Tutoring a Lady into Sin (Preview)


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Chapter One

Henchingbock Manor

June 1813

“I simply cannot account for his absence,” the Dowager Duchess of Bixby said loftily as she lifted her chin and glanced longingly out the window. “Percival gave me his word that he would be here today.”

“Hmmm…” Auntie Mary-Anne, the Dowager Viscountess of Henchingbock, murmured. “Perhaps His Grace ran into some trouble along the roadway.”

“He is an excellent horseman,” the dowager duchess said proudly. “I am sure he is perfectly fine, but mayhap we should wait a few minutes more, for he is certain to be here very soon.”

“Did he ride then? I suppose I assumed he was coming in a carriage,” Auntie Mary-Anne replied as her eyebrow lifted wryly. “I rather thought he might be eager to take my niece for a short jaunt about the countryside. But if he is only coming on horseback….”

“Percival meant to bring his carriage, but since I was already coming in one, it seemed frivolous to bring both,” the dowager duchess replied sharply.

“I wonder why you travelled separately at all,” Auntie Mary-Anne said in an equally peeved tone of voice. “Seeing as you were both coming here this morning, would it not have been more prudent to make the journey together?”

The dowager duchess huffed as she put her cup of tea on the small table at her side. She smoothed down the folds of her elegant, mauve-coloured day dress, and whispered delicately, “Percival is his own man, Mary-Anne. I raised my sons to value their independence, and therefore, I have no more power over them than a mother ought to. When Percival declared he wished to go for a long ride this afternoon, I certainly could not stand in his way. We shall just have to content ourselves with each other’s company while we wait for him to arrive.”

 “But, of course, Isabella,” Auntie Mary-Anne replied respectfully. “We are at the duke’s disposal.”

Christianna lifted her cup of tea and took a dainty sip, careful not to slurp. Her eyes floated between her aunt and the dowager duchess. The two professed to be the greatest of friends, but on this occasion, there was some stiltedness to their manners. 

Auntie Mary-Anne thinks it is abominably rude for the Duke of Bixby to keep us waiting, and I cannot pretend that I blame her.

Percival Radcliff, the Duke of Bixby, was scheduled to arrive at Henchingbock Manor nearly an hour ago. While it was true, he might have run into a spot of trouble while riding down the narrow dirt pathway that led to the house. He should have been here ages ago…that is, if he left when he assured his mother he would. Christianna had an inkling that the duke was not as good as his word.

“I understand that you enjoy playing on the pianoforte, Lady Christianna,” the dowager duchess remarked in an obvious attempt to change the subject. 

Christianna stared for a long moment at their guest. The dowager was a very beautiful woman, with her silvery hair pulled into a fashionable cluster of curls and her green eyes flashing. She sat stiffly, conveying her discomfort, yet she was not the sort of woman to complain. Rather, she was taking this opportunity to get to know Christianna better. And that, too, was admirable. For even though Christianna understood that the dowager duchess knew quite well, she was a very good pianist, that did not stop her from making polite conversation.

“I do, Your Grace,” Christianna said in her softest voice.

“I understand your parents spared no expense when it came to educating you,” the dowager duchess continued. “My friend, Mary-Anne, once told me that they were quite indulgent.”

“My mother and father were the very best of parents, Your Grace,” Christianna replied simply. “I am sorry that you did not have the chance to know them better.” A vivid recollection of Christianna’s dear parents, the Earl and Countess of Whitmore, filled her mind’s eye. They were always such loving and doting people, truly providing for Christianna in every possible way. But alas, nearly eighteen months ago, they had perished at sea. Christianna could not think of their passing without experiencing sharp pangs of grief, so it was incumbent upon her now to steer the subject in another direction. “Does His Grace enjoy listening to music, ma’am?”

“Percival has very eclectic tastes, my dear,” the dowager duchess explained carefully. “He is a singularly gifted athlete, as I am sure you already know.”

“I have heard of his adventurous spirit,” Christianna agreed respectfully. In truth, since she had made her debut in London Society, she’d heard a great deal about the Duke of Bixby. And while some of the whispers pertained to his athletic abilities, a great many more of the rumours had to do with his personal affairs.

The dowager tittered as she reached for her teacup once more. “Adventurous spirit. I do like that description, Lady Christianna. Yes, indeed.” She sipped slowly then, as she lowered her teacup, she gave Auntie Mary-Anne an approving nod. “Everything you said about your niece is true, dear Mary-Anne. Not only is she lovely, but I do find her manners charming. She will make Percival a fine bride, and God-willing, she will bring him round to become the best version of himself.”

Ah…now we come to the crux of it.

Christianna had only ever shared one dance with the Duke of Bixby, and upon first being introduced to him, she had been taken in by his dashing good looks and charismatic smile. She had expressed an interest in seeing him again, and her auntie had acted upon the matter quickly. Before Christianna could comprehend what was truly happening, her auntie had arranged for this meeting. A betrothal was made, and now all that remained was for the duke himself to arrive and propose to Christianna in a proper, gentlemanly manner.

And yet…the duke is not here. Perhaps that means he does not wish to marry me.

It was a logical conclusion to draw, and it made Christianna feel a keen sense of despondency. She was not in love with the duke, per say, but she did find him attractive, and she hoped that in time, an admiration for one another would blossom.

But first…he must make an appearance.

“Christianna is not a miracle worker, Isabella,” Auntie Mary-Anne said as she settled her empty cup into the saucer and placed it on the table. Christianna gazed at her aunt. These past few years had been trying for her, as she’d not only lost her husband to a battle with tuberculosis, but her sister and brother-in-law, Christianna’s parents, had left this world behind as well. Auntie Mary-Anne, being her most charitable self, had taken in Christianna gladly, but it was no secret that she wished for her niece to make a suitable match immediately. “She cannot be expected to right all the wrongs of the world.”

The dowager duchess laughed haughtily. “You are a card, dearest Mary-Anne. Whoever said we were putting the weight of the world on Lady Christianna’s shoulders?”

“No one…I suppose,” Auntie Mary-Anne said quietly as she gave her head a tiny shake. “Do forgive me, Isabella. I am but a bit fatigued and find this waiting about to be testing my forbearance.” Just then, before the dowager duchess could add anything, the butler appeared in the doorway to the drawing room. “Yes, Mr Bedford?” Auntie Mary-Anne asked.

“A messenger has delivered a missive for the dowager duchess, my lady.” He bowed stiffly, then walked forward slowly. Mr Bedford had been with Auntie Mary-Anne since she first became the lady of the house. He was a rather elderly fellow with thin wisps of white hair combed neatly to the side. When he spoke, his words came out in an almost inaudible whisper. But Christianna was used to his ways, and so she waited as the man toddled forward and handed the small slip of paper to the dowager duchess.

“Thank you, Bedford,” Auntie Mary-Anne said, and he shuffled out of the room as the dowager opened her note. She pursed her lips while skimming the words quickly.

“It seems that His Grace is currently indisposed. He will not be joining us today,” she said crisply as she folded the letter and tucked it into her reticule.

“That is a shame,” Auntie Mary-Anne whispered. Her normally soft, full lips pulled tight into a very straight line, and her blue eyes looked like frozen blocks of ice. “Both Christianna and I were looking forward to getting to know him better.”

“That shan’t be a problem,” the dowager returned as she waved her hand airily in front of her face. “Now that we know it is just going to be the three of us today, let us begin the negotiations.”

“I would prefer to have this discussion with your son,” Auntie Mary-Anne said icily.

“I speak on the duke’s behalf,” the dowager duchess replied tartly. “If you wish for this betrothal to continue, as previously planned, we have not a moment to delay.”

“Yes, of course,” Auntie Mary-Anne agreed. Then, she cast a worried glance at Christianna. “Will it suit you to begin, without your fiancé present?”

No…I do not like this arrangement at all. Percival should be here…on his knee…asking me to be his bride.

But Christianna did not share her thoughts. Instead, she bobbed her head respectfully at her aunt and the dowager duchess, giving her silent agreement to the situation.

“Since we have already discussed Lady Christianna’s sizable dowry, I see no need to rehash what she brings to the marriage,” the dowager duchess said as she pulled a long letter from her reticule.

“I agree,” Auntie Mary-Anne said as she reached for a small stack of papers that had been sitting on a table nearby. “What we must do today is begin making the final preparations. When do you think the wedding should take place?”

“The end of July, of course,” the dowager duchess replied matter-of-factly.

“That will not do,” Auntie Mary-Anne tsked. “It will be much too hot to enjoy ourselves, and it is so very soon. I wish for my niece to get to know your son better before they take their vows.”

“But of course, she will know Percival…better than anyone…once she comes to stay at Bixby Hall.”
“I am to leave Henchingbock Manor…before the wedding?” Christianna had been ready to sit quietly and listen to the two women discuss her future, but at this, she felt she must interject with her question.

“I was thinking that you might like to come to Bixby Hall, about a fortnight before the wedding date,” the dowager duchess explained. “Since it is to be your home very soon, it will be prudent for you to become acquainted with the staff, and of course, I will take that time to prepare you for all the duties you will have as the new Duchess of Bixby.”

“But what of my aunt?” Christianna asked. “Must I leave her so very soon?”

The dowager duchess smiled indulgently. “Your loyalty to your dear auntie does you credit, my dear. But there is no need to worry yourself. The invitation to come to Bixby Hall is one I wish to extend to you and your auntie, as well as any friends you might wish to entertain.”

“My friends?” 

“But of course, dear girl. You must have several close friends you wish to have at your side on the day of your wedding,” the dowager duchess said as a small, pleased smile drifted onto her face. “And I do think it might be rather nice to create a festive atmosphere leading up to the day. I only ask that you gather a list of friends and acquaintances you wish to invite and forward them to me directly. I shall have invitations drawn up, and we will be happy to host as many friends as you would like.”

“We already have our list of guests prepared,” Auntie Mary-Anne said as she pulled a stiff piece of parchment from her stack of papers. “We were thinking they would only be in attendance at the wedding but….”

“Nonsense,” the dowager duchess trilled. “This is going to be the event of the summer. We must make the most of this occasion and take every opportunity to enjoy ourselves while mingling with the most prestigious members of the ton.” She leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially, “And it will not hurt to strengthen our friendships with our acquaintances. Any chance we get to make a good impression on the ladies and gentlemen of the ton, we ought to seize it. Do you not agree?”

Auntie Mary-Anne nodded at once, but Christianna felt a little reluctant.

So, our wedding is to be a spectacle. We are to invite everyone because the dowager duchess wishes for one and all to see that someone is finally taming the roguish duke.

Just as Percival’s rakish ways were fodder for the gossip columnists, he was also widely reputed to be an untrustworthy business partner. It seemed Christianna was not the only person he kept waiting, and it was in keeping with his nature to cancel appointments at the last moment. But Christianna understood all these flaws quite well. She was going to be wed to a handsome and powerful man, and in return, she was to calm him, to squash his wanton ways, and turn him into the great man he was supposed to be.

I do hope I am able to accomplish this colossal task that has been set before me.

“You are quite right,” Christianna said at length. “I am glad to have the chance to go to Bixby Hall, and I very much appreciate your willingness to walk me through the paces.”

“Think nothing of it, darling,” the dowager duchess replied as her smile broadened. “I am looking forward to welcoming you into our family.”

“She is a treasure,” Auntie Mary-Anne added. “I do think Christianna will adjust quickly to her new surroundings, and I think, in time, she and His Grace will make a lovely couple.”

Christianna smiled sweetly at the two women who were beaming back at her. She knew she ought to echo the sentiment, to profess her eagerness at seeing Percival again, but the words would not coalesce. She would go to Bixby Hall and learn from the dowager duchess, but she was not sure what to make of His Grace.

“I shall try to be a pleasing wife,” she whispered aloud her dearest wish and prayed that as she uttered those words, someone, somewhere, would hear her and take mercy on her. For despite everything, what Christianna wanted most was to be a good, faithful wife to her husband. She wished for her fiancé to be happy with her, just as she cherished the idea of being delighted by him. And even though he was currently detained by more pressing matters, Christianna wished fervently that before the wedding, she might make a connection with her future husband and see him smile lovingly at her.

Chapter Two

Radcliff Lodge, London

July 1813

“I never took you for the sort of chap who was a poor correspondent,” Uncle Felton said as he breezed into the study. Phineas was sitting in his armchair, just behind the massive mahogany desk that filled the centre of the room, reading through his files on the latest patient he had attended.

“What?” Phineas asked as he looked up from his paperwork. Uncle Felton stood in the doorway, holding a slim envelope aloft. He was a tall man and carried himself with the relaxed and carefree attitude belonging to a much younger person. He leaned against the doorframe, before crossing one leg laconically over the other. Uncle Felton’s reddish-brown hair was combed into a stylish wave, and because it was a little long at present, he had tied it back using a stiff black ribbon. A smile danced on his lips.

“Do you never read your post, dear boy?” he asked as he strode into the room and dropped the missive on top of the file Phineas had been perusing.

“Ha,” Phineas snorted. “As you know, I read my mail most diligently and respond to letters as quickly as possible.”

“Then why did I find this one sitting on the table in the hall?” Uncle Felton questioned as his heavy eyebrows quirked in an amused way.

Phineas picked up the envelope and flipped it over, revealing the wax ring that had been sealed by someone from Bixby Hall. “I cannot abide wasting my time by reading about another of my brother’s exploits.” He picked up the letter and held it out to Uncle Felton. “Either this is from Percy himself, telling me about the horribly wonderful time he had in town last week, or it is from Mama, lamenting the fact that Percival has once again run wild.” He grunted before adding snidely, “Should I wish to read such drivel, I would pick up the scandal sheets and have a field day.”

Uncle Felton tutted as he shook his head and staunchly refused to take the letter back into his possession. “You do your brother and mama a disservice by ignoring this letter, my boy.”

“But you know what they are like,” Phineas protested. “So consumed by their own affairs that they never have time for anyone else.”

Uncle Felton raised his eyebrow sardonically and murmured, “Now, why does that description sound an awful lot like someone else I know?”

Phineas chuckled as he dropped the letter back onto his desk. “You mean to lump me in with my repugnant relations?”

The older gentleman shrugged indifferently. “At present, they have written to you, and you are the one ignoring them in favour of your own pursuits.” He eyed the letter on the desk. “Come, Phineas, are you not the least bit curious as to what is written within that missive?”

Phineas stood and walked away from his desk. “I have allowed it to sit in the hall for more than two weeks already. Had it contained pressing matters, I would have likely received a second bit of post by now.”

Uncle Felton shook his head. “Your mama and brother are much too busy to send the same bit of correspondence twice. Go on and open it. See what they want from you.”

“So aptly put,” Phineas said as he reached for the letter. “They always want something, do they not? But I suppose you understand that better than most.” Uncle Felton was not Phineas’ uncle at all, in fact. He was the Earl of Linfield, and all his nearest relations had long since been buried beneath the earth. But Lord Linfield was a consummate friend to all who were associated with Bixby Hall. 

He spent vast amounts of time in the country with Phineas and Percy when they were children, and he, even now, served as Phineas’ best friend and confidant. He only lived a block away from Radcliff Lodge, and that meant the two men saw each other regularly. It had been Felton who encouraged Phineas to pursue his studies and train to become a physician. Just as it had been Uncle Felton who helped Phineas first make his way in Society and secure a working relationship with several well-respected members of the ton. And so, it stood to reason that if there was something amiss at Bixby Hall, Uncle Felton would be called upon to bring Phineas back home, as he was one of the only people who truly knew how to reach this obstinate young man.

Phineas unfolded the letter and scanned the contents quickly. “I told you this news was worth reading,” Uncle Felton chided.

“So, my big brother is to be married,” Phineas said as he finished reading the details. “At long last. My mother must be delighted.”

“She has chosen a winning young lady for Percy and….”

“Mama selected Percy’s bride?” Phineas scoffed.

“Naturally,” Uncle Felton replied as his smile lit up his features. “You know how your brother’s behaviour has vexed your mother these last few years. When Lady Christianna entered the marriage mart this year and made her interest in Percival known, your mother could not be expected to sit on her hands and do nothing. She needed to act at once to secure the lady’s hand on behalf of your brother.”

Phineas laughed lightly as he tossed the letter back onto his desk. “And this Lady Christianna? Is she such a prize that she must be scooped up at once?”

Uncle Felton nodded enthusiastically. “She may be the loveliest young lady I have ever beheld, barring your mother, of course.”

“Of course,” Phineas murmured as he rolled his eyes gently. 

Uncle Felton’s devotion to Mama is confounding. I will never understand how he tolerates her fickleness or her contrary manners. He, on the other hand, is always so agreeable. They have the most unlikely friendship.

“And aside from her beauty, Lady Christianna is exceptionally prim and proper. When she and Percy wed, the gossip columnists will need to find someone new to hound,” Uncle Felton explained the situation succinctly.

“Ah…yes,” Phineas said as he tapped his fingertips on the edge of his desk. “Now we come to the real reason their betrothal has been announced. My cad of a brother must tie himself to a respectable female to balance out the atrocious whispers that are currently circulating.”

“You should not listen to the rumour mill, my boy,” Uncle Felton cautioned. “Read your mother’s words again. Percy and Lady Christianna are to be wed in a little more than two weeks’ time.”

“Ha!” Phineas laughed again. “They will never get married. My brother is not ready to settle himself, and he…”

“Oh, but he is,” Lord Linfield protested. “That is why your mother sent me to you. I am to bring you to Bixby Hall so you may meet your future sister-in-law and stand by your brother’s side.”

Phineas furrowed his brows as he looked at the letter on the desk. “Is this your way of saying my family needs me?”

Uncle Felton avoided answering the question and instead mentioned, “It is the middle of summer, Phineas. Would it not be pleasant to visit the countryside…drink in the fresh air? Is that not a remedy you prescribe for many of your patients?”

“You wish for me to view this removal to Bixby Hall as a holiday then?” Phineas jested. 

“It is not as if you will be expected to work while you are there,” Uncle Felton replied lightly.

“But it will be work,” Phineas argued. “I have a busy practice…here in London. Not only will I be neglecting my patients should I choose to go to Bixby Hall, but I will be expected to stand by Percy’s side and bear witness to his farce of a marriage.”

“Farce?” Uncle Felton questioned. “Why do you speak so uncharitably of the match?”

Phineas shook his head despairingly. “As much as I would like to see Percy find his way in this world, I know him too well. Even if his betrothed is Helen of Troy herself, Percival will never be satisfied.”

“Your brother may have changed. Lady Christianna and his betrothal to her…that very well may prove to be the catalyst.” Uncle Felton paused, and his slow smile stretched once more across his features. “Do not pretend you are not fascinated, Phineas. For purely academic purposes alone, I would have thought you would be interested to see your brother again. Do you truly not wish to see your family? Are you not tempted to see for yourself this great beauty, who we all have pinned our hopes on as the one who will finally wrangle your brother?”

“Ah…now you have gone and appealed to my curious nature,” Phineas answered as a laugh burbled from his lips. “I fear I will not be able to stay away from Bixby Hall now.”

“’Tis well that you should be there, Phineas,” Uncle Felton said as he came forward and put a hand on the younger man’s shoulder. “You may not believe that this marriage is right for Percival, but you should see how overjoyed your mother is by the prospect. She has arranged everything just so and is expecting a rather large, merry party. But our family will not be complete unless you agree to join us.”

“I shall endeavour to leave at once,” Phineas assured him. “I must make arrangements with the staff and of course, push appointments that have been scheduled with my practice, but I shall retire to the country, so I may celebrate my brother’s marriage. Ha!” He paused and shook his head. “It sounds so ridiculous. I can barely believe such words just flew right out of my mouth.”

“Have faith in your brother, Phineas. And look to Lady Christianna. I do think she will be the person who saves the duke and brings our family together once more.”

Phineas shook his head. “I am already inclined to feel sympathy for the poor young lady. Can she really be equal to the task you have laid at her feet?”

“I know not what the future will hold,” Uncle Felton said ominously. “But I do think this is our best course of action. We must endeavour to move forward, and the only way to do that is by uniting everyone through this timely marriage.”

“That is not a very romantic notion, is it?” Phineas asked.

“Just come to Bixby Hall,” Uncle Felton replied as a beleaguered sigh escaped him. Then, his features rearranged themselves into a much more jovial attitude. “I think you will be surprised by all that awaits you there.”

“Tutoring a Lady into Sin” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Her parents’ loss leaves Lady Christianna Baxter stunned and her deep grief shutters her dreams of finding love. In her second season though, an enchanting dance with Percival, the tempting Duke of Bixby, makes her feel that he is her ideal match. Yet, Christianna’s innocent soul collides with the Duke’s rakish life who seems more inclined to flirt with other eligible ladies. In her ultimate attempt to win him over, she asks his wicked brother, Phineas, to tutor her on how to seduce him.

Can the lustful road to her beau’s heart lead her onto another man’s path?

Doctor Phineas Radcliff is Percival’s younger brother and serves as a physician for the aristocrats in London. When he meets Christianna, his brother’s potential match, he is charmed by her intellect and beauty and a friendship begins to grow between them. However, as Christianna seeks his guidance in the art of seduction to win over her future husband, a perilous game of lust will begin to unfold.

Will Phineas be able to resist the temptation, or will he risk everything to pursue a forbidden romance?

As the wedding day grows nearer, Christianna’s tutoring into sin by Phineas has instilled burning desire in their hearts. With their guilty passion starting to spread like wildfire, Phineas is unable to continue his task and Christianna struggles to make the imprudent and scandalous choice between the two brothers. Will this sinful affair be the start of the most sizzling romance or will they both learn their lesson the hard way?

“Tutoring a Lady into Sin” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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Grab my new series, "Lust and Love in High Society", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

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