Please enjoy this excerpt from my forthcoming Regency romance: The Sins of a Lady (and a Duke), book 1 in the A Lady Series.
“May I say, Lady Clairmont, you are a vision.”
“I believe you just said it, Lord Drummond,” Penelope smiled, holding herself as far from the Earl as the dance would allow. His breath smelled of old port, and older fish.
“I was just telling Baron Fitzroy there is no other woman who can hold a candle to your beauty. Your sisters come close, of course, a similarity in face and figure. However, my dear lady, you are a goddess among women.”
Penelope nodded and forced a smile and a murmur of thanks. She counted the seconds. Four more minutes in the Earl’s too-tight clasp and she would be once more freed.
“Are you listening?” The Earl asked loudly, as if it were she, and not himself, who was decidedly hard of hearing. “I have likened you to a goddess.”
“I, of course, my Lord, forgive me. I was simply enjoying the dance.” More so, I was enjoying the dwindling minutes of your company.
“I was saying you would make a worthy Countess. The Howards are a fine family. Worked with your father many times in parliament, and your handsome mother has turned out more than enough sons. You have her hips.”
His lips glistened with spittle. Penelope felt her stomach clench with revulsion.
“Really, Lord Drummond,” she laughed too brightly. “I hardly think discussion of hips, mine own or my mother’s, is polite conversation.”
“If I may speak plainly, Lady Clairmont. You’ll be wanting to get yourself married soon. You aren’t getting any younger. I wouldn’t be completely put off by taking on an older gel.”
Well. Thank heavens for the Earl’s magnanimity, Penelope thought.
“I believe the dance is ending, my Lord. Do excuse me.” She started to pull away.
The Earl clamped his meaty fingers even more tightly around her hand. “I had not finished my thoughts, Lady Clairmont.”
Penelope took a deep breath and looked the Earl square in the eye, and she could do that, as the top of his head came level with her own. “Lord Drummond, while I appreciate your, ah, honesty, I have no desire to wed again, nor wed anyone who is old enough to be my grandfather.”
“Listen here, young woman, I would have you know I possess all of my teeth and my tailor adds very little padding to my jackets,” the Earl sputtered. “I have had no less than four eligible young ladies in my review only this month. Two younger than yourself.”
Heaven help her, did he have the hint of a tear in his eye? Patting his hand in consolation, she pulled free of him with a small grunt of effort.
“I apologize, my Lord, I did not intentionally aspire to insult you. I feel a bit overheated and think I will find my sisters for a turn in the gardens. I am certain you will find a lady who will admire your teeth and your jackets immensely.”
The Earl sniffed, his loose jowls stained berry-red with indignation. He was obviously winding up to impress upon her further examples of his manliness.
“Do enjoy your night,” Penelope beamed and dipped into a quick curtsy before making her escape, leaving the older man no time to reply to her again.
Excerpt from The Sins of a Lady (and a Duke) by Heather Harris. All Rights Reserved.