Confessions of a Lady Ruined (MF)
[BookStrand Historical Romance]
Julia Bassett can’t bear living in the household of the handsome lord who once charmed and then ruined her—especially while he prowls London’s ballrooms for a wife! Forced to act as his sister’s chaperone, Julia will do anything to be sent packing—even if it means engaging in the same scandalous behavior that years earlier got her banished to the country and separated from this dashing earl she still secretly loves.
Colin Everett, Earl of Danforth, enjoys seeing how far Julia will go to jeopardize her position—even to brazenly seducing him. He regrets breaking her heart so long ago, and now he’d like to win her back. But when several attempts are made on his life, he must find out if this bold vixen is seeking love…or vengeance.
Can Colin and Julia learn to trust each other—and their own hearts?
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
"Julia Bassett was ‘ruined’ when she was in London for her season years ago by Colin Everett, Earl of Danforth. This has basically led to her life being one of drudgery and work, even though it was her family reacting to her sister’s indiscretions and not Julia’s (though she doesn’t know these facts). Now Julia is going to have to come face to face with the man she once loved. She has been talked into acting as Colin’s sister’s chaperone for her London Season. But, to keep from having to spend so much time in Colin’s presence Julia will do just about anything to be sent packing. Colin feels bad about breaking Julia’s heart long ago. Time has passed and he sees that she has more substance than he initially thought and in fact was a victim years ago. Now he wants her back in his life. Can the two learn to trust each other? Especially when it appears someone is trying to kill Colin? Confessions of a Lady Ruined is an intriguing historical with a twist of mystery thrown in. I was pulled into the story at the first as I was rooting for Julia and despising Colin, but quickly I changed my mind. In this case Colin is really the good guy who wants to make up for past indiscretions and Julia won’t believe him. Especially when it becomes clear that there are people ‘cheering’ for Julia, even though it is apparent her family isn’t. For fans of English historical romances you will definitely enjoy Confessions of a Lady Ruined." -- Tanya, Joyfully Reviewed
“Are you all right, miss?” He turned to face her as he buttoned the bottle-green coat. It was the perfect color for the eyes she remembered. His buff breeches, tucked into tall black boots, fit smoothly and snugly over long, muscled legs.
“Yes, thank you.” She glanced up into those green eyes she’d never forgotten. They still danced with that captivating sparkle of mischievous charm, but she had no doubt those eyes danced for all the ladies. The angles of his face were sharper now, his jaw more square, the dimple in his chin deeper, and his cheekbones more prominent, as if he’d been eroded by the tumultuous passage of time.
Yet every last thread of his thick, wavy hair was still a dark chestnut. If there was any gray, Julia would have to thrust her fingers into it and look. Alas, she was here to keep an eye on his sister while all the other ladies got to comb their fingers through his silky locks.
At that thought, she hastened to the rear of the carriage, lifting her skirts and cringing as she sank nearly ankle-deep into the mud. “Pardon, but I must get my reticule.”
With his long booted legs he swiftly stepped ahead of her. “Do allow me. You don’t want to get mud on your gloves.”
“My lord, I wish you would let me—”
“Nonsense. What sort of gentleman would I be if I didn’t retrieve your reticule for you?”
She lunged forward as he swooped down on her reticule and scooped up the fallen items. “No—please—”
“Calm down, I’m not going to steal anything. I will pick up every coin that has dropped out of the reticule and place it in your hand, that you might count it and see that I’m also an honest gentleman.”
While Julia had her reasons for doubting that, she wasn’t afraid he would steal her coins. She wasn’t even worried about her small looking glass that surely reflected nothing now but brownish-black splatters, or her tortoiseshell hairbrush that would cleverly blend in with the mud. No, all she cared about was grabbing that crumpled handkerchief before he glimpsed his family crest, of bright gold and deep maroon, embroidered in the corner. He’d loaned it to her the last time she’d seen him, and she’d treasured it ever since, thinking it was all she could ever hope to have of him.
“Let me get my handkerchief,” she said. “I feel a sneeze coming on.”
“You can’t use this handkerchief after it’s been in the mud.”
She clawed at him as he clutched her meager, worldly goods all in one large hand. “But I can’t possibly sneeze without it.”
He thrust the other hand into his pocket. “Let me offer you mine.”
She reached for his upraised fist and with both hands pried it open. Her belongings, save the handkerchief, rained to the damp ground. The handkerchief, by virtue of being so lightweight, fluttered down the length of his black boots before she hastily snatched it and held it to her face. Feeling the cold mud against the tip of her nose, she quickly drew it away.
“Wait a minute—what is that?” He seized the handkerchief and pulled.
Panic grabbed her. “What are you doing? Let go of it—I need it.”
“Your urge to sneeze seems to have passed. What is that on your handkerchief?”
She pulled her fist, still clutching the handkerchief, as was he, back toward her chest. “My lord, I will ask you only once more to let go of me at once and leave me with my handkerchief!”
He released his grip. “Would you mind opening the handkerchief and letting me see it?”
“After I’ve blown into it? Are you mad? Just what do you intend to inspect it for?”
Again he thrust his hand into his pocket and pulled out his own handkerchief, unfurling it with one flick of his wrist. “I have reason to believe it matches this one.”
There in the lower corner of his proffered handkerchief was the maroon-and-gold crest of the earldom of Danforth.
Julia struggled to steady her voice. “How does it match mine?”
“Show it to me, and I think we’ll both see.”
She stuffed the handkerchief he’d given her years ago into the bodice of her pelisse. “Never. How do you know I’m not infectious?”
He arched a single brow. “Point taken. I daresay you’re as dangerous as any fever.” He took a step toward her and lowered his voice. “But I’ll have you know I’m immune.”
Julia wasn’t sure what he meant by that, except she didn’t care for his tone, almost menacing and too knowing, as if he knew precisely what she was hiding.
She gasped as he whisked his handkerchief across the tip of her nose. “Just removing the dab of mud left there when you pressed your own handkerchief there. Or is it really your own handkerchief?”
It seemed he did remember her, or at least he thought he’d recognized her muddy handkerchief as his own. Yet he still didn’t care about what he’d done to her so long ago! Did he remember that?
Her only defense was to continue acting as if she didn’t remember at all. To never give this rogue the pleasure of knowing he’d broken her heart.