On the untimely demise of her parents, Miss Cassandra Whitney endures abject poverty raising her siblings. She faces further torment as her landlord, the odious Baron Scudder, threatens her with eviction, if she refuses to assent to his offer of marriage to her younger sister Belle. As Cassandra fights to save her family, she inherits a titled estate and a ruin of a castle. News of Casandra’s inheritance travels fast, reaching the highest circles in the ton. The Dowager Duchess of Taunton immediately sees her as a worthy match for her son Maximillian the 6th Duke of Taunton a renowned rakehell. The dowager also plans to take control over the castle which would be a prestigious venue for her many balls and hunting weekends. However, neither Cassandra nor Maximillian has any desire to wed. The Duke is more than inclined to enjoy his various mistresses without the entanglement of matrimony; besides his time is mainly caught up with horses, gaming and his club. What with her siblings, the estate and a ruin of a castle to renovate Cassandra could not possibly entertain the idea of courtship. Both did not anticipate the manipulative powers of the dowager who slyly arranges a meeting between them. On seeing Cassandra, Max is suitably impressed with her wit and ironic humour. Already tiring of one of his mistresses, she would be a welcome replacement. Although charmed with his handsome looks and seductive overtures, Cassandra puts him firmly in his place. Can Cassandra resist the devilish overtures of the Duke and the devious ploys of the dowager?
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My main loves are writing, painting and singing. I began work as a PA but to my joy was spotted by an agent in London and had an exciting career as a singer, meeting and singing with some wonderful people. Singing meant a lot of travelling both in the UK and abroad. At one time, I toured Germany and Turkey singing for the American troops, which was a fantastic experience. But then, my husband and I wanted a family, so I said good-bye to the singing career, although I did the occasional gig. Having children is such a precious time, and I would say to anyone, treasure it, it goes so quickly and before you know it, you’re waving them off to Uni or pursuing their own dreams and their own homes. I have always had a deep interest in psychology for various reasons, and especially the area of neurosis arising from abuse. Later, I was to study how we could use our body, mind and spirit to relieve pain and overcome some life-threatening diseases. One important thing here is, I always told my patients to continue with medical treatment along with the complementary and spiritual methods, for I believe medical research and medication is also a gift from God, Spirit or the Universe, as each of us wishes to name it. I have loved writing from a child and during the years of study, research and treating some wonderful people, whom I called my friends, I would write at night, mainly short stories, and reams of poetry. I wanted to learn how to write self-help books for my clients, so I took creative writing courses at university, which led to writing a novel. So self-help novels turned to fiction but even so, I hope the novels help the reader through their own challenges, as the characters experience love, loss, passion, jealousy, illness, joy and conflict, even the threat of death.
Cassandra pushed the rolls in the drawer of the old Jacobean dresser, covered in the scratches and marks of over two hundred years of use. Locking it, she put the key in the inner pocket of her skirt. ‘Hmm, even though the baron kept raising the rent, she never forsook us.’ She sighed. ‘Papa said when she was young, she was so pretty and friendly, on losing her husband, the Earl, she never left the castle; shut herself off from everyone. I think mama, and papa were the only ones she allowed to visit her and then only twice. It appears the Earl entailed the estate to her, so she was able to help us. ’
‘I just wish she would have allowed us to see her – just to thank her.’
‘I know Belle, but she’s saved us again. Lord Scudder cannot threaten us anymore. We can leave here now.’
‘Thank God, I just wish we could have met her.’
Dusting down the dresser Casandra said, ‘I did actually, with mama and papa. I was an infant at the time. She was very slender and had a silver topped cane; I can see her face now, so thin and white, and she had very dark hair styled in a tight bun.’
‘Not unlike your style.’ Belle said, touching Cassandra’s silver blonde hair scraped back from her face.
Cassandra smiled, ‘I remember she gave me a confit; I think it was a macaroon and a peg doll. I might still have the doll somewhere.’
Hearing the loud knocking on the door, Belle jumped and peered through the window. ‘Tis the baron.’
Cassie’s face paled. ‘Leave him to me.’