For Lady Primrose Wootten nothing has been ordinary since her father the Baron died and his wayward family filled the estate with greed and treachery. Primrose knows if she can just track down her brother, he can send the odious relations on their way. But instead she finds this enormous, powerful stranger, and forgets entirely what she was doing in the first place...
Sir Bened Vaughn isn't much afraid of a pistol. But he is a bit afraid of the woman holding it, who stirs up something so primal he's not sure he can shake it off. Vaughn is an honorable man, and he knows he has no right to desire Primrose. Yet he does have an obligation to help her, and as they learn more about her brother's disappearance, he realizes that means staying by her side...wanting her all the while... and wondering how much longer they can resist temptation...
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If He's Noble
By HANNAH HOWELL
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Hannah Howell
All rights reserved.
Spring, Western England, 1791
"Sir Bened Vaughn." Bened grinned, savoring the sound of the words. "May I assist you, Sir Bened? Would you like some wine, Sir Bened?" He laughed softly. "That will never grow old."
Bened rode deeper into the woods, deciding to take the shortest route to the village where he planned to rest for the night. If he had known that all he had to do was take a bullet for some spoiled, inept heir to a title to get his own honors, he would have been leaping in front of the fools years ago. Even the few times he had been hired to watch over some young gentry man, he had never considered the possibility that he could end up with more than just a very decent wage for the work. Then again, the previous gentry lads he had watched over had not been as dim-witted or reckless as this last one. Young Lord Percival Dunstan, an earl's only heir, should never be allowed to leave his ancestral lands again.
Over the last few years of doing such work, he had also become a very wealthy man, or wealthy enough in his eyes and most of his family's. Now, with this latest largesse, he could settle somewhere, stop making a living chasing foolish young gentlemen around and trying to keep them alive. It would please his mother beyond words. After he took that bullet, a wound that had kept him bedridden for a few weeks, she had decried his choice of work loudly and consistently.
"Smudge! Where are you, you obstinate beastie?"
Bened reined to a halt and stared in the direction of that angry feminine voice. The accent was definitely that of a well-born woman. What was some gentry lass doing deep in the forest with night coming on fast? Aside from making a lot of noise, he thought, as he heard a loud thrashing around in bushes followed by a faintly shocking litany of curses that would make a stable boy proud.
He sensed no threat so patiently waited for whoever was stomping through the woods calling for a horse, the same speckled gray mare he could see calmly grazing several yards away to his left. When a small, bedraggled woman stumbled out of the shadows of the thick trees, Bened actually caught his breath, surprised by the sight of her as well as his reaction. His heartbeat picked up its pace. Something it had never done at the sight of a woman. Certainly not for one like her. She was not the type of woman who usually caught his interest or attention.
She was short, delicate of build, yet shapely in a way that would please any man. Her hair was a mass of long, thick blond curls now cluttered with twigs and leaves. A look of angry frustration did nothing to dim the innocent beauty of her heart-shaped face. The flush of anger coloring her cheeks actually looked good on her fair skin. She was the perfect example of a gentle-bred Englishwoman except for the pistol she held aimed at his heart.
The pistol looked too big for her small, long-fingered hand but that hand did not tremble. Bened still experienced no sense of a true threat from her; saw no dangerous enemy before him. He supposed it made sense for the woman to have a pistol while running around in the woods and to point it at some stranger she met. It was, in truth, the only indication that she had recognized the precarious position she was in. He frowned at how fiercely she squinted at him and realized her eyesight might not be very keen.
"Do you intend to use that?" he asked as he very carefully dismounted.
"Do not move."
"I mean you no harm, m'lady."
"How do you know I am a lady?"
Bened bit back a smile as she growled softly and rolled her eyes.
"That was not what I meant to say," she grumbled. "I meant how did you know who I am?"
"I do not. I but assumed your rank because of how you speak and the fine quality of your clothing. I am Sir Bened Vaughn." He stepped closer to her.
"You are moving again."
"I know." He took one swift, large step and snatched the pistol from her hand.
"I told you to stop moving!"
"And I told you that I mean you no harm but I do prefer not having a pistol pointed at me."
"Fine. I quite understand that but I need you to hold still. Considering your size, I suspect you have large, booted feet and I have lost my spectacles around here somewhere. I would rather you did not find them by stomping on them."
Suppressing a sigh, Bened stepped even closer, ignoring how she tensed, plucked the spectacles caught in the button loop of her coat, and gently put them on her. They made her dark blue eyes look even bigger. She was adorable, he thought, as she blushed and arranged her spectacles as she obviously preferred on her small straight nose. Adorable did not usually stir his interest but it appeared to be making an exception for her.
"Thank you for finding them," she said in a prim voice. "Where were they?"
"Caught in the button loop on your coat."
"Oh." She blushed even more. "That is somewhat humiliating." She held out her hand. "I am the Honorable Primrose Anabelle Matilda Dunmore Wootten of Willow Hill." She grimaced. "Long name, I know. Had to honor the paternal aunties."
"Ah." Bened nodded. "Understood. 'Tis why I was saddled with a second name as well—Madawg."
"Mah-dawg. My maternal uncle's name. My brothers were given it as well."
"How many brothers do you have?"
"Six. I think my parents hoped the man would feel honored enough to will his cottage and land to one of us but, five years ago, even though the man was fifty, he had the bad manners to wed a much younger lass and now has three sons of his own."
"Oh." Primrose saw him grin and had to smile. "How very rude of him. Well, a pleasure to meet and speak with you, Sir Bened, but I must be on my way. As soon as I can find my horse," she added in a soft mutter.
"That horse over there?" Bened pointed toward the dappled gray and almost laughed at the way she blushed and scowled in the direction of the animal, then muttered a few curses he pretended not to hear.
"More humiliation," she grumbled as she walked toward her horse.
By the time she reached her horse, intensely aware of the big man walking by her side, Primrose began to try to think of the best way to leave. This man had been very helpful so she did not wish to offend him in any way. Since he made no move to leave, she then began to worry that she may have stumbled into some more trouble. There had been a lot of it on her journey, much more than she would have considered normal and it had begun to rouse her suspicions. Yet, even as she thought that, she could muster no fear, felt no threat from him at all.
He was a big man, something that did stir a trickle of alarm, but it was easily shrugged aside since it was the only thing about him that did. He was quiet, even moved quietly, and being near him calmed her. His features were somewhat harsh, but he was handsome despite that. His silvery blue eyes encircled by thick black lashes were spellbinding. Primrose noted that his clothing was not the height of fashion but it was well made, the cloth of very good quality, and the fit well tailored. Those eyes and that deep, smooth voice with the faintly musical lilt of Wales in it were his best features, she decided. Neither, however, explained why she was drawn to him, comfortable around him, and intrigued by him. She decided that was a puzzle best saved for solving later.
"May I have my pistol back?" she asked, silently cursing her own stupidity for letting him get hold of it.
Bened studied the pistol he still held and then looked at her. "Why? And exactly why are you riding about the forest all alone?"
"I am in search of my brother. He needs to know that our father has died." She stuck out her hand, sighed with relief when he placed the pistol in it, and carefully put it back into her coat pocket.
"You could not just send a message to him?"
"I did but never got a reply. He loved Papa and would never have missed his funeral. Yet, he did and that was when I decided to go after him. He was not where he said he would be, so I suspect he does not know about our father's death yet. His friends said he had abruptly left their house with no true explanation why and that they have heard nothing from him since then."
"How do you know where to look for him then?"
"Simeon is the sort of man people notice." She frowned when he shook his head. "What?"
"That is a poor way to track a person down."
"It has been working well enough thus far."
"But it will fail if your brother takes even one short route where no one sees him."
"Then I will need to find the trail left by his horse."
"You know how to look for that?"
"I do and Simeon's horse leaves a very distinct trail."
"Distinct in what way? An odd gait?" Bened could see that she was reluctant to tell him and wondered why.
"Simeon can be whimsical and he had his horse shod with shoes that have stars on them. So his trail shows stars in it." She nodded at his look of astonishment. "I know. I told him it was such things as that which made people think him a lack-witted dandy. He knows that and finds it amusing. Papa was much the same."
Bened did not like to think that a young woman with poor eyesight who set out alone to hunt her brother down was the most sensible one in the family. "You cannot continue riding about the countryside alone looking for people who may have seen your brother or for a trail of stars in the dust."
When the man put it just that way, it did sound idiotic, which annoyed her. Primrose searched for a mature, sensible way to defend her actions. It was, by all the rules of society, indefensible. No lady of good birth should ride about England unaccompanied, unchaperoned. The need to find Simeon and to flee her aunt's many plots had allowed her to ignore all that. Facing this big, calm man who expected her to explain herself, it was suddenly not so simple.
"Someone had to find Simeon. He is needed back at Willow Hill. Badly needed." She turned to her horse, intending to mount and ride away before he could press her for more answers.
"Then we will find him."
Primrose watched him smoothly mount his large black gelding. A part of her wanted to thank him for offering to come with her, repeatedly and loudly, but she resisted the urge. This concerned her family and her future. It was not right to place her burdens on the shoulders of a complete stranger, no matter how broad those shoulders were.
"Yes," he said, looking down at her with those calm silvery eyes and then nodding toward her horse. "Mount up, m'lady, and we shall hunt down that brother of yours."
"This is not your trouble, Sir Bened," she said, even as she mounted her horse. "This is all part of a familial contretemps and you must not feel compelled to get tangled up in it just because you have a chivalrous nature." She frowned at him when he laughed.
"Chivalrous, am I? That opinion would amuse my kin. Nay, m'lady, I am but a man who has too long worked at watching over others. You need watching over whether you wish to admit to it or not. I am also very, very good at following a trail and need no stars in the dirt to do it." He leaned toward her to add quietly, "I am also very good at knowing when danger and an enemy draw near. I have a strong feeling that you may be in need of those skills, m'lady."
"I truly want to say I do not need them but"—Primrose sighed—"it would be a lie, I think. I have not much enjoyed traveling about alone, either. 'Tis not accepted anywhere. And, I am not Lady Primrose, you know. Just an honorable, so you do not need to keep saying m'lady."
"Easier than saying m'honorable."
Primrose laughed. "True, so just say miss."
He nodded and took the lead as they rode back to the road. Bened would have preferred riding through the woods but he hoped he might find her brother's trail on the road. What he really needed was more information from her and a sedate ride along a road would make talking easier. Bened was certain there was more to her hunt for her brother than a need to tell him about their father's death.
"You say your brother is very noticeable," he said.
"In what way?"
"He dresses in a way to catch the eye. Some would call him a fop or a dandy but he never goes quite that far. Simeon does love color though and lace. He is also, well, pretty. Women would notice him were he to dress in rags. He has a face that looks both softly beautiful and yet manly. Brilliant blue eyes and what some call guinea gold hair, which is long, thick, and has soft waves in it. I have watched perfectly sensible women go all foolish over him more times than I can count. If I did not love him so much, I would probably want to kill him for so outshining me."
Bened laughed. "I have kin like that."
"I do not understand why he left his friends as he did, not even telling them where he was going."
"One does not always tell one's friends everything. Mayhap it concerned a woman."
"It could be as simple as that yet he would have told them enough so that they would have guessed why he was being so reticent. They have all known each other since the cradle, are as close as any brothers could be. They were almost worried by the time I left them for they had begun to realize how little they did know."
"And they just allowed you to ride away alone? None of them offered to be your guard? Just how old is your brother?"
"Nine and twenty. Six years older than me. Two of the friends he was visiting are wed and new fathers. They could not go off adventuring." Primrose sighed. "I did not even think to ask the others. They are good enough men to have thought of it after I left but it would have been too late by then. And, to be fair, I am not sure they even considered that when I said I had to find Simeon, that I actually intended to do so myself."
Bened said nothing but decided Primrose had been surrounded by people who had had little to do with the darker, harsher realities of life. It was often a problem when dealing with the gentry, especially those who spent much of their lives in the country. He studied Primrose as she rode beside him with an admirable skill. He suspected she was naïve but not blindingly so. It was something he was counting on because using his skill to keep her calm and unafraid could not continue indefinitely. It was good now, allowing him to gain information and some trust, but could quickly exhaust him. That would hinder his ability to hunt down her brother, something he believed was imperative.
It was growing dark by the time they reached the village where he had planned to stop for the night. Bened was relieved to find there were still two bedchambers available, side by side, which would help him keep Primrose safe during the night. After washing the travel dust off, he went down the stairs and ordered them a meal as well as a private parlor.
Taking a seat at the table in the private room, Bened sipped at his ale and thought about what he was doing. He realized he was acting just as he did with the lordlings he had watched over for the last few years. That might prove to be the wrong way to behave with a baron's daughter. A woman who went out on her own to hunt down her brother undoubtedly had a very independent nature. Such a woman would object to him trying to lead her about.
He thought on what little she had told him and frowned. There was something she was hiding from him. Bened was certain of it. Primrose was hunting her brother for more reasons than to inform him that their father had died. That was not enough cause for a gently bred female to set out on a journey on her own. Bened was determined to find out exactly what had made her so desperate. Every instinct he depended upon was telling him that she was in trouble and he needed all the information he could get from her if he was to protect her adequately. It surprised him a little when he realized just how determined he was to do that.
Primrose finished brushing the travel dust from her gown, hung it up, and dug a clean one out of her bag. She pushed aside a pang of disappointment over the fact that she had brought only a few serviceable gowns. The strange urge to look nice for Sir Bened was unexpected. She was not even sure she could trust him. He could be the chivalrous man she had called him but she no longer so readily believed such people exist. Recent events had shown her that her judgment of people was not as sound as she had once believed.
She had certainly misjudged her aunt and uncle. When her father had generously allowed them to move into the dower house when her uncle had lost his money through bad investments, she had soon deemed them both to be foolish, rude, and somewhat mean-spirited. Having had as little as possible to do with them from then on, she had not altered her opinion of them by much. Then her father had died and her aunt and uncle had moved into the manor to, as they told anyone who would listen, care for young Primrose until her errant brother returned. She had quickly decided that her aunt was still rude and mean-spirited but that the woman's foolishness was mostly an act. Augusta was cunning, coldhearted, and dangerous. Although she had no proof of it, Primrose was certain Augusta had killed her father.
Excerpted from If He's Noble by HANNAH HOWELL. Copyright © 2015 Hannah Howell. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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
Waited for this book. Purchased it the first day available. Wanted to love it. Loved Bened as a character introduced in previous books in the series. Was disappointed. Didn’t find the same depth, breath, giggles, and escapism that I usually enjoy with Ms. Howell’s books. I’ve purchased and read every book in this and the Highland series, and I just found her storytelling in this instance lacking. It felt like being dropped into a story that had already started without me. The first 50 pages were slightly painful… and slow going to page 100. The story picks up a bit then in a more usual Hanna Howell style, but at that point I was already missing character development, backstory, and her usually lovely plot layers… so the piece as a whole seemed very disjointed to me. If He’s Nobel does introduce new characters Bevan and Morris, and gives the reader a bit more about Modred. I would not rule Hanna Howell out as an author, as I have truly adored her previous writings. One star because I liked Bened as a character in previous books in the series. One star because I have always like Hanna Howell as an author, and remain hopeful that there are better stories to come.
I love this family please keep more coming!!
Ms.Howell delivers time and time again...I adore her novels...especially this series. Did i mention that i loved it?
I absolutely devoured If He's Noble. Primrose is running from an evil aunt and a horrible marriage arrangement. She hopes to find her brother so he can save her from her aunt's nefarious plans. Instead she runs into Bened Vaughn, who in all good conscience can't allow Primrose to search on her own. The chemistry is electrifying. The story riveting. The aunt absolutely villianess. Wonderfully suspenseful, If He's Noble brings a slightly paranormal flare to a marvelous historical romance. I received this ARC copy of If He's Noble from Kensington Books - Zebra in exchange for a honest review.
A wonderful addition to these excellent series. Bened is traveling to his new home and use to his new title after being rewarded by his client. He encounters Primrose and finds himself oddly drawn to her, he can easily see she is in need of his assistance and he is happy to offer it. Primrose is in search of her brother after the suspicious death of her Father and her Aunt and Uncle suddenly taking over the manor. As the journey continues the attraction between Bened and Primrose grows. Will Bened be able to resist and can the Vaughns and Wherlockes use their special skills to help Primrose? Wonderful historical adventure. The characters are excellent, this is a series but can be read as a stand-alone, lots of adventure and romance. I loved it!
Strong characters, mysterious intrigue and mystifying storytelling. Thank you Kensington and NetGalley for reintroducing me to Hannah Howell. Ms. Howell creates stories that stimulate the imagination. Her stories are never dull. There are always numerous surprises waiting to be discovered. I received an ARC of If He's Noble in exchange for an honest review. With a book this good my only disappointment is that I discovered it with book 7.
An easy, exciting read.
I’ve been waiting on Bened’s story and it was better than anticipated.
This book was as good as all the rest in the series.
Excellent resd you do not want to srop reading as the mistory continue.
This is my second reading of this book and this series. I was sad to find there were no more Wherlockes or Vaughns to follow. I really wish Ms. Howell would write Modred's happy ending.
Great read. Hope she continues with these family members. ?
Enjoyed this installment in the series! I want to hear Mod reds story...
This is book 7 in the Wherlocke series. Lady Primrose "Rose" Wooten must find her brother, but she keeps getting waylaid by men her aunt sent after her. During her travels, she runs into Sir Bened Vaughn. Not wanting any help, she turns down his offer to travel with her. But Bended insists and Rose has a hard time telling him no. Like the rest of the members of his family, Bened has special abilities. He can sense when danger when it is coming and protect those that are with him. With Rose's aunt sending men to chase after her, his ability came in handy. Can Rose find her brother and stay out of the clutches of her Aunt's men? Loved this story, just as I have the rest of the series. I have been looking forward to Bened's story since he was first introduced in the series. Rose and Bened's attraction for each other was almost instantaneous. Unfortunately Bened tried to ignore it as Rose was not of his class (she was nobility). Those stubborn men for you!! I really liked Rose. She was definitely not your typical lady of the times. She knew she had to find her brother before her aunt did and set out to find him on her own. Luckily for her (and us), she found Bened along the way. I really hope to see more of Lilybet (a Wherlocke that was found in the course of the story) as she was a breathe of fresh air. Her story would definitely be an interesting one!! Thanks go out to Zebra Books via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
**I received an ARC of this story in exchange for an honest review** Lady Primrose Wootten is searching for her brother when Sir Bened Vaughan sees her tangled in the woods looking for her horse. Her father had just died and she needed to let her brother know and avoid their aunt. When it becomes clear that their aunt wants more than to just take over. Bened refuses to leave Primrose. While there is more to him than normal men, she slowly makes him want much more. I had mixed feelings about this book. There were a number of things I went back and forth on. For example, I didn’t really “feel” the two main character’s instant attractions, but I did like their overall characters, particularly Bened’s. Yet, part of him irritated me as he was determined Primrose kept hiding more from him, but there really wasn’t any more she was hiding from him. I also didn’t like his reason for leaving in the end, when I felt her character left his feelings unfounded. With Bened’s character, he really didn’t have any insecurities pointed out throughout the book. I know these reasons sound cryptic, but I’m trying to not give away plot points and still give an honest review. I liked the slight paranormal aspect to the story. I also liked meeting several of Bened’s family members. Overall, it was a decent book. Even with the things I didn’t like, the plot was good enough that I wanted to finish the book. I would still recommend it to anyone that likes this genre and any of Hannah Howell’s fan-base.
Howell takes you back in time through every aspect of this novel. The descriptions and people set the scene while the narrative and dialogue set the tone. Howell’s intricate plot of danger and betrayal was fast paced, always keeping me on my toes. I really enjoy how well the entire Wherlocke series ties together as a whole, yet how each novel can also be read individually, without the rest of the series. Primrose was a fantastic heroine for this series. I thoroughly enjoyed the way rationalized everything. Her strength in the face of the deepest of betrayals really sets her apart from most heroines of the genre. Bened’s gift and his fascination with Primrose made him a sight to behold. Howell’s descriptions and the character’s own actions brought him to life in vivid clarity, allowing me to picture & fall in love with him. These two characters’ positive and endearing traits were highlighted by the utter despicableness of some of the supporting cast. The contrast in characters was so marked that you couldn’t miss it. Once again Howell has created a historical romance with a kick. It was a great read that I could barely put down. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
Hannah Howell knows how to deliver a good read. Clever and sassy characters!
Fast paced tale that leaves the reader in awe. Well written with engaging characters and a scandalous tale. The the H/H may have their flaws but they are well balanced and loveable. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. A satisfying read. Can't wait for the next installment. *Received for an honest review from the publisher via Net Gallery* Rating: 4 Heat rating: Mild Reviewed by: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
The second I have read in this wonderfully engaging series, If He’s Noble compiles all of the elements together for a gripping read. Heroine in danger? Check. Evil family villain? Check. Hero with honor and good intentions? Check. Fast-paced action, chemistry and a believable set of circumstances? Check, check and Check. See, Primrose’s father has died under mysterious circumstances and her Aunt and Uncle are in control. Her uncle is vile, but in that drinking, gambling and carousing uncaring inattentive sort of way. Her aunt, however, is a grasping power-made greedy woman, willing to go to great lengths to eliminate competition for the not unsubstantial family fortune and power. With only Primrose having the power to stop her aunt’s plans, she sets off to find her brother and warn him of the dangers posed by her guardians. Bened Vaughn, like all of his family, is possessed of something ‘extra’ that makes them more than human. In family history, this extra has led to fear and loathing, witch hunts and more. But, in a more enlightened time, with the Vaughns and Wherlockes all finding life is moving along well. Bened has been working in personal security for the nobility, and this has brought him wealth, a title and lands. But, coming across a bedraggled lass, recently unseated from her horse and a little frantic, he listens to her story. While he is intrigued by Primrose, he’s finding himself honor-bound to help her. These two are adorable together. Primrose had suspicions, but never could she have imagined the depth of the danger she would face, but fortunately Bened is well-versed in protection and ferreting out motivations and plots. Determined and while not ‘seasoned’, Primrose is ready to face off to stand on the side of right in this battle of right and wrong. Raised with a certain knowledge of society and expectations for a woman, she is more than able to help and support Bened as he navigates the waters of society with his newly acquired title, and it’s no wonder that their friendship moves to love. Not only because he saved her, but for her essential sweetness and belief in him, and her stalwart support. A wonderful and fast paced instalment with plenty of twists and some great reveals of motivations and machinations. I received an eARC copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
✦Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: If He’s Noble (Wherlockes Series Book 7) by Hannah Howell http://wp.me/p3d0RZ-2MC Genre: Regency/ Historical Romance Reviewed by: Reading in Pajamas/ Cori Rated: 4 Stars REVIEW: Great historical romance! I thoroughly enjoyed If He’s Noble! I’ve read a couple of Hannah Howell’s books in the past and had forgotten how much I enjoyed them. If He’s Noble was a fun and exciting romance with witty characters and a gripping plot. It’s well written and hooked me from the beginning with a fun meeting between the characters. This book can be read as a standalone. I haven’t read the entire series but plan to go back and read them because I enjoyed this one. I recommend it for regency historical romance lovers looking for a well written story that will leave you smiling when you close the book. I’ll be checking out the rest of the series and already passed on a paperback to a friend to share the story with her. *Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.