Scandalous Miss Brightwell series
By Beverley Oakley
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A rigged horse race - and a marriage offer riding on the outcome.
When Miss Eliza Montrose unexpectedly becomes legal owner of the horse tipped
to win the East Anglia Cup, her future is finally in her hands – but at what
George Bramley, nephew to the
Earl of Quamby, will wager anything. Even his future bride.
Miss Eliza Montrose will
accept any wager to be reunited with the child she was forced to relinquish
after an indiscretion — even if it means marrying a man she does not love.
But when the handsome and
charming Rufus Patmore buys a horse from her betrothed, George Bramley, whose
household her son visits from the foundling home, her heart is captured and the
outcome of the wager is suddenly fraught with peril.
**This is book 3 in the
Scandalous Miss Brightwell series, though it can be read as a stand-alone.
“And there’s nothing else you’d like, my dear? No?”
Straightening after receiving a polite rebuff, George Bramley found it an
effort to keep the syrup in his tone. His bride-to-be had not even looked at
him as she’d declined the piece of marchpane he’d been certain would win him at
least a smile.
Hovering at her side, he weighed up the advantages of a gentle
rebuke, then decided against it. Until yesterday, he’d thought her quiet
demeanour suggested a charmingly pliant nature. Now he was not so sure. In
fact, suddenly, he was not sure of anything.
“A glass of lemonade, perhaps, my angel? Or a gentle stroll?”
“I would prefer to be left alone.” Miss Montrose waved a languid
hand in his general direction, while she continued to gaze at the still lake
beside which their picnic party had situated itself.
The languid arm-wave had not even been accompanied by a demure thank you as subtle acknowledgement of
her gratitude that not only had Mr Bramley, heir to a viscountcy, stepped in to
rescue Miss Eliza Montrose from impoverishment, he was prepared to treat her
publicly as if she were as fine a catch as he could have made.
A soft titter brought his head round sharply, but the ladies
behind him, bent over the latest Ackerman’s
Repository, appeared occupied with their own gossip as they lounged on
cushions beneath the canopy that had been erected to protect them from the sun.
Awkwardly, he looked for occupation as he continued to eye his
intended with a mixture of irritation and desire—both lustful desire, and the
desire to put her in her place.
The idea of the latter made him harden. She was beautiful, this
quiet, apparently retiring, young woman who said so little, but whose eyes
spoke such volumes. The afternoon sun glinted on her honey-gold hair and imbued
her porcelain skin with a warm glow. The skin that he could see, at any rate.
He pushed back his shoulders. On their wedding night in six
weeks, when he’d at last take possession of her, he’d rip that modesty to
shreds. The skin she was so at pains to hide would be his, not only to see, but
to caress and taste. When she was his wife, the beautiful, distant Miss Eliza
Montrose would no longer get away with paying George Bramley so little
attention. No, he’d have her screaming and writhing at his command. He would
make her like the things he did to her; or at least, show him she did if she
enjoyed harmony as much as she appeared to. None of this languid reclining like
a half-drugged princess in his presence. He’d keep her on her toes, ready to
leap to his bidding at the sound of his footstep. She’d learn to be grateful.
Feeling ignored and superfluous, he turned to his uncle’s
detestable wife, Lady Quamby, and said with a smile, “Perhaps you and Miss
Montrose would like to accompany me to the turret. Since you appear to have
enjoyed this new novel, Northanger Abbey,
so much, you might be interested to know there is an excellent view of the
ruined monastery not far from here.”
He was just priding himself on being so attuned to the feminine
inclination for pleasure, when Lady Quamby half turned and sent him a desultory
smile. “Oh, I think Miss Eliza looks perfectly comfortable, and Fanny and I are
having such a lovely little coze.” As if imitating Miss Montrose, she waved a
languid hand in his general direction. “Why don’t you take Mr Patmore off to
see it? The two of you can tell us all about it when you return.”
The fact that Miss Montrose didn’t deign to even speak for
herself, much less glance in his direction, sent the blood surging to Bramley’s
brain. By God, when he was married to Eliza Montrose, the limpid look of love
so lacking now would be pasted onto her face every time he crossed her line of
vision. She’d soon learn what was good for her.
He inclined his head, hiding his fury, and was on the point of
leaving when Lady Quamby’s sister, Fanny —for he’d be damned if he’d accord the
little strumpet the title of Lady Fenton—leapt up from her chair. She’d been
poring over the latest fashions, but now she smiled brightly up at him.
“I’ll come with you, Cousin George. We’ll have an excellent view
of the children learning to row from the
battlements. I told Nanny Brown she could take them in the two boats if they’d
Bramley stared down her liveliness. In fact, he was about to
give up the idea of going up to the battlements altogether when his other
guest, Rufus Patmore, suddenly rose and joined Fanny’s side with a late and
unexpected show of enthusiasm.
“Capital idea!” declared Rufus.
George flashed them both a dispassionate look. He'd chosen to
invite his betrothed, Miss Montrose—whose chaperone was currently tucked up in
the green bed chamber nursing a head cold—to be his guest at his uncle’s
estate, Quamby House, after receiving intelligence that Ladies Quamby and
Fenton would be safely in London with their husbands and children. Instead, the
brazen Brightwell sisters—as they’d infamously been called when he’d first made
their acquaintance—had altered their plans, and were now in dogged attendance,
reminding him as they always had, of some awful tenacious climbing plant,
determined to find a foothold wherever they could in order to rise in the
Rufus, a last-minute addition and acquaintance from his club,
Boodles, was here because he’d just purchased a horse from Bramley the night
before. Now, Rufus was gazing at Lady Fenton, with the same dewy-eyed fondness
George was used to seeing reflected in the eye of his uncle, the Earl of
Quamby, who called the Brightwell sisters his precious rose-buds. To George,
they were common dandelions! And now they had overridden Quamby House, the
rambling Queen Anne manor house and estate that would have passed to George the
moment his uncle quit this mortal coil, were it not for the snotty-nosed infant
Lady Quamby had borne far too early in her marriage to George's uncle.
George shook his head. He’d changed his mind. Only, there was
Rufus striding across the lawn, skirting the lake with Fanny at his side, and
George didn’t want to be seen as petulant for having offered the suggestion in
the first place. Or have his snubbed and ignored status so much on parade,
since the two remaining ladies—Miss Montrose and Lady Quamby—had their heads
bent together in deep discussion, with no apparent interest in seeking his
By God, he thought, clenching his fists as he set off after them
at a brisk trot, they'd all rue the day they showed George Bramley so little
Other Books in the Series:
Book 1: Rake’s Honour
Book 2: Rogue’s Kiss
Book 3: Devil’s Run
Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first her 500+ page romance and
sent it to a publisher. Unfortunately drowning her heroine on the last page was
apparently not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley
became a journalist.
Twenty-six years later Beverley was delighted to receive her
first publishing contract from Robert Hale (UK) for a romance in which she
ensured her heroine was saved from
drowning in the icy North Sea.
Since 2009 Beverley has written more than thirteen historical
romances, mostly set in England during the early nineteenth century. Mystery,
intrigue and adventure spill from their pages and if she can pull off a
thrilling race to save someone’s honour – or a worthy damsel from the noose –
it’s time to celebrate with a good single malt Scotch.
Beverley lives with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian
Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony opposite a picturesque nineteenth century
lunatic asylum. She also writes Africa-set adventure-filled romances tarring
handsome bush pilot heroes, and historical romances with less steam and more
sexual tension, as Beverley Eikli.
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