When Viscount Sebastian Trelawney meets Miss Phoebe Carmichael, the ground shifts beneath his feet. As she’s in mourning, Society’s rules say he cannot court her for a year, so he disguises himself as a servant in her home in order to see if they might suit.
Phoebe wishes to never marry. Wealthy and impatient, when she meets Sebastian everything in her calms. He understands her grief and how spring’s promise will lead to new life.
As secret organizations and mad Assyriologists battle, the two fall in love. Will their love prove strong enough to overcome societal norms and those set against their union?
He looked toward the perfectly manicured garden with its swathes of color like a rainbow. The blade of darker shadow he had seen earlier tumbled into his mind. Assyriology was a hazardous occupation, and not a hobby for the unwary. Someone should warn Miss Carmichael about the peril of trained assassins.
Not him, of course. She must already think him softheaded. The Office should be notified, though. They would wish to send someone to investigate.
He was about to make a mental note to contact the agency later when she curled one leg under the other. The small patch of ankle earlier revealed transformed into a few inches of stocking-clad calf as her skirt blossomed around her. All thought fled as a sudden urge to press his lips to the trail of fine mesh rendered him unable to swallow.
“Good.” She fiddled with her skirt some more, covering her leg, before tilting her chin again. “If you don‘t mind my asking, might I have your name?”
“My… oh! I‘m… oh.”
Fire crept from his toes to his hairline. Unbelievable. Of course, someone else should have provided an introduction. He shouldn‘t have spoken with her at all without one, but once he had… had he truly forgotten to give her his name?
Tossing his plate to the side, he jumped to his feet so he might bow. “Sebastian Edgars, Viscount Trelawney. Newly minted.”
She extended her hand. Gray dirt streaked her black glove. He bent over it anyway. “I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Lord Trelawney. As you seem to be aware, I am Miss Carmichael.”
“I knew you by your crape and golden hair.” Another wave of feverishness sped up his face as he stumbled, so he decided to sit again before he tripped into her lap.
She laughed. “You‘re quick.”
“How generous of you to say so when I‘ve never plodded so badly in my life. I used to be a solicitor. My brain was my fortune, though I suppose you might find the claim difficult to believe.”
“I wouldn‘t, no.” She peeped at him from beneath her lashes. “How is it you worked at a profession?”
It was the easiest question to answer. “I never expected to receive the title, but the ague made its rounds, a few horses missed their steps, ancestors died, contemporaries died, and here I am, one of two remaining heirs out of eight potential branches filled with better possibilities.”
Her golden eyes took on a soft glow. “I‘m rather glad you didn‘t follow the rest of your family.”
“Are you?” His pulse quickened.
She gazed down at her lap where her fingers twisted. “Though I shouldn‘t admit to it, yes. You‘re a very interesting man.” Blushing, she scraped her plate from the stone and placed it upon her lap. “We should eat, don‘t you think?”
Judy is a sort-of retired litigation attorney, a current homemaker with a propensity to ignore any and all domestic chores, and the mother of an outrageously comedic teenage boy and a fur-baby named Chocolatethe-Dog, so named because he thinks he’s a cat. High Tea and art occupy her when not writing.