A Deal for the Earl’s Love (Preview)


Grab my new series, "Regency Hearts Entwined", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

Chapter One

Kentucky, United States, Spring, 1810.

“That’s another fence down, Mr Murphy – the cattle trampled the crops before they even got a chance to grow. I’m telling you, those fences were mended last year. It’s no accident,” the ranch hand said, and Dawson Murphy sighed.

He had just arrived back at the ranch office from riding the trail on the north side of his Kentucky ranch, and it had been the same there, too – fences knocked down, deliberately vandalized.

“All right, Tolson, thank you – repair the fence as best you can. We’ll have to sew the crop again and hope the weather’s kind to us,” Dawson replied, shaking his head.

He did not know who was responsible for the vandalism, but with cattle running loose, and crops damaged, his whole livelihood was at stake. 

The ranch hand nodded.

“Yes, sir, Mr Murphy. But if things carry on the way they are, I don’t know how we’ll survive the winter – no harvest means …” he began, but Dawson snapped at him.

“I know what it means, Tolson. I’ll sort it, all right,” he said, even as he did not know how he would go about doing so.

“Yes, sir, Mr Murphy,” the ranch hand replied.

“If you need me, I’ll be up at the house,” Dawson said, and he followed the ranch hand out of the office, untethering his horse, Bolt, from one of the hitching posts and climbing into the saddle.

The ranch house – an old colonial house built before the revolutionary war – stood at the end of a track lined with sycamore trees. It had been Dawson’s home since he was a child, the family having largely avoided the problems of the wider world, quietly farming their patch of Kentucky’s rolling hills – until now. Dawson was worried about the fences – someone was holding a grudge against him, and he knew there had been rumours about his business practices – unscrupulous in nature.

“It’ll all blow over,” he told himself as he rode up to the ranch house.

“Shall I stable him, Mr Murphy?” one of the servants said, hurrying out to catch the reins, but Dawson shook his head.

“No, just tie him up and bring him some oats. I’ll ride out again later. Is Roxanna in?” Dawson asked, jumping down from the saddle as he spoke.

“Yes, sir – she’s in the parlour. There’re some letters for you, too,” the servant said.

Dawson nodded. He had hoped his cousin would be out at one of her social engagements, leaving him the peace and quiet of the house – a refuge from the outside world. He was writing a paper on new methods in farming, but the problems on the ranch and the threats against him were a distraction. Dawson only wanted to be left alone – he was happiest with his books and journals or tinkering with his collection of scientific instruments. He was interested in farming processes and the development of new strains of crops – it fascinated him – and making his way inside, he hoped to spend at least some of the rest of the day engaged in his work.

“Is that you, Dawson?” Roxanna called out, and Dawson sighed.

She had lived with him at the ranch since the death of her parents ten years previously in a wagon accident. Her father, Kingston Murphy, had been Dawson’s uncle, and with no one else to look after her, the responsibility had fallen to Dawson. They got along well enough, though there were times when Roxanna could be demanding. She liked attention and was forever inviting one group of women or another to the ranch house for what she – with some irony – called a “salon.”

“I’m here, yes,” Dawson called out, glancing longingly toward the door of his study – his sacred place.

There, in the wood paneled room that had once been his father’s study, Dawson would seek refuge among his books and scientific instruments. He could spend hours in there – reading, writing, and thinking. But now, Roxanna appeared in the parlour doorway, her red hair standing out starkly in the rays of sunlight coming through the hallway windows. She was a pretty woman, always dressed in her customary red, with a string of her mother’s pearls around her neck. 

She smiled at him. “What’s new?” she asked, and Dawson shrugged.

“More fences down on the ranch. I don’t know what’s happening – as fast as we repair them, they get broken – vandalized,” Dawson replied, shaking his head.

“It could be Indians,” Roxanna said.

“I don’t think so – it’s someone with a grudge. The Indians could’ve driven us off the land years ago. But my father treated them well – he was on friendly terms with them. No … this is different,” Dawson said, glancing at the pile of letters the servant had spoken of.

But he chose to ignore them, following his cousin into the parlour, where a pot of coffee stood on the table by the window.

“Do you want a cup?” his cousin asked, and Dawson nodded.

“Make it a large one,” he said, sinking into a chair by the hearth.

The parlour was comfortably furnished – Dawson’s father having brought much of the furniture with him from the east when he moved to Kentucky in search of cheap land and opportunity. His portrait hung over the mantelpiece – a formidable-looking man with whom Dawson had never really got on.

“If it’s not Indians, who is it?” Roxanna said, handing Dawson his cup of coffee.

“Well, that’s just it. I don’t know who it is. Someone with a grudge, I suppose. But I didn’t think I had any enemies. I always try to do the right thing. I treat my workers fairly, I pay my taxes, I’m friendly to the Indians,” Dawson said, shaking his head.

He was beginning to despair over the threats, and now, with the fences damaged, Dawson feared the harvest would be ruined. A field of crops could be trampled in minutes by stray cattle, and if the harvest failed, they would not have enough food to survive the winter.

“It’s making life difficult for you – for all of us. But don’t you have any idea who’s behind it?” Roxanna asked.

Dawson shook his head.

“I don’t – no. I thought … well, I thought I didn’t have any problems. But it seems I do,” he said.

His cousin thought for a moment.

“Don’t you think … well, perhaps you spend too much time on business and not enough time thinking about yourself,” she said.

Dawson had to bite his tongue; otherwise, he might have retorted that Roxanna spent too much time thinking about herself and not the business. She did nothing to help run the ranch, and as long as that was the case, there could be no question of Dawson thinking about himself, either.

“I wish I could. But it won’t change anything. Someone’s intent on spreading rumours about me. That’s it. That’s all I know. And it’s hardly doing my reputation any good, is it? I went to the mercantile store yesterday, and I could’ve sworn two men outside the saloon were watching me. They turned away, of course, but … oh, I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense,” he said, and Roxanne nodded.

“You need a wife, Dawson – someone to distract you from all these thoughts,” Roxanna said.

Dawson laughed. There was no question of him finding a wife – and certainly not now, given the state of his reputation. At twenty-eight years old, Dawson was a confirmed bachelor. He preferred it that way – content to bury himself in his books and scientific studies. The thought of marriage had not crossed his mind in many years, and he had no intention of pursuing it now.

“Nonsense, Roxanna – you’d hate it. Another woman in the house …” Dawson said, raising his eyebrows with a smile.

“I’d enjoy the company,” Roxanna replied.

“And what about you? Why don’t you find yourself a husband – or am I to be your ward for the rest of your life?” Dawson said.

He loved his cousin, but the pair were always sparring in this way – arguing over tiny things of no consequence. 

“I don’t need a husband. I don’t want a husband. You know me, Dawson – I want adventure,” Roxanna said, and Dawson laughed.

“But with comfort – I don’t you see you setting out on the Oregon trail,” he said, and his cousin made a face.

“Fur trappers and prospectors? I just mean … well, in Europe, the women go off on a grand tour, don’t they?” she said, and Dawson smiled and shook his head.

“But we’re not in Europe – there’re no grand piazzas and soaring cathedrals on the prairies. You’ll have to make do with Kentucky for a while yet,” he said, just as a knock came on the door.

“A letter for you, sir,” the servant who had taken charge of Bolt said, handing Dawson an envelope.

Dawson was about to cast it aside – assuming it to be another anonymous letter, threatening him with the spread of further rumours – just like those he presumed the pile in the hallway to be. But as he turned the envelope over, he was surprised to see a coat of arms embossed in the wax seal.

“Oh – speaking of Europe, it’s from Uncle Isaac. I haven’t heard from him since … a year ago,” Dawson said, breaking the seal and opening the envelope.

Dawson’s uncle – his great uncle – was the Earl of Wimbourne, an English title with an estate in Dorset. Dawson had never been there, and his own father had often spoken disparagingly of those he had “left behind” in England – his bitterness arising, Dawson had always surmised, from the fact he himself had to make his own money, rather than inheriting a title. But Dawson’s Uncle Isaac had always been diligent in writing to his American relations – bearing no grudges after the revolutionary war.

“What news is there from the old country? If I was there, perhaps I really could have my adventure,” Roxanna said, sighing as she poured herself another cup of coffee.

“Perhaps you might be able to,” Dawson said, and his cousin looked up at him in surprise.

“What do you mean?” she asked as Dawson stared at the letter in astonishment.

“It’s not from Uncle Isaac. It’s from his firm of solicitors. He’s dead, and I’m the one who’s inherited his title,” Dawson replied.




The details of the letter were scant but enough to relay the essential facts. Dawson’s Uncle Isaac was childless – Dawson had always known that – but he had always assumed the line would pass to an older cousin, Henry Banks. But the solicitor’s letter informed Dawson that Henry’s birthright was forfeited after the discovery of his illegitimacy. He had fled to the continent, and thus, the title was indisputably Dawson’s. It was an astonishing revelation that Dawson could not entirely take in.

“You’re the heir to the earldom?” Roxanna exclaimed.

“That’s what it says,” Dawson replied, handing his cousin the letter.

She read through it, her eyes growing wide with astonishment.

“But … this … it’s incredible,” she exclaimed.

Dawson nodded. He knew nothing of the earldom, save for the letters his Uncle Isaac would send him on occasion, and yet now he was the earl – with all the responsibilities it entailed.

“I don’t want it,” Dawson said, shaking his head.

The thought of going to England, of leaving Kentucky behind – the ranch, the business. His whole life was here. It was madness, and he could not believe the solicitors would expect such a thing of him.

“Don’t be so foolish, Dawson. Why wouldn’t you want it? It’s yours. I don’t think you have much choice,” Roxanna said.

“I can refuse it. They’ll find someone else. Who’s the second in line? Haven’t we got another cousin somewhere?” Dawson said.

It almost seemed like a joke – it was a joke, and Dawson was entirely prepared to dismiss the whole thing as folly. He was no earl – he was a rancher from Kentucky, who just happened to have unusual relations back in England. He was no earl …

“You can’t refuse it. The title was yours as soon as Uncle Isaac breathed his last breath. That’s how it works. It’s like … inheriting the crown,” Roxanna said.

Dawson groaned.

“But I can’t go to England,” he said, and Roxanna shook her head.

“No, you can’t, but we can. Think about it, Dawson – you’re miserable here. These threats and rumours … you only took the ranch over to please your father. But he’s dead. It doesn’t matter now, does it? If you want to leave, you can leave. And I’m coming with you. I don’t want to stay in Kentucky for the rest of my life. But this … this really is an adventure. We’ll be English aristocracy,” she said, her face lighting up at the prospect.

Dawson sighed. He hated to admit it, but his cousin had a point. He had only taken over the ranch to please his father. He was no cattle rancher – his heart was not in it, and it had never been. Dawson preferred the company of his books and scientific instruments to people, and while the prospect of going to England did not fill him with any great excitement, neither did the prospect of remaining in Kentucky. He had tolerated life on the ranch, but the spreading of the rumours and the threats against him were only set to get worse, and Dawson feared where they would lead.

“I don’t know … it won’t be easy, Roxanna. England’s a very different place to Kentucky,” he said.

His cousin smiled.

“Are you worried I’ll show you up – will I use the wrong piece of cutlery or say something out of turn?” Roxanna asked, and Dawson laughed.

He was not worried about that – knowing his own behaviour would surely fall well short of what was expected. But from what he had read in his uncle’s letters, Dawson had the impression of a society governed by the strictest rules and customs, where life would be very different from that of the ranch.

“No … but England isn’t like Kentucky,” Dawson replied.

“Then we’ll have to make it so, won’t we? Please, Dawson – don’t give up this chance,” his cousin said, and Dawson sighed.

The arrival of the letter had brought him to a crossroads – the decision he now made would govern the rest of his life. Should he stay or should he go?

“Well … I suppose it would be an adventure,” he said, and Roxanna clapped her hands together in delight.

“Oh, Dawson, that’s wonderful – we’ll start packing at once,” she exclaimed, leaping to her feet in excitement.

Dawson smiled. It was an extraordinary change, and one he hardly felt ready for, but glancing up at his father’s portrait, Dawson knew the time for change had come. He was no rancher now. Instead, he was the Earl of Wimbourne.

“A Deal for the Earl’s Love” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Aurelia Banks is a paragon of English propriety, poised to fulfill her parents’ expectations. However, her heart yearns for Silas, a man deemed unsuitable by her family. Determined to follow her own path, Aurelia plans to defy their wishes and marry for love. But, when Dawson, a rugged American rancher turned unexpected earl, arrives to claim his inheritance, their lives intersect in unexpected ways.

Little does Aurelia know that Dawson’s arrival will challenge everything she thought she knew about loyalty and love…

Dawson Murphy, unaccustomed to the intricacies of English high society, is thrust into a world vastly different from the ranches of Kentucky. Tasked with becoming the epitome of an English gentleman, he relies on Aurelia for guidance. Initially skeptical of her ability to tame someone as unorthodox as him, Dawson finds himself drawn to Aurelia’s inner strength and determination.

When Dawson’s loyalty is tested, will he choose duty or follow his heart?

As Aurelia and Dawson navigate the labyrinth of upper-class society, they discover common ground beyond their initial differences. Aurelia’s heart, torn between duty and desire, faces even greater turmoil when Silas’s intentions are questioned. Meanwhile, Dawson’s troubled past looms over his newfound role. Can Aurelia and Dawson withstand the obstacles and come out the other side, hand in hand and heart to heart?

“A Deal for the Earl’s Love” is a historical romance novel of approximately 60,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!


Grab my new series, "Regency Hearts Entwined", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

One thought on “A Deal for the Earl’s Love (Preview)”

  1. Hello my dears, I really hope you enjoyed this small surprise! I am looking forward to reading your wonderful comments. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! 💖

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *