Bedding Lord Nedby Sally MacKenzie
Determined to find a husband, Miss Eleanor "Nell" Bowman attends a ball put on by the Duchess of Greycliffe, fondly referred to as the Duchess of Love. But she roundly dismisses the suitors the matchmaking hostess has invited on her behalf. For it's the duchess's dashing son Ned, Lord Edward, who long ago captured Nell's/b>
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Pleasure Is On Her Dance Card
Determined to find a husband, Miss Eleanor "Nell" Bowman attends a ball put on by the Duchess of Greycliffe, fondly referred to as the Duchess of Love. But she roundly dismisses the suitors the matchmaking hostess has invited on her behalf. For it's the duchess's dashing son Ned, Lord Edward, who long ago captured Nell's heart--and roused her desire. All it takes is a pair of conveniently misplaced silky red bloomers to set the handsome widower's gaze on this unusual girl who is clearly more than meets the eye. . .
After more than a year of mourning, Ned longs to finally start anew. At first glance, the birthday ball his mother has thrown in his honor is decidedly lacking in suitable mistresses. But he senses something unexpectedly alluring beneath the veil of Nell's plain exterior--something she's anxious to reveal, and the lonely Lord is incapable of denying. . .
Praise for the Novels of Sally MacKenzie
"Naked and naughty!" --Romantic Times
"So addictive they should come with a warning label."--Booklist
"Plenty of heat and hilarity." --Publishers Weekly
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Bedding Lord Ned
By Sally MacKenzie
ZEBRA BOOKSCopyright © 2012 Sally MacKenzie
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA man's pride needs careful handling. —Venus's Love Notes
Miss Eleanor Bowman stood in the Duchess of Love's pink guest bedroom and stared at the scrap of red silk spilling out of her valise, her heart stuttering in horror. That wasn't—
Her brows snapped down. Of course it wasn't. She was letting her imagination run away with her. The red fabric was merely her Norwich shawl. She distinctly remembered packing it, as she did every year. It was far too fine to wear to darn socks or mind her sisters' children, but it was just the thing for the duchess's annual Valentine party. It was her one nod to fashion, the small bit of elegance she still allowed herself.
She snatched the red silk up again, shook it out—and dropped it as if it were a poisonous snake.
Damn it, it wasn't her shawl. It was those cursed red drawers.
She closed her eyes as the familiar wave of self-loathing crashed over her. She'd made these and a matching red dress to wear to Lord Edward's betrothal ball five years ago, desperately hoping Ned would see her—really see her—and realize it was she he wanted to marry, not her best friend, Cicely Headley. But Mama had seen her first, when she'd come downstairs to get into the carriage, and had sent her straight back to her room.
She glared down at the red cloth. Thank God Mama had stopped her. If she'd gone to the ball in that dreadful dress, everyone would know she wasn't any better than a Jezebel.
It was no surprise Ned had chosen Cicely. She'd been everything Ellie wasn't: small, blonde, blue-eyed—beautiful—with a gentle disposition. And then when Cicely and the baby had died in childbirth ...
Ellie squeezed her eyes shut again, the mingle-mangle of shame and yearning twisting her gut. She'd mourned with everyone else—sincerely mourned—but she'd also hoped that Ned would turn to her and their friendship would grow into something more.
She snapped her eyes open. Poor Cicely had died four years ago; if Ned were ever going to propose he would have done so by now. She'd faced that fact squarely when she'd turned twenty-six last month. It was time to move on. She wanted babies, and dreams of Ned wouldn't give her those.
She picked up the drawers. She'd dispose of this ridiculous reminder of—
"Ah, here you are, Ellie."
"Ack!" She jumped and spun around. Ned's mother, the Duchess of Love—or, more properly, the Duchess of Greycliffe—stood in the doorway, looking at her with warm brown eyes so like Ned's.
"Oh, dear, I'm sorry." Her grace's smile collapsed into a frown. "I didn't mean to startle you."
Ellie took a deep breath and hoped the duchess couldn't see her heart banging around in her chest. "You didn't s-startle me." If she looked calm, she'd be calm. She'd been practicing that trick ever since her red silk disgrace.
And what was there to be anxious about after all? The duchess's house parties were always pleasant.
Ha! They were torture.
"I was going to look for you later." Ellie tried to smile.
"Then I've saved you the trouble." The duchess had an impish gleam in her eye. "I thought we might have a comfortable coze before everyone else arrives."
Ellie's stomach clenched, and all her carefully cultivated calm evaporated. There was no such thing as a "comfortable coze" with the Duchess of Love. "That would be, ah"—deep breath—"lovely."
"Splendid! Come have a seat and I'll ring for tea." Her grace grasped the tasseled bell-pull and paused, her gaze dropping to Ellie's hands. "But what have you there?"
"W-what?" Ellie glanced down. Oh, blast. "Nothing." She dropped the embarrassing silk undergarment on the night table; it promptly slithered to the floor. Good, it would be less noticeable there. "I was unpacking when you came in."
The duchess frowned again. "Should I come back later then?"
"No, of course not." There was no point in putting this interview off. The sooner she knew the woman's plans, the sooner she could plan evasive—
She clenched her teeth. No, not this year.
"Yes." Ellie moved away from the incriminating red fabric.
"Excellent." Her grace tugged on the bell-pull and sat in the pink upholstered chair, her back to the puddle of silk. "I told Mrs. Dalton to have Cook send up some of her special macaroons. It will be a while until dinner, and we need to keep up our strength, don't we?"
"I'm afraid I'm not hungry." Ellie would almost rather dance on the castle's parapets naked—or wearing only those damn red drawers—than put anything in her mouth at the moment. She perched on a chair across from Ned's mother.
"Oh." The duchess's face fell.
"But, please, don't let me keep you from having something." It was a wonder the woman stayed so slim; she had a prodigious sweet tooth.
Her grace smiled hopefully. "Perhaps you'll feel hungrier when you see Cook's macaroons."
"Perhaps." And perhaps pigs would fly. Ellie cleared her throat. "You had something of a particular nature you wished to discuss, your grace?"
No, good. Very good. Excellent.
The ton hadn't christened Ned's mother the Duchess of Love for nothing; she'd been matchmaking for as long as Ellie could remember, usually with great success. Ellie was one of her few failures, but this year would be different. This year Ellie was determined to cooperate.
"I was chatting with your mama the other day," the duchess was saying, her eyes rather too direct. "She's quite concerned about your future, you know."
Ellie shifted on her chair. Of course she knew—Mama never missed an opportunity to remind her that her future looked very bleak indeed. She'd been going on and on about it while Ellie packed, telling her how, if she allowed herself to dwindle into an old maid, she'd be forced to rely on the charity of her younger sisters, forever shuttled between their homes, always an aunt, never a mother.
Perhaps that's why she'd brought those damn drawers instead of her shawl; she'd been so distracted, she could probably have packed the chamber pot and not noticed. "I believe Mama likes to worry."
The duchess laughed. "Well, that's what mothers do—worry—as I'm sure you'll learn yourself someday."
"Ah." Ellie swallowed.
Her grace leaned forward to touch her knee. "You do want to be a mother, don't you?"
Ellie swallowed again. "Y-yes." She wanted children so badly she was giving up her dream of Ned—her ridiculous, pointless, foolish dream. "Of course. Eventually."
The duchess gave her a pointed look. "My dear, you are twenty-six years old. Eventually is now."
Ellie pressed her lips together. Very true. Hadn't she just reached the same conclusion?
"And to be a mother, you must first be a wife." Her grace sat back. "To be a wife, you need to attach some gentleman's—some eligible gentleman's—regard. I believe you spent a little too much time with Ash last year. That will never do."
"I like Ash." The Marquis of Ashton, the duchess's oldest son, was intelligent and witty ... and safe.
"Of course you like Ash, dear, but I must tell you more than one person remarked to me how often you were in his company."
Ellie narrowed her eyes. "What do you mean?"
"Only that you appeared to be ignoring all the other gentlemen."
She'd been trying so hard to ignore Ned—to hide how much she longed for him—that she hadn't noticed the other gentlemen. "Certainly you aren't insinuating ... no one thought ..." She shook her head. "Ash is married."
The duchess sighed. "Yes, he is, at least according to church and state."
"And according to his heart." Ellie met the duchess's gaze directly. "You mustn't think he encouraged any kind of impropriety. He still loves Jess; I'm sure they'll reconcile."
The duchess grunted. "I hope I live to see it. But in any event, I don't believe anyone truly thought there was something of a romantic nature between you—"
"I should hope not!"
"However people are so small-minded, you know, and they love to gossip, especially about Ash's awkward situation."
"I know." Ellie hated how the marriageable girls and their mamas clearly hoped Jess would magically vanish and thus cease to be an impediment to Ash's remarriage. Some had actually said they doubted Jess existed. "It makes me so angry."
Her grace waved Ellie's anger away. "Yes, well, Ash can take care of himself. What really matters is the fact you were ignoring the other gentlemen, Ellie. It quite discourages the poor dears."
Her grace gave her a speaking look. "I assure you most men ... well, I wouldn't call them timid, precisely, but they hate to be rejected. If you wish a gentleman to court you, you must give him some encouragement—a smile, a look, something to let him know you would welcome his attentions. You cannot be forever scowling and dodging."
"I don't scowl or dodge."
The duchess's brows rose. "No? What about Mr. Bridgeton last year? I was certain you two would be extremely compatible and made every effort to throw you together, but whenever I looked to see how things were progressing, you were chatting with Ash, and Mr. Bridgeton was crying on Miss Albert's shoulder."
Which one had been Mr. Bridgeton? The sandy-haired man with the receding chin or the tall, thin fellow with the enormous Adam's apple? "There was no one crying on anyone's shoulder."
"Figuratively speaking, of course." The duchess shrugged. "I confess Miss Albert was my other choice for him. I do usually have more than one match up my sleeve, you know, since I've found young people can be somewhat unpredictable." She smiled rather blandly. "They married last summer, by the by, and are expecting an interesting event this spring."
Ellie felt a momentary twinge of envy. Mr. Bridgeton—she was almost certain he was the sandy-haired one—had been pleasant. His only fault was he hadn't been Ned.
Well, whomever she ultimately married wouldn't be Ned, either. "Whom have you invited ... I mean, have you invited any gentlemen that I might ... er, men who might ..." Oh, blast, her face felt as if it was as red as those damn silk drawers. "You know."
Her grace beamed at her. "Of course I've invited some gentlemen who might be suitable matches for you."
Ellie willed herself to keep smiling. It would get easier with time ... it had to. She cleared her throat. Her mouth was infernally dry. "Who?"
The duchess leaned forward. "First, there's Mr. Humphrey. He's a little younger than you and very, ah ... earnest. He's just inherited a small estate from his great aunt; rumor has it he wishes to start his nursery immediately."
"Ah." Mr. Humphrey sounded terribly dull ... but dullness was fine. She wanted babies, not conversation. And he apparently wanted babies, too. Excellent.
"And then there's Mr. Cox. He's one of the Earl of Bollant's brood, the fourth—or perhaps the fifth—son. He's very popular with the ladies and a trifle wild, but he's shown some signs of being ready to settle down. He's to go into the church, so you could be very helpful to him, your papa being a vicar."
"I see." Taking charge of some silly sprig of the nobility was not especially appealing, but the man did have a number of brothers. With luck he would be equally skilled at procreating, though it would be nice to have a daughter or two as well.
The duchess was smiling at her, a rather expectant look on her face. Did she want her to pick one right now?
"I ... er, they both sound very ... pleasant, but ..." Remember, she wanted children. "Well, I suppose I will have to meet them."
"Yes, indeed." The duchess glanced at the door. "Ah, here is Thomas with the tea tray."
One of the footmen came in, a large ginger cat, tail high in the air, strolling along behind him.
"Reggie!" Ned's mother bent to scratch her pet's ears. "Did you come for a treat?"
Reggie meowed and butted his head against her hand.
"Cook sent up Sir Reginald's dish, your grace," Thomas said, putting down the tray.
"Excellent. Please give Cook my thanks."
"Very good, your grace." Thomas bowed and retreated while the duchess poured Reggie a generous saucer of cream and put the dish on the floor.
Ellie kept one eye on the cat, lapping delicately, as she prepared the tea. Reggie looked harmless, but he'd caused quite a commotion last year, stealing feathers and other items from the ladies—and at least one of the gentlemen—and hiding them under Ned's bed. He'd even snatched the stuffed pheasant from Lady Perford's favorite hat. Lady Perford had not been pleased.
"Has Reggie given up his thieving ways, your grace?"
"I don't know, as he hasn't had another opportunity to misbehave." She snorted. "As you well know, Greycliffe hates having any of the ton underfoot and grumbles from the moment they arrive until the last one departs."
It was true the duke rarely looked happy during the Valentine house parties. "How does his grace bear your London balls?" Ellie asked, handing the duchess a cup of tea. She used to read the London gossip columns, but as she only ever saw Jack, the youngest of the Valentine brothers, mentioned, she no longer bothered.
"With as much patience as he can muster which is not very much, but since people expect dukes to be annoyingly haughty, it just adds to his consequence." Her eyes twinkled as she sipped her tea. "And it makes people toady him all the more which infuriates him further. No, once a month for four months a Season is the very limit of what he can tolerate. And a ball is only one evening. This ..." She shook her head and sighed. "But it is my birthday as well as the boys', and he knows how important it is to me, so he grits his teeth and endures. You can imagine how much he's hoping Ned will remarry and Jack will wed soon so I have no more need to have these gatherings."
"Ah." Ellie forced a smile. "Yes." She knew the main point of the damn party was to find Ned—and Jack, of course—a suitable wife. "I can see that."
The duchess glanced down at Reggie who was now cleaning his paws. "Greycliffe is actually hoping Reggie pilfers things again. He thought it made the gathering much more interesting."
Interesting was one way to describe the screaming and tears Lady Perford had treated them to upon finding her mangled pheasant.
Ellie took a sustaining sip of tea. She might as well know everything now; it would make it easier to appear composed in company. "And whom have you invited for Jack"—she swallowed—"and N-Ned?"
Damn, her voice cracked. Perhaps the duchess hadn't noticed.
And perhaps Reggie would leap upon the tea table and sing an aria.
At least Ned's mother didn't comment beyond a raised eyebrow. "I'd originally had Miss Prudence Merriweather in mind for Jack," she said, "however the girl eloped with Mr. Bamford three weeks ago. Quite a shock to everyone, but of course I must take it as a blessing. She clearly would not have done for Jack if she was in love with another man."
Her grace sent her a significant, if obscure, look. Ellie took another sip of tea.
"I had to scramble a bit," her grace continued somewhat dryly, "but I found Miss Isabelle Wharton to take her place. I've never actually met the girl, you understand, but my friend Lady Altman says she is quite striking. I imagine Jack would appreciate a lovely bride." She shrugged slightly. "And if the match comes to nothing, well, Jack is only your age. He has plenty of time."
"Yes." Twenty-six was young for a man; it was firmly on the shelf for a woman.
"And as for Ned"—her grace shot Ellie another indecipherable look—"I invited Lady Juliet Ramsbottom, the Duke of Extley's youngest daughter, with him in mind."
A vise clamped around Ellie's heart. Stupid. A duke's daughter was an excellent choice for a duke's son. She nodded and took a larger swallow of tea. If only there was some brandy at hand to flavor it.
"Frankly, I hope to see you and Ned married this summer."
Ellie choked—and made the unpleasant discovery that it was possible to snort tea out one's nose.
"Oh, dear." The duchess leapt up and slapped her on the back. "Are you all right?"
Ellie, gasping, fished her handkerchief out of her pocket and waved her hand, trying to get the duchess to stop pounding on her. She would be fine if she could just catch her breath.
Of course Ned's mother hadn't meant she hoped to see Ellie married to Ned, only that she hoped both their nuptials would happen this summer.
The duchess pounded harder.
"Please," Ellie gasped, "don't—"
Through watery eyes, she watched Reggie abandon his ablutions and head toward ...
Excerpted from Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie Copyright © 2012 by Sally MacKenzie. Excerpted by permission of ZEBRA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie was fun and romantic with the right touch of heat thrown in. You will laugh your way through the story as a pair of red silk drawers does what the Duchess of Love could not quite accomplish. Ellie was unique in many ways with her clothing that covered everything to her ability to give as good as she gets. Ned felt that Ellie was more of a friend or sister and he was struggling with his change in perspective. But those red silk drawers kept coming back to him. Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie is guaranteed to have you laughing and sighing as well as bringing out other emotions. One thing it will not do is disappoint. But Bedding Lord Ned and find how entertaining Sally MacKenzie can be. Above all, watch out for Sir Reginald!
First let me start this review off by saying that it pains me to rate any book as being poor, especially one by Sally MacKenzie! This is the 2nd book in the Duchess of Love series. The first book in the series (The Duchess of Love) was way better that this one even though it was only 90 pages long. The little bit of romance in this book was between Venus and Drew the main characters from The Duchess of Love. Lord Ned is one of the son's of Venus and Drew. He seemed boring and indifferent at best. Eleanor "Nell" Bowman is a close family friend who has been in love with Ned for years. Every one knows, except Ned. Nell has decided to look for love with someone else because Ned will never notice her. Where was the bedding of Lord Ned??? It was honestly painful for me to read and I had to force myself to finish it. I will continue reading the series, but only because I am loyal to Sally MacKenzie.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to move on. For years Ellie has loved Ned. They grew up together, but he never saw her as more than a sister. She watched him fall in love with her good friend, Cicely, marry her then bury her. She was also there for him during his years of mourning. She is not getting any younger and she refuses to be the spinster aunt. During this year’s annual birthday party, she is going to move on. She is going to welcome the advances of single men and she is going to be open to the possibilities. Now she just needs to convince her heart. Four years ago, Ned lost his loving perfect wife and son, during childbirth. He has decided that he must move on and find a new wife and start filling his nursery. Nothing like taking advantage of the hand selected single women at the annual Valentine House Party. The men and women that the Duchess of Love invites are carefully selected for optimal matchmaking. There is nothing like the present to take advantage of his mother’s skills. It shouldn’t be too hard. He only wants a wife; he doesn’t ever want to find love again. This should be very simple. While a storm stirs outside Greycliffe Castle, the six men and six women are entertained by the Duke and the Duchess. Meals are shared, games are played and attachments are made. Things are shaping up, but not how the Duchess of Love ever expected. All she can do is set the stage. Now she has to sit back and allow the players to play the game. This is a very pleasant read. I do highly suggest that you read the prequel The Duchess of Love prior to beginning this novel. It is a very fun introduction to the woman behind the Duchess of Love. I will admit that I may have enjoyed her tale even more than Ned’s. Now approximately 30 years after the prequel, she is still up to her matchmaking shenanigans, but on a much larger scale. This story might be how Ellie and Ned finally come together, but the Duchess is always in the background actually having more fun than the main couple. I liked it! The duration of the story happens in the days leading up to the annual Valentine Ball. You spend many days and nights with the couples as they learn about each other and discover if there will be any love matches. Bedding Lord Ned is not action packed, smutty, or even overly comedic. It is a very pleasant enjoyable read that takes you on a journey of discovery. I was a bit disappointed at the abrupt ending of the book though. I enjoyed how Ellie finally found her courage, and Ned emerged from his slump, but it happened rather quickly and when it was done, well it was just done. I would have enjoyed a bit more of the aftermath. There was also no set up for the next book. That can actually be a good thing, because I’m not a fan of cliff hangers, but I have no clue who the next “victim” will be for the Duchess. I have been drawn in. I am anxious to find out more about the mystery behind Ash’s marriage. I can’t wait to meet the woman that will eventually tame the youngest of the Valentine men. I wonder if she will expand beyond her immediate family and find matches for some of the people we have met in this story. Oh I could go on and on, but suffice it to say…I’m hooked. Good or bad, love or hate – I want more Duchess of Love!
It was ok. Parts were funny and cute but I could never understand why Ellie in love with Ned, the author didn't go into his character at all. In fact the Duchess and Duke of Love were more developed than the main characters Elli and Ned. I normally love Sally Mackenzie's stuff but this one was lacking chemistry between Ned and Ellie and any real plot. the book seemed to be more of a foundation for the other characters in the series.
Hum Drum............................................................................. No real original thought to it. Ned seemed a little slow in the bedroom department. She practically attacks him attacks him at the end. And he still refuses her unless she promises to marry him That's not funny ---its pathetic. I hope she doesn't expect an overabundant sex life. It ain't happening..
Very great story line. enjoyed it and would recommend!
One of the reasons that I read historical romance is for, well, the romance. Even if you know, logically that things generally happen that way in real life. Lord Ned and Ellie's story was quite frankly, boring. I have, over the last 5+ years, read hundreds of Historical romance novels (Nook and paper back). I don't expect all of the books to be steamy or even full of romance, front cover to back. But the characters are very under-developed. The most glaringly under-developed being Lord Ned himself. The story does not in any way give you a sense of how a woman might come to fall for him (as a heroine always does in a story). Ellie, bless her heart, I just never understood how she came to be infatuated with Ned. I hated to rate this book 2 stars but this book, by far, is probably the most boring, sadly developed read that I've had the mis-fortune of wasting my money on. I'm even contemplating taking the follow up, Lord Jack's story off of my wish list. Save your money or try to find it in your local library if you really must read it. I suggest leaving it alone.
It was a good read, but I kind of got tired of Ned being so oblivious to Ellie's feeling for him. Then all of a sudden he's in love with her.
Enjoyed the romantic and comic romp very much!
I loved Ellie : )
Bedding Lord Ned the second book in the Duchess of Love series was entertaining and engaging. It left me looking forward to read more of the serries.
A must-read book. A thriller from beginning to end having your eyes pop out at all times. Read this biok an be amazed.
Excellent new series! Reviewed by: Jen Book provided by: ARC by publisher Review originally posted at Romancing the Book Review: As a longtime fan of Ms MacKenzie’s “Naked Nobility” series, when I saw she was starting a new series, I was curious what “hook” she was going to come up with. This new series is called “The Duchess of Love” and is centering around the matchmaking of the Duchess of Greycliffe (who has the very unfortunate name of Venus Valentine). In this first book, she’s working her magic on her second son, Edward “Ned” Valentine and their neighbor, the vicar’s daughter, Ellie. Now Ned has been grieving the loss of his wife in childbirth, but has come to the realization that it’s time for him to get married again, and perhaps have those heirs. So he comes to his mother’s house party knowing that she’s going to get setting him up with one of the guests. And on the other hand we have Ellie, who has loved Ned forever. They were childhood friends and she was his wife’s best friend. And she realizes that Ned will never love her and since she wants to have children, she’s decided to allow the duchess to find her a husband. But can she stop comparing her new suitors to Ned? I really enjoyed this story. I was drawn in from page one and couldn’t wait to see how the love story was going to unfold. The entire story takes place at this house party over the course of about a week. There were at times too many characters to try to keep up with. I mean there’s all of Ned’s family (2 brothers and his parents), Ned and Ellie each have couple suitors, then there’s the requisite bad guy, plus a few more characters for background and to fill out the party atmosphere. But the one character that really stood out to me was actually the cat, Reggie. He was a little mischievous creature who seemed to be trying to bring Ned and Ellie together. The cat’s antics, and the characters reactions to them, kept a smile on my face and anxiously awaiting to see what would happen next. What can I say? I laughed, I cried and I enjoyed every minute I spent with Bedding Lord Ned. Ms MacKenzie has written an entertaining tale where I cared about the characters and really was rooting for them to overcome all their obstacles to get to their happily ever after. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out so that I can see who The Duchess of Love will work her magic on next. But wait, there is an ebook prequel available, called quite appropriately The Duchess of Love, that tells the duchess’s own love story. Guess what’s up next on my to-read list?