Mischief in Mayfair -- Book Seven
Book 7 in the Mischief in Mayfair series
Trevor, Marquess of Tavistock, has finally decided to stop larking around on the Continent, come home, and take a bride. His solicitors applaud his decision to settle down, provided he chooses a wealthy young lady to be his marchioness. Those years Trevor spent seeing the world were bad years for the lordly coffers.
Trevor is reluctant to consign himself to a mercenary marriage, and instead considers selling off some of his smaller properties. While inspecting one such estate, he meets Miss Amaryllis DeWitt. Her family is desperately trying to find a title for her to marry, and she does have the most lovely fortune, but she thinks Trevor is an aspiring beer merchant, and he thinks the truth might get him drop-kicked back to France. Then there’s the tenant Trevor finds on another estate, whose existence the solicitors have been trying to hide…Will it be truth or true love for Trevor and Amaryllis?
Enjoy An Excerpt
Trevor, Marquess of Tavistock, is in Berkshire trying to have a very discreet look at a pair of properties he’s considering selling. The best laid schemes of marquesses and maidens…
She came galloping around the bend on a leggy bay like the queen of the Valkyries determined not to miss the next battle. Trevor would have been knocked straight into the ditch had the lady not hauled hard on the beast’s right rein, aimed the horse at said ditch, and jibbed his quarters into the middle of the lane.
The colt, rather than leap the ditch and bound off into the adjoining meadow, went up on his hind legs, whinnying objections that should have been heard half-way to London. Had his histrionics been limited to a mere rear and a roar, the rider might have stayed aboard.
The creature was nimble, though, and embarked on a horsey country dance of bucks, dodges, and props that Trevor himself would have been hard put to manage. The lady’s downfall came as the result of a hard buck followed by a side-step and another buck.
The rider went overboard in a heap of skirts and profanity, and the horse cantered off down the lane, head high, tail wringing, bursts of flatulence punctuating his victory.
“Madame, êtes-vous blessée?” Bon dieu. Damn, rather. “Madam, are you injured?” Trevor had been walking his horse, who followed the miscreant’s progress with a wistful expression.
The lady got herself onto all fours, then sat back on her haunches. “It’s mademoiselle, and yes, I am the worse for that demon hell-beast’s bad manners. My pride is sorely bruised, my dignity fractured in two places, and I shall have a prodigy of a shiner on my feminine grace. Other than that…” She shaded her eyes and watched as the horse farted his way around a bend in the road. “Fricassee of fractious four-year-old might appear on this week’s menu. The wretch was trying to bolt with me.”
“He’s big for four.” Trevor offered the lady a hand, which she accepted.
She got to her feet a bit stiffly and shook out her skirts. “My thanks for your assistance, and you will forget my momentary lapse of decorum.”
“I already have, and it was the horse who lapsed. You are truly hale?”
The word was too paltry for this magnificent creature. She stood at least five foot ten inches, though some of that height might have been attributable to riding boots. Her habit was a divided skirt, a style Trevor had seen from time to time on the Continent, but never before in England. She had eschewed—or lost—any sort of hat, and the setting sun turned Titian hair into a tumbling mass of dark glory.
“I should have known better than to get on that colt without working him first in the arena,” the lady said, giving her skirts one last swat. “I didn’t have enough daylight to do both. Roland is my brother’s horse. Gavin backed him at two, and he’s been allowed to languish since then. He’s not a bad sort, just green. As you and I seem to be without mutual acquaintances, I’m Amaryllis DeWitt.”
Her voice was a true alto, smooth and dark like a good Armagnac, with notes of humor, annoyance, and determination. Her physical nose was in proportion to the rest of her, and her curtsey was a brisk nod to protocol.
“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss DeWitt, despite the circumstances.” Trevor bowed, and offered the name he’d chosen to use for the sake of privacy on this excursion. “Trevor Dorning, at your service. We are within a mile or two of Crosspatch Corner, are we not?”
“That direction,” she said, nodding to the east. “This lane becomes the high street, and the Crosspatch Arms will be happy to put you up. If I’m not to cause a hue and cry at supper, I’d best be on my way.”
“Take my horse.”
She eyed Jacques dubiously, though he was a lovely seventeen-hand bay with excellent manners and a shameless fondness for apples.
“He’s a perfect gentleman,” Trevor went on. “We left London yesterday, and I’ve taken the journey in easy stages. He can get you anywhere you need to go and jumps five feet without hesitation.”
Jacques sniffed delicately at the lady’s gloved hand, his ears perked forward.
“He’s up to my weight,” she said, running a hand over Jacques’s neck and down his shoulder. “Stands quietly. Somebody has kept a close eye on his feet.”
“Somebody raised me with a modicum of manners, too, and I cannot abide the thought of a lady hiking home cross county, alone, as darkness falls. Roland will soon be trotting into the stable yard sans cavalier, and that hue and cry you want to avoid will start up in earnest.”
“You are attempting to reason with me.” She gave the girth a tug. “Fair play requires that I warn you to desist. I do my own reasoning.”
“One commends your good sense.” Jeanette would like this woman. Sycamore–the dunderhead–would try to charm her. “I intend to be in the area for a few days at least, and can use a livery hack when I need to be out and about.”
Miss DeWitt untied Trevor’s saddle bags and passed them over. “You are proof that chivalry can yet be found on English soil, Mr. Dorning. My grandmother would have worried about me had I been late for supper, and I don’t like to trouble her unnecessarily. She was a hoyden in her day, but tells me repeatedly that times are different now.”
Miss DeWitt glanced about at the lengthening shadows.
“Even women of independent reasoning powers can use a leg up from time to time.” Trevor offered that observation casually. Miss DeWitt was tall, but she was also wearing skirts and Jacques was a tall horse. A mounting block would have come in handy.
She led Jacques to the fence on the opposite side of the lane, and managed the delicate business of holding the reins, climbing the fence, and getting a leg over without anything approaching a fuss.
“I’ll send him to the Arms tomorrow morning, and my thanks for the loan. What brings you out from London?”
“I’m looking for a country property within hailing distance of Town.” A half-lie, and even that much deception bothered Trevor. The whole point of the excursion though, was to gather intelligence on his real estate holdings without alerting tenants or stewards. Announcing that the Marquess of Tavistock was making an inspection tour would have put period to that goal.
“Most who have a choice prefer Kent or Surrey,” Miss DeWitt said, smoothing a hand down Jacques’s crest. “We’re not as fashionable out this direction.”
“A point in Berkshire’s favor. Then too, there’s the excellent company to be found here.”
She favored him with an impish smile, circled the horse in a tidy pirouette, and trotted off into the sunset.
“Bring Jacques to the Arms yourself,” Trevor called after her. “I could use some local knowledge before I begin my search.”
She gave no sign that she’d heard that invitation, which suggested that her pride, her dignity, and her feminine grace had recovered from the slightest of mishaps.
Trevor took his time on the walk into Crosspatch Corners, enjoying the chill in the air that came with evening’s approach. The countryside still slumbered under winter’s lingering, frosty hand, but in a few weeks, the palette in the landscape would shift from browns to greens. The sky would yield up its pewter moods for cheerful blue and white. The beasts would get to shedding in earnest and birdsong would build into a morning and evening symphony.
“While I,” Trevor muttered to no one in particular, “will be stuck in London, prancing about like a dancing bear for the delectation of the matchmakers and heiresses.”
End of Excerpt
This book will begin shipping on June 13, 2023
Miss Determined is available in the following formats:
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June 13, 2023
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Miss Determined is Book 7 in the Mischief in Mayfair series. The full series reading order is as follows:
Book 1: Miss Delectable • Book 2: Miss Delightful • Book 3: Miss Dignified • Book 4: Miss Desirable • Book 5: Miss Dauntless • Book 6: Miss Devoted • Book 7: Miss Determined • Book 8: Miss Dashing •