Katherine, Lady Meriwether Vareck, dreads attending the reading of her husband’s will, but she’s hoping she’ll at least have her dowry returned. And meet her departed husband’s half brother, the popular war hero duke, who seems to be everywhere, including her daydreams. Though the errant duke has never bothered to write or see her, Katherine decides to go to his house and introduce herself. Their first meeting shouldn’t be at a solicitor’s office, after all.
Even though he’s just returned home from the war, Christian Vareck, the Duke of Randford, is quite tired of all the ladies vying for his attention by throwing handkerchiefs his way. That is…until he catches a glimpse of her, the woman with a handkerchief in hand, walking to his front door. When she suddenly turns and leaves without introducing herself, Christian is surprisingly devasted. Determined to discover her identity, he plans to scour the streets of London until he finds her. But first, he must locate his late half brother’s missing will, then meet his late brother’s widow, too…
Katherine, Lady Meriwether Varick’s husband died within a year of their marriage. She owns a successful linen business catering to the elite by appointment only. She was surprised she hasn’t received condolences from her husband’s brother, Christian Varick, the Duke of Randford. Since he was at war she really couldn’t blame him but now he was home he should have at least sent a note. She knew she would see him at the reading of her husband’s will, but somehow her mind has judged him and not in a very charitable way.
The Duke is returning from the war and is to attend the reading of his brother’s will, but first he has to find it. Apparently Meriwether said he gave it to him before he left for his commission. He wasn’t expecting the spectacle awaiting him at the docks, woman waving handkerchiefs some close enough to make improper suggestions. There was only one encounter that meant anything to him though. The wife of man he served with came to greet him with their children. Their conversation was touching and brought a tear to my eye. He also gave a coin to a boy by his horses, telling him to get a gift for his mother.
The spectacle of the handkerchiefs didn’t end at the docks, it was all over his lawn the next day as well. Unfortunately Katherine had decided to call upon the Duke before they were removed. At the time Christian is closed in his study with the family solicitor Mr. Hines, but he spies her from the window.
This is a favorite scene.
Christian rose from his chair. “Mr. Hanes, thank you for coming today.”
“The pleasure is all mine, Your Grace.” The solicitor dipped a deep bow. “Welcome home, sir.”
“Thank you.” Christian motioned for the solicitor to take a chair. “Hanes, I’d like to introduce you to my batman now my valet, Jacob Morgan.”
Both men acknowledged greetings, then they all sat down to business.
“You can’t find Lord Meriwether’s will?” The solicitor pushed his wire-framed spectacles up his nose.
“No. I’ve searched in every conceivable place that I could think of. I wonder if Meri even gave it to me. Wheatley helped me search.” Christian stood abruptly and walked to the window. Deuce take him that he had to waste any more time on his half brother’s affairs. He exhaled slowly. He shouldn’t take that attitude. It was his duty, the last one he’d have to perform on behalf of Meri. “Do you need it? He only had me as family. After his bills are paid, there probably won’t be anything left.”
“Apparently, he has a wife, Your Grace,” Hanes said softly.
Christian stared at the solicitor, considering how to respond. He turned his attention back to the window and concentrated on the slips of colorful material hanging on the boxwoods. He forced himself not to curse. He’d not speak ill of the dead, nor would he say anything against Meriwether’s wife.
But truly, who in all of England would marry his degenerate half brother, a profligate, wasteful man who loved to live beyond his means and bet on horse races?
“When?” Christian asked, not turning away from his watch.
“Approximately a year ago,” Hanes offered.
“Here in London, according to his papers.”
“Who is she?”
“The former Miss Katherine Greer. I discovered she doesn’t live far from here. About two streets over.”
“Surprising that she hasn’t contacted me. No telling what kind of a woman she is.” It was wicked to even make a judgment about the woman before he’d ever met her. However, if she’d married his rakish half brother, Christian had good cause to think ill of her. He clasped his hands behind his back, then glanced over his shoulder. “Has she written to you?”
Hanes nodded. “She’s written to one of my clerks. She’ll be at my office later this morning. When Lady Meriwether arrives, I’ll explain what’s happened and what I believe will be her share of your late brother’s estate.”
Christian cringed slightly at the title of Lady Meriwether. “Half brother,” he added curtly.
From the corner of his eye, a movement caught his attention, and he turned his attention to the window. A woman in a mauve gown slowed in front of his home. She seemed mesmerized by the sight of all the handkerchiefs strewn about the place. He felt the same, only not in a good way.
The hat she wore covered her face, hiding her expression from him. No doubt, she was as appalled as he by the appearance of the handkerchiefs. For some reason, he watched her. The woman’s movements could only be described as elegant and graceful. Her gown was not ostentatious but stylish in a subdued manner. The tilt of her head and her graceful stride marked her a woman of quality. She lowered her head then hesitated at the walk leading to the front door. It was almost as if she contemplated something.
Hoping for a better glimpse, he leaned forward until his forehead was less than an inch from the glass pane. His chest expanded as he held his breath, hoping she’d turn and walk toward his front door. Perhaps she was another soldier’s wife or sister who wanted to offer him another welcome home but was too shy to approach.
He’d gladly receive her. It would keep him from having to listen to the droll details of Meri’s estate and widow.
For what other reason would an unaccompanied woman come to his house? She wanted to speak with him. Yes, that had to be why the woman was here. Thankfully, she didn’t have a handkerchief in her hand. If he had any luck at all, she wasn’t married but wanted to share a kind word or thought.
The overwhelming urge to leave this room became nigh near impossible to ignore. He’d go to the front door and invite her into his home, this very study, and . . . the world would melt away. It’d be the two of them in conversation, a simple but heartfelt one where they shared each other’s secrets.
Christian raised his hand to knock on the window. Never had he felt such an irresistible need to meet a woman—this woman in particular. He wanted to know everything about her. Where did she come from? Who was her family? Why was she here?
This was ridiculous. Christian relaxed his clenched hand. He’d never been a man who got lost in fanciful romantic whimsies.
But then . . . she pulled a handkerchief from her reticule. His stomach knotted as if preparing for a blow that would knock the wind out him. What was she doing? Surely, she wasn’t going to add hers into the mix, hoping that he’d find it in the piles of linen and silk that adorned his home.
She brought it toward her face. He couldn’t see the entire movement, but he thought she might have dabbed her eyes. Perhaps she was as overcome as he at the idea of meeting each other.
He almost laughed aloud. It was another fantastical idea. He wanted to open the window and shout “hello,” so she’d tilt her face to his. One view would satisfy the overwhelming urge to see if her face was as beautiful as her figure.
Instead, he simply mouthed the words without uttering a peep.
Hello there. I’ve been waiting for you.
If fate held any favor for him, then the woman would look his way.
“Your Grace?” Mr. Hanes called out.
Christian turned at the sound of urgency in his voice.
“What about your brother’s will? Might I ask if you’ll search for it once more?”
MacGregor, Janna. Where There’s A Will. Kindle Locations (453-497). St. Martin’s Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Before Katherine reaches the door, she changes her mind and decides to have that first meeting at the solicitor’s.
Christian’s batman now valet, Jacob Morgan, finally locates the will, in time to make the appointment at the solicitor’s office.
Then all the shocks hit and the fun begins, only to be continued in the first book ‘A Duke In Time’, coming June 29th.
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Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers.