Tammy Andresen
Bestselling Author

Chapter 1 - May 1854, Boston, MA

Piper sat on the couch in Senator Asher Grey’s drawing room and surveyed the crowd of men who sat around her. She could have yawned with boredom because it was like every other party she attended recently. Every eligible man was at her feet. After a while, a girl wants a challenge.

Her mother told her if she didn’t want their attention, she should stop making a spectacle of herself. She supposed her mother had a point, but desperate times called for desperate measures. And so, Piper would let the beautiful trill of her laugh wash over the room. She would flutter her lashes and fan her cheeks. She would let her gaze linger on a man a moment too long, and he would fall into her trap.

Therein lied the problem. Once a suitor was properly snared, Piper became thoroughly bored. It was all too easy. She really should just pick one of them and marry him. It would solve a great many problems, but she couldn’t seem to make herself do it.

Perhaps it was a family curse. Her cousin, Sybil, also needed to marry but had yet to choose a suitor. A sigh escaped her lips to think of her cousin. Beautiful and titled, she supposed most women would be jealous of Sybil, but Piper knew the truth. After the death of her parents, Sybil seemed weighed down with responsibility. She was having difficulty running the estate. Piper’s brow furrowed with worry. She wasn’t sure how to help this beautiful woman who had been so like a sister.

One of the more astute men, Peter Long, picked up on the sigh. “Dear Miss Baker. What could be so wrong that you would look so?”

The exaggerated manner of his speaking grated her senses. Piper resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Instead, she smiled angelically. “It’s silly, but I find myself missing my cousin, Sybil.”

The men shifted around her, and Piper perceived a slight change in their attention. Another suitor responded quietly, “I don’t know why Lady Fairfield had to go to New York. She could have easily found a suitor for herself here.”

A few other men nodded and Piper sat forward in her chair. Her eyebrows arched. This was actually getting interesting. “I will be sure to share that with her if New York is not a success.”

Piper stood, eager to slip out while her suitors were distracted by talk of her cousin. She couldn’t fault them for their fickle interest; her titled cousin was the better catch by far. Though Piper was in a desperate situation of her own, she would happily hand over one of her own suitors if it meant her cousin’s happiness.

“If you will excuse me gentlemen, the hour grows late.” She gave them a parting nod but the men seemed to realize they had allowed their focus to wander, and they now wanted to shift it back to the woman in front of them.

“Oh, it isn’t late. Stay. Don’t leave yet,” they seemed to all say of one voice.

“Forgive me gentlemen, but I too am travelling to New York tomorrow, and a lady must prepare. I will return before you know it. I beg you, wait for me till then.”

She gave the smallest of waves with just the tips of her fingers and signaled to her mother she was ready to leave. Exhaustion swept over her as she headed for the doors. She wished she had made some sort of connection with one of these men.

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Chapter 1 - St. Louis 1868

Jessie Walsh Cartwright sat on a bench with the warm May sun beating down on her. She could feel sweat trickling down her neck and into her overly stuffed shirt. She so desperately wanted to remove her large floppy bonnet for a little relief but she dared not. Her back itched terribly as it often did in the heat but she ignored it. In fact she barely moved, not wanting to attract any attention to herself whatsoever.

Her daughter stirred slightly. “How long do we have to sit here, Mama?” Liz asked quietly.

“Hush, not too much longer,” Jessie murmured automatically.

When she glanced up her breath caught in her throat. A group of men passed by, one-eyed her with what she was sure was suspicion. They were travel-worn with stained clothes and bearded faces. Quickly, she looked down at her feet and shrank into her disguise with the hopes of going unseen.

The men continued on their way without incident and she felt herself breathe again. Another more familiar figure approached. Casting a shadow across her, his stout figure was impeccably dressed from head to toe. Tiny drops of sweat were forming on the top of his head and slowly trickling down the side of his face. The creases around his eyes made him look to be in his mid to late forties.

“I have procured your tickets, Mrs. Walsh.” Wurther smiled, clearly pleased with himself. He was a lawyer Jessie had hired in an attempt to help cover her tracks. It had cost her almost all the money she had, but she needed to try and throw the men, who would surely follow her, off of her trail. Wurther ensured she was never seen at the ticket booth and her name was never registered in the record books.

“Thank you,” she muttered hurriedly, attempting to be polite but eager to be on her way. She wanted to get out of the heat and out of sight.

Wurther ignored her fidgeting and leaned closer, studying her face. She automatically looked down, attempting to hide her features. “If there is anything else I can do…” His hand brushed her skirt and she stood abruptly. The sudden move made the scars on her back twinge, but she ignored the sensation.

“When does our stagecoach leave?” Jessie asked coldly.

He straightened, his tone more businesslike. “Three days, it was the soonest I could get.”

She nodded. It was easy to hide in St. Louis. A sea of people was constantly coming in and out of the city by wagon, foot, or boat. Still, she was eager to put as much distance between her and New York as soon as she possibly could.

“Thank you,” she said with as much finality as she could muster.

Wurther looked as though he wanted to say more, but Jessie turned to end the conversation and their relationship for good. She briefly worried her dismissal would annoy him or provoke the man to rat her out. But she brushed these fears aside, knowing there was no time for idle worrying. Hopefully her disguise was enough to hide her identity. Wurther’s attentions proved that her floppy bonnet did not hide her features even though her clothes hid her figure. She was going to have to find a better way to cover the details of her face.

The other major flaw still nagged at her but it was too late to change it now. She had come to St. Louis because it was the gateway to the western world. From here boats came up and down the Mississippi, wagon trains left weekly and stagecoaches took passengers all the way to San Francisco. So many people came in and out it would be difficult to remember one woman and one girl. From here she could travel almost anywhere, making her destination hard to track by anyone trying to pursue.

The question then was where should she go? The answer had lain in an ad she had seen. A Texas rancher had advertised that he was looking for a cook and nanny. Jake Tate had left an address for any would-be applicants to mail a letter of interest. Jessie mailed her letter and then set about booking her passage. She knew that she was supposed to wait for a reply, but she didn’t have that kind of time so she sent him a message saying that she would be arriving shortly. Her stomach fluttered nervously. If Mr. Tate turned her away she would have no money and no job.

Jessie and Liz made their way down the busy street. As she glanced into a store window a smile spread across her face. Front and center was the ugliest pair of spectacles she had ever seen. Square and thick, they would obscure her features perfectly. As she rang the bell at the front counter, she scraped the last few coins from her purse hoping it would be enough.

Jessie knew that it was a luxury to be able to ride the stagecoach into Texas. A wagon train could have taken months. This way was a mere fifteen days from St. Louis to Fort Chadbourne. But the ride felt endless. They barely stopped to eat and change horses. Everyone was on edge and continually worried about bandits, thieves, and Indians.

She was hot, the route was bumpy, and the wagon was loud. The cost had also been extravagant. At two hundred dollars for her and Liz, it had drained almost every penny she had.

She would have thought that all of these problems could occupy her time but, as they bumped down the trail, her thoughts kept drifting back to the past.

“Jessica, hurry up. All of the eligible men will be taken!” Her mother’s harassed tone filled her room. She rolled her eyes at her mother’s use of the name Jessica. Mrs. Harris seemed to think it was more sophisticated.

Jessie stood and scanned her appearance in the mirror. Her greenish eyes glistened in the candlelight. The jade colored evening dress set them off perfectly. It also showed her perfect hourglass figure. Her thick black hair was piled on top her head accentuating the line of her jaw and her full lips. She smiled at herself.

Her father was less enthused. “Did you really have to get Jessie another new dress? We are going to go in the poorhouse Jane.” Martin Harris did well for his family as a banker but his wife had great aspirations for their daughter.

“If she is going to marry well, she has to look the part.” Jane Harris sniffed at her husband.

Jessie enjoyed all of the beautiful dresses and was perfectly content to let her mother fight this battle. She was sure that her father was exaggerating and her mother was right. Jessie Harris had her share of suitors, many of them rich and influential.

“Ready Mother?” Her tone was innocent but the wry smile said that she knew her mother had been ready for some time. Jessie did not agree with her mother. Men would find her whenever she got there. Better to make them wait.

She shuddered, despite the heat. Liz looked up at her. She patted her daughter’s arm and made a mental note to keep her thoughts on the present.

“How much longer do we have Mama?” Liz’s voice was barely audible over the sound of the wagon.

“We should be stopping for the day soon and we arrive tomorrow.” Her voice was sympathetic. It was difficult enough as an adult to make this trip. At eight, Liz was wise beyond her years, but it must be grueling for her to be so still every day.

One of the gentleman passengers gave her another long stare and she dropped her head to hide her face. He was an older gentleman and seemed to only want to be friendly but she couldn’t take any chances. The less people knew about her the better.

She bit her lip at the thought. Her plan to live in someone else’s home for the next few months was the best she could come up with. How would she keep him from learning anything about her? What if he saw beneath her disguise? What if he just turned her away? The last thought made her shudder again. She looked out the window and tried to wipe her mind clear of memories from the past and fears for the future. Soon enough she would find out for sure.


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A Duke Worth His Salt by Allison Merritt

Lady Eleanor never doubts her father’s love, but when he suffers a head wound and forgets his middle daughter, it thrusts her into a world of uncertainty. He orders her out of his house, and she flees to the family estate in Sussex. Intent on being useful, she disguises herself as a shepherdess named Leah. She never expects to be charmed by the lord next door. Lord Daniel Goodwin seeks solitude to write a novel, but really desires access to the estate next door, where some of his fondest memories were made. He intends to coax Lady Eleanor into giving him what he wants, but the stubborn woman won't see him. Instead, he befriends shy Leah. When her future is in danger, he uncovers her secrets which are nearly as troubling as his own. He would gladly take Leah as his mistress, but can he take Lady Eleanor as his wife to protect her after he’s vowed never to marry?

Masquerading as a Miss by Ari Thatcher

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Searching for my Rogue by Dawn Brower

Alys Dewitt’s sister is getting married. Lucky for her she gets to be the maid of honor in a Regency themed wedding at an actual Ducal estate in England. While attending the wedding, she falls through a time hole and wakes up in 1815. Everything is strange, wondrous, not at all as she expected it to be.

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Chapter 1 - April 1854

“This color would look lovely on you, darling. It is the perfect shade of blue for your eyes.” The dressmaker gushed over a bolt of lovely fabric as she held it up under Lillian Carter’s chin.

Lily smiled weakly and looked over at her brother, James. She knew that they couldn’t afford custom dresses and that is why she hadn’t wanted to come to the dress shop at all but her brother had insisted. He wanted her to have new clothes for the upcoming spring season in Boston.

“That’s perfect, we’ll take it,” Lily swallowed hard and forced the butterflies in her stomach down. How could she still react this way after four years? She looked at the only man she had ever desired in her life. He seemed older or harder. She wasn’t sure what it was but he looked different. No less attractive, but not the rake she had met. As she was about to speak, Toby jumped in.

“I'm real sorry I ran into you like that,” he looked down at the ground.

Lily glanced at Eric’s son. He was the spitting image of his father at five years old. Large dark eyes sparkled from under unruly waves of dark hair. His nose was more upturned than his father’s, the only hint of his mother. He was sure to break hearts. Lily’s melted instantly. She could not stand to see this little boy look so sad over an accident.

“Apology accepted. Accidents happen to everyone.” She smiled at him as he looked at her in surprise.

“Do you mean it?” He returned her smile, looking relieved.

“Don’t look too happy, Toby. I have not forgiven you and you will be in trouble when we get home.” Eric spoke sternly to his son but he turned and smiled his thanks to her.

“Are you ready to get to your feet?” Eric once again looked at Lily and the butterflies flew up in her chest but she nodded her head. He slowly lifted her from the ground as if she weighed no more than a feather and lightly set her on her feet. She felt slightly dizzy but was afraid to speak. What was happening to her?

As he removed his hands, she began to sway and he once again placed his arms around her, pulling her closer to steady her. She felt hot and her body was tingling everywhere it was touching his, which only made her head swim more. She could not help herself, she tilted her head back and looked up into his handsome face.

Recognition and what Lily thought might be desire crossed over Eric's face as he looked down at her and Lily almost forgot to breath. She felt her arms traveling up around his neck and she had no power to stop them. His face seemed to be moving closer to hers, slowly but surely, and Lily felt her eyes flutter closed.

“What the devil is going on here?” An angry voice interrupted the moment and Eric’s head snapped up. Lily turned to see her brother striding toward them.

James reached the group on the sidewalk. His face was set in hard lines, fists clenched at his sides. “I knew I should not have allowed you to buy those dresses. Five minutes in one of them—”

“James, calm down.” Elise stepped between James and Eric. “Lily fell and hit her head. This man was only helping her.”

James stopped abruptly. His look turned from anger to concern. “Are you all right? Should I call a doctor?”

“I’m fine. Just a little dizzy.” Lily tried to speak normally but Eric was still holding her and she was having trouble concentrating.

“Perhaps we should see if you can stand on your own now.” Eric slowly let her go. Even in her dizziness she thought she felt his fingers graze down her back. Lily managed to steady herself. She still felt off balance but now that she wasn’t so close to Eric she felt like she could breathe again. A slow throb was building in the back of her head and working its way to her temples.

“Thank you for your help. We are in your debt. I must apologize for my outburst…” James shook Eric’s hand.

“No need for apologies. I understand completely,” Eric replied.

“I’m James Carter, this is my wife Elise and my sister Lillian.” Lily blinked. How could her brother not recognize the man she dreamed of so often?

“Eric Sampson, I believe we have met. This is my son Toby. I am afraid that I can take no such offer since it was my son that knocked her over in the first place. Your sister was most gracious. I would like to make this up to you in some way.”

“Eric Sampson? Of course. You own a few of our ships.” James seemed delighted now, his anger completely forgotten. Lily could have rolled her eyes. Lately James thought of little else besides his ship building business. It was one of the reasons her family had travelled to Boston for this season.

“Your ships were of excellent quality. We are still using them. I have been planning on contacting you for a new contract. Would you consider coming to my home this Friday for dinner? I would like to show Miss Carter my gratitude and perhaps discuss some business with you.” Eric smiled and Lily felt her head throb again.

James smiled back, looking ecstatic. “We would be delighted. Tell your wife we look forward to seeing her again as well.”

“Thank you for the thought but my wife passed away two years ago.” Eric looked at his feet, his face tightening.

“How horrible,” Elise murmured.

Lily, who had been focusing all of her energy on remaining standing, looked up suddenly. The movement caused the blood to rush from her head the world begin to go dark. She tried to grab at air but she couldn’t seem to balance. For the second time in minutes, she fell to the ground.

Lily opened her eyes to the sight of blue sky before her and tried to figure out why on earth she would be looking at the sky in the middle of the day. Slowly, the sounds around her began to penetrate her mind.

“Lily…Lily, can you hear me?” Lily turned to see the faces of her brother and sister-in-law staring down at her.

“What?” Confusion clouded her mind.

“James, I will get her into a hired carriage, you go fetch the doctor with ours. She must have hit her head worse than we thought.”

“Did I hit my head again?” Lily asked, feeling very confused.

“No, I caught you this time,” a deep gentle voice whispered in her ear. Reality slowly returned. She was cradled in Eric’s arms, his hand subtly stroking her back. If she hadn’t been so dizzy, the intimacy would have taken her breath away.

“Mr. Sampson, would you be so kind as to help me get her into the buggy?” Elise hailed the carriage over as Eric gently picked her up off the ground.

The driver got down off the seat to open the door as Eric carried her over.

“Where can I take you folks?” he asked with concern.

“Eight-twenty Commonwealth Avenue, please.” Elise stepped out of the way as Eric climbed in. He set her gently down on the seat. His eyes locked with hers as he gave her hand a squeeze. Gently, he brought her hand to his lips and gave it a light kiss. Lily’s heart beat in her chest and she looked away for a moment unsure of what to do or say. The moment was broken. Eric dropped her hand and stepped back out.

“I can follow you to help you when you arrive home,” Eric offered to Elise as she climbed in.

“Thank you but we should be fine. It was nice to meet you. We look forward to seeing you on Friday.” Elise motioned to the driver and Lily lifted her head briefly to see Eric, holding his son, watching the carriage drive away.

...

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