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Authors: Kate Noble

The Lie and the Lady

BOOK: The Lie and the Lady
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PRAISE FOR

THE
G
AME
AND THE
G
OVERNESS

“Readers will adore Phoebe, a once wealthy woman who has learned to put the past behind and find happiness in everyday life. The subtle development of romance between the devil-may-care earl and the proper governess is the impetus behind this winning novel, complete with rich characters and a multidimensional plotline.”

—
Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“A fun twist on the plot about trading places.”

—
Two Classy Chics

“A thoughtful, intricate novel
.”

—
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

“A clever, tremendously entertaining tale of truth and lies, love and friendship.”

—
New York Times
bestselling author Sarah MacLean for
Washington Post Book World

“Buy for the tortured hero, stay for the heroine who makes him grow the hell up.”

—
BookRiot

“An enjoyable and thought-provoking read. Recommended.”

—
Historical Novels Review

“This delightful romp of a story should be devoured in one sitting, if at all possible. . . . A book to be savored and reread.”

—
Romance at Random

“If you like romance that combines the light and the substantive, I highly recommend this book. I have added it to my list of the Best of 2014.”

—
The Romance Dish

“Masterful pacing, outstanding storytelling, and a deftly drawn cast of unforgettable characters set
The Game and the Governess
apart from the bounty of this summer's new releases. This magical novel is a stunning example of the transportable power of a remarkable historical.”

—
The Lusty Literate

“An amazing book . . . I can't wait for more from Kate Noble.”

—
Paranormal Librarian

“Kate Noble has woven a story that will grab the reader. I think you will fall in love with Ned and Phoebe.”

—
Bookworm 2 Bookworm

“Go grab this book. You'll really like it, I promise.”

—
Little Miss Bookmark

“Marvelous.”

—
Reading in Winter

More acclaim for KATE NOBLE and her popular novels

“Kate Noble brings the delicate elements of Regency England brilliantly alive with her prose.”

—
USA Today

“An extraordinary and unique romance worth savoring.”

—
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
on
Let It Be Me

“The story's prologue literally gave me goosebumps—goosebumps that never went away throughout the whole book. This is the kind of deep, touching read that romance fans search for. I have a new favorite author!”

—
RT Book Reviews
on Seal of Excellence pick
Let It Be Me

“Despite being a delight and thoroughly winning, the book is 300 pages of confirmation to what I'd suspected and now know: The Regency belongs to Kate Noble, and it's in very, very good hands.”

—
All About Romance
on
If I Fall

“If Austen were alive and writing novels today, the result might be something exactly like
Follow My Lead
, a wickedly witty and superbly satisfying romance.”

—
Chicago Tribune

“Believable and captivating . . . an outstanding and memorable tale.”

—
Publishers Weekly
(starred review) on
Follow My Lead

“Clever and graceful . . . simply sublime”

—
Booklist
on
Compromised

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For my son, without whom this book would have been completed much sooner.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

W
riting a novel is hard. Writing a novel with a newborn is herculean. The only way this gets done is with the support of good people. Annelise Robey at the Jane Rotrosen Agency is the best sounding board and career guardian I could have ever asked for. Abby Zidle, my editor at Pocket, has patience and good humor for days, as well as excellent story sense. And my friends, my writing group, and my family are the only reasons I manage to shower daily, let alone write. The babysitters who gave me four hours at a time in the public library to work were lifesavers.

But the biggest dose of thanks goes to my husband, who was on baby duty 24-7 over Thanksgiving with my family while I madly typed the ending of this book. He deserves all the accolades. And a drink.

1
SUMMER, 1823

T
he Countess of Churzy had been in love three times.

First, when she was simply Letty Price, barely eight years old and blissfully unaware of the realities of life, she dearly loved her best friend, Joey Purser. They played together every day, until Joey's mother needed him to start working in the Price Timber Mill. And then, as the daughter of the owner, she wasn't allowed to play with Joey anymore.

The second time she was in love, she was Miss Leticia Price, sister to Lady Widcoate, and shunned by every good member of the ton. As she was only a timber miller's daughter, her father's fortune was enough to buy her sister a country bumpkin with a title, but for Leticia to think her beauty and grace would do her any good with real society was too presumptuous to endure. Then, Konrad Herzog, the Count of Churzy, crossed the room to where she was sitting and asked her to dance. He was an Austrian aristocrat, enjoying London while the last vestiges of the war trickled to an end, and Leticia fell in love the moment he winked at her during the quadrille.

The third and final time Leticia—now widowed, desperate, and needing to secure her future—knew she was in love, she had just thrown open her bedroom door to find the Earl of Ashby standing on the threshold.

“Oh . . . hello, Letty,” he whispered, his hand still in midair.

“Good evening,” she replied, a half smile painting her lips. “You seem surprised to see me.”

“I thought you might be asleep.”

“Then why knock?” Her dressing gown was by no means immodest—unfortunately. But she worked with what she had, rolling her shoulders back and showing her bosom to best advantage.

The corner of his mouth ticked up as his eyes flicked appreciatively down. He must know what she was doing. They'd been playing this game for weeks now.

The anticipation made her heart flip over. It made her blood soar.

And it wasn't the first time that evening the Earl of Ashby made her feel this way.

“Because I can't sleep. And I thought you might not be able to either,” he answered.

“I was making a valiant attempt. It is well past midnight, my lord.”

“Then it is lucky I caught you, my lady.” Something shuttered over his eyes. Something honest and difficult. He took one deep breath, then two, before he spoke. “I wanted to make certain you were all right. I . . . I acted rashly this evening.”

“Oh really?” she asked, all innocence. “How so?”

“Tonight, at the Summer Ball when I . . .” He cleared his throat.

“When you kissed me,” she supplied.

Oh yes, he had kissed her. She had been standing across the room, talking to someone—it could have been her sister, Fanny, but she could no longer remember, because at that moment her breath caught and her heart started pounding out of her chest as she watched the Earl of Ashby cross the floor, stalking his prey.

Stalking her.

Before she could so much as exhale, he'd swept her into his embrace and kissed her, right there on the floor at a public ball, in front of everyone.

It was, after a lifetime of disappointment, her moment of triumph.

Even for such an alarmingly public display, it hadn't come out of the blue. She and the Earl of Ashby had been growing close over the last fortnight. He and his man of business, Mr. Turner, had come to stay at her sister's estate while he sorted out some difficulty about a property he owned nearby. That she just happened to be visiting her sister at the same time as an arguably handsome and extremely wealthy gentleman of note was neither here nor there.

That they had been inseparable almost from the moment he arrived was far more pertinent.

She hadn't expected it to be so easy. She'd been certain that to charm the Earl of Ashby, she would have to summon her most enthusiastic fawning, her best display of wit and vivacity. Walk the tightrope of being fascinating, approachable, and unobtainable all at once.

Instead, it had been like sliding into a bed after a long day. Each little look, every time he offered her his arm, all the conversations about nothing and everything . . . it all felt so, so right.

It was astonishing.

It was frightening.

And now he was standing in front of her, in the middle of the night. Still in his evening kit from the ball, his shirt open at the collar, his cravat hanging loose around his neck, revealing a tempting bit of skin at the base of his throat. Still, for all his finery his clothes fit him strangely, as if he would rather be in just buckskins and breeches—or nothing at all.

But there was something underneath that. A worry. A . . . need.

A thrill ran up her spine. Perhaps his need matched her own.

“You were very reckless,” she said seriously.

“I was. I apologize for any offense I might have caused.” He took another breath. “There are some things that I haven't—that is, that we haven't discussed. And I'm afraid that before anything else occurs, it is only fair—”

BOOK: The Lie and the Lady
6.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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