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Authors: Jessica Nelson

The Matchmaker's Match

BOOK: The Matchmaker's Match
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The Marriage Ultimatum

He has three months to find a wife—or lose his estate. Spencer, Lord Ashwhite, doubts he’ll find a suitable bride among the
, until the unconventional Lady Amelia Baxley agrees to provide a list of candidates. It should be an ideal arrangement, were Spencer not growing attached to the one woman Amelia refuses to consider as a prospect: herself.

Independence means everything to Amelia, who has been burned in love before. The charming marquis is quickly putting her entire life in turmoil, and controlling her stubborn heart has never been such a challenge. But does the ever-practical Amelia dare to go from bride-finder to wife?

“Do you know who I am, Lord Ashwhite?”

He grinned at her, showcasing a spectacular set of ivory teeth. “I see a lady in need of a dance. They say exercise can relieve many ailments, including a corset that has been overly starched.”

She tucked back a gasp at his outrageous comment and focused on the most pertinent point. “My lord, I do not dance, and since you are not aware of my status in the ton, let me inform you that I am most firmly on the shelf.”

“This means you may not dance?”

“A lady always knows her place,” she repeated, feeling an unnerving heat creep through her. Who was this man, and what right did he have to question her? “If you’ll excuse me, I must check on my cousin.”

“Not so fast.”

Jessica Nelson
believes romance happens every day and thinks the greatest, most intense romance comes from a God who woos people to himself with passionate tenderness. When Jessica is not chasing her three beautiful, wild little boys around the living room, she can be found staring into space as she plots her next story, daydreams about raspberry mochas or plans chocolate for dinner.

Books by Jessica Nelson

Love Inspired Historical

Love on the Range
Family on the Range
The Matchmaker’s Match


The Matchmaker’s Match

We love Him, because He first loved us.

—1 John


Thank you, Grandma Charlene Schwirtz, for supporting me in both word and action. Though you’ve experienced terrible heartache in your life, you choose to laugh and to love. You’re a blessing!

During one of my darkest times, Someone Special told me to surrender to advice ever (for both myself and Amelia).

A giant thank-you goes out to Robert Lee Edwards Jr., because he showed me the beauty of companionship.

Many thanks to my editor Emily Rodmell, whose openness has given me a new book in print! Plus, she makes my stories better. Dear readers, please trust me on this.

And, of course, my heart is filled with gratitude to God. His gentleness never ends.


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three


Dear Reader

Excerpt from
Wolf Creek Widow
by Penny Richards

Chapter One

London, England

ady Amelia Baxley admired the male species. The way they looked, their scent, the way they walked as though they owned the world—which everyone but man himself knows is a fabrication of the highest order. Yes, they were intriguing creatures to hunt.

Take this one. The new Lord Dudley looked positively dazed in Lady Havern’s ballroom. His thick brown locks framed a sweet, innocent face. If only Amelia could redirect his odd interest in her, he’d be perfect for Cousin Lydia.

Straightening her gown, which kept twisting due to her maid’s unfortunate antics with the needle, Amelia lifted her shoulders and tugged Lydia’s arm. She strode toward the gentleman in question with Lydia in tow. An easy quarry this time. She smiled to herself as she adjusted her spectacles against the ridge of what she’d been told was quite an extraordinary nose.

“My lord,” she said above the noise of the Beau Monde. “Have you been introduced to Miss Lydia Stanley?”

“Madam.” He bowed, and Cousin Lydia responded with a lovely curtsy.

Things were going quite to plan. Smiling, Amelia pointed to Lydia’s dance card. “I believe Miss Lydia has a spot open for the next dance. A quadrille, I presume?”

“You are indeed correct.” Lydia giggled and proceeded to fan herself in a vigorous fashion. Amelia cleared her throat, and Lydia stopped. Thankfully.

A blush rose to Lord Dudley’s face. Naturally he realized the prime position he was in as the new master of a prosperous earldom. Many hopeful misses would set their caps for him this Season. But Amelia was determined he give her impoverished cousin a chance. Yes, Lydia could be opinionated, but her looks were outstanding and her manner charming, if at times not quite impeccable. She deserved a good husband, one who would take care of her and her family.

Amelia gave the young earl a pointed look. His face reddened even more before he stuttered out an invitation. The music started, and the two made for the floor.

Satisfied with the outcome thus far, Amelia headed toward the balcony for a respite. Though she loved matchmaking and needed the funds to supplement her income, spending hours in a throng of overly dressed, heavily perfumed
haut ton
made her temples pound and her skin itch. How much better to curl up in a soft chair with a great book. Particularly
Sense and Sensibility

The author, referenced as “A Lady,” inspired Amelia. Who could not help but feel moved by the sisters’ plight in the story? Furthermore, she appreciated how the author emphasized the silliness of giving in to impulse. Nefarious emotions were for those without good sense.

She stepped onto the balcony and inhaled the warm, sweetly scented air. A lovely night for the Season, to be sure. Stars glittered above her and creative lanterns of varying colors had been hung within the trees, lighting a walking path for those seeking to escape the press of the ballroom.

She rested her head on her arms and let her eyes drift shut. A giggle flavored the night, followed by the low tones of a masculine voice. She listened to the variance of sound, her ear tuned to the lovely cadence of the gentleman’s voice. It was soothing and deep.

She smiled to herself, then startled at the shriek that pierced the calm night. The distinct sound of a slap followed. Cringing, Amelia straightened and debated whether to run back to the ballroom or to investigate.

A rather choked version of weeping reached her. Rather than the lady striking a gentleman for behaving like a bounder,
must have slapped
! Well, that most certainly made up her mind. Amelia squared her shoulders and marched toward the sound. She rounded a jutting corner of the house and happened upon a tall, well-fashioned man who stood in front of a woman wearing an alarming number of jewels.

Indeed, they were almost blinding.

Amelia stifled her disapproval of such vanity and tapped the gentleman on the shoulder with her fan. There was simply no excuse for hitting a woman. Not even if she’d spent the last of the family funds on extravagance.

“Excuse me,” she said crisply before he’d even turned around. “My breath of fresh air has been disturbed by your callous behavior. I suggest you move to the ballroom before I irreversibly damage your reputation.”

She would never do such a thing, but this rogue must not know that.

In a lithe movement, the gentleman faced her. She took in the mark on his cheek and the blush on the other woman’s. Obviously Amelia had been mistaken at first—the woman had slapped
. Had she interrupted a spat? Her eyes narrowed. The woman was...familiar somehow.

“May I introduce myself? Spencer, Lord Ashwhite.” He reached for her hand. Unwilling to embarrass herself any further, or give in to bad etiquette, she allowed him to take her fingers and perform his bow.

“Lady Amelia Baxley.” She pulled her hand back and offered a perfunctory curtsy. “And I do apologize for interrupting. I had thought something foul was afoot.”

The woman’s jewels clinked as she pointed a finger at Lord Ashwhite. “He is a cad.”

“Did he harm you?” Amelia peered at the woman.

“He only has forever broken my heart,” the lady declared in a decibel-shattering voice.

Her heart?

“Miss Winston is upset because I did not write to her while I was in the Americas.” His wry tone held no humor.

This was quite obviously an emotional quarrel. In which case, Amelia had more productive ways to spend her time. She took in Lord Ashwhite’s appearance, the way his notable green eyes appeared to flash in the moonlight. He had strong features. A firm jaw and handsome face. Thick hair of the deepest brown. At first look, he’d make a good prospect for one of her customers. Of course, she’d need to examine his character first.

Some tidbit of information niggled at her consciousness. Something she should remember about his name...

“There is nothing afoot, my lady, but an evening of dance and merriment. Please accept my apologies for disrupting your evening. Miss Winston was just leaving.”

A sound that might have been outrage strangled from the woman, but after leveling a severe glare at Lord Ashwhite, she brushed past in a flurry of silk and gemstones. Amelia suppressed a shudder and wondered again why the woman struck such a discord within.

“My lady.” Lord Ashwhite commanded Amelia’s attention. “May I steal a dance from you later this evening? To atone for my atrocious behavior?”

Was she supposed to laugh at that? Perhaps it was a trick of the glittering stars overhead, but there seemed to be a definite flash of mischief about this gentleman. She narrowed her eyes at him, wondering if he could see past her spectacles. She’d been told she had an assertive gaze and she tried often to put it to good use.

“Do you know who I am, Lord Ashwhite?”

He grinned at her, showcasing a spectacular set of ivory teeth. “I see a lady in need of a dance. They say exercise can relieve many ailments, including a corset that has been overly starched.”

She tucked back a gasp at his outrageous comment and focused on the most pertinent point. “My lord, I do not dance, and since you are not aware of my status in the
, let me inform you that I am most firmly on the shelf.”

BOOK: The Matchmaker's Match
7.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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