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Solicitor Percy Whitmore studied the man seated across from him. Although his dress and manner
were not inappropriate, they were hardly what one would expect of the newest Earl of Winchester.
Regardless of Percy’s opinion of the man, as solicitor for the estate, duty required him to explain
this man’s unexpected change in circumstances to him in the clearest possible terms.
“The estate consists of a home here in London which is fully staffed and Aprilvine Park, the
ancestral home located in Hertfordshire. It is an expansive estate which includes many tenant
farmers for whom you, as earl, are responsible.”
The man to whom he spoke sat in stunned silence for a moment.
“Are you saying all of those things are mine?”
The solicitor smiled and tried to hide his pique. Americans always acted like they had never
heard of British traditions. “It is not yours outright, my lord,” he tripped a bit over the title,
but like it or not, this man was the rightful heir to the title and as such he became the solicitor’s
most prominent client. “The estate is passed down through the family to members of the male line.
During your lifetime, you shall have the use and governance of the estate and its profits, but
you may not sell assets without consent of the trustees.”
The newly minted earl sat up straighter in his chair. “And just how much are these ‘profits’ you
The solicitor was taken aback by the boldness of the question. “It would be difficult for me to give
you an exact figure,” he said, diplomatically, “but I believe you will find the living quite
Thomas, the Earl of Winchester, shook his head from side to side in slow disbelief.
“To tell you the truth, Mr. Whitmore, I had myself convinced this whole thing was some sort of
big mistake or a prank, though who would go to so much expense to make a fool of me, I do not
“I assure you, sir, this is all quite serious. The duties of the Earl of Winchester are numerous
and there are many people whose livelihoods will depend upon you.”
“Why? Did I inherit some children?”
“No, my lord, the tenants on the estate. They work the land, which is owned by you,
and in exchange they pay a portion of their profits to the estate. But it will be up to you
to manage the estate, the grounds and the fields, in order to ensure their success.”
Thomas’ brow furrowed. “You told me my cousin died a year ago. Who has been running
things since that time?”
“There is a steward who manages the day-to-day operations. In addition,” here the solicitor
paused, unsure of how much to share with Thomas of his new life,
“Lady Katherine Winchester, he dowager countess, your cousin’s widow, continues on at the
estate and, I understand, is very much involved with all things related to the Winchester family
Thomas cocked his head to one side. “Dowager? Is she infirm?”
Percy sighed and hoped his annoyance did not show. “No, my lord. Dowager refers to the
widow of an earl. It has nothing to do with age or infirmity.” Had he elaborated, he might have
mentioned that Lady Katherine was known to be an energetic and lively participant in ton social gatherings, or at least she had been before she entered a period of mourning for her
husband, though he believed the proper period of time for a respectable mourning had passed.
“What shall become of her?”
Here the solicitor paused, peering over his steepled fingers at Thomas before he answered.
“That,” he said, “would appear to be up to you.”
The new earl raised his eyebrows in a silent quest for explanation.
“She has no family. Her mother is now deceased, so Lady Katherine is quite alone.
She does have a small income of her own which is the result of monies settled upon her by
her family when she married. As the dowager, she is entitled to continue on as a
member of he household, though where she resides is up to you.”
The solicitor shuffled some papers on his desk.
“Are you saying she and I will live together?”
Yet again, the American’s directness stunned the solicitor.
“I assume that is one option. I believe currently the countess has a hired companion
who lives with her, for the sake of propriety. In most cases, the dowager is set up in a
separate, smaller household, of her own,” he said. “Unless she remarries.”
“So why is what happens to her up to me? I am not expected to marry her am I?
I inherited my cousin’s title and estate but I’d like to select my own wife,
if I ever decide I need one.”
“Of course, Lady Winchester is not property to be inherited. She is a lady, in every
sense of the word.” The solicitor felt the color in his face rise at the suggestion that such a fine,
and beautiful, woman would be included in an estate like a clock or family Bible.
“I believe we have covered all of the documents which needed your attention, my lord,” the
solicitor said, changing the subject. “If you would like, I would be happy to travel with you
to your new London residence and make the proper introductions.”
Thomas looked the solicitor up and down, scanned the pile of papers on his desk and stood up.
“Thank you, but I believe I would prefer to make my own introductions.”
As the man left, the solicitor felt a pang of regret.
Watching Lady Winchester and this man’s first interaction would have been the highlight of his day.
If not his whole week.
Thomas stood on the walkway outside a large home on a corner lot, checked the address
on the paper in his hand and charged up the steps to the front door. He paused and considered
knocking. Earls do not knock on their own doors, he thought, and entered unannounced.
He paused to take in his surroundings. Polished marble covered the hallway which ran the
length of the townhouse. A mahogany table in the entryway contained a silver dish to
hold calling cards.
Female voices could be heard from a room to the left. An experienced hunter, he
approached his prey on footsteps muffled by thick rugs on the marble floor. He paused to listen.
“An American! Oh Lady Katherine how will you stand it?”
“I do not know. I am sure he is quite savage. They all are, you know.”
“Barbarians. I heard Lady Laura Smith-Smythe’s husband forced her to receive some distant
relation of his and the level of their vulgarity forced Lady Laura to take to her rooms for a week
after they finally departed.”
“They made such a fuss about being independent and not wanting to be part of our country,
why can they not simply stay away?”
“Exactly!” the other woman said. “But,” her voice became more serious, “what shall become of
you? He is now the earl. He could force you out of your home, could he not?”
Lady Katherine sighed dramatically enough for him to hear it from a distance.
“Yes, Lorena, such is true. I am in quite a precarious situation. Fortunately, he has not arrived yet.
I will continue to enjoy myself until I am forced to deal with him.”
“You do enjoy yourself as much as possible,” Lorena said, and Thomas detected a note of envy
in her voice. He heard a giggle and wondered what Lady Katherine’s guest was implying.
“When is he expected?”
Thomas heard the sounds of plates and silverware being moved. “This cake is delicious.”
Apparently her friend’s situation had not dimmed Lorena’s appetite.
“No one knows when he will arrive. Those Americans,” she practically spat the word,
“they know nothing of consideration for others or decorum in general.”
Lorena tsked. “I pity you. Will you be required to socialize with him?”
Katherine groaned. “My role is certainly unclear. I should hope to be able to go on living my
life without interference, though I do not know if such will be possible. Much depends
upon this man.”
“Do you have a plan?”
“I shall win him over the same way I did the last Earl of Winchester.”
“Lady Katherine! What a thing to say!”
“A woman has few options available to her, Lorena,” Lady Katherine said. “With Charles
my virtue and beauty appealed to him. Since my virtue is no longer in tact—”
“And has not been for quite some time,” laughed Lorena.
“Hush!” Lady Katherine joined the laughter. “I shall use other methods to secure my position.”
What kind of fool does she take me for?
Thomas stepped around the door and prepared to enter the room to confront the two women
in the midst of their disparaging remarks, but the appearance of one of them stunned him
sufficiently to stop him in his tracks.
Although seated he could see she was taller than average and regal in her bearing.
Even the way she sipped her tea had an air of distinction to it.
Beyond that, she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Shiny black hair crowned
her head while soft tendrils framed her face. Dark eyes and red lips stood out from her fair
complexion in dramatic contrast.
The way her mouth caressed the edge of the fine teacup in her elegant hand made him
wonder how it would feel caressing him. The mere sight of her tongue as it slid over her
crimson lips had set his manhood off in a manner which he found most distracting.
He stepped back into the shadows behind the door and retraced his path until he found
himself back on the sidewalk in front of the house.
First order of business will be better security for the house, he thought as he strolled around the block.
Second order of business: show Lady Katherine there’s a new earl in town.
About Lady Katherine's Comeuppance
He’s a barbarian. She'll never submit to his authority.
What’s a proper lady to do when her fate is in the hands of a brash American?
Fight back, of course.
Until scandal forces them to marry. Now they are bound together for life.
Will the ton’s most stubborn lady surrender to the American?
Steam level—scorching. Bottoms will be spanked. Orgasms will be plentiful. You have been warned.
Note: Originally published as Lady Katherine’s Comeuppance and Lady Katherine’s Conundrum, the two books have been combined into one satisfying book.