MURDER AT PENDLETON MANOR
A woman in search of passion
At the end of her third Season, Lady Harriett Edgerton has refused her one offer of marriage from a perfectly worthy, if dull, suitor. Harriett doesn’t want proper. She wants passion. And the prospect of a passionate marriage is becoming increasingly unlikely, judging by the men she meets. When she and her family visit a dying relative at his country mansion in Kent, Pendleton Manor, everything appears normal on the surface, until Harriet is suddenly embroiled in murder, intrigue, and lust.
A man determined to live life on his own terms
Gentleman farmer, Gerard Everard, Earl of Foxworth, has inherited an estate deep in debt. While he toils to save Foxworth from creditors, he becomes embroiled in a dangerous mission.
Together, Harriett and Gerard work to uncover a murderer, while Harriett, expecting Gerard to succumb to the charms of her younger, beautiful sister, Leonora, tries unsuccessfully to guard her heart.
Before she knew it, she’d walked over a mile and stood before the stately old oak tree that she used to climb. She paused, remembering that Pendleton lay on a rise above a wide green valley, and the tree offered a wonderful view all the way to the Channel from its topmost branches. One might see the French coast on such a fine day. It was undignified for an adult, but who would see her? She looked around. Finding no one in sight, she untied her poke bonnet, divested herself of her cinnamon-brown spencer and pulled off her kid half boots. She rolled down her stockings and tucked them into her shoes. Gathering her cream percale carriage dress up around her knees, she eased herself onto the lowest branch, and began to climb. Pleased, she quickly got into the swing of it. She’d been an excellent climber when she was young. Such a practice stayed with one into adulthood, apparently, although she was now a little more cautious. She’d climbed half way and stopped to consider her way forward when a figure rose from the shrubbery below her. He stood examining something, in his hand. He looked up and caught sight of her then shoved it into his pocket. Whipping off his hat, he stared up at her in surprise. “Can that be you, Harry? It must be. Taller, but as skinny as ever.”
From her lofty perch, Harriett took a deep breath. “Gerard.”
“‘Tis I.” He came to stand below her. “So, you can still climb that tree.”
“Why ever not?” She put a foot on a lower branch in an attempt to climb down without affording him a revealing view up her dress, and soon found it impossible. “Turn your back, will you?”
He gave a sly look at her bare legs before he turned away. “Are you sure you don’t require my assistance?”
“I’ll ask if I do,” she said ungraciously. She reached the bottom branch and stood holding on, while considering whether to jump and possibly fall in a heap at his feet. In the end, she swallowed her pride. “You might help me,” she suggested.
Gerard turned around and put up his arms. She leaned over and rested her hands on his broad shoulders. He gripped her waist and lifted her down. For a moment, he held her close against his chest, causing a rush of sensation to pass through her. “Not so scrawny after all,” he said with a grin.
His hard male body pressed against hers, his mouth close enough to kiss, unsettling her. She struggled within his arms. “Put me down! You are just as outrageous.”
He set her on her feet and stood with legs spread and arms folded, studying her. “You always were tall for a girl.”
In her bare feet, Harriett’s head reached his shoulder and Gerard stood well over six feet. “Too tall for beauty, or so I’m told,” she said pragmatically.
His dark brows rose. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Beholding Gerard, Harriett quite agreed. With his well-shaped mouth and the cleft in his chin, he was still the handsomest man she’d ever set eyes on. She bent to pick up one of her boots.
Her cheeks burned. “No. I have to put on my stockings. Would you turn your back again, please?”
“What gentleman would refuse?” He turned away.
Harriet was securing her blue satin garter around her stocking when he swiveled to face her. She hastily pulled down her dress. “You agreed not to look.”He grinned. “I didn’t say I was a gentleman.