Remember Me: Phillippa's Story

Remember Me: Phillippa's Story

by Mary Balogh
Remember Me: Phillippa's Story

Remember Me: Phillippa's Story

by Mary Balogh

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Overview

Can Lady Philippa Ware forgive the man who once shattered all her youthful dreams? Discover the passionate and heartwarming new novel on the redemptive power of love from New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh.

Philippa, elder daughter of the Earl of Stratton, grew up eagerly anticipating a glittering debut and a brilliant marriage. Then her brother caught their father out in a clandestine affair and denounced him publicly. The whole family was disgraced, and Philippa’s hopes grew dim, then were fully shattered when she overheard the dashing, handsome Marquess of Roath viciously insult her upon learning of her father’s identity. Only years later does Philippa find the courage to go to London at last to meet the ton. She is an instant success and enjoys a close friendship with the granddaughter of a duke. Only one man can spoil everything for her, but surely he will not be in London this year.

The Duke of Wilby is nearing death and has tasked his grandson and heir, Lucas Arden, Marquess of Roath, with marrying and producing a son before it is too late. Lucas, who usually shuns London, goes there early in the Season in the hope of finding an eligible bride before his grandparents come and find one for him. He is instantly attracted to his sister’s new friend, until that young lady asks a simple question: “Remember me?” And suddenly he does remember her, as well as the reason why the daughter of the Earl of Stratton is the one woman he can never marry—even if his heart tells him she is the only woman he wants.

Unfortunately for Philippa and Lucas, the autocratic duke and his duchess have other ideas and believe them to be perfect for each other. They will simply not take no for an answer. Telling Philippa the full truth is the hardest thing Lucas has ever faced, and the discovery of it will change them both before they discover the healing power of love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593438152
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/20/2023
Series: A Ravenswood Novel , #2
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 203,605
Product dimensions: 6.27(w) x 9.27(h) x 1.21(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Mary Balogh has written more than one hundred historical novels and novellas, more than forty of which have been New York Times bestsellers. They include the Bedwyn saga, the Simply quartet, the Huxtable quintet, the seven-part Survivors’ Club series, and the Westcott series.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Lucas Arden, Marquess of Roath, sank into one of the old brown leather armchairs in the library at Greystone Court in Worcestershire, a glass of after-dinner port in one hand, and looked around fondly at all the bookcases crammed with books. He would wager that his grandfather, the Duke of Wilby, had read most if not all of them. He had read a good many himself. The library here had always been his favorite room. He looked at the heavy oak desk before the south window, at the old furnishings and the Persian carpet, at the heavy brocade curtains and the painting of a hunting scene in a gilded frame hanging above the mantel. Nothing had been changed or renewed for as far back as he could remember. He hoped nothing ever would be.

His grandfather had changed quite noticeably, however, over the past couple of years or so. He was no longer just elderly. He was old. It was a distinction Lucas would be unable to explain in words, but he knew in his heart what it meant, and it saddened him. His Grace was standing now before the fire, his back to it, his feet apart, his hands resting palms out against his backside, warming before the blaze. He was a small man in both height and girth-and smaller now, surely, than he had once been-with a round head that had always seemed too large for his body. His grizzled, bushy hair, once as dark red as Lucas's was now, had thinned and even disappeared altogether from his temples and the crown of his head. His eyebrows, however, were as thick and shaggy as ever. He was dressed, as was usual for the evening, in tailed coat, embroidered waistcoat, old-fashioned knee breeches and stockings, and an elaborately folded neckcloth tied about high, starched shirt points even though there had been no outside guests for dinner-just the duke and duchess and their grandson and heir.

Lucas waited instead of making any attempt to initiate conversation. His grandfather had invited him to bring his port into the library rather than sit with it at the dining table as they usually did. His grandmother had already moved to the drawing room to leave them alone together. Obviously His Grace had something to say that was not for the ears of his butler or the footman who had waited upon them while they dined. He had probably been building to this moment since his grandson's arrival here two days ago, in fact. Lucas had been invited to spend a week or so over Easter. Though it had been more of a summons than an invitation. Jenny-Lady Jennifer Arden, Lucas's younger sister, that was, who lived with him at Amberwell in Leicestershire-had not been invited.

"I am an old man, Luc," his grandfather began now, his eyes, which had been gazing thoughtfully at the carpet, turning to regard his grandson keenly. "The Good Book allots us threescore years and ten if we are fortunate enough to dodge all the possible hazards along the way. I have outlived that allotment by nine years, going on ten. I cannot expect many more. Perhaps, indeed, not any more."

"Do you know something I do not, Grandpapa?" Lucas asked, feeling a twinge of alarm, though he knew, of course, that no one could live forever.

"Well, for one thing, I can still count," the duke told him. "And seventy-nine is a very advanced age. When I look around for acquaintances of my generation, I find very few of them still remaining. For another thing, that old quack of a physician I have been bringing here twice a year from London at considerable expense had the effrontery to inform me a few weeks ago that my heart is not what it used to be. I paid him his usual exorbitant fee to tell me what was as obvious as the nose on his face."

Lucas knew that Dr. Arnold, the duke's longtime physician, had come here recently on his semiannual visit to check upon the general health of the duke and the duchess. Lucas had written to his grandparents to ask what the report had been since he had not been here in person to question the doctor himself. The man would have given only the vaguest of answers anyway since he felt himself bound by professional ethics to respect the privacy of his patients. His usual response was that Their Graces were as well as could be expected. Which was the polite equivalent of saying nothing at all. The duke's answering letter had stated that he and the duchess were in cracking good health and it had been a waste of a small fortune to drag Arnold all the way to Greystone to tell them so and eat them out of house and home before deciding to take himself off back to London.

"It is a serious condition?" Lucas asked now. He dreaded the answer. He did not want to know.

"Serious or not," his grandfather said, "the fact is that I have an old heart in an old body, Luc. And another fact is that my only son is dead and he had only the one son. That is two facts. I am dearly fond of my daughter and my grandson of her line and of all my granddaughters, but none of them can carry on my name or my position no matter how many sons they produce. Only you can. I have an affection for my Cornish first cousin, but he is only three years my junior, and he complains with every letter he sends me that old age is for the hardy but hardiness deserted with his sixties. Besides, of the seven children he produced with his two wives, not one of them was a son. Not a single one. Seven daughters, Lord love them. They all married and produced sons as well as daughters, but much good those sons do me. Someone on high has been enjoying a jest at the expense of a few generations of my family and yours, Luc."

Lucas had met the Cornish cousins a few times when he was a boy and his father was still alive. But he could not say he knew any of them well. Those of his generation were third cousins and had never really felt like relatives.

"My Yorkshire cousin, on the other hand, was always a thorn in my side when we were boys," his grandfather said. "If you should die without male issue, Luc, then it is his grandson who would no doubt step into your shoes. And I recall how you felt about him during your own boyhood. Kingsley Arden would inherit the dukedom and Greystone and everything else that is entailed. I will be in my grave and thus be spared from having to witness his ascension to such lofty heights. You will be in your grave and spared too. But there will be plenty of our family still alive who will witness it and suffer the consequences but be powerless to prevent it. Even Amberwell would belong to him."

It was not a pleasant prospect.

Kingsley had been at school with Lucas for a few years, one class above him. He had tried constantly to bully his younger relative and had succeeded more than once in making his life miserable. The thought of his living here at Greystone was not a pleasant one. Even less pleasant was the prospect of his owning Amberwell one day. Amberwell was where Lucas had grown up until he was fifteen and where he lived again now. More important, it was where Jenny lived and probably always would-unless Kingsley became Duke of Wilby and turned her out, as he almost undoubtedly would. He had always despised Jenny even though he had never met her. He had liked to ask Lucas when other boys were around how his crippled sister was doing and how he felt about being burdened with her for the rest of his life.

"Then I will have to see to it that I live to your present age and beyond, Grandpapa," Lucas said now. "And that I father a dozen sons or more in the meanwhile."

His Grace moved away from the fire and lowered himself stiffly into the chair beside it. He was still stubbornly resistant to any suggestion that he use a cane. He gazed into the fire while Lucas got to his feet to put on some coal and poke it into more vigorous life.

"Your father died at the age of forty," the duke said after Lucas had resumed his seat and taken a sip of his port. "Less than a year after your mother died soon after she gave birth to your stillborn brother. The damned fool of a son of mine was always an excellent horseman and proud of it, but no one is immune to accident when he insists upon jumping a six-foot-high hedge. Especially when he does so while still engulfed by grief over the loss of his wife and son-the son who would have been his spare, born more than fourteen years after he had done his duty and produced the heir. You, that is. Life is an unpredictable business at best, Luc." He paused and transferred his gaze from the fire to his grandson. "Her Grace and I have made a decision."

And it was going to be something he did not like, Lucas could safely predict. His grandfather always invoked the name of Grandmama whenever he knew what he was about to say would be unwelcome. Like the time both grandparents had come to Amberwell after their son's death and informed Lucas that he would be leaving both school and home and returning to Greystone with them, where he would stay until he reached his majority-except for the scholastic terms he would spend at Oxford when the time came. At Greystone he would learn all he needed to know about his future role and duties as the Duke of Wilby.

Only Lucas was to go there, though. Aunt Kitty, the widowed Lady Catherine Emmett, his father's sister, would be moving to Amberwell to live with Jenny and make all the arrangements for the wedding of Charlotte, Lucas's older sister, to Sylvester Bonham, Viscount Mayberry. The nuptials had been delayed twice, first by their mother's death, then by their father's. They had finally wed two weeks after the year of mourning for their father was over. Poor Charlotte. It could not have been the wedding she had dreamed of. But the marriage was undoubtedly a happy one and had produced three children in the ten years since.

Lucas had fought and argued and sulked over that ducal decree, but his protests had been in vain. Two days after his father's funeral he had left for Greystone with his grandparents, leaving a tearful Jenny and Charlotte behind but refusing to weep himself with a fierce grinding of his teeth and fists so tightly curled into his palms that he had left behind the bloody marks of eight fingernails.

Despite himself he had come to love Greystone. And his grandparents too, of whom he had always been fond, but in a remote sort of way since he did not see them often.

It was pretty obvious, of course, what decision they had made now. Even though he was only-God damn it!-twenty-six years old. There was that missing generation. His father had died. From more than just a moment's recklessness on horseback, caused by debilitating grief over the loss of his wife and stillborn son, however. No other living soul had an inkling of the full truth except Lucas. The heaviness of his secret knowledge had weighed him down for longer than a decade and probably would for the rest of his life. He had been in the wrong place at the wrong time one rainy afternoon during a school holiday, and his life had been drastically and forever blighted as a result.

"As soon as Easter is behind us," his grandfather said now, "we will be going to London, Her Grace and I. It is time I did my duty and showed my face in the House of Lords once more. I did not go at all last year or the year before, to my shame. And it is time your grandmother and I renewed our acquaintance with the ton in a place where almost the whole of it gathers for the spring Season. Perish the thought, but it is unavoidable. We will need to find out who is in town. Your grandmother is better at that than I am, of course. She will know within a day or two what might take me a whole week. There will be any number of young girls there, fresh out of the schoolroom and eager to make their mark upon society and reel in the most eligible of the bucks and marry them before the Season is over. There will be a positive frenzy among them all-not to mention their mamas and some of their papas too-when it becomes known that you are on hand at last, Luc. The Marquess of Roath, heir to the Duke of Wilby and Greystone Court and other properties and a vast fortune besides. The very elderly duke, that is."

He paused to gaze keenly at his grandson from beneath those shaggy brows. There was no point in attempting any protest or any reply at all, though. Lucas had learned his lessons well during the six years he had lived here before he turned twenty-one and returned to take up residence at Amberwell. He knew what his primary duty was.

It was to produce an heir and a spare or two, to put it bluntly.

"There will be pretty ones and alluring ones and ones you will fancy more than others," the duke continued when Lucas said nothing. "There will be wealthy ones and ones whose papas have pockets to let. There will be very few, however, who will be eligible in both birth and breeding to be the future Duchess of Wilby and mother of the next heir to the title. Very few. You will leave it to your grandmother and me to find out who they are."

"I am to have no choice in the matter, then?" Lucas asked.

"Well, I am no tyrant, Luc," his grandfather said, not at all truthfully. "I daresay there will be more than one. Maybe even as many as half a dozen if this is a good year. There is sure to be a beauty or two among them to please your young man's fancy. Not that looks mean everything. Your grandmother was not considered a particular beauty when my mother presented me to her. But it did not take me long to discover that she was beautiful to me and that there was no need to look further. Not that I would have been given the chance to do so anyway. When my mother had decided upon something, it would have been as easy to move the Rock of Gibraltar as to change her mind. I daresay I was in love with your grandmother within a fortnight and I have never yet fallen out of love. Despite her height."

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