Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Hardly a Lady" by Gabriella Mahoney (Historical Romance)

Genre:  Historical Romance

Summary:  Book 3 of the Spinster Series

As the illegitimate daughter of an earl, Elizabeth Smith has little hope for a respectable marriage. Tired of living under the dictates of a disinterested father, Elizabeth decides to take matters into her own hands and find herself a rich protector. If no one will have her as a wife then she could at least acquire some wealth being a kept woman. But an old childhood friend comes for a visit and reveles that he has no intention of letting her go so easily...

This novelette is approximately 14,500 words.


Almost the very hour Elizabeth Smith turned twenty-six she decided that some changes to her life were in order. She was tired of living under the rule of others and she wanted to lose her virginity. Shocking notions to be sure, but Elizabeth never did anything in half measures.

Considering her present situation, it was really no surprise that such ideas had popped into her head. She was spending yet another birthday taking care of her elderly cousin who had just come down with a chill. Last year she had been in the same position and the year before that she had been caring for her elderly aunt who had come down with a severe headache. This was certainly not the most cheerful way to mark the anniversary of one’s birth.

Her cousin was sleeping peacefully now that Elizabeth had carried her to the bed and wrapped some extra blankets around the frail creature. She sat in the corner chair idly twirling a loose strand of dark hair while watching the second hand on the clock tick away, a grim reminder that she was not getting any younger.

Her whole life she had been passed around like this. Never wanted and sent to take care of people that no one else wanted to bother with. She was the illegitimate offspring of an earl and the actress he had happened to be keeping mistress at the time. Her mother had adopted the dramatic stage name of Louisa Mancini but Elizabeth had been given her mother’s real and far less distinguished last name of Smith.

She supposed she should feel a certain amount of gratitude. Often in cases like this the bastard ended up in an orphanage or worse. Since Louisa had neither the time nor inclination to care for a young infant, her father sent her away to the country to be raised by a farmer family on his estate.

As far as childhoods went Elizabeth had little to complain about. The Morgans were good, simple folk that accepted her into their family and raised her with their two sons, William and Edward. Granted, they did not have much choice in the matter. But Elizabeth was fully aware of the fact that they could have easily taken the money provided by the earl and made her life a living hell.

Growing up on a farm surrounded by boys had taught Elizabeth hard work, dedication and how to wrestle. Some girls received etiquette lessons and were instructed in musical instruments while growing up. Elizabeth learned how to sow a field and could lift a fifty-pound sack of potatoes by the time she was ten.

Elizabeth had always been aware of her station in life, even from an early age. The Morgans never brought the subject up but Elizabeth knew that she was not one of them. In all likelihood she probably would have found some farmer to marry when she came of age in order to relieve the Morgans from the burden of caring for her. But was not what the fates seemed to have in store for her.

When she turned seventeen she received a letter from her father telling her that her services were required at a relative’s estate. Being young and inexperienced, Elizabeth had at first been excited over the prospect of traveling somewhere new. But the excitement quickly wore off when she realized that she had been placed in the role of caretaker, a job that was tedious and required she spend most of her time inside.

The drastic change in lifestyle was a difficult adjustment. Going from virtual freedom to having to monitor how loud her footsteps were grated on her spirit. But she never once complained to anyone. She was not being mistreated or starved. Any woman in her station would be grateful to live in such comfort.

The sound of her cousin snoring made Elizabeth’s mind wander back to the present. She wasn’t quite sure why this particular birthday seemed more significant than any of the others. Perhaps she had finally reached her full maturity or perhaps she was simply fed up with the monotony of her life. All she knew for certain was that it was time for a change.

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