Lord Liar (Preview)


There was nowhere more pleasing to Lord Owen Bradford, the Marquis of Richmond, than the club. His stunning blonde paramour laid her hands on his shoulders. She was not gentle with her touches, and this sent his desires rising ferociously. Owen laughed as she whispered inaudible promises in his ear to satisfy him. This kind of debauched entertainment had become Owen’s life since his father began pressuring him to marry.

Owen was not quite eager to do his father’s bidding. He had spent his younger days at Eton, after which he was enrolled into the militia at the age of one and twenty. He had served his country for six years before he returned home and was rapidly saddled with the responsibilities of being the heir to the Duchy of Everfair—which he had no problem with. Until he was asked to seek out a wife. He was overwhelmed by the demand, as he wished to live freely. He wanted more time to enjoy some merriment before he not only took over the duchy, but began his own family.

This was why he had opted for this particular destination—the gentleman’s club. It was where he spent most of his nights, always disappearing in the wee hours of the morning. It kept him away from his father’s reach, as he doubted his father would ever suspect that he was here. This made his avoidance of the older Bradford easy.

“Would you like for us to go upstairs, my lord?” the courtesan asked, her hands rubbing his shoulders seductively. Owen had forgotten what her name was, but he was enjoying her company. He took the last sip of the brandy he’d been drinking and rose. The courtesan rose with him.

Owen slipped his hand around her waist as she led him towards the stairs. They walked past other men and paramours who were having their own fun—drinking, playing cards, and all sorts of sinful activities. Owen was a tad tipsy, so he leaned on the courtesan to keep him stable while he walked, for he feared he may soon fall flat on the floor.

Just as they approached the bottom of the staircase, the club’s front door was flung open. The sound of the door hitting against the wall resounded, echoing in his ears and making his head ache. Angered by such a mannerless act, Owen turned to reprimand whoever it was. He was unable to do this, however, because when he turned, his gaze fell on the blazing eyes of his father. Owen swallowed, unable to move as the Duke of Everfair marched towards him.

“Father. Pleasure to see you,” Owen muttered, albeit sarcastically.

Lord Everfair stared at him disdainfully. “You are drunk. You’ve drank to crapulence,” the duke stated.

Owen closed his eyes and smiled. He held on to the courtesan tightly. “No, Father. I still have my wits.”

“Enough! Unhand the lady now. We are going home.”


“You are dismissed,” the duke directed his comment to the courtesan.

Owen clenched his teeth as the courtesan let go of him and walked around them. Lord Everfair narrowed his grey eyes at Owen. “We are heading home, Owen. I have had enough of your roughish behaviour.”

Owen did not protest to this. Perhaps because he was too tired to, or because he perceived the impending wrath of his father and knew there was no avoiding it. Either way, he did not object to his father’s insistence that he come home. After all, he had not seen his father in a while, and it was high time he stopped running and told his father head-on what he wanted out of his own life.

An hour later, Owen was seated in his father’s lavish parlour in Everfair Manor. He still felt a slight pounding in his head. What a night it had been. And the night had only been beginning when his father interrupted.

The sound of the door opening alerted Owen. He looked up, expecting his father to come in, but he was relieved to see a maid carrying a cup of tea. He stared grimly as the maid set down the tray and curtsied. She walked out immediately. It was only then that Owen took notice of Mr Jenkins, the longstanding steward of Everfair Manor. He bowed.

“His Grace has asked that you have some tea while you await him.”

It took all his restraint to hold back the pending retort that sat idly at the tip of his tongue. His father did know how to keep him waiting. This was surely a part of the punishment.

Owen took a sip of the tea and it indeed was satisfying, as it helped ease his headache. No sooner had he begun to feel better than his father walked through the threshold. Lord Everfair stared at his son with narrowed eyes as he took a seat. “I assume you’re sober now.”

Owen already knew what this conversation was to be about. And he’d come prepared to state the reasons why he would not do as his father wished. After he had done that, he would return to his townhouse and continue to live his life the way he wanted.

“Whatever you’ve brought me here to say, Father, you must understand that I shall not agree—”

“You’ve barely heard what it is I have to say.”

“It is the same thing you have been saying for the past two years. I shall be trying my luck if I even for a second assume that you might utter anything differently,” Owen said, relaxing into his seat.

“Shall you not even ask if I have anything different to say?”

“I shan’t. I know you do not.”

Lord Everfair heaved while massaging his temple. Owen simulated indifference, even though he itched to rise and walk out.

“I do,” the duke enunciated.

“Must be interesting.”

“Enough of your insolence, Owen! You will listen to what I have to say,” Lord Everfair snapped. “You have until the end of the Season to bring home a bride, be wed, and produce an heir.”

“And if I refuse?”

“Then I shall cut down on your allowance.”

This unexpected announcement from his father made him sit up with a jerk, his cool and nonchalant mien long forgotten. Surely his father was jesting. He would never truly do that, would he? His thoughts were moving rapidly, and he was unable to stable them.

Without pausing to think, he said, “This must be a joke.”

“I dare you, Owen. Allow the Season to go by without finding a wife and see what happens. You shall no longer receive your bountiful allowance. I wonder how you shall be able to maintain your lavish lifestyle without it?”

Owen was shocked by what his father had said.

“Father, you can’t do that.” Owen sat up.

“The decision has already been made, Son.”

Owen stared into his father’s eyes and saw that the man was set on this decision. He shook his head slowly while muttering, ”No.”

If he had not taken his father’s words seriously before, he did now, and he was petrified of what would happen if his father decreased his allowance. He was terrified of l living without the benefits he currently had. But agreeing to wed was also not part of his plan. He wanted to live before he was subdued by marriage, which yearned for loyalty. If he eventually got married, he wanted to be faithful to his wife—he was not ready for such just yet. It was a difficult choice to make, choosing to move up his plans for his life, or living without the benefits that aided in maintaining his high-flying lifestyle.

Owen could not believe his father would put him in such a difficult position, knowing that either option was not in his favour. Owen felt overwhelmed and enraged by this. If he had known what this meeting had in store, he would never have agreed to come.

Owen looked up at his father, eager to make a counter, to make his stance known on what he wanted, but he was stopped by his father’s gaze. He recognized that gaze. It was the same one he had when the duchess had passed away. It was filled with disappointment, anger, sadness. Owen swallowed. He cast his gaze away. His father would never listen to any counter he brought. And if he left here with a decision to go against his father’s wishes, nothing would end well for him

All his partying and merriment would have to stop. No nobleman would even agree to be in business with him, due to his history of being a scoundrel. And in the end, he would have to run back to his father, begging. If it came to that, it would be most unbearable for him. He would be at his worst.

No! He could not allow that to happen. He would rather be wed than have himself scrambling around for a solution to him being penniless. Owen was out of options. However, he looked back at his father in hopes that he would change his mind and rethink this drastic decision.

But the Duke of Everfair now relaxed in his seat, claiming the seemingly unperturbed expression that Owen had expressed earlier. Owen knew then that his father meant every word and would not bend his rules for any reason whatsoever.

This meant one thing. He had to find a wife. And he had to do so soon. However, Owen feared that he may not be able to come up to scratch by the end of the Season. Even if he tried, everything might still end in his own detriment.

Chapter One

It was only the beginning of her second Season and everything was already beginning to spiral out of its order. Miss Juliana Kent, daughter of the Earl of Merlewood, took a comfortable position at the far end of the ballroom because she had lost her festive mood. She had no strength to talk with the ladies her age who were gathered in circles, or to stand awaiting a gentleman to walk up to her.

Despite Miss Juliana’s attempts to hide the fact that she was greatly bothered by her current situation, which had to do with her father’s announcement of the heavy dowry placed on her, she could not feign indifference for so long. She feared that she may never be approached by a man who truly was attracted to her and wanted to court her in the hope that that attraction may lead to something more—love.

She had hoped that it would not come to such, where extra measures were needed to attract a gentleman her way. She had assumed before her first Season that, as a woman already introduced to society, she would be approached by a gentleman, begin a courtship that would blossom to a great love, and then be wed.

But no gentleman had shown interest. No one wanted to speak to her after a dance had been shared. And now it was her second Season and her father worried—as she did—that time may pass her by. So, he’d had to do something. That was when he had announced the substantial dowry to be awarded to anyone who wed her. This decision had not pleased her, but there was nothing she could do.

Despite this situation, Juliana had been eager to attend Lady Jane’s ball in the hope that she would finally meet someone who she shared mutual attraction and interests with, and whom she could come to love. Juliana believed in love, and wanted that to be the only reason to marry anyone.

Perhaps if Henry were still alive her father would not pay such close attention to her marital prospects—or lack thereof. Henry. Juliana was greatly saddened at the memory of her brother. His death had been quite unfortunate, as he had died in a battle against Napoleon. But he had died a hero. It was what her father often said, and it was what she knew. But those words did not fill the void in her heart. She knew that Henry had been eager to live life to the fullest. To do great things. Serving his country had been one of them. Henry’s death had scared her father, which was why he was pushing hard for her to find a husband by this Season, before she fell out of a marriageable age.

Although Juliana was unhappy with her father’s decision, she did understand that he was only doing it in her own best interest. With her elder brother—who had been the heir of Merlewood—dead, Juliana’s future was not secured. If anything were to happen to her father, a distant relative of his would become the new Earl of Merlewood, and there might be nothing and no place for her in Merlewood Manor. This was why her father wanted her to be wed soon, so that she would secure a home of her own. He wanted to be assured that she would live in comfort, without having to worry that she would be mistreated or one day married off into the wrong hands by the new earl.

If only Henry were alive.

“You seem oddly moody today, Juliana. Pray tell what burdens you?” her closest friend, Miss Caroline Spencer asked. Juliana was a bit shaken by her sudden interruption, but at the same time she was grateful. She needed to take her mind of her predicament.

Juliana was not in the least bit surprised that Caroline had deduced her current state. She had known Caroline for about two years now. The ladies had met at a ball Juliana had attended the year she’d made her debut. Caroline was her exact opposite—outspoken, bold, and courageous. And most of all, Caroline was able to read Juliana as though she were the pages of a book. Caroline knew and understood her more than anyone. Juliana trusted Caroline, and was about to share with her what had dampened her mood, when they were interrupted by a tall gentleman. His grey eyes settled on both ladies. The ladies acknowledged him with a nod of their heads.

Juliana’s heart skipped for a bit when the man’s gaze settled on her. Perhaps he wished to dance with her.

He had a good demeanour about him. He would be charming, Juliana thought. The man bowed, and then his gaze settled solely on Caroline. Juliana’s heart fell.

“I’d love for you to have a dance with me, miss.” The man directed his question at Caroline.

Caroline expressed her astonishment by looking at Juliana with wide eyes. Juliana was quick to smile. Irrespective of how hurt she was, it did not stop her from being happy for her friend. Juliana nudged her. “Go on, Caroline.”

“But I’d be leaving you all alone.”

“You need not bother about me,” Juliana insisted.

Caroline looked at her friend and sighed before pasting a smile on her face and rising. Juliana watched as Caroline placed her long fingers on the gentleman’s open palm and then curtsied. They both made their way to the centre of the ballroom to begin their dance.

A sigh escaped Juliana. She hoped that she was finally going to be asked to dance. If Caroline had been swooped away, then there was a chance that someone might come for her soon. She wished so desperately for it.

By the time Caroline and the gentleman ended their dance and Caroline returned to stay by Juliana, Juliana had lost hope that she would be approached by anyone.

“That was quite exciting.” Caroline laughed. Her eyes followed after her former dance partner.

Juliana finally found something to smile about. “Are you taken by his charms?”

Caroline puffed. “Not quite. He’ll have to try a bit harder.”

“He did seem nice to me.”

Caroline closed her eyes and heaved. “I did not feel the same.”

“I see,” Juliana responded lowly. “But it would not have hurt to give him a chance?”

“Please, Juliana. Worry not about me. I do not think he felt a connection either. Which was why he made no further effort.” Changing the subject quickly, Caroline asked, “Have you been asked to dance?”

Juliana looked away. “No.”

“Oh, worry not, dear.” Caroline nudged her. “You shall be approached soon. I am certain the best always come late.”

Juliana laughed lowly. Her spirits were lifted, her mind drifted from worry and she was at ease in that moment, content just to sit there with her dear friend. Her confidence built up again. Caroline was right. The best men always waited. She would be approached—the ball was not over.

Not long after her spirits had been raised, a gentleman made his way towards herself and Caroline. Caroline was the first to take notice of him. She nudged Juliana, unable to hide her excitement. “I guarantee that this handsome man is making his way over here. We must act nonchalant.”

“Why?” Juliana asked, slightly confused. She raised her fan to hide her moving lips.

“Because it makes the men more interested, Juliana.”

“Ah…” She had not known that.

The man finally stood before them. The brief moment he made contact with Juliana’s eyes, she inclined her head. Beside her, she noticed that Caroline did as well. What a gentleman. He had asked for both their permissions.

After this, the man turned to Caroline. His smile widened as he began to speak. “Would you like to have a dance, miss?”

It was as though the air had been sucked out of her. Juliana was momentarily unable to breath. The surprise hit her deep. Her spirits fell just as quickly. She had hoped that the man had come for her. She had been wrong. He had come for her friend, again.

“Pardon me,” Caroline said to the man before turning to Juliana.

“Juliana—” Caroline whispered.

Juliana forced a smile and whispered, “Worry not about me, Caroline.”

Caroline smiled but it did not reach her eyes. Juliana softened. “Go on, Caroline.”

“I will only go if I am certain that you are alright.”

“What, then, do I need to do to prove that I am?” Juliana smiled more genuinely now. She truthfully wanted Caroline to go dancing. She did not want her friend to feel down because of her own problems.

“That smile does nothing to convince me,” Caroline teased.

Juliana shrugged. “What then?”

“Why don’t you take a stroll outside, to receive some fresh air and to clear your mind?”

That was a good idea. It would keep her from seeing men walk past her whilst acting as though she did not exist.

“What a capital idea. I shall, thank you, Caroline.”

She smiled a bit more genuinely before Caroline finally rose and made her way to the dance floor with her partner. Caroline was so caring and concerned for her. Juliana wanted her friend to enjoy her night without worrying about her, but Juliana knew that was impossible. Caroline knew her through and through. Now she worried that Caroline would not enjoy the ball because of her. Juliana was filled with guilt. She did not need to project her problems so that it affected anyone beside her. Despite these thoughts, her worries rose.

Juliana exhaled as she watched Caroline dancing. She could not restrain her thoughts from raising questions.

Why did no one notice her? Why did no one wish to dance with her? In as much as she tried to not think about it, she still did. She found herself wondering if there was anything wrong with her, or if she was too distant to be approached. Was this how it was going to be forever? Would she never be approached till the season ran out? Her heart thudded. What if she never found true love? What if she waited too long for the right person and became a spinster? What if there was no hope for her? All these questions made her feel as though she were running out of her mind. Juliana rose. Staying inside the ballroom was making her think too much. Caroline had been right, she needed fresh air.

She made her way out of the ballroom. The hallway was quiet but for the noise coming from the ballroom. Juliana looked around as she walked. The flames in the lamps by the wall blazed furiously, keeping the hallway bright and beautiful. Juliana continued her way down. All the doors were closed as she walked by. This put her off, as she was looking for a form of distraction.

Juliana walked further down the hall. A door on the right end of the hallway called to her. Unlike the other doors, this was open, and wider. Juliana peeked in a bit, just enough to see that the open door led to Lady Jane’s hothouse. She was pleased to see something of nature. The flowers would certainly distract her. She walked in fully to the conservatory and took in the sight before her. But she was unable to truly appreciate the beauty around her, as just then someone came up behind her and circled her waist.

“I have awaited you for quite a long time,” a husky and unfamiliar voice said.

Juliana pushed herself away from the stranger. “You have me mistaken, mister.”

She could not see her assaulter’s face properly, because he had his hat tipped and his head slightly bent to shield most of his face. He must be waiting for a lover, she thought. She had made a mistake coming here.

“Pardon me, but I must leave now. I apologize for any intrusion.” Juliana made to leave, but her attempt was stopped by the man. He blocked her way.

Juliana’s heart skipped. She narrowed her eyes as she watched the stranger. Had he not heard her? “Excuse me—”

“You will do just fine,” the stranger uttered sardonically and took menacing steps towards her. Juliana knew then that this man had made no mistake. He had simply been looking for a victim for his sick games. With bile rising fast inside her, Juliana screamed

The man gripped her, clamped his hand over her mouth and stared at her with deviousness. Juliana’s heart pounded. It felt as though everything around her stopped. She felt as though she was incapable of breathing. The stranger’s hold on her was strong, so strong that she was unable to even move.

“Just be quiet, miss. All of it will be over soon.”

Juliana’s eyes widened. He intended to hurt her. She began to struggle but her efforts were futile. The man pushed her against the wall. There was no escaping him. Juliana’s only fear as she stood there, was that she was never going to make it out of the hothouse alive.

Chapter Two

Ever since Lord Richmond arrived at Lady Jane’s ball he had been a centre of attention. The young lord did not miss the gazes that trailed after him when he walked past. Looks of judgment. He had been ready for this. He had known that this would happen the instant he reappeared. Owen had enjoyed the days when he had been far away from the scornful and judgmental gazes of the ton. He could already read their minds. He could tell that their thoughts regarding him were condescending.

He felt so out of place. It had been so long since he attended any ball. But seeing as his father had threatened him, Owen thought it would be a good choice to make his reappearance into society at Lady Jane’s ball. This way his father would know that he was indeed serious. However, Owen had not considered the underlying circumstance of his decision to attend the eventl. For one, he was uncomfortable standing alone while sipping a claret. It was unlikely for a man of his stature to be uncertain of what to do at a ball. Owen cursed. Perhaps it was the anger that he was even here that made him seem so lost.

If his friend Henry had been here, he would have been eager to put Owen back on track, aid him in easing back smoothly into life on this side of London. Owen swallowed and tried to avert his attention. Recalling that he had lost his best friend was a memory too painful to conjure. Losing Henry was the second greatest loss he had experienced in his life. The first was his mother, who had died when he was only ten.

Owen tried to distract himself by thinking of something else. He had come down to this ball with an aim to not just assure his father that he would keep his promise of behaving properly, but to also scout for a wife. He was failing awfully at both

“Is that Lord Richmond?” a whisper travelled to his ears.

Owen paused his sipping and made a subtle gesture of turning to where the voice had come from. He saw two ladies standing by the corner, fans before their noses so that only their eyes could be seen. For the brief second his eyes met one of the lady’s gazes, and he saw a look of guilt just before she looked away.
Great, Owen thought. Not only was he being watched, but he was also being spoken of.

This was a great mistake. But there was no harm if he endured for a little while. He would stay a tad longer before leaving. He regained his position and drank his claret till he was done. He slipped his glass onto the tray of a passing footman and looked around. He saw a few people dancing in the middle of the ballroom. They seemed to be enjoying the festivities. Everyone but him seemed to be.

“Is that him? I am stunned that he would be here, Mary. He’s been missing,” someone said behind him. The voice seemed to be getting closer. It was a masculine voice.

“He’s been off being roughish, you mean?” a lady said.

Owen did not need to turn. A couple walked past him, and he knew they were the ones whispering about him. He clenched his fist. He had had enough of all this. All he wished in that moment was to be anywhere but there. He stuck his hands in the pocket of his breeches and made his way out of the ballroom. He had to take a stroll to clear his head. Perhaps when he got back he could continue enduring.

He stepped into the lit hallway. The noise from the ballroom carried on for a moment but began to fade as he approached the end. Owen expected that he would meet silence when he got there, but he did not. Instead, he heard something else. Screams. He froze. The screams stopped for a while, but continued again. The screams switched between being muffled and loud. Someone was struggling, he noted.

Owen opened his ears to listening for any slight noise, so that he could detect where the screams were coming from. Just as he had hoped, the person screamed again, this time louder. Owen heard this from down the hallway. He began to walk toward the noise while still listening out. When the next scream came, he knew where the voice was coming from. He made his way hurriedly to the wide door on his right. He walked into a conservatory. Though the plants were beautiful, his attention was taken by the sight of a tall man hovering in front of a lady who was struggling.

“Unhand the lady this instant!” he boomed.

The tall man turned. On seeing Owen, the strange man tipped his hat, hiding his face. But he did not let go of the lady.

“We are alright here,” the man said.

But Owen could hear the lady’s muffled cries. They definitely were not all right. Owen dashed forward and delivered a punch to the man’s jaw. A loud groan escaped his lips. Owen was ready to have another delivered when the man scurried out of the room, groaning as he did. Owen almost ran after him. But when he appeared into the hallway, it was empty. It was as though no one had been there. Strange man.

Recalling that a lady had been in distress, Owen went back inside to see to the woman who had been a near victim of that man’s drunkenness. He hoped that he had been in time to prevent any serious harm.

He walked into the room. The lady had her back to him and she seemed to be shaken.

He stood at the door in order not to scare her. “I apologize for that man’s behaviour. I hope he brought you no harm.”

The lady sighed and turned. “None too severe. We had struggled for quite a while before your rescue. Thank you—for saving me.”

On seeing the lady’s face, Owen was shocked. “Juliana?”

Her eyes widened. “Owen.”

Miss Juliana Kent had changed since the last time Owen had set eyes on her, which was very long ago, before his departure for the military. Owen had known Juliana nearly all his life. How could he not? She had been the sister of his closest friend. He could still recall her having her lessons while he and Henry played in the garden. It was easier to remember her as his friend’s young sister than to see her now as a lady. With her silky brown hair woven in ringlets, honey-brown eyes and skin as white as a lily, Juliana would be considered a delicate beauty.

A thought hit him then. This was Juliana. Juliana was the lady in distress. If any harm had come upon her, he would not have been able to bear it. Her brother—his friend—was no longer here to protect her. Owen felt a sudden obligation to take over that responsibility in his friend’s place. Owen walked further into the hothouse while his thoughts flooded in.

“Did that man bring harm to you?” he asked, looking at her intensely.

Juliana smiled—a lovely smile, he noticed. “No. I am fine. You came just in the nick of time.”

Owen knew that she was telling the truth and felt immense relief.

In an instant, the stress of the situation was wiped from Juliana’s expression to be replaced by glee. “I am so happy to see you, Owen.”

“As am I. You were a lassie the last time I saw you,” he teased.

Juliana blushed. “And I hear you’ve kept yourself away from society gatherings,” she teased in return.

Owen narrowed his gaze, though in a jocose way. “Have you been scouting for me, Juliana of Merlewood?”

Her blush intensified and she blurted, “No!”

Owen burst into laughter. Juliana cast her gaze down, laughing lowly. When their laughter died, Owen found that he was still bothered about the man that had attacked her. He was greatly concerned. The feeling of anger passed through him. He should have beaten that man to pulp for laying a hand on Juliana.

“I am fine, Owen. I told you. You arrived just in time,” Juliana said softly.

Owen sighed. “I am glad I did.”

Juliana’s smile faded. She stared at him seriously. “My parents informed me that you had come visiting after Henry’s death. Thank you.”

Owen swallowed. It was indeed true that he had gone to Henry’s family to express his condolences, but he had not seen Juliana. He had been told that she had been visiting a friend with her chaperone.

“Of course,” he responded.

Silence prevailed between them. Owen was still stunned by how grown Juliana was. How she had blossomed into such a beauty. He could not help but stare at her. And Juliana stared at him in return. He wondered why she had left the ballroom. Perhaps, like him, she also felt misplaced in this setting?

He shook his head. The ballroom. He ought not to be here with her now. If they were to be found here alone, it would be a scandal—most especially for her. Owen jerked his head outside. “You should head back to the ballroom, Juliana.”

She swallowed. “Yes.”

Owen stepped aside as Juliana made her way towards the door. Just when she was getting close to where he stood, the sounds of shoes on the hardwood distracted them both. Owen watched Juliana stiffen. He turned to face the door, wondering who it was. Owen was surprised to see the couple who had walked past him in the ballroom. Lord and Lady Bernard, he now realized. Lady Bernard was well known for being a terrible gossip amongst her lady friends. Those discussions were known to spread through the ton. Owen understood why Juliana looked horrified.

Owen’s heart thudded. By the look on Juliana’s face, their situation may seem very inappropriate to anyone, regardless of what had truly happened.

“Miss Kent, Lord Richmond,” called the man.
It seemed like an acknowledgment, but Owen knew what it was. It was simply an affirmation of their names, so that his wife could spread the word. Owen’s shoulders sagged, as he did not know what to do. The reality of the situation hit him hard. He could feel his entire body shaking with an emotion foreign to him. Juliana’s reputation was on the line. And Lady Bernard’s impatience to share this news was palpable. No doubt she couldn’t wait to tell of the lady she had seen in the hothouse with Lord Owen Richmond, the blackguard heir to the Duke of Everfair.

Owen was forced to look at Juliana. She was unmoving as she stood staring at Lord Bernard. Owen’s heart broke. Juliana’s reputation and life were on the line. This situation would destroy her more than it would him. He had nothing to lose, but poor Juliana. Owen was torn on the inside.

A sudden movement beside him attracted his focus. Juliana dashed by him and ran past the couple who stood by the door with smug smiles on their faces. Owen ran out as well, just as the couple stepped aside. “He’s ruined the poor girl,” said Lady Bernard.

Owen ignored this and called out to Juliana, but she was far too gone, and he stopped running. He wondered what he would tell her if he eventually caught up to her. Would he apologize? That would not help the situation. She was hurt, that was obvious. Nothing he said could change what had happened.

The thought of her being unable to show herself at balls, the thought of her being the subject of the ton’s harsh gossip scared him. She was Henry’s sister, and Henry was his friend. It would be utterly wrong of him if he did not do right by her. It was why a solution came to him quickly. A solution that he dreaded, but knew was necessary. He had to do this to protect Juliana, no matter what.

If you liked the preview, you can get the whole book here

    • Hey dear Donna, thanks for your comment! We try to be as close to history as possible, yet sometimes we have the freedom to be a bit more relaxed in the forms of address. If we were to follow strictly all rules, then even married couples used to call each other with their courtesy titles etc. But literature can give us a little more flexibility! I am sorry if you found that this was not appropriate and I will keep your comment in my mind for future reference! 🙂

  • I enjoyed the first two chapters. I’m looking forward to seeing how Owen and Juliana’s relationship grows.

  • Love the characters. Looking forward to the rest of the book. Only comment. Men did not just come up to women and ask them to dance unless they were 1st introduced. So where were the girls chaperones? No chaperones mentioned

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