She may be his favorite mystery...
All of Lady Abigail Hurst's dreams seem to be coming true when at long last her childhood sweetheart asks for her hand. But when a maid is found dead, and her betrothed is the chief suspect, Abigail begins to wonder just what manner of man she's marrying...
The Marquess of Longcroft, Edmund Townsend, has always preferred complex mathematical equations to the trappings of society. And love? Love is a non-quantifiable concept. Still, Lady Abigail is his sister's friend, and he finds himself drawn into the mystery of her affianced... even as he begins to anticipate Lady Abigail's company with unfathomable pleasure.
Investigating the murder may reveal more than the sordid truth. It may just reveal the love Abigail always wanted... a little too late.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||3 MB|
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Say You'll Love Me
An Unexpected Suitor Novel
By Ally Broadfield, Robin Haseltine
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Ally Broadfield
All rights reserved.
London, April 1815
Despite Lord Wrexham's ballroom being dimly lit, with widely spaced chandeliers and burgundy silk wallpaper that did nothing to dispel the dreary atmosphere, Lady Abigail Hurst would not allow it to dampen her spirits. This was her night. At long last, she was attending her own betrothal ball.
She drew in a prolonged breath before cementing a smile on her face and striding forward to greet her soon-to-be mother-in-law.
"My lady, it is a pleasure to see you again." She executed a low curtsy. Though she had known Lady Wrexham for most of her life, as her father's estate shared a border with Lord Wrexham's country property, this was their first encounter since Abigail had officially become betrothed to her son, Robert, who currently held the title of Viscount Hinsdale.
Lady Wrexham's eyes traveled up to the top of Abigail's head and all the way back down to her toes which, thankfully, were doubly concealed by her slippers and ball gown. She resisted the urge to reach up and check her hair for loose tendrils. The stern expression on Lady Wrexham's face didn't waver, and Abigail was left feeling she had failed the first of many tests in her near future. She had never been particularly comfortable in public, and Lady Wrexham was hardly bolstering her confidence.
"You are shorter than I remember," Lady Wrexham said.
Abigail's mother widened her eyes, indicating she should reply, but honestly, how was she to respond to that? She was fairly certain she hadn't been shrinking.
"I suppose you'll do." Lady Wrexham waved a loose hand at Abigail. "Your father is tall enough, and you are passably attractive. The men have made their decision and we can't expect any better from them."
"Thank you, my lady." Abigail was relieved that Lady Wrexham's expectations of her were so low. Hopefully, her son would have higher standards. Her stomach fluttered at the thought of seeing Robert. Despite the long-standing expectations of their parents that they would one day marry, Robert had been away traveling on the continent for so long that she had begun to doubt this day would ever come; but it was here now and she intended to enjoy it. Robert had been the epitome of courtesy and charm since his return, and she found herself wishing they had already wed.
"Go along now," Lady Wrexham said. "You've made an excellent match with my son and you must accept your congratulations from our guests."
Pleased to be given her freedom, Abigail sought the retiring room before the dancing began. She followed the edge of the ballroom, using the wall to help her discern an exit amidst the shadowed edges of the room. After entering the first corridor she came to, she slowed and took in her surroundings. Surely Lady Wrexham would not expect her guests to traverse an unlit path. She must have stumbled upon a servant's passage of some sort. As she turned to go back to the ballroom, she discerned the outline of a man and woman in close proximity farther down the corridor.
"My lord, we will have to continue this conversation later. I must return before Lady Jane notes my absence," said a feminine voice.
The lord in question's back was turned toward Abigail. He wore evening clothes, clearly intending to attend the ball, but he had the maid pushed up against the wall, her skirts lifted, his hand between ... oh my.
"My lord, please," the maid begged. The flicker of the candle in the wall sconce illuminated the tears on her cheek.
He dropped her skirts abruptly. "I will seek you out after the ball."
Abigail stiffened, horrified at the sound of her intended's voice. She backed away carefully, her slippers blessedly silent against the wood floor, dread heavy upon her. The retiring room forgotten, she whirled and scurried toward the ballroom, seeking escape to anywhere else before he noticed her.
Moving quickly, she slipped into another empty corridor and leaned against the wall. Though she was aware that some men consorted with women who were not their wives, she had not expected Robert to be one of them. And with his younger sister's lady's maid, at that. The maid had said that Lady Jane would note her absence.
Abigail forced herself to inhale and exhale slowly, willing her heart to stop racing. After a few more deep breaths, her heart ceased its frantic beating and her mind cleared. She must accept that he had been carrying on with the maid prior to their formal betrothal, but surely he would stop now that they were finally to be married and he would no longer live in this house. For now, she would focus on the ball and not allow what might be a small indiscretion to taint what ought to be the happiest night of her life. After all, this was Robert. He had played lawn bowls with her and taught her how to skip stones and drive a curricle.
Abigail lifted her chin and reentered the ballroom. A scan of the room revealed Lady Georgiana Townsend in conversation with her elder sister. She let out a pent up breath and moved toward them.
"Lady Varnham, Lady Georgiana, how lovely to see you." Though they were on a first name basis, Abigail used their proper titles lest Lady Wrexham overhear their conversation and find fault with their familiarity.
"Abigail," Henrietta said, dispensing with formality, "I believe congratulations are in order. I wish you joy and happiness in your alliance."
Abigail took her proffered hand. "Thank you, Henrietta." Though it wasn't well known among the ton, Henrietta had narrowly survived a disastrous, but thankfully brief, marriage to an abusive husband.
Georgiana was the first person Abigail had told about her betrothal, so there was no need for felicitations from her. Robert's association with the maid still weighed heavily on her mind, and if they were anywhere else, Abigail would have told her what she just witnessed.
"Is there something amiss?" Georgiana asked. "You are pale."
As if her will meant nothing, the words slipped out unbidden. "I couldn't see well enough to tell who it was, but I witnessed a nobleman making free with one of the maids in the corridor." Abigail lowered her voice and moved closer. "The maid begged him to stop, and he reluctantly dropped her skirt, but told her to expect him after the ball."
"Oh, my," Georgiana said.
Henrietta's eyes were wide with fright. Abigail chastised herself. It was unkind of her to mention the incident in front of Henrietta. She ought not to have said anything at all. "I will speak with Robert about it and make sure he puts a stop to it." The twisted irony of her words robbed her of breath for a moment. She patted Henrietta's hand.
Henrietta and Georgiana's older brother, Edmund Townsend, the Marquess of Longcroft, joined them.
He bowed. "Lady Abigail, I understand congratulations are in order."
"Yes, thank you, my lord." Abigail wasn't sure what to think of Lord Longcroft. She was surprised to see him here since she knew from her friend's frequent complaints that he loathed attending social events, and most especially balls. But with responsibility for six unwed sisters, he could not withdraw from society all together.
The string quartet took position across the room, signaling that the dancing would soon begin.
"Lady Abigail, would you care to join me for the first dance?" Lord Longcroft asked.
Handsome in an unconventional sort of way, he was wider through the shoulders than Robert, with hair the color of polished mahogany that was longer than the current fashion. Georgiana had joked that he was so engrossed in his studies of science and mathematics that he sometimes forgot to tend to mundane things like having his hair trimmed.
"I thank you, my lord, but I have promised the first dance to my intended."
"Yes, yes, of course. How silly of me." He gave her a crooked grin.
Just then, Robert entered their circle. "Lady Varnham, Lady Georgiana." Robert bowed over each of their hands before turning to nod to their brother. "Longcroft."
Robert's warm hand pressed against her back. "Shall we?"
Her stomach fluttered with a peculiar mix of excitement and dread. "By all means." Everyone in the ballroom was focused on them as he led her to the center of the floor to dance the minuet. Lady Wrexham was very traditional and wouldn't dream of starting a ball with any other dance.
Robert smiled and stroked the inside of her wrist in a soothing circular pattern as they allowed the other dancers time to take their places. Perhaps Abigail was mistaken, and the incident she'd witnessed with the maid wasn't as horrible as she'd thought. Surely the maid was crying because she didn't want Lady Jane to scold her, and not because she was afraid of Robert. Abigail would give her betrothed the benefit of the doubt and stop behaving like a silly girl instead of a mature woman who would soon be married. She squared her shoulders, determined that no one detect her inner turmoil.
Despite her central location, Abigail was unable to locate Georgiana among the dancers. Even with the aid of the wall sconces, the light was too dim for her to make out the faces of any of the guests at the edges of the ballroom. When she became mistress of this house, she would immediately have the room painted in bright tones and have more chandeliers installed in the ballroom.
The notes of the minuet surrounded them and they began to move. Normally when she danced, she would hold a conversation with her partner as the movements of the dance allowed, but Robert was strangely silent, distracted even. They had known each other for as long as she could remember. As children, they had explored Yorkshire together. She had always been the first person he visited during his school holidays. Nothing had ever been awkward between them until tonight.
She accepted the fact that she wasn't a great beauty who inspired sonnets or other such attention, and Robert had never been anything but polite and kind to her. If her stomach quivered slightly when thoughts of him consorting with his sister's maid entered her mind, well surely that was natural for a young, inexperienced girl. Her social circle was quite limited, and aside from Henrietta, she wasn't acquainted with anyone who had married yet. It would have been helpful to find that other women grappled with the same feelings as their weddings rapidly approached, but she knew not whom to ask.
"The ballroom looks lovely this evening," she said to break the silence.
"Do you know who created the flower arrangements?" In truth, they weren't very impressive, but at least a question required a response.
"No. You'll have to ask Mother." He kept looking toward the entrance as if anticipating someone's arrival.
To distract herself from obsessing over the maid, she reverted to her favorite activity. In her mind, she redesigned the gowns of the ladies around her. Mama had once commented that had she been born to a different family, she would have made an excellent modiste.
After vowing not to allow anyone to convince her to use Lady Wrexham's seamstress, she began with Robert's mother because she was clearly in need of the most help. Instead of the pale peach color, which in Abigail's opinion was inappropriate for a woman of Lady Wrexham's age — not to mention how unpleasantly it blended with her mottled complexion — she would use a deep blue to bring out the color in her eyes. A lower neckline, enhanced with tiny seed pearls embroidered in a circular pattern on the bodice and above the hem. Oh, and a sash of the finest —
"Abigail? You seem worlds away."
Now he deigned to speak with her, just as she was about to decide on the piece de resistance of his mother's gown. "My apologies," she said as she moved away from him. When they came back together, she said, "Was there something you wanted to ask?"
"Not particularly." He laughed as they spun around. "You were so intent, I merely wished to know what was occupying your mind."
This was a good sign indeed. "Well, if you must know, I was thinking about ways to improve your mother's gown."
His eyes narrowed immediately, and she regretted her sudden impulse to share her innermost thoughts with him.
"That is not only an insult to her modiste, but my mother as well," he said stiffly.
She wished she could melt through the floorboards. It seemed nothing would go her way this evening. "I meant no insult. I merely thought that a more vibrant color would emphasize her beautiful eyes."
"What a strange way for a lady to occupy herself. I shall have to come up with more productive activities to occupy your mind." His eyes sparkled as his lips curved into a smile. "I must agree that she does rather resemble a pumpkin in that gown."
And just like that, he dispelled her worry. He was still the Robert she had known. She simply needed to spend more time with him, get to know him more intimately, as she had when they were younger, and then she would be able to interpret his words and moods more accurately. It was unreasonable for her to expect him to still be the boy that she had once known so well. The eldest of her brothers was eight years her junior, so she had very little experience interacting with men. Except for Papa, of course, but that was very different.
They finished the set, and Robert guided her back to her mother. He kissed her hand. "Save the first waltz for me."
"Of course." She returned his smile and tracked him as he strode down a corridor leading away from the ballroom. Thankfully, it was not the same passage where she had happened upon him earlier. After accepting a glass of champagne from a passing footman, she sipped it the way her governess had taught her rather than gulping it down, as she would have preferred, to dampen her nerves.
After receiving congratulations from several people and securing three offers to dance, Robert still had not returned to the ballroom. With each passing moment, the weight of her doubts about Robert pressed harder upon her, making it difficult to breathe deeply.
The first waltz was set to start as soon as the current set ended. It was odd that her betrothed would seclude himself in the card room when this ball was being held in their honor. Perhaps he was similarly weighted down by guilt over his reprehensible behavior, as well he should be. Papa entered the ballroom and approached. Maybe he would know Robert's whereabouts.
"Are you enjoying yourself, my dear?" he asked.
She continued to skim the perimeter of the ballroom. "Yes, of course, but I'm wondering why Robert is spending so long sequestered in the card room."
His brows drew together. "Robert isn't in the card room."
Her pulse jumped a notch. Where could he be? "He asked me to save the first waltz for him, but he seems to have disappeared."
He patted her hand. "No need to worry. I'll go speak with Lord Wrexham and see if we can hunt your young man down."
Papa was not fond of dancing, or society in general, so he was likely grateful for the excuse to exit the ballroom. He preferred to spend his time at his club, and only occasionally accompanied Abigail and her mother to society functions when Mama insisted.
"Lady Abigail." The deep tones of Lord Longcroft reached her like a caress to her frazzled nerves. "Would you care to dance?"
She placed her hand in his. "I would be honored." Abigail hoped Robert wouldn't be angry with her if he suddenly returned and found her waltzing with Lord Longcroft, but Robert had certainly been less attentive than he ought to have been, considering this was their betrothal ball, and she so loved to waltz.
He led her onto the floor, and as they took their positions, she caught Georgiana smiling from the edge of the ballroom. She must have noted Abigail's distress and sent her brother to occupy her. There was no other reason he would choose to dance with her. Though Abigail spent a fair amount of time at his home, she saw him only rarely when she visited with Georgiana, as he was generally sequestered in his library working on some project or another.
Lord Longcroft wore a perplexed expression. "So tell me, since I'm never quite sure, what is one meant to discuss while dancing?"
She couldn't quash the smile that curved her lips at his guileless question. Warmth emanated from his body, enveloping her in a safe cocoon, and she relaxed for the first time since the ball had begun. "Perhaps the weather, the current state of the roads, or a compliment on the decorations."
Excerpted from Say You'll Love Me 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
Lady Abigail is at a ball to celebrate her engagement to Robert who was her childhood sweetheart. When Abigail doesn’t see Robert she goes looking for him and she finds him in a dark corner fondling his sister maid. Then later that evening the maid is found murdered. Robert becomes the prime suspect. Abigail decides she can’t marry Robert and wants to break the engagement as Robert is not the boy she grew up with. Robert claims to be innocent and Abigail’s father insists she stay engaged to Robert until his name is cleared. Abigail decides to investigate herself with help from her best friend Georgina who brought along her sister Henrietta. Then Abigail and Georgina ask Georgina’s brother Edmund to help. Edmund is the Marquess of Longcraft as well as a mathematical whiz. Edmund feels he has to find husbands for all his sisters before he looks for a wife himself. Edmund doesn’t believe in love. This was a good story that I enjoyed. It was a quick read and there really wasn’t enough time to develop the romance. I also felt the murder was solved a little too soon but I still enjoyed this alot . I liked the ups and downs of the story as well as the ones Abigail and Edmund went through. I recommend. I received an ARC of this story for an honest review.
Abigail is engaged to Robert but she discovers he has a mistress who has been murdered. To show support for him and his family, she continues the engagement. She also wants to know if Robert is guilty so she asks her friend Georgiana to help her find the truth. They ask Georgiana's brother Edmund for his help since he is of a scientific mind. I loved this book. Abigail and Edmund are wonderful characters and made for each other. I liked that while this is an historical romance it is also a mystery. Instead of Edmund trying to talk her out of discovering if her fiancé is a murderer, he helps to find out the truth. I liked Abigail's strength of character. Edmund did not question her as they investigates the murder. The secondary characters were good. I liked Edmund's sister Georgiana who is Abigail's best friend. There is often a subtle humor when Georgiana is present. It was enjoyable to see that the servants seemed to value discretion over gossip. There was enough gossip going around the ton. I also liked that family of the murder victim appeared in the story and were not bought off or thrown to the side in their grief. I liked the respect shown to them by Edmund and Abigail. The story was well done. It kept my attention. I had to finish it before I went to bed. This was one of the best stories I have read. I want to read more of Ms. Broadfield. I hope that Georgiana and Henrietta, her widowed sister, get their own stories.
Lady Abigail Hurst believes in true love and happy ever after. Now she's engaged to her childhood sweetheart. This should be on top of the world. Why does she feel a stirring of doubt? She doesn't know Robert any more. Things get more difficult when she discovers that he has a mistress who has been murdered. Can she marry a man that she doesn't love or trust? Lady Abigail is a strong woman. She will do as her father asks and stand behind her fiancée during the scandal. I liked that she doesn't accept her fate. She starts investigating with Lord Edmund Longcroft and his sisters. They will find the truth. As danger surrounds them, Lady Abigail and Edmund begin to care for each other. Their attraction was powerful and very romantic. These two are perfect for each other. I didn't want them to let society keep them apart. I couldn't stop reading Say You'll Love Me. This story is a perfect blend of romance and mystery. The characters are well written and their banter is witty and clever. I was kept guessing as to the identity of the murderer until the very end. Ally Broadfield did an excellent job. I hope that Lord Longcroft's six unwed sisters find their true loves. I want to read more of this family.
Lady Abigail Hurst is excited to finally announce her betrothal to her childhood sweetheart. But when he ends up being the prime suspect in his mistress's murder, Abigail realizes that he is not the man that she thought he was. Turning to her best friend's brother for help, she hopes to learn if her fiance is innocent or not. Edmund Townsend, the Marquess of Longcroft, prefers to work mathematical equations over attending society events. But when Abigail asks for his help, he can't turn her down. Thrust into society with Abigail at his side makes him reconsider his stance on marriage and possibly even love. Can these two solve the murder and find their other half? I really loved the first book that I read by Broadfield, How to Beguile a Duke. I was really looking forward to this one, but find that I'm a little disappointed with it. The writing was great as was the storyline. But I just didn't feel like the H/H were great characters. There was really nothing about them that stood out to me. For me to really enjoy a book, I need to love both leads. To me, Abigail and Edmund were just ok. I like a hero to be swoon worthy and he just wasn't. I'm hopeful that Broadfield's next book is more like Beguile than her latest... Thanks go out to Entangled Publishing via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
London - 1815 Robert Wrexham, Viscount Hinsdale, and Lady Abigail Hurst have been betrothed since they were children. Their families’ homes border on each other and the two grew up together. At their betrothal ball, Abigail catches sight of Robert attempting to seduce a maid in the back corridor. The maid then disappeared and the next morning was found floating in the Thames, having been strangled to death. It is discovered that she was Robert’s mistress and he is then charged with her murder. Robert confesses to Abigail that the murdered maid was his mistress and that he loved her, but he swears that he did not kill her. When Abigail learns this, she immediately wants to call off the engagement even though her parents try to persuade her otherwise. Against her better judgment, she agrees to leaves things as they are until the murderer is found. Abigail seeks solace with her good friends, Georgiana and Henrietta, sisters of Lord Edmund Longcroft. Edmund is a kind and wealthy man who enjoys and is quite good at mathematical calculations. Since his father’s passing, he has been tasked with six sisters he needs to marry off. Edmund knows Robert and is aware that he has a quick temper with servants. At the request of Abigail and his sisters, he decides to investigate the murder. Thus, he begins to closely watch Robert and his activities. In addition, he advises Abigail to take extra precautions for her safety since Robert’s temper and the amount of alcohol he tends to imbibe can make him a dangerous person if indeed he did murder his mistress. As Edmund and Abigail are together more often now discussing this investigation, they discover an attraction to one another and an appreciation for each other’s particular sense of humor. Will Abigail finally break off her engagement to Robert? Will she be able to pursue her attraction to Edmund? Who killed the maid? I really enjoyed the plot of this book. It was cleverly written and contains some humorous dialogue. I look forward to reading more novels by this author. Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This is a Regency romance and murder mystery which makes an enthralling read. Lady Abigail Hurst is attending her own engagement ball when she witnesses her betrothed propositioning his sister’s maid. When that maid disappears and is murdered during that same ball, all the indication are that her betrothed is the culprit. How can she remain betrothed to him if he is guilty? She is determined to find out who killed the poor maid. In an effort to do so, she entreats her best friend, Georgina, to help her and she brings her sister Henrietta and her studious, mathematician, brother Edmund, Marquess of Longcroft, in to help. He had never looked on Lady Abigail as anything but his sister’s friend until, working with her and his sisters to solve the mysterious murder, he finds himself enjoying and looking forward to her company…. With parental pressure, murder most foul, warning secret messages, an uncommunicative betrothed, great friends and new love, this is a delightful read with the perfect ending for a fairy tale romance. The story has well portrayed characters, plenty of mysteries filled with twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and exceptionally good writing, a great story to escape into that I have no hesitation in highly recommending to anyone who enjoys their romance to be spiced with murder and mystery. Thanks to the author, publishers and NetGalley, too for provided an ARC for me to read in exchange for this, my honest review.
This is my first book by Ally Broadfield but will not be my last. I really liked her writing and will quickly be finding more. of her books. Lady Abigail Hurst is our heroine, who is engaged to be married. But at her engagement ball she finds husband to be in a compromising position with a maid...who later turns up dead. Abigail turns to her best friends brother and our hero, The Marquess of Longcroft, Edmund Townsend. Edmund has always been smart, bookish and Abigail feels that he would be of great help to her to solve this murder so that she can call off her wedding. This is a really good read with some twist and turns... I enjoyed having this book and hope that you will too!
Lady Abigail Hurst has grown up with long standing expectations of marriage with her childhood friend; Robert who's family owns the adjoining estate. After being away to the continent, on his return their family proceeds with an official betrothal. But that night, Abigail accidentally comes across Robert together with his younger sister's maid & questions her feelings & if he is still the same boy who so charmed her when they were young. When the maid is found missing & later turns up dead, all suspicions turn to Robert when it comes to light that the maid was his mistress but whom he had mislead into thinking he would marry. Abigail turns to her good friends; Lady Georgiana Townsend & her older widowed sister Henrietta for help. They in turn enlist their brother the Marquess of Longcroft, Edmund Townsend & in trying to investigate the murder & clear Robert's name an attraction between Abigail & Edmund grows instead. I did not enjoy the book much. I found the story & characters flat, uninspiring & struggled thru most of it. Copy gifted in exchange for an honest review
A great historical fiction, mystery plus romance, this book kept me captivated from the very beginning until the end. The story flowed smoothly with some twists and turns. It was sweet and quite entertaining. Lady Abigail might be engaged to a murderer and in danger herself. She needs answers because without them she cannot get married. She wants to do the right thing and support her betrothed but can't help but suspect foul play. In this time of distress she sought help from her best friend's brother, Lord Longcroft... Edmund has always admired Abigail, although he cannot determine the exact moment when his sister's friend became so important to him but he is unable to see her worried and wants to do everything in his power to find the murderer and put her mind at rest... Things did not go the way they both anticipated and soon they find themselves betrothed to each other, although Abigail might not be able to go through an other loveless engagement and soon call it off.... or she might find her fairy tale ending that she has always wanted... A perfect ending for a perfect story. Love, romance and a mystery to be solved, that and exceptional writing made this book an amazing one.