• A Regency Romance Novel

    Amanda Sinclair is forced into a loveless marriage with a handsome but brooding earl. James Cavendish is in love with another woman, but no matter how hard he tries, he is unable to resist Amanda's charms. The morning after their wedding night, James returns to London, leaving Amanda at his Sussex estate. Taking the reigns in her hands, Amanda follows her husband, determined to win his heart and claim her status as his wife.
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  • Storm over Sussex Gainsborough Woodcutter's Cottage Sussex Woods in Spring Downsley Hall South Downs Rosewood Manor Rosewood Manor's Drawing Room Ancient Roman villa, mosaic tile floor, Sussex South Down Sheep Bottle feeding lambs

11 – Chapter Eleven

“Let me recommend the tweed coat, my lord,” James’s valet ad­vised as he finished tying the earl’s cravat. “It should survive a variety of conditions.”

“Good point, Simpson, as it looks like rain again.” James shrugged his shoulders into the coat Simpson held up for him and wondered what devilish plans Miss Sinclair would set in motion today. In an odd way he was looking forward to her next imaginative ploy to annoy him.

During the nineteen days of their courtship she’d led him a merry dance, but as soon as he had taken over the reigns and taught her a lesson, the spoiled Miss hadn’t liked it one bit. Last night she had tried to punish him with behavior more suited to an infant than a full-grown woman, pointedly snubbing him at Lady Beasly’s ball, and flirting shamelessly with every male under eighty, including a few young bucks. Had she been trying to make him jealous? He brushed off the thought.

Before Miss Sinclair appeared in his life, his days had been order­ly, even predictable. He had enjoyed his creature comforts in solitude and had his wishes followed without fail. In his few serious relationships with women he had been able to set boundaries and keep a certain distance. His affairs had been conducted with decorum, their termination had been polite and civilized. Indeed, he had managed to remain friendly with all his former lovers, most of them married ladies who were looking for a bit of flirtation on the side.

Now all that had changed. In less than two weeks, Miss Sinclair had ridden roughshod over his peaceful existence. To be honest, she had not bored him one moment, though he’d often felt as if he’d landed in the middle of one of Napoleon’s battlefields.

He’d been aware from the start that Miss Sinclair wanted him to break off their engagement. Did she not realize that a battalion of charging soldiers couldn’t force him to rescind his offer? Oh, he’d come perilously close to doing so several times, but he was a gentleman, and he would rather be lanced by ten bayonets than to create such a scandal.

The earl finished dressing and descended Downsley Hall’s wide marble staircase, which curved in a graceful arc and ended at the far end of an enormous front entrance hall. Built by his father, who had replaced the narrow wood Tudor stairs, the Italian carved steps had almost doubled his father’s debts.

“Will you be dining at home tonight, my lord?” Cowper in­quired as he handed the earl his hat and gloves.

“I doubt it, Cowper. Don’t have Cook prepare anything spe­cial on my account.” James dined at Rosewood Manor most evenings and was seldom home before ten. His growing friendship with Mi­chael and Helen Sinclair had been an unexpected bonus, although he often wondered how this sensible couple could have raised such a hellion.

Stepping outside on the gravel drive, James mounted Falconer as soon as the groom brought him round. Since Miss Sinclair had never been ready on time, he planned on enjoying a leisurely ride to Rosewood Manor and inspect his holdings along the way.

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Copyright, 1999