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Return of the Earl

Return of the Earl

3.5 4
by Edith Layton

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The Earl of Egremont has returned...or has he?

It's been 15 years since Christian Sauvage has left England, but now he's returned to claim his title and his inheritance. Julianne knew Christian when they were children, and though there is a slight resemblance to the boy she once adored, can this ruggedly handsome man be the real earl? Or has she fallen in love


The Earl of Egremont has returned...or has he?

It's been 15 years since Christian Sauvage has left England, but now he's returned to claim his title and his inheritance. Julianne knew Christian when they were children, and though there is a slight resemblance to the boy she once adored, can this ruggedly handsome man be the real earl? Or has she fallen in love with an impostor?

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Return of the Earl

Chapter One


The visitor was late, but he would have been unwelcome at any hour. Nevertheless, a stableboy came running to greet his carriage as it rumbled up to the manor house as the first star appeared in a purpling evening sky. Many more eyes watched from behind curtains on the dozens of windows of the great house. The oaken front door swung open, the butler and his footmen stood in readiness.

After a moment, a lean gentleman was seen in the doorway of the carriage. He bent his head, stepped out, and paused on the top of the little stair that had been let down. Straightening, he stood arrested, staring at the huge house, seeing the dark mass of it outlined by the last dim glow of sunset, punctuated by lights that twinkled in the dozens of windows facing the drive. It was too dusky for anyone to make out the expression on his face.

He stepped down and headed for the house, taking the fan of stairs to the front door rapidly and with easy grace, as though he hadn't been confined in a rocking carriage for hours.

"I believe I'm expected?" he asked the butler in a rich tenor voice, as he swept off his high beaver hat and caped coat and handed them to a footman. "I am Egremont."

The butler bowed, expressionless. "This way, sir," he said.

The gentleman hesitated. A thin eyebrow rose. "Sir?" he echoed with cool amusement, slapping his gloves against his palm. "Maybe you didn't hear me. I am the new earl of Egremont. I'd believed I was expected."

The butler's expression didn't change, but his face grew ruddy. "Yes, sir," he said. "You were indeed expected. As to the other matter, I was led to believe it was not yet settled, sir."

The gentleman laughed. "So it hasn't been. I suppose I can't fault you for being precise. Announce me as Sauvage then, if you must. Lead on. Oh, and I'd like something to eat. Will you see to it? It's been a devilish long journey."

The butler bowed and led the gentleman into the front hall. The new arrival scarcely seemed to look at the house as he strode over the shining inlaid mosaic marble floors. He didn't pause to study the life-sized Grecian statues that lined the walls, or raise his eyes to the gilded domed ceiling of the great hall to see the rose-and-gold frescoes there. He had hardly a glance for the pair of separate twin staircases that wound their ways to the second level, where they met and embraced in a riot of carved acanthus leaves. He only followed the butler through the hall and down a corridor, seeming as cool and untouched by his surroundings as the servant who guided him.

"You're awaited in the red room, sir," the butler murmured. He threw open a door to an enormous room with crimson stretched-silk-covered walls, Turkey red carpets, red and brown settees and chairs. A massive fireplace with a leaping fire sparked reflections from the gilt edges on the furniture and many picture frames. But the fire only cast murky, ruddy shadows over the quartet of people there.

"Mr. Sauvage," the butler said, announcing him.

The four people in the room stared. The visitor looked back at them serenely, only his eyes showing animation, glittering in the firelight as he surveyed them each in turn.

He saw a stout middle-aged balding gentleman, the very model of a country squire, a young blond lady, delicate and perfectly dressed as a china figurine, an older woman, who was obviously her mama, and a square-faced, straw-haired, broad-shouldered young man. They goggled at him from out of the crimson shade.

Their first impression was of a dark, elegantly dressed, extravagantly handsome young gentleman. The high planes on his smooth face were exaggerated by dancing firelight, making him look as though he'd just stepped, smiling, from out of the devil's own dressing room. He was impeccably clad in a close- fitting black jacket, with a white neckcloth, dark skintight breeches, and shining knee-high boots. The gentleman's face was impassive. He had flawless skin, even features, and watchful eyes. The firelight made it impossible to make out the color of those wide, well-spaced eyes, but they were light, and shone with crystalline clarity. The most arresting thing about him was the cool expression on his smooth face. He looked as though no human emotion could touch him or ever had done.

The middle-aged man leapt to his feet. "What is the meaning of this?" he said. "You are not Geoffrey Sauvage!"

"No, I'm not," the gentleman said calmly. "Geoffrey Sauvage was my father. I am Christian Gabriel Peter Colinworth Sauvage, now the earl of Egremont, and master of this house. And you, sir? You have me at a disadvantage."

The older man opened and closed his mouth.

The others echoed his expression. It was the fair young man who rose to his feet and spoke.

"I am Hammond Sauvage," he said stiffly. "This is my fiancée, Sophie Wiley, and her father, Squire Henry Wiley and his wife, Martha. You must understand that this is difficult for us to take in all at once."

Christian nodded. "Of course, I didn't expect you to believe me right away either, Cousin. You are my cousin, aren't you?"

Hammond nodded curtly.

"But in time, you will believe me," Christian said placidly. He moved toward the hearth. "I've traveled a long way, and it's cold out there. If you don't mind, I'd like a seat by the fire."

The squire flushed ...

The Return of the Earl. Copyright © by Edith Layton. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Edith Layton loved to write. She wrote articles and opinion pieces for the New York Times and Newsday, as well as for local papers, and freelanced writing publicity before she began writing novels.

Publisher’s Weekly called her “one of romance’s most gifted authors.” She received many awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Romantic Times, and excellent reviews and commendations from Library Journal, Romance Readers Anonymous, and Romance Writers of America. She also wrote historical novels under the name Edith Felber.

Mother of three grown children, she lived on Long Island with her devoted dog, Miss Daisy; her half feral parakeet, Little Richard; and various nameless pond fish in the fishness protection program.

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Return of the Earl 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a big Jane Austen fan and wanted a little lust in my stories, but along the same lines of Austen's amazing work. I got that in this story and Layton is amazing! I am only 23 but still the dramatic love scenes in some romance novels are a little much. Layton did just enough and it was amazing I would read this book over and over if I could Loved it!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this series out of order. The other books--Alas, My Love and Gypsy Lover were not as good as this read. That isn't to say it was wonderful--but needs to be read first as reading the others beforehand gives away a prime storyline. Ms. Layton is still timid about writing love scenes and even though there was no real sexual tension throughout, making love where they finally did--wasn't at all romantic or stimulating to this reader. It will be quite some time before I decide if I want to read anymore of this writer's books but am glad I got to read about 4 extraordinary men.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1800, Sir Gideon accused Lord Geoffrey Sauvage and his twelve year old son Christian falsely of stealing. Geoffrey and Christian are convicted and placed on the Retribution, heading to the South Seas. Geoffrey provides strength to his son and two other boys Amyas and Daffyd as they set sail as convicts. However, because of Geoffrey¿s skills to make money for his clients honed as an aristocratic working class soul, he makes a fortune for himself and his three charges.---- Fifteen years later, Christian arrives in England to claim the Earldom from his cousin Hammond, whose future in-laws are irate. Christian points out the so-called accidents that have eliminated the last five earls and plans not to be number six. Hammond sends for Julianne Lowell, sister of Christian¿s best childhood friend now dead, to identify whether he is the real thing. As Julianne and Christian fall in love, she is not sure though he looks somewhat like the person she knew in childhood. Whether he is or is not does not matter to someone who plans to add the upstart to the list of dead earls.---- This is an enjoyable Regency romantic suspense that will remind readers of the movies The Return of Martin Guerre and Somersby as Julianne is not certain if the man she loves is an imposter or the real Christian. The story line action-packed, but the characters make the tale with many containing negative feelings towards others. Fans will enjoy this delightful tale in which the earldom is apparently the most dangerous position in England in spite of the Napoleonic War.---- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was intriging but I would definitely not consider this a Christian romance.