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Charity (Distinguished Rogues series #3)

Charity (Distinguished Rogues series #3)

Darling of the ton Oscar, Lord Carrington, has thoroughly lost his way but has always known what he needs to be happy. However, righting past wrongs isn’t easy when he’s betrothed and he’ll have to risk scandal to make everything right again for the woman he loved and lost.

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Main Tropes

  • Girl Next Door
  • Forbidden Love
  • Redemption


Trapped into a betrothal he thought he wanted Oscar Ryall, Lord Carrington has thoroughly lost his way. Tormented by his past, he cannot forget the happiness he lost depended on the woman he wronged and lost. Finding peace seems impossible until fate throws him back into Agatha Birkenstock’s path.

Agatha was devastated by Oscar’s sudden betrothal and his offer of carte blanche broke her heart. When they are forced to work together to save her beloved orphanage from closure, she discovers an unlikely ally in him and also the source of his private pain. Seeking to help him escape the nightmares, she’s willing to put her pride aside if only Oscar breaks every rule to win back her heart.

Intro to Chapter One

“The child is asleep now, Miss Birkenstock. You should put her into bed.”

The nurse’s curt voice dragged Agatha from her rebellious thoughts of running away to a simpler world where people kept their promises.

Wearily, she opened her eyes. “Yes, I believe you are right, Mrs. Bates.”

She looked upon tiny Betty Smith lying peacefully in her arms at long last, and her heart fluttered. No matter how tightly the babe clutched Agatha’s fingertip, or how much she longed to stay, she couldn’t remain at the Grafton Street Orphanage overnight to oversee the child’s care. The trustees would never stand for it. Nor would her grandfather.

Slowly, Agatha rose to her feet. The babe in her arms startled at the movement and Agatha pressed a kiss to her cheek. “Hush, sweetheart, all is well.”

Betty grumbled and, instead of giving the sleeping infant up to the nurse’s outstretched arms, Agatha carried the child to bed, tucked her snug into the linens, and then placed her favorite rag doll beside her. The nurse clucked her tongue in disapproval at the toy.

Agatha fingered the little girl’s pale curls and smiled that Betty rested easily. “Please send word if her night should be disturbed again, Mrs. Bates. I will be here early tomorrow morning to visit with her.”

“As you wish, miss.”

No matter how harmless the words, the old nurse’s tone hinted she’d rather Agatha be gone from the orphanage, never to interfere with her charges again. Well, that wasn’t going to happen. Not a chance of it.

After smoothing her hand over the child’s pale curls one last time, Agatha straightened to look about the chamber. Six narrow beds hugged the imperfect walls of the chilly room, each containing a peeking set of eyes belonging to a child in need of warmth and kindness. She’d love to drag each of them from the covers, smother them with affection, and stay until they were all sound asleep. If she could take them from this depressing place and home with her tonight, she would be perfectly happy.

But her grandfather and the board of trustees wouldn’t allow that either.

Agatha paced the length of the room, doing her best to ignore the cheerless severity of the chamber. The children’s bodies under the frayed covers didn’t so much as twitch. A fear of Nurse Bates’ displeasure kept them still as statues, she was sure. Such strict adherence to rules saddened her. These children needed the freedom to run about on cool, green grass, to smile and be silly instead of being expected to appear perpetually grateful for the bed space they occupied.

She would promise them everything would be well, if she didn’t harbor a kernel of doubt that she could live up to her own promises. The sting of disappointment was the hardest emotion to conquer. She would promise them no more than she could vouchsafe: her time, her affection, and a game of cricket in the tiny, rear walled garden if the weather allowed.

Even though the children showed no sign that they were awake, she made a point of checking each one to be sure they would be warm enough for the coming night. As Agatha reached the end of the room where the drafts were at their worst, the nurse cleared her throat. Nurse Bates always appeared anxious for her to leave, but Agatha refused to hurry. She checked the remaining children and left the room when she was ready.

Her maid waited in the front hall, hands clenched over Agatha’s cloak. Nell rushed forward. “It be a frightful night outside, Miss Birkenstock. The fog is thicker than pea soup.”

Since Nell was such a fanciful creature, often prone to exaggerate the mildest of events into the worst possible calamity, Agatha disregarded her words. She donned her cloak, secured her reticule about her wrist, and then turned for the door. “It’s just a bit of fog, Nell. It hardly signifies. Come along.”

The butler opened the door for them and then stepped back. Pea soup, indeed. Agatha couldn’t see the street clearly from the top step. Her confidence slipping a little, she hurried down the stairs and turned right into the mist. The orphanage door closed with a heavy thud.

Rushed, light footsteps behind her confirmed that Nell was but one pace away. “People get lost in the London fog, miss,” Nell whispered.

“That shall not happen to us. I know my way home perfectly well.”

Nevertheless, Agatha clutched her cloak tightly about her and kept her eyes fixed on her path. She followed the high front fences along Grafton Street, ignoring the disturbing way nearby houses appeared out of the thick fog only to disappear from view a moment later. It was eerie and quiet and, with Nell crowding her left shoulder, Agatha’s heart raced in a foolish rhythm.

The maid’s nervousness tainted Agatha’s mood. She turned left at the corner of Dover Street, chiding herself that she knew this route like the back of her own hand. The landmarks between the orphanage and home were distinctive. If she paid the proper attention, instead of panicking as Nell appeared to be, they’d be home as quick as if walking about on a clear, sunny day.

As she approached the next corner, Agatha’s gaze drifted to the left. A faint glow burned from the windows of a tall townhouse, signifying that some amusement might be underway within.

A deep sadness gripped her. Could she hear laughter from Lady Carrington’s house? She slowed her steps. With the thick fog muting all sound but their breathing, it was impossible to tell with any certainty where the laughter came from. Perhaps there was a dinner party in progress. After all, Lady Carrington was very fond of entertaining, and she had her son’s position in society to maintain. The viscountess must be so happy that Oscar had secured such an advantageous match with an earl’s daughter.

The hot sting of jealously burned through her body. She pushed the sensation down, leaving only her teeth to unclench. Perfect Lady Penelope. Wealthy and titled Lady Penelope. Desirable attributes for the image-conscious viscount.

The front door of Lady Carrington’s townhouse opened. Dark shapes—a man and woman, judging by their attire—descended the steps and clambered into a waiting carriage. Agatha expelled a sharp breath. She should not be interested in the goings-on of the Carrington family. She was far removed from their business now. 

Determined to forget them, she started off again, but her eyes strayed to the departing grand carriage, and she wondered who it had contained.

Agatha stumbled off the pavement onto the Hay Hill crossing and pulled up sharply. Her steps had propelled her faster than she’d thought. Woolgathering on a foggy night was foolish in the extreme. She needed to keep her wits about her in order to avoid becoming turned around.

Nell clutched at her arm. “Are we lost?”

“No, of course not. I just stumbled.”

The maid yanked her fingers from Agatha’s upper arm. Agatha hadn’t meant to snap, but agonizing over past mistakes was a futile endeavor that no amount of tears or self-recriminations could fix. She was angry at her own foolish gullibility, not the maid.

With that thought firmly in mind, Agatha turned right and hurried along the deserted street, pleased to be almost halfway home. She turned right again and peered into the mist, looking for the next cross street on her left. The comfort of Berkeley Square should be very close.

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Praise for Charity ...

★★★★★ "A good read with lots of twists and turns." ~ Patricia, Kindle Reader

★★★★★ "I genuinely love this book I re-read it just for the pleasure of it." ~ Esther A

★★★★★ “Oh my! A non stop of emotions! Truly incredible!” ~ SP

★★★★★ “A good read with lots of twists and turns to keep one interested.” ~ Customer

Distinguished Rogues Series

The Distinguished Rogues have the world at their feet, but they may have met their match in this ongoing steamy series.
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