Bronwen EvansBronwen EvansBronwen EvansBronwen Evans

Excerpt: Every Wallflower Has Her Thorns

Revenge Of The Wallflowers Romance Novella

 Chapter One

London, April 1818

“I’m sure I’d be forever in your debt if you could arrange an introduction with your brother.”

Hadn’t she been asked that a hundred times this season? Lady Alice Montague reluctantly shifted her gaze across the crowded ballroom to where her brother, George Montague, Earl of Hampton, held court with a group of the season’s eligible bachelors. But her eyes, as always, focused on only one man.

The handsome, sought after Calum Arden, Marquess of Skye, the heir to the Galloway Dukedom was the intent of just as many of the bevy of beauties as her brother was. All eager to attract their notice.

He was the epitome of aristocracy. His fair hair gleamed amber under the chandeliers’ light, his commanding, elegant form garbed in a blue jacket that showcased wide shoulders, and a pair of breeches that outlined the muscles in his thighs, and his stockings exposed the fine tone of his calves.

Just then, he glanced her way. His features so striking, her breath caught. Even from a distance, her memory remembered the dark blue of his eyes, surrounded by dark thick lashes. His cheeks prominent, his nose just right, but it was his full, harsh lips that made her knees tremble. Proud; his bearing refined and commanding.

His glance didn’t even notice her, but stopped when it fell upon Lady Serena a stunningly beautiful and still relatively young, rich widow. Rumor was, she was his current mistress. The smile he sent the widow confirmed the gossip. Sensual enough to make a lady’s undergarments fall.

Alice swallowed her reaction to him and focused back on Lady Penelope Gower. The only reason the popular debutantes gave Alice the time of day was obvious to all. The bluestocking cripple was worth having around if she furnished the ladies access to her brother. And through him, Calum, and their friends.

“I’d wait for super. My brother will come to escort me. If I know my brother, he, along with the other men, will head to the card room shortly.” Besides, I wouldn’t introduce you to my brother if you were the last lady on earth. Given that she’d unlikely ever marry, Alice would probably live her life in her brother’s household, and there was no way she would live with Lady Penelope as her sister-in-law. The vicious cow made Alice’s entry into society a living hell. What would she be like if she were the lady of the house? She pitied any man who took Penelope to wife.

Penelope tapped her fan on Alice’s arm. “I don’t think they are. I was told the hostess, Lady Gilberte, has refused to open the card room tonight. Insisting her son and his friends remain in the ballroom for the duration.”

Alice’s gaze narrowed thoughtfully. “My brother won’t be happy with that situation.” Her brother took his duty to squire her to the endless balls, or marriage mart, as he called it, seriously. He refused to contemplate that she was unmarriageable. Her limp wasn’t because of any birth defect. It had been a broken leg not set properly, from a fall from a pony while trying to jump the same fence he and Calum had jumped. She’d been twelve years old and George blamed himself for her injury. They were men of ten and eight and should have stopped her from following them. That’s why he tried so hard.

That had been ten years ago now and still her brother carried the guilt.

Unfortunately, he thought men would overlook such an impediment. But she couldn’t ride or dance, and even walking or standing for too long was painful. No man wanted a cripple for a wife, no matter how intelligent or pretty she was. Some had tried, because of her large dowry, but she’d made it clear to George, no marriage of convenience for her. And he was happy to indulge her.

“Shall we make our way closer, and you’ll perform an introduction?” Before she could refute Penelope’s command, the horrid woman linked her arm through hers and, with her entourage of giggling, vacuous ladies in tow, pulled her across the room.

Penelope moved with long strides, eager to get to the men before the other ladies present this evening realized the men were not escaping to play cards. Alice could barely keep up. Her leg was aching by the time they reached the men.

As they drew beside the young bucks, Alice felt a push from behind, causing her to clench her jaw, from anger or pain, she wasn’t sure which. They stood for a moment before Penelope elbowed her in the ribs and she cleared her throat.

“Brother dear, I’m just wishing to confirm you’ll be escorting me into supper.” Another dig in her ribs. “And my—friend—Lady Penelope notice you in the park yesterday and was just admiring your bays. She is after a pair and wondered if you could advise her. I’m sure you must have already met?”

Her brother stepped forward with a practiced smile. Many young ladies sought him out. “Of course, Lady Penelope,” and he bowed over her hand. “I had dinner with your father last week. Is he not here with you tonight?”

Fluttering eyelashes accompanied her reply and almost made Alice’s stomach recoil. “My father is indisposed, but my mother is here.”

Just then, Lady Gilberte arrived. “Now gentlemen, I don’t want to see my dance floor empty, and these lovely young ladies would be thrilled to take the floor,” Lady Gilberte continued, “So. Come now…”

Being forever proper, her brother requested Penelope to accompany him and soon partnered up all the ladies, except of course Alice. Penelope said over her shoulder, a triumphant gleam in her eye, “Alice, since you won’t be partaking of a dance, perhaps you could organize drinks for us once we’re finished. I’m sure I’ll be parched from Lord Hampton’s exploits on the dance floor.”

Her face heated as all eyes turned her way, including Calum, who’d been leaning against the wall in the shadows, obviously not wanting to be dragged into the dancing. George was just about to say something when Calum was at her side, bowing over her hand. “I believe Lady Alice has kindly agreed to keep me company as I twisted my knee this morning and cannot dance.” His voice dared anyone to refute his statement, and George gave him a grateful smile.

Alice hung her head while the group took to the floor. Without thinking, she rubbed her thigh through her gown where it ached.

“Shall we find a seat over by the doors? The room is quite stuffy this evening,” and Calum offered her his arm as they strolled slowly around the room.

“You don’t have to stay with me. I know you probably want to speak with Lady Serena.”

His refined eyebrow lifted. “Indeed. Why do you think that?”

Horror gripped her. “Well, that is, isn’t she…” She couldn’t bring herself to say it. She’d known Calum since she was a very young girl, and he and George were the best of friends. They had always had an informal relationship since Calum had virtually lived at their house when the boys were at Eton. His home was in the Scottish highlands and such a long way to travel from school. But she couldn’t be that familiar, could she?

“Why am I not surprised that you, of all the debutants, are aware of mistresses? You caught George and I in the barn with the milking maids, if I recall. That’s how I got this scar.” He pointed to the small scar on his chin. He’d tripped over the rake, trying to pull his clothes on and split his chin open. Her face heated at the memory of what she’d seen that afternoon. But his words held admiration rather than reproach. “Besides, you are incorrect.”

“Oh, I was so sure…”

He winked as he drew her towards the chairs by the French doors. “Not yet, anyway. She has declined my advances.”

“Is she mad?” Goodness, did she just say that out loud?

Calum laughed. As they sat, he whispered, “But you’re biased because you love me.” She went as still as stone. How could he know? How could she live with him knowing? Floor, please open and swallow me. “You’re like family. You’re like the sister I never had.”

She let out a thankful sigh. He thought she loved him like a brother, like she loved George. Calum did only have brothers—three. Of course, he would think of her as a sister. He’d certainly never given her any idea that he might find her attractive, no matter how often she’d tried to show him she was no longer the little girl that used to follow him around. He’d never treated her with anything but respect.

“Since you think of me as a sister, may I ask you a favor?”

“Of course. My services are at your disposal.”

“Can you please ensure my brother never seriously considers Lady Penelope to be his wife? I couldn’t bear it.”

His head moved close to her in a conspiracy. “Absolutely. I pity any man who offers for such a shrew.”

She gave him a grateful smile. “Since I’ll probably end up living with my brother, I’d like a nice, kind sister-in-law.”

“Why would you end up living with your brother?” His tone held surprise and genuine curiosity.

Her face was on fire. “Come now. I’m not silly. I’m not even noticed by most men and if I am, once they see my limp, they quickly find other ladies to pursue. I’m in this seasons group of wallflowers.”

That saw Calum sit up straight. “Don’t be ridiculous. You’re a lovely young lady.”

“Say’s the man who thinks of me as a sister.”

“Well, I…” He looked nonplus for a moment. And in that moment, something changed. Suddenly, there was nothing languid about the warm glance that raked over her figure. For the first time, his blue eyes flashed midnight sapphire and showed pure male interest. Could he hear how loud her heart was beating?

It was impossible to ignore the captivating stare. It was wasted on Alice. She already knew why females pursued Calum in droves. She shook her head and looked into his eyes again. The heat and desire she’d spied was now hidden, and Calum shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

She couldn’t bear his discomfort. It verged on pity. “Since you stated you’d help me with Penelope and my brother, would you mind rescuing him from her clutches?”

He reluctantly looked away from her and across the ballroom. Penelope seemed to have latched herself to George’s side. “I will do your bidding,” and pressed a quick kiss to her gloved hand. As he stood, he looked down at her and said, “Never let me hear you put yourself down again. You are an extraordinary, lovely young woman.”

Her heart was still pounding as she watched Calum stroll through the crowd as if he didn’t notice the admiring glances thrown his way. She saw him stop and address Lady Penelope and soon she was being escorted towards the refreshments by Calum and she preened more than a peacock.  

George looked her way and mouthed, ‘thank you’. She inclined her head and smiled. They were each other’s world, having lost their parents’ last year from the lung disease.

She stayed seated for the rest of the night. Totally ignored except for when George, as promised, escorted her into supper.

Yet, this night would be forever burned in her memory because Calum Arden, Marquess of Skye, finally regarded her as a desirable woman.

But in the light of day, would his opinion change? She’d test it tomorrow when he came for lunch. He wanted George’s advice on the trip to the continent he was planning.

Return to Every Wallflower Has Her Thorns

Buy From Bron

  • Buy on Apple Books
  • Buy for Kindle
  • Buy for Nook
  • Buy on Kobo
    Calculate Shipping
    Apply Coupon
    Unavailable Coupons
    2alns-po Get $2.00 off Pre-Order discount from me
    7g46u6u9 Get $3.00 off Wicked Wagers Boxed Set
    8g8wva7k Get $4.49 off
    flora-2022 Get $1.00 off $1 off for The Awakening of Lady Flora
    itp-202012 Get $2.00 off Discount for Invitation to Pleasure
    m4c9v5fz Get $4.00 off A Touch of Passion 99c sale
    rdelights-20 Get $2.00 off Regency Delights discount
    scot-202011 Get $2.00 off coupon A Scot For Christmas unscribers list
    scot-202012 Get $2.00 off Discount for release of A Scot For Christmas
    slowride07 Get $2.00 off New Release Coupon code for Slow Ride
    taming3 Get $3.00 off Free book for me to try the process of Taming A Rogue series
    tsofls-aud Get 100% off Audio freebie
    utm-22xmas Get 100% off Under the Mistletoe FREE