What is a young Worthington woman to do when the man of her dreams is not who she thinks he is?
This season, all eyes are on the Earl of Worthington’s spirited, beautiful sister, Lady Louisa Vivers. Many gentlemen are vying for her attention in and around the ton. Yet, Louisa longs for someone who can take her beyond the ballroom—a man who is worldly, adventurous, and passionate. She won’t settle for just any suitor. She wants her true soul mate—and she’ll know him when she sees him.
Is Gideon, the Duke of Rothwell, him? The moment he and Louisa meet, they share a powerful attraction. Rides at sunrise and waltzes at dusk follow. Finally, Gideon can no longer resist the urge to embrace her, and Louisa is sure he will ask for her hand. But Gideon believes he is in no position to marry. The Rothwell estate has gone bankrupt, a scandal simmers in its wake, and he has nothing left to offer. Now, he must decide if he will let pride stand in the way of true love—or if he will risk everything, and let the lady decide for herself…
Praise for The Worthingtons series
“A classic Regency romp! Perfect for fans of Grace Burrowes.” Caroline Linden, USA Today bestselling author on When a Marquis Chooses a Bride
“Three Weeks to Wed is a delightfully heartwarming escape into the sparkling world of the Regency. Ella Quinn weaves magic.” Cathy Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author
About the Author
Ella Quinn is the USA Today bestselling author of smart, spicy Regency romances, including The Worthingtons and The Marriage Game Series. Prior to writing romance, Ella Quinn was an adjunct professor, a lawyer, and the first woman to be assigned to a Green Beret unit. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and has extensively researched the Regency era, immersing her stories with the flavor and feel of the period so that readers lose themselves in the time. She and her husband currently live in Germany when they aren’t cruising the world on their sailboat. Visit her online at ellaquinnauthor.com.
Read an Excerpt
It Started With A Kiss
By Ella Quinn
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Ella Quinn
All rights reserved.
Early morning, Hyde Park, May 1815
Dawn had broken only a few minutes before, but a light fog clouded the air making the sun look like a small yellow ball. Gideon, Duke of Rothwell, was certain he was the only rider at this hour of the morning. Needing the calm a hard ride gave him, he thundered down the empty carriage way. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a dark bay burst through the mist, disturbing his solitude. Yet it was the massive dog, almost the size of a pony, keeping pace with the horse that caught his notice.
What the devil?
Faisu, his black Murgese stallion, pranced nervously as Gideon brought him to a halt. "Easy, boy. We don't need that beast tangling with you. He could sever your hamstrings in an instant."
A moment later, a twist of long, dark hair pulled loose from under the rider's hat, riveted his attention on the woman. By the time she was even with him, he'd taken in the neat figure encased in a dark blue riding habit, and her excellent seat.
She glanced over, slowing her horse for a bare moment as she passed him. Her cheeks were pink from the cool air and a smile graced her lush rose lips. Their gazes collided and held. As if they were the only two people on earth. In that second, when Gideon felt as if he would tumble into the vivid blue of the rider's eyes, they reminded him of lapis.
She cannot be real.
He blinked and she was gone. He might have dreamed her except that a few seconds later, a groom raced by, clearly attempting to catch up with his mistress.
For a moment he was tempted to follow as well, but it wouldn't do him any good. She was obviously a lady, and even if he could obtain an introduction, and their relations proceeded satisfactorily, he was not yet in a position to wed.
It was pure fantasy to think of marriage in conjunction with a woman he'd seen in passing. Still, he would have liked to have been able to dream.
Blast Father! If he were still alive, I'd shake some sense back into him.
But the old duke had been in the ground for over three months when Gideon had returned from Canada. Now all he could do was pick up the pieces his father had left behind.
"Come on, boy." Shaking the blue-eyed image from his mind, he urged Faisu to a trot. "It's time to go back. As long as I am here, I may as well gather information, and settle some accounts."
He should never have left. The waste was his fault. Had he stayed home, none of the damage would have occurred. What was the old saying about reaping what one sowed? Well, it was now his job, his alone, to restore the dukedom's holdings to what they had been only a few years ago, before he'd left for the colonies and played at being a backwoods man. Unfortunately, those experiences would not help him bring back and modernize his holdings.
Fifteen minutes later, as he rode up to the stables in the mews behind his town house, he surveyed the building, searching for any signs that it would soon need to be repaired. When he'd returned from Canada, his first shock was discovering his father had died. A letter had been sent, but it hadn't arrived before he left the colonies. The second shock was the poor condition of the estates. It baffled him that the once prosperous properties could fall into such disrepair in such a short period of time. If only he knew what had occurred to make his father neglect his holdings when he'd prided himself on them in the past. To make it more baffling, no one at Rothwell Abbey could explain, to Gideon's satisfaction, what had occurred to change his father.
If only he had remained at home where he belonged instead of hying off across the ocean. This was a lesson not to allow others to tend to his responsibilities.
He really did not have time for this bolt to Town, but his cousin, Edmond Bentley, had written begging for Gideon's help, and here he was.
"Yr Grace." Barnes, his stable master, strode quickly to Faisu's head, taking hold of the harness. "I've got him now."
"How is the roof?" Gideon asked as he swung off the horse. In the short time he'd been home, he had learned to ask. No one, it seemed, wanted to volunteer information. "I want the truth. It is much easier to fix a small leak than the damage it can do."
"Dry so far, Yr Grace. I'll keep an eye out. The glazing's comin' off from around some of the windows."
If that was the worst of it, Gideon would count himself lucky. It would take time and patience to make the repairs on the buildings that had been neglected, but he'd be damned if he'd allow anything else to fall into disorder. "Make arrangements to have them repaired."
"Yes, Yr Grace. Going to be here long?" the man asked, a hopeful look on his weather-beaten face.
"A few weeks, perhaps less. There is a deal to do at Rothwell and some of the other estates."
"Bad doings all of this." The older man tapped the side of his nose. "I'll make sure the town coach is in good order then. Won't do to have it break down when you need it. Or lookin' shabby."
"If it's the same one I remember, it probably needs to be replaced." Gideon's tone was even grimmer than he felt, which was quite grim enough.
"It's got another couple o' years yet." The stable master started to lead Faisu into his stall and stopped. "Leave it to old Barnes."
"Thank you." Gideon hoped he'd conveyed the gratitude he had for his old retainers. They truly were gems. Without their loyalty and patience, his life and the lives of his family would be much more difficult.
"Now that yer here, what you planning on doing with the new carriages the old duke ordered from Hatchett's?" "New carriages?" He fought to keep his jaw from dropping.
What the deuce had his father been thinking? Although, that bit of unnecessary extravagance went along with the other information he was slowly piecing together about the old duke's recent behavior. Spending that left little with which to maintain the estates.
"Got a landau and a high-perched phaeton —"
"The devil you say." His father wouldn't have seen seventy again. "What was he going to do with a phaeton?"
Barnes flushed. "I think it was fer that high-flyer he took up with."
Gideon's breath stopped. His parents had been the most devoted couple he knew. What could have happened to make his father change so drastically? And why in God's name had no one written to Gideon asking him to return home?
Damn his eyes! It needed only that.
Frustration coursed through him. He raked his fingers through his hair, knocking off his hat in the process. Yet, somehow, this fit the fractured story he'd heard, or rather had not heard, about Father's death. It was probably the reason Mama had been so tight-lipped. No one had or would explain what exactly had happened to make the duke ignore his holdings as he had. Thank God most of the assets were entailed, or Gideon might have found them mortgaged to the hilt at best or sold. "Do you happen to know who this barque of frailty was?"
"Her maid called her Mrs. Rosemund Petrie." Barnes spit as he said the name. "Like she was royalty and should be treated as such. Nothin' more than a whore, if you ask me."
His stable master might not know much about the woman, but Gideon would make sure he found out not only exactly who the female was, but what, if anything, he could recover from her. Then a thought he did not want to consider occurred to him. "I was told he died in Town."
Barnes picked up Gideon's hat where it had fallen, running his hand around the brim for a moment before saying, "Died in bed, he did. With her."
"Here?" He eyed the older man sharply. "At Rothwell House?"
Not looking up, the stable master nodded slowly.
"For the love of Jove! What had Father been thinking?"
"Don't no one know that, Yr Grace," Barnes said quickly, as if he would be blamed for the old duke's indiscretions. "I got her out of there with no one the wiser ... except'n fer two of the grooms and Mr. Fredericks. Those that works here know which side their bread is buttered on. Won't no one be carrying tales." He made an X over his heart. "Strike my name from my Ma's Bible if they do. Mrs. Boyle even had the mattress changed out. Said it was full of wickedness."
Gideon didn't think that a mattress could have a wicked nature, but he was just as glad for the new one. He would likewise swear that his mother had a good idea where her husband had been when he'd gone to his Maker. "I am sure you did everything necessary."
"Yes, Yer Grace. I'll get them windows fixed. What about that Mrs. Petrie's horses and carriage she's got here?"
He speared Barnes with a hard look. "I would greatly appreciate it if you would tell me everything at one time. How many horses, carriages, and whatnot? Did my father buy them, or were they hers before he became involved with her? Please feel free to add any other information you believe necessary as well."
The stable master rubbed his nose as he thought. Finally, Barnes replied, "The old duke bought her a nice Arabian hack, and two dark bay high-steppers for the phaeton he bought her a couple o' years ago —"
"Matched?" Gideon could barely spit out the word.
The servant looked at him as if he'd gone mad. "Wouldn't have expected anything else from His Grace, would you? Now if I can finish, Yer Grace?"
Clenching his jaw, he gave a curt nod. Not that it mattered how much more there was. It would all be sold as soon as possible. He calculated the costs of the horses alone to be at least three thousand pounds. Father had never stinted on horseflesh. Gideon turned his attention back to Barnes, who was still reciting his father's purchases over the past three years.
"Sell it all."
"I was about to get to the saddles and other tack," the older man said in an aggrieved tone.
"Keep the horses I brought with me and whatever you think best for the town coach. The rest goes."
"What about the curricle? Won't get much fer it, and you might need it."
He could use a sporting carriage. It would certainly save money in hackneys. "Very well. I'll keep it, but contact Tattersalls and whoever else you need to about the carriages and other items." Barnes opened his mouth again. "Keep anything you think I shall require."
"Thank ye, Yer Grace."
Stanwood House, Mayfair
"Measles?" Lady Louisa Vivers exclaimed. "All three of them?"
Excited to tell someone about the gentleman she'd seen in the Park, she had gone directly to the parlor she shared with her friend and new sister, Lady Charlotte Carpenter.
Just before the Season began in earnest, Matt Worthington, Louisa's brother, had married Lady Grace Carpenter. Grace had guardianship of her seven brothers and sisters. The marriage had given Louisa a total of ten brothers and sisters, including her own three sisters, not including Grace. Sometime this coming winter, the number of children would increase to twelve with the arrival of Matt and Grace's first child. The girls were ecstatic to be aunts. Even the boys were excited.
However, as Louisa opened her mouth to speak, Charlotte told her of the doctor's diagnosis. Obviously, that news took precedence over Louisa's.
"Yes," Charlotte replied. "Theo, Mary, and Philip. According to Cousin Jane and the information your mama left for Grace, the others, including Grace and Matt, have already had them."
"Will that put off Grace and Matt's trip to Worthington?" The addition of so many family members meant that not only Worthington House but the Worthington main estate as well must undergo extensive renovations in order to accommodate everyone. In fact, the only one of her brothers and sisters not residing at present in the Carpenter town home, Stanwood House, was Charlie, Earl of Stanwood, who was at Eton. Even Louisa's mother and her new husband, Richard, Viscount Wolverton, would stay at Stanwood House for the rest of the Season while Worthington House was being renovated. Well, after they returned from their wedding trip to Richard's estate in Kent, of course. Fortunately, the two houses were directly across Berkeley Square from each other.
"I think they must go," Charlotte said. Sitting at the desk, she tapped the feather end of the quill against her cheek. "Renovations must be started in the schoolroom there if we are all going to reside at your family's estate after the Season."
Louisa and her sister were almost halfway through their first Season. This new development certainly complicated things.
Chewing her bottom lip, she began to mentally adjust her plans to account for the new development. "Hmm, I suppose we should write notes excusing ourselves from the entertainments we had planned to attend." She glanced at the writing table. "What a bother. Why did the children have to choose now to fall ill?"
Charlotte let out a peal of laughter, lightening the mood. "That is almost exactly what Matt said."
Louisa grinned. "What did Grace say?"
"She told him he should ask and see what the children said. Grace is making arrangements for our chaperonage in the event he still wishes to make the trip." Charlotte heaved a sigh. "The poor things. I remember having the measles. The worst part was when I began to feel well again and was still not allowed to leave the sickroom. I wish Charlie was here to help entertain them. I shall, of course, help with nursing."
"As shall I." Louisa picked up her pocketbook from the desk. "We should make a schedule that will allow us to attend our entertainments and help care for the children."
She ducked as Charlotte threw a small embroidered pillow at her. "You and your schedules."
"How else do you plan to accomplish our marriages? By the by, how is it going with Harrington?"
Charlotte's lips formed a moue. "Not as I wish it to. He appears to think he has jumped all his hurdles. Consequently, he has gone off to his estates for a week." She raised a brow. "I can only imagine he thinks me a sure thing."
"That won't do at all." Louisa was not happy about that bit of information. Charlotte deserved to be treated better. "If he ignores you now, imagine what he would be like as a husband."
"My thoughts exactly," Charlotte agreed. "I do like him, yet I shall not be taken for granted. I think I must strike him as a potential husband."
"I cannot say that I blame you." Louisa wandered to the table next to one of the sofas and placed her hand on the cold teapot. "Will you ring for another pot while I change?" Charlotte nodded absently. "I have finally decided what to do about Lord Bentley." Louisa gave her friend a wicked grin. "You must help me find a match for him."
Edmond, Marquis of Bentley, heir to the Duke of Covington, had been one of the first gentlemen Louisa had met this Season, and despite the hints she had dropped, her most persistent suitor. Nothing she had done thus far had convinced him that they were not suited.
Her sister went off into whoops. Several moments later she pulled out her handkerchief and wiped her eyes. "That is the best idea you have had yet. If he transfers his affections to another lady, you will have managed to rid yourself of him without hurting his feelings."
"Indeed. The only problem is who. She must be intelligent enough to be duchess, managing enough to ensure Bentley performs his duties, and possess a great deal of patience in order to deal with his dithering." Louisa could not help but to grimace. "A virtue I do not possess in abundance."
"More patience than you?" Charlotte's tone was serious, but the corners of her lips twitched. "That does sound like an almost impossible combination. She would have to be a perfect paragon."
Ignoring her sister's facetious comment, Louisa said, "If we are still attending the ball this evening, we can begin searching for her." She paused for a moment, her fingers on the door latch. "It will not be an easy task, yet I am sure we will succeed. I'll see you in a few minutes."
"We are going to the ball," Charlotte called after Louisa. "Will you do me a favor and tell Matt? I was about to change my shoes, but you are already dressed."
Their brother continued to use his study at Worthington House, saying that even with the construction it was quieter than Stanwood House.
"And smelling of the stables. Hold off on the tea, and I shall go straightaway." Making her way down the stairs, Louisa strode out of house and crossed Berkeley Square.
Excerpted from It Started With A Kiss by Ella Quinn. Copyright © 2017 Ella Quinn. 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Really, really good. Loved the story and especially this family with all these characters. Wonderful!!!!!
Very good read. Not predictable. There is depth to the characters
Left on waiting for a secret... must get the next
Good book loved story Line
This is a very good continuation of the main characters.
Very nice It Started With a Kiss is the third installment of Ella Quinn’s Worthington series. This is the story of Gideon Rothwell, a newly titled duke, and Lady Louisa Vivers, the sister of the Earl of Worthington (Matt). It was love at first sight. There are a few obstacles (some of them rather significant) in the way of their happily ever after, which makes for an interesting tale. While there is a good bit of drama surrounding Gideon’s estate, there is also humor, often at times when Gideon interacts with the Worthington’s large happy family (lots of children, you know). All of the characters are strong and well developed. The story unfolds at a quick pace and comes to a satisfactory end. This is a wonderful continuation of the Worthington family series.
I went back and forth on rating this story. It was tough for me to get through the first part of this story and I almost put it down. But I persisted and pushed through and enjoyed the latter part of the book much better. I really like the Worthington family and have enjoyed the stories, but Quinn's writing is hit or miss for me. Sometimes I love it and others not so much. For this particular story, the beginning was just hard to get through. I think as the story progressed, it seemed to be much better written to me.
Gideon, the Duke of Rothwell has come to London to settle his deceased father’s debts and try to restore so semblance of order to his accounts, what he did not expect was to find Lady Louisa Vivers. She is young, beautiful and comes with a handsome dowry, but she wants to marry her soul mate. Lady Louisa sets his heart to pounding, he can’t even think about a wife until he can support one now that the Rothwell estate is bankrupt and that may take a few years to recoup their finances. Louisa longs for someone who can take her beyond the ballroom, to be their equal, a soul mate for a lifetime and she feels Gideon may be the one. Gideon knows he shouldn't be courting Louisa, but he can’t resist her and for Gideon and Louisa the more time they spend together, the more they both find themselves falling harder for each other. Louisa soon realizes Gideon has a secret he’s not telling her and she won’t stop until she uncovers everything there is to know about Gideon. Gideon is having trouble sorting out his father’s affairs especial his father’s mistress before Louisa finds out the whole truth. A captivating story I know you will enjoy as much as I did!!! I received an ARC copy from Net Galley and the publisher and this is my honest review.
the attraction between gideon, duke of rothwell, and lady louisa vivers is intense and immediate. they cross paths on horseback one morning, and without exchanging more than a glance they can't stop thinking about each other. it started with a kiss follows gideon and louisa as they navigate their courtship and the london season and their respective families, who happen to be the ones getting in the way of things. because from moment one, gideon and louisa are pretty obviously "it" for one another. that one moment in the park and it was like their souls recognized their other half. and the more time they spend together, the more they share with each other, the more obvious it is that there is no other end to their story than love and marriage and happily ever after. it's not all smooth sailing, of course, gideon is dealing with the consequences of his late father's descent into what society at the time called dementia, but was more likely alzheimer's disease. because his father was not in his right mind, he incurred a lot of debt and took up with a woman who's sole goal in life was to be kept in the lap of luxury. because gideon was out of the country he wasn't aware of his father's problems until after he returned to england, after his father's death. and the mess he has to clean up affects his eligibility, even though he is a duke. he is no golddigger and wants to solve these problems himself. louisa, on the other hand, has a very determined suitor, who happens to be gideon's cousin. she doesn't realize their connection until she and gideon had already fallen head over heels, but their connection does complicate things as gideon is an honorable person and does not want to hurt his cousin. but louisa is no shrinking violet. she's not going to let gentleman's honor dictate her life choices. she wants gideon and no other. and as she is a managing sort of female, she manages her friends and family until she gets her way. it's how she gets gideon to propose in a way. i love stories where the main characters aren't trying to figure out if they love each other, but are trying to figure out how to make sure their love can survive anything. and it started with a kiss is in this mold. there is no question that gideon and louisa love each other, but can they survive the obstacles in their way together? i mean, it's a romance, so of course they get their happily ever after. but watching them figure out how to be a team is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours. (i found it to be a quick read.) **it started with a kiss will publish on march 28, 2017. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/kensington books (zebra shout) in exchange for my honest review.
'It Started with a Kiss' by Ella Quinn is book Three in the "The Worthingtons" series. This is the story of Louisa and Gideon. I have read and enjoyed the previous books but if you choose this can be a standalone book. Louisa is the sister to Matt who was the main male character in book One "Three Weeks to Wed". So it was nice catching up with them in this book. Louisa knows Gideon is the one for her almost from the start when she passed him by when she was out riding in the early mornings. Louisa runs into Gideon again at her family home when she finds out that he is her brother's friend. Gideon is taken with Louisa from the start too but knows that nothing can come of it because his inherited Estes are left penniless after his father was pretty much taken advantage up by a women. Gideon cousin who he is close to informs him that he wants Louisa for his own and just wants his help in the matter. Gideon at first thinks this is a good ideal but it gets harder to stick with helping him. Louisa has already started looking for someone else for the cousin so she isn't having any of that and wants Gideon only. This was another great read by Ms. Quinn! Ms. Quinn is one of my favorite authors so this was a dream to read! "My honest review is for a special copy I voluntarily read."
London - 1815 Gideon, Duke of Rothwell, is riding in Hyde Park early one morning when a woman rider accompanied by a huge dog, roars past him. A glance at her beautiful eyes has truly intrigued him. Gideon had been living in Canada, but returned to England upon the recent death of his father. He has also discovered the family finances are in a mess and is working to restore the family’s money. What happened that the family’s holdings had been reduced so drastically? No one at Rothwell Abbey seems to know why. Even though Gideon’s mother is not saying anything, he soon learns that his father has been gambling heavily and spending enormous amounts of money on a woman named Mrs. Petrie. The woman was with his father when he died. Lady Louisa Viviers is visiting her friend, Lady Charlotte Carpenter, whose sister, Grace, has married Louisa’a brother, Matt Worthington, giving them a total of 11 siblings they are guardians for. Louisa is remembering the handsome man she rode by in the park this morning. Gideon is visiting his friend, Matt Worthington, asking for advice on newer methods to help put his holdings back in shape and increase his finances. When Louisa drops by to see Matt, both she and Gideon are surprised and pleased to see each other again and to be introduced to one another. The Duchess of Stillwell and her granddaughter, Miss Oriana Blackacre, have arrived in London for Oriana’s come-out. She and Louisa immediately become friends. Louisa is hoping to introduce Oriana to Bentley, a man who would like to court Louisa but he does not appeal to her because she is quite taken with Gideon. It turns out that Gideon and Bentley are cousins and when Gideon learns that Bentley wants to marry Louisa, he feels he should back away from courting her. Ah, but true love wins out and Gideon and Louisa decide to marry. But there is danger ahead that could make a problem for their lives ahead. Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.