Ten Reasons to Stay [NOOK Book]

Overview

A delightful eNovella from New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries about a young woman who learns that you can’t learn about love from a textbook.

In “Ten Reasons to Stay,” previously published in the anthology The School for Heiresses, lessons go far beyond etiquette and needlepoint. Eliza Crenshawe’s lesson is to look before she leaps. But when she discovers that her new guardian plans to marry her off without so much as a ...
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Ten Reasons to Stay

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Overview

A delightful eNovella from New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries about a young woman who learns that you can’t learn about love from a textbook.

In “Ten Reasons to Stay,” previously published in the anthology The School for Heiresses, lessons go far beyond etiquette and needlepoint. Eliza Crenshawe’s lesson is to look before she leaps. But when she discovers that her new guardian plans to marry her off without so much as a Season, she forgets all that. She flees—on a horse she unwittingly steals (oops!)—from Colin Hunt, a newly minted earl who wants nothing more than for her to go home…or stay forever.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781476731612
  • Publisher: Pocket Star
  • Publication date: 5/6/2013
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 150
  • Sales rank: 25,176
  • File size: 1,010 KB

Meet the Author

Sabrina Jeffries is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-eight novels and nine works of short fiction (some written under the pseudonyms Deborah Martin and Deborah Nicholas). Whatever time not spent writing in a coffee-fueled haze of dreams and madness is spent traveling with her husband and adult autistic son or indulging in one of her passions—jigsaw puzzles, chocolate, and music. With more than 7 million books in print in eighteen different languages, the North Carolina author never regrets tossing aside a budding career in academics for the sheer joy of writing fun fiction, and hopes that one day a book of hers will end up saving the world. She always dreams big.
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Read an Excerpt

Ten Reasons to stay One


The new Earl of Monteith, Colin Hunt, had been in possession of Chaunceston Hall less than a day and already trouble was afoot.

Surrounded by unpacked boxes, Colin watched through his study window as a cloaked form darted across the lawn to slip into the stable. It was after midnight; none of the servants he’d hired in London should be about. And since the stable was filled with prime horseflesh he’d purchased at Tattersall’s earlier this week . . .

Confound these English thieves to hell! Unearthing his pistol from a box, he loaded it and shoved it into the waistband of his trousers before hurrying into the hall.

Why wasn’t some groom outside guarding the stable? Because this wasn’t India, of course. In Colin’s home country of twenty-eight years, the weather was so balmy that a syce could sleep across the stable doorway very comfortably. But here in England, no sane man slept outdoors in such weather.

Grumbling to himself about the brutal English winter, he donned his heaviest wool surtout, lit a lantern, and headed out. The gust of icy wind that greeted him made him swear vilely.

He missed the hot Poona days, the sultry Calcutta nights, where a man could lie naked in his bed and still be comfortable. A wave of homesickness swept him. He missed spicy pickles and cinnamon-scented tobacco and jackal hunts with the local jemadar and other fellows from the native infantry . . ..

Who would just as soon slip a knife in his back as breathe.

Colin sighed. He didn’t miss that, the suspicions and spying, the petty grievances that erupted into violence, the ever-present threat of marauding bandits, of mutinies and rebellions. Of women cowering beneath the sword—

He shuddered. No, there was nothing left for him in India, no reason to stay where the persistent memories of his wife’s slaughter at Poona could torment him. He wanted peace, and he’d hoped to find it in the sleepy English countryside.

This wasn’t a promising start. It was only his first night at the Devon estate he’d inherited from his late, unlamented grandfather, and already the local rogues were robbing him. But they were in for a surprise. Half-Indian or no, he had every right to live here, and they would soon learn that he meant to hold on to what was his.

With that resolve beating in his breast, he slid open the stable door. At first he could see nothing, just his new Cleveland Bays sleeping in their stalls. But the faint acrid scent of a recently snuffed candle hung in the air, proving that the cloaked figure probably still lurked here.

He swept his lantern in a wide arc, then came back to where his pride of purchase, a chestnut Arabian, stood wide-awake. She was saddled and ready, with a cloth sack slung over the pommel.

His temper flared.

“Come out now, whoever you are!” Colin demanded, setting the lantern on a hook. “If you force me to go stall by stall to find you—”

“No need for that, sir,” said a decidedly young voice as a short figure emerged from the stall. Colin glimpsed riding boots and breeches before the fellow shrank into his voluminous cloak like a turtle into its shell. “Beg pardon, but I didn’t mean to wake you. I was just seeing to the horse.”

“Seeing to stealing it, you mean.”

“No!” The lad’s head jerked up, though the hood of his cloak still shielded his face. “I-I merely wish to borrow it. I know the owner personally, and I assure you he’d happily loan it to me if he were here.”

Colin didn’t know whether to laugh at the bold devil or shoot him. “That, too, is a lie.”

“Honestly, sir, the owner’s wife is a good friend of mine.”

“That’s impossible.” Furious that this thief persisted in his pretense, Colin slid his hand inside his surtout to grasp his pistol. “The owner’s wife is dead.”

“Dead!” The lad sounded genuinely upset. “How did it happen? Did the duchess die in childbirth? I can’t believe—”

“Hold up there, lad. What duchess?”

“The duchess of Foxmoor. You said that the owner’s wife—”

“The owner of this horse, of this entire estate, is the Earl of Monteith.”

“Who’s lying now?” the fellow retorted. “The earl has been dead for six years or more.”

If the boy knew that, then he wasn’t some wandering horse thief. Which also explained why he thought that the duke owned the estate; Foxmoor had managed it for the heir. “The new Earl of Monteith is alive and well, I assure you.”

“The new—” The lad broke off with a groan. “Ohh, I forgot. The duke’s cousin inherited the Monteith title. But he’s over in—” He stared at Colin. “Blast.”

“Exactly.” Was it usual for a country boy to know so much about a duke and his family? “I am the owner. And you are trespassing.”

“I-I suppose that means you won’t lend me a horse.”

“That’s exactly what it means.”

“I understand. Don’t blame you a bit.” The fellow turned his head toward the open door beyond Colin. “I won’t keep you any longer. I’ll just go—”

“The hell you will,” Colin bit out and took a step forward.

A hand suddenly appeared from beneath the fellow’s cloak, bearing a rather substantial flintlock pistol. “S-stand aside,” he said as he pointed the gun at Colin.

Colin’s fingers tensed on his own weapon . . . until he noticed that the thief’s pistol wasn’t cocked, and the barrel was an ancient rusted relic. He’d lay odds that the thing hadn’t been loaded in twenty years, much less fired. “An unloaded weapon won’t do you much good, lad,” he said dryly.

The fellow’s hand shook. “How did you know it isn’t loaded?”

“I didn’t.” Colin taunted him with a smile. “But I do now.”

The lad groaned. Without warning he hurled the pistol at Colin. As the heavy weapon glanced off Colin’s brow and the boy dashed past him, Colin let out a roar and lunged after him.

Catching the fellow’s hood, Colin yanked him back, then slammed him against the stable wall and pinned his arms at his sides. “Now see here, you little devil—” he began as the lad’s bared head shot up and their gazes met.

The words died in Colin’s throat. Because the nearby lamp flooding the thief’s face revealed porcelain features and a tumbled-down length of thick, golden brown hair that were decidedly not male.

“I’ll be damned,” Colin murmured. “You’re a woman.”

And quite a woman, too, judging from the full mouth, rosy cheeks, and long silky lashes. Not to mention the ample breasts crushed against his chest. No wonder she’d worn a cloak. No one would ever mistake her for a boy without it, breeches or no.

A series of sweet-scented breaths stuttered from between her pretty lips and her lightly freckled cheeks flushed. For the first time in a long while, his blood stirred.

“Get off of me, blast you!” she cried. “You’ve no right—”

“I wouldn’t be talking about rights just now, if I were you,” he warned, trying not to be affected by the soft, feminine body plastered to him from thigh to chest. “Last I heard, they hang horse thieves in England.”

Her chin trembled. “You know perfectly well I’m no horse thief.”

He did know. Despite her oaths, her speech was that of a well-bred miss. And if her tale about borrowing a horse from the duke was true, she had the connections of one, too.

But why was she out at midnight dressed as a boy? “Tell me who and what you are.”

“I’d rather not.”

“And I’d rather not release you, so it appears we’ll be here all night,” he said, deliberately pressing his body into her.

“It appears so,” she said, but with less bravado.

As he gave her his fiercest glare, she began chewing on her lower lip, and the girlish gesture made him feel like a scoundrel for bullying her. With a curse, he released her arms and shoved away from the wall.

“Thank you.” She pulled her hood back up to cover her hair. Warily she edged out from between him and the wall, then slid toward the door. “I’ll be sure to tell Louisa of your kindness.”

If the foolish wench thought he would free her simply because she’d tossed out the name of his cousin’s wife, she was mistaken. “Oh, no, you don’t.” He whipped out his weapon. “My pistol is loaded. And you aren’t going anywhere until you tell me why you were ‘borrowing’ my horse.”

Her eyes fixed on the gun, and even in the lantern light, he could see her flinch. “You . . . you wouldn’t shoot a woman.”

She was right, but he didn’t put the pistol away. “You never know what a foreigner might do when faced with a lying thief.”

“I’m not lying! I really was borrowing it!”

“Why?”

A frustrated breath escaped her lips. “If you must know, I need to ride it to Honiton. But once I get there, I plan to pay a post boy to return it.”

He snorted. “Right. You can’t afford a mount of your own and don’t have the wherewithal to rent one, yet you can afford a post boy.”

“Oh, but I can! I can even rent the horse from you if you’ll let me.”

She reached into her cloak, but he waved his gun at her. “Keep your hands where I can see them. I don’t need another conk on the head.”

Which was beginning to throb. He gestured to the door. “Let’s go. We’ll continue this discussion inside.”

“But I don’t have time for that!” she cried. “I must reach Honiton by two!”

“I’m not lending or renting or otherwise giving you a horse, so get that idea right out of your head.” He snuffed the lamp, then strode up to grab her by the arm. “Nor am I going to freeze to death while you try convincing me to do so.”

Hustling her out of the stables, he led her across the well-clipped lawn dotted with topiaries. “I suppose you know your way, since you’re such a grand friend of Louisa’s.”

“Well . . . um . . . I’ve never actually been to Chaunceston Hall.” She gazed ahead to the battlemented turrets and parapets of the manor house that dated back to the Middle Ages. “It looks positively gothic, doesn’t it?”

“If that’s the word for a moldering old pile with drafty halls and monstrous pieces of ancient furniture, then yes.” He shot her a quizzical glance. “And if you weren’t familiar with the place, why did you come here?”

“I overheard the servant talking about preparations for a hunting party’s arrival next week, so I knew—”

“There’d be horses,” he clipped out. “That were easy to steal.”

“Obviously not that easy,” she grumbled.

He choked back a laugh. She certainly behaved like Louisa’s friends, those young ladies who’d flitted in and out of his cousin’s town house in London during the month Colin had lived there after arriving in England. And his little captive had servants: more evidence she wasn’t the sort of female to steal a horse. Unless—

“Why are you running away from home?”

Her head swung around, her eyes full of panic. “How did you know I was run—” She broke off with a groan. “That trick of yours grows more tiresome every time you use it.”

“So you might as well tell me everything. I’ll get it out of you eventually.”

“It has nothing to do with you!”

“It does if you’re trying to entangle me in your scheme.”

“You’re the one insisting on an entanglement. Just let me leave, and I’ll walk to Honiton.”

“The hell you will. I’m not letting some fool of a young woman out on the road alone to be raped or killed.”

The harsh words made her tense. “Fine. Then be a gentleman and drive me there in that cabriolet I saw beside the stable.”

“Not a chance.” He hurried her up the front steps. “Not until I know what you’re up to.” He led her into the house, releasing a grateful breath to be out of the infernal cold. “Hand me your cloak and gloves,” he ordered as he shut the door.

She blinked at him. “Why?”

“You’d be an idiot to run off without them in this weather, and I’m not taking the chance that you’ll knock me over the head while my back is turned.”

With a roll of her eyes, she peeled off her gloves, then untied her cloak. When she drew it off, the sight of what lay beneath struck the breath from him.

He’d guessed her to be a girl of about sixteen. He’d guessed wrong. God help him, that was a woman’s body half-bursting out of the ridiculously tight male apparel she’d apparently “borrowed” from a man much thinner than she.

It was impossible not to stare at the fetching picture she made in a waistcoat half-unbuttoned to make room for her plump breasts and a pair of breeches too snug for her hips. Her unfortunate choice of a tailcoat made matters worse, too, since the nipped-in waist only accentuated her curves.

So did the shimmering cascade of thick hair that fell to her waist unfettered, although a few lingering hairpins twinkled in the candlelight.

This time it wasn’t just his blood that stirred.

Confound her. Why had she come along now? In the first years after his wife’s death, he’d felt nothing but grief and anger. But in recent months, especially since he’d arrived in England where his memories didn’t plague him so, his desire for feminine company—in and out of his bed—had begun to return.

So the last thing he needed was a reckless runaway firing his blood. She was too much like Rashmi, his late wife. When he married again, it would be to a steady, quiet female who wanted peace as much as he. Maybe even some settled widow who wouldn’t be bothered by his mixed blood. Certainly not an impudent wench with more curves than sense.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, coloring beneath his intense scrutiny.

“You thought you could pass for a man in that costume?”

“Well . . . no. I’m too plump in . . . er . . . certain places for that.”

Plump? Luscious, more like.

“But that’s what the cloak’s for. And even without it, from a distance—”

“—you’d look like a cherry ripe for the picking,” he snapped. “Just how old are you, anyway?”

“Nineteen.” She cast him a mutinous glance. “Old enough to go where I want and do as I please.”

She had a point. In India, she would already be married. And her lucky husband would already be happily initiating his blushing bride into the pleasures of the bed, unveiling those creamy breasts and that dimpled belly, winding himself in the luscious silk of her dark honey hair as he buried his flesh inside—

He swore under his breath. What was he thinking? She was trouble. The chit was probably running off to elope with some equally clod-pated idiot. Although if that were so, why hadn’t the idiot come to fetch her?

Whatever her reasons, no young female with her attractions and rash tendency to land in trouble should be roaming the English countryside at midnight.

The last time a woman had convinced him to let her travel without his protection, she’d ended up dead. He wasn’t about to let that happen twice.

“Old enough or not, you shouldn’t be on the road alone.” He held up his free hand. “So give me the cloak and the gloves.”

Rebellion flared in her face. Taking him by surprise, she tossed the gloves at him. As he lunged to catch them, she deftly swung the cloak to cover his head and pistol, then took off.

He swore, momentarily blinded, but managed to fight free of her cloak just as she sped past him toward the door. “Oh no, you don’t,” he growled as he reached out and snagged her about the waist, then jerked her up against him.

When her furious gaze swung to him, he added, “Nice try, my dear. But it would take a better ‘man’ than you to best me.”

“Very . . . funny,” she gasped as she struggled against him. “Let me . . . go!”

“You’re plucky—I’ll give you that.”

Also incredibly foolish. And it was time he made her aware just how foolish. “But my patience is at an end.” He stuffed his pistol inside his waistband, then caught her by the throat. “You have one minute to tell me your name, where you live, and why you’re running away.”

Although she stopped struggling, her hazel eyes narrowed to slits. “Or what? You’ll throttle me?”

“Tempting as that sounds, no.” He slid his thumb down to brush her top shirt button. “I’ll simply remove the rest of your clothes piece by piece until you do.”
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2014

    Strong characters, enjoyable plot, but love came way too fast.

    beautiful little story. I only have one negative, they fell in love way too fast, even for a romance. I love fanciful, but it still has to be somewhat believable. I enjoyed Eliza, she was a strong well -developed character. And Colin was different in a good way. I liked that he wasn't all English, it added something special to the plot. The story as a whole was very enjoyable, just like everything else Jeffries writes.

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  • Posted June 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I did enjoy this novella--it was a cute, quick read--but it was

    I did enjoy this novella--it was a cute, quick read--but it was too short in terms of plot and character development to get more than a three-star rating from me. I liked the characters, but really would have liked to have gotten to know them better. I have read many of Jeffries' novels, though none from this series (yet! They're definitely on my TBR list, especially after this teaser); it's possible that there was more about Eliza's character in the series' other books than we got in this one. I enjoyed the author's writing in this book--it was entertaining and witty--I just wanted a bit more from it. Hard to do in a novella format, though.

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  • Posted June 7, 2013

    Highly recommend

    Love Sabrina Jeffries.

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  • Posted May 7, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This is a great short story. Because it is short the whole story

    This is a great short story. Because it is short the whole story is rushed to make it come together. However it flows nicely and doesn't feel rushed. The characters are well put together. It is nice that every once in awhile the Hero is more flawed than the Heroine. They stay true to themselves but still find leeway to make changes to their lives. Sabrina Jeffries is one of my go-to authors. She has another good read here!

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  • Posted May 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Eliza Crenshawe is running for her life. Her father has just pas

    Eliza Crenshawe is running for her life. Her father has just past, leaving her in the care of his brother (the magistrate). Little did he know that his brother has been lost in the cups since his wife death and has acquired overwhelming debts. Her uncle decides to use Eliza and her inheritance to barter out of his debts, literally selling her to off in marriage. This ends up sending Eliza running right into Colin Hunt’s life. 

    Colin Hunt has recently returned from India to claim his property as Earl. He discovers a horse thief in his barn. His unexpected visitor is about to rock his world and turn his plans upside down.

    A spicy and smart heroin, Eliza gives Colin, the jaded Earl, a run for his money. This was a fun and boarder line erotic historical romance. Novella in length, the story was well written and fast paced. Enjoyable, quick, easy, fun read with a very fiery romance, Ten Reasons to Stay is definitely a perfectly delightful read.

    This ARC copy of Ten Reasons to Stay was provided by Pocket Books in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication on May 6, 2013.

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  • Posted May 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Ten Reasons to Stay was previously published in the anthology Th

    Ten Reasons to Stay was previously published in the anthology The School for Heiresses.
    Eliza Crenshawe has run away from her uncle/guardian who plans to marry her off against her will.  She runs to Chaunceston Hall to “borrow” a horse so that she might return to her school and her friends.  Unfortunately Eliza runs into Colin Hunt, the new Earl of Montieth and lord of  Chaunceston Hall.  He is less than thrilled to discover that the horse thief is a young woman.  He is even less thrilled when she refuses to tell him who she is or why she is trying to “borrow” a horse.  
    Although the story is fairly predictable it was also a lot of fun.  Ms. Jeffries infuses her characters with a sense of fun and sensuality that every read is a delight.

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  • Posted March 27, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Short, Saucy!

    Previously published in the anthology the School for Heiresses, Ten Reasons to Stay by Sabrina Jeffries is a quick read when you are short on time and need a slightly sassy break from reality! Eliza Crenshawe, dismayed that her guardian is planning on marrying her off, attempts to flee by “borrowing” a horse from a neighboring estate.
    Colin Hunt, the recently titled Earl of Monteith, searching for peace from the tortured memories of his wife’s brutal murder in India, has just taken up residence in his family’s estate. He sees a boy attempting to steal one of his horses, yep, it’s actually Eliza. As she relates her unbelievable tale of woe, Colin, of course does not believe her and feels the need to “demonstrate” what could happen to her on the road alone. Enough said about that. Let’s just say Eliza is a quick and eager study! What if her tale is true? Will Colin save Eliza from her fate? Can he live without her saucy attitude?
    This can only be classified as a fun read! Any longer than a novella and the sparks would have ignited into an inferno as these two teased and taunted their way through those ten reasons!

    This ARC copy of Ten Reasons to Stay was provided by Pocket Books in exchange for my honest review. This book is set for publication on May 6, 2013.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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