A Dazzling Stranger in the Earl’s Arms (Preview)

Chapter One

Today was the first day in March that there wasn’t a hint of rain in the air. All month, an ever-present mist had blown in the faces of anyone who ventured out-of-doors, bringing more than one person in the town of Kirklyn down with a nasty cold. On this fine Tuesday, however, the mid-afternoon sunlight dappled through the silver birches and onto the pathway in front of the four young women riding horseback, all of whom had escaped any sort of weather-related illness. Riding at the front of the pack was Miss Eleanor Coles, age twenty-three, and her younger sister, Mary, age nineteen. Eleanor was the boldest of the bunch, and Mary quite liked going along with whatever her sister suggested. In the middle was Miss Euphemia Hay, age twenty-two, who today was entirely satisfied being nothing more than a follower. Miss Hay went by the name ‘Mia’ to anyone who knew her, and the name suited her well. Much like her name, she was on the shorter end of the spectrum, but delightful to look at. Mia had natural beauty that many of the town’s menfolk had taken notice of, but she hadn’t given any of them the chance to pursue her yet. She had light brown, almost blonde hair that was so pin-straight that it took a great deal of coaxing to get it into any sort of curl. She looked very angelic with her cherubic face with almond eyes and a petite nose. She wore a royal blue riding habit, with a short black hat, red gloves, and black riding boots. One could tell from the outfit that the Hay family was not the best-off family in town, but also not the poorest. 

Bringing up the rear was Miss Theodosia Hay, age twenty-one, who much preferred the name ‘Thea’, if you please. She and Mia were the daughters of the Baron of Highfields, otherwise known as John William Hay. Today she wore a simple riding habit that was a deep red and had opted for no hat. Thea had enough difficulties staying on her horse that she decided it was better not to exacerbate the issue by fiddling incessantly with a riding hat. She was not uncommonly pretty, but her looks were uniquely beautiful, nonetheless. She had soft brown hair presently tied up in a chignon, a petite, round face that invited even those who didn’t know her to speak with her, and when she pursed her lips – as she typically did when she was concentrating very hard on the task at hand – they made a perfect bow. She was taller than one would expect, less graceful than she seemed. The mere fact that she had managed to stay atop her horse, Dolly, at the moment was a miracle in itself. She was very grateful to be in the back of the group of girls, for she never felt comfortable leading when it came to horseback riding. 

“Are you still with us, Thea?” Eleanor called from her position at the front. 

Thea looked to the back of Eleanor’s green-clad figure and shouted towards it, “As much as I was when you asked two minutes ago, Eleanor.” Thea knew that her cousin took great delight in teasing her for her less-than-exceptional riding skills, but on this trip, in particular, Thea was finding Eleanor’s constant comments insufferable.

“Leave her alone, would you? She’s doing quite well today, considering the difficulties she had the last time!” Thea heard her other cousin, Mary, defend her. Mary turned around to face Thea momentarily, and when Mary did, she smiled brightly in Thea’s direction. “You’re doing wonderfully, Thea!” Thea returned Mary’s smile, but she admitted to herself that it was rather humiliating to be consoled by a cousin younger and more talented than she. 

“Is she now?” Eleanor asked, her tone denoting a plan evolving in her head. “Then what do you say we test Miss Thea’s equestrian abilities, Mia?” Eleanor turned her head back in Mia’s direction and was able to keep her eyes off the path without altering her pace or direction any. From where Thea was gently trotting along, she could see a mischievous smile spreading across Eleanor’s face.

“I’m not so sure about that, Ellie,” Mia protested gently. “I think perhaps we should stick to our course and assist Thea with her skills before we try anything risky.” Mia’s voice was unwavering and firm; she knew that her older cousin needed an unquestionable opposition to back down from her attempt.

“You’re no fun at all,” Eleanor said haughtily, turning back around to face the front. “Are you insinuating that I would suggest a daring ride through the countryside merely to see if Miss Thea could keep up with us?” Eleanor sounded hurt, and the three girls all knew that when she began feeling this way, there would soon be no way to get her out of that mood for the rest of the day. This was something that they wanted to avoid at all costs, for at the end of their ride, the girls had planned a pleasant picnic that would be spoiled if Eleanor was in one of her characteristic ‘moods.’ 

“Not at all, cousin,” Mia reassured her. “I merely wanted to ensure that Thea’s safety wouldn’t be compromised if we were to try and see how her horseback riding skills were coming along. Nothing more.” That answer seemed to please Eleanor, as there was a comfortable silence that followed Mia’s response. A little further down the road, however, Eleanor appeared to change her mind.

“That’s all well and good, but I’m dreadfully bored, so how about we follow my original suggestion?” With that, Eleanor quickly turned around, whipped the rear ends of Mia and Mary’s horses, and laughed delightedly as the two horses took off at break-neck speed. Then, she turned her attention to Thea and said, “Come along. You ought to know how to do this by now!” 

Right after, she, too, flew off down the pathway after her sister and cousin. Thea looked down at Dolly, who was still calmly trotting along, then back up at the images of her galloping family members who were getting increasingly smaller as they cantered out of view. Thea took in her surroundings, momentarily considering letting the other girls carry on without her. Unfortunately for Thea, she was unfamiliar with the area they had decided to ride through and would be unable to discover a way home. And so, having no other options, Thea Hay decided to try and catch up with her cousins and her sister. 

Thea kicked her heels into the sides of her horse and took off down the path after them. She immediately felt even more unsteady on Dolly and regretted her decision, but she pushed on. Thea hugged the horse tightly with her legs and gripped onto the reins as though they were her lifeline. She could still make out Mia’s royal blue habit in the distance and kept her eyes locked to it so that she would not lose sight of where she was going. But tensing nearly all of her muscles and keeping her focus on high alert soon became exhausting for Thea, and not too long after that, her sister’s silhouette disappeared from view. If she knew Mia, she knew she would have tried her hardest to slow her horse, Pepper, down to a speed Thea could maintain. Pepper, on the other hand, had a mind of her own, and once Pepper was given a chance to run, it took a brick wall to get her to stop.

At long last, Thea ceased straining her eyes and muscles and squeezed Dolly again to let her know to trot. The horse seemed relieved to have a break. Dolly, much like Thea, wasn’t one for fast or strenuous rides, which was why Thea didn’t mind riding her as much. It became clear that Thea had made the correct decision, as a short distance from where she had slowed down, a large stream made contact with the path. Thea was just about to pull on the reins to tell Dolly to stop, but the horse was already a step ahead of her. The girl and her horse both paused to survey their situation, neither knowing how to move forward and ford this river.

“Well. Dolly, how do you suggest we proceed, old girl?” 

The horse snorted and shook its head as if to say there was no way she was going to attempt to cross it. But as Thea took a closer look at the water, she decided it didn’t look all that deep or wide. There were even a few nice large rocks on the riverbed that Dolly would be able to step on, and none of them appeared slick or unsteady. 

“Come on. Let’s take a crack at it, very slowly,” Thea encouraged her horse. Dolly made another noise of displeasure, but when Thea gave her a nudge, she did as she was told. Dolly walked to the edge of the stream and carefully put a hoof in the water. “There’s a girl,” Thea said, rubbing the horse’s neck lovingly. Dolly stepped the rest of the way carefully into the water, and Thea gave a sigh of relief. Perhaps this wouldn’t be as difficult as she had originally imagined. 

Of course, right at that moment, Dolly stepped on a rock that wasn’t as sturdy as it looked, and her leg buckled. Thea was thrown from her horse and into the water, and on her way down, the skirt of her dress caught on the stirrup and tore clean open. She hit the water face-first but thankfully managed to put her hands out and touch the river’s floor before she injured her head on anything. To make things doubly worse, the moment Dolly heard Thea hit the water, the horse became terrified and took off through the water and down the path. 

Thea sputtered and floundered in the water for a moment, but when she realized what had happened and that she could touch the bottom, her initial panic subsided. She struggled to make it to her feet in her layers of sodden clothes, but when she finally did, she steadied herself and took a few gasping breaths. After she pushed her drenched hair out of her face and assessed that she wasn’t gravely injured, she trudged through the water’s current and pulled herself up onto the opposite bank. When she cleared the water, she allowed herself to lie back on the sun-warmed grass and catch her breath. As she lay there, soaked to the bone and aching, she couldn’t help but start to laugh. Of course her family would take off without her. Of course she would encounter a stream she had to cross to catch up with them. And of course she would be thrown from her horse in the middle of the stream and have the animal canter off into the distance without her. 

After she had allowed herself a good chuckle at her circumstances, Thea sat up and leaned back on her hands as she decided what to do. She realized that there was no way she would be able to trace the path back the way they’d come because Eleanor had taken them through a shortcut to get to this trail in the first place. Curse Eleanor and her shortcuts and taunting ways, Thea thought, it was her who had got Thea into this mess in the first place. Thea’s only hope of getting back to Highfields House was to walk on in the direction the girls had disappeared in, hoping that one of them would turn around and come back for her. They had to return at some point, didn’t they? 

Having decided on a plan, Thea picked herself up off the grass and stumbled her way back onto the trail. She looked down at her poor, ruined skirt, and as she walked, did her best to hold the large tear closed with her hands. She was very grateful no one else was around to gaze upon her pitiful state, but rather wished that her female family members hadn’t abandoned her like this. She tried to wring out some more of the water from her sodden clothes as she marched on but knew it was no use. Thea was so wet that not even a wringer would be able to get all of the water out of her. 

Thea walked on for what felt like quite a distance further before she became exhausted. Unfortunately, the moment she paused to hang her head and sigh, Thea stopped looking where she was going for just long enough to stumble over a large rock that she hadn’t seen in the road, and tumbled to the ground. As soon as she made contact with the rocky earth, Thea cried out in pain. Blood began pouring from her knee, and her ankle was badly twisted; she could feel it right after the fall. To add insult to injury, Thea also saw that the small heel of her riding boot had broken off. Frustrated, exhausted, angry, and hurt, Thea began to cry rather loudly at her sad state of affairs. 

“Curse you, cousins and sister for your cruel jest!” Thea shouted into the empty wilderness. “Curse you, Dolly, for running off without me! And that stream for being so wet, the path for being so rocky, my outfit for being ruined, my knee and ankle for hurting me so, and my boot for betraying me in my time of need!” She felt rather foolish for slandering the inanimate objects that had, truly, done nothing wrong, but today had been such an awful, horrid day that they deserved some cursing too.  But of course, just when Thea thought things couldn’t get any worse…

 It began to rain.

Chapter Two

When Thea felt the first droplet on her cheek, she thought she had begun crying harder. When she realized what was happening, though, she did start crying harder. It seemed that in the few hours Kirklyn had been without rain, Mother Nature had saved up all the wetness she had missed out on and dumped it on Thea all at once. And so, Thea could do nothing more than sit there in the rain, weeping in anger, and letting the weather pummel her with everything it had. 

Then, suddenly, from the direction her sister and cousins had disappeared in, came the sound of hooves. Relief washed over Thea, for she knew that her dear sister had finally managed to get a hold of her horse and had come back to rescue her. Newly revived, Thea struggled to her feet while not stepping on her skirt in an attempt to keep the last few threads that held it together. Before turning around to greet her sister, Thea said, “Thank goodness you came back for me, dearest Mia. I worried that perhaps Eleanor had encouraged you to completely abandon me here with the tear in my skirt that very nearly reveals–” But Thea stopped mid-sentence when she saw who was riding towards her. It was not her sister at all; it was a prim-looking young man riding a black horse. Thea’s eyes widened, and she desperately hoped that he hadn’t heard a word she’d said. As he came closer to her, he signalled to his horse to stop and looked down at her.

“I do apologize, but I don’t go by the name of ‘Mia’, and I think you’d prefer to keep discussions of your skirts to yourself, perhaps?” The young man smiled at Thea mischievously, but behind that look, Thea could tell there was also kindness. She clamped her skits closed as tight as she could and smiled back at him.

“My apologies, I believed you were my sister returning for me. She and my cousins raced off down the lane without me and …” Thea looked into the gentleman’s eyes and was momentarily thrown off her train of thought by the look of genuine concern they held. When she snapped out of her trance, she had got so off track as to have forgotten what she was saying.

“And you became so enraged at the sudden change of weather that you abandoned your horse, tore your skirt open, and bashed your knee into the nearest tree?” Again, the gentleman seemed to be teasing Thea, but there didn’t seem to be any malice behind it. He seemed to understand how infuriating Thea’s situation was, and instead of just rescuing her, he was trying to make light of it. He dismounted his horse and walked a few steps towards her, but kept his hands on the reins as they spoke. 

“Precisely,” Thea responded, nodding vigorously. “However could you tell?” They both laughed.

“I’m guessing that what really happened was your family members rode off faster than you, and you were tossed into that stream by your horse who continued without you, and … no, I have no guesses for the skinned knee,” the gentleman admitted.

“A shame!” Thea cried, throwing up her arms. “You had so many of those correct. My knee, twisted ankle, and broken boot were courtesy of this very even pathway that I was trying to traverse whilst soaked and tired,” Thea filled in. The gentleman nodded. 

“Thank you for those answers,” the gentleman said, taking off his riding hat. With his face no longer largely obscured by the shadow of the hat, Thea realized she knew the young man from somewhere. He was quite tall, had short black hair, strong cheekbones and jawline, a kind smile, and green eyes that seemed almost too ethereal to be real. He looked so familiar, but Thea couldn’t quite place how she’d been introduced to him. It appeared the gentleman realized the same thing about Thea because he cocked his head to one side and squinted at her.

“Have we been introduced?” the young man asked, placing his hat against his chest and bowing to Thea. She, in return, did her best with her torn and muddied attire to curtsey to him, but as soon as he saw her struggling to do so, he brushed the gesture off with his hand. “Please, you’re already injured and drenched, you’re allowed to forgo that formality.” Thea let out a thankful chuckle and resumed her standing position.

“I believe we have,” she responded, “but I’m ashamed to admit that I cannot place where I know you from or how we met.”

“I’m relieved to hear we’re in the same situation,” the young man said, sounding relieved. “I’m dreadful when it comes to names and faces, but I shall endeavour to remember yours when you reveal it to me. I’m Lord Philip Bennington, Earl of Seaforth, and you are …”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Thea realized where they had met before. “Yes!” Thea’s excitement at the realization burst out of her before she could contain it, but after she had done it, she collected herself. “My apologies. I’m Miss Theodosia Hay, the daughter of Baron Highfields. Quite some time ago, at Lord Ferguson’s ball, it was one of the first I was ‘out’ for,” she explained. Philip looked at her quizzically, then nodded his head when he had managed to place her.

“Certainly. That was one of the loveliest balls I’ve attended. And you were …” Thea turned her attention entirely to Philip, but he quickly changed the subject. “This is quite the predicament that’s befallen you. I ensure there is no impropriety implied in my offer, nor is there any expectation that you will accept it, but …” Philip gestured to his regal black horse and smiled at Thea. “Seaforth House, my home, is a mere quarter mile down that treacherous path you were on. Would you allow me to assist you so that we might provide you with some drier clothes and tend to your wounds?”

 Had it been any other young man, Thea would have denied him flat out. She wasn’t one to accept offers of assistance from men, especially not rich ones like Philip. But Thea knew that Philip’s family had a reputation in the area for being very upstanding, so she responded gratefully. “Thank you most kindly.” 

Philip hooked his reins around the horse’s neck and offered her his gloved hand. She took it, but when she tried to take a step towards him, her ankle and boot worked against her, and she nearly collapsed from the pain. But as she buckled, Philip swept in under her arm and caught her. Thea was so surprised that she didn’t say anything for a few moments, staring at him with her mouth hanging open. Philip paid no attention to her surprise, however. He focused on encouraging her to put her weight onto him and walking her to the horse.

“Just like that … very good … allow me to take the weight your foot ordinarily would … well done,” Philip said gently to her as they hobbled to the horse. When they reached the side of the saddle and were directly in front of the stirrup, Philip said, “If you would allow me, I would like to assist you up onto my horse.” He took his free hand and gently patted the horse, saying, “Her name is Morning Glory, and she is the most well-mannered horse I’ve had the pleasure of riding. You have nothing to fear so long as you’re atop her.” Philip turned to Thea and smiled at her kindly. Thea wasn’t sure if it was that she was in such a mess because of her own horse, or Philip could simply tell that she wasn’t a skilled equestrian. Whatever it was, she was happy to hear that his horse wouldn’t give her the same treatment that Dolly had recently.

“I would appreciate that very much, thank you,” Thea responded. And so, working together with Thea’s good foot and her one available arm that wasn’t holding her skirt together, Philip helped Thea up onto the back of his saddle, sitting sideways. It was rather an inelegant mount, but it did the job. When he’d got her settled on it, he hoisted himself up and sat a respectful distance away from Thea. But when he went to grab the reins, Philip seemed to falter. He made a few hesitant movements before Thea finally asked, “Am I in the incorrect position?” She began to readjust her weight to make it easier on Philip.

“No! No, not at all. I was thinking that perhaps … well, more wondering if I may …” Thea didn’t turn to look at Philip in fear that their faces would be too close together, but she could tell by the length of the pauses in between his sentences that there was something he wanted to ask.

“Whatever it is, I assure you I am fine with it. I trust you are an honourable man, as your family is so well respected.” At Thea’s reassurance, Philip seemed to relax.

“Thank you, that is most kind. I was wondering if you were concerned about how to hold on while the horse was moving, so I thought I might offer you to grab hold around my midsection, should the ride jostle you.” Thea’s breath caught in her throat at the suggestion to touch a man, let alone to put her hands around his chest.

 But she saw no other way that she could steady herself as they rode, and so she said, “I will do so if the path becomes too treacherous, thank you, Lord Bennington.”

 Philip nodded curtly and squeezed Morning Glory to make her move. As soon as they started going, however, Thea knew that she was not going to be able to remain on the horse without holding onto Philip. She desperately grabbed onto him, and when she did, Philip chuckled.

“If this is too treacherous for you, I can certainly see how you got into your mess in the first place!” 

Chapter Three

Soon enough, the pair was within sight of Seaforth House. It had been a relatively quiet trip, save for a few noises from Thea here and there when she feared she’d fall off the horse. The rain had thankfully let up enough that Thea was no wetter than when they’d begun. It was too humid still for her to dry any, but she was thankful for small mercies. 

The whole trip, Philip had offered words of reassurance and encouragement, for which she was very grateful. The gentle trotting of Morning Glory and the warmth that Philip’s body was creating pressed almost right up against hers lulled Thea into a pleasant relaxation. She hadn’t spoken more than five words to Philip before today, but because of this interaction, Thea felt much more inclined to favour him and his family. He was handsome, kind, helpful, and understanding, if a bit strict when it came to maintaining certain social niceties. She told herself she felt no romantic inclination towards him. In truth, though, the young woman couldn’t help getting swept up in what had happened to her this afternoon, and how generous the Earl had been.

But the moment that Thea saw the house, the relaxation disappeared. She snapped back to the present, and remembered that she was an unmarried young woman, he was an unmarried young man, and they were about to come out of the forest looking like they’d had a roll in the hay. She didn’t dare to think what anyone, let alone any of Philip’s relatives, would say if they saw them like this. Just the thought of the ramifications for being seen together like this was enough to make Thea’s blood run cold.

“Stop, stop,” Thea demanded of Philip. He pulled on the reins and brought the horse to an abrupt halt, and Thea immediately took her hands off of him.

“Whatever is the matter? Did you see something that frightened you?” Philip asked, concerned. 

“No, but I fear we would shock more than a few people if we … or rather, I, were to come out of the woods in this … compromising position and half-dressed state,” Thea explained. She watched Philip nod his head slowly. There was a momentary silence while Philip thought of what to do, and when he did, he explained, “Perhaps instead of walking down the front lane and into the stables, we could continue through the forest until we reach the back of the estate, where I can assist you to the servants’ entrance. That way, you can be assisted with your injuries and find a change of clothes, and I can enter the house as I usually would. None would be the wiser. Does that please you?”

“Yes, thank you. I am indebted to your kindness, Your Lordship.” At the mention of his honorific, Philip chuckled.

“You’re very welcome, Miss Theodosia. As we are more intimately acquainted now, please, Mr. Bennington is just fine.” Philip squeezed Morning Glory with his legs again, and they continued at a slow pace through the woods. Thea tried to just hold on to Philip’s shoulders this time around, but after a few paces, she gave up and resumed her old position.

“Intimately acquainted, indeed,” Thea joked, and she felt Philip’s core shake when he laughed. “You may call me Miss Thea; everyone else does, so why shouldn’t you?”

“Why do you prefer Thea to Theodosia?” Philip asked as they trotted onwards. “Your full name means ‘supreme gift’; why deny the world of a supreme gift?” Thea let out an audible sigh.

“I am aware of that, thank you, Mr Bennington. I prefer Thea because Theodosia sounds like it belongs to someone far more elegant than I. Thea is better suited to someone such as me.” Philip didn’t reply, but there was something in the silence that followed that led Thea to believe he had something to say about that but was holding back. In the interim, Thea asked him, “How do you feel about your first name? ‘Lover of Horses’ suits you well, I believe.” Thea took one hand off of Philip and gave Morning Glory a few strokes on her side. Thea wished that she could steal Philip’s horse because she was far more stable and steady than her own.

“I don’t mind it. It’s a family name, and it is far better than my other family name options. Would you like to hear who I may have been if not Philip?” he asked.

“Oh, please!” Thea encouraged him.

“Well,” Philip began, “if I hadn’t been Philip Martin Bennington, I was nearly Athelstan Beardsley Bennington.” Thea began laughing, quite quietly, at first. “And if not that, Digby Creighton Bennington the second.” Thea laughed more loudly at the mention of this name, “And finally, if those first two had failed me, I would have been Gower Erskine Bennington the sixth.” Thea couldn’t contain herself anymore, and as she shook with laughter, she very nearly fell off of Morning Glory. When she finally managed to control herself, she noticed that Philip was laughing right along with her. 

“I am very grateful to whoever named you that they chose Philip, then!” Thea said delightedly through her mirthful tears.

“You may thank my mother when you eventually meet her, then,” Philip explained. “Although, she is the one who also calls me–” But Philip stopped himself mid-sentence and didn’t dare continue. “I apologize. I am unsure of what came over me; I should not reveal something of such a personal nature to you.” Thea looked at the back of Philip’s head, intrigued.

“Not in the least. You’ve mentioned it, and now I intend to ferret it out of you until you reveal it to me,” Thea gently teased him.

“That will have to wait,” Philip said very seriously and suddenly. “I’m afraid this is as far as we can continue on Morning Glory. We’ll have to get off and walk the rest of the way ourselves. Do you think you can manage?”

“Certainly,” Thea replied. Philip quickly dismounted his horse and then looked back up to Thea. He held out his hands to assist her in whatever way she needed. Thea went to grab hold of one of his hands, but in doing so, realized that any movement she attempted to get off the horse would reveal far too much of her. When Thea pulled her outstretched hands away, Philip’s emerald eyes looked at her with concern. “Actually,” Thea said, “could I trouble you to turn your back while I dismount? I’m having difficulties with my skirt.” 

As soon as she mentioned her clothing, Philip nodded in understanding, turned around, and took a few steps away from Thea. When she confirmed that he was well and truly not looking at her, Thea jumped down from the horse. But of course, on the way down, she remembered how hurt her knee and ankle were and cursed her decision to hop down on her own. When she hit the ground, she stumbled forward in pain, and her hands collided with the backs of Philip’s legs. When he heard Thea cry out and felt her against his legs, he whipped around and knelt beside her. 

“Did you injure yourself further?” Philip asked, looking Thea over to try to discern where her pain was coming from. She shook her head ashamedly.

“No, I’m just a fool who forgot her initial injuries and is now paying dearly for it.” She chuckled sadly at her foolishness, and Philip smiled at her.

“It isn’t your day, is it?” he asked, giving her his hand and helping her to her feet.

 Thea shook her head but said nothing as she tried desperately not to cry out in pain. The two struggled for a few steps as Philip also tried to lead Morning Glory. Soon, however, it became clear that there was no way they would be able to continue like this. Thea was in excruciating pain and couldn’t think clearly enough to come up with another plan to suggest. Philip abruptly stopped and turned to Thea.

“Would it perhaps be better if I were just to carry you?” Philip asked. Thea’s eyes widened.

“That is very kind of you, Mr. Bennington, but that is far too much to ask; the house is still a good distance off. Though I may look it, I am not as light as one thinks.” Philip smirked at her.

“The house is much closer than you think. And though I may not look it,” Philip imitated Thea, “I am far stronger than one might think.” With that, Philip swept one arm under her knee and kept the other where it was under her arms and scooped her into his arms. Thea made a sound of surprise as Philip adjusted her in his grasp, which he chuckled at. “You see? Not a problem.” Philip should not have said that out loud, for as soon as the words were out of his mouth, a bright flash filled the sky, followed by a loud crack that frightened both Philip and Thea. The sudden occurrence of lightning did worse things to Morning Glory, who bolted for the stables. Thea and Philip could do nothing more than watch in horror as the horse took off without them, ruining all of the expert planning they had done to avoid being seen by anyone at the house. The pair then looked at one another, each understanding what Morning Glory running off meant.


“A Dazzling Stranger in the Earl’s Arms” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Theodosia Hay’s life seems to be unfolding in every way she had expected it to, until one fateful day she is forced to marry an Earl she barely knows, or be faced with social ostracization. What follows are moments that challenge Thea in every way possible; not only must she survive the humiliation of the whirlwind process of planning a ceremony that even the dourest bride would be embarrassed by, but also find her place in the vast, intimidating Seaforth house with a man she barely knows. Will this be the beginning of a lustful journey or will she be entrapped in a loveless marriage?

Philip Bennington, the dazzling Earl of Seaforth, has vowed to never risk his heart in a love match. But his life is about to change forever when he sees an attractive young Lady falling off her horse and he runs to her rescue. To their misfortune, they are discovered in what mistakenly seems to be a compromising situation, and he soon finds himself trapped in an accidental marriage. As they embark on their tumultuous relationship together, he finds himself losing his heart to her, unsuitable match or not. However, when his family and the whole of society refuses to accept their passionate affair, will he ever manage to prove them wrong and turn this forced marriage into a burning love?

Just when Thea and Philip think they’ve reached a peaceful point in their flaming relationship, she finds mysterious notes addressed to Philip. Before they realise it, they embark on a path to discovering who is trying to shove a wedge between the newly married couple. Will they be able to discover who is trying to ruin their unexpected affair, or will all of their hard work be ruined by a malicious outsider? In the end, will they break all the barriers that wish to keep them apart and create their own happily ever after?

“A Dazzling Stranger in the Earl’s Arms” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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6 thoughts on “A Dazzling Stranger in the Earl’s Arms (Preview)”

  1. What a way to meet a man, I think it is so great, except for hurting herself, this should be a good book to read.

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