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- Mistaken Identity
- Twin Brothers
Jessica Standish is considered an upstart in the eyes of society because she is merely the daughter of a wealthy merchant. After a failed season, the devastating loss of her father and his fortune, her chances of a good match seem impossible. When her mother arranges for them to attend one of the biggest house parties of the summer, Jes dreads the idea of being seen as a fortune hunter. But then Lord Ian arrives. Even though she has only danced with him once, he has become the man of her dreams. As the connection between them grows, he seems so different from the man she thought she was.
Conrad Pinkerton, the Marquess of Kendal despises the ton and all the scheming, the guises, and the games that go with it. For years he has declined their invitations. Then his twin brother, Ian, calls in a favor and Conrad grudgingly assumes a guise of his own-pretending to be his brother at a house party. When he meets Miss Standish, he wants nothing more than to pursue her. But that would mean exposing his lies which would hurt both their reputations and threaten the relationship he didn’t know he wanted.
With family names and fortunes on the line, can Conrad and Jes see past their schemes and guises to find a lasting love together? Or will they decide in the end, love is not worth the risk?
Intro. Into Chapter One
Intro. Into Chapter One
“ Bloo…” Conrad Pinkerton, the Marquess of Kendal,
cursed to himself. He reined in his horse at the sight of several carriages
lining the drive of the massive house. If he waited his turn in line, he would
surely be caught in the approaching downpour, just visible in the
He moved his horse to the side, the stables his destination,
passing ladies dressed in all their finery as they exited their carriages.
Servants followed behind, loaded down with trunks and boxes of varying sizes—likely filled with bonnets of great extravagance and even less taste.
Conrad snorted. He had no idea how Ian had convinced him to agree to this absurd plan. Demonic possession seemed the only explanation for what he
was about to do. He hated society and a house party was one of the worst manifestations of it. Every mama able to finagle an invitation would be here to
peddle her daughter before the highest-ranking peer.
It was beyond his understanding why his brother willingly
submitted himself to this tabby gathering. Under normal circumstances, Conrad would never attend such an event, yet here he was.
He handed off his mount to a stable boy. Moving quickly in front of the ladies currently being helped from their carriage, Conrad muttered another curse.
A sharp intake of breath drew his gaze to a young woman waiting
for the rest of her party. She looked at him with wide eyes.
Conrad dipped his head in apology and mounted the curved stairs, joining the other guests there.
An old, hunched butler stood just inside the open doorway,
gesturing him inside. Conrad presented his card, or rather, Ian’s. “Lord Ian Pinkerton, welcome to Somerstone.” The old man bowed so deeply, Conrad was afraid he may never be able to right himself again. Much to his relief, the man returned to his previously hunched position before reaching behind Conrad and taking the card of the group behind him.
A slim, dark-haired lady approached with a bright smile. She was not a doe-eyed debutante, but neither did she look to be on the shelf. She, or
rather her family, must have money problems, Conrad thought with a small amount
of sympathy. “Ah, Lord Ian. I am Miss Greystock, the Countess’s companion. Lady Du’Brevan has been waiting for you. Please, follow me. She wanted to speak with you directly.”
Conrad sighed internally, for Ian would never make such a sound
out loud. Unless it was a matter of grave concern, such as a mis-tied cravat or a waistcoat of last year’s fashion.
Having committed himself the moment he walked through the door, Conrad pasted a smile upon his face, one he hoped conveyed a mixture of
fecklessness and charm. The action proved more difficult than he had assumed. He loathed the role he must now play, but he had agreed.
Switching places was something they had done throughout
childhood. It was a perk of being identical twins. Now the joke was stale and juvenile.
Straightening Ian’s canary yellow waistcoat and checking that he
had parted his hair on the correct side, Conrad squared his shoulders and followed the woman through a hall with dozens of pillars supporting the upper floor. At the stairs, the lady waited for him to ascend first. She had been trained to be a lady, then. His earlier suspicions supported.
At the top of the stairs, he again followed Miss Greystock down a
sort of corridor, although it went through several rooms along the way. Conrad looked around without openly gawking. Ian had been a guest of the countess
frequently. It would surely give Conrad away if he seemed overly interested in the grand home.
Conrad had only met the Countess Du’Brevan on a few occasions in London. He did not know her well, but he knew her to be a busybody who,
occasionally proved amusing. Perhaps the next few days would not be horrendous, after all.
He followed Miss Greystock into a library of sorts, although its
offering was sparse compared to many, including his own. From the expansiveness of the house, Conrad guessed it was more likely a personal sitting room of the countess, containing only her favorite books. The bookshelves only covered the lower half of the walls, while the upper portion was covered in a rich red
wallpaper. Windows spread throughout the room gave it a bright, welcoming warmth.
The lady herself was seated at a desk, a quill in hand. She
looked up at their entrance. Abandoning her parchment, she stood to greet them.
Miss Greystock curtsied. “I will see to the other guests unless
you need me for something else, my lady?”
The countess waved her away, and Miss Greystock closed the door behind her. Conrad envied the woman’s quick exit.
The old woman’s shoulders relaxed a fraction as she smiled. “Ian, it is so good to see you.”
“I can assure you, my lady, the pleasure is all mine.” Had he
used enough affection in his tone? Did his smile appear appropriately friendly?
He should have paid more attention to Ian in social gatherings. Although he
tried to avoid doing both.
Conrad took a calming breath. How had he thought this charade was going to work?
The countess clasped his hands in hers, unabashedly looking him over. The scrutiny was unnerving. Conrad unconsciously took a step back, his smile dropping slightly. The countess took two steps forward, closing the gap. Her eyes narrowed slightly as she continued her perusal. Stopping at his face, her head tilting to one side. I have been here less than five minutes and the lady has already ferreted out the secret.
“You seem different, Ian. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but
there is definitely something amiss.”
Conrad pushed his hair out of his eyes, determining to have his
valet trim it tonight. Forcing a chuckle that came out sounding slightly crazed, he stammered. “I…I do not know what you mean. Perhaps my hair is longer
than usual, but…” He raised a brow, hoping he could distract her until he could make an escape to his rooms. “You, on the other hand, have not changed a bit.
How do you do it, my lady?”
I have two whole days of this? He was thinking his best course of action was to keep to his rooms. Or rather, to any room where the
countess was not.
She released his hands and rapped him lightly against the upper arm. “I can see you have not changed in totality. You are still quite the charmer.”
Conrad gave an inward grimace at the description. It inferred
such a low character. He did not understand how his brother could not only endure such a title, but seemingly embrace it. “I was told you wished to see me
upon my arrival.” He winced slightly at the gruff tone of his voice. Softening it, he asked, “How may I be of service?”
Her head tilted again, an appraising look entering her eyes. Moving back to her desk, she picked up the feather, tapping it against her chin. “I hoped you had convinced your brother to accompany you on this visit. But seeing you are alone, I am guessing he was otherwise engaged?”
There was a touch of challenge in her voice. “My dear Countess,
if I did not know better, I would think you were using me for my connections to the Marquess of Kendal.” He gave a dramatic sigh, followed by a wink. He had
seen Ian wink hundreds of times at as many ladies. It always ended with the same response—tittering and blushing. The countess, however, neither blushed nor tittered, which squelched Conrad’s earlier confidence. “It is good I know
better,” he quickly amended. “I did present him with your invitation, but as always, he declined. I cannot fathom why you desire his presence. Everyone
knows he is a bore and most disagreeable.”