Meeting Mr. Baston

| November 1, 2018

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*DEBUT REGENCY ROMANCE by Jodi Marie Mackin*

When the duke’s youngest daughter Violet disappears in the night, Allaster Baston agrees to keep a watchful eye on Isabella Avery, the duke’s unconventional and very stubborn eldest daughter. When their journey unexpectedly leads to a dangerous carriage ambush, Allaster finds himself caring for the young woman more than he ever thought possible.

Isabella was more than a little annoyed when her father assigned his man-of-affairs as her personal guard. Able to handle daggers and pistols, she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. But, when Isabella finds herself unable to resist Allaster’s charms and they share their first kiss… guilt swells in her chest. How can she possibly give her heart to a gentleman while her sister was still missing, or perhaps even dead?

*CHAPTER 4 EXCERPT*

Amersham Lodge. Not as grand as Isabella was used to, but it had an elegant sort of feel with its carved ornate walls and stained glass windows. Walking inside the dimly lit room, she held the small leather sketchbook against her chest.
She made her way to her brother’s table in the center of the lounge and dropped her book opposite Simon’s arm, landing with a loud thwack.
Simon grimaced. “Oh, not that again.”
When they were children, she’d often hide in dark corners in hopes of sketching her family in their natural state. Posed portraiture was never an interest of hers. What fun was sketching a person if they knew you were doing it?
“If you must sketch me, please do so from my good side,” he jived, motioning to the left side of his face.
“I haven’t decided what I’m going to sketch.” Her eyes scanned over the room. “Besides, should you not be discussing tomorrow’s plans with father?”
“I needed a break from the bickering.” Simon’s blue eyes fell to his snifter.
Understanding filled her chest —and a desire to gulp down her brother’s brandy in two large swallows— but such an act would earn them too many stares and her family did not need the extra attention at the moment.
Isabella studied the room and found her father standing over a table with Captain Lucas; drawing out something on a large, crumpled map.
Captain Lucas was a happily married gentleman with a young son and another babe on the way. With his wavy dark hair and unruly sideburns, he was handsome in his own disheveled sort of way— but not precisely what she was looking to draw at the moment.
The captain stepped around the table, bringing Allaster into view. The gentleman sat next to the wall, swirling a dark amber liquid around in his glass. There was something melancholy in the air of him. Appearing so very alone amongst a room full of people.
‘Worthless second son, of course…’ Allaster’s words echoed through her mind, causing her heart to sink. What pain did the gentleman carry with him?
Isabella sighed and flipped to a clean page in her sketchbook.
Her charcoal pencil began to move at a quickened pace, though still careful and delicate.
A lone table in a dark room appeared on the paper. A man was seated in the only chair at its head. His hands gripping an almost empty glass.
Isabella looked up from the sketch to study Allaster’s features more intently. She brought the pencil to her lip as she examined the shape of his eyes. They weren’t perfectly round, more like the shape of almonds, his eyelashes were long and dark making his emerald green eyes stand out that much more.
She dropped her gaze to his lips. The curve of his Cupid’s bow so perfect the myth himself must have created it.
A slow smile crept over his face, which did funny things to her to her heart.
“What is wrong with me?” She was never a woman to gape at a gentleman. Especially one employed by her father.
She glanced back to his eyes which were suddenly staring deeply into hers.
Isabella’s body went stiff, causing her pencil to fall from its position on her lip, tumbling to the floor.

*END OF EXCERPT*

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