She doesn’t want to be a kept woman…
Josephine Potter knows she must retain her employment to provide for her younger sisters and to maintain the house. While a young woman working as an accountant – at a hotel no less – could be frowned upon by some, it’s still a respectable way to earn a living. No matter what a certain duke might think. Besides, Josephine has a few rules she lives by: Don’t rely on others, don’t accept money from someone you don’t know, and never allow a man to control your life. But when she is fired from her job, Josephine may have to bend a few rules…
Devon, the Duke of Snowdon, has never met a more bull-headed woman than Josephine Potter! The Potter sisters are granddaughters of a Viscount and should not have to work for a living. So despite Josephine’s arguments, Devon insists she end her employee status immediately and accept a stipend for her and her sisters. When she is then fired, she accuses him of meddling in her life…and things are about to heat up despite the cold winter weather. As they work together to figure out why Devon’s hotel is losing money, a mutual attraction that won’t be denied, grows between them.
But when rumors of impropriety abound, can Josephine’s reputation be saved…or will her life be destroyed by scandal?
Josephine waited until the coach carrying her youngest sister, Eve, out to the Great West Road had turned a corner, disappearing from sight. She then wrapped her shawl tighter around her shoulders and started making her way back toward the townhouse they’d shared with their other sister, Louise, until yesterday. The place would be empty now with both sisters away. Eve had been invited to visit with a friend for the holidays, while Louise had gone to Whitehaven in the northern part of the country to become a governess to three young children.
Some extra income would certainly be welcome. Josephine wasn’t sure how much longer she would be able to cover their expenses on her own. The townhouse, alone, took most of her wages, while food and clothing swallowed the rest. It was a struggle, but to accept defeat and relocate to humbler lodgings was out of the question. Already, they’d had to give up the status their Mayfair home and country estate had once afforded them. As the great-granddaughters of an earl, they’d enjoyed a comfortable position in society—until their father had squandered it all in a downward spiral of drink and depression.
Pushing the unpleasant memories as far back as they would go, Josephine determined to focus on the future. The townhouse wasn’t the only thing at stake. There were also Eve’s prospects and their reputations. While Josephine and Louise had resigned themselves to working for a living, they both hoped Eve might still be able to enjoy the Season they’d been denied, that she might marry well, and that her life might be a little easier and happier than what they faced. There would be no large dowry, only the meager sum Josephine had managed to put aside during the last year since their father’s death: a few wages here, a bit of pawned jewelry there.
Turning onto Vine Street, Josephine bowed her head against the gust of wind sweeping toward her. She’d used the last firewood that morning and would have to see about buying more –yet another cost eating away at her income. But this was England, and they were only in December. It would be several months before she’d be able to forego heating. Unless she wished to get sick and not only risk losing her job but also having to pay the exorbitant fee of seeing a doctor. To do so was not an option, so when she spotted a woman with firewood strapped to her back, Josephine crossed the street and made her approach. “How much for three pieces?” It was all she could carry.
“Thirty pence, love.”
Swallowing the bitterness of surrendering the sum, Josephine exchanged the coins for the wood and resumed walking, pushing through the wind as it whipped her skirts around her legs.
She was almost at her door before she noticed the carriage parked at the side of the road. The two black horses hitched to the front of it silently watched her progress. Giving them a wary glance, Josephine balanced the firewood in one arm so she could retrieve her key from her pelisse pocket.
Her face burned with cold and she took a step forward, prepared to seek refuge indoors, when the carriage door opened and a tall, broad-shouldered figure stepped down onto the pavement. His hair was black beneath his beaver hat, his features matching the harsh winter climate. Eyes as dark as night caught hers, and his jaw immediately set with distinct determination.
“Miss Potter?” He shoved the carriage door shut and strode toward her. The wind caught the hem of his somber greatcoat, forcing it out behind him in jerky movements.
Josephine raised her chin. “Who wants to know?”
Halting his approach, he told her frankly, “The Duke of Snowdon.” He dipped his head and touched the brim of his hat. “At your service.”
About the Author
Born in Denmark, Sophie has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian.
She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.
While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion – writing.
When she’s not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.