My Favorite Mistake, a novella featuring everyone’s favorite parasol-wielding lady’s maid, Fanny Price, is available as part of the anthology My Fair Regency: Tales from Holidays Throughout the Year!
Sixteen years ago, lady’s maid Fanny Price believed in love at first sight. But that was before she met handsome horse trainer Nick Cradduck at a village fair. Nick swept her off her feet, then shattered her heart the very next day.
Fanny crossed all of England, finding a new post with the Astley family, just so she would never have to see that filthy blackguard again. But Nick isn’t going down without a fight. He tracks Fanny down at the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling, of all places, on a bright, sunny spring morning not so different from the day they met. Now Fanny must decide if she’ll send Nick packing… or take a second chance on the only man who’s ever felt like her match.
My Favorite Mistake is a steamy novella featuring Fanny Price, Lady Caroline Astley’s intrepid lady’s maid. It can be read at any point after Book 1 in The Astley Chronicles. Please note that for the low-steam collection My Fair Regency, the love scenes are included, but are presented as bonus scenes.
Village of Brockworth, Gloucestershire, England
They say a bad penny always turns up again, and Fanny Price could tell you it was true.
How else could you explain how she came around a market stall at the foot of Cooper’s Hill on a bright, sunny spring day, humming a tune and wondering which of the strapping lads parading themselves about the fairgrounds would be the one to win the famous cheese rolling event that afternoon, when who should she plough into but the man she had crossed all of England to avoid?
“Hearts alive!” she gasped. “Nick Cradduck!” Now, Fanny wasn’t usually the bumblesome sort, but she went stumbling back and would’ve fallen right on her rump had Nick not reached out and grabbed her about the waist.
She blinked up at him, momentarily befuddled. It had been sixteen years, but whereas the passage of time had left Fanny with crinkles at the corners of her eyes and a gray hair or two in her mane of red curls, Nick Cradduck had aged like a fine Scotch whisky. He was six feet tall and every bit as broad of shoulder and lean of hip as he’d been when last she saw him. He had hair as black as sin, the kind that felt like silk beneath your fingers (unfortunately for her, Fanny was in a position to know how Nick Cradduck’s hair felt beneath your hand). His eyes were the color of a stormy sea. He hadn’t shaved that morning; judging by the scruff on his chiseled jawline, it had probably been a day or even two. But—starf take him!—much like the bump on his nose and that little mole at the corner of his mouth, this “flaw” somehow only served to make him all the more handsome.
And, gracious, his arms! He must still be training horses, because only that sort of heavy work gave a man such sculpted, bulging muscles…
Fanny realized with a start that the reason she knew Nick’s arms were bulging with muscles was because she’d grabbed onto them to catch her balance.
She remedied that right quick, letting go and taking a hasty step back.
Or at least, attempting to take a hasty step back. The fact that she’d disappeared in the dead of night didn’t seem to have got it through Nick Cradduck’s thick skull that she wanted nothing to do with him, because he didn’t release her waist. Nor did he seem to have noticed the glare she was leveling his way.
“Fanny,” he breathed. “At last, I’ve found you!”
And then the chuck-headed lout leaned down and tried to kiss her!
Well, she wasn’t standing for that! “Unhand me, you… you…” Unable to summon words foul enough to say what she thought of him, she yanked at his big, warm, patient hands, desperate to get them off her before she remembered what they’d once felt like on her. She couldn’t pry them loose, but she did manage to grab the handle of the parasol dangling from her wrist and brought it up to spear him in the stomach.
“Oof,” he grunted, letting go of her at last and grabbing his belly. He cut his eyes to hers, resigned. “So, it’s like that, is it?”
“How else could it possibly be?” she spat.
“You’re not still angry about what happened in the church, are you?” His grey eyes softened. “That was all a misunderstanding.”
“A misunderstanding?” Putting sugar in someone’s teacup when they’d asked for cream, that was a misunderstanding. Arriving at four o’clock when you’d been meant to come at three, that was a misunderstanding.
This had been no misunderstanding.
“Well, see if you can understand this,” she shouted, swinging her parasol for the side of his head.
One of those big hands shot up and caught the parasol, stopping it dead. She gaped at those tan fingers, clenched tight, and the familiar curl of black hair at his wrist, then slid her gaze back to his face, her eyes poisonous.
Nobody touched her parasol.
He might’ve had arms like a bloody Viking, but that didn’t stop Fanny from giving a great bellow and starting to wrestle with him over the parasol. On any other parasol, the shaft would’ve snapped, but her mistress, Lady Caroline, had asked her brother-in-law to make this one especially for Fanny, and it had an iron rod hidden in its core, just thick enough to give it strength without making it overly heavy.
Speaking of her mistress, Fanny was glad her ladyship’s young daughters weren’t about, because she might’ve said a few words during the tussle that weren’t entirely suitable for the daughters of an earl to hear.
But, to her eternal frustration, she didn’t manage to wrench her parasol free.
She was trying to decide whether she should bite him on the hand to make him let it go when the sound of church bells rang out from over in the village.
Nick froze, listening, then sighed. “This isn’t finished. I’ve got to speak to a man about some business. But as soon as I’m done, you and I are going to talk.” He released her parasol, turned, and stalked off across the green.
“Don’t bother, because I don’t have a thing to say to you, Nick Cradduck!” she shouted after him. “And the only bit of you I want to see is your back part!”
He cast her a grin over his shoulder. “That can be arranged. You always liked my back part.”
As he rounded a stall, Fanny had to own that he was right.
And that he still had an excellent back part.
Grumbling to herself, she spun on her heel. She wasn’t going to give Nick Cradduck another thought. He could follow her all around the fair today, and he probably would. Why should she care?
He couldn’t very well follow her home. Fanny served as lady’s maid to the Countess of Ardingly—whom she still called Lady Caroline, as that had been her title when Fanny first came to be in her service. The Ardingly manor house was right in the middle of a twelve-hundred-acre estate.
He couldn’t very well follow her there. So, no matter how much of a bother he made of himself, after today, she would never have to see him again.
With that cheering thought, Fanny went to have a look around.
My Fair Regency is now available at retailers everywhere!
And be sure to check out all the great stories in My Fair Regency!
Celebrate Regency romance all year long with this collection of short stories set during holidays and festivals throughout the four seasons! Fans of sweet romance will enjoy stories set from May Day all the way to Twelfth Night, featuring some of your favorite tropes—enemies-to-lovers, second-chance romance, forbidden love, friends-to-lovers, and more! The collection includes:
May Day Mayhem by Ann Chaney—Intrigue, death, and love come to Horsham-Upon-the-Thames as the small English village anticipates their May Day celebration. Home Office agents the Duke of Doncaster and governess Helen Stokes join forces to uncover a missing list of French agents before an enemy discovers it. Mired in May Day preparations while chasing hoodlums and gentry, Helen and Doncaster try to fight their mutual attraction in a romantic farce worthy of Covent Garden.
My Favorite Mistake by Courtney McCaskill—Sixteen years ago, lady’s maid Fanny Price was swept off her feet by a handsome horse trainer named Nick Cradduck. The very next day, he shattered her heart. But now, at the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake, who should Fanny encounter but the man she crossed all of England to avoid… A second-chance love story featuring Fanny, the scene-stealing lady’s maid from How to Train Your Viscount!
His Damsel by Charlotte Russell—During her annual visit to Bartholomew Fair, Eliza Cranstoun is mistaken for a lady in distress when in fact she was attempting to avenge the honor of her cousin. Now, she insists Anthony Ripley, her savior, help her bring down a lordly scoundrel. Amidst the scheming however, the independent Eliza and the confirmed bachelor Anthony, discover that love finds even those who choose not to seek it.
When I Fall In Love by Cora Lee—The Harvest Festival is a chance for reunions and love, but perhaps not for childhood friends Sylvie Devereaux and Kit Mathison. When Kit returns to renovate the home he inherited, Sylvie’s financial burdens prompt Kit to propose a marriage of convenience. But Sylvie has always wanted to marry for love, and they don’t love each other…do they?
Remember by Shannon Donnelly—Over the years, Beatrice Foxton keeps meeting up with Andrew Cliffs on Guy Fawkes Night, but these two friends are separated by her family’s expectations for her to marry a well-born lord and his family’s background in trade. And, yet, they can’t stay away from each other…
The Aeronaut’s Heart by Regina Scott—Josephine Aventure was on her way to earning a place in England’s Aeronautical Corps until the dashing smuggler she’d once loved showed up. Etienne Delaguard risked much to help England win the war against France. Over a Twelfth Night masquerade, can a gentleman of the sea win the heart of a lady of the air?