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Not Just a Governess

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«Not Just a Governess» - Кэрол Мортимер

Darkly delicious Lord Adam Hawthorne doesn’t care a whit for society – especially the tedium of finding a wife. So taking on a new governess for his young daughter shouldn’t shake his steely disposition! Or lady in disguise?Except Mrs Elena Leighton, an enigmatic widow, is a most intriguing addition to the household. What are those ladylike airs and graces beneath her dowdy exterior? Despite great impropriety, Lord Hawthorne is compelled to discover the real Elena – no matter what secrets are unveiled along the way…A Season of Secrets: A lady never tells…
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About the Author

CAROLE MORTIMER was born in England, the youngest of three children. She began writing in 1978, and has now written over one hundred and fifty books for Harlequin Mills & Boon®. Carole has six sons: Matthew, Joshua, Timothy, Michael, David and Peter. She says, ‘I’m happily married to Peter senior; we’re best friends as well as lovers, which is probably the best recipe for a successful relationship. We live in a lovely part of England.’

Previous novels by the same author:

In Mills & Boon® Historical Romance:

THE RAKE’S WICKED PROPOSAL*

THE ROGUE’S DISGRACED LADY*

LADY ARABELLA’S SCANDALOUS MARRIAGE*

THE LADY FORFEITS**

THE LADY CONFESSES**

SOME LIKE TO SHOCK

You’ve read about The Notorious St Claires in Regency times. Now you can read about the new generation in Mills & Boon ® Modern Romance:

The Scandalous St Claires:

Three arrogant aristocrats—ready to be tamed!

JORDAN ST CLAIRE: DARK AND DANGEROUS

THE RELUCTANT DUKE

TAMING THE LAST ST CLAIRE

And in Mills & Boon ® Historical Undone! eBooks:

AT THE DUKE’S SERVICE

CONVENIENT WIFE, PLEASURED LADY

A WICKEDLY PLEASURABLE WAGER**

SOME LIKE IT SCANDALOUS

And in Mills & Boon ® Regency Castonbury Park mini-series:

THE WICKED LORD MONTAGUE

Not Just a

Governess

Carole Mortimer











www.millsandboon.co.uk

To my very special Dad, Eric Haworth Faulkner, 6/2/1923–6/12/2012. A true and everlasting hero!

The dedication of this book says it all for me. I lost my Dad in December, a man who was and always will be a true hero to me, in every sense of the word. He was always very proud of my writing, but I am even prouder to have enjoyed the absolute privilege of being his daughter.

I hope you will all continue to enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them!

Chapter One

Late April, 1817—the London home of Lady Cicely Hawthorne

‘I, for one, am disappointed that you do not seem to be any further along with finding a bride for Hawthorne, Cicely,’ Edith St Just, Dowager Duchess of Royston, gave her friend a reproving frown.

‘Perhaps we were all being a trifle ambitious, at the start of the Season, in deciding to acquire suitable wives for our three grandsons?’ Lady Jocelyn Ambrose put in softly.

The three ladies talking now had been aged only eighteen when they had shared a coming-out Season fifty years ago and had become fast friends, a state of affairs that had seen them all through marriage and their children’s marriages. They now had their sights firmly set on the nuptials of their errant grandchildren.

‘Nonsense,’ the dowager duchess dismissed that claim firmly. ‘You had no trouble whatsoever in seeing Chambourne settled—’

‘But not to the bride I had chosen for him,’ Lady Jocelyn pointed out fairly.

‘Nevertheless, he is to marry,’ the dowager duchess dismissed airily. ‘And if we do not see to the marriage of our respective grandsons, then who will? My own daughter-in-law is of absolutely no help whatsoever in that enterprise, since she retired to the country following my son Robert’s demise three years ago. And Royston certainly shows no inclination himself to give up his habit of acquiring a mistress for several weeks before swiftly growing bored with her and moving on to the next.’ She gave loud sniff.

Miss Eleanor Rosewood—Ellie—stepniece and companion to the dowager duchess, glanced across from where she sat quietly by the window with the two companions of Lady Cicely and Lady Jocelyn, knowing that sniff only too well: it conveyed the dowager duchess’s disapproval on every occasion.

But Ellie could not help but feel a certain amount of sympathy towards Lady Cicely’s dilemma; Lord Adam Hawthorne was known by all, including the numerous servants employed on his many estates, for being both cold and haughty, as well as totally unapproachable.

So much so that it must be far from easy for Lady Cicely to even broach the subject of her grandson remarrying, despite his first marriage having only produced a daughter and no heir, let alone finding a woman who was agreeable to becoming the second wife of such an icily sarcastic gentleman.

Oh, it would have its compensations, no doubt; his lordship was a wealthy gentleman—very wealthy indeed—and more handsome than any single gentleman had a right to be, with glossy black hair and eyes of deep impenetrable grey set in a hard and arrogantly aristocratic face, his shoulders and chest muscled, waist tapered, legs long and strong.

Unfortunately, his character was also icy enough to chill the blood in any woman’s veins, hence the reason he was known amongst the ton as simply Thorne!

Hawthorne’s cold nature aside, Ellie was far more interested in the dowager duchess’s efforts to find a bride for her own grandson, Justin St Just, Duke of Royston…

‘Adam is proving most unhelpful, I am afraid.’ Lady Cicely sighed. ‘He has refused each and every one of my invitations for him to dine here with me one evening.’

The dowager duchess raised iron-grey brows. ‘On what basis?’

Lady Cicely grimaced. ‘He claims he is too busy…’

Edith St Just snorted. ‘The man has to eat like other mortals, does he not?’

‘One would presume so, yes…’ Lady Cicely gave another sigh.

‘Well, you must not give up trying, Cicely,’ the dowager duchess advised most strongly. ‘If Hawthorne will not come to you, then you must go to him.’

Lady Cicely looked alarmed. ‘Go to him?’

‘Call upon him at Hawthorne House.’ The dowager duchess urged. ‘And insist that he join you here for dinner that same evening.’

‘I will try, Edith.’ Lady Cicely looked far from convinced of her likely success. ‘But do tell us, how goes your own efforts in regard to Royston’s future bride? Well, I hope?’ She brightened. ‘Let us not forget that a week ago you wrote that lady’s name down on a piece of paper and gave it to Jocelyn’s butler for safekeeping!’

The dowager duchess gave a haughty inclination of her head. ‘And, as you will see, that is the young lady he will marry, when the time comes.’

‘I do so envy you, when I have to deal with Adam’s complete lack of co-operation in that regard…’ Lady Cicely looked totally miserable.

‘Hawthorne will come around, you will see.’ Lady Jocelyn gave her friend’s hand a reassuring squeeze.

Ellie, easily recalling the forbidding countenance of the man, remained as unconvinced of that as did the poor, obviously beleaguered Lady Cicely…

‘Oh, do let’s talk of other things!’ Lady Jocelyn encouraged brightly. ‘For instance, have either of you heard the latest rumour concerning the Duke of Sheffield’s missing granddaughter?’

‘Oh, do tell!’ Lady Cicely encouraged avidly.

Ellie added her own, silent, urging to Lady Cicely’s; the tale of the missing granddaughter of the recently deceased Duke of Sheffield had been the talk both below and above stairs for most of the Season, the duke having died very suddenly two months ago, to be succeeded by his nephew. The previous duke’s granddaughter and ward had disappeared on the day following his funeral, at the same time as the Sheffield family jewels and several thousand pounds had also gone missing.

‘I try never to listen to idle gossip.’ The dowager duchess gave another of her famous sniffs.

‘Oh, but this is not in the least idle, Edith,’ Lady Jocelyn assured. ‘Miss Matthews has been seen on the Continent, in the company of a gentleman, and living a life of luxury. Further igniting the rumour that she may have had something to do with the Duke’s untimely death, as well as the theft of the Sheffield jewels and money.’

‘I cannot believe that any granddaughter of Jane Matthews would ever behave so reprehensively,’ Edith St Just stated firmly.

‘But the gel’s mother was Spanish, remember.’ Lady Cicely gave her two friends a pointed glance.

‘Hmm, there is that to consider, Edith.’ Lady Jocelyn mused.

‘Stuff and nonsense,’ the dowager duchess dismissed briskly. ‘Maria Matthews was the daughter of a grandee and I refuse to believe her daughter guilty of anything unless proven otherwise.’

Which, as Ellie knew only too well, was now the end of that particular subject.

Although she knew that many in society, and below stairs, speculated as to why, if she truly were innocent, Miss Magdelena Matthews had disappeared, along with the Sheffield jewels and money, the day of her grandfather’s funeral…

.

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