Welcome back! I am anxiously awaiting the release of my new Christmas Regency, The Partridge and the Peartree. Phillip Peartree, Duke of Bartlett, prefers to avoid social events, but has come to a recital given by his nieces.
What the devil am I doing here?
Philip adored his nieces, but he preferred to support them in ways that didn't require his presence at a social function. Laurel was a beautiful girl and a fair dancer, though she'd never perform on a true stage. He wasn't as sure about Merilee's piano playing, although people other than her own mother had said she was quite good. No matter, he was here now, so his sister wouldn't be able to badger him too much for the next month or so. Desiree was a good sister, but she could be a mother bear sometimes, especially when it came to her children. As if conjured by his thoughts, Desiree Linden, Countess of Milburn, appeared at his side.
"Phillip, how good of you to come." She took his arm and steered him toward the chairs set up for the audience.
"I wouldn't dream of doing otherwise."
"Of course you would." She chuckled at his sarcasm. "But I'm glad you chose to come, instead of closeting yourself in your study. I'm giving you the choicest seat, right here in the front."
"Marvelous. Everyone will be able to see me."
"Don't be silly. They're here to see the girls, not you. Besides, you'll be off to the left, so your good side will be all they see. You might be lucky and not have to interact with anyone."
"How kind of you," he said through his teeth.
He settled himself in his seat, turning sharply when someone behind him tapped his shoulder. The Duchess of Camden bent her head to speak to him, and the feathers on her oversized hat tickled his forehead. "Your Grace, it is so good to see you again. I've heard you were at your estate, and we assumed you were still in mourning—"
Desiree rang a crystal bell at that moment, interrupting the duchess, and all heads turned toward the stage, where Merilee had seated herself at the pianoforte.
"Friends, thank you so much for attending. Please make yourselves comfortable. Merilee and Laurel have a lovely program for you this evening. Merilee will open the program by performing Sonata in G minor by Muzio Clementi."
Phillip prepared himself for an hour or two of boredom, schooling his features into a polite show of interest. Just as Merilee raised her hands to place them on the keyboard, he felt the air stir to his right, and the aroma of roses assaulted him. He glanced in that direction and beheld a vision of loveliness seated beside him. She wore a fetching gown of midnight blue satin, and her honey blonde curls framed her heart-shaped face. She nodded a silent greeting to him then directed her attention toward the stage. Phillip dutifully turned his head as well, but his thoughts remained on the woman beside him. It was the woman from the bookstore. Where was her husband?
Thanks for stopping by! The Partridge and the Peartree will be available at Astraea Press and other ebook distributors beginning November 2! Please leave a comment and visit the blogs of other great authors who are sharing their works. Go to Sweet Saturday Samples for their links!