MASK OF NOBILITY (Scandalous Scions: Book 4.0)
MASK OF NOBILITY WILL BE RELEASED ON JANUARY 11, 2018
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If you are familiar with the previous series, I am sure you fell in love with the huge family like I did.
He’s royalty. She’s a commoner. Their association has no future.
Bronwen Davies is not only disinterested in marrying well, she has turned her back upon society, to live as freely as she can in the wilds of Northallerton, where she lives with her cousin Lilly and Lilly’s husband, Jasper.
Jasper’s half-brother, the Archeduke Edvard Christoffer of Silkeborg, arrives at Northallerton without warning, asking for temporary sanctuary from the pressures of his public life. There, he finds Bronwen, a most distracting diversion. Only, Bronwen’s unexpected opinions and forthright manner prove to be far more seductive than a simple distraction should be…
Mask of Nobility is the fourth book in the spin-off series following the historical romances of Scandalous Sirens. Scandalous Scions brings together the members of three great families, to love and play under the gaze of the Victorian era’s moralistic, straight-laced society.
She is a go to author for me when I need a fix of historical romance.
EXCERPT FROM MASK OF NOBILITY
COPYRIGHT © TRACY COOPER-POSEY 2017
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Bronwen moved over to where the driver was bent over the end of the axle. “Did you lose the pin?”
The driver straightened, startled. He swore, bringing his hand to his chest.
Bronwen kicked at the wheel. “It looks whole.”
The man glared at her from under his thick, silver brows. “Bloody pin sheered right off. If I can get the other end out, then I can put a temporary pin in place and be on my way.” He glanced from Bronwen to Agatha, who was hovering near the rear corner of the carriage. “Or I might be if you two’d be men. How on earth I’m supposed to get the wheel back on…”
“One thing at a time,” Bronwen told him. “Get the remains of the pin out first.”
He glared at her. He looked as though he was building up to a pithy reply.
“Where are your passengers?” Bronwen asked, deflecting his ire. Through the leaning window, she could see the carriage was empty.
The driver scowled again and jerked his head toward the trees on the other side of the road. “He be inside, taking…well, a moment to himself, so to speak.”
“Just the one, then. Well, let’s look at the pin to start.”
Agatha tugged on Bronwen’s skirt. She turned her chin, toward the woods.
Bronwen heard the cracking and crunching of someone heavy moving through them. He was breathing hard. Harder than was justified for traversing a thin copse of ash trees that had lost most of their leaves.
Bronwen let her mouth curl down. He must be a London fop, unused to more exercise than lifting his brandy glass and knife and fork.
The man gasped. It was not a sound of exertion, but one of pain.
Bronwen started forward, toward the point where his noisy progress told her he would emerge from the trees. As she got closer, he shouldered his way through the bare branches, then staggered onto the verge at the side of the road.
He was a big man. That was the single impression Bronwen received before focusing upon his hand. He held the wrist tightly with the other hand, his fingers stretched taut.
Bronwen ran to him. “Let me see.” She reached for his hand, intending to push the white, stiff cuff and thick worsted jacket sleeve out of the way.
“It burns!” he breathed and dug the fingers of his other hand into the skin over the back of the injured one.
Bronwen saw the telltale rash. Stinging nettle. Yes, he was in pain.
She looked through the trees, searching for the big, broad leaves of a dock plant and spotted one at the foot of an ash. “Agatha, the dock plant. Would you mind?”
Agatha nodded and stepped into the trees to harvest a leaf.
Bronwen returned her attention to the man’s hand. He scratched with the other fingers. She slapped his hand away. “Don’t do that.”
His gaze met hers. Blue eyes, open wide in surprise. A blue that nature only provided not long before the sky turned to night black. “I beg your pardon?” he said, shocked.
“You’ll just make it worse, if you scratch. Hold your breath for moment and leave it alone.” She took his wrist and bent it, turning his hand over to see the palm and the underside of the fingers, looking for more burrs. “Did you brush your hand against the nettle when you were walking?”
“I must have. I don’t remember. My hand suddenly burned. It is the most excruciating…what is that?” he finished sharply, looking at the moist, green leaf Agatha held out to Bronwen.
“Relief,” Bronwen told him, taking the leaf.
She didn’t answer. Instead, she turned his hand back over and wrapped the big leaf over the rash. There were no burrs left in his skin to remove. It must have been the lightest of contacts.
Bronwen held the leaf down with her fingers for a moment and watched him.
His expression was one of bewilderment and dismay. Then the dock leaf worked. She watched relief and growing awareness fill his face. His eyes met hers once more. “The pain is fading.”
“That is extraordinary.”
“Not really.” She tapped the leaf. “Here, you can hold it in place. Leave it there for as long as you can.” She let go of his wrist and braced herself for the usual suspicion and fear to settle into his eyes. Witch was the least of the epithets leveled at her in the past. People didn’t trust what they didn’t understand.
His gaze shifted from her to Agatha. For a heartbeat she saw Agatha as a stranger would: An old woman with long, stringy gray hair, a wrinkled face and few teeth. A back bent from carrying burdens far beyond what any woman should bear. And a patience and immoveable will rising from a long lifetime lived alone.
Bronwen squared her shoulders, ready to spring to Agatha’s defense. It wouldn’t be the first time.
The man looked at the dock leave once more. “What is in the leaf?” he asked. “Something that counters the nettle sting, clearly, but what? What is the effective ingredient? Do you know?”
Bronwen’s surprise left her speechless.
His interested faded. “Unless it is merely an old wives’ tale you have remembered, that happens to work?”
The dismissive note whipped Bronwen into responding. “There is an acid compound in dock plants.”
“Not a base?” he replied, his interest lifting once more. “I’d have thought that to counter such a sting, a base would be needed.”
“It’s not a sting. It’s a burn. Mild acids alleviate that pain. If I’d had vinegar to hand, I could have used that, instead.”
“Then you know your chemicals,” he replied.
“As you do, apparently,” she shot back.
For a moment, they looked at each other.
He had thick, golden blonde hair above the blue eyes and was clean-shaven. His clothes were fine gentlemen’s garments, with a hint of European tailoring. His shoulders were wide, which matched his height and the size of his hand. The wrist she had glimpsed beneath the cuff was strong, too, which made him far more physical a man than the elegant suit and overcoat and bespoke tailoring suggested.
His square chin dipped. “I confess I am at the outer limits of my knowledge of chemicals. I suspect you know more than I. I would not have thought to find a complimentary plant to counter the first one.”
“Well, using dock plants is an old wives’ tale,” Bronwen admitted. “I wanted to know why it worked, so I learned.”
He nodded. It was a small movement. “Because knowledge is how the world becomes a better place.”
“I suppose, yes. I haven’t thought of it that way.”
“I have.” His gaze was steady.