Tangled Love by Rosemary Morris was short listed for the best romantic e-book at The Festival of Romance, Bedford U.K in 2013
Richelda has gone from riches to rags after the death of her parents. She has inherited Bellemont House in which she lives alone with her mother’s childhood nurse. Her aunt suggested Viscount Chesney should marry him. He has come to meet her.
Extract from Chapter Three
Hertfordshire - England
‘Elsie,” Richelda said to her late mother’s childhood nurse,” I am tired of struggling. I shall sell the estate to Jack, except for a snug cottage and a few acres of land for my own use.’
‘Sell Bellemont to His Grace!’ Elsie twined her work-roughened fingers together. ‘Lord above, my wits have gone begging? I’ve forgotten to say a visitor awaits you.’
Richelda wiped her face on her coarse apron. ‘Visitor?’ She forced herself to her feet.
‘Yes, a fine gentleman, Viscount Chesney by name, is waiting for you in the parlour.’
Heavens above, he must be the man whose identity she mistook earlier on for Lord Greaves.
A long male shadow fell across the dark oak floor before the parlour door closed. She caught her breath. Either Elsie left the door ajar by mistake or her uninvited guest had opened it and eavesdropped.
After washing and changing, Richelda went down the broad flight of oak stairs. Looking at Elsie, she raised her eyebrows.
Elsie nodded her approval and pointed at the parlour door. ‘He’s still in there. I’ll fetch some elderflower wine.’
‘No, come with me -’ she began, but Elsie, with speed surprising in one of her size, bustled into a passage that led to the kitchen.
He will not recognize me, Richelda reassured herself. She mimicked her late mother’s graceful walk, entered the room and coughed to attract attention.
Viscount Chesney turned away from the window. He gazed at her intently. ‘Lady Richelda?’
She curtsied wishing she also wore exquisitely cut black velvet and silk instead of a threadbare gown fashioned from one of her mother’s old ones. He bowed and extended a perfectly manicured hand.
Ashamed of her rough hands, she permitted him to draw her to her feet. ‘You have the advantage of knowing my name.’ She looked into grey eyes reminiscent of still water on an overcast day.
‘Lord Chesney at your service, my lady.’
‘I am honoured to make your acquaintance, my lord. Please take a seat.’
He laughed. ‘Lady Richelda, although I did not introduce myself to you earlier, I hoped you would say you are pleased to renew your acquaintance with me.’
She tilted her chin. ‘You mistake me for someone else.’
‘I do not. Your eyes and voice are unforgettable.’
‘What can you mean?’
‘Why are you pretending to misunderstand me,’ he drawled. ‘Shall we sit? No, do not look at me so distrustfully. I did not seize the opportunity to manhandle you earlier today. Word of a gentleman there is no need to fear me either now or in future.’
Somewhat nervous in spite of his assurance, she sat opposite him. While she regained her composure, she put her feet side by side on a footstool.
‘If you confess, I will not tell your aunt.’
‘Yes, she wishes me to make your acquaintance.’
Her mother’s family shunned her. They feared being tainted by her late father’s politics. The viscount must have referred to Father’s only close relative, his sister, Lady Ware. ‘Aunt Isobel?’ she queried, suspicious because she knew her mother, born into a family with puritanical inclinations, despised Aunt Isobel’s frivolity.
‘But my aunt -’
Burdened by a tray, Elsie entered the room. She put it down and served them with elderflower wine, before she withdrew.
Chesney eyed his glass of wine with obvious mistrust. ‘Why did you sigh, Lady Richelda?’
She refrained from explaining she longed to eat something other than her daily fare of boiled puddings, flavoured with herbs, mixed with vegetables and served with or without game birds or rabbits, which Elsie sometimes snared.
Bowstring taut, Richelda drank some pale wine. She looked at the viscount, whose posture depicted a man at ease. ‘Please taste this wine, my lord, although you might not be accustomed to home brewed beverages, I think you will enjoy its taste.’
He sipped some. ‘An excellent tribute to Elsie’s skill. She made it did she not?’ She nodded before he spoke again. ‘Tell me, child, how long have you lived alone with Elsie?’
‘Since Mother died nearly a year ago.’ The pain of her mother’s death always made her mouth tremble when she spoke of her.
‘Why did you remain here?’
‘I hoped to improve my estate. Oh, I know everything has deteriorated, but if I could -’
He concluded her sentence. ‘Transport oak to the shipyards?’
She widened her eyes. ‘Thank you for your excellent advice, my lord, I daresay you noticed my valuable stands of oak when you approached Bellemont?’
Although he chuckled, his eyes remained serious. ‘Never forget I do not allow anyone to play me for a fool, not even a hoyden of an actress, worthy of note though you are.’
Outraged by being called a hoyden for the second time, that day she stood. ‘Please leave.’
Viscount Chesney rose to approach her. Muscles across the breadth of his shoulders rippled beneath his coat, a testament to his tailor’s skill. When he put a hand on either side of her waist, she trembled. His lordship was tall, taller than Dudley. Her head only reached his throat. When she looked up at Chesney his breath warmed her forehead. She trembled again.
Tangled Love is available from: MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon Kindle, Nook, Omlit, Bookstrand Mainstream, Kobo and elsewhere.
To view the book trailer, read the first three chapters and reviews please visit. www.rosemarymorris.co.uk