In this Dukes Behaving Badly holiday novella, a young lady entertains a sudden proposal of marriage-to a man she’s only just met.What does a lady do when a man she’s never seen before offers his hand in marriage? Lady Sophronia Bettesford doesn’t scream and run away. Instead, she accepts the shocking proposition. After all, what’s her other choice? To live with her cousin, caring for six children and a barnyard full of chickens?James Archer has roamed the world, determined never to settle down. He’s faced danger and disaster…he fears nothing and no one except his mother and her matchmaking ways. So when ordered to attend a Christmastime house party filled with holiday cheer and simpering young misses, he produces a fiancée!Sophronia and James vow to pretend to be in love for one month. But when they each promise to give each other a Christmas kiss it becomes clear that this pact made out of necessity might just be turning into love.
Check out the Duke's Behaving Badly series:
She unfolded the often-read letter, suppressing a sigh at her cousin’s crabbed handwriting. Not that handwriting was indicative of a person’s character—that would be their words—but the combination of her cousin’s script and the way he assumed she would be delighted to perform all the tasks he was graciously setting before her, well, that was enough to make her dread the next phase of her life. Which would last until—well, that she didn’t know.
Sophronia was grateful, she was, for being offered a place to live, and she didn’t want to seem churlish. It was just that she had never imagined that the care and feeding of poultry—not to mention six children—would be her fate.
She hadn’t been raised to think too highly of herself, an impoverished earl’s daughter couldn’t, no matter her bloodlines. But she’d thought her father had put by enough money to see her through to find a cottage somewhere, somewhere to live with her books, and her wit, and her faithful maid, after he’d left this mortal coil. But while her father had been very specific when it came to ordering which text of ancient Greek poems would suit his needs the best, he had been less so when it came time to providing for his daughter’s future after his eventual, and inevitable, demise.
He’d left her with practically nothing, in fact.
Hence the chickens.
Which was why she had spent a few precious pennies on a last glass of ale at the coaching inn where she was waiting for the mail coach to arrive and take her to the far reaches of beyond. A last moment of being by herself, being Lady Sophronia, not Sophy the Chicken Lady.
The one without a feather to fly with.
Chuckling at her own wit, she picked her glass up and gave a toast to the as yet imaginary chickens, thinking about how she’d always imagined her life would turn out.
There were no members of the avian community at all in her rosy vision of the future.
Not that she was certain what her rosy vision of the future would include, but she was fairly certain it did not have fowl of any kind.
She shook her head at her own foolishness, knowing she was giving in to self-pity by bemoaning her lot. It was more than many women had, even ladies of her station. She might have to take care of children and chickens—hopefully in that order—but she would have a roof over her head, food to eat, and clothing to wear. Perhaps the holiday season would be one of celebration. Celebrating a roof over her head, for one thing.
“All aboard to Chester,” a voice boomed through the room. Immediately there were the bustling sounds of people getting up, gathering their things, saying their last goodbyes.
Sophronia didn’t have anyone to say goodbye to. Her maid, Maria, had found another position, even though she’d wept and clung to Sophronia until the very last minute. But Sophronia’s cousin had made it very clear the invitation was for one lady in distressed circumstances—namely, Sophoronia—and there was no room nor salary for a lady’s maid.
So she drained her ale and stood, raising up on her tiptoes for one last stretch. As tall as she was, it was difficult for her to retain any kind of comfort in a crowded coach for any period of time, and she knew the journey would be a long one.
That she would be cramped and uncomfortable for longer than the actual coach journey was a truth she was finding it very hard to ignore.
Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction as Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and son.
Check out what's up for grabs.
Up For Grabs:
- 3 Print copies of The Duke's Guide to Correct Behavior
- Please fill out the Rafflecopter form.
Special thanks to Megan Frampton & Tasty Book Tours for sponsoring this tour-wide giveaway.a Rafflecopter giveaway