The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews Cover Reveal!

The Work of Art by Mimi Matthews

Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Perfectly Proper Press
Genre: Historical Romance



An Uncommon Beauty… Hidden away in rural Devonshire, Phyllida Satterthwaite has always been considered more odd than beautiful. But in London, her oddity has made her a sensation. Far worse, it’s caught the eye of the sinister Duke of Moreland—a notorious art collector obsessed with acquiring one-of-a-kind treasures. To escape the Duke's clutches, she’s going to need a little help. An Unlikely Hero… Captain Arthur Heywood’s days of heroism are long past. Grievously injured in the Peninsular War, he can no longer walk unaided, let alone shoot a pistol. What use can he possibly be to a damsel in distress? He has nothing left to offer except his good name. Can a marriage of convenience save Philly from the vengeful duke? Or will life with Arthur put her—and her heart—in more danger than ever?

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***EXCERPT***

London, England
Spring, 1814

Captain Arthur Heywood had never seen such an ill-mannered assortment of canines in his life. The three mongrels burst into the library, galloping past the maid as she exited the room after serving the gentlemen their tea. She moved to evade the largest dog—some manner of deranged wolfhound—only to lose her balance and drop the tea tray. It fell to the marble floor with a resounding crash. The gentlemen in the library leapt to their feet. The Earl of Edgeworth bellowed in outrage. Viscount Darly grabbed the wolfhound by the scruff of its neck. And their host, the renowned financier Mr. Edgar Townsend, shouted for assistance from behind the safety of his enormous mahogany desk. Only Arthur remained seated. He had little choice in the matter. One of the dogs had knocked his cane to the floor, where it had promptly skittered out of reach across the marble. As a result, he was obliged to observe the chaotic scene from his place on the library sofa. And chaotic it was. Indeed, unless Arthur was very much mistaken, the giant snarling beast Darly was trying to subdue was seconds away from ripping the viscount’s head off. “Basil, no!” a feminine voice called from the doorway. Arthur looked up just in time to see a young lady rush into the room. She held a scraggly black terrier under one slender arm, much the way a great lady might carry a pampered pug. As she passed the sofa, she dropped the little dog straight into Arthur’s lap. She didn’t seem to notice he was there. Her attention was wholly fixed on Darly. “Phyllida!” Townsend thundered. “What’s the meaning of this?” The young lady ignored him and went straight to Darly. “Please release him, sir.” She placed a calming hand on the great dog’s wiry back. “He’s really quite gentle.” “Gentle! This brute?” Darly lifted his eyes to the young lady’s face. And then he froze. “I beg your pardon, miss, I—” “You must let him go,” she said. “I promise he won’t bite you.” Still staring at her, Darly withdrew his hand from the dog’s neck and took a wary step back. Once released, the giant dog immediately ceased snarling and ran back toward the door and out of the library. The remaining two dogs—crossbreed collies by the look of them—quickly followed their rambunctious leader. Arthur lifted the small terrier from his lap and lowered him to the floor to send him off with his fellows. The little dog squirmed violently. “Oh no, sir!” The young lady hurried to the sofa and swept the terrier out of his arms. “He can’t be let down. He’s lame in one leg and finds it difficult to walk.” At her words, the room fell deathly quiet. Arthur supposed he should feel something. A sense of embarrassment or personal mortification. In truth, he felt nothing. Nothing save the mildest twinge of annoyance that he was here at all. He didn’t belong in Edgar Townsend’s library any more than he belonged in London. That he was required to remain was a source of bitterness to him. The careless words of a stranger could make things no worse. “Phyllida,” Townsend said from between clenched teeth. “Haven’t I told you—” “Papa?” Townsend’s eldest daughter appeared in the doorway. She was tying on a fashionable straw bonnet, giving every indication that she intended to go out. “What’s all the commotion?” “Your cousin’s wretched dogs,” Townsend snapped. In response, the young lady—Townsend’s niece, apparently—secured the little terrier more firmly under her arm and curtsied, rather gracefully, to the room at large. “My apologies, gentlemen,” she said to no one in particular. And then, her head held high and her spine very straight, she walked out of the library with Townsend’s daughter, shutting the door behind them. Arthur leaned back against the cushions of the sofa, his injured leg stretched out before him. Darly crossed the floor to retrieve his cane. Arthur took it from him without a word. To the untrained eye it was no more than an expensively made walking stick, but everyone in the library knew full well that without it he couldn’t even have managed to walk across the room. Townsend cleared his throat. “Those dogs are a damned nuisance. No manners at all and every one of them a mongrel. My niece refused to come up to London without them. I should’ve put my foot down, but—” “Your niece is uncommonly handsome, Townsend,” Darly interrupted. “I knew you had a young female relation up from Devonshire to stay with you, but I never imagined…” Townsend returned to his seat, his face settling into the same shrewd lines as when he discussed any other investment. “Yes. Miss Satterthwaite is a singular young lady. She’s the granddaughter of Sir Charles of Satterthwaite Court in Devonshire. A distant relative of mine, recently passed away. He was knighted for services to the crown in ’79.” Edgeworth frowned. “Satterthwaite Court. That’s the estate you inherited six months back, is it not?” “It is, my lord.” Darly laughed. “I suppose the girl came with it.” Townsend fixed the viscount with a repressive glare. “Miss Satterthwaite was left with no means of support. I had no obligation to her, of course, but I’m not a hardhearted man. She’s of an age with my two daughters, and I’ve plenty of room here in London. I invited her to stay until such time as she can be married. I have high hopes that now she’s here in town, she’ll make an excellent match.” “Her eyes are extraordinary,” Darly murmured. “I’ve never seen anything like them.” Edgeworth snorted. The oldest man in the room, he had a great property in Hertfordshire and was, for all intents and purposes, little more than a titled farmer. “I had a sheepdog once just the same. One blue eye and one brown. Would hardly call it extraordinary.” Arthur hadn’t seen her eyes. Even when she’d taken her dog from out of his arms, she’d most decidedly refused to look at him. He’d thought her behavior had something to do with his appearance. Now, however, as he listened to the other men discuss Miss Satterthwaite, it occurred to him that it likely had more to do with her own. “Her eyes are hardly her only asset, Lord Edgeworth,” Townsend said. “Even a man as particular as you are couldn’t fail to see her other enticements.” Arthur hadn’t paid much attention to Miss Satterthwaite’s enticements. She’d come into the room in a rush of radiant feminine energy and had left just as quickly, remaining only long enough for him to get an impression of a softly curved figure and a mass of dark auburn hair that was coming loose from the pins meant to hold it. She might well be beautiful, but things of that nature made no difference to him anymore. He’d only come away from his estate in Somersetshire to transact some business for his father. Once it was concluded, he would return to the country, and as far as he was concerned, he’d be happy if he never saw another living person again. During a few subdued chuckles, Darly addressed Townsend. “If you intend to see your niece married off, what are you hiding her away for?” A ghost of a smile crossed Townsend’s cadaverous face. “My sister, Mrs. Vale, has been overseeing the arrangements. Miss Satterthwaite will make her debut into society at Lord and Lady Worthing’s ball on Saturday.” Darly burst into laughter. “So, that’s your game, is it?” “The Collector,” Edgeworth said. “He never misses one of Worthing’s soirees.” The Duke of Moreland was an avid collector of anything rare and valuable. He had a particular attraction to those priceless objects that were one of a kind—highly coveted treasures that, if possessed, would earn him the envy and admiration of other men. Indeed, many said his single-minded pursuit of such rarities pushed the limits of obsession and bordered on the edge of mania. If he desired some unique item, Moreland would stop at nothing to acquire it. And if, by some chance, complete and total possession managed to evade him—an event which happened infrequently—there were apocryphal tales of the vengeance he’d exacted against those foolish enough to have deprived him of his goal. Arthur knew of the man’s reputation, but he’d had no idea that Moreland’s passion for collecting extended to human beings. “I heard Moreland’s on the lookout for a new wife,” Edgeworth said. “Last one died quite suddenly, I believe. Drowned in a fountain or some such unlikely event.” “A tragic accident.” Townsend gave a dismissive wave of his hand. “She was a foolish young chit just out of the schoolroom. He’s made it known that his next wife will be of more mature years.” “How old is your niece?” Darly asked. “I expect she must fit the bill.” “She is three and twenty.” Edgeworth tilted back his teacup and downed the contents in one gulp. “If he’s interested in your niece, Townsend, no doubt he’ll make it worth your while.” Townsend bowed his head in silent acknowledgement. “It’s rotten luck that at his age he still gets first choice of all the young ladies,” Darly said. “You should introduce her to us.” “And I shall,” Townsend said. “When you all come to dinner next week.” Darly set his teacup and saucer down onto a side table with a clatter. “I see no need to delay.” Townsend frowned. “Regrettably, my lord, I believe Miss Satterthwaite and my daughters have already left for their afternoon walk. Perhaps some other time—” “Then why don’t we join the ladies?” Darly suggested. “It’s damnably fine weather today. We could all do with some air.” Townsend was plainly not keen on the proposition, but he wasn’t the type of man to offend his business partners. Especially not over something as inconsequential as an introduction. “Very well. A short turn about the park can do no harm.” Edgeworth glanced at Arthur. “What say you, Heywood? Are you able, man?” There was a trace of pity in his words. “No shame in begging off.” Arthur’s hand tightened on the handle of his cane. “I’m confident I can manage.” “Splendid.” Darly stood, straightening the cuffs of his expensively cut coat. “If we leave at once, I’m sure we’ll catch up with them directly.” 

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Matrimonial Advertisement) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats. For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews’ website and blog. You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterBookBubPinterestGoogle+, and Goodreads.

Cover Reveal Schedule

Monday, June 10 Passages to the Past Book Reviews from Canada Tuesday, June 11 T's Stuff Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals Wednesday, June 12 Just One More Chapter The Caffeinated Bibliophile Thursday, June 13 Laura's Interests CelticLady's Reviews Friday, June 14 Bookish Rantings View from the Birdhouse Saturday, June 15 The Lit Bitch 100 Pages a Day Donna's Book Blog Sunday, June 16 Historical Fiction with Spirit Monday, June 17 Maiden of the Pages The Book Junkie Reads


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