printed copy

Bedding Lord Ned

Sally MacKenzie

ISBN 9781420123210
Publish Date 6/5/2012
Format Paperback
Categories Zebra, Historical, Romance
Currently out of stock

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Pleasure Is On Her Dance Card

Determined to find a husband, Miss Eleanor “Nell” Bowman attends a ball put on by the Duchess of Greycliffe, fondly referred to as the Duchess of Love. But she roundly dismisses the suitors the matchmaking hostess has invited on her behalf. For it’s the duchess’s dashing son Ned, Lord Edward, who long ago captured Nell’s heart—and roused her desire. All it takes is a pair of conveniently misplaced silky red bloomers to set the handsome widower’s gaze on this unusual girl who is clearly more than meets the eye…

After more than a year of mourning, Ned longs to finally start anew. At first glance, the birthday ball his mother has thrown in his honor is decidedly lacking in suitable mistresses. But he senses something unexpectedly alluring beneath the veil of Nell’s plain exterior—something she’s anxious to reveal, and the lonely Lord is incapable of denying…

Praise for the Novels of Sally MacKenzie

“Naked and naughty!” —Romantic Times

“So addictive they should come with a warning label.”—Booklist

“Plenty of heat and hilarity.” —Publishers Weekly

Complete bonus novella inside!

Chapter One

A man’s pride needs careful handling.—Venus’s Love Notes

Miss Eleanor Bowman stood in the Duchess of Love’s pink guest bedroom and stared at the scrap of red silk spilling out of her valise, her heart stuttering in horror.

That wasn’t—

Her brows snapped down. Of course it wasn’t. She was letting her imagination run away with her. The red fabric was merely her Norwich shawl. She distinctly remembered packing it, as she did every year. It was far too fine to wear to darn socks or mind her sisters’ children, but it was just the thing for the duchess’s annual Valentine party. It was her one nod to fashion, the small bit of elegance she still allowed herself.

She snatched the red silk up again, shook it out—and dropped it as if it were a poisonous snake.

Damn it, it wasn’t her shawl. It was those cursed red drawers.

She closed her eyes as the familiar wave of self-loathing crashed over her. She’d made these and a matching red dress to wear to Lord Edward’s betrothal ball five years ago, desperately hoping Ned would see her—really see her— and realize it was she he wanted to marry, not her best friend, Cicely Headley. But Mama had seen her first, when she’d come downstairs to get into the carriage, and had sent her straight back to her room.

She glared down at the red cloth. Thank God Mama had stopped her. If she’d gone to the ball in that dreadful dress, everyone would know she wasn’t any better than a Jezebel. It was no surprise Ned had chosen Cicely. She’d been everything Ellie wasn’t: small, blonde, blue-eyed— beautiful—with a gentle disposition. And then when Cicely and the baby had died in childbirth . . .

Ellie squeezed her eyes shut again, the mingle-mangle of shame and yearning twisting her gut. She’d mourned with everyone else—sincerely mourned—but she’d also hoped that Ned would turn to her and their friendship would grow into something more.

It hadn’t.

She snapped her eyes open. Poor Cicely had died four years ago; if Ned were ever going to propose he would have done so by now. She’d faced that fact squarely when she’d turned twenty-six last month. It was time to move on. She wanted babies, and dreams of Ned wouldn’t give her those.

She picked up the drawers. She’d dispose of this ridiculous reminder of—

“Ah, here you are, Ellie.”

“Ack!” She jumped and spun around. Ned’s mother, the Duchess of Love—or, more properly, the Duchess of Greycliffe—stood in the doorway, looking at her with warm brown eyes so like Ned’s.

“Oh, dear, I’m sorry.” Her grace’s smile collapsed into a frown. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Ellie took a deep breath and hoped the duchess couldn’t see her heart banging around in her chest. “You didn’t s-startle me.” If she looked calm, she’d be calm. She’d been practicing that trick ever since her red silk disgrace.

And what was there to be anxious about after all? The duchess’s house parties were always pleasant.

Ha! They were torture.

“I was going to look for you later.” Ellie tried to smile. “Then I’ve saved you the trouble.” The duchess had an impish gleam in her eye. “I thought we might have a comfortable coze before everyone else arrives.”

Ellie’s stomach clenched, and all her carefully cultivated calm evaporated. There was no such thing as a “comfortable coze” with the Duchess of Love. “That would be, ah”—deep breath—“lovely.”

“Splendid! Come have a seat and I’ll ring for tea.” Her grace grasped the tasseled bell-pull and paused, her gaze dropping to Ellie’s hands. “But what have you there?” “W-what?” Ellie glanced down. Oh, blast. “Nothing.” She dropped the embarrassing silk undergarment on the night table; it promptly slithered to the floor. Good, it would be less noticeable there. “I was unpacking when you came in.”

The duchess frowned again. “Should I come back later then?”

“No, of course not.” There was no point in putting this interview off. The sooner she knew the woman’s plans, the sooner she could plan evasive—

She clenched her teeth. No, not this year.

“You’re certain?”

“Yes.” Ellie moved away from the incriminating red fabric.

“Excellent.” Her grace tugged on the bell-pull and sat in the pink upholstered chair, her back to the puddle of silk. “I told Mrs. Dalton to have Cook send up some of her special macaroons. It will be a while until dinner, and we need to keep up our strength, don’t we?”

“I’m afraid I’m not hungry.” Ellie would almost rather dance on the castle’s parapets naked—or wearing only those damn red drawers—than put anything in her mouth at the moment. She perched on a chair across from Ned’s mother. “Oh.” The duchess’s face fell.

“But, please, don’t let me keep you from having something.” It was a wonder the woman stayed so slim; she had a prodigious sweet tooth.

Her grace smiled hopefully. “Perhaps you’ll feel hungrier when you see Cook’s macaroons.”

“Perhaps.” And perhaps pigs would fly. Ellie cleared her throat. “You had something of a particular nature you wished to discuss, your grace?”

“Yes.”

Damn.

No, good. Very good. Excellent.

The ton hadn’t christened Ned’s mother the Duchess of Love for nothing; she’d been matchmaking for as long as Ellie could remember, usually with great success. Ellie was one of her few failures, but this year would be different. This year Ellie was determined to cooperate.

“I was chatting with your mama the other day,” the duchess was saying, her eyes rather too direct. “She’s quite concerned about your future, you know.”

Ellie shifted on her chair. Of course she knew—Mama never missed an opportunity to remind her that her future looked very bleak indeed. She’d been going on and on about it while Ellie packed, telling her how, if she allowed herself to dwindle into an old maid, she’d be forced to rely on the charity of her younger sisters, forever shuttled between their homes, always an aunt, never a mother.

Perhaps that’s why she’d brought those damn drawers instead of her shawl; she’d been so distracted, she could probably have packed the chamber pot and not noticed. “I believe Mama likes to worry.”

The duchess laughed. “Well, that’s what mothers do— worry—as I’m sure you’ll learn yourself someday.” “Ah.” Ellie swallowed.

Her grace leaned forward to touch her knee. “You do want to be a mother, don’t you?”

Ellie swallowed again. “Y-yes.” She wanted children so badly she was giving up her dream of Ned—her ridiculous, pointless, foolish dream. “Of course. Eventually.”

The duchess gave her a pointed look. “My dear, you are twenty-six years old. Eventually is now.”

Ellie pressed her lips together. Very true. Hadn’t she just reached the same conclusion?

“And to be a mother, you must first be a wife.” Her grace sat back. “To be a wife, you need to attach some gentleman’s—some eligible gentleman’s—regard. I believe you spent a little too much time with Ash last year. That will never do.”

“I like Ash.” The Marquis of Ashton, the duchess’s oldest son, was intelligent and witty . . . and safe.

“Of course you like Ash, dear, but I must tell you more than one person remarked to me how often you were in his company.”

Ellie narrowed her eyes. “What do you mean?”

“Only that you appeared to be ignoring all the other gentlemen.”

She’d been trying so hard to ignore Ned—to hide how much she longed for him—that she hadn’t noticed the other gentlemen. “Certainly you aren’t insinuating . . . no one thought . . .” She shook her head. “Ash is married.” The duchess sighed. “Yes, he is, at least according to church and state.”

“And according to his heart.” Ellie met the duchess’s gaze directly. “You mustn’t think he encouraged any kind of impropriety. He still loves Jess; I’m sure they’ll reconcile.” The duchess grunted. “I hope I live to see it. But in any event, I don’t believe anyone truly thought there was something of a romantic nature between you—”

“I should hope not!”

“However people are so small-minded, you know, and they love to gossip, especially about Ash’s awkward situation.” “I know.” Ellie hated how the marriageable girls and their mamas clearly hoped Jess would magically vanish and thus cease to be an impediment to Ash’s remarriage. Some had actually said they doubted Jess existed. “It makes me so angry.”

Her grace waved Ellie’s anger away. “Yes, well, Ash can take care of himself. What really matters is the fact you were ignoring the other gentlemen, Ellie. It quite discourages the poor dears.”

Ellie snorted.

Her grace gave her a speaking look. “I assure you most men . . . well, I wouldn’t call them timid, precisely, but they hate to be rejected. If you wish a gentleman to court you, you must give him some encouragement—a smile, a look, something to let him know you would welcome his attentions.

About Sally MacKenzie:

A native of Washington, DC, Sally MacKenzie still lives in suburban Maryland with her transplanted upstate New Yorker husband. She’s written federal regulations, school newsletters, auction programs, class plays, and swim league guidance, but it wasn’t until the first of her four sons headed off to college that she tried her hand at romance. She can be reached by e-mail at sally@sallymackenzie.net or by snail mail at P.O. Box 10466, Rockville, MD, 20849. Please visit her home in cyberspace at sallymackenzie.net.

Average Customer Review

Based on 2 reviews


Customer Review

Give me more Duchess of Love!! (Thursday, June 21, 2012)
Reviewer: Toni S

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to move on.

For years Ellie has loved Ned. They grew up together, but he never saw her as more than a sister. She watched him fall in love with her good friend, Cicely, marry her then bury her. She was also there for him during his years of mourning. She is not getting any younger and she refuses to be the spinster aunt. During this year’s annual birthday party, she is going to move on. She is going to welcome the advances of single men and she is going to be open to the possibilities. Now she just needs to convince her heart.

Four years ago, Ned lost his loving perfect wife and son, during childbirth. He has decided that he must move on and find a new wife and start filling his nursery. Nothing like taking advantage of the hand selected single women at the annual Valentine House Party. The men and women that the Duchess of Love invites are carefully selected for optimal matchmaking. There is nothing like the present to take advantage of his mother’s skills. It shouldn’t be too hard. He only wants a wife; he doesn’t ever want to find love again. This should be very simple.

While a storm stirs outside Greycliffe Castle, the six men and six women are entertained by the Duke and the Duchess. Meals are shared, games are played and attachments are made. Things are shaping up, but not how the Duchess of Love ever expected. All she can do is set the stage. Now she has to sit back and allow the players to play the game.

This is a very pleasant read. I do highly suggest that you read the prequel The Duchess of Love prior to beginning this novel. It is a very fun introduction to the woman behind the Duchess of Love. I will admit that I may have enjoyed her tale even more than Ned’s. Now approximately 30 years after the prequel, she is still up to her matchmaking shenanigans, but on a much larger scale. This story might be how Ellie and Ned finally come together, but the Duchess is always in the background actually having more fun than the main couple. I liked it!

The duration of the story happens in the days leading up to the annual Valentine Ball. You spend many days and nights with the couples as they learn about each other and discover if there will be any love matches. Bedding Lord Ned is not action packed, smutty, or even overly comedic. It is a very pleasant enjoyable read that takes you on a journey of discovery.

I was a bit disappointed at the abrupt ending of the book though. I enjoyed how Ellie finally found her courage, and Ned emerged from his slump, but it happened rather quickly and when it was done, well it was just done. I would have enjoyed a bit more of the aftermath. There was also no set up for the next book. That can actually be a good thing, because I’m not a fan of cliff hangers, but I have no clue who the next “victim” will be for the Duchess.

I have been drawn in. I am anxious to find out more about the mystery behind Ash’s marriage. I can’t wait to meet the woman that will eventually tame the youngest of the Valentine men. I wonder if she will expand beyond her immediate family and find matches for some of the people we have met in this story. Oh I could go on and on, but suffice it to say…I’m hooked. Good or bad, love or hate – I want more Duchess of Love!

Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie (Friday, April 20, 2012)
Reviewer: melanie Adkins

Eleanor Bowman was the vicar's daughter and a bit of a tomboy growing up. She also happened to be in love with Lord Ned from a very early age. She was thought of, by the Duke and Duchess of Greycliffe, Lord Ned's parents, as a daughter. Each year she was invited to the annual Valentine's birthday party. You see, the Duchess of Greycliffe's maiden name was Valentine and she, as well as her three sons, were born on Valentine's day. Eleanor knew of the Duchess' other name in society, the Duchess of Love, and had in fact been one of the many the Duchess tried to match make for. There had been no luck, but they were both hopeful this year would be the magical year. After all Eleanor was twenty-six now and firmly on the shelf. With a Duchess whose given name was Venus, a Valentine party, Sir Reginald ( the resident thief) and Ned now available, this might very well be Eleanor's year to shine. Oh the path she will have to take though.


Witty, wonderful and full of surprises you will want to check out Bedding Lord Ned. The love story is wrapped in some unusual characters, some rather wacky situations and a whole lot of love. I finished this book in a matter of hours it's that good! I love the 'Venus love notes'. They are tidbits of helpful information for the lady trying to find a husband. You'll laugh. You'll commiserate and you'll cheer. Sally MacKenzie created a wonderful book everyone can enjoy. This book is terrific year round.


I didn't find any issues here.


I gave this one 5 out of 5 books because I was laughing out loud at times.


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