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Series: Westcott #9
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: November 30, 2021
Genres: Historical Romance
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Sometimes, just one person can pull a whole family apart. And sometimes, it just takes one person to pull it back together. For fans of Bridgerton, New York Times bestselling Regency Romance author Mary Balogh shows how love truly conquers all in this new Friends of the Westcotts novel.
As a young man, Justin Wiley was banished by his father for mysterious reasons, but now, his father is dead, and Justin has been Earl of Brandon for six years. A dark, dour man, he, nonetheless, takes it as his responsibility to care for his half-sister, Maria, when her mother dies. He travels to her home to fetch her back to the family seat at Everleigh Park.
Although she adored him, once, Maria now loathes Justin, and her friend, Lady Estelle Lamarr, can see, immediately, how his very name upsets her. When Justin arrives and invites Estelle and her brother to accompany Maria to Everleigh Park to help with her distress, she begrudgingly agrees, for Maria's sake.
As family secrets unravel in Maria's homecoming, Justin, too, uncovers his desire for a countess. And, while he may believe he's found an obvious candidate in the beautiful 25-year-old Lady Estelle, she is most certain that they could never make a match...
SOMEONE PERFECT – Excerpt
The grass had been newly scythed and looked neat and smelled heavenly. Then, however, the four large flower beds, which, long before Estelle was born, had been cut into the lawn with geometric precision to form four diamond shapes in a larger diamond formation, had ended up looking sadly ragged in contrast. She could have waited for the gardeners to get to them, as of course they would, but she liked doing a bit of gardening and was out here now pulling weeds and cutting deadheads from among the flowers and dropping them all into the basket she carried over her arm. And what a difference the pulling and cutting had made! The flowers in the three beds she had already done were looking considerably brighter and more fully alive again, and now this one did too. She stood back on the grass to admire her handiwork. But something caught the edge of her vision as she did so, and she looked across two large diamonds to the drive beyond.
A horse and rider were just coming into view, and for a moment she brightened with the expectation that Bertrand was returning from his visit to the vicarage in time for tea. The rider was not Bertrand, of course. He had walked into the village. It was the Earl of Brandon, and now Estelle could not even pretend to be away from home. He had seen her. So had his dog, which took a few menacing steps toward her across the lawn before stopping abruptly at something the man had said. She heard the low rumble of his voice but could not discern the actual words.
How very mortifying and unpleasant. Estelle was terribly aware of her ancient cotton dress, faded from innumerable washes and much despised by her maid, who always told her it was too old even for the ragbag. But it was cool and comfortable and was kept strictly for chores such as this one. Her straw hat must be almost as antique. Its brim was limp and shapeless and wonderfully effective in shading her face and neck from the sun. Her gloves were large and elbow length and bright green and ugly. But they kept her fingers and forearms from being pricked, and they kept the dirt from getting beneath her fingernails and the sap from staining her hands. Her shoes . . . Well, the less said about her shoes, the better.
She set down her basket, pulled off her gloves, and dropped them on top of the dead blooms and weeds. She could not do anything about the rest of her appearance. Let him think what he would. She did not much care about his good opinion anyway. She made her way toward him, skirting about the flower beds and eyeing the dog warily. It was panting, its tongue lolling out of its mouth. It was looking at her as though it would be happy to make her its afternoon tea if only its master would be obliging enough to ride out of sight for a few moments.
The man looked as morose as ever. Oh, it was wicked, perhaps, to have taken him in such thorough dislike. No, it was not. He had done nothing to make himself likable. Quite the opposite.
“Captain will not hurt you,” he told her.
“Not when you are here to call him off,” she agreed.
“Cap,” he said. “Shake.”
And the dog, still panting, still gazing intently and hungrily at her, sat on its haunches, lifted one of its giant paws, and dangled it toward her.
Oh dear God.
But he had done it deliberately to disconcert her— he man, that was. To make a cringing female out of her, as he had done by the river. How she wished now that she had left her legs dangling in the water and merely tossed her head— and her hair— in his direction. And raised one haughty eyebrow.
She took a few resolute steps forward, grasped the dog’s paw in a firm clasp, and shook it. It was gigantic. It could flatten her with one swat. And it had lethal-looking claws. Was that what one called them on a dog? Or were they nails?
“How do you do, Captain?” she said before looking up at the earl. Man and dog suited each other. He was gigantic too. And he had those huge hands, neatly gloved at the moment and holding the reins. “How do you do, Lord Brandon?”
He removed his hat. “I wondered, Lady Estelle,” he said, “if I might have a few words with you and Viscount Watley.”
From SOMEONE PERFECT published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Mary Balogh.
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