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A Perfect Rose

A Perfect Rose by Diane Greenwood
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At an early age Torie Beauclaire learned life is not fair. After the death of her parents she is taken into her Aunt's household where she sticks out like a sore thumb. A misunderstanding finds her caste off and having to earn her own living. As a governess she finds comfort in educating others children until a post within the Lairdscroft household takes her out into the remote moors. Here she tries to tame the wayward children of his lordship, Rhionne Lairdscroft. Bodie and Justin haven't received much in the way of discipline and Torie efforts are met with resistance. But her true test is with their father, a man who brooks no nonsense and finds Torie's problems trifling. That is until Torie ensnares a neighboring Duke's heart and wreaks havoc with a gardener. Soon nothing about Torie is trifling and his lordship finds he must take a second look at the boys' insipid governess. Indeed, he must take another look and try to regain control of his household and his heart.
Awe-Struck Publishing; November 2005
145 pages; ISBN 9781587495212
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Title: A Perfect Rose
Author: Diane Greenwood
He couldn't take his eyes off her and had to remind himself to blink. She would think him an idiot! "You are the governess?" "Yes. I am Victoria Beauclaire." He guided her toward the opened veranda. "Forgive me. But I find it hard to believe someone as exquisite as yourself should be tucked away as a governess. His lordship is a lucky man." They reached the entrance to the cavernous room. Torie stopped short. It was one thing for a single Duke to have seen her, but now a roomful of guests stood before her and her debut would be a shock when her identity was revealed. The Duke of Gaunlin was at her elbow. "Shall we dance?" Torie smiled. Why not? It was her night. No doubt her last at Lairdscroft. Why not, indeed? She allowed the Duke to lead her into the middle of the room and sweep her in a circle with a flourish. Her skirt billowed behind her, like some willow-wisp, shimmering to catch up. She had only one satin slip beneath and did not possess the expensive silk undergarments or hosiery, usually worn with such a dress. Therefore, with every whirl, her skirt flashed and swayed, displaying an immoderate amount of creamy ankle. Quizzing glasses were raised and monocle's fell from their precarious perches as their possessors muttered among themselves, "Egad! Who is she?" When their eyes traveled upward admiring the slender form, the generous curves of non-powdered bosom, then reached the face, their mouths followed the suit of their monocles and dropped. The men's with admiration and the women's in undisguised envy. The other dancers halted as Torie and her Duke swept by. When the music stopped at the end of its song there was a large throng of whispering bodies gathered that parted regimentally to allow the Duke to lead Torie off the floor. Torie smiled and nodded politely to the crowd. Her knees felt wobbly, but whether from the rapid, intricate steps of the dance, or from nerves, she could not say. Torie began having misgivings of her bold declaration. She turned to excuse herself from the Duke. But the decision was made for her as the crowd parted once more to allow Lord Lairdscroft to approach. His black satin knee breeches molded to his lean form, while the matching frock coat parted to show an amber-hued waistcoat that lent devilish glints to his dark blue eyes. "Everett! My dear young Duke, who is this enchanting creature?" 'Quite astonishing beauty', he deigned to acknowledge silently, then gave his attention to the matter at hand, which was crediting the Duke with his impeccable taste in women. The sooner the girl was introduced around, the sooner the evening could continue. It was the Winter Ball after all, and the night was still relatively young. The Duke was all for a lark and good-naturedly winked. "Rhionne, she claims she is your governess." The crowd tittered at the absurdity. Lord Lairdscroft frowned. What was this nonsense? "Nay, not my governess. My governess is pockmarked. Who are you, young woman? Be quick about it or I'll be forced to take steps." Torie was shocked by his uncaring demeanor. He did not care a whit about her plight and was more concerned with the interruption to his ball! The Duke was looking perplexed. He naturally assumed his lordship would go along with the governess lark. After all, he could not publicly acknowledge the girl as his mistress. But what else could she be? It was fortunate that at this time two figures came running up. "Torie!" Brodie squealed. "You came to the ball!" It was Rhionne McLairdin's turn to look perplexed. "Children, you know this young woman?" Justin seriously replied, "Yes father. May I present Miss Victoria Beauclaire; our governess." His lordship scanned Torie's person, as if seeing her for the first time. His eyes caught the bandage on her hand, then flew to her eyes. Those luminous green eyes! Could it be? The Duke broke the tension by bowing to Torie stiffly. "I apologize for my indiscretion. I naturally assumed you and his lordship were on a first name basis. I was under the impression you and he were...well..." If all were not horribly awkward, this was the icing on the cake, as Torie's eyes flew open at the implication of his words. With great dignity she took Brodie by one hand and Justin lightly by her bandaged one, nodding to his lordship." With your permission, I will put the children to bed." She scarcely waited for his barely perceptible nod, before sweeping from the room. Once on the stairway the children both began to chatter, but one look from Torie's taut face hushed them both. She avoided talk as she helped the boys into their night clothes, before ducking into her own room and without bothering to change from her dress, fell exhausted on her bed, muffling her sobs as best she could in her pillow. There was plenty of time to pack tomorrow.
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