Tangled Destinies [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Nicola Cornick & Anne Ashley
eBook Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
eBook Description: Two glittering Regency love affairs for one low price! Includes The Larkswood Legacy and The Neglectful Guardian. The Larkswood Legacy by Nicola Cornick: Living with her former husband's relatives was uncomfortable for the young widow Annabella St. Auby, but then a meeting with Sir William Weston took her breath away. He made his interest in her very clear, and she was certainly drawn to him. But then Annabella began to wonder if Sir William was in pursuit of her--or her legacy. The Neglectful Guardian by Anne Ashley: Miss Sarah Pennington was tired of living at the mercy of her elusive guardian, Mr. Marcus Ravenhurst. Setting off to stay with her old governess, and traveling under the name Mrs. Armstrong, Sarah became stranded at an inn. But with Marcus hot on her trail and staying at the same place, how could he know that the delicious Mrs. Armstrong was his missing ward?
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/HQN
Fictionwise Release Date: December 2006
28 Reader Ratings:
'Annabella! You graceless girl! Why, I declare, you are as clumsy as an elephant!' Lady St Auby brought the phrase out triumphantly, for she had seen such a creature in Lord Eaglesham's zoological collection. The words were delivered in a sibilant hiss, unlike Lady St Auby's habitual hectoring tone, but they were hurtful nevertheless. Annabella St Auby bit her lip and a flush came into her pale cheeks.
This time, her transgression had been small. She had stood aside to allow her mother-in-law to enter the Taunton Assembly Rooms first, as precedence demanded. Unfortunately, Lady St Auby had been so deeply engrossed in gossiping with her bosom-bow, Mrs Eddington-Buck, that she had not realised that Annabella had stopped and had cannoned into her back, setting her hairpiece askew and dropping her fan in the process.
It had been a disastrous way to re-enter Taunton society after a year of mourning. It seemed to Lady St Auby, in her anguish, that every head had turned in their direction and every conversation was suspended. The coiffure, which had taken her maid five-and-forty minutes to prepare, was slipping irretrievably over one ear. She knew that she had flushed an unbecoming mottled puce, and to make matters worse, her husband was gaping like a drunken fish and her daughter-in-law was hanging her head like a shy debutante. She dug Annabella viciously in the ribs.
'Well, don't stand there gawping, girl! Oh, that Francis ever chose to throw himself away on such an ill-bred little miss!' It was not the first time she had uttered such a remark. Lady St Auby made no secret of the fact that she considered her only son to have married beneath him, and Annabella had damned herself beyond redemption by failing to be the heiress she had promised to be. Hard-won self-control helped her to ignore her mother-in-law's vulgar observation, even when Mrs Eddington-Buck tittered behind her hand.
The Taunton Assembly was unlikely to be the epitome of high living, Annabella thought, as she followed Sir Frederick and Lady St Auby through the crowded ballroom to find a vantage point opposite the door. Bath would have had more society to offer, but the St Aubys were too poor to travel there. The company tonight would no doubt consist of the usual hunting and shooting set with whom Sir Frederick in particular had always mingled, and the evening would drag along with no hint of excitement. The Assembly Rooms were shabby and in sore need of a fresh coat of paint. Annabella sighed. She felt like they looked. Her evening dress might have been fashionable three years previously, but even then it had been run up by her father's housekeeper, based on a faded pattern from the Ladies Magazine. At the time it had been a rather pretty shade of mauve. Now it was a faded lavender, and served as the half-mourning appropriate to one who had lost her young husband so tragically a year before.
They had paused several times whilst Lady St Auby tried to find the most advantageous position in which to wait to be seen and greeted by the great and the good. Unfortunately, several early arrivals had taken the best spots and it was a while before her ladyship was satisfied, elbowing some poor unsuspecting young lady out of the way and moving a potted palm slightly to the right so that it did not obscure her field of vision. The St Auby party took up their stance, but almost immediately Lady St Auby's eye fell on Annabella with disapproval. She tugged at her evening gloves so viciously that the seam ripped.
'Smile, girl! No one will believe that you have a desire for entertainment if you stand there with such a Friday face!'
Several heads turned at the hissed undertone. Annabella flushed scarlet.
'I beg you, dear ma'am—'
'Lady Oakston! Sir Thomas!' Suddenly Lady St Auby had no time for Annabella's faults. She was fulsome, wreathed in smiles. 'A pleasure to see you again!' Now she was gushing like a mountain stream and Annabella turned to scan the ballroom again. It seemed very crowded that night, but perhaps that was because she had become unaccustomed to such bustle…Lady St Auby was simpering now as another set of acquaintances came up to greet them. It reminded Annabella of the rather unpleasant way in which her mother-in-law would melt girlishly when Francis had put on the charm, trading on the fact that his mother could never refuse him anything…
'Such a sad loss to us,' Lady St Auby was saying to Lady Oakston, wiping away a surreptitious tear. 'My dear daughter-in-law was so overcome we feared she would become a recluse!' The insincere smile was turned on Annabella, with Lady St Auby waiting for her to echo her sentiments. Annabella was silent. She had her faults, but hypocrisy was not one of them. Lady St Auby turned her back on her.
'Simple creature!' Mrs Eddington-Buck said, with an artificial trill of amusement, and she did not mean it kindly.
After spending a sequestered year in the rotting manor that the St Aubys called home, these bright lights and loud voices were almost shocking to Annabella. As a young girl she had craved excitement, but knew well enough now that it was not to be found amongst the hard-drinking, hard-riding hunting set. Before her brief marriage, her life in her father's ostentatious home had been empty and dull, and she had briefly thought that her marriage might introduce her to a wider society. It had done so, but she had not been accepted into the gentry any more than her father had been before her. And now both her husband and father were dead, and she was stranded, a poor relation, in a county society which had once regarded her as a curiosity and now thought of her scarcely at all.
Copyright © 2006 by Harlequin Books S.A.