Excerpt from The Earl's Passionate Plot
England, 1817
When her step-father died, Miss Mariah Langley
inherited Renford Hall, her home for the past twenty
years. The Earl of Dovington has just arrived to evict
her, waving legal proof that his father sold the
property fraudulently and it is still in the Dovington
estate. He needs Mariah's family out so he can host a

With guests arriving and tempers flaring, there seems
but one obvious solution. The spinster and the earl
engage in a battle of wits and wooing: they each
decide to find a partner for the other, hoping romance
will give the enemy reason to relinquish the house. It's
hard to focus on matchmaking, however, when they
can't keep their hands off each other!
The Earl's Passionate Plot
  "And what of you, Miss Langley?" Mr. Milson asked. "Surely you are of an age to consider
matrimony. That would solve things then, wouldn't it?"
  Mariah hoped the shock did not show on her face. Of course she was of an age--she was
five-and-twenty last November. But how could their solicitor suggest such a thing? Unless...
perhaps he did not know. She had assumed, since he was managing Step-Papa's legal affairs for
them, that he knew of her background. Apparently he did not.
  She was not about to educate him just now.
  "As you can see, Mr. Milson, Renford Hall is not crawling with marital prospects, neither for my
sister nor for myself. I'm afraid we will have to look to something a bit more immediate for rescue,
not some mythical gallant bachelor on a white horse."
  Mr. Milson nodded. "Well, perhaps the new earl will see your difficulty and agree to share a
percentage with you come harvest."
  She had to laugh out loud at that thought. They were to sit around and wait for alms from the
earl? It was nearly as ridiculous as the suggestion of her marrying.
  "You believe the earl will share? I cannot hold such hope, Mr. Milson. Surely if things for the earl
are as bad as you say they are then he will hardly be interested in sharing."
  "Perhaps things are not as bleak for the man as they were when he first took the title. It's been
a year, after all."
  One glance at Mr. Milson and she knew he did not believe his own words. No, very clearly he
was well aware how desperate this earl was. Even if the new Dovington was the sort given to
charitable actions, it was obvious he stood in no position to be charitable toward them.
  "I think you know as well as I do, Mr. Milson, that my family and I can hardly count on help from
Lord Dovington."
  She rather hoped he would dispute that, would stand up for the man's character at least, and
claim that the earl would help if he could. But he did not. Mr. Milson's silence on the matter told
her everything she needed to know about this new earl and his character. Like father, like son,
obviously the new earl had none.
  "So this Dovington is no better than his dissolute sire."
  She sighed and turned back to the bright landscape outside, still as fresh and as vibrant as if
her world had not just come crashing down on her. How on earth was she going to drag herself
away from this place? And worse, how was she going to break this awful news to Ella? This was
the only home she'd ever known, her last connection to her dear Papa. And Mamma... her health
had been so fragile since losing the man. To take them both away from Renford Hall was pure
 "Tell me, then," she asked the solicitor, still gazing at the hills and trees and wishing to memorize
every inch of it. "How long do we have?"
  "For what, Miss Langley?"
  "How long before this degenerate tyrant, Dovington, shows up here to throw us out to the
  Mr. Milson did not answer. Instead, a low rumble startled her from the doorway. A voice she'd
not heard before replied, words sounding more like a growl than actual language and causing her
very bones to vibrate inside her.
  "Not long at all," the voice said. "The degenerate tyrant, as you say, has arrived."
  She spun quickly and was left gaping in horror. The rare April sunshine spilling in through the
window suddenly dimmed. The air in the room abruptly went cold. The doorway was filled by a
stranger--a man. He was tall and clad all in black, from his elegant neck cloth to his long traveling
coat. He'd not removed his hat and it sat at an angle atop his head, waves of nearly-black hair
framing an angular face. His eyes were dark but flashed with fire as they latched onto hers.
  "Lord Dovington!" Mr. Milson exclaimed, leaping to his feet.
  The introduction had not been needed. Mariah knew to her deepest core who this gentleman
was the instant his voice reverberated through her. Good heavens, but "tyrant" had been far too
mundane a word for him. Perhaps "demi-god" suited him better.
  "As for throwing you out to the wolves," the man said, not being the least bit subtle as his animal
eyes roved over her, head to toe. "I suppose we shall see how long that will take."
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