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Willful Miss Winchester

By: Celeste Jones
Published By: Blushing Press
Copyright: �2015 by Blushing Books� and Celeste Jones
9 Chapters / 22,545 Words
Heat Level:
4.6 Out Of 5 (4.6 on 26)   |  Write a review
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Rash, brash and low on cash. Miss Charlotte Winchester sailed across the Atlantic ready to partake of all London had to offer the favorite sister of Lord Thomas Winchester.

What a shock for our impulsive adventurer when she arrives at her brother's London townhouse to find he and his wife sailed for America weeks before.

Reclusive widower Lord Lucas Tanner wanted nothing more than to live in obscurity while continuing to mourn the loss of his wife and infant son. When his house burns to the ground, he accepts the invitation of his friend, Lord Thomas Winchester, to reside at his home while Thomas and Lady Katherine visit America. All goes well for him until Charlotte shows up on his door.

Cultures and passions clash when these two unlikely roommates are forced to share a home. Will they draw a chalk line through the center of the parlor, or will their acrimony turn to matrimony?

Chapter One

Charlotte Winchester squinted against the bright sunlight while trying to take in the activity of the London docks. Never in her nineteen years had she seen so many people, and all of them in a fierce hurry. Families reunited with shouts and hugs. Sailors took off for the nearest pub or gambling hall. Crates of merchandise whizzed by on wheeled carts.

When she had set sail from Boston, she had thought it was the busiest port she had ever seen, but it was like a church picnic in comparison to London. And quite an experience for a girl who had never been further from home than a trip to the county seat for the annual fair.

She wondered how she would ever find her way through this mass of people. Was all of London this loud and crowded? For as far as the eye could see, it was people and tall buildings.

Had she gotten in over her head?

Nonsense! She had spent too many years milking cows and hoeing cornfields. It had taken all her butter and egg money, plus a blister-inducing quantity of sewing and mending, to earn enough for passage to London.

She would not let a little thing like being alone in a huge city deter her.

She gathered up her earthly possessions and went in search of a hired carriage. Pushing her way through the hordes, she waved her hand and called out to get the attention of any of the many drivers with carriages at the ready.

Yet, none responded. She waved a bit harder and called louder. Still nothing. In fact, one driver looked her up and down and turned his back to her.

If she had any idea where she was or where she was going, she might have walked there on her own, but she truly was a stranger in a strange land and she needed a ride.

Putting both index fingers inside her mouth, she gave a shrill whistle that quieted the crowd around her and forced even the driver who had turned away to look at her. She straightened her hat and strode toward the carriage at the front of the line.

The driver arched a questioning eyebrow and asked her to repeat the address where she intended to be delivered. She noted his curiosity and assumed it was due to her rumpled appearance. A transatlantic voyage in steerage class did not lend itself to arriving at one’s destination perky and fresh.

She ought to have asked to be taken to a public house for a bath and change of clothes before arriving at her brother’s door, but Thomas was not one to stand on pretense and her eagerness to see him outweighed any concern for hygiene.

Taking a deep breath, she leaned against the seat of the carriage and took in the sights of London.

So this was her brother’s new home. It was quite a step up from the Winchester family farm, that was for sure. It was still hard to imagine Thomas as an English Lord. When he had announced his intentions to travel across the Atlantic in response to a letter from a London solicitor announcing him as the heir to a British title, she, and everyone she knew, considered it a fool’s errand.

But deep in her heart, Charlotte had carried a seed of hope. What if it was really true? Certainly it was the stuff of fairy tales, but still, she hoped, especially because Thomas was her favorite brother. If anyone deserved a windfall of good fortune, it was him.

She hugged herself with excitement. She could hardly wait to see the expression on his face when he saw her standing on his doorstep. Charlotte loved a good surprise and this one promised to be a doozie.

The driver refused to accept the American currency which she had in her purse and also refused to leave until he was paid. “My brother, Thomas�er�Lord Winchester, will see to your payment,” she said and had the distinct feeling the driver believed her addle-minded. She gave him her most imperious stare, then turned to gaze upon the fa�ade of her brother’s home. “Who-wee,” she said under her breath. “Thomas has certainly done well for himself.”

Confident of a warm welcome, she ascended the stairs and gave a hearty rap on the door. Expecting her brother, or perhaps her new sister-in-law, to answer, she was surprised when a dour faced butler opened the imposing entrance, appraised her from head to toe and clearly found her lacking. “Miss,” he said, peering down his nose but still managing not to look at her at all, “we are not taking applications for help and even if we were,” he began to close the door dismissively, “you should make such inquiries at the kitchen door.”

Charlotte inserted her foot between the door and frame an instant before the butler would have closed it. “I am not here for a job. I am here to see my brother, Lord Thomas Winchester.”

The butler’s hand fell away from the door and he stared, slack-jawed, for an instant before composing himself.

“Your brother?” He continued to eye her warily.

“Yes, and I also need cab fare since the driver will not accept my American coins.”

“Your brother?” the butler repeated.

“Are you daft? Am I not speaking loudly enough?” She pushed past him and into the hallway. “Thomas! Where are you?” She rushed down the hall peeking into rooms and knocking on doors.

Her sudden movement brought the butler out of his stupor and he chased after her. “Miss, please. Your voice.”

Charlotte turned, hands on hips, and glared at the butler. “You are on my last nerve. Now find my brother and bring him here at once. I am sure he will be most interested in hearing about the way his staff has mistreated his favorite sister.”

The butler, his face flushed with anger and exertion, replied, “Lord and Lady Winchester are not in residence at the moment.”

“Then I shall wait for them to return. Please show me to a guest room and see to the payment of the driver.” Charlotte had never spoken to anyone so haughtily before, but the grandeur of her brother’s new home, combined with the butler’s frosty demeanor, brought it out of her.

“You may wait here.” The butler indicated a drawing room and beat a hasty retreat.

Charlotte would have preferred a cup of tea, a soft bed and a warm bath. However, the plush furniture looked nearly as comfortable as a feather bed. She perched on the edge of a tufted chair and stroked her finger along the luxurious fabric. She had never sat upon something so elaborate.

She left the chair and walked to the row of windows facing the street. She gazed out on the busy thoroughfare hardly daring to believe her plan had worked and she was now a resident of London. It was certainly a long way from her life in America.

The Winchester farm was comfortable and a source of pride to the entire family, but it could not come close to comparing with the opulence of her brother’s new home. Never in her wildest imaginings�and she had an active imagination�would she have envisioned such a residence, much less that she would be living there.

Thomas as an English lord. It was still difficult to believe, though she was thrilled for her favorite brother.

Based upon his most recent letter, he was also profoundly in love. Thomas didn’t say as much directly in his letters. What man would? But Charlotte knew her brother well enough to read between the lines. Curious about the woman who had stolen her brother’s heart, she was nearly as eager to meet Lady Katherine as she was to see her brother.

When the door to the drawing room opened, she stood and stepped forward with a smile, anticipating the warm embrace of her beloved sibling.

She pulled up short when, instead of her brother or even her sister-in-law, the doorway was filled with a stern-faced man whose sterile gaze made her wish she had stopped for a bath before arriving.

“Collins tells me you believe yourself to be the sister of Lord Winchester.” Skepticism dripped from each word.

Believe myself to be his sister? How dare you! And where is my brother? He would never keep me waiting like this and when he finds out that you have delayed our reunion, you will be fired.”

Even more infuriating than his lack of cooperation was the smirk forming at the corner of his mouth.

“Give me your name,” Charlotte demanded, “so I may inform my brother of your contemptible behavior.”

“I am Lord Lucas Tanner.”

Charlotte gasped. Her brother was so wealthy he had lords in his employ? What a staggering thought.

“And can you tell me when I might expect my brother?”

“I would dare say it will be several weeks, if not longer, before he returns.”

“What?” She covered her mouth with her hands.

“Lord and Lady Winchester sailed for America earlier this summer. They were kind enough to invite me to stay in their home while they are away. I assume they were not expecting you.” His gaze scorched her up and down. “Or perhaps they were.”

Charlotte gave him the same up and down perusal. “I just sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps instead of insulting me you could arrange for me to be shown to my room where I can freshen up.”

“There is a boarding house three blocks over. I shall call for a carriage to take you there.”

“Boarding house? Did you not hear me say that my brother owns this home? If anyone ought to pack up and leave, it should be you.”

“Your brother made no mention to me of a sister, so what proof is there to support your claim? For all I know you’re an escapee from a sanitarium.”

Charlotte dug into her reticule, pulled out a tattered piece of paper and handed it to the insolent man standing before her. He scanned the missive, gave it back, then turned and left the room.

* * * * *

Hours later, Charlotte woke to the peculiar sensation that her bed was not moving. Strange the things one becomes accustomed to during a sea voyage, she told herself. Waking in a large bed in a sumptuous room was another unique experience for her. Stretching her arms out on either side, she reveled in the feel of the crisp sheets and downy mattress. Sleep had overcome her nearly as soon as she laid down, delaying her perusal of the room until now.

Her eyes widened and she sat up against the bank of pillows piled behind her. This guestroom was nearly as large as the entire first floor of the Winchester family home. What sort of world had she entered?

Charlotte loved an adventure and she had a feeling hers was just beginning.

There was a tap on the door and a maid entered the room.�

“Good evening, miss,” the girl said. “I hope you slept well. I am Beatrice and I will be taking care of you during your stay.” She set a pitcher of water on the wash stand and waited expectantly.

Charlotte assessed the servant. Her servant. A heady thought, indeed.

Impeccably groomed, her dark hair gathered into a soft pile on top of her head, Beatrice appeared the perfect lady’s maid, but Charlotte noted a look of uncertainty in her eyes. Despite the severity of her uniform, Beatrice was hardly more than a girl.

Beatrice continued to wait and Charlotte could not fathom why, but she began to feel uncomfortable. Should she give her some orders? What was she supposed to do with a maid?

“Thank you,” she said and walked to the wash stand to inspect the pitcher of water, wondering if she ought to give the girl further instructions. She poured some water into the basin. “This looks nice.”

Beatrice smiled but did not leave.

Charlotte gave up pretending she knew what to do. “Um, Beatrice, is there something you are waiting for?”

“Yes, ma’am. I am here to assist you in dressing for dinner.”

“I beg your pardon?” Charlotte took a step back.

Beatrice blushed. “It is nearly dinner time, so I am here to help you get ready. Let me assist you in undressing and changing clothes, then I will arrange your hair.”

“I have not had assistance with dressing or styling my hair since I was a child.” Charlotte drew herself to her full height. “Do I appear unable to care for myself? Did that horrid Tanner man send you?”

Beatrice’s eyes widened and she gasped. “Please, miss. You mustn’t speak of Lord Tanner disrespectfully.”

“Do you not think he is horrid?” Charlotte pressed.

“Miss, it is not proper for me to discuss his lordship in such a way.” She glanced at the floor then back up at Charlotte, her eyes pleading. “Please, miss. ‘Tis my job to assist you. If I do not perform my duties, Lord Tanner will be unhappy with me.”

“I am sorry,” Charlotte said. “I do not want to cause you any problems. I am just unused to having someone wait on me.”

Beatrice leaned forward and whispered, “I am unused to being a lady’s maid. Until you arrived, I worked in the kitchen. If I fail at this assignment, I shall have to go back to scrubbing pots.”

Charlotte laughed for the first time since her arrival in England. “If undressing me is what it is going to take to help you keep your job, then I suppose we ought to get on with it.”

* * * * *

Lord Lucas Tanner sat in the library of the Winchester townhome sipping brandy and contemplating the events of the day.

For the previous few weeks, he had enjoyed solitude in the home of his friend, Thomas Winchester. When his own home had burned to the ground, he had put on a brave face for the world, but in truth, he had been devastated. Not that he cared a fig about the house itself, but the fire had destroyed all the mementos of his life with Lorelei, his wife, who had died giving birth to their son, his heir, who had also not survived that horrible day.

Lucas downed the rest of his drink and poured another. In the three years since he had lost his wife and son, he had allowed himself to grieve only in private and only for a short time. He performed the period of mourning and moved on with his life, or at least with the business aspects of his life. He had become almost reclusive when it came to social engagements.

He and Thomas had struck up an unlikely friendship after engaging in business together. He particularly appreciated how Thomas never pushed him to go out socially. Although Lucas received frequent invitations to dine with the Winchesters, they were never offended when he declined their large parties, preferring instead to enjoy the company of just Thomas and Lady Katherine.

Other than business and an occasional visit to the gentleman’s club to which he and Thomas belonged, Lucas lived a self-contained life which suited him just fine.

But now he had an unexpected and unwelcome house guest. Or, more accurately, Thomas, who was conveniently an ocean away, did.

At first, he assumed the bedraggled young woman who had appeared on his doorstep was an escapee from a mental hospital or a con artist, but her resemblance to Thomas, both physically and in her demeanor, as well as Thomas’ distinctive hand on the letter she produced, swayed him to allow her to stay. Still not completely convinced he was not the target of a scam, he decided to keep a watchful eye.

He couldn’t help but chuckle as he remembered her bedraggled appearance and the way her eyes had flashed when he had been less than convinced about her story. The fact that she didn’t back down from his challenge ought to have been enough to convince him she was related to his bold American friend.

A wave of loneliness washed over him. He missed his friend and his steadfast company. But more than anything, he missed Lorelei. Sweet and gentle, she had touched his heart in a way that no one ever had before and, most assuredly, no person ever could in the future. She had been his one true love and he knew he ought to have been grateful for even the short time they had together.

Well-meaning friends and family had encouraged him to seek another wife. A few had even suggested a mistress, with one particularly accommodating business associate offering him the names of several prospects.

Instead, Lucas buried any desire for female companionship by immersing himself in his duties as lord of a large estate as well as the management of various business ventures. During his time at the Winchester home, he had made impressive progress at reading most of the books in the family library.

Certainly an heir ought to have been a priority, but with the loss of Lorelei, any desire he had for a family had died with her. Let his younger brother produce an heir to carry on the family name. He cared not for such matters any longer.

He checked the time and noted that his dinner tray was five minutes late. The Winchester household ran with precision, so this delay piqued his curiosity. He rang for Collins who explained, “Sir, I assumed, and perhaps I was wrong to do so, but I assumed because there was a lady in the household you would dine together.”

Lucas finished off his brandy, studied the butler, then stood. “Yes, I suppose you are correct. Much as the idea of it has killed off my appetite, it would be unthinkable for me to ignore my friend’s sister. At least not on her first night here.”

Collins cleared his throat. “Sir, if I may be so bold�do you expect her to be with us long?”

“That is an excellent question, Collins. An excellent question, indeed.” He exited the room without giving an answer.

Denise on 05/13/2015 09:03pm
I have enjoyed all the Winchester stories, but wish this one was a little longer. The story was good as was the plot, i think it could have been better with more detail and a little longer time period for the two to get to know each other better. She really was perfect for him, the complete opposite of his first wife, which was exactly what he needed. Would still like to know more about the family and friends.
Denise on 05/13/2015 09:03pm
I have enjoyed all the Winchester stories, but wish this one was a little longer. The story was good as was the plot, i think it could have been better with more detail and a little longer time period for the two to get to know each other better. She really was perfect for him, the complete opposite of his first wife, which was exactly what he needed. Would still like to know more about the family and friends.
Lenny on 04/25/2015 01:56am
The story was just OK. I liked Miss Winchester but the chemistry between the two wasn't really convincing
Lenny on 04/25/2015 01:56am
The story was just OK. I liked Miss Winchester but the chemistry between the two wasn't really convincing
Marybeth on 04/21/2015 05:21pm
This is the next book about the Winchesters. Charlotte is Lord Thomas’s sister and she decides to cross the ocean by herself without telling anyone. When she arrives, she finds out the Thomas and Katherine have left to visit America. But, staying at their home is Lord Lucas Tanner. He grates on Charlotte’s nerves and she decides to act like the uneducated savage that she thinks Lucas feels she is. Of course, Lucas doesn’t allow he to get away with it and Charlotte has a sore bottom to contend with. They continue to match their wits together, with Charlotte coming out with the short end of the stick. I really enjoyed this story. My only complaint is that the book wasn’t longer. I give this 5 stars.
Marybeth on 04/21/2015 05:21pm
This is the next book about the Winchesters. Charlotte is Lord Thomas۪s sister and she decides to cross the ocean by herself without telling anyone. When she arrives, she finds out the Thomas and Katherine have left to visit America. But, staying at their home is Lord Lucas Tanner. He grates on Charlotte۪s nerves and she decides to act like the uneducated savage that she thinks Lucas feels she is. Of course, Lucas doesn۪t allow he to get away with it and Charlotte has a sore bottom to contend with. They continue to match their wits together, with Charlotte coming out with the short end of the stick. I really enjoyed this story. My only complaint is that the book wasn۪t longer. I give this 5 stars.
Juliette on 04/20/2015 12:54am
This book is very humorous and enjoyable to read. The skill of the author is apparent, as she was able to include so much quality content in a short story. The book is set in Victorian England. Charlotte is a rash and very brash American who makes her way to her brother’s home in London. Unfortunately, he has travelled to America and she finds herself under the care and over the knee of her brother’s friend Lucas. This of course results in love for them and a lot of enjoyment for the reader.
Juliette on 04/20/2015 12:54am
This book is very humorous and enjoyable to read. The skill of the author is apparent, as she was able to include so much quality content in a short story. The book is set in Victorian England. Charlotte is a rash and very brash American who makes her way to her brother۪s home in London. Unfortunately, he has travelled to America and she finds herself under the care and over the knee of her brother۪s friend Lucas. This of course results in love for them and a lot of enjoyment for the reader.
Meganne on 04/17/2015 12:31pm
The only thing disappointing about this book... It ended! I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from start to finish! Not only did it have a great storyline, but it also added just a smidgen of humor to make your lips quirk up to the antics that were portrayed throughout. If you are looking for a great domestic discipline with a English/Victorian theme this one will blow you away! I have to warn you though, when it ends you may just still be trying to turn the pages for more!
Meganne on 04/17/2015 12:31pm
The only thing disappointing about this book... It ended! I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from start to finish! Not only did it have a great storyline, but it also added just a smidgen of humor to make your lips quirk up to the antics that were portrayed throughout. If you are looking for a great domestic discipline with a English/Victorian theme this one will blow you away! I have to warn you though, when it ends you may just still be trying to turn the pages for more!
Redrabbitt on 04/16/2015 08:19pm
Charlotte Winchester decides to leave America and take a ship to London to visit her brother, Lord Thomas Winchester and his wife, Lady Katherine. London isn't really ready for the likes of Charlotte and her bold outspoken ways. Better yet, Thomas and Katherine have gone to America for a visit. Lord Lucas Tanner, widower, is staying at the Winchester home after his residence has burnt down. What a shock to his Lordship to deal with the crass Miss Winchester. He finds himself taking this hoyden over his knee because she dares him, but it won't be the last time either. I laughed out loud so many times reading this humorous story. London won't be the same with Charlotte in country! This story has a plot and dialogue that is witty and entertaining.
Redrabbitt on 04/16/2015 08:19pm
Charlotte Winchester decides to leave America and take a ship to London to visit her brother, Lord Thomas Winchester and his wife, Lady Katherine. London isn't really ready for the likes of Charlotte and her bold outspoken ways. Better yet, Thomas and Katherine have gone to America for a visit. Lord Lucas Tanner, widower, is staying at the Winchester home after his residence has burnt down. What a shock to his Lordship to deal with the crass Miss Winchester. He finds himself taking this hoyden over his knee because she dares him, but it won't be the last time either. I laughed out loud so many times reading this humorous story. London won't be the same with Charlotte in country! This story has a plot and dialogue that is witty and entertaining.
madpuss on 04/16/2015 07:35pm
Enjoyable. A short light story, not sure it is exactly realistic for that period in time but who cares - a fun story none-the-less.
madpuss on 04/16/2015 07:35pm
Enjoyable. A short light story, not sure it is exactly realistic for that period in time but who cares - a fun story none-the-less.
JK on 04/16/2015 06:32pm
This was definitely a short story, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good one!! I just LOVED the two main characters: Charlotte and Lucas! They really had sparks flying from the very beginning! Charlotte was every bit the sassy demanding runaway sister from America, and Lucas was the well-mannered English Gentleman. That is until she pretty much dares him to spank her! Laugh out loud funny and very sweet!!
JK on 04/16/2015 06:32pm
This was definitely a short story, but that doesn۪t mean it wasn۪t a good one!! I just LOVED the two main characters: Charlotte and Lucas! They really had sparks flying from the very beginning! Charlotte was every bit the sassy demanding runaway sister from America, and Lucas was the well-mannered English Gentleman. That is until she pretty much dares him to spank her! Laugh out loud funny and very sweet!!
Rhonda Camen on 04/16/2015 06:30pm
A delightful spinoff to the author's "Lady Katherine " series. A sweet and funny short read. Charlotte and Lucas do get off to a rocky start. Though a few well deserved spankings seem to set them on the path to their HEA. Though the book stands alone don't miss the first 2 Lady Katherine stories.
Rhonda Camen on 04/16/2015 06:30pm
"A delightful spinoff to the author's ""Lady Katherine "" series. A sweet and funny short read. Charlotte and Lucas do get off to a rocky start. Though a few well deserved spankings seem to set them on the path to their HEA. Though the book stands alone don't miss the first 2 Lady Katherine stories. "
KB on 04/16/2015 06:29pm
Lord Lucas Tanner just wanted a little peace, quiet, and time to mourn while he waited for his home to be rebuilt after a fire. Lord Thomas Winchester has offered Lucas the use of his home while he and his wife journey to America. Little did anyone realize that Thomas's feisty sister Charlotte was on her way from Boston to visit her brother in London. She does not look or act like the sister of an English lord, and it is not long before Charlotte finds herself over Lucas's knee, and that is just the beginning.
KB on 04/16/2015 06:29pm
Lord Lucas Tanner just wanted a little peace, quiet, and time to mourn while he waited for his home to be rebuilt after a fire. Lord Thomas Winchester has offered Lucas the use of his home while he and his wife journey to America. Little did anyone realize that Thomas's feisty sister Charlotte was on her way from Boston to visit her brother in London. She does not look or act like the sister of an English lord, and it is not long before Charlotte finds herself over Lucas's knee, and that is just the beginning.
Laurel Lasky on 04/16/2015 11:14am
This was a delightful romance. Charlotte was a feisty American coming to London to visit her brother and finds that he and his wife had left for America. His good friend Lord Tanner, a grieving loner was also staying in London at the same house. Some of the dialog was hilarious and laugh out loud funny. There is a great plot wonderful dialog, romance and plenty of action. This was a marvelous read.
Laurel Lasky on 04/16/2015 11:14am
This was a delightful romance. Charlotte was a feisty American coming to London to visit her brother and finds that he and his wife had left for America. His good friend Lord Tanner, a grieving loner was also staying in London at the same house. Some of the dialog was hilarious and laugh out loud funny. There is a great plot wonderful dialog, romance and plenty of action. This was a marvelous read.
noangel on 04/15/2015 07:41pm
Great story the plot is well written with lots of action and romance The heroine will keep you laughing and turning the pages with all the things she does The Hero is a strong alpha male who knows just what she needs together the will take you on a adventure
noangel on 04/15/2015 07:41pm
Great story the plot is well written with lots of action and romance The heroine will keep you laughing and turning the pages with all the things she does The Hero is a strong alpha male who knows just what she needs together the will take you on a adventure
SH on 04/15/2015 05:30pm
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Charlotte just made me laugh out loud and is such a sassy lady! Lord Tanner just doesn't know what he's in for but he's up to the task. The book is written very well and is accurate for the time period. The story flows very easily and keeps you invested until the end! Great read!
SH on 04/15/2015 05:30pm
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Charlotte just made me laugh out loud and is such a sassy lady! Lord Tanner just doesn't know what he's in for but he's up to the task. The book is written very well and is accurate for the time period. The story flows very easily and keeps you invested until the end! Great read!

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