Revisiting THE QUESTING BOX (PG excerpt)

A Regency Romance Family Favorite!


Author: Susanne Marie Knight

Genre: Time-Travel Regency Romance

Price: $4.99.

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TAKING A CHANCE--TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY STYLE--As the adult child of an alcoholic, Rae Santini struggles with unnecessary guilt. If only she was a better person. If only she could have helped her father. If only he hadn’t died. So when a Questing Box comes her way, she longs to turn back the clock to save him. But she had been just eight at the time of his death; she hadn’t been ready to embark upon a healing journey. Eighteen years later, the mysterious box is gifted to her. She figures she has nothing to lose so she opens the box...

TAKING A CHANCE--NINETEENTH CENTURY STYLE--James Bonnell, the Earl of Blackburne, dreads returning to his family’s estate for Christmas. His parents, the Marquess and Marchioness of Litchfield, not only belittle his political career, but most urgently insist that he marry to beget an heir. As it turns out, he had intended to bring home a bride, however the “lady” in question is too free with her favors. Disheartened, James is on his way to Litchfield when he encounters an unconscious Rae. He quickly bundles her up and takes her to a nearby Gypsy encampment. A risky idea then comes to mind. Perhaps this attractive wood nymph will consent to a masquerade and act as his countess... just for the holidays?

Scene Set-Up:
On his way to his parents’ estate for the Christmas holidays, James Bonnell, the Earl of Blackburne, discovers an unconventionally dressed, unconscious woman, Rae. He helped her, and now he “proposes” that she help him.

Rae leaned in, rested her elbows against the table, and intently focused her gaze on him. In the candlelight, James noticed her brown eyes were flecked with gold.

“So tell me, please, Mr. Bonnell, what is this excessively tolerable idea that happens to benefit us both?”

Might as well take the bull by the horns. “I find I am in a devil of a fix. My mother, the Marchioness, is the most headstrong woman. For more years than I care to remember, she has been obsessed with me getting leg-shackled and producing an heir.”

Rae tucked a stray strand of hair back into her chignon. “Interesting,” was all she said.

James looked away from her unflinching gaze. “The fact of the matter is, I thought I had found my, er, future wife. Too hastily, as the situation turned out, I wrote m’mother of my intention, and then left to propose to the lady.”

There was no need to mention names. Not that Rae would be acquainted with Theodora, but even though Theodora was not a lady, James was a gentleman.

He compressed his lips, choosing his words carefully. “She... well, how do I put this delicately? I found she had at least one other suitor, so naturally, I changed my plans.”

“Oh!” Rae’s eyes widened. “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

The devil of it was, she was sorry. Her sympathy was genuine, he was certain of it.

How refreshing! “Not to worry, my heart had not been engaged.” He shrugged. “Nevertheless, I am now in a quandary. M’mother expects me to bring home a bride. Since I am empty-handed, I fear I shall be responsible for making the holidays unpleasant for all the houseguests.”

Rae sat with a disapproving frown on her face. “Wait a minute. You can’t mean that you actually want me to impersonate being your wife?”

Whatever this woman was, she was no slowtop.

She pulled back from the table and suddenly stood. He moved to stand, but she gestured for him to stay seated.

“So I’m right? That’s too crazy,” she continued as she paced in front of the fireplace. “And, quite frankly, something like that can backfire.”

She amazed him. Instead of jumping to secure his regard and eagerly applying for the position as his countess, she called his idea lunacy. She even comprehended that he wished for an impersonation.

What a plucky little thing she was. He admired her svelte form unfairly hidden in Mira’s shapeless dress. “Backfire, Miss Santini? I am unfamiliar with the word.”

“Something that produces an unexpected, undesired result.” Rae crossed her arms against her bosom and tapped an impatient toe in her borrowed half-boots. “You look like an intelligent man. I’m sure you don’t want to end up being married to me and I certainly don’t have any plans to stay here to get, how did you put it? Leg-shackled.”

How very unforeseen and delightful! This peculiar woman was taking him to task over his preposterous plan. Ringing a peal over his head. A singular situation, to be sure.

Smiling, he walked over to her. “Alas, it is the only plan I can think of to protect you. As you are aware, even now your reputation is ruined by being here, alone with me, behind closed doors.”

She inhaled sharply.

Perhaps she was not aware of that consequence. “However,” he spoke before she could. “If we were to arrive at Litchfield Hall as man and wife, as a masquerade, naturally then you would have the entrĂ©e in society that you require and m’mother would be in alt.”

Rae’s frown deepened. “So you would deceive your family just for a little peace?”

“The peace would be short-lived, but well worth it. A holiday season without histrionics.” He ran his hand through his hair and turned away. “I see no other solution, Miss Santini. My family will not accept you otherwise.”


I hope you enjoy!

Susanne Marie Knight

Read outside the box: award-winning Romance Writing With A Twist!

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