>b>Regency Romance: Deborah and the Mystery Man, Book Three of The Dowagers’ Pact Trilogy, is a short story by Amelia Fernside. *** Deborah opened her wardrobe and stared at the collection of black frocks. They were all the same sombre tone; austere and forgettable. In her youth, Deborah had revelled in bright colours. But then her dear husband William died. He had promised her many times he would slow down in order to travel and spend more time with her in their golden years. Life had other designs. She had been thrust into a dark world of black dresses and loneliness. Now, one day after the second anniversary of William’s death, she was retiring her mourning dress. And so her thoughts turned to the future. What did it hold for her? Deborah and her two best friends, dowagers Sarah and Laura, had been silly, forming a pact like schoolchildren. They had agreed to actively search for proper husbands. It wasn’t something Deborah would have done on her own, but knowing her friends were along for the adventure helped. Both Sarah and Laura were more apt to find happiness. They weren’t as devastatingly shy as Deborah. They could speak to strangers without feeling awkward or foolish. Thus, Deborah was happy when her longtime friend, Harry Webber, a Scotland Yard detective, paid her a visit. So happy, in fact, she invited him to dinner at her manor the following week. A few days later Deborah and Sarah attended a ball, where Deborah met Owen Godart, a handsome and wealthy “art critic.” He gushed about Deborah’s beauty. And the next morning, a gift was delivered to her manor from Owen. It was a feathery, exquisite dress the colour of a rich, plum pudding. Then, the day Harry was to come for dinner at Deborah’s manor, Owen suddenly appeared and asked her to accompany him to a museum in Edinburgh. It would mean she would have to cancel the dinner with Harry. Was this love, this excitement for the future and a rush of youth in her veins? Deborah suddenly felt very wicked. She said yes, she would go to Edinburgh.
Thus began Owen’s bully courtship. He took her to museums, to dinners at fancy restaurants and showered her with expensive gifts, often works of art. But Deborah thought she needed to be cautious.
Owen had an air of mystery about him. He evaded her questions about where his obviously considerable fortune had been derived. And she found his rapid and prodigious interest in her rather suspect. Then there was the last supper – and “something sharp and glinting in the dim light.” *** Free on Kindle Unlimited, or just 99 cents.