I really enjoyed the first book in Valerie Bowman's new The Footmen's Club, historical romance trilogy and am eagerly looking forward to book two. Duke Looks Like a Groomsman is a second chance, enemies to lovers story with the added fun of forced proximity and a duke hero disguised as a groomsman. I can't wait to dive into this one.
by Valerie Bowman
The Footmen's Club - Book 2
Publisher: June Third Enterprises
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Rhys Sheffield, the Duke of Worthington, has bet his friends an ungodly sum of money that despite his loftiness, he can pass himself off as a servant at the house party of the Season. But when his clever ex-flame arrives and recognizes Rhys in the stables pretending to be a groomsman, she realizes it’s the perfect opportunity to pay him back for breaking off their engagement.
She’s the bride-to-be.
The lovely Lady Julianna Montgomery may be the only young woman at the house party who’s not in the market for a husband. She’s quite happily engaged to a marquess, thank you very much, and scarcely remembers the pain of being callously tossed over by the Duke of Worthington nearly two long years ago—till now.
All bets are off.
Rhys seems to be everywhere, flexing his muscles, laboring in the sun—and Julianna has never found him more appealing. With his signature charm, he persuades her to keep his secret. But when she learns he’s determined to win a bet of honor, she can’t resist playing a game of her own. She’ll spend the next fortnight tempting Rhys at every turn and making him lose his precious wager. Even if it means she must lose her heart in the process…
Doesn't that sound delicious? In the meantime, while we're waiting for Duke Looks Like a Groomsman to be released next week, let's take a look back at book one with an excerpt from The Footman and I.
by Valerie Bowman
The Footmen's Club - Book 1
Publisher: Valerie Bowman Books
Release Date: May 23, 2020
Every fortune-hunting female in London is after the newly titled Earl of Kendall, but he’s intent on finding a wife whose heart is true. So, while drunkenly jesting with his friends in a pub one night, he has an idea—what if the ladies of the ton didn’t know he was a wealthy earl? All he has to do is pose as a servant at his friend’s summer country house party and make sure the guest list is full of beautiful, eligible debutantes. What could possibly go wrong?
May the best footman win.
Miss Frances Wharton is far more interested in fighting for the rights of the poor than in marriage, but her mother insists she attend a summer house party—and find herself a husband. Frances would rather wed a goat than the pompous man her mother has in mind, so in order to dissuade the would-be suitor, she vows to behave like a shrew. The only person she can be herself with is the kind, handsome footman she runs into at every turn. Their connection is undeniable, and the divide between them is no match for the passion they feel. But what will happen when Frances learns that the footman she adores is actually the earl she despises? In a game where everything is false, can they convince each other that their love is true?
The Footman and I
Viscount Clayton's Country Estate, Devon
Frances stepped out of the carriage at Clayton Manor and breathed a sigh of relief. No one else was in the vicinity. She might be able to make it to her rooms without an uncomfortable encounter with Sir Reginald. Albina, their maid, had already been carted away to join the other lady's maids. Poor Albina was serving as a cook's helper, a housemaid, and a lady's maid at this point. The money to pay for a full staff of servants had long ago been gambled away by Papa.
"Lady Winfield," said Lady Clayton, their beautiful hostess, who stood by the front door to greet them. "I'm so pleased you and your lovely daughter could join us."
Frances smiled at Lady Clayton and executed a short curtsy for the woman. Lady Clayton was young and lovely and seemed ever so nice. They'd met during the events of the Season and developed an instant liking.
"We're both ever so pleased to be here," Mama replied. "Thank you so much for your kind invitation, Lady Clayton."
"Wasn't Lord Winfield able to make it?" Lady Clayton asked, frowning.
Mama winced. "Uh. He had some business to attend to in London, I'm afraid. But we do hope he'll join us next week."
They hadn't employed a footman in an age. Thankfully two footmen from the Clayton residence were busy pulling the trunks from the top of the carriage, while Frances glanced around nervously. The longer they remained out in the open, the greater the chance Sir Reginald might spot them.
To Frances's immense relief, Lady Clayton soon led them into the manor house's large, gorgeous foyer. It smelled like lemon wax and Frances marveled at how very clean and well-kept everything looked. In addition to being far smaller, Papa's country house was dingy these days, ever since they'd had to dismiss most of the servants and sell the artwork and furniture. But there were plenty of servants here at Clayton Manor, including the two footmen who carried their trunks behind them and the formidable-looking housekeeper who stood near the bannister staring at them. Apparently, she'd returned from depositing Albina in the servants' quarters.
"Mrs. Cotswold will show you to your rooms," Lady Clayton said, gesturing toward the housekeeper.
"Thank you," Mama replied. She made to follow the housekeeper, who had already turned toward the grand sweeping staircase, before turning back to Lady Clayton. "Oh, one more thing. Has Sir Reginald Francis arrived yet?" She made it seem as if it were an afterthought, but Frances knew better.
Frances held her breath while Lady Clayton blinked as if perplexed by the question. The poor woman's brow furrowed next. "Why..." The lady tilted her head to the side thoughtfully. "Why, yes. I do believe Sir Reginald arrived early this morning."
A wide grin spread across Mama's face. "Excellent," she said, her eyes sparkling. She gave Frances a knowing grin.
Trying to keep her expression perfectly blank, Frances expelled her breath and lifted her skirts. If Sir Reginald was already here, she'd best ascend to the safety of her bedchamber as quickly as possible.
She darted across the foyer, nearly tackling one of the poor footmen who was headed toward the back of the house with her trunk. No doubt he was on his way to the servant's staircase. "Please," she said in a loud whisper to the man. "Please won't you bring the trunk directly up?" She nodded hastily toward the staircase in the foyer.
The footman's face was obscured by the trunk hoisted on his shoulder, but he quickly turned his frame toward the double-sided staircase and said, "As you wish, my lady."
Frances nearly wept with relief. She was being entirely inappropriate, of course, but at the moment, she couldn't summon a care. She should also wait for her mother and the housekeeper, but instead, she plowed ahead of the footman. She pointed up the staircase in front of them. "This way?" she asked as if it were a perfectly normal occurrence for a guest to ask for directions from footmen.
"Yes, milady," the footman who carried her trunk replied in a voice that sounded as if he were slightly amused. When Frances reached the first landing, she tried to wait for the footman to join her, but her anxiety got the better of her and she continued on up. The poor man was carrying a fortnight's worth of her clothing and unmentionables on his shoulder, she could hardly blame him for not being as speedy as she was. "I'll just...meet you at the top of the staircase," she blurted, grabbing her skirts and practically running up the final set of stairs. Once she reached the top, she glanced around in a panic. The hall was unconscionably long and filled with what seemed like dozens of closed doors that all looked alike. Terribly inconvenient.
"To the right?" she called in a voice that cracked as the footman steadfastly made his way up the steps behind her. Below Mama was still talking to Lady Clayton. Oh, what was keeping her? No doubt more prying questions about Sir Reginald.
"To the left, Miss," the footman responded. She still couldn't see his face, but Frances was once again aware of a bit of humor in the young man's tone. She did not stop to dwell upon it, however. Instead, she dutifully raced off toward the left. She'd made her way halfway down the hall when she realized that for all she knew, she'd passed her room.
"The end of the hall," came the footman's helpful voice. He'd made it to the second floor promptly for someone weighed down by such a heavy trunk.
The second footman was having a much worse time of it. He was still struggling up the staircase with Mother's trunk. Frances glanced toward him and winced. Mama did tend to hideously over pack.
Turning back to face the hall, Frances continued her flight all the way to the end of the space, before stopping to wait for the footman. She had no choice. She had no idea which room was hers. She stood near the window, tapping her foot and biting her lip.
The footman had nearly caught up to her when a door she'd already passed opened and Sir Reginald of all people came out. Frances froze and held her breath as if that simple act alone would keep the man from noticing her should he happen to glance in her direction. Thankfully, he did not. Instead, he turned away from her and made his way toward the staircase. Even with his back toward her, she was certain it was him. She recognized his bald spot and sloping shoulders.
There was no more time to waste. Sir Reginald might turn around at any moment.
"In here?" she called to the footman in a loud whisper. She did not wait for a reply. Instead, she yanked open the very last door and darted inside. If she'd made the wrong choice, the footman would just have to come in and tell her so. A few moments later, the footman pushed open the door and followed her in.
"I'm terribly sorry if I've made a mistake with the room," she said, hurrying over and shutting the door soundly behind him. "It's just that I..." Hmm. What could she possibly tell this poor chap that would made any sense of her odd behavior?
"No mistake," the footman replied, hoisting her trunk off his shoulder and onto the floor near the window. "This is the correct room. You do seem to be in quite a hurry, however."
Frances, who'd been standing with her ear to the door to listen for Sir Reginald's receding footsteps, blinked. First, she had the fleeting thought that the footman's speech sounded quite cultured. Second, had a footman just commented upon her behavior? Well, that was certainly impertinent. Did the lad want a coin or didn't he?
Upon further reflection, however, she supposed she couldn't blame him for acting oddly after the way she'd behaved. At any rate, Mama would be here soon, and no doubt would be seriously displeased to find Frances alone in the room with a footman.
She needed to pay the chap and send him on his way. Still listening at the door, her back turned away from the servant, she fumbled for her reticule that dangled from her wrist. The reticule contained a bit of pin money that might tide him over.
She stuck her gloved hand into the small bag until she felt the outline of a coin. She pulled it out to look at it. A half-pound. Good enough. Clutching the coin, she turned to look at the footman who stood not two lengths behind her and...sucked in her breath.
Good heavens. This was no lad, but a full-grown man, and perhaps one of the tallest and certainly most handsome she'd ever seen. He had intelligent dark-green eyes, and a face that looked as if it had been carved into marble. Dark eyebrows, a perfect nose, wide shoulders, and full, masculine lips. Unconsciously, she pulled the coin up to her lips and exhaled, staring at him as if he were a statue come to life. Good heavens. Seems somehow she'd managed to close herself into a bedchamber alone with God's gift to footmen.
Have you read The Footman and I? Are you as excited to read Duke Looks Like a Groomsman as I am?
Have you ever been struck speechless by the sight of a handsome man?