Lord Elliott Mayfield aims to correct the very messy marital mistakes and spousal scandals of his brothers and sisters by requiring his nieces and nephews to choose worthy companions. If they choose wisely, they will receive their generous share of the family’s inheritance. Peter, Elliott’s eldest nephew, thinks the entire idea is ridiculous. A widower with two young daughters, he simply needs a governess, not a wife. Julia Hollingsworth certainly has the credentials and the experience, but is altogether too young and pretty for such a job. So why can’t he stop thinking about her? Julia loves working as a governess, despite the objections of her mother, Amelia. And as it turns out, Amelia has a lot to say about the Mayfield men—none of it good. But Julia dismisses the rumors of ruined reputations and instead concentrates on helping Peter with his children and his fledgling business in canine husbandry. His kindness and gentleness is endearing—and increasingly attractive. But Amelia, whose heart was broken thirty years ago by none other than Elliott Mayfield, is determined to prevent any relationship from blooming either between Peter and Julia—or between herself and Elliott. Hearts and history collide as both couples must face their pasts and decide if risking it all is worth the promise of new love and a new future.
About the Author
Josi S. Kilpack is the bestselling author of several Proper Romance and Proper Romance Historical series and the cozy mystery series, Culinary Mystery series. Her book, A Heart Revealed, is a Publishers Weekly Best Romance Book of the Year. She and her husband, Lee, are the parents of four children.
Read an Excerpt
“I have created a campaign that could save the others from their current courses by gifting them each a generous settlement upon an appropriate marriage. Your cousins are all of age, and with my sister Jane’s passing last year, I have no more family to stand in my way.” Elliott attempted a smile, then realized he had made a jest that his siblings and their respective spouses—including Peter’s parents—were dead. Perhaps not the best way to go about lightening the mood. Peter looked less uncomfortable but more suspect. “A campaign?” “A marriage campaign, you might say. I have seven nieces and nephews, all of whom I have cared for, but you are the only one who has married successfully and enjoyed the security and self-respect of a solid and loving union.” Peter looked at the desk and squared up the edges of the notebook with the table. Perhaps it would have been better for Elliott to have relayed the entire plan in a letter where he could have found the perfect words to explain. In a letter, the recipient need never know how many drafts existed between first and final. For Elliott, those drafts often counted into double digits. “I know you miss Sybil very much,” Elliott said, his voice softening even as the awkwardness in the room increased. “Your daughters will benefit from the steadiness of their parents’ characters for the rest of their lives. I would like my other nieces and nephews to find similar happiness as you had with Sybil.” Peter leaned toward one side of his chair, rested one hand on the wooden armrest, and tapped his finger. “With all due respect, Uncle, my match with Sybil was not the result of a campaign, and I can’t imagine we would have found happiness together had our relationship not started with love, commitment, and respect. I struggle to see how your . . . enticements will change anyone’s course. A life of virtue and integrity cannot be forced or, in regard to this situation, bought. It must be an individual choice.” “I understand your concern,” Elliott admitted with a nod. “But I fear that without my enticements, as you call them, the others will never change their current courses. I need them to see the benefits of an upstanding life, and I believe this is an opportunity to frame the future into something that it is both clear and attainable.” He paused and took another breath. “This family is everything to me, Peter. I have sacrificed a great deal to provide for those over whom I have charge, but the hope that my efforts will heal the broken generations is faltering. There is no unity, no commitment to future generations—yourself excluded—and a pattern of poor choices is beginning to be sewn into our family tapestry yet again. We have been given a noble trust of land, wealth, position, and opportunity. I cannot in good conscience do nothing to prevent it from being completely squandered.”