Rescuing a Tempting Viscountess (Preview)

Chapter One

Warwick, July 1818

“Two years, Alexandra. You are aware of that, are you not? Two years and not a single proposal in all that time.”

“Yes, Mama, I am aware.” Alexandra sat back in the carriage, only to find her mother raising her perfectly manicured eyebrows at the slouching posture. Heading home from their visit to London, Alexandra felt they had continued the same conversation ever since they stepped out of the townhouse door. Alexandra instantly sat forward again, straightened her spine, and rearranged the skirt of her empire-line gown so that it fell perfectly across her knees. She compared herself to her mother, who was sat opposite her, then itched her feet to the side to copy her position. Beside Alexandra, her lady’s maid watched it all silently. Her mother’s own lady’s maid sat beside her, staring out of the window uninterestedly. 

“We must change things, Alexandra. This year will be the year.” Mary, known to the ton as Lady Clifford, sat taller in her seat, smiling and revealing dimples in her chubby cheeks. Seated so perfectly in the carriage, she was the epitome of a fine lady with her light brown hair streaked with silver strands and the blue eyes that Alexandra had inherited from her alight, moving from side to side with keenness.

“Mama, we can hardly force someone into marrying me.” Alexandra had intended the words to be in jest, but her mother’s lifted eyebrows showed she found nothing amusing in the situation. Alexandra turned her eyes to look out of the carriage window, trying to find something else to think of instead.

She knew how much of a sore point it was for her parents that she hadn’t yet had a single suitor. She had no wish to dwell on the subject.

“Do you think the carriage is pulling a little to the left?” she asked conversationally, trying to change the subject.

“You think I will be swayed so easily from the topic at hand?” Mary asked with a smile. “Good attempt, but you have failed.”

“I was merely thinking that we keep coming rather close to those trees.”

“Well, I was thinking of how we can change things this year. When we return to London for the Season, it is imperative we alter the ton’s opinion of you.”

“I had no idea it was so bad,” Alexandra said wryly, lowering her eyes to her hands that were fidgeting in her lap. 

“Not bad, dearest, just a little….”

“Bookish?” Alexandra offered a word she had heard her brothers repeatedly use over the years.

“Well…perhaps a little.” Mary turned her own eyes out of the carriage window as if she were unwilling to address the matter directly. “Hmm, those trees do keep coming rather close.”

“What does it matter if I enjoy my reading, Mama?” Alexandra asked. “I much prefer a world of stories or even the wondrous facts I discover in Father’s books. Surely being well-read simply means I am learning more about the world.”

“You forget that while your nose is buried in books, you forget to look at the real world around you. The pages of a book can only teach you so much about the world, Alexandra. Remember that.” Mary sighed as if they had had this argument before then turned her eyes back to Alexandra. “Back to the matter at hand. Two years is a long time for a young lady to be out and not yet wed. This year, things will change.”

“By ‘things’ you truly mean me, do you not?” Alexandra asked with raised eyebrows. “How do you wish for me to change?” She was not so keen to hear the answer to her question. She knew well enough that she was not quite the ton’s idea of what a young lady should be. She preferred a life of reading and spending time with animals. She was devoted to every creature she had come across, and her preoccupation with bringing their dogs on nearly every excursion they went on had already irked her parents enough to cause more than just one argument. Alexandra was still upset that she had come out with her mother on this occasion and had to leave the dogs at home. 

Beside them, the lady’s maids talked amongst themselves, apparently trying to distance themselves from this rather personal conversation. 

“Dearest, saying such a thing in that way makes me sound cruel indeed.” Mary shifted in the seat of the carriage, fussing with her gloves and the silk pelisse that hung round her shoulders and wrists. Always someone who obsessed over fashion plates or La Belle Assemble magazine, her clothes were of the latest design. “I merely mean if we are to catch you a husband, then it is high time we altered the enticement, as it were.”

Alexandra felt her jaw slacken in surprise as she stared at her mother. There had been a time when her mother was her greatest ally and friend. Unlike her brothers, Mary had understood Alexandra’s passion for reading and never seemed to mind how she preferred her own company to others. As of late, that was changing, more and more each day. It was as if Mary could never pass up on an opportunity to tell Alexandra in what ways she was failing to be a fine lady.

“Maybe I do not want to go ‘fishing’ for a husband as you describe it.”

“Nonsense, all young ladies must marry.”

“Then perhaps I should wait for a gentleman that will love me for who I am. Who will find my love of reading interesting rather than off-putting—”

“Marrying for love is a rarity. We must all accept that.” Mary’s manner had stiffened so abruptly that Alexandra looked sharply toward her, noting the way her blue eyes preoccupied themselves with staring at the trees out of the window. “I was younger than you when I married your father.”

“Yes…but you have always said you love Papa.” Alexandra watched as her mother turned back to her with one lifted eyebrow.

“I do now, sweetheart, but I was not one of those so fortunate to be struck by love as if it were a bolt of lightning. Though, my love grew over time. You should accept any love you feel in life to be the same.”

A bolt of lightning….

There was something Alexandra rather liked about the idea, to feel a connection with someone so strongly that she could know instantly that there was something special between them. Only, she had never been so fortunate to feel that bolt.

“You will marry, Alexandra, and love will come later. In time.” The latter words were added with so much stress that Alexandra turned to look out of the window again as if she could escape the words.

It was hardly unusual for Alexandra to feel like a stranger in her family. Back at home, her father, Viscount Clifford, ran a household that was preoccupied with its nobility at times. In particular, Alexandra’s brothers liked to tease her on what she lacked as a fine lady. Her mother had always been kind to her, though, up until recently. The lack of any proposal, even a suitor, had opened Mary’s eyes to Alexandra’s defects, as well as her lips, for many insulting words escaped her these days.

“I will only marry for love, Mama,” Alexandra said quietly, so low that for a minute, she didn’t think she had been heard.

“I once said the same thing, but…you are a viscount’s daughter.” Mary leaned forward off the other side of the carriage bench and patted Alexandra’s knee. “Women in our position do not have the choices we wish we could have.”

It was such an honest statement that Alexandra looked up to her mother, seeing the quirk and twitch of a muscle around Mary’s jaw. It betrayed the fact there was more to this statement than met the eyes. 

“We’re veering toward the trees again, my lady,” her mother’s lady’s maid, Harper, said from beside Mary.

“Again?” Mary flicked her head to peer out of the window, just as Alexandra did. To her horror, she found they weren’t just nearing the trees that bordered the road but were heading straight for them. “Oh God! What is happening?” Mary cried out, but there wasn’t time for anyone to answer her question.

There was a yelp beyond the carriage window followed by the whinnying call of two frightened horses, then the carriage tore off the path.

Alexandra called out just as the other ladies in the carriage did and reached for her lady’s maid at her side. Favreau clung to her hand, with so much vigour that both of their hands were turning white with the pressure. With their free hands, they clung to the carriage bench beneath them.

“Stop! Stop you dumb horses!” The carriage driver hollered the words, practically bellowing for the horses to halt, but he had lost all control.

Past the windows, Alexandra could see tree branches striking the sides of the carriage, with the sound of each twig breaking and fracturing against the painted wood. It was so much of a blur that Alexandra was soon aware of nothing but the press of Favreau’s hand in hers and the twigs snapping on the open window.

“No!” the driver bellowed one last word as the carriage veered at an angle. The other women in the carriage squealed, tearing Alexandra’s gaze away from the window. Her mother was clawing at the carriage door as they began to tip sideways, travelling dangerously on just two wheels rather than four.

Then the world tipped over completely. Alexandra was thrown out of her seat and landed against the carriage door, with Favreau and her mother on either side of her and Harper bundled somewhere near her feet. Her back roared with pain as she struck the wood, with the sound of wood scraping against the earth and loose rocks deafening beneath her head.

Everything abruptly stopped. The sounds of horses whinnying was distant, as if they had been unharnessed from the carriage and were running off somewhere through the wood. Beyond the window, the coach driver and the footman were calling to one another, checking that they were well.

“Al…Alexandra?” Mary said breathlessly as a hand appeared near Alexandra’s eyes, reaching for her. Through the dust that had kicked up in the carriage, Alexandra reached for that hand, holding her mother’s palm tightly in her own.

“I’m here, Mama. I’m here.”

***

“Good Lord, what has happened here?” The driver of the phaeton carriage pointed ahead with his words, gesturing down the road. With the canopy above the phaeton pushed down, Josiah had the perfect view to sit forward off the bench and peer down the road to see what his driver was pointing at.

“God’s wounds!” he muttered in surprise. It seemed another carriage had had an incident, for there was a gap in the trees that lined the road, through which a carriage had evidently passed through, breaking twigs, branches, and leaving tracks behind it. “Stop!”

“Stop? Why?” Nathanial said from beside him.

“Why do you think?” Josiah asked his brother, nearly laughing. “Are you not the one who is a deacon, brother? What does the lesson of the good Samaritan tell us?”

“I know,” Nathanial said, holding up a hand to defend his innocence. “I merely mean we have no knowledge as to whether this is an old accident or not. We could be stopping for no reason.”

“Then let us discover the answer.” Josiah jumped to his feet in the phaeton as the driver stopped and clambered down.

“It is new, Mr Todd.” The driver started climbing down too. “These tracks…they are fresh indeed.”

Then there is not a moment to lose.” Josiah jumped down the final step and began to clamber over the tracks that led through the woods. “Do you not want a tale to tell your next congregation, Nathanial? Get out of the carriage already!”

His brother needed no more persuasion, following him hurriedly into the woods though he muttered under his breath as he went.

It was not difficult to track where the carriage had been, nor to find the carriage involved in the accident. 

“Mary, mother of God….” Nathanial muttered as he came to a stop beside Josiah, bumping him on the shoulder in surprise. Before them, there was a carriage on its side, with the front where the driver used to be sitting butted against the trunk of a giant oak tree. The driver was now seated by the side of the carriage, in shock with shaking hands but otherwise uninjured. The horses were long gone, with cut harnesses fallen on the earth. 

The body of the carriage was practically fractured and would need some heavy repair work indeed. The door was broken so much and clamped between the fractured pieces of the carriage that it clearly wouldn’t open as the footman was attempting to help ladies out of the carriage by pulling them through the window.

A maid was climbing out first, with a bruise quickly purpling on her cheek and a bead of blood leaking from a scratch to the side of her left eye. As she emerged from the carriage, her shoes slipped on the wet mud, and she nearly fell over, had it not been for the footman holding onto her arms.

“Thomas,” Josiah turned his attention to his own driver. “Help their driver. Nathanial, come, we must help.” Nathanial clearly did not need telling again. The two Todd brothers hurried forward and took the maid’s arm, helping her out before reaching for the next lady inside.

“I cannot get through there!” a woman’s voice cried from the middle of the broken carriage.

“Mama, it will be fine,” a soft voice said in answer. There was something lyrical about the voice, strangely soothing despite the awful situation.

“Alexandra! I may have been as slim as you are now once, but you’ll find someday when you’re older, that weight appears out of nowhere. I am telling you, I cannot fit through there!”

Josiah tried to peer into the broken carriage to see who was talking, but it was too dark thanks to the shadows from the forest and the broken wood of the carriage that was falling in on itself. 

“Have no fear, ladies. We will get you out of there,” Josiah spoke up.

“Who is that?” the rather insistent voice asked.

“Mama!” the lyrical voice said in reprimand to the other. “Thank you, stranger. We’d be glad of any assistance.”

“It is fortunate, I think, that we were passing when we saw the signs of your accident.” Josiah looked around, watching as the footman settled the maid he had managed to retrieve from the broken carriage on a nearby rock before hurrying back. “Any ideas?” Josiah asked Nathanial.

“I’m a deacon, not a carpenter,” Nathanial whispered. “Quite frankly, I do not even know how this is put together,” he said, tapping the side of the broken carriage with his knuckles. “Let alone how to prise it apart when it is falling in on itself in such a way. How about you? You have read every book under the sun. I am sure of it. You are bound to have read a book on carriages at some point.”

“Funnily enough, there was no section on broken carriages.” Josiah shook his head and looked around himself, forming a plan. From the way the wood of the carriage was fracturing, the door was jammed shut, folding in on itself and refusing to move. It could just be possible to prise it backwards, but in order to do that, Josiah would need a lever of some kind. “Well…there is something we could try.”

He stepped back from the carriage and pulled off his jacket, tossing it over a nearby tree branch before reaching for a discarded branch on the ground. It was long and thick; he tested the weight of it in his palm for a second before moving back to the broken door.

“Ladies, if you can, inch back from the door,” Josiah called to the inside of the carriage. “We’re going to prise it open.”

“Prise it open!? Who on earth is out there?”

“Mama, shh! Get back.” The soft voice urged again, pulling a small smile from Josiah’s lips.

He jammed the tree branch into the fractured door and began to pull on it. The door moved but an inch, not far enough. He turned his head to Nathanial, who did not need words to assist. He, too, discarded his jacket before moving forward to take the branch. Together, they pulled on their makeshift lever, hoping that with their joint effort, they might finally make some headway.

More of the painted wood of the carriage began to fracture and splinter, with the door practically crumbling into three different pieces, but one piece came firmly away. When it jutted up, Josiah took hold of it with one hand and prised it backwards, relieved when the footman came to help him.

“It’s working!” a voice called from inside the carriage. 

“Almost there,” Nathanial whispered, pushing one last time on the branch. The second piece of broken door popped up. Josiah tossed this section to the side, giving them enough space to pull the final part of the door free and reveal who was inside.

“Oh, thank God!” The insistent voice from before was there again as a hand was thrust out of the open space. The gloved hand showed the refinement of those inside the carriage. As Josiah took the gloved hand and helped her up, he began to see why the lady would have struggled to have clambered through the window. The ageing lady with streaked silver hair carried a little extra weight, and Josiah presumed from the greyness, she was somewhere around forty years of age. Her gown was elegant, though marred by soil and dust from the overturned carriage.

“Are you hurt, my lady?” Josiah said, deciding it was best to address her so after seeing the way she was dressed.

“My dress…it’s ruined.” Her words pulled a small smile to Josiah’s features.

“Let us be glad it is only the gown that is ruined, and there is no damage to yourself.” He passed the lady’s hand to Nathanial, who helped her clamber over the last section of the carriage, then Josiah turned his attention back to who was still in the carriage.

Another hand reached up through the gap. This one did not wear a glove and was much younger, with a delicate silver bracelet fastened around the wrist. He took hold of the hand, startled as their palms touched, for there was something of a spark, a kind of tingle that passed between them. He pulled her to her feet, stunned by the face that looked back at him.

With silverish blonde hair that was falling out of its updo in wayward curls, she was a striking figure, with bold eyebrows, a slanting nose, and rose-coloured lips. It was the eyes that interested him the most. The blue irises were poignant, but they were staring at him with a kind of awareness and intelligence he didn’t often find.

“How do you do?” he said softly, finding himself tongue-tied, stopping himself from saying anything intelligent at all.

Chapter Two

“I’ve been better,” Alexandra whispered, somewhat amazed as she stayed where she was, still holding onto the stranger’s hand. 

When she’d heard his voice through the broken carriage, there had been something about the depth of the voice that gave her comfort. Now, his appearance was making her feel wrongfooted entirely. He was a handsome man, indeed perhaps not in the classical sense. His features were sharp and angular. She could already hear in her head what her mother and brothers would probably say about the man.

His clothes, though of the gentry, were clearly not of the nobility, and his brown wavy hair was not coiffed but left to be natural. Alexandra liked the look as it curled around his ears, making her wonder what it could be like to tangle her hands in those locks. He was tall and clearly physically fit, with the muscles of his arms straining against the shirt sleeves that covered his arms. Alexandra’s mouth went dry at the sight, for he was so unlike any other gentleman she had seen before.

“I suppose it is not the best time to ask that question,” he said with a soft chuckle. “Are you injured, my lady?” he asked gently, not moving and just keeping her hand in his.

“Merely bruised. I am quite well.”

All the better now….

The thought made her flinch in surprise, and she looked down at their hands that were still connected. Her palm fitted snugly in his, with his long fingers wrapped around her hand, keeping it safe.

“Then let us get you out of there.” He moved closed toward her and passed an arm around her waist.

She gasped in surprise, knowing such an intimate touch would be frowned upon, but how else was she supposed to clamber out of the carriage? Fortunately, her mother was looking away, busy fussing with Harper over their bruises.

As the stranger put his arm around Alexandra’s waist, he lifted her easily out of the carriage. She stared up into his eyes, unable to take her gaze away from him, considering how close they were. Even as her feet lifted over the edge of the fallen carriage and were placed down on the sloped earth, she couldn’t look away, and neither did his arm retreat.

He had startlingly green eyes, but there was a kindness to them. She was used to the harsh gazes of her father and brothers; some had midnight blue gazes, others brown, that always seemed to be narrowed in her direction. Yet this stranger had this unusual greenness, the colour of peace lily leaves, that were looking at her with softness.

“You promise you are unhurt?” he asked as he released her waist at last, though he kept hold of her palm.

“I assure you, I am well,” she said, then glanced back to the carriage, worrying for Favreau, but it seemed the footman was already in attendance, eagerly pulling Favreau out behind her. “I do not know how to thank you, sir,” she said, turning back to face the stranger with the kind green eyes. “Had you not been passing…goodness knows how long we could have been stuck in that carriage.”

“I think my deacon brother here would say it seems God put our carriage on this road seconds after yours for a reason,” he said with a smile.

“Yes, he probably did,” the brother agreed, walking around the carriage to inspect the damage. Alexandra barely glanced his way. It seemed her eyes kept involuntarily returning to the man before her who had still not released her hand. She had no wish to retrieve it from him. 

“May I know who we are indebted to?” Alexandra asked, tugging gently on the stranger’s hand so that he returned his eyes to her.

“There is no debt, my lady, I assure you,” he said, lowering his voice to a whisper. There was something about the words that were intimate, making Alexandra feel as if she were standing there with the stranger all alone, with no one else around them, least of all her mother. “My name is Mr Josiah Todd. The man now inspecting your carriage is my brother, Deacon Nathanial Todd.”

“How do you do,” Alexandra said, nodding in the deacon’s direction.

“My, my, I suppose your driver thought it would be quicker to get to town through the woods, eh?” Mr Nathanial Todd’s jest lightened the mood for some and even brought some laughter from the maids, but Alexandra couldn’t laugh. She was still too shaken, remembering the way her mother had reached out toward her through the dust, her hand trembling with fear.

“He doesn’t mean anything by it.” Mr Josiah Todd had lowered his voice to a whisper again so that only she could hear him. She smiled a little, looking up at him.

“Are you able to read minds, Mr Todd?” she asked.

“If only,” he said with a sigh. “However, I can read your feelings.” He gestured softly to her face with his free hand. “You have a wonderfully expressive face, my lady. Of course, after what you have been through, I’d say it is impossible not to be upset.”

“You are a perceptive man, indeed.”

“Am I? I rather like that idea. Some kind of virtue to go with all my faults.”

“Do you have many faults?” she asked, feeling her first full smile take over since the accident.

“Every man has faults, my lady,” he whispered. “Now, may I have the honour of knowing the lady’s name whose hand I cannot seem to make myself release?”

She laughed softly, startled by her willingness to do it so soon after the event. There was something in Mr Josiah Todd’s words that were honest, so genuine that they put her at ease. It was true, he was holding onto her as tightly as she was to him, and with her mother duly distracted, fussing, and complaining to her maid, Alexandra was under no pressure to release him.

“Miss Alexandra Springley,” she said as she hitched one foot behind the other, hurrying to curtsy. He bowed to her, too, though they still held hands throughout.

“It feels rather odd being so formal in this situation, does it not?” he asked with a smile.

“Indeed, it does.” She nodded, aware now that her mother was taking more and more interest in her position. “I cannot thank you and your brother enough, Mr Todd.”

“Please, it was of no trouble.” 

“Mr Todd,” Mary said, moving forward to join their side. “I must second my daughter’s thanks. We are grateful indeed for your assistance.” She subtly elbowed Alexandra, a silent instruction to retract her hand from Mr Todd’s. Alexandra did as she was told, though her eyes lingered on Mr Todd, showing it was the last thing in the world she truly wanted to do.

Who are you?

His name was not enough for her. She abruptly wanted to know everything about the curious gentleman before her with the kind green eyes.

“Well, I hope our assistance is not yet complete.” Mr Todd stepped back and turned his attention to his brother and the carriage. “Nathanial, what do you reckon the problem was?”

“From what their driver has said and the state of this wheel….” He paused and bent down to examine a wheel that was barely attached to the carriage anymore. “It was a loose wheel. The carriage veered off when the bolt began to bend, which spooked the horses.”

“Where are the horses?” Alexandra asked, looking around with worry. “They sounded so scared when the carriage….” She broke off and swallowed. Their horses were usually such gentle animals. The idea of them being frightened cut her deeply. 

“I had to cut the harnesses.” The driver stood to his feet nearby and held up the cut-through harnesses. “I couldn’t calm them down, and they would have just kept dragging us all with them.”

“Good God! We could have all been killed in such an accident!” Mary said, flinging her hands to her face.

“Mama, we are well.” Alexandra patted her mother’s shoulder in comfort, but she turned to face the thicket of trees nearby, searching them for any sign of the horses.

“Something has upset you.” The deep voice of Mr Todd was closer than she had expected it to be. She looked round to find him standing beside her, leaning toward her to whisper. “What is wrong?”

“The horses,” she started to explain, then bit her lip, stopping herself. Her eldest brother, George, had once called her a ‘nuisance’ for worrying about animals so much.

‘Anyone will think you odd, Alexandra. You know, a little strange…up here.’ He had pointed to his temple at that moment. ‘Do not worry for the horses so.’ 

She could remember the conversation vividly.

“What about them?” Mr Todd’s calm question brought her back to the moment. She decided to throw caution to the wind.

“They must be frightened.” She pointed out to the thicket of trees. “I hate to think of them so scared.”

“They will find their way back.” Mr Nathanial Todd answered her as he walked past, still investigating the damage to the carriage.

“So…we should just leave them to suffer in pain in the meantime?” she asked.

“Alexandra, do not be nonsensical. Look at us,” Mary said, gesturing to their gowns. “We are the ones in need of a little care. Not to mention a plan of how we are going to get all of this repaired!” As Mary turned to their driver to discuss options, Alexandra flicked her eyes back to the trees, straining to see any signs of the horses, but there was none. Only the oak leaves shivering in the breeze stared back at her. 

“We will find them,” Mr Josiah Todd’s whispered words made her turn her head back to him.

“You will?” she asked breathlessly.

“I promise.” He smiled at her one last time before turning back to join the others’ conversation. Alexandra watched him for a moment, wondering why he would make such a promise to her. “I have another offer to make. Perhaps you two ladies and your maids could take our phaeton into town.”

“What?” Mr Nathanial Todd said in surprise, looking up so sharply that he nearly tripped over a piece of the broken carriage.

“Rothburndale isn’t far from here,” Mr Josiah Todd said, subtly kicking his brother in the ankle. The move was hidden mostly by the carriage, but Alexandra just caught sight of it and had to bite her lip not to laugh. “On the edge of Warwick, Rothburndale has an inn. We can walk it together with the driver.”

“Walk it?” his brother repeated in clear disapproval. This time, Mr Todd wasn’t subtle in his rebuke at all. He promptly elbowed his brother in the waist. “I mean, yes, of course.”

“We couldn’t ask that of you,” Alexandra said, stepping forward, though she felt her mother’s hand on her elbow, clearly trying to hold her back.

“It is not asked of. It is offered,” Mr Todd said smoothly with a smile. “Please, I insist. I will rest easy then when I know the four of you are safe in town. Once you reach the inn, you can send assistance for your carriage.”

“Well, I must say it is a splendid idea indeed!” Mary said, clapping her hands together before Alexandra could object anymore. “That is kind of you, Mr Todd. Where is your carriage?”

“This way, please, follow me.” As Mr Todd led the group back toward the road, hitching some of their bags onto his shoulders to help the footman and the driver, Alexandra hurried to walk alongside him. She noted the way that he carried her mother’s heavy bag, packed to the brim with new gowns from London, over his shoulder as if it weighed no more than a fallen oak leaf. 

“I hope we have not disturbed your journey too much,” she said, looking desperately for some kind of conversation.

“Not in the slightest, though any disturbance would have been worth it. My heart was in my mouth when I saw your carriage broken in pieces in such a way.” He shook his head, turning his gaze away from the trees to look her in the eyes instead. “I felt such horror…fearing what danger could have befallen those inside. You promise you are unharmed, though?”

“I merely have a few bruises.” She shrugged as though they did not matter. What mattered to her more was the memory of what had happened, the actual accident and the fear of how bad it could have been. “I guess the memory will last longer than the bruises.”

“Indeed,” he said, walking closer toward her. He bumped her arm gently, in a sort of soothing gesture that was a stolen moment. She glanced back, fearing they had been seen, but her mother and the maids had not even noticed. They were still too busy all pointing out their different bruises and cuts. “Memories are more like scars than bruises, in my opinion. They do fade, Miss Springley. They become manageable in time. Of that, I assure you.”

“You speak as if you have suffered fear or sadness yourself,” she said, looking up to him with wide eyes. He smiled briefly and nodded his head at her.

“You are perceptive yourself. I think it fair to say we all carry scars of the mind with us, Miss Springley.”

“How poetic.” She was quite intrigued by his choice of words and was about to ask him more when they made it through the trees to find a phaeton awaiting them. At once, the drivers and the footman fussed with helping the ladies up.

Alexandra didn’t follow her mother and the maids into the phaeton at first. She was too busy watching Mr Todd as he helped to secure their bags to the carriage. He evidently noticed she was watching him as he looked up from what he was doing and leaned toward her, whispering so only she could hear him.

“Something tells me I have startled you, Miss Springley.”

She practically could have shivered with delight at him coming so close. She glanced once more at her mother and the maids, pleased they were all far too busy fussing about their ruined gowns to be paying her any attention talking to Mr Todd.

“You have,” she confessed, looking back to him. “You are so eager to help us. It is just so….”

Rare.

That was the word she wanted to say. She had seen members of the ton concerned for others over the last two years, her brothers too, but when it actually came to helping people, they usually ordered servants around to do all the heavy lifting for them. Quite literally, Mr Todd had taken that responsibility on himself.

“It is kindness itself, Mr Todd,” she said with a sigh. He finished with the bags and turned back to look at her, his smile lighting up his features in such a way that made her heartbeat quicken.

Indeed, he may not have been classically handsome, but his charming manner was enough to make any woman swoon, she was certain of it, and that smile had a knack for making her knees feel weak. 

“Kindness?” he repeated. “What in the world is there to live for but to be kind to others and make them all smile?” She was tongue-tied, staring at him in surprise. She’d heard her brothers talk of the point of life only the week before, and none of their answers had been ‘kindness’. They had preferred words like ‘wealth’, ‘enjoyment’, and ‘frivolity’. “Now, let me help you into the carriage.” He offered his hand to her another time that she took eagerly, allowing him to steer her toward the side of the carriage.

“Once you are in town, will you be staying at the Rothburndale inn?” she asked.

“I—”

“Come along, dearest,” Mary said, interrupting the two of them. She must have noticed how much Alexandra was preoccupied with talking to Mr Todd, for she was positively glaring at Alexandra. “We have indulged enough in Mr Todd’s assistance. Let us head to town so we may send for help. Again, Mr Todd, I cannot thank you and your brother enough for stopping to assist us.”

“You are more than welcome, my lady.” He helped Alexandra up into the carriage, though he didn’t release her hand straight away. 

Sitting opposite her mother, she was able to hold onto his palm for a beat longer than she should have done, feeling the warmth in his palm and the strength in those fingers. 

“Safe journey to you all. I hope the rest of your journey is a less eventful one.”

As the ladies smiled at his words, he stepped back and bowed. Alexandra never let her eyes stray from his, noting how he held her gaze the whole way through his bow before he stood straight again.

Once the carriage lurched forward, she turned on the bench, looking over the open-top of the phaeton to keep her eyes on him for as long as possible. Just before they slipped behind some trees, she lifted her hand, waving to him, hoping to communicate with that simple wave how intrigued she was by him and that she hadn’t wanted to part from him so soon. To her joy, he waved back.



“Rescuing a Tempting Viscountess” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

No obstacle, or family, is too much for a woman who has discovered her heart’s desire; books and freedom. While her despotic mother’s demands to marry her seem to cast Alexandra Springley’s freedom away, a fateful carriage accident may be her ticket to freedom. Sensing a chance to escape her family’s control, she secretly runs into her vigorous rescuer…

When guilty desire starts burning her heart, the Viscount’s daughter will start wondering if this imperfect man can be perfect for her…

His brother’s death makes the charming Josiah Todd, the next heir in line, and he is far from excited about it. Grief and his father’s condemnation have turned his devotion to his book collections, the only thing that gives him joy. Little did he know, that pleasure could mean so much more… Until the day he saved the seductive Alexandra from her carriage accident.

Could the alluring Lady be the missing piece of his happiness?

While their sinful romance grows, Alexandra and Josiah have no choice but to break all the rules. When Alexandra’s desperation will lead her to the doorstep of a dangerous Earl, will Josiah find a way to set her free from the wicked Earl’s golden cage? After all, will they be willing to battle through loss, deception, and sacrifice in order to find their way back to each other?

“Rescuing a Tempting Viscountess” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

3 thoughts on “Rescuing a Tempting Viscountess (Preview)”

  1. Dear Emily..
    Once again l like the way you write the introduction of the characters in this book of the charming Josiah and the lady.. Am awaiting to see how their relationship evolves in the future…

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear Valerie. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you like the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

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