He never expected the clues to lead to her...
Edward Adair, heir to the Duke of Boulstridge, is more interested in finding a missing family heirloom than a wife. But when his parents issue an ultimatum - marry or lose your allowance - he reluctantly agrees to attend a house party to find a bride. Instead, he discovers attractive but infuriating Miss Isabella Winthrop in his library, reading the private family journal that holds clues to the location of the heirloom.
Though Isabella finds Edward haughty and arrogant, she offers to take him to the next clue mentioned in the journal if he will pay her, which will enable her to help her brother restore his estate. Edward counters with an offer of an even larger payment...if she agrees to masquerade as his betrothed to deter the other ladies until the house party ends.
As they work together to solve the mystery their mutual attraction grows, but just when they begin to think they should make their engagement real, a secret is revealed that could destroy everything.
Read an Excerpt
How to Bewitch an Earl
By Ally Broadfield, Robin Haseltine
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Ally Broadfield
All rights reserved.
Edward Adair, the Earl of Kenworth and heir to the Duke of Boulstridge, briefly considered entering the house through a window. After all, using a knife to open locks was one of the more practical skills his mother had taught him, though perhaps it wasn't the best idea when he was at least two sheets to the wind. What he really needed to do was secure lodgings of his own so he could come and go as he pleased without censure.
In any case, Phillips had waited up for him, so attempting to sneak in was out of the question.
"Good morning, my lord." Phillips bowed. "The duke and duchess await your presence in the library."
Of course they did. Because a good, stern lecture would surely fix all that ailed him. He wandered down the corridor and entered the library. Though a fire burned merrily in the hearth, there was a decided lack of warmth in the room.
His father stood and shot him a deep scowl before opening his mouth to speak, but Mother cut him off, bless her.
"Edward, we are concerned about you. Your only pursuits seem to be drinking and carousing with your friends, and occasionally pouring over the clues in the journal."
He crossed his arms. "Mother, you of all people should understand my dedication to solving the mystery."
She approached him and placed her palm against his cheek. "Darling, you know I'm not asking you to give up the search altogether. No one wants to find the tiara more than I do, but you cannot allow the mystery to devour you. It should not be an all-consuming occupation for you."
As if he had anything else to occupy his time, so long as his father refused to cede any responsibility to him.
"It's not as if I'm off gambling away my inheritance or consorting with prostitutes."
His father clenched his jaw but didn't speak, likely assuming his steely expression would quell Edward.
"You must find a way to search while also maintaining other pursuits," Mother said.
His father stepped forward. "Managing your estates."
He held back a belch and wished he had taken advantage of the opportunity to sneak in through a window. "I wasn't aware that my estates were in disarray."
"Of course they are not, no thanks to you. Though we have excellent staff in place, it is still necessary for you to be involved, to learn how to handle these issues yourself, without me watching over your shoulder."
Many possible responses flashed through his mind, but it would do no good to voice any of them. His father maintained iron control over everything within his dukedom, so anything Edward did was irrelevant, as his father had the final say.
He took a step toward his father and mirrored his unyielding stance. "Until you are willing to allow me to make decisions on my own without your approval, there is little point in my participation."
His father's eyes flashed, but Mother stepped between them and placed her hand on his arm before he could respond.
"Our point is, you need to engage in activities other than those that have been occupying all of your time of late. You could travel, explore antiquities," Mother added. "You used to enjoy the study of other cultures."
As if Mother hadn't spoken at all, his father took another step toward him and said, "You could also behave like a responsible gentleman who deserves to inherit a dukedom and an enormous fortune." He paused and met Edward's eyes. "You have missed several parliamentary sessions. The purpose of getting you a seat in the House of Commons was to help prepare you to assume your position in the House of Lords when I am gone. You need to take your responsibilities seriously."
Though his accusation was unfounded, as Edward had only missed a handful of meetings during the prior session, there was no point in arguing with him.
"It's not enough to just attend sessions. You need to get involved, take the lead on an issue or introduce a new law. Your only accomplishment of late has been to have your name linked to an opera singer. I cannot disinherit you, but I can choose to remove all of the unentailed properties from your inheritance and, if your behavior doesn't change immediately, I shall."
So he intended to force Edward to bend to his will.
Mother shot him a stern look then turned back to Edward. "Darling, we simply feel that it is time for you to find some other worthy pursuit." She turned and strode to the other side of the library. "I ... we think that it is time for you to settle down. Toward that end, we are arranging a house party at Walsley Manor in a fortnight. I've already made a list of eligible ladies for you to consider, and of course you may invite some of your own friends."
He narrowly refrained from rolling his eyes. "What are you hoping the end result of this party will be?"
Mother smiled. "For you to find a wife, of course. Once you find the right woman, settling down won't seem like such a hardship."
He highly doubted that.
Father narrowed his eyes at Edward. "And if you don't choose someone, you will be cut off. You may find a way to support yourself until such a time as I die and you can take control of the entailed properties. But don't forget, Walsley is not entailed, and as such, I do not have to leave it to you." He turned and stormed from the room.
Edward rubbed his forehead. Though it was sometimes difficult to discern, after a lifetime of living with the man, he knew his father acted out of love. But he made it damned difficult to remember when his approach was always to bully and cajole to force his position. There was some merit to his father's concerns, but until he gave Edward at least a modicum of responsibility for something, it was pointless for him to become more involved.
"Has he ever considered that it is his lack of confidence in me that prevents me from taking an active interest in managing our properties? I might be more proactive if he deemed me trustworthy."
"Darling." Mother clasped his hand. "He is simply concerned for your welfare. I will speak with him about allowing you to manage one of the smaller estates on your own. In the meantime, though we will not force you to marry, you do need to settle down and find some sort of worthwhile pursuit in addition to our quest for the tiara."
"I think you are overly optimistic about the results of this house party."
She smiled. "Your father is not an ogre. He simply wishes to see you settled, but even he does not wish for you to make a foolish match. We ask only that you carefully consider the merit of the ladies you meet at the party, and also put more thought into what you wish to make of your life."
Even in his inebriated state, he could see that their perspective was valid, but he wasn't in any condition to do something about it. The glow of the sun rising filtered around the curtains in the east-facing windows.
Mother took his arm and towed him toward the door. "Come, we must get some rest. Make a list of your friends, and especially any ladies who've caught your eye, so I can include them in the invitations."
He nodded. Though his parents were both astute at avoiding those families who were only interested in the advantage they would gain by marrying their daughter off to a future duke, they seemed desperate enough to see him married that they might relax their normal standards. Inviting a dozen or so of his chums would help deflect some of the attention he was sure to receive, especially from the meddling mamas of the girls who would attend.
"We only want what's best for you." She kissed him on the cheek and rushed up the staircase.
If only he could be certain what was best for himself.CHAPTER 2
Isabella Winthrop glanced around her bedchamber one last time, but there was nothing else for her to do. Everything was clean, folded, and where it belonged. Lady Concord had retired earlier, leaving Isa, her paid companion, with nothing to do. Going to bed before the sun went down would never do, as she had enough difficulty falling asleep when it was dark outside.
The house party did not begin for another week, so they were currently the only guests at Walsley Manor. In fact, Lord Kenworth, in whose honor the party was being held, wasn't even in residence. Lady Concord had been a close friend of Her Grace's mother, and as such, was welcome to arrive a bit early. However, it left Isa with nothing to occupy her time in the evenings. Perhaps she could ask to visit the library and borrow a book. It wasn't an unusual request and required no special effort on behalf of anyone in the household.
Isa exited into the corridor and descended the staircase. Ever since she had accepted her position as a companion, she had worked hard to be as unnoticeable as possible. Plain clothing and simple hairstyles rendered her nearly invisible within the homes of the nobility, who were well practiced at ignoring the servants.
She glanced at the family portraits as she went down the staircase. The Duke of Boulstridge was a handsome man, as was his son.
Turning her head at the last possible second before she reached the final stair, she narrowly avoided a collision with the duchess.
"Miss Winthrop." She placed a hand on Isa's shoulder. "My apologies for nearly running you off the stair. You and Lady Concord have been such self-sufficient guests that I had almost forgotten you were here."
"Thank you, Your Grace, but I'm afraid the fault is mine. I was focused on the portraits and wasn't paying attention to where I was going."
The duchess raised a brow. "Yes, His Grace is a handsome man, but I imagine you would be more interested in my son."
Her stomach clenched. "Oh no, Your Grace. I would never aspire To ... that is ... assume that —"
"Miss Winthrop, would you care to join me for a cup of tea?"
Surprised by her abrupt invitation, she blurted out, "I would be delighted, Your Grace."
"Excellent. Follow me." She turned and strode back down the corridor she had come from and into a cozy sitting room that Isa hadn't realized existed. Not that she had been randomly exploring the house on her own. Not when her position hung on her ability to remain unnoticed. Though Isa had never met him, Lord Kenworth had attended Eton with her brother, and it would ruin everything if he were to discover her true identity.
The duchess waved toward a chair and rang the bell. "Please, make yourself comfortable." Isa sat, and one of Her Grace's small dogs that followed her everywhere jumped up to join her. Her heart tightened. She scratched behind his ears and laughed as he rolled over onto his back so Isa could scratch his stomach. The little mixed breed reminded her of her own dog, which she had had to leave with George when she left to take up her position as Lady Concord's companion.
Isa glanced around the room as the duchess spoke to a maid. This had to be her private sitting room, because it was rather disorganized. Fabric swatches were piled on one side table, and books with various items sticking out of them, that she supposed were used to mark pages, littered nearly every available surface.
Once the maid left, the duchess sat across from her on a well-cushioned chaise longue. "My apologies for the clutter in here, but it is my private chamber, and I do not allow anyone else to clean it. I cannot find anything if someone else organizes it." She shot her a smile and continued. "His Grace has long since stopped entering the room, as the disarray drives him to distraction. I suspect that is why in this excessively large house, I am only allowed this one chamber for my own. His Grace would surely have an apoplexy if he had to view multiple rooms in such disorder."
Isa bit back a smile. By all accounts, theirs was a love match. Because Lady Concord had been a close friend of Her Grace's mother, Isa had not received any of the usual gossip from her. "I understand completely. Before Lady Concord hired me, I was infamous for accumulating all manner of items. My bedchamber back home was always a wreck, and I refused to allow the maids to enter my room. My brother called me a little piglet when we were younger."
Her Grace tilted her head to the side for a moment and hesitated before returning Isa's smile. A lightning bolt seared her stomach. She had revealed too much. Unless the family had recently fallen on hard times, paid companions didn't generally grow up in a situation that included a family with several servants.
A knock heralded the arrival of their tea, and they were silent as the maid set everything out.
"Let us be informal." Her Grace poured the tea, and they each prepared their own cups. Noticing the dog on Isa's lap, she said, "Oh dear, is Biscuit bothering you?"
"Oh, no, Your Grace. I am quite fond of dogs. He reminds me of my own dog that I had to leave behind with my brother when I moved to Lady Concord's house.
The duchess smiled. "I am glad to hear that you are so fond of dogs. I'm always suspicious of people who are not." She set her cup on the table. "I'm not sure how much you've heard about me. Are you familiar with my background?"
Isa thought back to what Lady Concord had shared with her and shook her head. "No, Your Grace. Lady Concord has often mentioned your mother as a dear friend, but that is the extent of my knowledge."
"That is what I thought. Well, then you must let me tell you my story. I'm afraid it is a bit long and convoluted, but hopefully you will not find it boring."
Isa nodded, eager to hear what she would say.
"Lady Concord knows a bit of our history. You see, my mother grew up in this house. "Isa narrowed her eyes. "I don't understand. I thought the house belonged to His Grace."
"He likes people to think that, and he did own it at one time, but the house now belongs to me. Anyway, long before His Grace purchased the manor, my family owned the property. My grandfather died, and the title passed on to his cousin, so my mother and grandmother were forced to leave the house. They embarked on a long voyage to America to live with a distant cousin in Charleston. But they never made it that far."
"Oh my. I beg your pardon, Your Grace, but I feel as if I am reading a novel." Isa bit her lip. She was so intrigued by the story that she had overstepped her bounds. Again.
The duchess laughed, startling Biscuit out of his deep sleep. Isa stroked his side, and he soon relaxed.
"It does sound like the worst sort of penny fiction, does it not? And it will soon become even more convoluted."
She took a sip of tea before continuing. "My grandmother died during the ocean crossing, leaving my mother all alone. But luckily my father rescued her, and they live happily in the Bahamas and New Orleans, where his shipping business is located. Some still suspect him of being a pirate, an impression which he does not attempt to correct."
"Oh, my. How remarkable that His Grace was the owner of your former family home."
Her face colored. "Yes, well, it's not that remarkable. We met for the first time when I broke into the house to search for a family heirloom."
Isa bit her lip to prevent herself from voicing her wayward thoughts.
"I did attempt to behave properly at first. Suffice it to say, His Grace acted like a boar when I called on him and refused to see me, so I took matters into my own hands." She glanced up and smiled. "It did work out rather well for me in the end."
"I should think so." Perhaps there was some hope for Isa to find a happy ending of her own.
The duchess fiddled with her tea for a moment. "In any case, I wanted you to know my background. I am not of noble blood, and in fact there are many here who believe me to be the daughter of a pirate. Of course, none of them would dare say so in front of His Grace."
She took Isa's hand. "I am very inarticulate this evening, but what I am trying to say is that it is not necessary for you to be demure. Despite your best intentions to remain unnoticed, I recognized you immediately as a kindred spirit. I hope that sharing my own background with you will allow you to be more comfortable with me."
"Thank you, Your Grace." For one wild moment, she considered telling the duchess her story. But she could not risk it. Not until George was able to get out of debt. Perhaps someday she would be able to take her rightful place in society, but not yet.
"I very much appreciate you sharing your story with me. I shall remain hopeful that one day I might find a happy ending of my own." Not wanting to sound ungrateful for her position with Lady Concord, she added, "Of course, it's not as if working for Lady Concord is a burden. She is a kind and generous lady."
"Of course, my dear." She patted Isa's hand. "Do you by chance enjoy reading?"
"Yes, very much so."
Excerpted from How to Bewitch an Earl by Ally Broadfield, Robin Haseltine. Copyright © 2015 Ally Broadfield. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Review This is book 2 in the How To series. Miss Isabella Winthrop is just trying to make enough money as a companion to help her brother pay off their debts. But when she ends up at a house party with nothing to do, she ends up helping to try and solve the mystery of the missing heirloom. Which of course means that she spends quite a bit of time with Edward Adair, the heir to the Duke of Boulstridge. Edwards parents are demanding that he marry, but all he wants to do is find the missing heirloom. He didn't count on getting help from the beguiling Isabella. Paying Isabella to pose as his indented keeps the other guests out of the way but he didn't count on being so attracted to his partner in crime. Will their pretend betrothal become one in truth? I enjoyed this story. I did really liked all the bantering between Isabella and Edward. This story had the right combination of romance with just enough mystery added in to make it just that much more interesting. I can't wait to see what Broadfield has in store for us next! Thanks go out to Entangled Publishing via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
*ARC received from Entangled Publishing in return for an honest review* Historical romance is not my favorite genre, but I really enjoyed this story about Edward, an earl and heir to a dukedom that needs to find a wife or be disinherited, and Isabel, daughter of an earl, masquerading as a commoner and acting as a lady's companion, while helping her brother to restore the family finances. Their initial meeting doesn't go well but as they work together to try and find a missing family heirloom, they become closer and closer, and when she agrees to Edward's proposal to be his fake fiance, they both find their hearts becoming involved as well. This is a romance that makes you feel good while being sweet and sexy as well. I really liked all of the characters and can't wait to read How to Beguile a Duke, the romance of Edward's parents; and hopefully, a story about Edward's sister Louisa and Lord Thornbrook. This book is a great read.
London - 1846 Edward Adair, Earl of Kenworth and heir to the Duke of Boulstridge, spends his days drinking and wasting time with his friends. But he has also spent an enormous amount of time in search of a famous tiara reported to be hidden somewhere in his family home. His grandfather had left a journal with clues to its whereabouts. His parents have chastised him saying that he needs to spend more time managing his estates, attending parliamentary sessions, and, in general, settle down and marry. To that end, his parents are planning a house party at Welsey Manor to introduce Edward to a group of eligible young ladies from which to choose a bride. Isabella (Isa) Winthrop is a paid companion to Lady Concord who has been invited to the house party. No one but Lady Concord knows Isa's true identity which she hides under plain, dull clothes. Isa has been forced to work as a companion to help pay the debts incurred by her father which has put her family estate at risk. Isa is the daughter of Lord Stowe, an Earl. The Duchess of Kenworth and her daughter are very welcoming to Isa and invite her to borrow any books from their library that she wishes to read. When she finds an old journal written by an earlier Earl, she is taken aback when Edward finds her reading it and chastises her. After she explains that his mother has invited her to enjoy the books in the library, he then explains the mystery of the rare, pink diamond-encrusted tiara that has been missing for many years. She adds some information that she just happens to know and the two of them pair up to try and find the tiara. The young ladies invited to the house party do not interest Edward at all but with his mother pressuring him to select one of them to marry, he and Isa agree to a pretend engagement. This, coupled with their desire to discover the tiara, puts them together a lot resulting in an attraction that cannot be denied. Will they find the tiara? Will Edward and Isa find true happiness? Once again, the author has written a very intriguing novel with romance, a good mystery, and lots of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and look forward to reading more from her. Copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley
I really wanted to love this book. The plot was great. The characters were also interesting. The dialog just wasn't what it could have been and the characters lacked a depth that would have engaged me fully. I found myself immersed in some parts and then some action or conversation would yank me right out of the story again.
How to Bewitch an Earl is my first read by Ally Broadfield. It won't be my last. Ms Broadfield has crafted a well written book. How to Bewitch an Earl is a fun read from start to finish. Edward and Isa's story is full of drama, humor, a bit of sizzle and lovable characters. How to Bewitch an Earl is a fairly quick read, perfect for those with limited time for reading. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from Ally Broadfield soon. How to Bewitch an Earl is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I received a copy of this book for review purposes from Net Galley.
This is a regency/Victorian romance with a mystery to uncover a family heirloom, too. Edward Adair is heir to the Duke of Boulstridge but his parents have had enough of his gallivanting and issue dire warnings about the consequences should he not change his ways. His father believes the best way for Edward to do this is to marry. With that in mind they have, without consulting him, organised a house party in a fortnight to which they have invited several eligible young ladies (with their mothers as chaperones). Edward is told he can invite some of his friends, too. He’s not really impressed by the idea as he hopes to make a love match like his parents and can’t see any such relationship developing from the party. Miss Isabella Winthrop is staying in the family home of the Duke as the companion to one of his mother’s friends. He is irate when he discovers her in the library reading the personal journal of his ancestor which contains clues to help uncover the location of a priceless family heirloom – a gold and pink diamond tiara. After this uncomfortable introduction the two end up working together to help discover the heirloom and mutual attraction grows. Isabella, however, has a secret and its discovery could change everything for them all. As a novella, this is a quick read and there isn’t really time for lots of character or plot development. However, this didn’t detract from making this an enjoyable story to escape into and the mystery of the missing heirloom added intrigue to the experience. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley, too, for letting me read an ARC of this book in exchange for this, an honest review.
This is book two in the series "How To". I will say that I have read the first book "How to Beguile a Duke' and feel that it is helpful if you read that book first. You can go without reading it but I found that I was glad that I did not. This is a sweet story that did not have any real bad person and was basically a story about Edward Adair, heir to the Duke of Boulstridge and Miss Isabella Winthrop. Edward parents are throwing a house party for Edward to find a bride. Edward doesn't want to be married yet but see no choice as his father is threatening to cut him off with out a penny. Isabella is having to work as a paid companion to help her brother out to pay off the family bills. Isabella is attending the house party and meets Edward. They both set out to solve a family mystery that is been in Edwards family for years. This draws them closer together and set them to pretend to be engaged to hold of the young women after Edwards and Isabella thinks with the money Edward is paying her she can help her brother. The just didn't count how their feels would turn to the real thing. A really nice read and I hope that you will like it too!
I received an ARC of How to Bewitch an Earl by Ally Broadfield in exchange for an honest review. Regency romance conveyed within the classic format of Jane Austin. Isabella is the heroine with the smarts and goodness of heart. Edward is the arrogant, entitled hero.