When looking for true love, sometimes it helps to wear a disguise!
Rupert, Earl of Esterly, kits himself out as a footman, hoping to avoid the matchmakers’ notice at a masquerade. His lordship catches the eye, not of the proper lady he’s supposed to start courting, but of Mary, a chamber maid who has no use for titled men. He’s not what she thinks he is, but then, she’s not what she appears to be either!
(This story was originally published in the anthology, A Midsummer Night’s Romance.)
He’s not really a blacksmith, and she’s not really an heiress…
Thaddeus Pennrith finds a way to recover from multiple griefs when he accepts the blacksmith’s post at Fenwick on Sea. Village life gives him a sense of belonging that Polite Society never could, though he must resume his aristocratic duties soon. Along comes Lady Sarah Weatherby, refugee from an engagement gone badly awry, and Thaddeus is faced with both a compelling reason to reveal his titled antecedents, and a longing to keep them forever hidden….
Available exclusively from Grace’s Webstore. Will be released on the major retail platforms later in 2022.
NOTE: This story originally appeared in the Bluestocking Belles anthology, Storm and Shelter, where you will find more tales of romance by the seaside!
Two heartwarming holiday tales of true love set in a place where happily ever afters abound–the library, of course!
Worth More Than Rubies – by Grace Burrowes
All the Duke of Dunfallon wants this holiday season is a respite from the machinations of the matchmakers. When pursued by a particularly determined would-be duchess, he ducks into the West Bartholomew Street Lending Library. Librarian Emerald Armstrong sees a dapper gent in a bit of a hurry and mistakes Dunfallon for a curate overdue for his assignation with West Bart’s theological collection.
Dunfallon is intrigued by Emmie’s love of books, her disdain for society’s games, and her ferocious generosity of spirit toward all of the library’s patrons. She has no patience with posturing, and thus he takes the risk of admitting his true identity. To his surprise, Emmie doesn’t mind all that much that he’s a duke—some things cannot be helped—but she is far less willing to keep silent about Dunfallon’s other secret, the one he has been guarding from even his fellow peers.
If an honest woman is worth more than rubies, what will a duke sacrifice to earn her love?
Diamond in the Rough — by Christi Caldwell
Lady Diamond Carmichael, paragon of propriety, is horrified when she discovers her headstrong younger sister at the Royal Colonnade Library reading books that would enrage their ducal father. Worse, this disaster-in-the-making has been abetted by a rude, opinionated librarian named Mr. Abaddon Grimoire.
Abaddon clawed his way free of a life of poverty and crime thanks to the refuge he found at the Royal Colonnade Library, and he’s determined to help other people find their escapes as well—in the pages of the library’s books! He issues Diamond a challenge: Spend a fortnight exploring the volumes on the library’s shelves; if after two weeks, she still wants to prevent her sister from visiting, he won’t interfere.
Abaddon soon realizes that beneath Diamond’s icy veneer beats the heart of a loyal, loving, and passionate woman, and Diamond comes to see that Abaddon’s devotion to books is a respect for truth and learning. A former guttersnipe and a duke’s daughter aren’t the stuff of matches made in Mayfair, but perhaps happily ever afters aren’t just for fairy tales!
NOTE: This duet will be released on Sept. 27, 2022, through library channels (and for our international readers, through Kobo). Readers wishing to purchase the story directly can do so from either authors’ website. Wide-retail distribution for these stories is planned for the 2023 holiday season, when next year’s new duet takes its turn as a library exclusive!
Matilda Merridew, former hoyden of the first water, finds herself widowed, weary, and in want of coin. Along comes Marcus, Lord Tremont, with an interesting–and decent–proposition. Tremont will provide Matilda a handsome salary and keep a commodious roof over her head if she will relieve him of the burden of managing a houseful of unruly former soldiers.
Matilda accepts the post, and soon learns that the proper, soft-spoken earl has a far more dashing side. Marcus, whose lodestars in life have been order and duty, is drawn to Matilda’s determination and pragmatic good cheer. When Matilda’s past rises from the grave to destroy any hope of a happily ever after, Matilda and Marcus will have to decide if love truly can conquer all!
While Lady Violet Belmaine is busy sorting out the odd turns her life has recently taken, Hugh St. Sevier repairs to his Kent estate in hopes of embarking on the placid life of a rural physician. Alas, for St. Sevier, the village of St. Ivo has more secrets than it has pots of heartease, and the good doctor will once again find himself the target of rumors and threats.
Somebody is rigging St. Ivo’s hound races, setting neighbor against neighbor, and turning what should be a friendly entertainment into an occasion for brawling. As an expert on medicinal herbs and soporifics, St. Sevier comes under suspicion. St. Ivo badly needs a physician, and the village also needs somebody to unravel the intrigues that are tearing it apart. St. Sevier can’t get to the bottom of the mystery on his own, but help–in the persons of Lady Violet and Sebastian MacHeath, is on the way!
Henning, Duke of Clonmere must marry one of the Earl of Falmouth’s three giggling younger daughters, but Lady Iris — Falmouth’s oldest, who is not at all inclined to giggling — catches Clonmere’s eye, and his heart!
NOTE: This story originally appeared in the (now de-published) anthology, Dukes by the Dozen. At present, it’s available exclusively through the web store as a free download.
Miss Catherine Fairchild spent much of her life haring about the globe with her diplomat parents, though she grasped at a young age that as a legitimate by-blow, her social standing among Polite Society would be marginal at best. Now she’s lost both parents and is settled back in London, where she learns that not only is she an heiress, but that the family title can be preserved through the female line.
Miss Dubious has become Miss Desirable, though Catherine has no plans to marry–or so she claims. Even if she were to admit to some loneliness, the last place she’d turn for companionship would be one of Mayfair’s fawning fortune hunters. The one person she can trust to treat her honestly is Monsieur Xavier Fournier, a plainspoken émigré who also has no intention of putting his foot in parson’s mousetrap… Or so he claims.
Lady Violet Belmaine is just finding her balance as a widow who has recently put off mourning when she’s summoned to the family seat to celebrate a sibling’s wedding. Hugh St. Sevier’s escort makes the journey somewhat bearable, while Sebastian MacHeath‘s presence among the guests is a more dubious blessing.
Violet is managing as best she can with her stubborn Papa, difficult brothers, and well meaning aunties, when the bride goes missing. Tempers flare, old secrets come out at the worst times, and Violet can rely on only St. Sevier and Sebastian to help her find the bride… until she discovers that St. Sevier was the last person seen with the missing lady!
Why must a widow newly emerged from mourning be invited to every wedding in the realm? Lady Violet Belmaine ponders that conundrum while traveling from London to rural Scotland at the invitation of an old friend. Escorted by her dashing physician friend, Hugh St. Sevier, Violet prepares to again subject herself to a nuptial celebration, except… the groom fails to appear.
Matters become more interesting when Violet discovers that Sebastian MacHeath is laird of the nearest castle, and well acquainted with the bride and her family. Mysterious cousins, surly neighbors, and appearances much at variance with the facts all confound Violet’s efforts to find the missing groom, and any designs she might have on her handsome escort!
Having enjoyed her tour of the Scottish countryside, Lady Violet Belmaine is reluctant to return to London. Her escort, Hugh St. Sevier, suggests a detour to the Lakes, where his former army connections have invited him to renew old acquaintances. Violet is happy to enjoy the breathtaking scenery, but all is not right with St. Sevier’s friends.
Their host’s estate is struggling, several marriages from the old regiment appear to be faltering, and somebody is intent on making a bad situation worse. From slashed portraits to sheep trampling the garden, St. Sevier’s former comrades are engaged in some sort of rural war against an unknown foe. Sebastian MacHeath arrives to help solve the mystery, but his presence only makes matters more tense. Violet refuses to leave without putting the puzzle pieces together, no matter how dangerous the process or how shocking the eventual solution.