The Earl’s Runaway Governess
By Catherine Tinley
Who knew living with an Earl…
…would lead to such temptation?
Marianne Grant’s new identity as a governess is meant to keep her safe. But then she meets her new employer, Ash, Earl of Kingswood, and she immediately knows his handsome good looks are a danger of their own! Brusque on first meeting, Ash quickly shows his compassionate side. Yet Marianne doesn’t dare reveal the truth! Unless Ash really could be the safe haven she’s been looking for…
Miss Marianne Grant has run away from home out of fear of her stepbrother, Henry. She has been offered a post as a governess. She is using a false name ‘Anne Bolton’ and is about to meet her employer, the Earl.
The interior of the inn was dark, cosy, and well-maintained. A fire burned in the grate, for the January day was chilly. Marianne made her way towards the wooden counter at the far end of the room, where a woman who must be the landlady was busy pouring ale. As she walked, Marianne found herself warily assessing the strangers in the room. Since the day and hour she had left home she had not felt truly safe, for even a minute. She had no experience with which to assess where danger might lurk, so she found herself constantly on edge.
Her fellow passengers were already seating themselves in various parts of the taproom, and there were also two men who looked like they might be farmers, each with a mug of beer in front of him.
Then she saw him. Her heart briefly thumped furiously in her chest, and the hairs at the back of her neck stood to attention.
He was seated with his back to her, at the table closest to the counter. She could see his dark hair, swept forward in a fashionable style. He wore a driving cloak with numerous capes. She could also see long legs encased in tight-fitting pantaloons and gleaming black boots. He looked like any one of a dozen London bucks. Except this time, she reminded herself, you have no reason to fear him.
She kept walking, soothing herself with calm thoughts. As she reached his table, she turned her head, compelled to confirm it was no one she knew.
This man was a few years older than Henry – perhaps in his late twenties or early thirties. His hair was similar – thick, dark, and luxuriant. But the face was totally different. This man was handsome – or at least, he would be if he were not scowling so fiercely. His strong bones and lean features contrasted with Henry’s slight pudginess and rather weak jawline. And, now that she could see all of him, she realised that his body shape was totally different to Henry’s. He was lean and muscular, with no sign of a paunch. The clothing was similar to that favoured by Henry – and indeed, by all the young bucks of London. There the resemblance ended.
Sensing her there, he looked up from his mug and their eyes met. Stormy blue eyes bore into hers and Marianne felt a slow flush rise. My, but he was attractive! – and, she realised, his gaze was doing strange things to her. Breaking away from that endless, compelling contact, she bit her lip and took the final four steps to the counter.
Marianne summoned a polite smile. She felt slightly lost and shaky, and she could feel the man’s gaze boring into her back. Still, she managed to reply to the landlady. ‘I am expecting someone to meet me here. I have travelled from London on the mail coach.’
‘Who is it you are expecting, miss?’
Marianne’s brow creased. ‘I am not exactly sure.’ Inside, panic was rising. What if there has been some mistake? What if there is no governess position? ‘I am to take up a position as governess at a place called Ledbury House. I was told to travel here by mail coach today.’
‘Ledbury House? This gentleman –’ she indicated the fashionable buck ‘– is also travelling there. Perhaps you are expected to travel with him?’
Heart sinking, Marianne swung round to face him. His scowl had deepened as he listened to their exchange, and he now raised a quizzical eyebrow. ‘Curious’ he mused. ‘And to think I was unaware of the delights this day would hold.’
Marianne was taken aback. She was unsure how to take this. The man’s words were perfectly polite, but something about the tone suggested the possibility that he was not, in fact, delighted. Accustomed as she was to straightforward politeness, his words and tone felt disconcerting. Something of what she was feeling must have shown on her face because, as she watched him, his expression changed to one of chagrin.
‘I have no doubt,’ he murmured cryptically, ‘that this is a mess of Fanny’s making, and I am expected to fix it. Well, I shall do so this one time, but no more.’ With this enigmatic statement, he drained his mug, then stood. ‘You’d best come with me.’
Not waiting for her reply, he swung away towards the door.
Marianne stood rooted to the spot, uncertainty bedevilling her. Should she go with him? A stranger, and she was to travel with him unaccompanied. Miss Marianne Grant, a lady, would never have done so. Miss Anne Bolton, governess, could.
Conscious that all eyes were all on her, Marianne was surprised to find determination rising within her. Surprised, because she did not often need to be brave. She was normally a placid, timid creature, most at home with a book in her hand and harmony and peace all around.
This unknown gentleman was expecting her to simply climb into a carriage beside him – without any chaperone, maid, or footman accompanying them. Perhaps he had a groom? Well, even if he didn’t, it was clear that everyone expected the governess to go with him and be grateful for the ride.
Although he was handsome and strangely compelling, she was almost relieved to be wary of him – being guarded would be much, much safer than being attracted to him.
Torn between the surprising temptation to sit down somewhere safe and wait for an unknown rescuer, and the (even stronger) temptation to run, to get as far away as she could from the danger inherent in being alone in a carriage with a man, Marianne recognised that instead, her best option was simply to get into the carriage and hope she would be safe with him.
*Giveaway is now closed.
*Giveaway is now closed.
Catherine Tinley is giving away one eBook copy of
“The Earl’s Runaway Governess”
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If you were suddenly expected to be a governess, or schoolteacher, how would you manage and what subject would you be good at teaching?
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The Earl’s Runaway Governess
Catherine Tinley is an award winning author who writes witty, heartwarming, Regency love stories. Her first book, Waltzing with the Earl, won the prestigious Rita® Award for Best Historical Romance.
She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, NHS management, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now works in Sure Start.
She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cats, and dog and can be reached at www.catherinetinley.com as well as Facebook and twitter
Other books by Catherine Tinley:
The Chadcombe Marriages:
Coming soon: A Lady of Courage – part of the Second Chance Love Regency set.