How Not to Marry a Duke -- Tina Gabrielle

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How Not to Marry a Duke
Book II, Daring Ladies Series

Two unlikely allies make for one scandalous courtship…

From the moment her pet pig attacks him, Adeline Foster knows she does not care at all for the Duke of Warwick. Certainly the man is handsome, but such an arrogant arse. But when her scoundrel half brother demands she marry a stranger over a failed investment, the duke does something shocking…he announces he’s courting her.

One moment, Daniel Millstone is enjoying tinkering with his inventions in his quiet country home with relative anonymity. The next, he’s courting the willful Miss Adeline. It might have begun as a way to vex her half brother—his childhood nemesis—but her striking beauty and kissable lips prove an irresistible temptation.

Now Adeline and her faux beau must convince the ton and their families that they’re an item. It doesn’t matter if they can barely tolerate each other. It doesn’t matter that scandal is only a touch away. Because if this charade doesn’t work, Adeline will find herself in dangerous hands…

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Gabrielle's fast-paced second Daring Ladies Regency (after One Night with an Earl) pairs a stoic white duke and the strong-willed, mixed-race daughter of an earl. Fans of the fake relationship trope and anyone looking for diverse historical romance should check this out. Publisher's Weekly

A great stand-alone addition to the "Daring Ladies" series in which the romance sizzles...An enjoyable read with a great dynamic between the two main characters and a refreshing blend of cultures rarely seen in historical romances. Library Journal

"How Not to Marry a Duke was such a treat, it was like finally winning a prize from a claw machine." -Poundcake Library

"I enjoyed this cute, entertaining read." -My Cat Reads

"How Not to Marry a Duke was such a quick and fun fake courtship story. Bothe Adeline and Daniel have things that they are extremely passionate about, and it was heartwarming to see them support each other." -Unhinged Bibliophile

"Wonderful!!! Absolutely marvelous regency romance with the best tropes ever!!!!" -The Narnian Reader

"A great read." -Claires_Loveofbooks20202

"How Not to Marry a Duke was a cute read." -Mel Reads Romance

"I am a huge fan of Eloisa James, Tessa Dare and Lisa Kleypas' historical romance novels and I have to say Tina Gabrielle is just as talented. It was exciting to find a new author in this genre that I enjoyed so much." -Rachels Reads Romance





Chilham, Kent, May 1819


Daniel Millstone, the Duke of Warwick, tossed his quill on the desk in his study and pushed back his chair. He’d been trying to concentrate on his work, the mechanical drawings of a steam engine, but he’d been unable to focus.


What on earth is that terrible noise?


He went to the window and pushed aside the curtains. The shards of pain reverberating from the wound on his forearm that hadn’t entirely healed only added to his agitation as he glared down the country road. He couldn’t see his neighbor, but he could hear the cacophony coming from the cottage. 


Barking, then howling.


A hound, or more aptly, hounds, were creating a racket. It had been three full days of it. The constant penetrating noise was enough to make him cover his ears and grind his teeth.


A muscle by Warwick’s eye twitched. He’d chosen the small country house because it met all his requirements. Quaint, quiet village. A stream that powered a small waterwheel. A place where he could work without unwanted interruption.


Or so he’d thought.


Christ. He had a bevy of ducal estates from which to choose—massive piles of stone in Gloucestershire, Shropshire, and Hertfordshire. Not to mention a London mansion in Mayfair. 


Instead, he’d settled on a country house in the small village of Chilham in Kent. Other than his trusted staff, no one in Chilham knew he was a duke of the realm, and he could tinker with his inventions in peace. He was also far from his matchmaking godmother in London who kept reminding him of his duty to produce an heir and spare for the dukedom and far from the bevy of scheming mammas of the ton who sought the prized title of duchess for their debutant daughters. 


He’d turned the country house’s study into his workshop. A high-pressure engine stood in the middle of the hardwood floor. Mechanical parts and tools were scattered across a worktable. The only other pieces of furniture were a sideboard with liquor and his desk—its surface currently covered with mechanical drawings.


Really, the country location and the house should have been perfect.


The incessant barking increased in pitch and fervor.


Making a quick decision, Warwick strode from his study, down the hall, then headed straight out the front door. His butler was busy elsewhere, another advantage of bringing along a sparse staff. His valet would have a fit if he saw him in trousers and no coat or cravat. Even his Hessians needed a good polish. No matter. He preferred to work informally.


He passed a fountain and well-maintained lawns, then progressed down a dirt lane. His steps quickened as he left his property, and a small cottage came into view.


His first impression of his closest neighbor was not a favorable one. A shutter on the house hung askew, and the hedgerows were overgrown. The door needed a good coat of paint and was missing its knocker. A cart loaded with baggage rested on the small patch of grass. A makeshift pen beside the cottage contained numerous animals—goats, sheep, and a cow. An old bay was hitched to a post and eating a bucket of grain. Two hunting hounds—the source of the disruption—were in a fenced kennel. Both resumed barking as soon as they saw him.


He glowered at the dogs. “What will it take to get you to stop that infernal barking?”


What is going on here? Where in God’s name is the owner?


He quickened his pace until he was at the front door. Without a door knocker, he was forced to pound on the wood with his fist.


No answer. If the hounds hadn’t alerted the occupant that someone was on his property, what would?


“Hello!” he called out. When still no one answered, he pounded harder on the door. “Whoever is home, you must get your hounds to cease this racket!”


A laugh sounded from the side of the cottage.


His lips thinned with irritation. Is someone laughing? At me? Fists clenched at his sides, he marched full steam toward the noise and collided with a body.


A very soft one.


“Oh!” a feminine voice cried out.


Instinctively he reached out to grasp the woman’s arm before she tumbled to the ground. “My apologies, I—”


“My goodness! You gave me a fright, sir.”


She lifted her face to look into his eyes. His heart pounded as he took in her features one at a time. A curly mass of long dark hair and an oval face with an aquiline nose and full, pink lips. Her complexion was a dusky shade, not as fair as the ladies of the beau monde. But it was her blue eyes that captivated him. The irises were lined with a darker blue and framed by thick, dark lashes.


“I was in the garden.” She held a basket of newly pulled carrots balanced precariously on one hip.


She met his gaze, and for the first time in a long time, he found himself speechless. The contrast of those blue eyes and midnight hair against olive skin was stunning.


He cleared his throat. “Pardon, miss,” he said as he dropped his hand and stepped away. “I am looking for the owner of this cottage.”


“You found the owner, sir.”


Truly? How was it possible one small woman, no matter how beautiful, could own the dogs that had distracted him from his work for three long days?


“I’m Miss Adeline. How can I help you, sir?”


He’d had his speech prepared, or rather his list of complaints for the fellow who owned such unruly dogs, but he’d been taken aback by the fact his neighbor was a young woman—a very pretty one. Was she married? It would be easier to confront a husband.


She looked up expectantly at him, waiting.


“The truth is, I’m here because of your—”


A blur from around the corner of the cottage drew his eye. What the devil!


A giant pig barreled full speed toward them with no sign of slowing. Unthinking, Warwick hauled the woman behind him. “Watch out!”




With the cottage to one side and Miss Adeline behind him, Warwick’s options were limited. Heart hammering, he had just enough time to angle her away from the attack and brace himself as about two hundred pounds of solid farm animal barreled headfirst into him.


The threesome tumbled to the ground, man, woman, and swine. He took the brunt of it, cushioning the lady’s fall with his body. They landed in dirt and a patch of mud.


A sharp pain raced down his arm. Through the roaring din, he swore.


His prior injury hadn’t fully healed, but at least the pain had eased to a constant dull ache. But now, the stabbing pain was like a rasp on his skin, and he knew the wound had reopened.


He sat upright and eyed the corpulent beast. White with black spots and a spotted black-and-white snout with a tail that curled upward, the animal had charged him like a bull. As far as pigs went, he was ordinary, except for the glimmer of intelligence in his beady black eyes. Rather than wander off, the pig snuffled in Warwick’s face.


The woman shoved herself from beneath Warwick to sit. “Henry, no!” She wagged a finger at the pig. Her tone was one of pure admonishment.


Amazingly, the pig responded, and, with a snort, he turned away from Warwick to waddle to her side. Her lips curved in a fond smile as she gave him a pat on the head. The pig snorted once more, then wandered off to his pen and started guzzling food from a bucket of feed. Warwick noticed the door to the pen was ajar.


He rose and reached down to grasp the woman around the waist and help her to her feet. Her waist was trim and fit the curve of his hand, her curves soft as she briefly pressed against him.


She stood straight and looked up at him. “I apologize. He’s never done that before and is quite docile. I believe you frightened him when you shouted.”


Warwick’s eyes widened. He couldn’t fathom her defense of the animal. His arm began to throb, and his already strained temper flared. “I frightened him? Your pig is a nuisance and attacked me.” Just saying it out loud was ludicrous. His clothes were ruined, and he didn’t bother to wipe away the dirt, dust, and mud from his trousers and once white shirt. Mud clung to the skirts of her dress.


Her eyebrows drew together. “Only to greet you. Henry is friendly and wouldn’t harm anyone.”


Warwick cradled his arm. “Henry is oversized and dangerous.”


She glared. “He is not fat! He was the runt of the litter. He’s also my beloved pet.”


His heartbeat hammered. “Your pet? A pig cannot be a pet. It’s a farm animal.”


“That’s untrue. They are quite affectionate.”


“I doubt a pig can express affection.” His tone was surly.


“You, sir, don’t have much experience with pigs.”


“Only the bacon or pork they provide on my table.”


She gasped and her eyes narrowed.


As angry as he was, he couldn’t help but notice she was beautiful. Bits of straw clung to her hair and his fingers itched to pluck them out. Still, she was either mad or simply illogical, and arguing with her over a pig was not why he was here. He’d been managing his injury, and now it hurt anew. He needed to return home, remove the bandages, and inspect the damage.


“The pen is not secure,” he pointed out.


“Henry has a knack for releasing the latch.”


“You don’t say.”


Her chin lifted at his flat tone. “You have yet to state your purpose here, sir. I told you my name. What is yours?”


He’d chosen this village for a reason. Far from London, no one knew him here, and he had no intention of revealing his true identity. “Mr. Daniel Millstone. I reside down the lane.”


Her eyes lit and her expression softened. “A neighbor! Well, Mr. Millstone, I had hoped to meet you under different circumstances. As you can see,” she said, waving to the cart on the patch of grass he’d noticed earlier, “my belongings have just recently arrived.”


He eyed the overloaded wagon. Whoever had packed the rickety contraption had done a sloppy job. Warwick’s mathematical mind excelled at geometry, and he inwardly cringed at the way the baggage and valises had been haphazardly tossed into the wagon. If they had been properly loaded, much more could have fit. A portrait was strapped to the back of the wagon with a rope. A ten-year-old child could have secured it better. How it hadn’t fallen out during its jaunt down the bumpy country road was beyond him.




Warwick’s brow furrowed as he gazed at the portrait. The man’s image was vaguely familiar, like a specter in the back of his mind. Where had he seen him before?


“I apologize for a most unusual welcome. I had planned on stopping by to introduce myself with a basket of baked goods, but along with unpacking, there is much to be done around the cottage.” She let out a sigh. “Perhaps we can start anew, and if you’d be kind enough to return another time, I’ll be sure to have tea ready so I can properly say hello.”


“You misunderstand. My visit is not for social purposes.”


Her brow creased. “It’s not?”


“No. Your dogs are a nuisance; they bark at all hours of the day and night.”


“My dogs? Oh, I understand.” She walked to the makeshift fence and placed two fingers between her lips and let out a loud whistle. Both hounds loped to her side. Tongues lolling, they sat back on their haunches. She stroked the top of the dogs’ heads and ears. “Remus and Romulus are not my hunting hounds; I’m treating them for digestive problems. The barking isn’t their fault. You’d bark as well if you suffered from the same condition.”


Only his manners prevented him from laughing at the ridiculousness of that statement. Surely, she was mad. First a pet pig, now the ill dogs. “You are not the only person in this village, madame. Your animals are disruptive.”


Her lips thinned. “Disruptive?”


“Is it your habit to repeat everything?” he asked.


“To repeat…” Her spine stiffened and she faced him, blue eyes blazing. “I assure you, the barking will be temporary. Just until the dogs fully recover. As for you, Mr. Millstone,” she said, placing a hand on her hip, “I can honestly say that I have never encountered such an arrogant man in my life, other than my own aristocratic brother. You and Edwin would get along nicely.”


My aristocratic brother. Edwin.


His gaze returned to the portrait. With pulse-pounding awareness, he realized why it disturbed him. The man looked like an older version of someone from his past, someone he didn’t recall with fondness, and there was only one titled man he knew with that name.


Lord Edwin Cameron, the current Earl of Foster. The portrait must be of Edwin’s father, the old Earl of Foster.


His gaze raked over Adeline. She looked nothing like her fair-haired and pale-skinned father and brother. He’d believed she was a country mouse, not an earl’s sister. She’d even introduced herself as a miss and not a lady.


The Earl of Foster may not be a friend, but he was still a part of the aristocracy, and Warwick had no intention of continuing to argue with an earl’s sister, a lady.


“I see,” he said.


“Do you?”


It was best if he left. From his physical discomfort, he suspected his arm had started bleeding and needed to be attended to. Even though he was never one to back down from an argument, no good could come from confronting the unusual woman facing him.


His voice was gruff. “I’ll leave you to your business, and bid you good day, miss.”




How could such a handsome man be such an arrogant arse!


Adeline let out a held-in breath as she watched Mr. Daniel Millstone walk away. Her arrival at her cottage in the quaint Chilham village was not as she’d expected, and her neighbor was no exception. He hadn’t even spared a backward glance as he strode down the dirt lane toward his home. He may possess a sour disposition, but she’d have to be blind not to notice his tall, muscular build—a build she had closely encountered in the garden during the Henry incident. With his tawny hair, chiseled jaw, aristocratic nose, and vivid green eyes, he had the face and form that could make a lady glance back on the street or a barmaid linger as she offered him a tankard of ale.


Fortunately, Adeline knew not to be fooled by a handsome face. Her half brother, Lord Foster, was attractive…and spiteful. Mr. Millstone seemed to be cut from the same cloth.


As for Edwin, he’d never accepted Adeline or her mother, who’d been an untitled daughter of an Arabic rug merchant. Not a day went by that he didn’t express disgust over her “mixed blood.” As she’d grown, Edwin’s prejudice had never changed, and he’d taken every chance to bully her and make her feel inferior.


 Despite the lack of affection from her half brother, Adeline’s father, the old earl, had loved her mother and had doted on Adeline. Her mother’s death had devastated her father, and he’d passed less than five years after. Edwin had inherited the title and all the wealth that accompanied the estate. The former Earl of Foster hadn’t set up an allowance for Adeline. Rather, he’d left her the unentailed country cottage. Before Edwin got the satisfaction of tossing her out of their childhood home, she’d packed up the cart and left.


Her father had used the country dwelling as a hunting cottage when he’d wanted to escape the hectic pace of London. She’d accompanied him to Chilham several times as a child. Her memories were of a warm and colorful home with rustic furniture, a cheery fireplace, comfortable bed, and maintained grounds.


As such, she’d expected a well-kept and quaint cottage. Instead, she’d arrived in Chilham to find a dwelling that—even described in the most favorable terms by a seller—was in much need of repair. A future owner would see it for what it was: dilapidated. The roof leaked in spots and should be replaced, and almost all the rooms needed carpentry work on the creaky floorboards and the crown molding, as well as a fresh coat of paint. Rugs needed to be replaced where the roof had leaked, and even the furniture was in poor condition. Her father hadn’t visited in years, and the condition of the cottage had deteriorated. No wonder Edwin hadn’t complained when the solicitor had read her father’s will and bequeathed her the cottage without any funds for the repairs.


Still, she was determined to follow through with her plans of helping the country folk with their ailments. Adeline was a healer and she’d learned her mother’s Middle Eastern knowledge of herbs and medicinal techniques to help the sick and injured. Her experience extended to the hunting dogs, Remus and Romulus. Their owner, a country farmer, had planned to shoot the dogs. Adeline had convinced the farmer to let her treat the young hounds first. She could never refuse a person or animal in need of aid.


 Her handsome neighbor be damned. 


Adeline opened the cottage door and set the basket of carrots on the small table. She’d been pleased to find them in the garden. The previous hired gardener had planted vegetables and only the carrots had survived. The table wobbled from the small weight of the basket. She glanced underneath and sighed. One of the legs was definitely shorter than the others. She added it to the ever-growing list of repairs, just as the door burst open.




Adeline turned to smile at an older woman. “What took you so long, Hasmik?”


“I found the yarrow you were searching for.” 


Adeline took the herbs from her. “Wonderful! I intend to use it to treat the shopkeeper’s wound.”


Half Egyptian and half Armenian, Hasmik had arrived with Adeline’s mother from Egypt and had served as Adeline’s nursemaid. She was now her companion and dear friend. Hasmik was knowledgeable in herbs and invaluable to Adeline. Thin with reddish hair that she dyed with henna—a natural dye her mother’s people often used—Hasmik had intelligent brown eyes and a wide smile. Hasmik was loyal and had often shielded Adeline from Edwin’s cruelty when her mother was not able to do so. But with her dark skin—much darker than Adeline’s olive complexion—Hasmik had known prejudice, and Edwin had treated her as one of the lowest servants.


“The shopkeeper won’t die, but he is making a fuss about a cut on his hand. He is like an overgrown child,” Hasmik said.


Adeline hoped to treat the shopkeeper in exchange for a new chair in her parlor. With limited funds—which included her remaining pin money—she planned to find other ways to repair the cottage.


“He’s not the only one to complain.” Adeline’s neighbor came to mind. Insufferable man.


Hasmik eyed her, then arched a brow. “Oh? What troubles you?”


Adeline blew out a breath. “What doesn’t? My plans to aid the villagers are in jeopardy. The cottage is in disrepair. The roof leaks. Every piece of furniture is broken. The yard is overgrown. And my neighbor is disgruntled.”


“Pardon?” “The cottage is in—”


Hasmik held up a hand. “Not the cottage. What’s this about your neighbor?”


Adeline attempted to prop a hip on the table, then remembered the uneven leg. “Mr. Millstone may be handsome, but he’s just as difficult and arrogant as my half brother. Even more so.”


“How handsome?”


Adeline threw her hands in the air. “Hasmik! Did you not hear me? Mr. Millstone is rude. He arrived on my property and rudely accused me of disturbing his peace because of the dogs.”


She chuckled. “Perhaps there is some truth to his accusation. Those hunting dogs bark too much.”


“As I told him, it’s not the dogs’ fault. The farmer gave them chicken bones that upset their stomach. Romulus is doing better on his own. Thank goodness I was able to treat Remus’s vomiting and he has been drinking more and more water. Soon, we can begin feeding him boiled meat. His barking and howling has already lessened.”


“Good news indeed. But is the barking the only reason your neighbor is upset?”


Adeline bit her bottom lip. “At first. But then Henry charged him.”


Hasmik’s jaw dropped. “Your pig attacked a man?”


“I wouldn’t say attacked, per se, though Mr. Millstone believes differently. You know Henry is friendly. The pig reacted to Mr. Millstone’s harsh tone. Mr. Millstone pushed me behind him and attempted to stop Henry. And then we…fell.” More like she fell on top of him. Heat throbbed in her cheeks as she recalled their encounter. The press of her neighbor’s body against hers was hard to forget. Not a touch of fat softened his hard chest.


And then there were his large hands on her waist as he’d helped her up…


“That was chivalrous of the man, but there must be more to the story.”


Adeline let out a huff. “He said pigs cannot be pets.”


“Most would agree. What else?”


Adeline shook off her inappropriate thoughts and tried to focus on the conversation at hand. “Henry, in his overly affectionate manner, may have hurt the man.”


“Hurt him? Where?”


“When we got to our feet, Mr. Millstone flinched and cradled his forearm. I don’t think it was entirely due to the force of stopping the pig, or the fall, based on the way we… landed.” Heat rushed to her cheeks again, and she cleared her throat. “I suspect the man has a prior injury.” Another person may not have noticed, but Adeline had seen the signs. Mr. Millstone’s reaction, his flinching at the contact, then the way he’d held his arm, had alerted her.


Hasmik shook her head in disapproval. “Hmmm. Perhaps you should pay this neighbor a visit.”


Her neighbor’s face flashed in her mind. He’d left abruptly, but not before he’d expressed his ire. Was it possible his anger was exacerbated by pain?


Adeline shook her head. “I do not think he would appreciate seeing me. Best if I focus on the cottage’s repairs so I can attend those who seek my help.”


“But you are already thinking of him, aren’t you? You have a soft heart, habibti.”


Hasmik used the Arabic endearment sweetheart—that Adeline’s mother had used. And Hasmik knew her better than anyone. Adeline had difficulty turning away people in need. Her empathy superseded her stubbornness. She’d even once brewed Edwin a medicinal tea when he’d had a bad cold.


Not that Mr. Millstone was in need or would accept help.


But if her instincts were correct, then he’d had an injury and the incident with her pig had exacerbated it. Her stomach roiled. Damn.


Was he suffering as they spoke? Was she responsible for his pain? Had protecting her made his injury worse?


Still, she knew when she was unwanted. “My efforts are best served elsewhere. I need to gather enough funds for the cottage repairs.”


“You can ask Lord Foster for aid.”


Adeline laughed out loud, a harsh sound to her own ears. “Edwin wouldn’t spare me a shilling.”


Hasmik clucked her tongue. “Your father would disapprove of how your brother is treating you.”


“Our father is dead.” Her heart squeezed in her chest. A day didn’t pass that she didn’t think of him. At least her father had thought to leave her the cottage. 


A cottage in disrepair.


He wouldn’t have done so if he’d known of the poor condition of the dwelling. The more she thought about it, the more she concluded that her father must have forgotten to pay a groundskeeper to keep up the cottage.


“We will make do, habibti. I’ll enlist the aid of the locals in the village to help with repairs. I noticed two young boys while shopping this afternoon.”


“How will I pay them?”


“The boys may be willing to work for a bit less than the town carpenter.”


Adeline looked about her. The leaky roof and creaky floorboards. The fencing in need of repair. The overgrown garden. Even the shutter hanging askew. “I hope so.”


Hasmik’s eyes twinkled with mischief. “If all else fails, maybe the man next door will come to your aid. Again.”


Adeline rolled her eyes at the ludicrous notion. He may be handsome, but he was maddeningly arrogant. “That will never happen.” 




The following morning, Adeline woke to loud pounding on the front door. Heart jolting, she bolted upright in bed. Blinking, she glanced at the mantel clock.


Six o’clock in the morning.


Who in God’s name could it be?


For a single flustered moment, she wondered if it was her neighbor, the handsome Mr. Millstone. His visit yesterday was still fresh in her mind, thanks to an unsettling dream where he touched her waist for no protective reason at all. His nearness made her senses spin, and she was entirely caught up in her own emotions until she abruptly woke.


He wouldn’t visit again soon, though, would he? If so, he had no reason to complain. Romulus’s condition had improved after the third dose of the tonic she’d administered to ease his nausea. And with his relief his barking had ceased.


So who could it be? Other than the pounding, the cottage was eerily quiet. As was her habit, Hasmik had already risen and left for the village for fresh cream and eggs.


Adeline threw off the covers and slipped out of bed. She didn’t bother with a night rail. She slept in loose-fitting white linen Arabic pants and a tunic that fell to her hips. She dressed as a proper English lady in the day, but behind closed doors, she preferred her mother’s traditional, comfortable garb.


She padded barefoot through the cottage and opened the door.


She wished she hadn’t. Edwin stood on her front step. His gaze raked over her from head to toe, and a look of disapproval, one that she was accustomed to, flashed in his eyes. She swallowed hard as old fears and uncertainties arose, and her fingers tensed on the door handle. She was conscious of her unpinned dark hair in disarray on her shoulders.


“Hello, Adeline.” Her name rasped across her half brother’s lips like a curse.


“Edwin.” She chose not to address him using his newly minted title. Her beloved father had held that title, and to address Edwin with it seemed like an abomination.


She wasn’t ready. She’d never be ready.


“I realize we are in the country, but must you dress like a heathen?”


Her practiced smile disguised her anger. “I was sleeping. And need I remind you that you are the one knocking on my door at this very early hour. Why are you here?”


Edwin pushed the door fully open and stepped inside the cottage. “I wasn’t aware the country had respectable calling hours. To answer your question, I am here on a matter of family urgency.”


Adeline’s pulse leaped as she shut the door. “Is Mary unwell?”


Mary was Adeline’s beloved half sister, almost a year older than her, but Adeline had always thought of Mary as a twin.


Mary was the one person both Edwin and Adeline cared for. Mary had a sweet disposition and was terribly shy, night from day compared to Edwin. She had been all nerves in anticipation of the upcoming Season, whereas Adeline had chosen to travel to the country to work as a healer.


Mary had her own secret talent. She was a prolific writer and had published short stories under a pseudonym. For almost a year, Mary had been working on a full-length novel. Edwin had no idea. Adeline had always marveled at Edwin’s ignorance of Mary’s publishing endeavors, considering Mary would disappear for hours in her room to write.


“Mary is fine,” Edwin said. “This does not concern her.”


A knot in Adeline’s stomach eased. “Then what matter of family urgency?”


His lips curled in a crocodile smile. “It’s simple, dear sister. I’ve arranged for you to marry.”