Romance, Regency romance, Royal Regard, Mariana Gabrielle, Mari Christie, @mchristieauthor
After fifteen years roaming the globe, the Countess of Huntleigh returns to England with her dying husband. She soon finds herself plagued by terrible troubles: a new title, estate, and sizable fortune; marked attentions from the marriage mart; the long-awaited reunion with her loving family; and a growing friendship with King George IV.
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Mariana Gabrielle is a pseudonym for Mari Christie, a mainstream historical and Regency romance writer. She is also a professional writer, editor, and graphic designer with twenty years' experience and a Bachelor's in Writing from the University of Colorado Denver, summa cum laude. She lives in Denver, Colorado with two kittens who have no respect at all for writing time.
Without so much as a how-do-you-do, Lady Yarley ripped into her subject as a wild dog into a cornered coney. “I’ve heard you and Lord Holsworthy have been in the most disreputable places—the Dark Continent, the Spanish New World—”
Lady Lannadae broke in, “The penal colonies!”
Eyeing her cohort coldly, Lady Yarley continued, “I cannot imagine any well-bred young lady surviving such a voyage.”
Both of the women’s eyes narrowed to exactly the same slits.
Bella’s mouth twisted at the poorly concealed barb before settling itself into a patently false depiction of continued civility. “The blizzards of Siberia, the monsoons of the Orient, the tropics of South America…” As the ladies leaned in, intolerance dripping from their rabid fangs, Bella abruptly decided to provide them fresh meat.
In a clear, uplifted voice, infused with the ice of a Russian winter, she continued: “Some places, one can hardly stand to wear any clothing at all. I have seen more natives au naturel than you might imagine exist on the planet.”
Lady Lannadae sucked in a breath, nearly swooning.
Charlotte’s voice took on a shrill tone as she laughed too loudly, “My cousin is such a goose. Of course, she is joking.” Jabbing the fan into Bella’s side, she whispered, “Au naturel… My heavens, Bella.”
Lady Yarley spoke to fill her companion’s shocked silence. “No lady of my acquaintance would stand for such immodesty.”
“Given the choice of standing for it or being cut up and made into British-subject soup,” Bella returned, “I learned to cope with the indiscretions of people who know no better. I like to think I was a civilizing influence.”
Suddenly feeling her age and experience, Bella determined to hide neither.
“Of course, we haven’t been without the trappings of civilization entirely. We’ve just spent the last half-year as guests of King Louis in Paris, though lavish apartments in the Tuileries Palace were not our standard fare. Most often it was riding astride on camels and bathing in river water under tents. When we had tents, of course. And the food!
Rancid meat, offal, reptiles, insects; the retching alone might have killed me. And obviously, only by the grace of God have I made it back without being raped to death by hordes of barbarians.”
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