Cerise Deland
The Stanhope Challenge: The Quartett

The Stanhope Challenge: The Quartet

W. J. Power • November 6, 2014
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4 Brothers, 4 Love Affairs, 4 Marriages
that Challenge the Family Curse!

Jack, Adam, Wes and Mark Stanhope fear falling in love. No wonder. No Stanhope has enjoyed a happy marriage in centuries. What does it take to change the family curse? Courage? Devotion? Love?

LORD STANHOPE’S IMPROPER PROPOSAL
Adam Stanhope is a politician who needs a wife. When he marries for convenience, he overlooks the fact that he cares for his lovely childhood friend more than he should.

LADY FEATHERSTONE’S FERVENT AFFAIR
Wes Stanhope is a national hero, but he’s wounded physically and emotionally. When the woman he loves wants to help him, he learns that the woman he adores can be just as courageous in the bedroom as he was on the battlefield.

MISS DARLING’S INDECENT OFFER
Jack Stanhope leads a carefree existence but when he meets Emma Darling, he realizes that in saving this woman from dastardly men is his saving grace.

THE BASTARD’S PASSIONATE PRIZE
Illegitimate Mark Stanhope expects nothing from his family, but when they save him, he in turn saves a young noblewoman who has the valor to stand against others who would abuse her.

Read an Excerpt

This an exclusive excerpt to this newsletter and is from Lady Featherstone’s Fervent Affair, the story of Wes Stanhope and Lacey Featherstone!
Copyright, 2014 Cerise DeLand. All rights reserved.

He struggled up from his chair, grabbed his cane and plodded in his slippers to the window. Would he ever be warm again? Anywhere?

The sound of carriage wheels made him cock his ear in the direction of the drive.

No one visited. He had made it plain to Charles that the man was to spread that word in the village. Wes desired no visitors. No well-wishers. No expressions of gratitude for the so-called hero of Talavera.

Still, Wes heard the carriage wheels grind to a stop.

Shouting above the downpour of the rain assaulted his peace.

Footsteps. Then a knocking on the front door.

Charles emerged from the dining room where he’d been laying out luncheon.

“Who might this be?” Wes asked of the man who should not have invited anyone.

“I have no idea, sir,” Charles replied as he stepped toward the foyer and the carved wooden door. “I will inquire.”

Wes nodded, putting pressure on his cane as he hobbled back toward his chair.

“Good afternoon,” Charles greeted the visitor. “Do come in. May I say who is calling?” he asked in a tone of voice so caring that Wes, out of his own immense curiosity, became focused on the portal and the figure standing there.

Wes stiffened. His jaw dropped. His one good eye squinted in disbelief.

“Yes, you may say. Charles, isn’t it?” asked the vision in the bright navy blue pelisse and pink straw bonnet. The vision stepped inside, handed Charles her umbrella and pulled at her gloves, finger by finger, as she gazed about, her large robin’s egg blue eyes landing on Wes. Her face severe, unsmiling, she told Charles, “You may say Lady Lacy Featherstone calls upon Colonel Stanhope.”

“I’m afraid, my lady, that Colonel Stanhope is indisposed.”

Her incomparable blue gaze danced down Wes’s form. “He looks quite fit to me, Charles.”

What? How can I? Looking like a gargoyle. Feeling weak as a puppy. Wes stepped back into the shadows of the great room. He could still see her. And certainly she saw him. Damn and double damn it to hell.

Lacy took a step forward.

Charles blocked her.

She glared at the servant. “Charles, let us understand each other from the start. I am here. I have arrived at your door after an extremely discomfiting journey by coach from Kent. Do you know how far that is, Charles?”

“Yes, Lady Featherstone, I certainly do. The Colonel and I traveled here from London, and we did so with the Colonel in dire pain. I tell you that you may not see him.”

You may not, cannot. You will be repulsed to be near me. Wes forced himself to stand his ground.

She smiled with a hauteur that had his man stiffen. “But, Charles, I do see him. I see him now. I see him plainly. And I will speak with him.”

“My lady, you may not enter.”

“Wes!” she called to him, bracing herself on two dainty feet. “I will not leave.”

Oh, hell. Why did I involve myself with a blue-stocking with her own mind? Was I mad even before Spain? Bloody balls. “Lacy, I do not wish to see you.”

She snorted. “I do not care what you wish.”

“It is not proper that you are here. And unescorted, as far as I can tell.”

She folded her hands before her, prim as he had never known her to be. “I do not care for escorts or proprieties.”

“You must!” Was she out of her wits?

“You heard me,” she said as she surveyed the wooden beams of the ceiling and the black and white of the foyer floor tiles.

God, she was lovely. Like spun sugar, blonde as starlight, fragile and scrumptious. Meant for him. Once. Long ago.

“I came alone,” she informed him and took a step forward. “My father thinks I am with my aunt Mary in Dorset.”

If Wes were in his right mind or of sound body, he might have laughed. As it was, he scowled at her. “Go home, Lacy.”

“I refuse.”

What a piece she was. Once his match. “You will ruin your reputation.”

She grinned and shook her head. Her expression said he was talking silliness. “Of what value, Colonel Stanhope, is reputation?”

“Everything!”

Lacy continued to glide toward him. Her gorgeous blue eyes riveted on his one good one, hers fixed with determination. “I suppose yours has saved your happiness for you?”

Wes choked on fury. How did one so young, so fair, know such a truth?

She strolled further into the room. “I came to help you and nurse you, Wes.”

He huffed, the sight of her heaving breasts in the fitted jacket making him remember the night he’d viewed them in a garden at someone’s ball. He’d put his rough hand inside her gown, the sight of her nipples inciting him to taste the gossamer, pink areolas. He ground his teeth. “I have a nurse. I have Charles.”

“He does not love you.”

Charles startled. “Sir? I…I do not—”

Wes raised a hand to his man and both brows at Lacy. “I venture to say he does. In his way.”

“He does not love you as I do.” She stepped forward, her gown swishing against the carpet. “Or love you as I can.”

“He is enough for me.”

“Is he?” She looked Charles up and down.

“Go home, Lacy,” Wes instructed with more sadness than he’d planned. “You and I have no future.”

“Not true, Wesley Stanhope!” She stood toe-to-toe with him now. Her incomparable robin’s egg blue eyes bored into his one.

“Give over, Colonel. You have lost this battle. I am here to marry you.”