She wants to escape her present . . .
When Clara Mayfield helps her sister elope, she’s prepared for the scandal to seal her fate as a spinster. What she doesn’t expect is to find herself engaged to the vile Baron Rutherford as a means of salvaging her family’s reputation. Determined not to be chained to a man she loathes, Clara slips out of Essex and sheds her identity: she becomes Helen, maid at the Earl of Ashworth’s country estate. After all, below stairs is the last place anyone would think to look for an heiress . . .
He wants to forget his past . . .
William, Lord Ashworth, is attempting to rebuild his life after the devastating accident that claimed the lives of his entire family, save his beloved sister and niece. Haunted by memories of what was and determined to live up to the title he never expected to inherit, William doesn’t have time for love. What he needs is a noble and accomplished wife, one who can further the Ashworth line and keep the family name untarnished . . .
Together, can they find the perfect future?
From their first encounter, the attraction between them is undeniable. But Clara knows William is falling for Helen, a woman who doesn’t even exist. The question is, if she reveals the truth about her identity, can she trust the broken William to forgive her lie and stand by her side when scandal—and the baron—inevitably follow her to his door?
About the Book
Lady In Waiting
by Marie Tremayne
The Reluctant Brides
March 13, 2018
“My lord, are you well?”
Ashworth’s hand slowly dropped from the doorknob and he stared openly at her, his expression unreadable. Clara guessed it could have been weeks or months since he’d had a loved one or a friend ask him that question.
He cocked his head to the side, eyeing her curiously. “Do I appear to be unwell?”
Clara bit her lip. Of course, he appeared very well indeed. She couldn’t stop her eyes from scanning over him and felt herself flush hotly in response.
“Yes…no…that is, you look distressed. As if something is wrong.”
Ashworth stepped forward. “I am in charge of an earldom. There could be many things wrong.” He paused. “And this concerns you because…?”
“Well, I am aware it shouldn’t concern me,” she answered nervously. “But—I find it does.”
He mulled this over in silence as his restless gaze roamed over her, starting at her cap, alighting on her face, moving down the dark rose-colored fabric of her morning dress, skimming over her apron, and landing on her sturdy black shoes. His eyes snapped back up to hold hers in their sway.
“I appreciate your concern, but rest assured, it is misplaced.” The earl took another step in her direction. “However, since we’re on the subject of appearances, I would tell you that you seem tired today.” The corner of his mouth lifted in the barest hint of a smile. “Is there something amiss?”
Clara’s lips parted in surprise. “That was neatly done, my lord. You managed to avoid answering my question while directing one at me instead.” She hesitated. “Well if you must know, I am tired. My room is like an icebox at night.”
He blinked. This time he really did look concerned. “Is it?”
“Yes,” she replied. “But that’s really beside the point. You are under no obligation to confide in me, I only thought perhaps—”
“And I told you,” he said, cutting her off, “that I appreciate the concern. But you and I both know it’s against all proprieties to discuss personal matters—”
“Have you always been so set on adhering to the proprieties, my lord?”
The earl straightened, eyes widening in disbelief, and she immediately knew the conversation had been taken too far.
Clara lowered her head and tried to avoid him, skirting around the edge of the room toward the door. “Forgive my intrusion. It was wrong of me to insert myself where I do not belong.”
She passed Ashworth and his hand shot out, securing her wrist in his hold before she could flee.
“Was that an insult? Or simply an observation?” he inquired.
She swallowed, weighing her response with caution. “No, my lord. On the contrary, I think it an admirable quality in a peer to be willing to break with tradition.” Ashworth’s gaze drifted from her face to the place where his fingers were wrapped around her arm. After a moment, he gently released her. Disappointment flooded through her as the heat of his hand evaporated off her skin.
Stepping backward, he spread his arms wide in mock invitation.
“Since we are ignoring decorum, is there anything else you wish to ask?” Then he added wisely, “I may or may not choose to answer.”
About Marie Tremayne
MARIE TREMAYNE graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in English Language and Literature. While there, a copy of Pride and Prejudice ended up changing her life. She decided to study the great books of the Regency and Victorian eras, and now enjoys writing her own tales set in the historical period she loves. Marie lives with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.