Marry Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt
Welcome to my stop on this tour. I have an excerpt of this romantic comedy for you to sample.
Enjoy reading! xo
Excerpt Four: Marry Me at Willoughby Close
Very well, then. What was it?”
Someone brushed past Alice and bumped her shoulder. She rubbed it with a slight wince. “Could we go somewhere a little bit more comfortable?” she asked. “Like your office or a coffee shop? It won’t take that long, I promise.”
“Fine.” With a decided lack of grace Henry started towards an upscale-looking café on the street corner, the kind of place with very tall leather stools and espresso served in little black cups with triangular handles. Not Alice’s kind of place.
“Why don’t you sit down,” he suggested once they’d gone inside, and he went to the counter without asking her what she’d like. Alice chose a pair of squashy leather armchairs rather than the high stools by the window, and then sank into one with a defeated sigh.
All right, she hadn’t exactly expected Henry to greet with smiles and hugs. Of course she hadn’t. But, stupidly perhaps, she hadn’t expected him to be quite so angry. She didn’t even understand it. What would stupid Lenore gossip about?
“Here you are.” Henry placed a cup of milky coffee in front of Alice and sat down with his own espresso. He frowned as he took in her unhappy expression. She couldn’t hide it. She could never hide anything. “What’s wrong?”
“Why are you so annoyed about seeing me?” she asked as boldly as she could. “What were you afraid your office would gossip about?” Alice reached for the cup of coffee and cradled it with her hands, craving the warmth. It was probably the only of it that she was going to get.
“Anything,” Henry answered shortly. “I don’t like gossip.”
“But about me,” Alice pressed. “Why didn’t you just explain who I was to Lenore, or whoever?”
Henry’s gaze narrowed. “I don’t explain myself to anyone.”
“Of course you don’t.”
Henry sighed. “I simply don’t like being wrong-footed. I’m sorry. Perhaps I overreacted. I seem to have a tendency to do that, or so my aunt likes to tell me, especially when confronted with something unexpected.”
He looked surprised by the question, and then he shrugged. “Hazard of my childhood, I suppose. My parents were always doing something unexpected, and it was all rather unpleasant. But enough about that. What is your idea, at any rate?”
He’d given her an intriguing little glimpse into his life, and Alice knew that was all she was going to get.
“Okay.” A bit mollified, Alice took a sip of coffee and tried to rally. “I’ve been cleaning the manor,” she began, wondering how best to present this idea to him. She’d been so focused on the logistics of getting to this point that she hadn’t actually thought too much about what she’d say when she got here.
“I know you’ve been cleaning it,” Henry interjected. “I remarked on the fact when I was last there.”
“I was cleaning the ballroom about a week ago—“
“The ballroom? What on earth for?”
“Because it’s such a beautiful room,” Alice retorted. “And it deserves to be used.”
“A room deserves something?” Henry’s mouth twitched in a small smile. “And your idea, I presume, has something to do with the ballroom?”
“I want to have a party. A proper ball.” Henry simply stared as Alice’s cheeks warmed. Now that she thought about it properly, she realized she was being horribly presumptuous. A ball would cost money. A lot of money, perhaps. Money she didn’t have, of course. “For Lady Stokeley,” she added, just in case Henry thought she wanted to throw a party for her friends. She wouldn’t put it past him, and at this moment she doubted he’d put it past her.
“A ball,” Henry repeated.
“Yes, a ball. With music and lights and dancing and champagne. A champagne fountain, even.” Why not? Perversely Henry’s slightly disdainful incredulity was making her feel reckless. Defiant. It was a strangely heady feeling.
Title: Marry Me at Willoughby Close
Welcome to Willoughby Close… a charming cluster of cozy cottages, each with a story to tell and a happy ending to deliver…
Alice James has been a drifter her whole life, working her way through several foster homes before ending up in Wychwood-on-Lea, feeling anchorless and invisible. When a chance encounter leads to Alice accepting a position as a caretaker and companion to Lady Stokeley, she starts to feel as if she might finally be able to put down some roots and live the way other people do.
Then, Lady Stokeley’s nephew, city banker Henry Trent, storms into Willoughby Manor, seeming to find fault with everything, including Alice. As the next in line to the manor and title, he threatens to upturn everything she’s started to build. But Henry is hiding his own secret fears and weaknesses, ones he's desperate for no one to discover. A surprising and inconvenient attraction that simmers between them leaves Alice feeling more confused than ever, and Henry torn between duty and desire, fear and love.
When circumstances become even more difficult, both Alice and Henry must decide who they really are, and what they are willing to fight for. Could Alice possibly the next Lady of Willoughby Manor?
Kate Hewitt is the author of over 60 novels of romance and women’s fiction. An American ex-pat and former diehard New Yorker, she now lives in a market town in South Wales with her husband, five children, and overly affectionate Golden Retriever. To learn more about Kate, check out her website kate-hewitt.com, or join her Facebook Kate’s Reads.
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