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LORD BATHOLOMEW’S CHRISTMAS BRIDE
A stickler for correctness, Lord Bartholomew Winborne, second son of the Marquess of Brandreth, is about to take up his appointment as a vicar in India. Requiring a suitable wife by Christmas, he has made a list of the most desirable qualities she must possess. The annoying Miss Emily Isherwood appears to have none of them.
Meet the Brandreth family in the Spies of Mayfair Series, and The Baxendale Sisters Series.
Bart had just rescued a cat from a tall tree in the Isherwood’s garden and been scratched for his pains.
Bart entered the warm room, the walls lined with tomes. He frowned at the disorder. A pile of papers on the oak desk lifted and threatened to scatter in the draft from the wide-open window. A deep wingchair had been pushed sideways to the sofa, clearing a space on the rug before the fireplace where a coal fire burned. Cushions were strewn over the brown patterned Turkey rug, and a teacup and plate with a half-eaten muffin sat on a small table.
Bart unraveled his cravat, slipped out of his waistcoat then pulled his shirt over his head. He examined the vivid scratch that wound its way over his chest.
William came in with a jar. Bart took it and head bent, gingerly applied the salve to the sore spot.
Bart raised his head and his mouth fell open. An attractive young woman rose from the floor behind the sofa, a book in her hand.
Bart snatched up his shirt and held it against his chest. “I do beg your pardon. I believed the room to be empty.”
The young lady’s smiling grey eyes roamed his shoulders as she curtseyed. “I think I must have dozed off. It was either the fire or the fault of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.” She held the book up. “A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences. I was hoping to improve both my mind and my French.” Her smile was enchanting. “I suspect I’ve failed in both aims.”
Appalled, Bart bowed. He had never felt at such a social disadvantage. “Bartholomew Winborne,” he said in a strained voice.
“Yes. Of the Brandreth clan. I have met one of your sisters, Lady Sibella. How do you do? I am Emily Isherwood. A smile warmed her grey eyes. How came you to be partially clothed in our bookroom, my lord?”
William, who had stood staring into space, cleared his throat. “His lordship just rescued Athene from the oak tree, Miss Emily.”
“Did you? How very kind. You are not the first to shimmy up that tree. ’Tis a bad habit of Athene’s.”
“Is it indeed.” Bart wondered what poor devil had rescued the cat in the past. He threw a sympathetic glance at William who may well bear the scars of such ventures. “I trust there has been no serious casualties thus far, Miss Isherwood?”
She eyed his chest where his shirt had slipped. “You’re the first to be badly scratched, I believe. I’m most sorry for it.”
He stiffened. “If you would leave the room, I shall dress and join you shortly.”
“No need to turn stuffy.” Miss Isherwood clasped her hands behind her back and rose up on her toes.
“This is highly inappropriate,” Bart said. He turned to William. “Kindly open the door for Miss Isherwood.”
When William rushed to obey, she approached the open door with a swish of her primrose morning gown. “I have a brother, my lord,” she threw back at him before exiting the room.
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