Today we feature Allison Merritt , who’s story, A Duke Worth His Salt, is based on the French fairy tale “The Dirty Shepherdess..” This novella is included in the boxed set, Once Upon A Regency.
Lady Eleanor never doubts her father’s love, but when he suffers a head wound and forgets his middle daughter, it thrusts her into a world of uncertainty. He orders her out of his house, and she flees to the family estate in Sussex. Intent on being useful, she disguises herself as a shepherdess named Leah. She never expects to be charmed by the lord next door. Lord Daniel Goodwin seeks solitude to write a novel, but really desires access to the estate next door, where some of his fondest memories were made. He intends to coax Lady Eleanor into giving him what he wants, but the stubborn woman won’t see him. Instead, he befriends shy Leah. When her future is in danger, he uncovers her secrets which are nearly as troubling as his own. He would gladly take Leah as his mistress, but can he take Lady Eleanor as his wife to protect her after he vowed never to marry?
The book will be released on February 5. You can find it here:
“Have you had much contact with the mistress of Lanthrop Downs? I hear she’s mysterious. Won’t allow a single visitor.”
“She’s…reclusive. In any case, it’s not my place to seek her out. I watch her flock.” Her heart pounded an uneasy rhythm.
“Keep them away from the stinking bogs so I don’t have to return to dig out more. Jem, that fire.”
“Yes, Your Grace.” Jem set about gathering the driest kindling.
Goodwin placed the ewe on the ground. It didn’t attempt to run, just lay placidly while it shivered.
“Stupid blasted creatures. I understand the appeal of the money the wool brings, but I cannot picture raising them for a living.” Goodwin folded his arms. “Standing out in this weather to make sure they do not come to any harm is a fool’s errand.”
“A necessary evil.” She retrieved her basket, then lifted a jug from it. “There is hot mulled cider. Betty made it. You should have some to warm yourself.”
“Lady Eleanor wouldn’t approve of your gesture.”
Eleanor kept her eyes averted. “You might be surprised. After all, you did save her animals from certain death.”
He uncorked the jug. “For that, she should grant me a favor. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“What sort of favor?” Wary, she took a step back.
“Supper with her would do. Tell her. I will await my invitation. Or if she has no desire to grant me access to Lanthrop House, she’s invited to Glassodder any time.” He took a long drink from the jug.
“I will tell her, Your Grace, but I hope you won’t be disappointed when she rejects your proposals.” Beneath her woolen clothing, sweat beaded at her neckline. Why won’t you give up?
He passed the jug to her. “You may tell your mistress that if she rejects my offer—either of them—that I shall ride my horse right into her house and let him stomp about until she comes to meet me.”
Eleanor swallowed the lump in her throat. “Why are you so set on seeing her? What could she possibly have that interests you?”
“We met once. Not so long ago. I am merely curious about how I offended her. And I should like to discuss her father’s health.”
“I would help if I could, but I know nothing of his lordship nor Lady Eleanor’s reasons for turning you away. It’s best not to distract her. She badly wants to restore Lanthrop Downs to its former glory.”
“One evening away from her task couldn’t hurt,” he muttered.
“I will tell her, Your Grace. Perhaps she will have a moment of pity.”
“Pity?” He tilted his head. “I am not one to be pitied, girl. If anyone deserves pity, it’s Lady Eleanor. Trying to restore this place. She would be better off to convince her father to sell it. And Lord Aldshire, sending a girl here to do his work. What sort of madness is that?”
“Do not talk about my–” She bit the tip of her tongue. “About my employer that way. He is doing his best. Lady Eleanor is smart and capable.”
“Loyal to a fault, but saucy. You are a handful, Leah.” He cupped her face and tipped her chin up. “Quite lovely too.”
Her whole body shook as warmth from his hand coursed through her. “I am nothing special, Your Grace.”
“Goodwin.” His eyes sparkled. “Let’s be friends. If you do not think your lady will have an issue with it.”
Her breath rushed out in a plume. “I couldn’t speak for her, though friendship may not be the wisest course.”
“Lady Eleanor would never need know what happened between us while you played nursemaid to her sheep.” A wicked grin complimented the glow of his eyes.
Her watery legs were near useless. What he suggested without saying outright was something more than friendship. “I do not need that sort of friend.”
“You read me wrong, sweet Leah.” He dropped his hand from her face. “My greatest desire is the company of a well-spoken young woman. I haven’t seen anyone beyond my staff and those at Lanthrop Downs in a solid month.”
“You could have the company of anyone. Couldn’t you, Your Grace?”
She dropped her gaze again. “Yes, of course.”
“I could, but I desired solitude for a time and I dread the trip to London. I could invite others here, but they would break my isolation while begging to be entertained.”
“Why is it that you need quiet time away from your peers?” She shouldn’t have asked, but curiosity drove her. She’d been too long away from her own friends and family.
“They will spoil the hours I spend in my study and my riding time. Or haven’t you noticed I like to ride? I have seen you out here, and I know you watch.”
Mortified heat made her toes curl. “Your horse is very beautiful. It is difficult not to notice him.”
“True, but is that all you notice?” He smirked.
The preening peacock. As though she had nothing better to do than watch him parade around on horseback.
A love of reading inspired Allison Merritt to pursue her dream of becoming an author who writes historical, paranormal, contemporary, and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She lives in a small town in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. It’s not unusual to find her lurking in graveyards, wandering historical sites, or listening to ghost stories.
Allison graduated from College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri with a B.A. in mass communications that’s gathering dust after it was determined that she’s better at writing fluff than hard news.
Connect with the author:
Facebook – http://facebook.com/allisonmwrites
Twitter – http://twitter.com/allison_merritt
Blog – http://havenovelwilledit.blogspot.com
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/allisonmwrites
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Allison-Merritt/e/B006LZV3QS
2 thoughts on “Highlighting Historical Romance: Allison Merritt”
Thank you so much for hosting Allison Merritt and Once Upon A Regency!
Thank you for hosting Allison and the rest of the Once Upon A Regency crew! Allison, I love your excerpt. Caroline, we really appreciate the opportunity to share our fairy tale inspired Regency romances with you and your followers. Meara