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A Lady of His Own
Cover of A Lady of His Own
A Lady of His Own
Bastion Club Series, Book 4

The seven members of the Bastion Club have served loyally in the perilous service of the Crown. Now they've banded together to support one another through their most dangerous mission of all: getting married.

When Charles St. Austell returns home to claim his title as earl, and to settle quickly on a suitable wife as well, he discovers that experience has made him impatient of the young ladies who vie for his attention -- with the exception of Lady Penelope Selborne. Years ago, Charles and Penelope's youthful ardor was consummated in an unforgettable afternoon. Charles is still haunted by their interlude, but Penny refuses to have anything more to do with him.

If controlling her heart was difficult before, resisting a stronger, battle-hardened Charles is well nigh impossible, yet Penelope has vowed she won't make the same mistake twice, nor will she marry without love. But when a traitorous intrigue draws them together, then ultimately threatens them both -- will Penny discover she has a true protector in Charles, her first and only love, who now vows to make her his own?

The seven members of the Bastion Club have served loyally in the perilous service of the Crown. Now they've banded together to support one another through their most dangerous mission of all: getting married.

When Charles St. Austell returns home to claim his title as earl, and to settle quickly on a suitable wife as well, he discovers that experience has made him impatient of the young ladies who vie for his attention -- with the exception of Lady Penelope Selborne. Years ago, Charles and Penelope's youthful ardor was consummated in an unforgettable afternoon. Charles is still haunted by their interlude, but Penny refuses to have anything more to do with him.

If controlling her heart was difficult before, resisting a stronger, battle-hardened Charles is well nigh impossible, yet Penelope has vowed she won't make the same mistake twice, nor will she marry without love. But when a traitorous intrigue draws them together, then ultimately threatens them both -- will Penny discover she has a true protector in Charles, her first and only love, who now vows to make her his own?

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  • Chapter One

    Restormel Abbey
    Lostwithiel, Cornwall
    April 1816

    Crack!

    A log shattered in the grate; sparks sizzled and flew. Flames leapt, sending fingers of light playing over the leather spines lining the library walls.

    Charles St. Austell, Earl of Lostwithiel, lifted his head from the padded depths of his armchair and checked that no embers had reached the shaggy pelts of his wolfhounds, Cassius and Brutus. Slumped in hairy mounds at his booted feet, neither hound twitched; neither was smoldering. Lips easing, Charles let his head loll back on the well-worn leather; raising the glass in his hand, he sipped, and returned to his cogitations.

    On life and its vicissitudes, and its sometimes unexpected evolution.

    Outside the wind whistled, faint and shrill about the high stone walls; the night tonight was relatively calm, alive but not turbulent, not always the case along Cornwall's southern coast. Within the Abbey, all was slumberingly still; it was after midnight -- other than he, no human remained awake.

    It was a good time to take stock.

    He was there on a mission, but that was largely incidental; learning whether there was any truth in tales of Foreign Office secrets being run through the local smuggling channels wasn't likely to tax him, certainly not on a personal level. His principal objective in seizing the excuse his erstwhile commander Dalziel had created, and thus returning to the Abbey, his ancestral home, now his, was to gain sufficient perspective to examine and, he prayed, resolve the increasingly fraught clash between his desperate need for a wife and his deepening pessimism over finding a lady suitable to fill the position.

    In London, he'd found himself hip deep in candidates, not one of whom was anything like the lady he needed. Being mobbed by giddy young misses with more hair than wit who viewed him only as a handsome and wealthy nobleman, with the added cachet of being a mysterious war hero, had proved something of a personal purgatory. He wasn't going back into society until he had a firm and definite vision of the lady he wanted for his own.

    Truth to tell, the depth of his need of a wife -- the right wife -- unnerved him. When he'd first returned after Waterloo, he'd been able to assure himself that that need was only natural; his association with six others so very like himself, all equally in need of wives, and the camaraderie that had flowed through their formation of the Bastion Club -- their last bastion against the matchmaking mamas of the ton -- had reassured and soothed his impatience and blunted the spur for some months.

    But now Tristan Wemyss and Tony Blake had both found and secured their wives, while he, with his more edgy, restless, desperate need, was still waiting for his lady to appear.

    It had taken the last few weeks in London, being sucked into the whirl as society prepared for the intense months of the Season, to comprehend fully what fed that increasingly edgy need. For thirteen years, he'd been dislocated, cut off from the society to which he'd been born and to which he'd now returned. He'd spent thirteen tense years buried in enemy territory, never relaxing, never less than alert and aware. Now, even though he knew he was home and the war was over, he still found himself, at parties, balls, any large gathering, mentally apart. Still the disguised outsider watching, observing, never able to let down his guard and freely merge.

    He needed a wife to connect him again, to be a bridge between him and all around him, especially in the social sense. He was an earl with numerous sisters, relatives, connections, and obligations; he couldn't hide himself away. He didn't want to hide himself away -- he was constitutionally unsuited to being a recluse.

About the Author-
  • #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens began writing as an escape from the dry world of professional science, a hobby that quickly became a career. Her novels set in Regency England have captivated readers around the globe, making her one of the romance world's most beloved and popular authors.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 30, 2004
    Regency romance juggernaut Laurens shows signs of fatigue in the third book of her Bastion Club septet (after The Lady Chosen
    and A Gentleman's Honor
    ). Lord Charles St. Austell, earl of Lostwithiel, is one of the seven noble members of the Bastion Club ("a last bastion against the matchmakers of the ton") who served as spies during the Napoleonic wars and who still do a bit of investigating for the Crown when they're not braving eager ladies on the marriage mart. At his country estate, Charles encounters old friend (and old flame) Lady Penelope Selborne, who's up to her neck in intrigue. Penny's late brother may have been involved in schemes to smuggle secrets to France during the war—schemes that seem to be continuing with new sources even after his death. The novel features all the steamy sensuality for which Laurens is known, but the sex scenes lack the spark typical of her best work; Penny and Charles spend far too much time staring longingly at each other, dutifully denying their own urges. The unwieldy spy plot, meanwhile, progresses with agonizing slowness as the two interrogate every suspicious newcomer in town. Dedicated fans will probably stick with Laurens through the remaining four Bastion Club titles, but she's going to have to pick up the pace if she's to keep others intrigued. Agent, Nancy Yost.

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A Lady of His Own
A Lady of His Own
Bastion Club Series, Book 4
STEPHANIE LAURENS
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