A Princess for the Gentleman
A Princess for the Gentleman
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- Mistaken Identity
- Fish Out of Water
Life is falling into place for Dugray Dawson. He has finally purchased a run-down estate of his own. But to make it successful he must work hard and follow his plan precisely. He has no time or inclination toward love. But when he comes upon a carriage accident and the maid who survived, he cannot simply walk away.
Zia Petrovich arrives in England in search of her uncle, a man she has never met, in hopes that he will protect her from an unwelcome arranged marriage.
When her carriage crashes, she is removed to the dilapidated estate of a surly, albeit handsome, gentleman who refuses to believe she truly is the princess she claims to be.
When Zia’s betrothed discovers her location, both Zia and Dawson must decide if they will follow their carefully constructed plans or their unreasonable hearts.
Intro. Into Chapter One
Intro. Into Chapter One
Dugray Dawson reined in his horse, pulling it to a stop. He
gathered his greatcoat around him tighter, blocking out the wind sweeping across the open fields. “The land has potential, I will give you that, Tad. But
the house—it will need a complete renovation. Most of it is not habitable and
the dower house? I am surprised it is still standing.”
Tad Wentworth glanced over at his friend. “But I believe parts of
the house are livable. Perhaps it is not the luxury some might expect, but one could live in it while making the repairs on other parts of the house.”
Dawson shook his head. “What I do not understand is why you wish to purchase it. Compared to Morley Park, this place is a hovel. Why should you even consider it?”
Tad shrugged. “Once it is repaired it could be let for a handsome price.” He gazed sideways at Dawson.
Dawson narrowed his eyes at the Duke of Shearsby, knowing that
look. He had seen it many times in his lifetime and it never led to anything good. This, he was sure, would not be an exception.
“Or someone else could buy it…” Tad left the sentence dangling.
Dawson let out a grunt-groan. “What have you done, Tad?”
A large smile spread across Tad’s face. “Nothing so very bad. I only put money down to hold the estate. I did not wish to have someone else sweep in and snatch it from under our noses. After all, it is rare for a
property such as this to come available. I did not want your excessive thinking to interfere and cause us to miss out.”
The duke surely had a plan. He always had a plan. And they almost always involved Dawson, somehow. Dawson swept his hand in front of him. “Out
with it. I know you have a grand notion you wish to share with me. Lay it out so I can decline, and we can get out of this blasted cold.” He shifted in his
saddle, trying to relieve the ache in his hips. When had he become so old? Was three and thirty so very old? His body told him it was.
Tad’s horse danced in place, throwing his head back several
times. Even the animals were cold and wished to return to Morley Park.
Tad set his horse in motion back toward the manor house. “I
thought, perhaps, you could purchase the place.”
Dawson opened his mouth to refute such a preposterous plan, but Tad went on, completely ignoring him.
“As I said, parts of the house are livable. Come spring, we can
make the necessary repairs to the roof and rockwork outside. Then you may make the interior repairs at your leisure.”
Dawson scrubbed a hand over his face. He used the word we,
but what he meant was Dawson. Dawson could make the repairs. Dawson could live in the hovel.
He pulled his horse to a stop and interjected while Tad took in a
breath. “But there is already a flaw in your plan. I do not have the money to buy this place.” He folded his arms across his chest, satisfied with himself for putting an end to the discussion before it had even begun. But then his
brow crinkled. It was not like Tad to have a plan fall apart so early into it.
As he thought, Tad only smiled at him, pulling ahead of Dawson
and calling over his shoulder. “But you do. With the money I know you have saved and the money I have put away for you—”
Dawson dig his heels into Ares’s flanks. “Wait just a moment.
What money you have put away for me?”
“Do you not remember when first we came to Morley Park and I
offered you a salary to be my secretary? You told me it was an excessive amount and refused it, instead agreeing to only half?” Tad shrugged. “I have been paying the other half into the bank for these last two years. It has grown into quite a respectable sum. By my calculations, if you used both
savings, and what you brought with you from America, you would have enough to
buy this place, with enough left over to buy at least a half-dozen horses.”
Dawson closed his gapping mouth, his teeth aching as the heat from inside his lips warmed them. “Why am I buying a half-dozen horses?”
“To breed, of course. One cannot be a horse breeder without
horses.” Tad looked on Dawson as if he were daft.
Dawson stared at him, blinking several times as the wind dried
out his eyes. “I am to be a horse breeder? When did I decide this?” His voice was gruff and clipped.
Tad laughed. “You have been thinking on it for some time. And I, for one, think it a brilliant idea.”
“It takes time to become a breeder, Tad. How am I to support this estate, let alone have enough money to make the needed repairs?”
Tad nodded. “Not to worry. You have this planned out as
Dawson looked at him with a bland expression, his head throbbing at his temples. He should have known this would be a lengthy plan. Tad never did anything by halves. “I have been very busy thinking, have I not?”
“Did I not say you thought excessively much?” Tad grinned. “First we will repair the tenant cottages.”
Dawson snorted. “We? I do not think it proper for the Duke
of Shearsby to be mending tenant cottages. Mending the ones on your own estate
caused murmuring enough. I can only imagine what gossip will follow if you are seen atop my tenant cottages.”
“You have begun to think of this place as yours. Very good.” He
dropped from his horse and tethered it to a nearby tree before striding up the
steps to the terrace of the manor house. He turned to Dawson and Tad’s smile faltered. “We have long established that I am not a typical English Duke. We
mended the cottages at Morley; we will do it here at Fawnbrooke, unless you choose to rename it.”
Dawson shook his head. “I have no notion of what I would change it to.”
They pushed into the front entryway. Wallpaper hung in tattered clumps from the walls, and plaster chips from the ceiling spread out on the floor in front of them. Cobwebs strung from one branch of the chandelier to the next.
Dawson pushed out a long, slow breath through his teeth. What was Tad thinking? This place was a wreck.
Tad took the stairs two at a time and Dawson reluctantly followed,
turning down the darkened corridor. Tad opened each door, peering inside. “It
appears most of the bed chambers in the east wing just need a good cleaning and
perhaps some paint. “Yes, I think this very encouraging.”
Dawson looked into the first room. Perhaps this could be his
mother’s room. An unexpected warmth filled him.
They moved to the end of the corridor and Tad threw open the door to a large room. “This must be the master’s rooms.”
Dawson walked in and turned around. A door on the left led to the dressing room, which was positioned between this room and another of exact
measurements. The second would obviously belong to the mistress of the house.
Dawson grunted. Would there ever be a mistress? It seemed unlikely and his chest tightened at the thought. Had he wholly given up on the notion of finding
a suitable match? He pushed the thought away for now and returned to the corridor, waiting for Tad to shut the door behind them.
“It seems to me if you shut off the West Wing until we make the
repairs, you should be able to live comfortably enough here.” Tad clapped his hands together and wiped them against each other, trying to remove the dust and
Dawson stared at his friend. Tad was completely serious. He
thought this plan a good one. Dawson did not know what to think. He scratched at the back of his neck. So many things could go wrong. What if he lost it all?
What if it turned out he was like his father?
Tad walked back to the front doors and stepped out into the cold. He motioned to the land they had just surveyed. “As I was saying, if we are able to rent the cottages before spring, you will have that income to help until the horses start to turn a profit.” He scrunched his mouth up to
one side. “I confess, in your plan, you will be living in the east wing of the house for several years. But you felt it a necessary sacrifice for a successful
future.” He gave a little chuckle, obviously amused by his own wit.
Dawson leaned his elbows on the stone wall that lined the front
terrace. At one point it had been grand, Dawson was sure, but it now crumbled in several places. He looked out over the land from an owner’s perspective. It was impressive land. There was much that could be grown here, and the sections which were too rocky for vegetation could easily support sheep or cattle. He had dreamed of owning his own farm again-had yearned for it. His
dream usually had him back in Pennsylvania, but with his mother soon to arrive, he knew returning to the United States not likely anymore. “Do you really
believe this is a feasible plan, Tad?”
Tad moved in close, joining Dawson with elbows on the wall. “I would not have brought it to you if I did not.”