Susana: Lady P, who is still visiting her daughter’s family in 19th century Kent, heard some rather juicy gossip about the scion of a prominent family in the area and decided to investigate, intending to present the results of her investigation to me in an attempt to make reparations for making free with my credit card to buy gifts for her grandchildren prior to her return to her own time period.
Lady P [interrupting]: Although I know Susana well enough to know that it is not the money that concerns her; it’s something called the Prime Directive. So silly really, to think that something as innocuous as the Laugh and Learn Learning Puppy could cause the end of the world. [Shaking her head] In any case, I sent a note to Lord Rutherford to call upon me at my son-in-law’s home in Thanport at his earliest convenience, and he was pleased to do so.
* * * * * *
Lady P: I am much obliged to you, sir, for your prompt response to my invitation.
Rutherford [bowing]: You indicated that it was a matter of some urgency?
Lady P: Yes, indeed. Rumor has it, my lord, that you are a sapskull.
Rutherford [eyebrows raised]: A sapskull, madam? Indeed? And how did you come to that conclusion?
Lady P: Although perhaps it is merely a ploy to draw attention from your dabbling in the area of espionage.
Rutherford: Espionage? Really, my lady. I think you’ve been reading too many Minerva romance books.
Lady P [waving an arm]: Do not be alarmed; your secret is safe with me. I am more concerned about your attentions toward a certain highly-regarded young lady in the area.
Rutherford [rather stiffly]: If you mean Miss Marsh…I suppose it is no secret that I am courting her.
Lady P: It is hardly flattering to Miss Marsh that you spent so many years sniffing after Lady Phoebe and only turned to her when Lady Phoebe became engaged to another.
Rutherford: I was not sniffing after Lady Phoebe. She has never been more than a friend. I was merely waiting until Miss Marsh attained an age to marry. [Under his breath: Shocking how meddlesome older ladies can be!]
Lady P [with narrowed eyes]: What was that about older ladies?
Rutherford: Nothing ma’am. Are you quite finished with your interest in my affairs?
Lady P: Not even close, my lord. Then you waited on the sidelines while Miss Marsh received countless offers of marriage…surely any sensible man would have made an effort to fix his interest with the woman he intends to marry. What if she’d have accepted one of them? Where would you be, then?
Rutherford: I had the situation well in hand. If it appeared as if she were interested in another gentleman, I would have stepped in.
Lady P: Why did you decide on Miss Marsh? What are the qualities you saw in her that gave you the impression that she would make a suitable wife for you?
Rutherford: I have known her all her life. She is a well-behaved, proper lady who has all the attributes I desire in a wife. Furthermore she is used to taking her lead from me. I wish to live a well ordered life. With Miss Marsh there will be no surprises.
Lady P: I understand, however, that Miss Marsh has turned down your offer of marriage.
Rutherford [running a finger down his cravat]: That is true. A fit of pique, only.
Lady P: But you persist in pursuing her. What makes you think you can prevail upon her to change her mind? Miss Marsh appears to be a young lady who knows her own mind. I doubt she will be easily importuned.
Rutherford: I have been busy during the past couple of years. Once I spend some time dancing attendance on her, I’m sure she’ll come around. After all, we have been close friends for years.
Rutherford: I beg your pardon, my lady, but these questions are extremely intrusive. [To himself: not to mention something I don’t wish to think about.]
Lady P: How have your feelings changed toward Miss Marsh since your return to Kent?
Rutherford: Really, these questions are outside of enough. My feelings toward Miss Marsh are no concern of yours. All anyone need know is that I intend to make her my wife. You can tell that to Lady Blanchard. [Rutherford mutters behind his hand: Now if I can only convince Anna. I wish I knew why the devil she is being so difficult.)
[A maid comes in and whispers in Lady P’s ear.]
Lady P [to the maid]: Tell my daughter I’ll be along shortly. [to Lord Rutherford]: I do beg your pardon, Lord Rutherford, but a domestic squabble requires my attention. Before you depart, however, there is one last point of curiosity I should like you to satisfy, if you would be so kind.
Rutherford [rolling his eyes]: By all means, my lady. I have no wish to leave your curiosity unfulfilled.
Lady P [with a saucy grin]: Can you tell me where I might find a copy of that book Miss Marsh found in the library? You know, the one with all the—er—fascinating illustrations? I have a novelist friend who would give her eye-teeth to have one.
Rutherford [clearing his throat] I believe I must take my leave of you, madam. It’s been a pleasure, of course.
Lady P [winking and offering her hand]: Indeed it has, Lord Rutherford. I wish you well in your endeavor to win Miss Marsh’s affections. Perhaps a match between you is not quite so ill-conceived as I thought.
Rutherford: À bientôt, my lady. [softly cursing as he walks out the door]
About The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh
Since she was a young girl, Anna Marsh has dreamed of Sebastian, Baron Rutherford asking for her hand in marriage. But that was in another life when her brother Harry was alive, before she vowed to secretly continue the work he valiantly died for. Now as Sebastian finally courts Anna, she must thwart his advances. Were he to discover her secret, he would never deem her a suitable wife…
Sebastian has always known Anna would become his wife someday. He expects few obstacles, but when she dissuades him at every turn he soon realizes there is much more to this intriguing woman. Somehow he must prove to her that they are meant to be together. But first he must unravel the seductive mystery that is Miss Anna Marsh…
Available for pre-order on Amazon.com
On the surface, Anna Marsh appears to have everything a young lady could wish for. She’s beautiful, accomplished, well-mannered, and sought after by countless eligible gentlemen. She’s also a wealthy heiress. But Anna is not a typical debutante. She has a secret life that she is determined never to give up, even if it means she must remain unmarried the rest of her life. In any case, the man she’s always loved, Sebastian, Lord Rutherford, seeks a biddable, compliant wife, which she knows she’ll never be.
Sebastian, Lord Rutherford has been waiting for Anna to mature into a desirable young lady, and now that she has, he’s ready to pop the question. But when he doesn’t get the answer he expects, he becomes all the more determined to win her heart. But how can he truly love Anna when he doesn’t really know her? The question becomes: is he a suitable husband for her?
Anna is a strong, independent woman determined to make more of her life than the typical society maven. There were times in the beginning when I wanted to slap Rutherford silly for taking Anna for granted for so long, but, on the other hand, there is nothing quite like seeing a man grovel to appease his lady, and Rutherford manages to do so quite satisfactorily.
There is a very sweet secondary romance in this story, and also a mystery to solve originating from Anna’s “secret life.”
The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh is the second in a series, following The Seduction of Lady Phoebe. The book stands well on its own, however. This review was written from an ARC provided by the author, who, incidentally, has the first book on pre-order. Ella Quinn is a wonderful new talent in the Regency world, and this Regency devotee looka forward to enjoying her future works.
About the Author
Ella’s studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape. Eventually her love of historical novels led her to start writing them.
She is married to her wonderful husband of twenty-nine years. They have a son and granddaughter, Great Dane and a Chartreux. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe, she and her husband decided to make St. Thomas, VI home.
Ella is a member of the Romance Writers of America, The Beau Monde and Hearts Across History. She is represented by Elizabeth Pomada of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency, and published by Kensington. Her debut novel The Seduction of Lady Phoebe, will release in September 2013
Website: (Up soon) www.ellaquinnauthor.com