The Earl Who Loved Her
The Honorable Scoundrels by Sophie Barnes
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
Bryce Harlowe lives as a recluse, shunned by Society and even his own family after being accused of a scandalous transgression. The young woman at his door cannot stay at Blackhall less her reputation be ruined. And yet, when the pesky winter climate leaves them snowed in together at Blackhall, Bryce and Eve grow closer, each discovering a mutual respect and longing for the other. Until Bryce’s past is revealed, threatening to rip apart their newfound love…
Bryce Elliot Harlowe, Earl of Ravenworth, was preparing to enjoy the brandy he’d poured when a knock at the door brought his butler into the library. “My Lord,” Radcliff said, “a woman has arrived.”
“Does she have a name?” Bryce asked. He glanced across at his favorite chair. Enjoying a peaceful moment of reading by the fire would clearly have to wait.
“Miss Potter. She says she is here to see Mrs. Havisham.”
“Then she must have taken a wrong turn somewhere.” The Havisham home was six miles in the opposite direction.
“ I wish to know if I might offer her the use of your carriage. It is almost dark outside, you see, and it has started to snow. Sending a young woman back out without escort would not sit well with me.”
Bryce had to agree. It wouldn’t be right to send any woman away again under such circumstances, no matter her age. “Have Peter make the necessary preparations, and in the meantime, please ask Miss Potter to join me.” He received few visitors these days and was starting to grow weary of his isolation.
“Very well, my lord.” Radcliff left, returning moments later with a woman who stood encased in a long black pelisse. She wore a floppy bonnet which dipped across her forehead, concealing her eyes. Several shawls were wrapped tightly across her shoulders and chest. “May I present Miss Potter?”
The woman attempted a curtsy even as she shivered, which prompted Bryce to step forward quickly and guide her toward the fireplace. Once there, he took a step back and sketched a short bow. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Potter. I am the Earl of Ravenworth.”
She tipped her chin up, her surprise unmistakable. It encompassed her entire face. But what caught his attention the most were her dark blue eyes. They left him completely dazed. Radcliff coughed, pulling Bryce out of his trance and enabling him to gather his wits. He turned toward his butler. “Please arrange for some tea and sandwiches to be brought up and—”
Miss Potter sneezed and then she sneezed again. And a third time.
“Oh dear,” she murmured as she took a step closer to the fire.
Oh dear, indeed.
Bryce gave her an assessing look before addressing Radcliff once more. “I believe we should get her out of her wet pelisse and hang it to dry in the kitchen next to the stove. The same goes for her shawls.”
“Yes, my lord.” Radcliff, being the practical, no-nonsense man he was, crossed to where Miss Potter was standing and held out his hand. “If you’ll please give me your outerwear, miss.”
Miss Potter hesitated. She glanced at Bryce, who gave her a reassuring nod. “We would hate for you to catch a cold,” he said. “Such a thing could very well ruin your Christmas.”
That seemed to get her cooperation. Her fingers quickly untied her shawls and peeled them away before going to work on the buttons of her pelisse. This garment came off too, revealing an equally black dress. But not without hinting at a slender yet curvaceous form. Beneath the other layers of clothing, her breasts had been undefined and unremarkable. Now, their rounded curves stood out, drawing Bryce’s attention in a way that made him wish she would keep on undressing.
Of course she didn’t. But she did take off her bonnet as well, exposing a pile of blonde curls that appeared to have been twisted and pinned down by force. It made him wonder what her hair might look like if it were set free – allowed to fall down over her shoulders and…
He swallowed and turned away, grabbing his glass and tossing back his brandy before swinging around to face Radcliff. “That will be all for now.”