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George and the Dragon Lady
George Hartley is high on the list of England’s most eligible bachelors: he’s young, single, gorgeous -- and, as the 19th Earl of Ponsford, lives in a castle. Granted, the ...
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George and the Dragon Lady
George Hartley is high on the list of England’s most eligible bachelors: he’s young, single, gorgeous -- and, as the 19th Earl of Ponsford, lives in a castle. Granted, the castle has seen better days . . . but nights with the Earl are what LA TV producer Maxine Larraby keeps thinking about . . .
Nights Round Arthur’s Table
Seattle thriller author Meg Stanton desperately needs a quiet place to work. Stag Cottage in the English countryside is perfect . . . until she meets local pub owner Arthur Denby. He’s as dark and brooding as one of her imaginary villains, and Meg always falls for her villains. But there’s nothing imaginary about the things Arthur does to her after last call . . .
Former head chef and current love cynic Rachel Larraby can’t believe she got dragged across the pond for a catering job. Weddings -- ugh, she’s had enough personal experience, thanks. And though recurring best man Jack Flynt is quite smashing, she can keep it to just a steamy fling. Until this very bad bloke starts looking at her with those forever eyes . . .
George Hartley sighed and sipped the tea his butler served-along with the bad news-from a Derby cup and saucer decorated with the family coat of arms. Despite his suggestions that he'd be happy with a pottery mug from IKEA, the staff were unbending. He might think that being the nineteenth earl of Ponsford was more of a cross to bear than a cause for celebration, but it seemed he was pretty much alone in the household with that opinion. He sipped the tea and found it strong and fortifying. "Another broken toilet. Excellent," he said with only the slightest hint of sarcasm. "Any good news, Wiggins?"
"An inquiry for a society wedding. If you call that good news," the butler said in a doom-laden tone.
Actually, a wedding was good news. Very good news. Every corporate event and private celebration, every tourist who paid their eight pounds fifty to tour his ancestral home meant more of a chance to hang on to Hart House, the estate that had been in his family for half a millennium. Earls of Ponsford had brought the property through wars, revolutions, andpolitical intrigue. George wasn't about to lose the place to death duties and taxes.
But he almost thought he'd rather face war, revolution, and political intrigue than the long face of the man who'd been the family butler for three generations.
"You know, Wiggins, you should have been the earl. You're much better at it."
"I know you enjoy your little jokes, sir, but what about the loo?"
"Ah, yes. Right. The loo." George turned his back on the large-screen monitor where he'd been designing vacation cottages he didn't have the money to build. "What the bloody hell did Father mean letting me study architecture? I should have been a plumber or an electrician or something useful."
One hundred and eighty-two staff depended on the estate for their livelihoods. Twenty-two acres of gardens, rolling lawns, woodlands, and streams needed tending. Another thousand acres were farmed. The small village existed mainly because of the estate.
George carried the burden of it all, along with a debt to the bank that kept him wakeful on many a night.
There were days when he wished he could give in, chuck it all, sell the old pile with its history, pedigree, priceless heirlooms, and its problems, and move to a loft in Manhattan. No, not Manhattan. Somewhere much newer, where nobody gave a toss about royalty, nobility, or antiquity. Los Angeles perhaps. Or Sydney. The daydream began to take beguiling shape as he imagined beaches populated by sun-kissed girls in bikinis, warm, blue water to swim in, and nobody expecting a bachelor of thirty-two to act as caretaker to an old girl who was nearing five hundred years old, and showing her age.
"Has anybody tried to rejig the loo? Seems to me we had some luck once with a bent hairclip and some chewing gum."
"One of the volunteer docents discovered water gushing out the bottom of the fixture, sir. She had the sense to turn off the water."
"Right. So it's a job for the plumber, then. Who do we usually use?"
"Phillip Chumley, sir. So long as you catch him before the pub opens."
Wiggins merely shook his head slowly. "More tea, sir?"
"Great. The local plumber's a drunk." He heaved a sigh. "In London I know a dozen good plumbers." The things he missed in London didn't bear thinking about. Plumbers were the least of it. His father's death had brought him down here less than a year ago, and grief and duty kept him here. Hart House was only two hours from London by train but it was worlds away to George.
"It would cost a great deal to bring one out here, though, wouldn't it?"
"I suppose. All right. See if you can dig out this Chumley's number. I'll give him a ring."
"And the peonies?"
Peonies and toilets. The life of the titled nobility was an enviable one indeed. "I'll speak to the gardener. Perhaps we can put up a fence between the adventure playground and the garden."
"That would rather spoil the view of the peonies, your lordship."
"Well, maybe he can move his blessed peonies."
George had been as unsuccessful at stomping out the your lordships and sirs spilling from his butler's mouth as he had been at getting his tea in a simple mug. Some days he wondered if he could possibly pull this old estate back into the black when he couldn't manage to change the habits of his own staff. "Please tell me you've got some good news."
"I don't know that it's good news, your lordship, but there is a young woman to see you."
"Really? Is she pretty? That would be good news." His fantasy about sun-kissed girls in tiny bikinis hadn't quite left him.
"I couldn't say, sir. She is an American."
"A tourist?" He did get them sometimes, stopping in to say hey after touring his house. Far too many young girls from places like Cincinnati and Chicago had seen Colin Firth in some poofy costume on television and decided they'd like to bag a titled Englishman. Usually, the staff took care of them.
"A documentary filmmaker."
George leapt to his feet. "Why didn't you say so sooner? Have you left her waiting all this time?" As he spoke, he found a navy blazer and tugged it on over his sweater. Wiggins tried to help him into it but he shrugged the man off. "It's really important we impress this woman, Wiggins. She works for a production company that's going to make a series of programs about-well, I forget what it's about. But the important thing is, there's a nice fat location fee involved, which God knows we could use to pay drunken plumbers. In addition, I should think the publicity in America would bring in more tourists and more revenue."
There was a tiny flicker of emotion across Wiggins's face, and George knew, as though he'd read the man's mind, that he was thinking back to the good old days, when this had been more of a prestigious estate than a tourist stop. "I will take you to her at once."
"No, no. Don't bother. I'll find her myself."
In fact, she wasn't at all sure about this project. Yes, Hart House had some interesting history, had been a hospital in World War II, and there was an American connection, but still, if she couldn't find a focus, and better backdrops than this red-walled frilly china shop of a room, she might as well move on to the next possibility on her list and save herself a lot of trouble.
Especially if she was going to be kept waiting much longer.
Restless, as always, she went to the window and stared out at a landscape that was probably prettier than a Constable painting in good weather, but now merely drooped and dripped in a steady downpour. The rose garden, she'd read, was famous. At the moment every bud and leaf seemed to be bending its soggy head, wishing for an umbrella.
She turned back to the room and spotted a china figure of a shepherdess. Idly, she picked it up and turned it over, wondering if it was genuine English china or some cheap Taiwanese knockoff.
"It's Meissen," said a deep male voice from behind her. "A gift to the seventeenth earl from a German cousin, I believe."
After almost dropping the no doubt priceless heirloom and smashing it to Meissen dust, she managed to put the thing back on the table and turn, an apology on the tip of her tongue for acting like a flea market browser. What on earth was wrong with her?
But the apology died on her lips.
She blinked. Everything she'd seen so far on this estate was old and crumbling. But not this guy. It was a shock to come face to face with a man-a gorgeous one-who was young and sexy and, well, modern. He had brown wavy hair, and blue eyes that tilted down a little at the corners, giving him the look of a rogue-and how they twinkled. As though life was his own private joke. A smile that managed to be both charming and slightly wolfish. Tall, great body. Wow.
"You're Maxine Larraby? Here about the documentary?" he said, reading from her card. The one she'd given to the butler. Now what? She had to go through some secretary or advisor before she could see the earl? Not that she minded being stuck with the hottie wearing jeans, a gray sweater, and a navy blazer that didn't go together, and still managing to look amazing, but her schedule was tight. She didn't have time to waste.
"Yes. Possible documentary," she told him. She wasn't going to commit until she was certain she could do something fresh.
"Please, have a seat. Would you like some tea? Or coffee?"
"No, thank you," she said, sinking into a brocade chair and glancing at her watch pointedly. Maybe the earl was king of his castle, but she had a schedule. Being kept waiting by his male secretary wasn't helping.
"How was your flight over?" Tall, Dark, and Handsome asked.
"Fine. Thank you."
"Ah, good. I always have a dreadful time with jet lag." He'd seated himself across from her, and appeared very comfy. Like he was planning to stay awhile.
"I slept on the plane, so I'm fresh and raring to go."
"Good. Well, let's get started, then. What would you like to see first?"
"The earl," she said as pleasantly as she could.
"The Earl of Ponsford," she said with a slight edge. T, D, and H continued to stare at her blankly.
"Look, you're very good-looking and charming, and I'm enjoying talking to you, but I don't have years to make this documentary. My schedule's overbooked as it is. I'd really like to see the earl. Now."
"You are seeing him." He glanced down at himself and then back at her with a disturbing twinkle in the depth of his gaze. "And thank you for calling me charming."
"You are not the earl and this is not funny. Why do Brits insist on thinking Americans are stupid?"
"Not stupid, no. Merely, I would say, a little more free to express your thoughts and opinions. We English tend to be more reserved."
She didn't bother to answer, merely yanked a file out of her briefcase. Opened it in her I am not to be messed with manner, and read, "The Earl of Ponsford, a distinguished general, includes in his hobbies cultivating roses and playing with his grandchildren." She raised her brows. "And how are your grandchildren, Lord Ponsford?"
He didn't look embarrassed or let on that he was busted. He said in that same pleasant tone, "I haven't got any. Yet. I think you must be referring to my father. He died last year. I still miss him very much."
"You know, I'm not a big fan of practical jokes."
He stood, and she had another moment to relish how great he looked in jeans. Then he trod to the back of the room and picked up a photo in a heavy silver frame. He walked back and handed it to her. Inside the frame was a photograph taken by a noted London photographer, and a caption, no doubt for the edification of the tourists who paraded through the place six days a week during the hours of 10 A.M. and 5 P.M. The central figure was the same man in the picture in her file. He stood with a lady who must have been his wife, and his two kids. There was no doubt that the tall one standing behind his father's right shoulder was the guy bending over her now. The caption read: The 18th Earl of Ponsford, the Countess, Viscount George, and the Lady Margaret. It had been taken four years earlier.
If she'd been the kind of woman who blushed, she'd have done so. "And Google is usually so reliable."
"Well, your researcher probably typed in eighteenth earl. I'm the nineteenth," he said helpfully.
A long moment ticked by, aided by a gilt clock that appeared to be centuries old and showed a young maiden being dragged off somewhere by a team of horses. Wherever it was going, Max wanted to jump on board.
"You're the nineteenth earl."
"The honest-to-God Earl of Ponsford."
"I'm afraid so." He was still standing over her, very male, very yummy, and taking the fact that she'd challenged his identity pretty well.
"And I've just made the biggest fool of myself."
"Honestly, I've seen bigger fools. Really, among my friends, you're a rank amateur."
She blew out a breath that ruffled her carefully styled bangs. Well, maybe life wasn't exactly like television, but she was always willing to try for a retake. She held out her hand. "Maxine Larraby, your lordship."
His smile was singularly charming. "Call me George. Everyone does." And he took her hand. Nice, warm hand. Good grip.
If he noticed the extraordinary heat they were generating he gave no sign of it, merely shook her hand as though he were meeting her at the queen's garden party, and asked her how she liked England.
"It's a little damp," she said.
"I know," he said, glancing out the window guiltily as though the rain were his personal fault. "My mother was American, you know." He shook his head. "She never could get used to the weather, or the inconveniences." He glanced out the window into the wet rose garden, and she suddenly realized that he'd lost both parents within the four years since that picture had been snapped. "However, you've got a schedule, and I am at your disposal."
"Yes. Thank you." She pulled out a notebook and pen. Since meeting the sexy young earl she'd been tingling with professional excitement-well, mostly professional. With his father walking the TV viewer through the estate, it would have been good television, depending on how riveting she could make the script. With a young Prince Charming on camera, Hart House could be Heartthrob House. But first, she was going to need his full cooperation.
"We really appreciate your interest in this project," she said, launching into her sales pitch. Producing and reporting were like seduction-you had to go with what worked. Of course, it was difficult to know right away. What would most likely get the earl to cooperate, she wondered, looking at that far too attractive face. Flattery? Should she appeal to his ego, or should she suggest he had an obligation to history and to his illustrious family? She went with a little of all those things. "As you know from our letters, George, this project is tentatively called Great Estates, Grand Titles. There will be six one-hour episodes, each exploring one English estate with an American connection. In your case, of course, your late mother.
"We are so excited at the possibility of doing this show with you. It's history, English-American relations, a chance to show the world your beautiful home." She snuck a glance at him and found him listening politely, but not sitting forward in a lather of excitement.
"We'll try and keep disruption to a minimum, and of course there's the location fee."
His gaze sharpened and she felt him straighten almost imperceptibly in his chair. Who'd have thought it, it was the money that motivated him. She named a figure that was in the upper range of her budget. And saw an expression of relief cross his face. Money was tight, then. No huge ancestral fortune to pay for the upkeep of the estate.
"And how long would your crew be here?"
"Probably we'll shoot on location for about a week. It could be delayed if we don't get good weather to shoot outdoors, or sometimes there are unexpected delays. But I'm budgeting a week. Shooting to take place late spring."
"And what do you need from us?"
"All right. Well, I'm not only scouting locations, I'm also getting a feel for the story of this house and your family. I'll want you to talk about your mother, and how she came to leave Philadelphia to marry your father, but also the interesting stories. Ghosts, murders, that sort of thing."
"Air out the family closet."
"I think a good murder story or a house ghost adds a lot of interest to a story."
"Really." He rose. "Shall I put you to the test?"
There was something about him that made her think he could get a girl in a lot of trouble if she wasn't careful. "What would that require?"
"Wellies," he informed her.
"Wellies?" Was this one of those incomprehensible things the Brits ate, all of which seemed to include some form of sausage?
"Yes. Wellington boots." He nodded, glanced outside and said, "And you'd better bring your Mac."
Excerpted from BRITISH BAD BOYS by NANCY WARREN Copyright © 2006 by Nancy Warren. Excerpted by permission.
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.
Posted January 15, 2015
The British Are Coming by Nancy Warren
The British Are Coming: George by Nancy Warren (Book One)
George Hartley - 19th Earl of Ponsford has inherited a five hundred year old home, and the debt that came with it. It was his destiny, his duty. He picked up the baton with pride. When George said yes to having a documentary made by Americans, he ended up with more than he could have ever hoped for.
Maxine Larraby produced documentaries with all kinds of famous people. Never had one of those rich and handsome men affected her like this old-fashioned earl. Too bad he was tied down to his estate and her life was her work.
Love doesn’t care if it chooses a busy LA girl and an English aristocrat. But, can they choose love?
The British Are Coming: Arthur by Nancy Warren (Book Two)
Arthur Denby owned the Royal Oak Pub in Ponsford and was content enough. And then one day she walked into his life. An American who was going to be renting Stag Cottage was all. A pretty lady to get to know a bit better while she was there.
Meg Stanton had writer’s block in the worst way. Getting away from the familiar and from her last relationship, she heads to England. The moment she walked into the Royal Oak she saw it...her next story. And the face of her next villain.
The reader meets Arthur in the George and the Dragon Lady and I love that we get to see George and Maxine in this story as well.
**Sexual content and language
The British Are Coming: Jack by Nancy Warren (Book Three)
Rachel Larraby was a famous chef in LA, until the owners mismanagement had it closing down. Not only has she lost a job she put everything into, she had a divorce certificate showing where else she failed in life. And then her bossy big sister pushes her into coming to visit her in England.
Jack Flynt is pretty much of an English playboy. He is always a groomsman at the weddings and never the groom. Who would ever think that he could actually fall in love and settle for one woman? And who would think that the one woman might not follow suit?
The end of these three tales must end in a happy-ever-after ending, right? Guess you’ll have to read George and the Dragon Lady and Night’s Round Arthur’s Table along with this book to find out.
Posted February 15, 2007
British Bad Boys by Nancy Warren - Three stories you definitely don¿t want to miss. Once again Nancy Warren delivers a wonderful read. Her vivid characters, well-crafted books, and fun dialogue, entertain while giving an enticing glimpse of English life. These novellas about three magnificent Brits destined to tangle with a trio of American women: a film director, suspense writer (the villain scene just cracked me up) and one hard-pitching chef, make for a fantastic, fun and sexy read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 30, 2007
Three tales loosely tied together by English estate Hart House, Nancy Warren¿s breezy tales showcase strong American women meeting their matches in British men. Warren brings her snappy dialogue and strong characters out to play and, as usual, the stories do not disappoint. In the first story George and the Dragon Lady, a documentary producer discovers the wonders of the magnificent estate and the delicious English earl who owns it. Who could resist a man who¿s gorgeous, smart and comes with a noble title? The second narrative Nights Round Arthur¿s Table features a suspense author who¿s looking for her muse. She finds it and much, much more in local pub owner and resident hottie, Arthur. The third story Union Jack brings a recently dumped chef into the arms of the ultimate British playboy. With him, she finds the necessary spice to fire up her kitchen and her passionate soul. All three tales are quick-witted and well-paced. While I particularly enjoyed the second story, each one brings something slightly different to the reader and run the gamut from sensual to erotic. Definitely enough to leave you hot, bothered and wanting more when you¿re finished. So if you¿re looking to curl up with a spot of tea, toast with marmalade and a trio of hunky males, British Bad Boys is the perfect fit.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
¿George and the Dragon Lady¿. The Earl of Ponsford, George Harley agrees to allow his somewhat run down historical home, Hart House be used for a documentary. However, he finds the Los Angeles film director Maxine Larraby quite a dragon lady who enflames his libido.--------------- ¿Nights Round Arthur¿s Table¿. Suffering from writer¿s block and desperate for inspiration American suspense author Meg Stanton goes to England seeking the perfect villain for her next novel. At a local pub she meets owner Arthur who fits the image of her bad boy at least in bed that is.----------------- ¿Union Jack¿. Chef Rachel Larraby journeys to England to salvage her career and to give her broken heart time to heal. However, cooking proves no problem but her heart recovers rather quickly when she meets Jack Flynt, who wants her as the dessert.-------------------- Somewhat interrelated these three heated tales star nice British hunks and the iceberg American females they melt.-------------- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.