Duels and Deception
Author: Cindy Anstey
Genre: YA Historical Romance
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.
Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…
“I’m afraid we have a problem this evening,” Mrs. Whitfield greeted him with a nod of acknowledgment. “Gentlemen are in short supply. It will be even worse when Ivy and Tessa are out of the schoolroom.”
“It’s a problem that we have every evening, Aunt Joan,” Miss Elaine tittered. There was no other apt descriptor; it was definitely a titter.
Robert said nothing.
“Indeed, it is true.” Mrs. Whitfield glanced at Mrs. Kemble for confirmation. Once given, the conversation continued. “We had hoped to have the arms of two gentleman to lead us into dinner but… well, I suppose, Arthur can be forgiven for picking today, of all days, to visit the Major. Major Ryder has been his dearest friend for… I’d say two decades now; although, they seldom get together. His wife passed away some years ago and the Major lives a bachelor life style that some consider—”
“Yes, Lydia dear. Oh, am I doing it again? Yes, well. I am told by some, Mr. Newton, that I have a tendency to veer off topic. I don’t see it at all, as my late husband had no problem following my conversation. In fact, he often said—”
“Oh yes, for heavens sake. Where was I?”
“I believe you were lamenting the lack of male company.” Robert smiled in, what he hoped was, a benign manner.
“Oh yes. That’s right. Well, it would be traditional that you would take me into dinner, as the only gentleman present and I, the mistress of the house.”
Robert did his best not to look toward Lydia at that pronouncement.
“But that would not be fair to the other ladies—and rather selfish of me. And I will not have it said that I am a selfish person, for I am quite interested in charity. The president of the Children’s Educational Society has often complimented me on my good heart. Just last week, we—”
“So over time, we have developed a system—a way to share, as it were.”
“We have?” Lydia’s surprise hinted at a little prevarication.
“Yes, we have. And it’s Elaine’s turn tonight.”
Miss Elaine was no longer tittering but grinning. She tipped her head to the side and batted her eyes in a manner, one can only assume, she considered coquettish.
Neither was appealing but Robert knew his duty; he bowed to the young lady in question, observed that the yellow of her gown suited her complexion admirably and offered her his arm.
On their way down the stairs, Robert inquired after her enjoyment of the day, the progress of her needlework, and offered the possibility of rain on the morrow. Miss Elaine laughed at most, if not all of his comments—even those about the weather. She wove her fingers together atop his arm thereby turning her body and drawing Robert closer. It would seem that Lydia’s cousin was a determined flirt.
She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.
Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester. Love, Lies and Spies is her debut novel.