Here’s a sample of the new book in the Camden Girls series, MISS CAMDEN KISSED THE DUKE.
Isabelle tried not to run out of the church. She tried not to cry.
She succeeded at the first, but watching the wedding and the bride—her cousin—and her groom ride away for their honeymoon was too much. Tears filled her eyes. You are a fool, Isabelle. How might things have gone differently if she’d spoken up, told Edwin she loved him?
Should she have?
Something in her said she was a fool both not to act on it and to consider it. He was more than a decade her senior, after all.
Now, it was too late. He and Jera headed off to their honeymoon.
Honorine threaded an arm around her. This, her sister, was the only one who knew she loved Edwin.
“Don’t fret, Belle. I’m sure you’ll find someone.”
“How do you know?”
Sympathy filled her amethyst-colored eyes, and Isabelle felt stupid for snapping at her. If anyone knew her pain, it was Honorine. If anyone knew broken hearts and how they mended, it was her sister. “Finding someone to distract you now would be nice, wouldn’t it? Or something to distract you.” Honorine nudged her fondly. “Shall I race you home?”
“Mother will scold us.”
“I’m sure she will.” Honorine gave her the usual mischievous smile she wore when she teased, still playful though she was out and married to Wallflower’s assistant stationmaster, living in their own flat closer to the Wallflower Subway Station. Isabelle missed plotting with her sister like this on a regular basis.
Her grandmother straightened the ribbon laced through her locks. “Now that this is over, my dear Belle, you might think more about what you’re going to tell the Women’s Auxiliary Committee, which abilities you want to highlight when you meet with Mrs. Furse.”
Which skill do I have that they’d need? At eighteen, she’d only so far focused on helping her older sister, her family, in their endeavors. Her sister was married now, and a student at the women’s college. She had her own life, and Isabelle floundered, looking for her own. “Grandmother, did you have to push through my application?”
Her grandmother patted her hand. “I know, dear. You’d much rather spend your time chasing … what is it you do, my dear? Running for your father’s trains?”
Isabelle huffed and scooted away. “It was one time.”
“Talk to Mrs. Furse, and take copious notes.”
Honorine nudged her. “There. That’s something she’s good at, Grandmother.” Their grandmother frowned. Honorine ignored her. “You can offer your services as their secretary.”
“I will tie you to the tracks if she does—for making such an appalling suggestion of your sister.” Grandmother turned her attention back in Isabelle’s direction. “Belle, I want to hear everything you and Mrs. Furse talk about. If nothing else, tell your father to visit me at lunch and report.”
His lunch was usually grandmother’s dinnertime, but there was no point refusing. “Yes, Grandmother.” Isabelle wasn’t looking forward to this meeting at all and wished her grandmother had spent more time thinking about Jera, this last year, than her future. “Perchance, are you and Grandpa still planning to go to Crete in August? I think I’d like to go with you.”
A young man stood outside the church, a perplexed look on his handsome face.
“I have an idea.” Honorine weighed the small bag of rice in her hand. A mischievous smile lit up her pretty, heart-shaped face.
Isabelle studied her. What’s she thinking?
Honorine threw the rice at her. Isabelle sidestepped.
Isabelle poured out a handful of her own. Honorine ducked away behind cousin Theodora. Isabelle threw the rice at her.
“Oh, my word!” cursed a deep male voice.
Shock filled Isabelle too as the rice slammed into a young pedestrian’s face. The same pedestrian they’d watched a moment ago. Now here the young man was, approaching them, only for her to throw something at him.
“Goodness!” Honorine leaped into action. “I’m so sorry, sir. I believe my sister was aiming for me.”
He was red-haired and almost as tall as Shane, but thinner than her brother-in-law. With Shane, his father, and Edwin around, she was used to men of Celtic features and height. Dark eyes peered at them. But he was thin, and suntanned. Unusually so for the weather this close to London.
“Blame her, not me, please.” Isabelle twisted the top of the rice bag in her fingers, wishing she might disappear.
“It was entirely my fault.” The gentleman tipped his bowler hat. “My pardon, ladies, I hope you don’t mind the trouble, but I’m looking for the abodes of Franklin and, or rather, Everett Camden. Do you happen to know where I might find them?”
He had a nice smile, Isabelle thought, but how young he was… he seemed only her age, maybe nineteen but she doubted it.
Oh Lord, another man. Another man she didn’t need.
“You’re looking for our father and uncle?”
“Yes, miss.” One lone grain of rice nestled above his ear. “He’s your father?”
Again, Isabelle wished for a train to roll by and squish her.
“Father!” Honorine called out for him, but Isabelle kept her attention on the stranger.
Father strode up to them, handsome in his dark brown coat and slacks, his mustache curled for the wedding, his cheeks bright from a tipple of wedding wine. Despite their maid’s best efforts, though, she still smelled a touch of coal smoke to his clothing. “Why are you shouting for me, my dear?”
Mother trailed behind him. “Why are you shouting at all?”
Isabelle answered for her. “Papa, this young man would like to talk to you. Mr….”
“McFadden.” The fellow watched her a moment more before turning his attention to her father.
Papa shared a glance with her mother. “What’s this about?”
Aunt Viola, her cousin Silas, and the younger children, waited by the church door. Uncle Franklin, holding Viola’s arm, watched them curiously.
He nodded to Franklin. “Your brother spoke to me recently of your—” Here, he looked at her father.
“—station, and I find I was intrigued. Might I ask you a few questions about it?”
Isabelle looked to her sister, curious. Honorine shrugged.
“Are you a reporter?” Mother asked.
“No. Oh! That’s right. You were having some trouble with those varmints.”
“Lyall McFadden, at your service, Ma’am.” He looked back to her father. “If you wouldn’t mind, sir, I need a bit of advice on plans for my own station.”
Fresh on the heels of romantic heartbreak, Miss Isabelle Camden agrees to become companion for the sister of a busy, arrogant duke. She plans to keep her distance, but when a snowstorm strands them outside London for days, an unexpected dare sets propriety at naught…and sends her into the duke’s arms.
If you’d like to read more, MISS CAMDEN KISSED THE DUKE is available now!