About the Book:
Miss Hannah Pendleton is nursing her pride after her childhood crush falls in love with another. Determined to break a few hearts of her own, she hurls herself into the exciting and hectic schedule of a first season. Hannah finds the glitter and malice of London and its society both intriguing and intimidating. Always clever and direct, the smooth manners and practiced words of the gallant but meticulous bachelors do nothing to stir her soul until…
Since his wife’s suicide on their wedding night, the Earl of Darby has carefully cultivated his rakish reputation. It keeps overprotective mamas at bay and provides him with unlimited clandestine affairs. But when Nicholas sees a lovely newcomer being courted by the devil himself, her innocence and candor revive the chivalry buried deep in his soul. The ice around Nicholas’s heart cracks as he desperately tries to save Hannah and right a hideous wrong committed so long ago.
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2QtO6Ax
Bestselling and award-winning author Aubrey Wynne is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule, and barn cats. Obsessions include wine, history, travel, trail riding, and all things Christmas. Her Chicago Christmas series has received the Golden Quill, Aspen Gold, Heart of Excellence, Maggie award, and thrice nominated as a Rone finalist by InD’tale Magazine.
Aubrey’s first love is medieval romance but after dipping her toe in the Regency period in 2018 with the Wicked Earls’ Club, she was smitten. This inspired her spin-off series Once Upon a Widow. In 2020, she will launch the Scottish Regency series A MacNaughton Castle Romance with Dragonblade Novels.
Read an Excerpt:
A petite young girl sat in a huge leather chair by the fireplace, a book open in her lap. She quickly closed the cover and stood to greet them, pulling down the skirt of her yellow Primrose muslin as she rose. Behind them a deep voice instructed the butler.
“We will expect tea within the half hour. Lady Darby will not be attending us this afternoon. She has the megrim and is requesting chamomile tea in her room.”
His deep timbre sent a warmth rushing through Hannah. As she turned to meet their host, she caught his eye and he smiled. Her breath caught.
“Pendleton, it’s good to see you!”
“And you,” said Nathaniel, as he leaned forward and shook his friend’s hand. “I’d like you to meet my sister, Miss Hannah Pendleton, and I believe you met my Lady Roberta before?”
Aunt Bertie elbowed Hannah, reminding her breathe as her aunt put her hand forward and nodded in acknowledgment of the introduction. Darby bowed over each lady’s gloved hand.
“My pleasure,” he said, lifting translucent his calamine-blue eyes to Hannah. “And may I introduce my sister, Lady Matilda.”
When Matilda joined them, Hannah had to pull her gaze from his, mesmerized by the odd translucent shade of a clear summer sky.
“It is a pleasure to meet any friends of my brother.” Her voice was soft, neither shy nor confident. Matilda pushed a blonde lock, the shade of evening primrose, from her forehead. “I apologize for my mother’s absence.” She gripped her book, her white knuckles betraying her calm tone.
Hannah’s heart went out to the girl. “Is that by Maria Edgeworth? Have you read many of her books? I so enjoyed her novel, Leanora.”
A grateful smile curled the girl’s lips. “Oh, yes. That’s why I purchased Castle Rackrent. Have you read it?”
“No, I haven’t. Perhaps I could borrow it when you finish?”
“Oh, yes. Do you read any biographies?”
“Egad! Please don’t tell me we have two bluestockings on our hands,” Nathaniel said with a laugh.
“My sister has her nose in a book most of the time.” Darby grinned, the dimple in his cheek deepening. “She’s indiscriminate and will read anything from a scientific journal to a romantic novel.”
Hannah’s eyes snapped back to the earl’s face. She had the strangest urge to step closer, reach up, and trace her finger along the cleft in his chin. Wings had taken flight in her belly. What was happening? While Gideon had always sent her stomach into a tumble, she’d never experienced a flock of birds flapping inside her. It must be exhaustion from the trip. Or those captivating eyes. Or the dimple that begged her to press her lips to his cheek. Or the stretch of his jacket across those broad shoulders and the thigh-hugging buckskin breeches. Stop being a buffle-headed romantic, she scolded herself.
Aunt Bertie looked at Hannah, then gave Darby an appreciative perusal. “Lud! This will be a delicious season. Let’s sit down and get to know one another, shall we?”
Five years ago, before he inherited the title of earl, Nicholas agreed to an arranged marriage to Alice, which would save his family financially. Nicholas’s father had just lost a fortune gambling, and Nicholas hopes that eventually he and Alice will come to love each other. On their wedding night, Nicholas is shocked that his bride is no innocent, and infuriated when she tells him that she is pregnant due to an attack from a powerful man. Nicholas’s rage over having been duped into such a marriage, and then having to raise another child as his own, possibly his heir, leads him to say some terrible things to Alice before he leaves her. After hours of riding, Nicholas returns home, only to find that his young bride has killed herself, leaving him a note in which she apologized, and then named the man who attacked her, the Duke of Colvin.
Now the Earl of Darby, Nicholas has lived the life of a rake, with no plans to marry again anytime soon. The betrayal of his mother by arranging his ill fated marriage, and the deceit of his bride have caused him to lose all trust in women. Still, he is wracked with guilt over his wife’s death, and secretly is pursuing Colvin, hoping to find some criminal activity in the debauched duke’s life which will send him to prison, or worse.
Hannah Pendleton is the younger sister of Nicholas’s good friend, Nathaniel, and is about to make her debut in society. Because Nathaniel’s wife is soon to give birth, he tasks Nicholas with keeping an eye on his sister in his absence. Nathaniel makes it clear that Nicholas is to keep his own hands off Hannah while he is keeping the other unsuitable men away. For years, Hannah has had a crush on another of her brother’s friends, and is looking forward to the season, hoping to finally capture his heart. So, she’s surprised at her reaction to Nicholas.
Hannah soon becomes good friends with Mattie, Nicholas’s beloved young sister, who is also making her debut, which puts her even more in Nicholas’s company. Hannah and Nicholas were drawn to each other from the beginning, and everyone around them sees the attraction sizzling before they do. Not only are they physically aware of each other, but they share the same sense of humor, and seem to be completely in sync. Nicholas begins to regret that he is such a damaged man, because he feels he could truly love Hannah.
Christmas is approaching, and that’s the time of year of Nicholas’s brief marriage. Historically, he becomes even more depressed, and drinks more heavily. Hannah has heard part of Nicholas’s story, and has determined to be there for him, and to be patient, and hope he comes to love her. For a young debutante, Hannah has a maturity about her along with intelligence and compassion. I really liked her and her spirit. I loved watching Nicholas slowly come to open his heart, and to trust and hope and love again.
EARL OF DARBY is a wonderful journey from the sadness and despair of Nicholas’s first marriage to the brightness of new love. There’s not only romance, but Nicholas’s growth as a person as he learns to forgive himself. The path to new love is not all smooth, however, as old villain, Colvin, once again attempts to inject his poison, this time with Hannah as his victim. EARL OF DARBY is part of the WICKED EARLS’ CLUB series, but is easily enjoyed as a standalone story. ~Rose
Signed copy of Earl of Sunderland + $10 Amazon Gift Card