Promised (Proper Romance) - Leah Garriott
© 2020 Leah Garriott
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher, Shadow Mountain®, at permissionsshadowmountain. The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of Shadow Mountain.
This is a work of fiction. Characters and events in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are represented fictitiously.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Garriott, Leah, author.
Title: Promised : proper romance / Leah Garriott.
Description: Salt Lake City, Utah : Shadow Mountain, 2020.
Identifiers: LCCN 2019019684 | 9781629726144 (paperbound) | e 978-1-62973-797-3
Subjects: LCSH: Man-woman relationships—Fiction. | LCGFT: Romance fiction.
Classification: LCC PS3607.A77345 P76 2020 | DDC 813/.6—dc23
LC record available at lccn.loc.gov/2019019684
Printed in the United States of America
LSC Communications, Crawfordsville, IN
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Cover photos: Elina Simeonova / Trevillion Images; Mukul Banerjee / Shutterstock
Book design: © Shadow Mountain
Art direction: Richard Erickson
Design: Heather G. Ward
You are my happily ever after.
Table of Contents
About the Author
Warwickshire, England, 1812
“She knows how to host a party, I’ll give her that,” my brother Daniel muttered, stopping beside me. “I’ve never seen so much silver in my life.”
Someone from behind jostled us and a matron passed, yanking her young daughter forward to obtain a position closer to the front. Daniel scowled at them before his dark eyes focused on me. “Margaret, you cannot be serious about going through with this.”
“I am.” Once I was married, there would be no more rumors preventing Daniel from marrying. And I would no longer have to endure the whispers regarding the scandal of my broken engagement. Everything would finally be as it should have been two years ago.
Mrs. Hickmore clapped her hands, silencing the excited murmurs. “Now, everyone.” She surveyed us with a smile so full of satisfaction it squeezed her round cheeks up, making her eyes nothing more than small slits. “To your seats. You’ll find your names at your plates for tonight only. Hereafter, you may sit wherever, or should I say with whomever, you wish. We don’t stand on ceremony here.”
She spread her arms, officially welcoming us to the opening of the event. Three gentlemen strode boldly forward, nodding at her as they passed, and one of the braver women laughed and followed in their wake. Soon the group moved almost en masse toward the tables, and footmen stepped out of the shadows to assist the more timid in finding their places.
Those who hurried around us carried anticipation in their tentative smiles and hope in their excited eyes. Yet there must be others who, like me, sought a union of convenience. Others who knew how much giving your heart to someone hurt.
A woman paused and inspected Daniel with a calculated smile. Daniel turned his back to her and clasped my arm, his voice low and insistent as he said, “Change your mind. You don’t have to go through with this.”
Instead of seeing this party as a means to right the wrongs that had been inflicted on our family, he viewed my coming as a rash decision made by a heartbroken sister. It had been devastating to discover Edward, the man I’d pledged my heart to, had entertained a string of mistresses and had only pretended to care for me because of a stipulation of his father’s. He had made me look such a fool for loving him. I had been a fool. Edward’s family’s estate bordered our own; his sister was my best friend and the woman Daniel wished to marry. We had known each other practically our whole lives. I should have realized it wasn’t real, should have seen him for what he was, should have perceived that my love meant nothing to him. That I’d meant nothing to him.
But I hadn’t. He’d courted me and made me laugh and treated me with all the attentiveness I’d ever longed for. And I’d loved him.
After I discovered the truth, I of course had my father call off the engagement. Yet for a long time it was all I could do to rise from bed each morning, the darkness of Edward’s deception like a lake of poison seeping through my emotions, killing my happiness and drowning my efforts to move on.
Now, though, I was no longer brokenhearted. In fact, I was no longer controlled by my heart at all. And, if everything worked as I hoped, I never would be again. I had learned my