A Marquis For All Seasons
by Renee Reynolds
Lady Miranda Leighton and the Marquis of Stafford, Roman de Courtenay, have a similar problem: their families want them to find a spouse. Together they hatch the perfect scheme: they will pretend an attachment and trick their families in their pursuit of one last season of unencumbered entertainment. Yet, in each other's constant company, they find their ruse giving rise to some surprisingly very real feelings. What happens when you set out to fool society, but only end up fooling yourselves?
Lady Miranda moved stealthily, despite the late hour and the fact she used the less familiar servant stairs. The house was eerily quiet and she felt nearly smothered by the inky blackness of the narrow stairwell. She dared not light a candle in case some member of the household still moved about. She ran one hand lightly up the wall to keep her balance, and to maintain some sense of uprightness in the void, while her other hand stretched in front to locate the door at the top of the stairs. After what seemed an eternity, she reached the threshold to the next floor, and silently slid the latch.
Opening the door, she squinted at the brightness of the landing awash with the moonlight that streamed through the windows at the end of the hall. After her eyes adjusted, she cast a furtive glance in both directions before hugging the wall, boots in hand, as she slipped quietly to her chamber. Once inside, she was again surrounded by blackness, but this time, it comforted.
She was safe. She was home.
She was exceedingly glad, loathe to admit to herself how poorly the night's adventures had actually been. She would never admit aloud how queasy the entire spectacle had made her, nor would she admit she had no idea the crowd would be so loud and bloodthirsty over the fighting. She shivered slightly when a scratch sounded from the darkness. A light flickered, growing in brightness as a candle flame flared to life.
She was discovered.
Author Renée Reynolds grew up all over the world as the daughter of a globe-trotting Marine father and spirited and supportive mother. Their family motto was you can never learn too much, travel too much, or talk too much.
She majored in majors in college, and after obtaining a host of degrees she decided not to use any of them and instead writes about what she cannot do - go back in time to dance at balls, flirt with lords, gentlemen, and scoundrels, and gallop unfashionably down Rotten Row during the most fashionable hour.
After dodging a few Collinses and Wickhams, Renée happily snared a Darcy. Her HEA turned out to be in Texas, where she resides with "the hubs, the kiddos, a boisterous menagerie of indoor and outdoor animals, and a yard of meticulously maintained weeds." She has happily tagged on this addendum to the family motto: you can never read too much, too often, or too late at night.