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Carolyn R. Scheidies

The Earl's Ward

Carolyn R. Scheidies The Earl's Ward
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Series:

Heartsong Presents

Excerpt from book:

With dainty white hands, Angella Denning smoothed her worn gown, which hung limply from her frame. It had not been new for several years and even then had been painstakingly sewn of cheap material by her mother. Economies were always necessary on her father's meager living, not to mention his generosity with what little they had. The dress had fit once upon a time, before she lost two of the most important people in her life—her dear beloved parents.

When her father, the Reverend Andrew Denning, died of fever after ministering in the village unstintingly for the past ten years, the folks of the small village mourned with her grieving mother. When her mother died soon after of the same fever, Angella was allowed to stay until a new vicar was chosen. There was no place for her to go. No one offered to help, though she would gladly have worked for her board and room—not that she could do much.

Slight of stature, she was no match for the women who toiled all day in the fields or who worked at the Big House, as the Lucashire family residence was known. It was from the Lucashire family the vicar received his living. Not that anyone had so much as glimpsed the young earl since the death of the kindly old peer—his father.

The shopkeeper told her, "The new earl is not cut from the same cloth as his good father." Seldom in residence, he cut his dash in London. The village maidens squealed as they gossiped about the rakish antics of the young lord. Angella was disgusted. She had no use for men who refused to take their responsibilities to their people seriously.

Yet, on her deathbed, her mother made her promise to contact the earl if her grandfather would not have her, but she knew not how. No one wanted to take a message to the Big House. She doubted the profligate earl would wish to take as his ward some unfledged chit.

After her mother's death, she sent off a missive to her maternal grandfather, the Marquess of Monforg. It had been returned unopened like all the other missives sent to Monforg castle throughout the years. Angella knew her mother's story by heart. When her mother, the marquess's only daughter, defied him by marrying a "no-account" parson, he cut her off without a farthing. He never even acknowledged the existence of Angella or her older brother, Edward.

Angella expected nothing less than another rejection from the starched-up peer. It pained her that her grandfather did not care—not for his daughter or his grandchildren. Still, she had to make one final attempt. She'd promised her mother.

If only Edward was not so far away. She had also posted a letter to Edward, but there had scarcely been time for it to reach him in India and for him to return home. Besides, as he had told them in his infrequent letters, he was often far from the missionary compound.

Thus, Angella had no place to go and no money with which to travel, even if she did know where to go. From the empty flagpole others reported viewing at Lucashire Hall, Angella knew the earl was not in residence. Who knew when he would return!

When the new vicar first arrived, he had sympathized with her plight—or so she'd thought. At the time, she had been grateful when he'd told her with a strange smile, "You may stay at the vicarage, Miss Denning, for now."

While the situation made her uncomfortable, the vicar was old enough to be her guardian and the housekeeper did live there, too. How could she have guessed the man was not the honorable man of God her father was?

He thundered from the pulpit like some Old Testament prophet, but comported himself like some monster in his own home. He covered it well with his sanctimonious arrogance. Not even Mrs. Marsh, the elderly homebound woman who so loveANGELLA DENNING NEEDS A PROTECTOR 

After rescuing her from near ruin, the Earl of Lucashire dutifully takes in the vicar's orphaned daughter. But he discovers Angella is a beauty too lovely to ignore. Soon the rakish earl is falling for his innocent ward. 

Despite his reputation, Angella has no choice but to place herself under the earl's protection. Even as she resists his charms, when he accepts her faith as his own, she finds herself drawn to him. But then a secret from his past threatens their growing bond. Is it possible her beloved protector is not the man she believes him to be?


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