He wished to never see her again
Now he wishes she’ll stay…
Lord Grantwell hasn’t seen Lillian Pearson since she betrayed him years ago. So when she arrives on his doorstep looking for sanctuary, he’s not inclined to offer it! But when the two orphaned children in his care ask if she can stay for Christmas, how can he refuse? Grant and Lillian discover an intense attraction still simmers between them, and Grant starts to wonder if he has done her a grave injustice…
Paperback September 28, 2021
Ebook October 1, 2021
Grant walked back to his desk and closed the ledger. Surely, though, there was something in the pile of papers he’d forgotten to do or had never known to do.
Thompson, who’d been his family’s butler since he was a boy, entered the room. ‘Beg pardon, m’lord.’
‘What is it, Thompson?’ His tone was sarcastic. ‘Has the roof collapsed? Did the children break a priceless vase? Has Cook mutinied?’
Thompson seemed to take him seriously. ‘Nothing like that, m’lord.’ He sounded incredulous. ‘An applicant for the position of governess has arrived.’
‘For governess? Already?’
Grant had advertised for a governess. Given that the children were apparently running free through the servants’ passages, a governess was much needed. But he’d only sent the notice to an agency one week ago. The agency had hardly enough time even to receive his letter. An applicant in person? In a snowstorm?
‘Indeed, sir,’ Thompson responded. ‘On our doorstep. She waits in the hall.’
Grant clapped his hands and stood. ‘Well, Thompson! Things are looking up! At least one of my prayers is answered—that is if she does not have two heads or reek of gin or something.’
Thompson shook his head. ‘None of those things, m’lord.’
The tables of fate were turning. A governess would be a godsend.
Grant gestured grandly. ‘Send her in, Thompson!’
Grant stacked the papers neatly on the desk. Good thing he’d shaved himself that morning. Since giving his valet and most of the servants extra time off for Christmas —he had been supposed to be attending that detestable house party until Twelfth Night—he’d been tempted to revert to his days of marching through Spain, when a bearded face had not much mattered.
Thompson reappeared at the door. ‘Miss Pearson, m’lord.’
With a ready smile, Grant looked up as the governess walked in and Thompson exited the room.
The blood drained from Grant’s face.
Standing before him was a woman he’d wished never to see again—the one woman with whom he’d shared an irresistible passion…the woman who’d betrayed him so thoroughly.
God save him, she was as beautiful as ever. Hair dark as night. Eyes like warm chocolate. Nose regal. Lips naturally pursed, as if always ready for a kiss. But she was unusually pale and thin. Her clothes hung on her and he could smell their dampness from the melted snow.
He knew her as Lillian Carris. He’d first seen her feeding the hungry refugees who’d poured into Lisbon over the winter of 1810 when, as a green lieutenant, he’d first arrived in Portugal with his regiment. Later he’d made her acquaintance when attending entertainments with the Portuguese aristocrats who’d remained in Portugal after Prince John and others of the royal family had fled to Brazil. She was widowed, she’d told him, and their affair had been as torrid as that winter had been cold.
Until she’d stolen from him and almost succeeded in committing treason on his country and hers.
‘Senhora Carris.’ His voice was bitter. ‘Do not tell me you seek a position as governess.’
She smiled uncertainly. ‘I am afraid your butler jumped to that conclusion. I—I am Miss Pearson now. You—you have children, then?’
Did she think he’d had time to procreate? She knew how long the war had lasted.
‘They are not mine.’ He had no intention of explaining further. ‘You deceived my butler?’
‘I did not intend to deceive him. He asked me if I was seeking a position as governess, which I am—seeking a position, that is. But I did not know before I came that you needed a governess.’
‘Enough.’ He held up a hand. ‘Why are you here?’
‘I—I would not have come—would never have asked you—’ She faltered. ‘I need help.’
Gaston fills the second sterling addition to her Captains of Waterloo series with holiday warmth and cheer before wrapping it up with her usual insightful characterization, empathetic storytelling, and perfect period details.
John Charles, Booklist
Five Stars! Diane Gaston has creatively intertwined this time in history with joyful holiday festivities, and the resulting storyline is constantly filled with anticipation for one event while being guarded because of uncertainty about other circumstances....A number of enchantingly delightful Christmas traditions of the Regency era are scattered throughout the story….This couple come across as very believable, as reactions are sincere while their inner feelings are so heartfelt, thus causing me to truly like them and hope they would finally have a sense of belonging. The second book in the Captains of Waterloo series is engaging at all times.