A Companion for the Count: A Regency Romance
Copyright © 2021 by Sally Britton
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
Published by Pink Citrus Books
Edited by Jenny Proctor of Midnight Owl Editors
Cover design by Blue Water Books
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
First Printing: May 2021
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-947005-29-7
To Sally’s Sweet Romance Fans on Facebook.
You make this whole writing thing a lot more fun.
September 28th, 1818
Also by Sally Britton
About the Author
Chapter One September 28th, 1818
Clairvoir Castle, the Duke of Montfort’s estate, housed over thirty servants, eight members of the duke’s family, a governess, and Emma Arlen—who really did not fit in any of the other categories of occupants.
Emma, the duke’s ward and companion to Lady Josephine, the duke’s eldest daughter, sat in her usual spot in the upstairs morning room. With her legs tucked up on the sofa and an embroidery hoop occupying her hands, she did her best to ignore her friend’s pacing from one end of the room to the other.
Despite the large number of permanent residents residing in the castle, the duke welcomed guests in large groups and with great frequency.
New arrivals were expected that very day.
“I cannot like Papa’s insistence that I arrange entertainment for the ambassador.” Lady Josephine often received a share of the hostessing duties. Usually without reserve. “He reminded me again, at breakfast, to be attentive to the count.”
“I was there, Josie.” Emma raised her gaze momentarily to her friend’s. “His Grace insisted nothing. I would say he suggested you would have better ideas for entertainment than most, given that the ambassador is a gentleman closer to your age than your father’s.”
The duke’s eldest daughter did tend toward the dramatic, at least in private. Hers was an emotional nature, but not volatile. She possessed great kindness and compassion and a desire to see all around her happy. But she had also possessed an over active imagination since girlhood.
Josephine glowered at Emma. “I think it has more to do with the fact that the ambassador is unmarried. Papa is trying to play at matchmaking. You know he is.”
“I know no such thing.” Emma returned her attention to her embroidery and pushed her needle through the cloth of the handkerchief. Sometimes, the best way to help her friend get through these moments was to maintain her own composure. “Your mother and father do not believe in young marriages. As you are only nineteen, I think you are safe from them forcing you to the altar.”
Age was not the only thing to consider, either. The duke and duchess wanted their children’s happiness. They would never force a match that their child did not like. Though they might try to arrange meetings with eligible bachelors from time to time, it was not in their nature to be heavy-handed.
“But he is foreign nobility. That would be a boon to all of England. And Father knows I detest all the men equal to my rank here.”
Emma stuck her needle in the work before shaking the hoop at her friend, barely concealing her amusement. “Firstly, Josephine, you have not met all the suitable men in England. Secondly, the kingdom this ambassador represents is new and volatile. Your father would never want you in such an uncertain position. Not after everything that has happened in France.”
Josephine sat down with a huff. “The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies is a steady nation, Emma. King Ferdinand has the full support of Britain.”
“Which is why the count is coming to visit your father. To strengthen that support and forge new relationships. That means he will spend most of his time with His Grace and your eldest brother.”
As a nearly lifelong companion to Josephine, Emma knew the intimate details of the family’s lives. Consequently, she also knew many things about the political state of her nation. Though the war with France had ended years before, Britain still felt the repercussions keenly, as did most of Europe. The reorganization of Italian governments and titles had barely settled, with the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies one of two governments dominating what had once been several city-states loosely held together by European rule.
Napoleon’s quick conquest of Italy and its resources had alerted the other large European powers to the importance of securing the city-states into more unified wholes.
Josephine’s sigh brought Emma back to herself. “Josie, rest easy. This Italian ambassador is the same as all the others. A political guest, and not at all a permanent one.”
“I hope you are right. I have no desire to marry at present, nor to leave my family. I am quite happy as I am.” Josephine folded her hands in her lap and lifted her chin higher. “I have more than enough to occupy my time and attention.”
Emma pretended thoughtfulness as she tapped her chin with one finger. “What if he is handsome?” If her friend would not be comforted, perhaps Emma could tease Josephine out of her worries.
“If he is handsome, you are more than welcome to him.” Josephine took up a cushion and threw it at Emma, who caught it while laughing.
“I have no more desire to wed than you do.” She