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Cynthia Scott
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Jane Austen’s England meets Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night when impulsive Elizabeth Covington cuts her hair and masquerades as the Covington heir, James Langford. Intending to ease her dying father’s mind, she instead creates more problems, especially when handsome, arrogant Lord Barton unmasks, uh, disrobes her in the stable. Compromised, she’s forced to marry him, but finally realizes that perhaps one should think before acting . . . .

Covington, England

January, 1815

"‘Tis no use, Lizzie," Sabrina said from her perch on the window cushion. "No matter how hard you try, you do not look like a man."

Elizabeth Covington arched an eyebrow at her younger sister, wiped her sweaty palms on her borrowed breeches, and returned to tying the silk neck cloth. "I shall manage it, Breeny."

"But Papa will certainly recognize you. And how will you explain our cousin calling so late?"

"Papa’s room is kept dark. He’ll not know whether ‘tis morning or night."

Sabrina giggled. "Even Papa isn’t too ill to recognize his own clothes."

Elizabeth examined her reflection in the cheval mirror. The dark waistcoat and riding coat hung from her shoulders. Their cousin, Mr. James Langford--sailor and heir to their father’s land and business--would never wear such drab, loose clothing. He’d arrive in full naval dress. Unfortunately, Mr. Langford was nowhere to be found.

A lump clogged her throat and grief knotted her stomach, but she refused to torment Sabrina with the bleak truth. Their father lay near death, his mind troubled because his estate was entailed to his long-estranged nephew. Elizabeth had posted inquiries into her cousin’s whereabouts, hoping to secure a reconciliation between their two families.

The war with France had ended six months before, and Napoleon was on Elba, no longer a threat. Her cousin should have returned to England by now. Every day she prayed a letter, or Mr. Langford, would arrive to ease Papa’s fears and allow him to die in peace.

But neither came.

Unless she restored harmony between their two families, when Papa died and Mr. Langford inherited Covington Castle, she and her sister would have nowhere to live. They had no other family, no prospects for their support. They faced falling from the rank of gentlewomen to laboring commoners--or worse.

Blame slumped her shoulders. She should have married and secured their futures. When she’d rejected suitors to retain her independence, she should have considered the consequences of her actions, not only upon herself, but upon Sabrina as well. She straightened, vowing never to be selfish again.

"It will suffice, Breeny," she said, anxious to end her sister’s objections. "I shan’t tarry with Papa more than a mere instant--long enough to assure him our cousin wishes to make amends."

Sabrina smiled. "Perhaps I should ask Papa’s servant to blow out all the candles?"

"Perhaps." Elizabeth adjusted the unfamiliar masculine clothing. "A few moments should convince him our cousin has come to heal the great breach between our families."

"What is this ‘Great Breach’? I do not understand why Papa broke with the Langfords. Aunt Langford is his own sister."

"It is a forbidden subject, Breeny, as you are well aware."

"Lizzie, please. I am old enough to hear the truth."

"Perhaps, but I cannot reveal what I do not know. Once, when I was quite young, I asked Papa why we never saw our aunt."

"What answer did he give?"

"He forbade me to mention the Langford name again."

"Oh." Sabrina leaned her head against the window and drew her shawl tighter about her shoulders.

Sensing her sister’s concern, Elizabeth gentled her voice. "Do not fret, Breeny. The physician, Dr. Mills, comes today. Perhaps Papa has improved and our concern is for naught."

"Do you think so, Lizzie?" Sabrina asked, her eyes hopeful.

"Absolutely." Elizabeth swallowed hard at the lie. "Come. I’ll change, then we’ll go downstairs for luncheon. After that, I must exercise my horse and review today’s accounts."

"Very well. But, Lizzie, when you play our cousin, how will you hide your hair? You cannot wear a hat indoors."

"I shall tuck it inside my shirt."

"Will that suffice?"

Cynthia Scott, a native Oklahoman living in Texas, writes romance novels by day and reads them by night. A fan of the genre since her teens, she waited until her children started school before seriously pursuing a writing career. When not writing or reading, Cynthia enjoys movies, music, history, and hanging with her husband, two sons and the family dog, but spends most of her time in the never-ending struggle to understand the language of teenagers.

Contact Cynthia at CynthiaAScott@aol.com or visit her website at http://www.cynthiascott.org

“MASQUERADE is a delightful regency romp that will have you hooked from the very beginning… Ms. Scott has created endearing characters in a charming story that promises plenty of fun as you begin reading and certainly leave you with a smile long after you’ve turned the last page.” 4 Stars! --Leena Hyatt, Scribe’s World

“…This charming fast-paced story is a wonderful way to pass a lazy fall afternoon.” 3 Stars! Romantic Times Magazine

Fiction Books :: Romance Books :: Fantasy Books

ISBN: 1590886909
ISBN(13-digit): 9781590886906
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 335

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