Lady Anne Stocke and her governess present themselves on the terrace at precisely three in the afternoon to find Her Grace already waiting for them.
“Anne, my dear. And Miss Henwood. Do take a seat. Are the little girls happily amused?”
Anne seats herself next to the duchess. “Indeed, Aunt Eleanor. Kitty has gone down into the village with Miss Stirling, and Meg is helping cook make gingerbread.”
“Would you be kind enough to pour the tea, Anne?” the duchess asked, and sat back to watch the pretty picture that the girl made as she concentrated on the ritual. She was almost seventeen, and would make her debut not this Season but the next, sponsored by the duchess as her godmother. She would ‘take’, beyond a doubt. She was pretty and lively, with a good wit and a kind heart. And she was the daughter and sister of an earl, with a healthy inheritance in trust, to be paid on marriage or when Anne turned twenty-five.
Her brother the young Earl of Selby was a foolish young man,, barely more than a boy, and far too much in the company of the dissolute Earl of Chirbury for the Duchess of Haverford’s liking. And what Anne’s father had been thinking making Chirbury guardian to his children, she could not imagine! But he would not have the disposition of the Stocke girls. The duchess might not be able to do much about Chirbury’s influence over Anne’s brother, but she was determined that neither bachelor would have a voice in who was permitted to court dear Anne. Or Kitty either, when the time came.
“Thank you, dear,” she said, accepting the tea, made just the way she liked it. Yes. Anne would take very well.
Little does Her Grace know, but Anne’s life is about to take a dramatic turn. Read Farewell to Kindness to meet her again seven years in the future.
Farewell to Kindness won the Romance Writers of New Zealand Great Beginnings Award in 2015. Click on the link to see the blurb and read the first three chapters.