FIRST EARL I SEE TONIGHT by Anna Bennett
An heiress with a daring proposal. An earl who’s determined to resist her. And a love that just might be written in the stars, in First Earl I See Tonight by Anna Bennett.
Anna Bennett started swiping romances from her mom’s bookshelf as a teenager and decided that books with balls, dukes, and gowns were the best. So, when she had the chance to spend a semester in London she packed her bags—and promptly fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. She dreamed of writing romance, but somehow ended up a software analyst instead.
Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anna found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart®. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen.
Anna’s books include the Wayward Wallflowers series and the Debutante Diaries series.
Anna’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/_AnnaBennett
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Anna’s Website: http://annabennettauthor.com/
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FIRST EARL I SEE TONIGHT
“Lord Ravenport,” Lady Callahan intoned, closing
her fan with an expert flick of the wrist. “Please, allow
me to present my daughter Miss Sophie Kendall and her
friends Miss Fiona Hartley and Miss Lily Hartley.”
Gray exchanged the expected pleasantries, then turned
to Fiona. A halo of loose curls crowned her head, and she
worried her plump bottom lip. Her pink gown exposed the
long column of her neck and the curve of her shoulders;
he could almost see her pulse beating wildly at the base
of her throat.
His instincts screamed for him to run right out of the
ballroom, and yet his boots remained rooted to the floor.
Worse, before he knew what he was doing he’d asked her
“It would be my pleasure,” she stammered, taking his
As he led her to the dance floor he questioned his own
good judgment—and not for the first time that day. He’d
witnessed Miss Hartley trip and tumble into the orchestra
at the Millbrook ball. He’d been dancing with Helena at
the time but had paused to help her up.
So much had changed since then.
He had no idea if Miss Hartley’s dance partner had been
to blame for the incident or whether she was prone to
falling, but just to be safe he tightened his hand on her
waist. And they began moving to the music.
The first measure had barely played before she asked,
“You received my letter?”
“I did,” he said noncommittally, twirling her beneath
his raised arm.
When she faced him again, she looked him directly in
the eye. “What do you think of my . . . offer?” she asked,
her voice cracking on the final word.
He tamped down an unexpected pang of sympathy. “I
think that we hardly know each other.”
“True, but that is easily rectified, is it not?” There it
was—an unmistakable hint of desperation. And a sense of
urgency that even her letter hadn’t conveyed.
“It is,” he conceded. “However, I suspect that the more
we know each other, the less we’ll like each other.” Cynical
but true in his experience. His parents certainly hadn’t
grown fonder of each other. Neither had he and Helena.
She winced and looked away before regaining her
composure. “Perhaps. But we needn’t like each other.”
Gray chuckled at that. “I never thought I’d meet some-
one more jaded than I.”
“So, you’ll consider my offer?” she pressed.
“I will not,” he said firmly. Under different circum-
stances, her fortune may have tempted him. But she was
clearly intent on using him for her own purpose—and he
suspected that she’d set her sights on him for reasons be-
yond his title. After all, there were half a dozen peers in
attendance right now who’d leap at the chance to marry a
young and unconventionally beautiful heiress.
But he was not one of them.
“It seems rather closed-minded of you to dismiss me
summarily,” she shot back, displaying a boldness that was
borderline rude—and refreshing.
“If I said I’d consider your offer, I’d only be giving you
false hope. Delaying the inevitable.”
“The inevitable rejection, you mean,” she clarified.
“Yes.” He was still reeling from the sting of Helena’s
rebuff and wouldn’t wish anyone that sort of pain and
“Please,” she begged. “I realize that it’s highly unusual
for a woman to propose marriage—”
“It’s unheard of.”
“Surely you must be curious—as to why I did it.” She
looked up at him, her shining blue eyes challenging him
to deny the truth of her words.
Gray shrugged. “You have your reasons for making the
offer; I have my reasons for declining it.”
“Give me the opportunity to explain,” she pleaded. “Just
a quarter of an hour to make my case. If, after that, you
remain unconvinced, I promise I shan’t mention it again.”
He must be out of his damned mind to consider engag-
ing in further discussion with Miss Hartley. The very last
thing he needed was another conniving, self-serving fe-
male attempting to interfere with his life. He had opened
his mouth to tell her so when someone bumped into his
Gray’s torso collided with Miss Hartley’s chest, and she
stumbled two steps before he wrapped an arm around her
slender waist, catching her just before she landed on the
parquet floor. She gasped and clung to his jacket, her ex-
pression an odd mix of relief and mortification.
“Oh dear,” she breathed.
Their faces were so close he could see unexpected dark
blue flecks in her irises and the individual freckles dotting
her nose. “Forgive me,” he said.
For what indeed? Steering her into the collision? Grip-
ping her waist too tightly? Or for staring at the swells of
her breasts and having decidedly wicked thoughts while
he should have been shielding her from further embar-
rassment? Ignoring her question, he asked, “Are you all
“I am.” Her cheeks turned a charming shade of pink.
She blew out a breath and shot him a shaky smile. “When
it comes to dance floor mishaps, I confess I’ve survived
Gray looked over his shoulder to see how the other
couple fared, surprised to find Helena and her dance part-
ner smiling apologetically.
And the truth struck him. For the last ten minutes, while
he’d been dancing with Miss Hartley, he’d been completely,
blissfully unaware of Helena and whatshe was doing. Even
more remarkable, he’d forgotten that she was in the room.
“Meet me in Hyde Park tomorrow,” he said to Miss
Hartley, mentally cursing his own weakness. “I will listen
to what you have to say, but don’t expect anything to
change my mind.”
The corners of her mouth curled in a triumphant smile.
“Thank you. All I ask is that you allow me the chance to
explain the advantages of the arrangement—for us both.”
“Forgive me if I remain skeptical,” he drawled. “I’ll
meet you near the footbridge. Three o’clock?”
“You won’t regret this,” she said earnestly, but the prick-
ling sensation between his shoulder blades suggested
he would. In spite of her naïveté and candor—or maybe
because of those things—Miss Hartley could prove far
more dangerous to him than Helena had ever been.
First Earl I See Tonight was my first historical romance. The blurb had me interested, but sadly it wasn’t what I had hoped for. I didn’t feel that spark between them. Wish there was a lot more chemistry between them, and yes I get that there wouldn’t be a lot in the beginning given their situation, but it seemed to take forever for them to get there. It wasn’t until the very end of the book that I felt something or was excited to read. And their was so much begging from Fiona, just a little too desperate for my liking. A lot of the scene changes made it hard to read. I wish there had been some kind of break to let me know of them. I really wish we had the end of the book sooner, it almost seemed too little too late.
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