A Lady without a Lord
(Book 3 in The Penningtons series)
A viscount convinced he’s a failure
For years, Theodosius Pennington has tried to forget his myriad shortcomings by indulging in wine, women, and witty bonhomie. But now that he’s inherited the title of Viscount Saybrook, it’s time to stop ignoring his responsibilities. Finding the perfect husband for his headstrong younger sister seems a good first step. Until, that is, his sister’s dowry goes missing . . .
A lady determined to succeed
Harriot Atherton has a secret: it is she, not her steward father, who maintains the Saybrook account books. But Harry’s precarious balancing act begins to totter when the irresponsible new viscount unexpectedly returns to Lincolnshire, the painfully awkward boy of her childhood now a charming yet vulnerable man. Unfortunately, Theo is also claiming financial malfeasance. Can her father’s wandering wits be responsible for the lost funds? Or is she?
As unlikely attraction flairs between dutiful Harry and playful Theo, each learns there is far more to the other than devoted daughter and happy-go-lucky lord. But if Harry succeeds at protecting her father, discovering the missing money, and keeping all her secrets, will she be in danger of failing at something equally important—finding love?
Praise for A Lady without a Lord:
“Theo and Harry are likeable, attractive and fully-rounded characters whose flaws and insecurities make them seem that much more real. Theo is completely adorable; a loveable rogue who has spent so long believing himself to be the idiot his father kept insisting he was that he fails to see that his intelligence is of a completely different, yet equally valid kind, and that he is gifted in other ways.” —All About Romance
“In keeping with my Valentine’s Day tradition, my February reads were all romance and all wonderful! I had become jaded with romance of-late, so I was delighted to rediscover my love for romance. I read Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas, My American Duchess by Eloisa James, A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran, and A Lady Without a Lord by Bliss Bennet. Bennet may be a fledgling author but her book stands stalwart with the others on that list. I was very much taken with her assured writing, complex and unusual characterization, and verve for storytelling, all highlights of a much more experienced author.” — Cogitations and Meditations
“What I loved was how Theo and Harriot came into themselves. Theo slides from being a good-hearted wastrel to a responsible heir, who uses his charm and wit—once used to bed whomever he wanted in London—to deal with certain situations on the homestead. His friendly manner makes him approachable when his title alone would frighten many. Harriot is, by nature I think, a caretaker. She gives of herself to so many, her father included, that her own wants and needs are sometimes set aside. The insecurity she has about being with Theo—she doesn’t consider herself as beautiful or charming or alluring as the women of London—fades as she sees herself through Theo’s eyes. Her intelligence is not to be hidden, her patience is to be admired. As a whole, their lives are changed for the better because of what they see and find in one another.” — Written Love Reviews
From Chapter 2 of A Lady without a Lord
Harriot Atherton has enough trouble keeping her father, the steward of the Saybrook estate, out of difficulties. Must she really rescue one of his sheep? Especially when the estate’s new viscount makes an unexpected appearance…
The ewe strained forward, trying to get its legs under it. In spite of its obvious exhaustion, though, its strength still proved greater than that of its would-be rescuer. With a jerk, it shot forward, sending Harry tumbling to all fours into the dirt.
From behind her came a low, appreciative chuckle.
“Though she’s not black, yon sheep looks as if she has far more than three bags of wool at the ready. Are you certain, though, fair shepherdess, that you’re using the best method to shear?”
Harry groaned. What a spectacle she must present! And not even to a fieldworker or a farmer, but to a gentleman, if the man’s way of speaking were any indication. Just what she needed, a smugly superior clever-boots, come to bear witness to her indignities. Watch, next he’d be “ba, ba, baa-ing” at her as if they were actually characters from the old nursery rhyme.
Harry jerked her head up and down, banging the brim of her bonnet lightly against the ground.
But said ground was hardly likely to open and swallow her and her embarrassment whole. Gathering her scattered dignity, Harry pushed up to her knees and slowly turned round, wondering which of the local gentry she’d had the misfortune to encounter.
A large gentleman strode across the pasture, his horse tethered to a low tree across the lane. The afternoon sun, shining directly behind him, made it difficult to discern his features. Too tall to be Sir John Mather, who held the estate closest to the Saybrook home farm. And not Mather’s son, home from Market Rasen on one of his frequent visits, either; proper Haviland was far too stiff to offer such a comment to any woman, genteel or no. Besides, this man’s voice hadn’t sounded at all familiar. Harry raised a hand to shield her eyes from the glare.
“Unkind of me, wasn’t it, to make sport of your plight.” The gentleman stopped a few feet from where she still knelt on the ground. “But if our positions were reversed, I’d wager you’d have laughed, too. Such a sight! But here, sweet maid, allow me to assist you.”
His shadow fell over her as he bent down, holding out a gloved hand. Eyes blinking to adjust to the sudden change in light, Harry placed her hand in his.
With a gentle tug, the gentleman pulled her to her feet. She stumbled, hands pressing against the silk of his waistcoat. She felt him chuckle—what, did he think she had fallen against him on purpose?—then watched as he slowly bent his head to hers, as if intending to steal a kiss.
She started as sudden recognition flooded her senses. Oh, no. Not again.
Harry jerked her hand free and took a step back, then another. Chin raised high, she lowered into her most respectful curtsy, no matter that the man deserved none of it.
“Lord Saybrook. Welcome home.”
Theo Pennington, the new Lord Saybrook, gazed down at her, his eyes crinkling in puzzlement. No, he wouldn’t recognize her, not after spending years in London surrounded by elegant ladies of the ton, as well as those of more dubious repute. All of whom would be far more memorable than the daughter of his father’s steward, whom he’d last seen as a lanky, awkward adolescent. Even if he’d given said adolescent her first kiss.