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About the author:
LL Neal grew up reading romances and particularly loved Regency romances. She took up writing when the romances she was reading started to blur together and to look the same. Her first set of Regency romances, The Tumbling Green romances, are set in Regency times but with strong-willed heroines.
LL Neal comes from a family of eight and grew up with five sisters, giving her insights into how siblings do—and don’t—get along. LL Neal currently lives with her husband of seventeen years, two dogs, and two cats. In her spare time she's crafty: sewing pillowcases for charity, knitting wool socks for family, crocheting lap throws, and quilting.
Here is a short sample from the book:
The carriages were ready early in the morning. Everyone had their breakfast, and Sir Henry paid their shot, and they loaded up to get back on the road. Mrs. Owens packed them food in the basket Cook had given them.
She said she would see them on their return trip from London.
They all were smiling and waving to her and Mr. Owens as the carriages pulled away.
The carriages had gone down the road a piece, when they all heard, “Stand and Deliver!”
Sir Henry’s carriage had been in the lead, and it was Lady Poppy’s carriage with Edwina and Theodosia that was stopped.
All ladies present grabbed their pistols out of their reticules and aimed them toward the door of the carriage. The door opened, and there stood a large man. He looked at the pistols pointed his way, looked about the carriage at each lady, and said, “Oi, I think I have the wrong carriage!”
He slammed the door and they were once again on their way.
The ladies all started to laugh once the scare was past. “Did you see his face? I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head!” Theodosia said as she put her pistol back into her reticule.
Lady Poppy said, “He wasn’t expecting ladies with pistols, that is for sure. I am so glad that Sir Henry taught you girls how to shoot.”
The carriages made their way to London.
They reached the townhouse in the middle of the afternoon.
Sir Henry had arrived before the ladies, and he had the housemaids waiting for Lady Poppy’s carriage to arrive.
As soon as they arrived, Lady Poppy was handed out to Sir Henry.
He asked how their trip was, since he expected them sooner.
“Henry, we were stopped by that dratted highwayman, but he let us go. I think he was in shock to see so many pistols pointed at his head!” exclaimed Lady Poppy.
He wasn’t happy that he hadn’t been there to protect them, but he was glad, and not for the first time, that he had taught his girls how to protect themselves, and that they had their pistols.
He escorted Lady Poppy into the house, and the footman was getting Lady Edwina out of the carriage next. She was handed down, and he was distracted for a bit by a noise to the right of the carriage.
Theodosia didn’t see that the footman had turned away.
She was proceeding to step down, and she stumbled. As she started to fall out of the carriage, a pair of strong arms encircled her and stopped her from hitting the sidewalk.
She looked up to see big blue eyes smiling down at her, blond hair, and muscles everywhere. The gentleman was stunning, and she started to stammer like a ninny.
“Oh, um, hmm—oh, thank you, sir. I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t helped me! I would be lying flat on the sidewalk on my face without your help. Thank you!”
He smiled down at her. My, she is quite stunning, he thought.
“I saw what was happening as I was walking by, and I couldn’t very well let someone as beautiful as you land on the sidewalk. Think nothing of it, my dear!” he said.
She frowned at him as he uttered the endearment. He wasn’t being proper at all.
She caught him staring at her and blushed as she looked away.
He was about to escort her to the front door, when the footman realized Miss Theodosia was being clutched to some man’s person.
He gave the man a look, which caused him to smile sheepishly at Theodosia and let her go.
She was bright red as he stared at her, and then he winked!
“Oh, my!” Theodosia whispered.
The footman was trying to escort her inside the house, but her feet got stuck and she couldn’t move.
She stared at the man in pure mortification, while he chuckled at her, tipped his hat, and was about to walk away.
She turned toward the door, then felt him staring at her. She thought, No, I won’t look. I won’t do it. I don’t think he is looking at me, but what is one little peek going to hurt?
She turned to look at what she thought was going to be his departing back when she realized he wasn’t departing at all. He was staring at her, and then, when he saw her looking at him, he smiled at her, big!
He winked at her once more, tipped his hat, and walked on, whistling a jaunty tune.
She wanted to crawl into the house and die!
She was bright red, the footman was staring at her, and then at the departing gentleman. He knew he was a gentleman by his dress, and one with money if his tailoring was anything to go by.
He cleared his throat and helped to urge Theodosia along into the house.
As Theodosia made her way inside, she was shown to her room by the housekeeper, Mrs. Evans.
She asked if Theodosia needed some tea, since she looked rather peaked.
Theodosia cleared her throat and said, “Yes, tea would be lovely!”
Mrs. Evans said she would show her to her room, and tea was being served in the pink parlor.
Theodosia deposited her reticule and books in her room and asked one of the maids where the pink parlor was located.
She made her way there once she had been told the way, and saw Edwina was already seated with Lady Poppy.
“There you are, my girl. What happened to you, did you not find your room to your liking?” asked Lady Poppy.
“Um, yes, my room is very nice, thank you. I just met a man on the sidewalk as I nearly fell out of the carriage. He helped me out of the carriage, and he was smiling at me,” Theodosia said.
She didn’t tell her aunt that she had been floored by him.
What she failed to notice as well was that the gentlemen had written down beautiful lady, and the street the townhouse was on.
He would be back if he had his way.
Edwina noticed that Theodosia was looking rather flushed. She would get more out of her when her mama wasn’t around. Going by the look on her cousin's face, she was sure more had happened than what Theodosia had said.
Yes, she was blushing now, deeper and deeper! Something more did happen!
The tea cart arrived with lemon cakes, seed cakes, and some clotted cream. Lady Poppy smiled. Oh, yes, the lemon cakes were her favorites. Cook knew she loved them so.
The ladies had their cakes and were sipping their tea when the door opened and Hyacinth, Marigold, and Lilly walked in.
They told the butler that they needed more cups and more tea, scones if any were available, and some of the strawberry marmalade.
The ladies waited until more tea arrived, along with more treats.
They all sat down and asked each other about how their trips had gone.
“Well, we stopped for a bit and found out that the local highwayman was about. He opened our door, and shut it right quick, muttering about women with pistols! We thought it was kind of vague. I wonder how the baggage carriages and the servants did?” Lady Hyacinth said.
Lady Poppy, Theodosia, and Edwina burst out laughing. They laughed so long and hard they had tears in their eyes.
Lady Hyacinth, Marigold, and Lilly looked at them, shocked. “Whyever are you laughing? It was rather scary, you know!” said Lilly.
“We were stopped by the same highwayman. As soon as he saw us all aiming pistols at him, he said he had the wrong coach, slammed our door, and let us go! So, when he happened upon your carriage, he must have been utterly stunned! I would have given fifty guineas to see his face when he stopped you!” said Lady Poppy, still chortling.
They all started laughing now that the whole story had been told.
The housekeeper walked into the room and asked if they were receiving callers today. The ladies looked around at each other, rather perplexed to have a caller so soon, and Lady Poppy said, “No, we aren’t at home right now. Tomorrow will be soon enough to receive callers. Thank you, Mrs. Evans, for letting us know.”
Mrs. Evans walked out of the room, and let the butler, Cedric, know that the ladies were not at home.
The gentleman at the door was told the ladies weren’t at home, but hoped to be tomorrow.
The Duke of Fielding looked at the butler and said, “Thank you, my good man. I will be back tomorrow to see the lady.”
Cedric bowed and placed the card the duke had given him on a silver salver. “Your Grace,” he said by way of goodbye.
He walked into the hallway, heard the laughter coming from the pink parlor, and smiled. It was so good to have milord and milady back in town.
The ladies each went their separate ways to their rooms after teatime was over.
They were all road weary and each decided a nap was in order before supper. As Theodosia’s maid undressed her, she heard a knock on the door, and before she even saw her, she knew it would be Edwina.
She waited until the maid had finished dressing Theodosia and had left before she started her questions.
“Cousin, what had you in such a dither, or should I say, who? I have never seen you so flustered. Who was he, and what did he look like?” asked Edwina. “You have to tell me everything!”
“Oh, I don’t know who he was, but he saved me from falling out of the carriage. He wrapped his big, strong arms around me, and all the breath just left my body. He has the bluest eyes I have ever seen, a cornflower blue, and he has a strong jaw. He is blond, built better than the blacksmith at home, and tall, oh so very tall. He winked at me, Edwina! I knew I shouldn’t turn back and look at him, but I couldn't stop myself. And do you know he was staring at me and smiling when I turned? Truly, I was quite stunned!” Theodosia explained in a rush.
Edwina had never seen Theodosia so flushed, so blushing, and her facial expression so far away. Her cousin was in alt of someone other than Sir Archibald. This was good news!
She had to see this man for herself.
He must be something to look at if he was built better than the blacksmith, whom Theodosia had never mentioned or noticed before.
She and her sisters noticed him every single trip they made to the village, and each had dreamt of him once upon a time.
The local ladies all stared at him as he walked by, and for good reason. He was the best-looking man around the village. When he walked down the street, every female sighed.
Edwina left her cousin alone to ponder her gentleman and walked back to her room. She had to think about this for a while.
She noticed that Marigold’s door was open and walked in.
Marigold was looking out the window at the street below.
“What are you staring at?” asked Edwina.
Marigold turned and said, “The gentleman who is pacing in front of the house. He is rather spectacular! There is, quite simply, no way not to stare. See, there he is!”
They both looked down to see a blond, tall gentleman, dressed impeccably, and who at that moment was staring at the front door of the house.
He had a smile on his face, and he shook his head in bemusement.
Edwina looked at Marigold and said, “I think he is the man who caught Theodosia as she nearly tumbled out of the carriage. She is completely flustered, and did you notice she didn’t say much while we had tea?”
Marigold looked at her sister, and said, “Really, do you think Theodosia is in love?”
“She is something, since she said he was built better than the blacksmith in the village. She had never noticed him before, or at least never mentioned him to me. Everything has been about Sir Archibald,” replied Edwina.
Marigold whistled and said, “The blacksmith at home—oh my, he is a handsome fellow. Sigh! I think she may be right, though. This man, from what I can see from up here, is far better than the blacksmith.”
Both ladies were unaware that the Duke of Fielding had noticed the curtains moving and was now staring rather raptly at the two of them staring at him.
He realized the lady he sought was not with them.
He waved at them both and tipped his hat, smiled, and moved down the sidewalk.
He had been headed to his club when he had saved the beauty falling out of the carriage. What good luck to have been on that street, just at that time. He planned to ask his friend Ferdy if he knew who lived at 28 Berkley Square.
Ferdy knew everyone, and if he didn’t know them, then his mama did.
Both ladies jumped back when they realized he had waved and was smiling at them.
They both blushed beet-red and moved toward Marigold’s bed.
“He is cheeky, isn’t he? I can see why Theodosia is all flushed and stammering. I would be too,” Marigold said breathlessly.