The friendship of four young ladies has created
an indestructible bond to protect one another from the perils of love and
marriage . . .
By A.S. Fenichel
Title: CAPTURING THE EARL
Author: A.S. Fenichel
Genre: Regency Romance
The friendship of four young ladies has created an indestructible bond to protect one another from the perils of love and marriage . . .
After the demise of her friend’s disastrous marriage, Mercedes Parsons isn’t about to let the widowed Wallflower of West Lane, Lady Aurora Radcliff, undertake another perilous trip to the altar. At least, not before the bridegroom-to-be is thoroughly investigated. If only Mercy could stop her uncharacteristic daydreaming about Wesley Renshaw’s charm, his intellect, his dashing good looks. After all, the earl has already set his sights on her best friend! She must keep her wits about her and avoid giving into temptation.
Wesley is both irritated and intrigued by the machinations of Mercy—He cannot let her cleverness and beauty distract him. He needs to marry her friend, Aurora, so he can reclaim his family’s ancestral home. A wrong he has hoped to right his entire life. Besides, who is penniless spinster Mercedes Parsons to decide whom he can and cannot marry? Yet while he admires her unwavering loyalty to her friends, he decides it’s high time the misguided woman had a dose of her own medicine. Two can play at this spying game. But they are both embarked on a dangerous charade. And it won’t be merely Mercy’s reputation at risk—or her heart on the line—as Wesley comes to the inescapable conclusion that he has found the right woman at exactly the wrong time.
“A pair of
lovers must decide whether to listen to their heads or to their hearts in
Fenichel’s delightful third Wallflowers of West Lane Regency romance (after The Earl Not Taken). Mercy Heath is an untitled orphan
living in a West Lane townhouse with her friend Lady Aurora Radcliff, a young
widow. As such, she’s surprised when Wesley Renshaw, Earl of Castlewick, asks
her to dance at a ball. Though Wesley is attracted to Mercy, he feels a familial
obligation to persuade Aurora to marry him as she owns Whickette Park, a
property that once belonged to Wesley’s grandfather and that the Renshaws wish
to regain. Aurora has no desire to marry again, but her mother insists that she
allow Wesley to court her. His pursuit of Aurora leads him to spend much time
with Mercy as well, marveling at her sweetness and musical talent. As the
relationship between Mercy and Wesley evolves from platonic friendship into
romance, Wesley must decide whether his sense of duty outweighs his desire for
happiness. Fenichel makes the high stakes of Regency era marriage apparent,
adding intensity to the forbidden love story between Wesley and Mercy. Fans of
historical romance will be enchanted.”
Mercedes Heath shook her head. She must have
heard him wrong. After all, why would Wesley Renshaw, the Earl of Castlewick,
want to dance with her?
was loud and awash with
Duke of Breckenridge lived in one of the largest townhouses in London, but
it was still enough of a crush that she might have misunderstood the
Wesley’s light brown
eyes sparkled with some amusement only he understood.
“I beg your pardon, my lord?” Mercy tried to be polite,
but it came out sharper than she’d planned.
Mercy was tall for a woman, but the earl was
still a few inches taller, with the broadest shoulders she’d ever encountered. She had a fleeting thought about
what he must
do to stay so muscular, but brushed
the wayward notion aside.
His dark blond curls fell over the golden tan of his forehead,
but his bright eyes glinted
with browns and golds, or at least she imagined they did. Mercy spent so much
time admiring him, that once again,
she had missed what he said.
Her aunt Phyllis
had urged her to put her spectacles in her reticule
and stop hiding her pretty face. She had done so to appease her only
living blood relative, but found herself out of
sorts with her vision blurred.
However, she saw well enough to note his
offered arm, indicating he did indeed wish to dance with her.
As she had missed the opportunity to give some random excuse for why she couldn’t
possibly dance with him, she placed her hand on his arm and
they joined the other dancers.
The conductor tapped his wand and a waltz
began. Mercy tried not to notice the
missed notes and out of tune second violin, but the sound grated on
Wesley placed a hand at the small of her back
a bit more firmly than was strictly necessary.
Turning her attention to him, she asked.
“Have I been rude?”
His smile sent a shot of attraction from Mercy’s head
to her toes and it stopped in a few interesting places along the way. “Not at all. You are seemingly distracted. Is the music not to your liking?”
It would be more polite to say nothing or
deny any issues with the orchestra, but Mercy didn’t
care about such customs and she had no reason to
attempt small talk with this earl. He was nothing
to her. She looked from the ornate arch ceiling with its
frescoes to her aunt Phyllis, who watched from
the furthest corner of the ballroom before
settling her attention back on the handsome man whirling her around the room. “The
second violin is out of tune, the
pianoforte is being played by a complete oaf, and the flutist has missed no
less than two notes of every eight.”
“I see.” He grinned as if perhaps
he did actually understand, but perhaps
he was just amused by her in general. That could explain his desire to dance
with a girl of no means and few relations.
I am likely the only one to
notice such things and that the
duke and his sister have hired one of
the most popular orchestras in
London.” Mercy shrugged as she also
knew no one cared what she thought of the music.
A robust couple bounded across the dance
floor laughing and smiling as if they were part of a circus. Neither seemed
capable of waltzing but neither did they care as they pushed several couples
out of their way and headed directly for Mercy.
In one graceful move, Wesley lifted
Mercy from her feet and out of harm’s
way. Her body crushed
to his with
an embrace that
felt almost tender
before he released her and in the same instant fell back into the perfectly
balanced steps of the waltz. “You are a musician then.”
She laughed and it surprised even herself. She rarely laughed in the company
of strangers. Girls of her
kind were not
supposed to show outward enjoyment in public. It was
grotesque, in Aunt Phyllis’s opinion.
But the way he dismissed saving her from a pummeling as if it never happened
and took up the conversation without a hitch amused her. “I would not call
myself as such, but I do play.”
“Yet you hear every nuance. I think you might
be being modest.” His firm hand on her back guided them easily around the room
and sent heat through her in way no other man ever had.
Mercy had no response. If she said she was an accomplished musician, she would be a braggart,
and if she denied it, a liar. Remaining silent was
her only choice.
“I would like to hear you play some time, Miss Heath.”
He cocked his strong chin to one side. “I think I would enjoy that very much.”
The music ended. “Perhaps you will, my lord.”
She turned to walk away, but he touched her elbow. “Will you not stay for the Boulanger?”
It was common for partners to stand up for
two consecutive dances. Mercy just assumed he would have had enough dancing
with a girl of no consequence and politely let her find her way back to some
quiet corner or to her friends. “If you wish, my lord.”
He offered his hand and they joined a circle
The Boulanger left little time for chatting,
but it did give her time to observe Wesley and how he interacted with others.
He smiled politely at every woman he partnered, though never so wide as to give
someone the wrong impression. When they were once again hand in hand, his eyes
sparkled with something tender.
Mercy assumed she was imagining
things. With her blurred vision,
she could easily imagine anything in the place of the truth. He
couldn’t care about someone like her. If he showed special regard it was only
because he wanted something. In most cases what men wanted from her she was not willing
to give. Her wicked body responded to the earl without regard for the fact that he was
unattainable. Heat flushed up her neck and face, while parts lower suddenly came alive with desire.
Quashing the thought,
she focused on the music,
noting every mistake and even a few nicely handled stanzas.
It was rare that Mercy got to dance. Without
a title, lands, or a large dowry, she had nothing to offer a young gentleman
besides her body and that was not a prize she was eager to give.
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