Before he died, Patience was the Earl of Worthington’s second wife. So why shouldn’t Patience be allowed a second chance at marriage, too? Of course, finding a new husband was not something the mother of four had ever planned on. But a surprise encounter with her first love has suddenly made the impossible seem possible all over again . . .
It seems like a lifetime ago that Richard, Viscount Wolverton, was halfway around the world, looking for adventure . . . while Patience, at her coming-out, was left with no choice but to take old Worthington’s hand. Richard never forgot the woman whose heart he yearned for—and now that he’s back, he’s not going to let her slip away again . . .
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
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The Second Time Around
By Ella Quinn
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Ella Quinn
All rights reserved.
Pulteney Hotel, London, 1815
"And this is Viscount Wolverton." Patience Worthington watched as Almeria, Lady Bellamny, smiled as she introduced the gentleman to the Duchess of Bristol. Almeria turned her black eyes on Patience. The smile didn't fade at all as she said, "Wolverton, I believe you have already met the Dowager Countess of Worthington."
What in God's name is he doing here? Patience inclined her head and held out her hand. "Indeed. The years have treated you well, my lord."
Bowing, he took her fingers in his. "As they have done to you, my lady."
His lips hovered over her hand and prayed he would do nothing more than kiss the air above them, but no. The devil pressed his warm, firm lips to her knuckles; even through her gloves she could feel his touch and fought the urge to suck in a breath. "Thank you, my lord."
One would think after all these years and his betrayal she would be immune to him. And one would be wrong. She held her breath, counting — One, two, three, four, five. Thank God — until he finally straightened and returned her hand to her. Patience let out the breath, yet she could not control the pounding in her breast. It took all the control she had not to make an excuse and leave the room. Yet, she could not do that to Dotty Stern, soon to be the Marchioness of Merton.
"He has been a friend for a very long time," Almeria continued, as if she had no idea of the havoc she had created by inviting Wolverton. "Though he hardly ever comes to Town."
"Well, my dear," Lord Bellamny said, "you couldn't be here so often if it wasn't for the help he gives me. Someone must assist me in my experiments."
"Very true, my dear."
Patience made the mistake of glancing up at the same moment Richard Wolverton stared down at her. His amber eyes smoldered as they had the last time she had seen him, only days before her marriage to the old Earl of Worthington.
Had he finally decided to take a wife? If so, it was about time. Her throat tightened as she thought of the young ladies who'd be happy to snatch up a handsome viscount. Well, it was no bread and butter of hers. He could wed whomever he wanted.
Well-bred chuckles by the other guests distracted her enough to drag her gaze from Wolverton's. She had to get away from him. Fortunately, the next guests to arrive were Lord and Lady Thornhill. Dressed for once as if they actually belonged in England. Normally, they wore the raiment of the places they had visited.
Drat him. He'd stopped kissing her fingers but still had not let them go. Patience jerked her hand out of Wolverton's grip and hastily made her way to her friends. "I am so glad to see you here." Her voice sounded as if she had been running for miles. "What a lovely gown."
"It is not in my usual mode, but I quite like it." A faint line appeared between Lady Thornhill's brows. "You seem a little out of sorts. Chaperoning young ladies can be very tiring, I'm sure."
"Not at all." Really, Patience had to calm herself. If only she had known he would be present, she could have prepared to see him again. "In truth, Worthington and his wife have taken them in hand. Which is a great relief to me as you must imagine."
Lady Thornhill's gaze did not leave Patience's face. "I had wondered how you would like their marriage. It must be a huge change for you. All of you."
"It is working out exceedingly well." She flashed the other woman a smile. "Particularly for the children." Her four girls and Grace's seven brothers and sisters had taken to one another like ducks to water. Patience had heard stories of children not getting on with each other. Then again, they had all been properly raised, and wanted the best for their elder brother and sister.
"The numbers are not even," the duchess announced, thankfully cutting short any further inquiries. Patience had barely had an opportunity to fully adjust to her new living arrangements in Stanwood House when Miss Dorothea Stern, the duchess's granddaughter and a friend of Grace's family, had come to visit for the Season. This evening was the betrothal ball for Dotty and the Marquis of Merton.
The duchess waved an imperious hand. "Some of you gentlemen will have to escort two of the ladies." Focusing on Patience's daughter Louisa, age eighteen, and Grace's oldest sister, Lady Charlotte Carpenter, also eighteen, her grace raised a brow. "I did not wish to give any of the young gentlemen the idea they were being singled out for you younger ladies. Make them work for your affections. It is never good for a gentleman to be too sure of himself."
Merton made his way quickly to his betrothed. Although he was a cousin of Worthington's, Patience had not cared at all for the young man until he had met Dotty. Perhaps in some cases it was true that the woman made the man.
Not that Patience would know about that. Nevertheless, the pair was obviously in love, and it had turned out to be a good match.
She shifted her gaze to her stepson, Mattheus, Earl of Worthington, only to find him staring at Wolverton then at her.
Well, fiddlesticks! There was no hope now that Matt would not ask about the man. She would love to be able to tell him it was none of his business, but that was not and would never be the truth. Not only was he the sole guardian of her daughters, his half sisters, but she was living under his roof, or rather Grace's. Which was the only way she could remain close to her children. Patience would never be allowed to remove the girls from his home.
Sometimes she wondered if her late husband had left the girls as wards of Matt so that Patience could never remarry. Yet, she doubted her late husband would have been deliberately cruel. His unkindness had been one of benign neglect, and an inability to love a woman other than his late wife, Matt's mother. If only she had known that before she had wed him her life would have been much easier.
The duchess's personal butler announced dinner, and Matt strode to his wife, who was standing not far from her. He took Grace's arm, and was about to offer Patience his other arm when Wolverton appeared next to her. "Allow me, my lady."
She could have screamed with frustration. His only purpose could be to complicate her life. "Thank you, my lord." She was going to murder Almeria. "What brings you to Town?" He must have slid a glance at her because the side of Patience's face began to burn. As it had always done when he was staring at her. "You."
Patience gasped. Not loudly, she was much too self-contained to draw attention to herself. But Richard could feel her pulse jump, and he was pleased that he still had the ability to shake her calm, to make her react to him. He wondered if her old husband had been able to command her attention in the same way. The corners of his lips twitched. Probably not. Whether she knew it or not, she was his and always had been.
If only he hadn't been such an idiot. Who forgets the year of his beloved's come out? A young man who had traveled halfway across the world looking for adventure, that was who. By the time he had returned home, it was just days before her marriage to Lord Worthington. He had argued with her father to be able to see her, but it was as if her parents had locked her in the house. When they'd traveled to Town for the wedding, he had followed. However, his pains had been to no avail. Neither her mother nor father was going to let him ruin their plans for Pae. After all, an earl outranked the heir to a viscount. There was also the scandal that would ensue if she broke the betrothal just days before the nuptials. He would not have cared, but he was the only one. Even his parents would have been appalled if Pae jilted Worthington for Richard.
Too late. That is what everyone had told him. But he wasn't too late now.
Her startled blue gaze flew to his eyes. "In that case, you might as well take your leave."
"Can't." He pushed her chair in. "I rode up here with Bellamny. Doesn't like to travel alone."
"I am surprised he is here at all. He never comes to Town."
"There is a scientific meeting at which he is giving a paper." A footman poured wine and Richard searched for changes in her. There was no need to tell her the part he had played in arranging the scientific assembly. "He could not miss the opportunity to gather with fellow scientists."
Her long fingers, almost devoid of rings, wrapped around the stem of the wineglass, then slid up to hold the goblet between her thumb and index finger. "I assume it is a great honor."
"Indeed." If Richard had his way he'd drag her out of the room. Once he had her in his arms, he would convince her to marry him.
Several years ago, after her period of mourning had run, Lady Bellamny had taken Patience in hand, bringing her to Town and teaching her what she needed to know to go on as a widow. He had been surprised, and not at all happy about that turn of events.
As Patience had not given old Lord Worthington the second son he desired, Richard had assumed she would return home with her daughters. He would have pursued her again and this time no one would have talked her into marrying someone else. Then again, that she had wed his lordship was partly his fault. He never should have given in to the temptation to see a bit of the world. Yet what young man truly considers the disasters can take place in his absence?
She turned her head, giving her attention to the gentleman on the other side and giving him a view of her glossy blond hair. Her skin appeared as soft and silky as it had when she was younger. He raised his hand and almost allowed his index finger to trace the line of her jaw.
Almost. Yet he noticed the current Lord Worthington glaring at him. Richard lifted his wineglass in a salute, but the younger man did not respond in kind. Instead, he canted his head toward his wife as she spoke in hushed tones, and nodded toward someone on his side of the table. If there was going to be trouble from Worthington, Richard should discover it as soon as possible.
After the second course was served, Worthington rose, holding up his glass. "To Miss Stern and my cousin Merton. May they have a long and happy marriage."
As she participated in the toast, Patience smiled, even though a tear hovered on her thick, dark blond lashes. Then she sniffed, and before she could reach her reticule, he had his handkerchief out, dabbing the corner of her eye.
"What are you doing?" she whispered fiercely. "Stop it this instant. You will draw attention to us."
"Why were you crying?" His tone was sharper than he'd wanted it to be, but he couldn't bear for her to be sad or in pain.
"Tears of happiness." Her fingers fluttered as if to wave him away. "What does it matter to you in any event?"
"You should know the answer to that question." He trailed one finger down the soft skin of her bare arm, causing her to tremble. "I want you, Pae."
Her spine went rigid. "Do not call me that."
He took a sip of wine. "You used to like it when I murmured it in your ear."
"That," she said in a cold tone most probably meant to put him in his place, "was a very long time ago."
Another toast was made, putting an end to their discussion ... temporarily. "I understand there is to be at least one waltz at the ball this evening. I would like to reserve it."
"I am not dancing. I must chaperone my daughter."
Obviously, he had not done sufficient research into the guest list. "Why would your daughter be here?"
Her sigh was one of pure exasperation. "She and Lady Charlotte, Lady Worthington's sister, are friends with Miss Stern. She is also a cousin of Lord Merton. So you see, I have no time for your games." Pausing, Pae raised her chin in a somewhat pugnacious manner. "Whatever they might be."
What she said made sense, but something was not quite right. Naturally, one would think that a mother would chaperone her daughter. Yet, yet ... "I never understood the reason you did not bring your children home."
"That was not an option open to me."
Why the devil not? The only time he had gone to her father after he'd returned to England, he'd been baldly told that she would be very well off if she survived her husband.
"Worthington is their guardian, and would not even entertain the suggestion that they reside anywhere but in his house."
Bloody hell! Why the deuce hadn't Richard asked Almeria Bellamny how things stood? Because you are too damned proud to go begging for information.
For years, he had listened eagerly to every tidbit dropped about Pae, and he had waited for her to have her fun and come home. To come to him.
He had also assumed she was still in love with him, as he was with her. Well, she might very well be, but if she had to leave her daughters in order to marry him, courting her was going to be much more difficult than he had originally thought. And he didn't have forever. After all, neither of them was getting any younger, and he still had to produce an heir.
Somehow, some way, he must convince Pae to spend the rest of her life with him.CHAPTER 2
Later that evening, Patience found a chair next to her old friend and mentor, Almeria Bellamny. "Why did you not tell me Wolverton would be here? He was not on the guest list."
"Neither was my husband." Her answer was typically cryptic.
"But you knew."
"Yes, I was aware that he planned to join George." She focused her obsidian gaze on Patience. "What I did not know was whether you still cared for him. You have never mentioned him."
Rather she did not allow herself to think of Richard. What good would it have done? She had her daughters and must be happy with them. Remarriage, even to a man she had loved, was out of the question. "I have no feelings for him."
One black brow rose. "You may attempt to lie to yourself, my dear, but do not try to lie to me."
"I do not wish to have any reaction at all to him." She let out a puff of air that made the feather hanging down along her cheek flutter. "One would think that after all this time I would not feel anything at all."
"Perhaps if your marriage had been better ..." Almeria let the sentence hang in the air between them.
She was the only one who knew how devastated Patience had been at her husband's lack of affection. Matt had some idea, but she would never have confided in him about his own father. "He was extremely charming." And her husband had been a skilled lover. If he had not been so considerate of her in that way, she might not have fancied herself in love with him. "If only he could have got over his first wife's death."
Almeria's lips pinched together. "I tried to tell your mother that Vivers men mate for life. Even if he wanted to, he could never stop loving Elizabeth, and marrying you off to him was no good." Almeria gave a fatalistic shrug. "But she was too thrilled about the match to listen."
"Thrilled indeed." Patience remembered well the raptures her mother had been in when the offer of marriage had come. "Had I known, I would not have had hopes that we could fall in love." If Wolverton had not left her to go traveling around the world, if he hadn't broken his promise to come home before she had her come out, she never would have wed old Lord Worthington. Yet he had not arrived until the offer had been made and accepted, the settlement agreements signed, and the wedding was just a few days away. "There is no point in crying over spilt milk. I had Matt and the children to keep me company. He was more of a father to the girls than his own father was."
And still was. He had always been there for them. The only unfortunate part of it all was that it meant she would never know true love in a marriage. She had not missed it as much before he had wed Grace. Yet having to live in the same house with the couple who were so obviously in love, and to see what she had missed, it was becoming increasingly difficult to be sanguine. And now there was Merton and Dotty. Since the rift between both branches of the Vivers family had been healed, there would be frequent visits between them and Worthington and Grace. Nevertheless, there was nothing for it, and she could not truly blame him for wishing to honor his father's wishes. Patience sighed.
"You could have an affair," Almeria said casually.
Patience opened her mouth, then snapped it shut. How her friend could make the most outrageous statements in such a matter-of-fact tone, she had no idea. "I beg your pardon?"
"You heard me. As long as you are discreet, no harm will come of it."
Except that she had absolutely no idea how she would explain her absences to her stepson and Grace, not to mention her daughters. If they even noticed. Not once since Patience had moved into Stanwood House with the girls had any of them needed her in the middle of the night. There must be something about sleeping on a floor with six other children that was comforting.
Still, an affair was not the answer. At least she did not think it was.
Before she could respond to Almeria's suggestion, Worthington pulled up a chair and sat in it. "Was Lord Wolverton bothering you?"
Excerpted from The Second Time Around by Ella Quinn. Copyright © 2017 Ella Quinn. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was an enjoyable quick read. Patience is a widow whose step-son has custody of her children. Although they have a really great relationship, he would never give up custody if she should ever remarry. Resigned to a lonely widowhood, Patience plans to enjoy her eldest daughter's coming out. That all changes when her first love comes back into her life. Will Patience take a chance of love when it could mean loosing everything else she hold dear? I enjoyed reading how Patience finally got her HEA as we knew from reading the other books in the series that her first marriage was not great. It was also nice to read a story about an older couple that had some life experiences to help shapes their lives.
Quick fun read!
This is a cute novella, but who's who was a little confusing at first, especially the 10 children. I have read some of Ella Quinn's books and some are in my TBR pile. If you have read the previous 2 of this series you will be fine. Patience, in her 30's, is the Dowager Countess of Worthington and lives with her step-son Matt, the current Earl and his wife. The household also includes her 4 children and his wife's 7 younger siblings. Richard, Viscount Wolverton, was Patience's first love. As a young man, he went off to see the world and while he was gone her parents arranged her marriage to the now deceased Earl, not the best of husbands. Richard has never stopped loving her and is determined to marry her. Patience is worried about losing her children as Matt is their guardian. While the children want to stay together, they also want her to be happy. With Matt's help, they find a solution that's right for everyone. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me this ARC
London - 1815 Patience Worthington, the Dowager Countess of Worthington, has met an old acquaintance at a soiree. She has not seen Viscount Richard Wolverton in many years yet he can still make her heart pound. A botanist, Richard has spent many years traveling on expeditions and discovering new species of plants. Patience lives with her stepson, Mattheus, Earl of Worthington. He is also the sole guardian of her four daughters. She hopes that when her late husband made their daughters wards of his son that it was an oversight and not meant to be cruel. However, the man had been cold during their marriage. Patience and Richard had once been in love, but he wanted to travel before settling down to marriage. Thus, he lost her to another man. Now that she is a widow, he tells her he is back to pursue her again. Her late husband was not an affectionate man so she has never truly known real love. Patience agrees to a picnic with Richard and they are enjoying themselves. But a sudden rainstorm interrupts their picnic necessitating they shelter at an inn where things turn passionate. But the chill from the rain has made Patience ill and Richard refuses to leave her side until she is well again. Is there hope that they might be united once again? I feel I was quite generous in giving this novella 3 stars. This is yet another story of the Worthingtons. I have read many books of the series, each of which has been hard to follow due to the incredible number of characters to keep up with. Again, I had to refer back to my reviews of previous books to figure out who was who. This is a perfect example of why I do not like series books. Authors who continue to do this soon lose me as a follower. I cannot recommend this book to anyone unless they have read each of the books in the series and close together so they don’t have time to forget their names. Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
So they meet again. Patience had not expected to run into Richard at a ball. Nineteen years ago, Richard had missed his chance with the woman he loved, and Patience had to marry a man of her family’s choosing. Past the foolishness of youth, and Patience now a widow, Richard vows to finally conquer the heart of the woman he still loves and marry her. It’s always nice to see a story featuring older characters in a romance and finding their happy-ever-after: both Richard and Patience are over 35. The real hurdle is that Patience’s stepson has the guardianship of her daughters, and she refuses to be separated from them; it’s a rather complicated family situation because of Regency law, however, it was satisfactorily resolved in the end. Both Richard and Patience are lovely people, who truly love each other, and always have; they were victims of circumstances, mostly due to Richard’s love of adventure. Novellas can be restrictive, but I found that THE SECOND TIME AROUND could have been better balanced. I felt Patience and Richard were “rushed” into the initial sex scene. I would have preferred their rekindled romance to last longer before they hopped into bed, which was also a tad too convenient and somewhat unoriginal. The pages used for the second sex scene could have been put to better use, the above mentioned rushed courtship, especially since that second sex scene, while lovely, was unnecessary to the plot, as an event that had occurred previously was sufficient for storyline purposes. Another little issue was that, while perfectly charming, there were many superfluous details about the numerous children, and again this is because of the very short length of the material, otherwise it was delightful. Ella Quinn’s writing is gorgeous, as usual; her attention to detail makes us participants in this beautiful story, and her eloquence conveys the myriad emotions the characters experience. I will never tire of honourable heroes who do what’s right and prove themselves to be worthy of a fine lady. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.