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A Stolen Season: London (A Stolen Season, Book 3) (Ebook)

A Stolen Season: London (A Stolen Season, Book 3) (Ebook)

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A shocking secret.

A leap in time.

A season to steal his heart. 

Transported back to 1822, Lady Ruby Earnston discovers an unlikely family secret.

Drawn into London Society, she also turns the head of the handsome Carter Folley, a dashing Duke with plans for a wife of his own. But losing his heart to Ruby has consequences.

Her time in Regency England is scarce. One Season to uncover the truth about her ancestors. A few fleeting weeks to promenade, to be seduced, to fall in love.

However compelling the attraction between them burns, even their burgeoning desire cannot bridge the gap of time.

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Reading, England, Present Day

Lady Ruby Earnston laid down her DNA test result on the table at a nondescript building in Reading and stared at the man across from her, who looked at it with disinterest.
"What is this?" he asked her. The man was tall, burly, and well into his middle years, but his eyes were oddly familiar to her for reasons she would like explained, and today, if that were at all possible.
They had to be related. But how?
"Those documents before you are my DNA results. I wanted to know, as many do, where my ancestors come from. But surprising to me, they have matched with yours. We are related in some way, and I would like to know how."
Harrison Baxter, the owner of this company, stared at her with annoyance, and was that a little fear in his eyes? She couldn't be certain. The offices and the people in them bustled about, giving the impression of them all being very busy. She looked at a few who walked past the meeting room they were sitting in, casting curious glances through the glass doors, but the clothing they were wearing was odd. Were they some costume business? What a strange place she had come to.
"Related?" He frowned, scooping up the result and giving it a cursory glance. "What did you say your name was again?" he asked her as he rummaged in his top shirt pocket for his glasses, which she could see poking out through the top.
"I'm Lady Ruby Earnston. The Earl of Earnston's eldest daughter. Does that name mean anything to you at all?"
Mr. Baxter's head snapped up. His eyes widened, telling her that her name did indeed mean something to him, but whether he would tell her what that was exactly was another thing entirely.
"There are hundreds of people related in England and the world. The test naturally means that we have a past shared relative, nothing more."
Ruby sat back in her chair, steepling her fingers before her, studying the man across the desk and wondering how she would push her point. Something odd was afoot. She could feel it, not to mention other things that did not add up. "Do you know that my grandfather is the very image of you, but how can that be so when we're distant relatives? I want to know if you know how it is that we're related. What member of my family's ancestors did we share? Surely that is not too much to ask."
Mr. Baxter shifted in his seat. His gaze moved to an image on his desk, and he sighed. "Before I tell you anything, Lady Ruby, let me explain to you that you will need to sign an NDA, and if you speak of anything that you are told or shown here today, I will sue you for everything that you own, family ancestor or not."
Ruby swallowed, unsure she wanted to know now at all. Why the need for an NDA? She prayed coming here today did not mean she had uncovered some dark family secret that meant her father wasn't the true heir of the Earnston line or her brother or any of them for that matter.
"I agree. Please have the paperwork brought in, and I will sign it."
She sat for minutes only as Mr. Baxter brought in a document and a black leather folder. Once the paperwork was completed, she took a deep breath, steeling herself for the information she was about to receive. She hoped she did not have to tell her parents that none of them should be heirs to the earldom.
"The story is a long one. Are you sure you have time or really wish to know, my lady?" Mr. Baxter asked her, slipping the paperwork aside and opening the black folder before him.
She nodded. "I'm ready to know how we're related, yes."
Mr. Baxter threw her a knowing smile and lifted out a picture, sliding it across the desk. "This is my daughter. You may know her as the Countess of Earnston and an ancestor of yours dating back to 1819."
Ruby frowned down at the modern snap taken of a woman she had only ever seen in painted pictures, many of which adorned the walls of her ancestral home. She picked the image up, studying it. This must be a trick. "What are you up to, Mr. Baxter?" she said. He could not trick her or tease her with absurd antics that no one in their right mind would believe.
"You lie, which I do not understand at all. This couldn't possibly be your daughter and my ancestor. It isn't possible. If you did not wish to tell me the truth of how we're connected, you could have just said so. I would not have been offended. Not that I would have stopped trying to find out how we're related, but I would have respected your decision not to say. But this," she said again, placing the image on the desk. "This is absurd. That image is a take-off of my ancestor and nothing more. I shall leave now," she said, going to stand. "You may have your laugh once I'm gone."
Mr. Baxter stood, towering over her. He was similar to all the men in her family, tall and broad-shouldered, and the facial resemblance was uncanny, but her mind still screamed that such a connection was impossible. How could it be otherwise?
"Please, sit, Lady Ruby. That is not all you need to know. Once I explain it to you, you will understand how it has come about that my daughter is an ancestor of the Earl of Earnston of today."
She sat, curiosity getting the better of her. She would allow the man to have his say, explain his outlandish ideas, and she would leave and never come back.
"Very well, continue," she stated, folding her hands in her lap, determined not to interrupt him again.
"TimeArch is not just a corporation that deals with archaeological digs the world over. Many factors go into explaining the past and preserving what we can of historical artifacts. One of those is time travel. TimeArch not only digs up the past, but travels back to it and learns and explores what will help us to understand the lives of those before us. It enables our digs in the twenty-first century to be accurate, with less chance of things being destroyed or missed completely. It is why we're so successful in many of the digs taking place today."
Ruby stared at the older man, who had obviously lost his mind. Time travel? She clamped her mouth closed, biting down the bark of laughter wanting to break free.
"Time travel? You want me to believe that the reason why your daughter is an ancestor of mine is that she time traveled back into the past and what? Stayed there and married an earl? Is that what you're asking me to believe?" The words sounded absurd coming out of her mouth, but still, the image of the woman, the uncanny resemblance to the man across from her to her grandfather, a man she did not know existed until she took a DNA test simply because it was what everyone else was doing, and came back with a match, was too much to ignore.
But time travel? That excuse made no logical sense at all. No one could time travel. It did not exist.
"Exactly that. Time travel, and that's what we do here. We are time-traveling archaeologists. Sarah Baxter was one, and she did go back to the early nineteenth century after a mishap at one of our trips where she fell in love. She married the earl, and you are the ancestor of that love match. You are as much my family as you are an Earnston. Whether you choose to believe that or not is your choice, but it is the truth."
Ruby raised her brow, picking up the image once again. "Very well, say your daughter, my ancestor, did go back in time… Tell me everything. How it was she went back in the first place, and why. Tell me what happened between her and the earl. Make me believe."
Mr. Baxter chuckled, reaching back into his folder. "Are you ready for this ride, my dear? You will not be able to unknow it once I tell you."
Ruby did not truly want to hear this story—as absurd as it was—but still, something within her stilled her feet from rushing from the room and leaving TimeArch behind in her rearview mirror. "I'm ready to know your truth. Please explain it to me."
"It would be my pleasure," he said, slipping her more images that left her mouth agape and all her disbelief evaporating in an instant.
Holy smokes.

Main Tropes

  • Friends to Lovers
  • Family Secrets
  • Time Travel Regency Romance
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