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A Midsummer Kiss (Kiss the Wallflower, Book 1) (Ebook)

A Midsummer Kiss (Kiss the Wallflower, Book 1) (Ebook)

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Orphaned at a tender age, Miss Louise Grant spent her life in servitude to care for her younger siblings. Now, no longer needed as a duchess' companion, Louise has procured employment in York. But on her last night in London, her reputation is shattered when the drunk and disorderly Marquess mistakes Louise's room for his lover's.

Luke, the Marquess Graham is determined to never torment himself again by daring to love. Stumbling into Miss Louise Grant’s room destroys his days of bachelorhood when he is pressured into marrying her. However, the cold and distant Marquess knows they'll never have a happy marriage; his new and fetching wife will never crack the protective barrier around his heart.

Trying to make the best of a bad marriage Louise attempts to break through the icy visage of the Marquess. But when misfortune strikes and Luke reverts to his cold, distant former self, Louise is not willing to give up on the possibility of love. After all, ice will melt when surrounded by warmth.

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Miss Louise Grant folded the last of her unmentionables and placed them into the leather traveling case that her closest friend and confidante the Duchess of Carlton—Mary to her close friends—had given to her as a parting gift. Louise slumped onto the bed, staring at the case, and fought the prickling of tears that threatened.
There was little she could do. Mary was married now and no longer in need of a companion. But it would certainly be very hard to part ways. They’d been in each other’s company since Louise was eight years of age, and was sent to be a friend and companion for the young Lady Mary Dalton as she was then in Derbyshire.
The room she’d been given in the duchess’s London home was now bare of trinkets and pictures she’d drawn over the years, all packed away in her trunks to be soon shipped north to a family in York. Six children awaited her there, in need of teaching and guidance and she just hoped she did well with the new position. She needed to ensure it was so since her own siblings relied on her income.
Surely it should not be so very hard to go from a lady’s companion to a nursemaid and tutor. With any luck, perhaps if they were happy with her work, when Sir Daxton’s eldest daughter came of age for her first Season, perchance they may employ her as a companion once more.
Certainly, she needed the stability of employment and would do everything in her power to ensure she remained with Sir Daxton’s family. With two siblings to care for at her aunt’s cottage in Sandbach, Cheshire, it was paramount she made a success of her new employ.
Mary bustled into the room and stopped when she spied the packed trunks. Her shoulders slumped. “Louise, you do not need to leave. Please reconsider. Married or not, you’re my friend and I do not want to see you anywhere else but here.”
Louise smiled, reaching out a hand to Mary. “You do not need me hanging about your skirts. You’re married now, a wife, and I’m sure the duke wants you all to himself.”
A blush stole over Mary’s cheeks, but still she persisted, shaking her head. “You’re wrong. Dale wants you to stay as much as I. Your brother and sister are well cared for by your aunt. Please do not leave us all.”
Louise patted her hand, standing. As much as Louise loved her friend, Mary did not know that her aunt relied heavily on the money she made here as her companion. That without such funds their life would be a lot different than it was now. “I must leave. Sir Daxton is expecting me, so I must go.” Even if the thought of leaving all that she’d known frightened her and left the pit of her stomach churning. Mary may wish her to stay, but there was nothing left for her here. Not really. Her siblings were settled, happily going to the village school and improving themselves. Sir Daxton’s six children were in need of guidance and teaching and she could not let him or his wife down. They had offered to pay her handsomely, and with the few extra funds she would procure from the employment, she hoped in time to have her siblings move closer than they now were. A place that no one could rip from under them or force them to be parted again.
The memory of the bailiffs dragging her parents onto the street…her mother screaming and begging for them to give them more time. Even now she could hear her mother’s wailing as they threw all their meager belongings onto the street, the townspeople simply looking on, staring and smirking at a family that had fallen low.
None of them had offered to help, and with nowhere else to go, they had moved in with her mother’s sister, a widow with no children in Cheshire. The blow to the family was one that her parents could not tolerate or accept and her father took his own life, her mother only days later. Their aunt had said she had died of a broken heart, but Louise often wondered if she’d injured herself just as her papa had done.
Within days of losing her parents, Louise had been placed in a carriage and transported to Derbyshire to the Earl of Lancaster’s estate. Having once worked there, her aunt still knew the housekeeper and had procured her a position through that means.
She owed a great deal to the earl’s family, and her aunt. She would be forever grateful for the education, love and care they had bestowed upon her, but they had done their part in helping her. It was time she helped herself and started off in a new direction, just as Mary had done after marrying the Duke of Carlton.
“Very well.” Mary’s eyes glinted with unshed tears and Louise pulled her into a hug.
“We will see each other again and I will write to you every month, to tell you what is happening and how I am faring.”
Mary wiped at her cheek, sniffing. “Please do. You’re my best friend. A sister to me in all ways except blood. I would hate to lose you.”
Louise picked up her valise and placed it on top of one of her many trunks. “Now, should we not get ready for your first London ball this evening? As the newly minted Duchess of Carlton, you must look simply perfect.”
“And you too, dearest.” Mary strode to the bell pull and rang for a maid. “You’re going to look like a duchess as well this evening. I have not lost hope that some gentleman will fall instantly in love with you as soon as he sees you and you will never have to think of York or Sir Daxton and his six children ever again.”
Louise laughed. How she would miss her friend and her never-ending hope that someone would marry her. But the chances of such a boon occurring were practically zero. She was a lady’s companion, no nobility in her blood or dowry. Perhaps she would find a gentleman’s son in York, a man who would love her for the small means that she did possess—a good education and friends in high places. A man who would welcome her two siblings and their impoverished state and support them as she was trying to do.
“One can only hope,” she said, humoring her. “I will certainly try, if not for my own sake, then definitely for yours, Your Grace.”
Mary beamed. “That is just what I like to hear. Now, what should we do with your hair…”

Main Tropes

  • Different Social Spheres
  • Marriage of Convenience
  • Regency Romance
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