“I assume you know of our parents’ financial…issues.” When she nodded, Bart added, “Even if gambling had not all but ruined my family, I would not want to bet against Golden Barb. If I don’t have a champion to put out to stud, such a bet only turns a quick profit that cannot be repeated or sustained—which is more akin to a permanent loss.”
She frowned. “That makes sense.”
“You sound surprised.”
“No, no—it is only that I had not thought of it in that way.”
The study, which was also the home’s library, faced east, and the high angle of the late-morning light turned her hair to honey. Picked out every one of her freckles. Highlighted the line of her cheek and the curve of her lip.
“This was a good time of day to meet,” Bart said. “Thank you for being so punctual.”
In the past, he had often become tongue-tied around a woman he found attractive. If not that, he would be soppy, fumbling for lofty words or fashionable cant that felt unnatural on his lips, or choosing flowers from among an infinity of nosegays that all looked the same to him. What seemed to suit other men felt too brash, too false. But since everyone else did it, he knew it could not be wrong in the eyes of society.
Was he doing right? Had he ever done what wanted to do?
Not the last. Never the last. In the end, he would rather do none of these. He would rather gallop away.
Hannah had tricked him into being comfortable with her, though. At first, because he had not cared what she thought of him. And now they had together encountered a crime and a theft and his mother’s determined silence, and it would be ridiculous to babble and fidget over the shade of her eyes or hair.
“Shall we begin?” Hannah’s eyes—which he knew to be hazel, which was a perfectly normal observation to make—roved the spare corners of the room. She could not know the exact spots where expensive ornaments had once stood, where rare volumes had once been stashed. Now the fine wood was a clean, bare glide, and cheap stacks of newspapers that no one had ever read filled the bookshelves. The only ornamented aspect left was the ceiling, which had been painted decades ago with a fanciful image of Pegasus, the winged white stallion.
“Ought we to have a—a maid in here for propriety?” Bart’s hand knocked against his pen, sending it rolling over his letter and scattering stray flecks of ink.
All right, so he could still manage a bit of stammering and fidgeting.
“I rode here with mine, but she is drinking tea with the other servants. I brought her along for my reputation. For yours, I am keeping her out of this room.”
“Do you have some improper aim in mind?”
Her mouth opened, and faint color stained her cheeks.
Bart was all set to apologize, but then she replied, “Because we are looking through your private papers.” And the flit of her gaze—up, down his body as the blush deepened—showed him that apology was unnecessary.
For she had not told him no.
By the end of the novella, I promise, you'll get an HEA, a solution to the mystery, and a horse race. If that sounds like your kind of story, you can pre-order The Sport of Baronets at most ebook retailers:
As for that feud I mentioned? Let's just say the Chandlers have more difficulties than can be solved in a single novella. The first novel in the trilogy, A Gentleman's Game, will be out in February 2016, and I'm working on the second one now.
Thanks for joining me for this first look at The Sport of Baronets! I'll post more excerpts on my website soon.
Theresa Romain is the bestselling author of historical romances, including the Matchmaker trilogy, the Holiday Pleasures series, the Royal Reward series, and the Romance of the Turf trilogy. Praised as “one of the rising stars of Regency historical romance” (Booklist), her highly acclaimed novels have been chosen for the Smart Bitches Trashy Books Sizzling Book Club, featured in the DABWAHA tournament, and deemed “Desert Isle Keepers” by All About Romance. A member of Romance Writers of America and its Regency specialty chapter The Beau Monde, Theresa is hard at work on her next novel from her home in the Midwest. Please visit her online at theresaromain.com .