When Alexander Reddington becomes the heir, he suddenly becomes in want of a wife. The idea of attending every event of the season at the behest of his new wife sounds like a nightmare–so when he meets Lavinia Wynnburn, he thinks the beautiful wallflower is the perfect answer to his problem. Is she, though? While you wait for the release of Four Weddings and a Duke by Michelle McLean to release on May 23, you can enjoy this exclusive excerpt!
Alex glanced down and watched a bee settle on a beautiful patch of snapdragons that were such a vibrant shade of orangey-red that he couldn’t tear his eyes from them. He’d rarely seen such a color. In fact, in his own garden, his snapdragons were a deep burgundy. A color he loved, to be sure. But the mix of orange and red was truly a stunning combination. Perhaps Lord Abberforth would be willing to part with a few cuttings that Alex could take back to his own garden and—
He was not in this garden to admire the flora.
He wrenched his eyes from the snapdragons to where Lavinia was carefully walking ahead of him a few steps, just as she paused to look behind her. She brought her quizzing glass to her eye for a moment and then smiled when her gaze met his. A sight every bit as lovely, and possibly more so, than the exquisite flowers at his feet.
She stood and waited for him to catch up. Their eyes again met and held, and he could have sworn the world paused to take a deep breath along with him.
Her lips parted slightly, and she looked up at him with her brow faintly creased. Though whether it was due to emotion, confusion, or if she was squinting to see him better, he didn’t know.
A slight cough from the maid behind them reminded him they were not alone. Not that anything untoward had occurred, but from the faint blush on Lady Lavinia’s cheeks, it was clear he wasn’t the only one who had felt something.
The moment broken, he continued their conversation. “I know enough about your sisters. Tell me about yourself.”
She gave him a little half shrug. “There isn’t much to tell. I’m afraid I’m not all that interesting.”
“The fact that I’m asking negates that opinion. I find you immensely interesting.”
She blinked at him a bit shyly, but her smile seemed pleased. “You hardly know me, Your Grace.”
“Agreed. Hence, the questions.”
She regarded him with another soft smile. “I’m afraid my answer must still be the same. You know the important things. I enjoy reading. I love my home and family. And plants,” she said, her smile growing wider. She paused a moment, her eyes narrowing briefly as though she was thinking, and then added with a faint blush, “I do not always enjoy social occasions, but I am willing and able to carry out whatever duties may be required of me. I would not disgrace my future husband… should I ever marry.”
A bold statement. And a courageous one for a woman to say to a near stranger. He admired her mettle. And her honesty.
More than that, of the three sisters, Lavinia was by far the most who suited him personally. He had no doubt that when the unavoidable occasion arose that they must venture into society that she would be more than capable of performing the duties of his duchess. But from what he knew of her so far, she didn’t seem the type to crave such diversions. She would be happy spending the evening in his library, quietly reading, while he continued with his research. She wouldn’t begrudge him his time in his greenhouse.
He took a deep breath of the late summer air. The sooner he chose a wife, the sooner he could get back to his manuscripts and beloved plants.
Only it wasn’t green leaves and growth rates that had been running unchecked through his head these last several hours since the wedding.
It was laughing eyes, a shy smile, and the unfamiliar but growing desire to spend time with something…someone…other than his plants.
And that was enough to decide him.
“Lady Lavinia. I find you most acceptable.”
Lavinia’s mouth dropped open, and she stared at him, stunned, for several moments before a small frown formed between her brows.
That wasn’t quite what he’d meant to say. “I…” He grimaced. Damn. He was bungling this horribly.
“Would you like to start again?” she asked.
He gave her a sharp nod and then cleared his throat. “You are the least objectionable—”
She cocked an eyebrow, and he pursed his lips together. Why was this so difficult?
He took a deep breath and blew it out, taking a brief second to center himself.
“Lady Lavinia.” He straightened to his full height, hands clasped behind his back. “As you are aware of my intentions in calling upon your family today, and as our families are both impatient for an announcement, I needn’t expound upon all of that. I will say, the choice has not been easy. But I have found you to be auspicious in nature, intelligence, and appearance, and find your company most agreeable. Therefore I would be honored if you would consent to becoming my wife.”
She sucked in a sharp breath. Each second that she withheld her answer made it more and more difficult to draw a steady breath. She could be assured of his intentions, yet he could not say the same of her. He must marry a Wynnburn. But she had no such compulsion. She could just as well deny him.
It suddenly occurred to him that perhaps he should have waited until he could be sure of her response before he proposed.
Her sisters would have said yes, he had no doubt. But would she? He hadn’t realized until this moment just how much he wanted her to.
She finally blinked, a little life returning to her face. And then she smiled, and hope blossomed in his chest.
“I thank you for your kind words and faith in me, Your Grace. I find your company most pleasing as well. I am honored to accept.”
And just like that, he could breathe again.
As the middle—and least marriageable—sister in a bevy of swans, Lavinia Wynnburn is quite content being the odd duck out. This way, she’s free to commit social faux pas without anyone much noticing. Until the Duke of Beaubrooke turns up the morning after a ball, asking for her hand in marriage.
Alexander Reddington doesn’t particularly care for social niceties, nor is he particularly good at them. But now that the spare has become the heir, he must marry…and soon. When he stumbles into the same corner as a socially awkward wallflower, he knows he’s found the perfect wife: one who won’t bother him to attend every simpering event of the season.
Only, Alexander’s shy and pretty new wife is finding her new position surprisingly exciting and keeps accepting every invitation that flutters past their door. And worse luck, he might even be falling for her. Now he must hide the truth about why he really proposed…before his unexpectedly happy marriage is dashed to pieces.
Michelle McLean is a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl who is addicted to chocolate and goldfish crackers and spent most of her formative years with her nose in a book. She has a B.S. in History, a M.A. in English, and loves her romance with a touch of suspenseful mystery. She resides in PA with her husband and two amazing children.
You can follow Michelle on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out her website to stay up to date on the latest news!
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