BOOK BLURB: When straight laced earl, Will Sutton, is challenged to turn the obstinate American ward of his friend into a biddable lady suitable for the Marriage Mart, he gladly takes the wager. Then has to decide whether the prize–a prime racing stud horse–is worth changing the impudent beauty’s temperament he’s come to enjoy. Greatly.
One headstrong miss. One stuffy lord. One friendly wager. What could go wrong?
Will Sutton, the Earl of Grandleigh, believes he can save the family’s impoverished estate by investing in a racehorse, but the price is too steep. His brother-in-law offers him a deal: tutor his American ward in proper English customs, so she’ll be marriage material, and Will can have one of his horses. Maybe Miss Georgia Duvall prefers being a jockey, is obstinate and high spirited, but once she’s cleaned up and presentable, he’ll have no trouble finding her a quality suitor. She might even be quite pretty beneath the racetrack dust.
The last thing Georgia Duvall wants is to be married off to an English peer. But she won’t defy her father’s wishes, and sets her cap for the oldest lord she can find—a man who’ll die quickly and leave her alone to manage her inheritance. The Earl of Grandleigh might think he’ll teach her manners and marry her off to someone younger than eighty, but there hasn’t been an obstacle yet Georgia can’t overcome. Including a stuffy, overbearing English lord.
Lord Grandleigh gestured toward the table. “Shall we take our seats?”
“Of course.” As she glided past him, Georgia caught him gazing at the neckline of her dress again. His jaw tensed, and there was a definite tightening of the skin round his eyes.
Immensely pleased, she hoped this meal would end quickly and she could move on. They sat across from one another, and the footman placed a bowl of soup in front of each of them.
“If we were at a formal dinner party, you’d make conversation with the gentleman seated beside you. But because these are merely lessons, I chose to sit across from you this time.”
“I’ll never understand why so much fuss goes into where everyone sits,” she commented.
“Not only where we sit. Don’t forget the order in which we enter the dining room. I’m speaking of dinner parties, of course.” He lifted his spoon, so Georgia did the same.
“Well, hallelujah, I have a chance of being the first person escorted into a dining room at a dinner party. I never thought to aspire to such grand accomplishment before.”
He rolled his eyes upward.
She twirled her spoon before submerging it in her soup and was thrilled to see her comment annoyed him. Although, she couldn’t help noticing the unique green of his eyes—not sea green, and not mossy green, but something in between. “I fear you’ve given me something to pine over and wish upon a star for.”
“Go ahead and make light of our customs, but tradition is everything and of the utmost importance in England.” He set his spoon down with a slight thud. “Instead of being difficult about it, I suggest you accept it and immerse yourself in all I’m trying to teach you.”
“How am I being difficult about it?” she quipped. “I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Perhaps, but your tone suggests you aren’t entirely happy about it. And sarcasm doesn’t help your cause.”
Ah, yes, the cause. The cause to get her married off. Why would she want to make it easy on him by being complacent? If she was going to have to participate in this tutoring arrangement, then she may as well make it fun.
She scooped the vegetable soup into her mouth and purposely left some broth on her bottom lip. After setting the spoon down beside her bowl, she fixed her stare on Grandleigh. Slowly, she stuck her tongue out to retrieve the spilled broth.
“You might want to be a little more careful.” He stared at her mouth.
She tipped her head to the side. “About what, my lord?”
“Leaving food on your face. Decrease the amount of soup in your spoon next time.” She blinked several times. Then she ran her tongue across her upper lip as well, hoping the motion would bother him.
Absently, he moved his hand toward his mouth. “Use a napkin to wipe it off.”
She slipped her tongue back into her mouth. “My tongue works.”
As though he needed to sit up straighter, he adjusted himself in his chair. “Yes, I can see that it does.”
AUTHOR BIO: Rebecca Thomas enjoys a love-hate relationship with Alaska. She lives there with her husband and sons. When she isn’t reading, writing, or playing board games, she can be found taking long walks in the woods dreaming up her next story.
A reluctant reader as a child, she didn’t become interested in books until her teen years when she discovered historical romance. Now she loves all sub-genres of romance and can’t decide which one is her favorite.
Rebecca was employed in the airline industry for several years before working in her current position as a program manager in higher education.