The Viscount's Surprise
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A Regency Novella
Philomena Wheeler has been living a lie for the past twelve years. After her mother dies, she pretends to be a boy so she can work in Lady Hembrough's stables alongside her beloved papa. When she's promoted to the position of groom, her father thinks it's time to call a halt to the dangerous masquerade and wants to send Phil to his sister in York to learn to be a girl again.
Viscount Hembrough pays a rare visit to his mother in London. He's looking for a new groom and hires Phil for a one-month trial period before he returns to his horse-breeding estate in the wilds of Ireland. Under the mistaken belief that she's a he, the viscount takes Phil on a trip to inspect a promising stallion for his stables.
Will Phil be able to guard her secret while traveling with the handsome viscount? And more importantly, will she be able to guard her heart against a forbidden love?
"A tankard of your home-brewed will suffice," Anthony said to the innkeeper.
"Yes, m'lord. Coming right up. And for the lad?"
Anthony held the door open for Phil to pass through. She kept her eyes downcast and her cheeks were pale. Her clothes had almost dried from the drenching she'd received in the rain, but she still had the look of a drowned kitten with her short auburn hair curling wildly about her head. Thank God, the innkeeper accepted her as the urchin she appeared to be.
"Bring him a half-and-half. Easy on the half." Anthony placed his hat and gloves on the table in the middle of the room.
"Yes, m'lord." The landlord bowed himself out of the room.
Phil stood near the fire, and after the door closed, she turned to face Anthony. "Well, my lord? You wished to speak to me?"
Anthony had to admire the girl's courage. She'd successfully hidden her true identity for years, and she must suspect that he'd discovered her secret, yet seemed determined to play it through to the end. "The game's up, my dear Phil. But your name is obviously not Phillip as I had supposed. What is it?"
Her green eyes widened and that damned chin lifted a notch. "Philomena, my lord."
Anthony walked toward the fireplace. "Well then, Philomena--"
- Anne Marie Novark, September 2011
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