YOUR GRACE, HIS GRACE, HER GRACE, WHOMEVER
Lord Fool is really Leland Wescott, the Duke of Stromburg. Young though he is, he is a decorated war hero, having saved many of his men from being burned to death in a building fire. Unfortunately, he did so by holding them at gunpoint so that they could not run foolishly into the conflagration to try and save mates who were already beyond help.
The military may have thought he saved a significant number of lives, but the peerage thought his actions dishonorable. Dubbed “Lord Fool” behind his back, Stromburg spends his days trying to keep his land and crop holdings from the grasping clutches of the Duke of Redmond and feeling like the fool he is called.
When Baron Ledford offers his stepdaughter, Tempest MacIntyre, up for auction as a one-night stand, Stromburg receives an invitation to bid. Infuriated at the Baron’s gall, he goes to warn Tempest of her guardian’s lies about an arranged “wedding.” Though used to the stepfather’s cruelty, the depths of this particular depravity take her aback. And now she understands why so many men are walking around her in the park, looking her over as they would a horse up for sale.
Though thankful for the warning, Tempest assures Stromburg that she has already made arrangement to escape the man’s clutches. She also assures him that, with the new developments, she will be gone before the morning and before the stepfather can turn her into damaged goods.
Well, as you can imagine, the best laid plans, etc. etc…So, for the remainder of this 70-some page short story, we witness the “gone astray” parts from the viewpoints of Tempest as she tries to flee and Stromburg as he tries to protect and save her.
L. L. Muir crafts in this Regency entry, a scenario that alternates tension and fear with bouts of tongue-in-cheek, laugh out loud, tears down the face humor. The scenes involving the auction, the attempt to flee, and the transfer of “goods” to the winner of the auction are all quite seriously plotted. And, as such, the comedy that seems to pop up out of nowhere is both a relief and a true delight.
This short story is not deemed a prequel to any of Muir’s current series. However, numerous and intriguing hooks exist that could lead to future works or even a series should Muir choose to do so.
Cover Art From Goodreads