forgotten how lovely your garden is,” Natalie gushed as she and Peggy were seated outside, having a picnic.

It was late in the fall with cold nights, but some of the flowers were still bravely keeping their heads up, defying the weather against all odds. Natalie knew exactly how they must feel, for she felt the same way about her current situation. Everyone expected her to bow down her head and do what her father bid her, but marrying that man was more than she was willing to do. That would mean sacrificing her life, her future, and her happiness just because her father could not control his gambling addiction. She loved him, but she loved herself more.

“It is lovely to have someone to enjoy it with.” Peggy smiled back as she poured them both a cup of tea.

There was a soft breeze blowing, and Natalie pulled a small blanket over her shoulders. She was still at a risk of catching a cold, and that was the last thing she wanted to have happen right now.

“Don’t you enjoy it with Harry?” Natalie wondered as she looked about.

Once again, she was flooded with memories of this place. Beautiful memories that reminded her how lovely and carefree her life used to be. Her mother and their mother were the best of friends, and their children would spend time together often, as often as the mothers themselves. Natalie and Peggy would run away from Harry, who would then try to catch them. He was the one who would then frighten them with frogs and different insects, and Natalie always pretended to be afraid because that seemed to be more fun for him. They would sit underneath a big weeping willow tree and talk about anything.

Natalie loved talking to them both but especially Harry. As the older one of the two, he always seemed to have something wise to say, even as a child. She cherished his mind as well as his company. But then, something happened, and nothing was ever the same.

“Oh, he is often out of the house.” Peggy’s voice brought her back to the present moment. “He has his usual obligations, and as if that wasn’t enough, he has started courting Lady Lucy Andrews.”

Natalie felt as if someone just burned her with a hot poker then immediately pulled it away just when it started to hurt. The thought of Harry courting someone came as a surprise although she could not explain why. It was only to be expected that he would find someone. In fact, she should have been surprised that he still hadn’t gotten married.

“I see,” Natalie smiled, realizing that Peggy was looking at her, expecting some sort of a response. This was all Natalie could provide.  

She was happy for Harry. He was a good man, and he deserved to find a good wife.

“I am certain that Lady Lucy is a lovely young lady,” Natalie continued, giving the most generic statement she could come up with. The truth was, she had no idea who Lady Lucy Andrews was, nor did she have any inclination towards meeting her. If Harry had chosen her to court, there must be something good about her.

Quickly, she shook her head at herself. These thoughts of hers were making no sense. Why on earth should she care whether Harry was courting someone? And who that someone was? It was irrelevant. It was none of her business.

“Is everything all right?” Peggy wondered, looking at her puzzled.

“Oh, of course,” Natalie nodded, waving about herself a few more times. “There are these annoying flies around.”

“Really?” Peggy frowned. “I haven’t noticed any.”

“You haven’t?” Natalie smiled. “It was just here, the little bother. Oh, never mind,” she added in an effort to continue the conversation and steer it in a different direction, hopefully as far away from Harry and his courtship as possible. But that seemed to be the only thing Natalie could focus on.

She remembered his words. Even after all this time, she remembered them exactly, word for word. She also remembered her own reaction to them, and everything that happened afterwards.

“I hope you don’t mind, but Harry had told me what happened,” Peggy suddenly said. Natalie, of course, did not mind. In fact, she was grateful that she did not need to repeat that shameful story again. Once was more than enough.

Then, Peggy continued in a calm and sympathetic manner that was so characteristic of her. “We both want you to know that you are welcome to stay with us for as long as you’d like.”

“Thank you, truly,” Natalie smiled, feeling overwhelmed. “You don’t know what that means to me.”

“I won’t even pretend that I know how you feel,” Peggy added. “But you are among friends here. Your secret is safe with us, and if there is anything else we can help you with, please do not hesitate to ask.”

“Oh, I could not possibly do that,” Natalie shook her head. “I will try to arrange it so that I am your burden for as short a time as possible.”

“You are no burden, I assure you, dear Natalie.”

Listening to Peggy felt like music to Natalie’s ears.

“I was so afraid that you might turn me away,” Natalie said, deciding that it was all right to be completely honest with Peggy.

After all, the two had never really gotten into any sort of an argument. It was simply the situation that kept them apart, forcing them to lose touch with each other.

“Turn you away? But why would you think that?” Peggy sounded surprised. Natalie hoped that she didn’t cross the line and offend her sweet, kind host.

“Well…” Natalie started, but she had no idea how to even begin talking about that event which tore their friendship apart.

“Oh,” Peggy immediately understood. She nodded, inhaling deeply, obviously at a loss for words herself. “That is something you should not be discussing with me but rather with Harry.”

Natalie feared that it was far too late for such discussions. Too many things had happened in the meantime. Too much time had passed. They were different people now. They had grown apart far too much to be able to find their way back to one another.

“Like I said,” Natalie decided that it would be best to simply let this topic go and not delve more deeply into it. That was not the reason why she was here. “I will not be a nuisance for too long, I promise.”

“Do not worry about that,” Peggy assured her. “What you should worry about is your next step. What do you think it will be?”

Natalie had thought about it long and hard the previous night, and there was only one thing that came to mind, only one way out of this predicament that did not involve her getting married to a rake who was twice her age.

“I hope to arrange a trip to Scotland,” Natalie revealed, bringing her tea close to her lips, and taking a small sip.

“Do you have someone in Scotland?” Peggy wondered, intently focused on their conversation.

“Yes, I have family on my mother’s side,” Natalie confirmed. “I saw them twice when I was a child. My mother and I traveled there together. I am hoping that they can take me in without letting my father know that I am there.”

“That is where you plan on living the rest of your life?” Peggy asked the question that had been plaguing Natalie’s own mind since the previous night. “Forever hiding?”

“Perhaps not forever,” Natalie said with a muffled voice.

It was certainly not the life she had imagined for herself. It was exactly the opposite, but she knew that staying here, in London, would be the worst possible decision she could make.

“That is no life, dear,” Peggy shook her head sympathetically.

“Sometimes, life does not go according to plan,” Natalie shrugged, smiling defeatedly. “That means I need to change the plan only for a short while, and hopefully, after a while, I might be able to return here and lead my life the way I wanted to again.”

“I wish there was more we could do for you,” Peggy said sadly.

Natalie smiled. She had almost forgotten how delicate Peggy was. She was always the one bringing home injured animals, wanting to take care of them. Her heart was always big enough to accommodate anyone that needed a kind word. It was simply who Peggy was.

“You are already doing more for me than you could ever imagine,” Natalie replied. “You have provided me with a home at a moment when I could call no place a home or shelter. I cannot imagine greater help than that.”

Peggy smiled again then she suddenly got up. “Come,” she urged. “How about we take a little walk around the garden? Maybe we could pick some of these late bloomers and put them in the drawing room?”

“Splendid idea,” Natalie agreed, following Peggy’s initiative.

For the next two hours, she could forget all about her predicament and the fact that her father had probably hired half of London in an effort to find her. He was probably not the only one in search of her. The Earl of Brooks was also looking for his bride to be. But she was nowhere to be found, and she planned on keeping it that way for as long as she could.  

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  1. I enjoyed the first three chapters and your novel has captured my full attention! My mind is now wondering what will happen next! Will she be able to get to Scotland or will her father find her or worse yet.. will her intended find her before all others. I do wish you provided just another chapter to give us an idea of
    what Henry is up to while his sister and his guest are walking the gardens.

  2. I love how the intrigue begins with the very first page. Natalie’s father gambles her away to an unsavory rake causing her to flee alone and in disguise. She runs to the home of a former friend and his sister, with whom she’s had a falling out of not yet disclosed reasons. They take her in without reservation.

    Now as a reader, I am completely enthralled. I want to know what happened between her and Harry. Who is Harry ? Is he the Duke? Will Harry and Natalie end up together? Will Natalie’s father receive a comeuppance for his Ill deeds? Will the Earl come to claim her?

    My only negative thought in anticipation is that I will not be able to put this down once I have the entire book. I will have to read it in one sitting and will be bereft when I am done. But then I can read it again.

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