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The Misguided Miss Mary

The Misguided Miss Mary

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Her sworn enemy may have come to her rescue, but that doesn't mean she has to like him...

Surely Lord Paul is teasing Mary yet again when he suggests that they marry for convenience. The childhood enemies have never been able to be in the same room without tempers flaring. How could they possibly be married?

But when Lord Paul comes to her rescue and saves Mary from near scandal, she may have no choice but to accept his hand. Which is awful. Obviously. that they're older, the tension between them isn't quite the same. And his kiss sparks an entirely new sort of heat. It makes one think, perhaps a lady could get used to kissing her arch nemesis...

Main Tropes

  • Enemies to Lovers
  • Childhood Nemesis
  • Scandal and a Forced Marriage


A sweet regency romp filled with laughter and kisses...

Miss Mary has been livid with Lord Paul since they were children, so when he proposes they wed for the sake of their families' properties, she nearly chokes on her punch in her haste to say no.

But then an unfortunate misunderstanding puts Mary's reputation in danger, and Lord Paul shocks her by coming forward and offering marriage—again—but this time to save her hide.

So maybe...perhaps...Lord Paul isn't such a horror after all. In fact, he might just be her knight in shining armor.

Intro Into Chapter 1

Miss Mary Evermoor regarded the scene before her with a frown. “Of all the silly…”

She trailed off with a shake of her head as her least favorite gentleman at this house party reached a hand into the flickering blue flames atop the punch bowl to snag a raisin.

Mary sighed as Lord Paul popped it into his mouth and then let out a triumphant whoop that had the ladies and gentlemen gathered around laughing.

“Nitwit,” she muttered.

Only her fellow School of Charm friend Miss Lydia could hear her, but as Lydia seemed to be more intent on trying to hide within the folds of the draperies behind her, Mary was nearly certain she hadn’t been heard. 

“Not a nitwit,” Miss Farthington said from behind her. “Just a boy.”

“He’s one and twenty,” Mary pointed out, turning to face the finishing school’s headmistress. “Hardly a boy.”

Miss Farthington pursed her lips in thought. “Oh, I don’t know. In my experience even the most grown of men has a bit of the boy within him.” She nodded toward Lord Paul who was grinning and crowing like a fool for his audience. “Your Lord Paul, in particular, I should think.”

Mary’s nose wrinkled. “He’s not my anything.”

Miss Farthington tipped her head to the side as she considered Mary. While a few years older than Mary, Lydia, and their other classmate, Charlotte, Miss Farthington was several inches shorter and smaller all around. A wee slip of a thing, but Miss Farthington held herself with more grace and dignity than Mary had ever been able to master. 

“You seem to be awfully well acquainted with him,” Miss Farthington pointed out.

Mary’s answering huff was decidedly unladylike. “Unfortunately.”

Miss Farthington’s laughter had Mary smiling. Even Lydia smiled as she looked on from where she was attempting to hide.

Poor Lydia was impossibly shy. Cripplingly so. This, of course, was the reason her family had sent her to the finishing school that had become renowned for helping even the most desperate of outcasts find exceptional matches.

Miss Farthington turned to the quiet, pretty redhead. “And how are you faring this evening, dear?”

Lydia’s mouth opened but no sound came out. Her sudden blush was visible even in this darkened room. She ended up nodding and flashing them a sheepish smile. 

“And you?” Miss Farthington said, her gaze returning to Mary with a knowing smile. 

Mary arched a brow. “Let us just say I shall be glad to return to London tomorrow.”

Miss Farthington chuckled. “I will as well, dear. Though I don’t suppose Charlotte will be eager to leave.” She looked meaningfully toward their blonde, bespectacled friend, who was cozied up beside her fiancé Lord Thomas in the far corner, contentedly wrapped up in their own little world as they had been for these last few days. 

“I think we can declare this visit a success then, don’t you?” Mary asked.

“Undoubtedly.” Miss Farthington grinned. These past few weeks had been tumultuous for poor Charlotte, who’d gone and fallen in love with her fiancé, of all things. This might have been a happy coincidence, as Lord Thomas had fallen just as hard for Charlotte, except that there was quite a bit of confusion along the way about who the real Lord Thomas actually was.

But fortunately, Lord Thomas’s mother had made the right decision in hosting Charlotte and her friends, as well as Lord Thomas and his friend, for a small house party in the country so that they might get to know one another and sort out their differences.

Truly, it had been lovely to escape the city for a while. Mary always had loved the country best. It would have been quite idyllic indeed if only the bane of her childhood existence hadn’t also been in attendance.

Miss Farthington cleared her throat and cast a meaningful look over Mary’s shoulder, her only warning that said nuisance was heading their way.

“Well, Mary?” His low, familiar, irritatingly smug voice had her spine stiffening. 

She turned slowly, her mouth pinched with distaste. “Well, what?”

Lord Paul’s lips curved up in a wolfish grin that made a shiver race down her neck. 

It was always this way with him. There was nothing comforting or soft about him, nothing to put a lady at ease.

Well, not this lady, at least. Other ladies seem to find him as charming as he was handsome, with his clean-cut sharp jaw, his bright blue eyes, and his neatly slicked-back short brown hair. 

Handsome, yes. She could admit that. But charming? Hardly.

He arched his brows like he was waiting for something. “Didn’t you see? I won the game of snapdragon handily.”

She arched her brows as well. “Am I meant to be impressed by the fact that you stuck your hand into a fire?”

He smirked. “Some would call it bravery.”

“I would call it foolishness.”

His smile grew but his eyes sparked in a way that set her on edge. There was a challenge there. As always. His very air always seemed to simmer with an energy she could not name but hated all the same. 

It was arrogance, mischief…and sometimes cruelty. Once upon a time they’d been friends. When she was little and admittedly besotted with the older neighbor boy. But as she’d grown, she’d seen him for what he truly was: a bully, always mocking and taunting her for her unladylike interest in the sciences and maths. 

She might not have seen him often these past few years, but that glint of mischief in his eyes made it clear that some things had not changed a bit.

“Foolishness, eh? Does that mean you will try your hand?” he teased, glancing back toward the punch bowl where a group of drunken old men were wagering on which lady would have a go at the silly parlor game.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she said with a sniff. “And try your hand? Was that meant to be a pun?”

His eyes danced with laughter. “Perhaps.”

Despite her dismissal of the idea, he stayed where he was. Why? She could not fathom. She glanced around her for some sort of salvation but Lydia was no use, the poor, shy creature looked to be terrified of Lord Paul.

Not surprisingly. He was not what anyone would call a soft-spoken or gentle man, even if he was gently bred as the second son of an earl. Miss Farthington had been caught up in a conversation with their hostess a few steps away. Charlotte was still giggling and whispering with Lord Thomas, and the rest of the party was paying attention to the silly antics going on around the punch bowl.

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Lord Paul said, his gaze holding hers with that bizarre intensity of his. 

“I’m not ashamed of anything,” she snapped.

“To be afraid is perfectly normal,” he continued as if he had not heard.

“I am not—” She clamped her mouth shut with a huff. “I know what you are doing.”

His eyes widened in feigned innocence. “And what is that?”

She pinched her lips shut. She’d never been good at denying a challenge. Particularly when issued by this man. A fact he well knew as he’d been daring her and taunting her since she was old enough to walk.

Two years older, and the only nearby child her age at their country estate aside from her priggish older sister, she’d once thought Lord Paul had hung the moon. She’d chased after him just waiting to be acknowledged. But then she’d grown up. And the more she’d grown the more she’d seen him for what he was. 

A beast. A merciless, cruel beast who found delight in tormenting her. 

He smiled at her now, but his smile held a hint of an edge, as it always did when he spoke to her. “Truthfully, Mary, I’m grateful you do not wish to participate—”

“I did not say I wouldn’t.” She nearly bit her own tongue. 

Gads. Years might have passed since she’d last seen her neighbor, but the moment he’d re-entered her life, she was back to her old ways and he was back to his. She couldn’t seem to stop herself from reverting back to the child she’d once been, and it seemed he suffered the same affliction. To be stuck in a house together was torture. She could hardly wait to be gone.

“You did not say you wouldn’t, but you didn’t say you would either.” His eyes danced with laughter.

She scowled.

She’d heard ladies of the ton wax on about the way his eyes glimmered and gleamed, but to her that merely meant he was plotting some trickery.

“But honestly, Mary, I did not expect you to participate. In fact, that was why I sought you out now, while the others are distracted by their fun.”

She narrowed her eyes, her mind tossing about his words to see just how he was mocking her and where the trick might lie.

“I thought we might talk,” he said. His voice was oddly stilted, his posture suddenly stiff. 

Her eyes narrowed even further. This was not like him. Not at all. 

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