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The Misunderstanding of Miss Louisa

The Misunderstanding of Miss Louisa

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When the Marquess comes to court her sister, Louisa has one job...

To stay out of trouble, and remain out of sight. She's failing spectacularly. 

But Louisa never expects the irritatingly charming Marquess to find her dancing alone in the moonlight, or that he'll be the one to catch her when she falls out of a window attempting to be unseen. And the more the Marquess tries to draw her out of her sister's shadow, the more clear it becomes. It's not just her reputation that's in trouble . . . it's her heart.

Main Tropes

  • Friends to More
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Forbidden Love


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

Miss Louisa's parents order her to stay out of the way while the charming Marquess pays court to her perfect elder sister.

But with each new clumsy misadventure that draws Louisa into the Marquess's path, it's clear that the handsome young lord has no wish for perfection. He's too busy falling head over heels for the delightfully mischievous Miss Louisa!

Intro Into Chapter 1

Miss Louisa Purchase knew better than to make a sound. 

Tiptoeing past her parents’ bedroom, and then her elder sister Margaret’s, she made her way to the main staircase of their country estate and down to the main hall. 

The guests would all be asleep, along with the servants, so really—there was no harm in it.

Besides, her parents might have forbidden her from coming downstairs and joining the revelry the night before, but they had said nothing about the early morning. And it was the morning—technically—albeit, very, very early in the morning. Still, she had to assume any pronouncements of not being allowed downstairs yesterday were no longer valid.

Obviously, they had not intended for her to stay up in her room forever.

She huffed as she clutched her night rail close, padding down the staircase. One silly comment about the fishy smell in the kitchen before the guests had even arrived and she’d been banished forever! 

Honestly, what sort of reaction was that? Her parents treated her like a child just because she was not the eldest. Once Margaret married, then perhaps she’d be afforded more respect around here…though she was hardly holding her breath. At some point in time she’d been deemed willful and troublesome by her parents, and those types of labels were difficult to shed, she now knew.

No amount of maturation or studious lessons in deportment had rid her of the reputation she’d earned as a small child.

But that was neither here nor there at this particular moment. She’d apologize to her parents for the careless remark later in the day. For the moment, she was the only one awake and her imagination beckoned.

The hallway was empty, as expected. Louisa crept farther along the corridor toward the ballroom, with its high arched ceilings and the shiny wooden floors that almost never got used.

Such a shame.

It was even more of a shame that for once her parents had thrown a proper fete with dancing and music, and she had not been invited. 

Louisa paused in the doorway with a smile. Some candles were still lit, and the flickering glow bounced off the reflection on the glass doors that led to the balcony. A servant would be along soon, no doubt, to extinguish the candles and tidy up the room, which still looked as though a party had just finished. Even messy and empty, she found herself grinning at the sight of this majestic ballroom.

This room had always made her smile. It was her favorite room in the house, although perhaps it should not have been considering her utter lack of grace.

Five dance instructors over the past few years and she was no more elegant on the dance floor now as she had been when she used to prance around the nursery. 

Perhaps that was why her mother hadn’t allowed her to join in the divertissement the night before. She cocked her head to the side as she considered this. It made sense, actually. With the Marquess of Tumberland in attendance and her parents so keen on impressing him, it was no wonder they’d wish to hide Louisa and her terrible dancing skills away.

Well, that and they’d not wish for Margaret to have to compete for attention. Not that anyone feared Louisa would ensnare the marquess with her clever wit or her incomparable beauty… Everyone knew that Louisa, with her fiery red hair and freckles, could not hold a candle to her older sister’s fair skin and blonde, curling locks. 

But try explaining that to Mother. Or Margaret. Even Father had gotten it into his head that Louisa would be a distraction. 

And all because of one silly comment about fish.

Guilt nagged at her. She never had been much good at lying to herself. 

She supposed last month’s kerfuffle during charades at the Osmond’s hunting party had not helped matters. Nor that slip of the tongue when she’d accidentally referred to their youngest daughter by the name of their dog.

In her defense, Louisa never had been much good with names.

Names and dancing and charades—the list of Louisa’s failures was growing rapidly and she had a sneaking suspicion that her sister and her parents would be all too happy to add to the list of ways in which Louisa caused chaos. Unintentionally, always, but that did not seem to matter.

Sometimes it seemed to Louisa that she got in trouble for merely existing.

She looked around at the portraits that lined the hallway outside the ballroom, looking for one familiar face, in particular.

There he was. The dashing Sir Edmond. She sighed as she walked over to him, trailing a finger down the length of his oil-painted chiseled jaw. If Sir Edmond were among the living and not merely haunting this house centuries after his death—she was almost certain he’d have allowed her to dance at the ball.

He wouldn’t have hid her away just because a silly marquess was set to arrive and grace them all with his presence. 

“You wouldn’t, would you, Sir Edmond?”

The long-since deceased seafaring warrior frowned down at her as he always did when she spoke to him. That was quite all right. No amount of frowning could hide the glimmer of amusement in his eyes. 

Had it been added by the artist? 


But she had no doubt it was based on reality. 

Sir Edmond was not related to her by blood—she knew this to be true, his descendants had died out long before her family had taken over this estate. And so she felt perfectly sane for harboring an infatuation for a dead man, no matter what Margaret might say on the matter.

She curtsied before him now, acutely aware of that stirring sensation she always felt when she addressed her dead love. It was the sensation of being watched, though not in a creepy way. He was here with her, she knew it.

Or rather, she did not know it. But she still liked to believe it.

This country estate was a lonely place—always had been. Perhaps if she and Margaret had been closer she would not have had to seek out friends with the dead. 

But Margaret had not been interested in playing pretend as a child, and her intense pragmatism had only grown more pronounced as she’d aged. These days Margaret had no interest in any conversation unless it revolved around societal gossip and marriage prospects. She and Mother were so alike in that way, which was lovely for them, she supposed. Not so wonderful for her.

Although—since they had one another, she was often allowed to sit out the never-ending conversations about eligible members of the peerage, and who was the best prospect.

“Perhaps it’s for the best, hmm?” she asked Sir Edmond. “Mother and Margaret have each other, and I have you.” She beamed at the portrait. “Right, then. Shall we?”

She pretended to take his arm as she headed into the ballroom, curtsying once again as she readied herself for the first dance. A waltz, she decided. Yes, that was exactly what Sir Edmond would wish to dance with her. 

Closing her eyes, she allowed her mind to conjure up the music she’d listened to from above the stairs only a few hours earlier. Strains of a beautiful melody played softly in her mind, rising in volume and vigor as the imagined music got underway. 

Without stopping to think, her body moved into action. One, two, three, one, two, three

Her eyes still closed, she swayed to the sound of the music in her mind, stepping lightly and without a care now that there were no feet to tread upon.

Sir Edmond was the most gracious partner, as usual. He never minded when she missed a beat or if she got turned about over the steps. Her eyes shut, Louisa could practically feel him smiling down at her, her darling, fierce, enigmatic Sir Edmond.   

Imaginary, of course, but that hardly mattered. 

And then, quite suddenly—he was not imaginary. 

Her breath came to a halt as the air beneath her hands turned solid heat. Sir Edmond!

Her eyes flew open and for one startling moment she found herself staring up at the man of her dreams. Light brown hair, chiseled jaw, stern features with a wicked glint of mischief in his eyes.

“Sir Edmond,” she breathed.

The gentleman stiffened, his hold on her tightening as his eyes widened, as though she were the one startling him

“Er, no.” The tight grip on her hand and her waist dropped so quickly she found herself blinking in shock as she tried to process what on earth was happening here.

What on earth is happening here?” Her father’s roar had her whipping around to face the now-open balcony doors in time to see her father stepping through along with a handful of other men, only some of whom she recognized.

Her father’s expression was livid as he looked from the handsome gentleman beside her to Louisa.

“Oh no,” she whispered, her face burning with heat as she realized how this looked. 

“What are you doing down here?” her father demanded.

She glanced over at the man who was not Sir Edmond. He was staring at her in horrified shock as though she were the ghost who’d suddenly sprung to life in his arms and not the other way around.

“I, uh—”

“You’re not even dressed,” her father pointed out. Helpful, that. Just in case she were not well aware that she was in her nightwear in front of her father’s friends and…she glanced over at the handsome man who’d materialized in her arms like the devil himself. 

He was eyeing her now from head to toe with a disdainful glare, horror still clear in his eyes.

The stranger and her father’s friends all wore matching looks of scandalized horror. She wrapped her arms around herself. “I, uh, I was—”

Her father didn’t wait to hear her answer, whipping around to face the stranger, though his expression lost much of its anger. “What’s going on here?”

The man held his hands up in defense as he backed away from her. “I thought she was a child.”

What? She swung her head to look at the man. A child. Really. She was nineteen, hardly a toddler. 

Still, that lame excuse seemed to appease her father, and now he was turning his scowl back to her, looking to her for an explanation as to why she’d been in the arms of a stranger, no doubt. 

Her father’s accusatory stare rattled her, but not half so much as that disdainful glare from the stranger who’d gotten her into this situation in the first place. Between the two of them, her mind raced and rioted with the unfairness of it all. As such, she did not quite have her wits about her…which was evidenced by the excuse that came tumbling out of her mouth. “I thought he was a ghost!” 

This was met by silence all around and Louisa cursed herself for speaking without thinking. She caught a few of the men behind her father exchanging looks of amusement and the embarrassment she’d felt before intensified approximately a million times over. 

The stranger seemed to have recovered himself while she burned beside him in abject humiliation. “My apologies, Lord Torrent,” he said to her father, irritatingly calm and collected. “I caught sight of your daughter dancing from behind, and I assumed she was a young child.”

Louisa glared over at him. Yes, she was short, and perhaps her hair plaited like this made her look more youthful than usual, but still… 

She could not help but think that the man who’d just held her in his arms while her eyes were shut had just sold her down the river.

“I was just dancing,” she said to her father. “Minding my own business.”

Her father’s eyes widened in warning and she fell silent. His voice came out on a low growl. “You were supposed to be upstairs tonight—”

“Yes, but technically it is now morning,” she interrupted.

The stranger beside her made an odd choking noise but she dared not drag her gaze from her father’s glare to see what he was about. 

“You are in your night clothes,” her father hissed.

She toyed with the cotton of her nightgown as she gave him a sheepish wince. “I thought everyone was asleep.”

Her father glared, the others stared. The man beside her did not move at all. 

“Go to your room,” her father finally said, his voice so ominous she could not bring herself to say another word. “We shall speak of this in the morning.”

Needless to say, she did not point out once again that it was, technically, morning already. 

She also did not sleep. 

How could she when she knew her father was waiting to give her the lecture of a lifetime for her silly behavior.

She shook her head against her pillow. So daft, she mentally scolded herself. Of all the times to anger her father—he’d already been on the war path thanks to her latest scrapes. But this…

She squeezed her eyes shut tight at the memory of his scandalized look. And could she blame him? He’d caught her dancing, alone, in her night rail…with a complete stranger.

She opened her eyes to scowl at the ceiling. Who was that man? 

And why on earth had he thought it wise to dance with her? 

He should have cleared his throat and made his presence known like any normal gentleman would do who’d stumbled upon a lady dancing alone in the wee hours of the morning.

Blasted man with his handsome looks and his mischievous glint. 

He’d probably set out to impersonate her beloved Sir Edmond. 

She nibbled on her lower lip as she considered that.

All right, fine. Perhaps he had not gone that far. But he had sold her out, making it sound like it was all her fault.

I thought she was a child.

She scoffed loudly in her bed. Oh please. As if that were some sort of excuse.

I thought he was a ghost. 

She slammed a pillow over her face to smother her groan. If her father or any of his cohorts had ever doubted her sanity before, they were surely convinced she’d lost her mind now.

If only she could explain…

Maybe she could. Shifting again to try and get comfortable, she told herself that once her father had calmed down, she’d be able to make him see reason. 

She would explain everything and then he would see. She hadn’t been trying to cause trouble. 

It had all been a silly misunderstanding.

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