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Beverley's Books



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Three second-chance Regency novellas for readers who like to mix it up a bit: comedy, drama and pathos guaranteed. (Oh, and with that happily-ever-after you didn't see coming, of course!)


Hazard’s Mistress – Drab companion by day, dashing gambling queen by night! Will Louisa Stapleton get a second chance at love? Or did she throw it all away during one reckless night when she was seventeen?


The Governess’s Secret Love - In the sanctuary of a smuggler's cave, can the power of a storm's embrace guide star-crossed lovers Charlotte and Hugh towards a love that has silently burned for years?


A Scandalous Reunion -  Sebastian Wells sacrificed his heart to marry the wife chosen for him. Now widowed, he’s discovered that the girl he vowed to love forever is the drab companion of an exacting widow. But will she forgive him his past mistakes?


Second chance love, class divides, and joyful Cinderella retellings that will make you laugh and cry.


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You can read the ebooks on any ereader (Amazon, Kobo, Nook), your tablet, phone, computer, and/or in the free Bookfunnel app.



Lightning split the dark sky, illuminating the froth of angry sea upon jagged rocks at the base of the cliff.
Ned, the old cart horse, snorted in fear and Charlotte closed her eyes as she steeled herself for a plunge into oblivion, one hand gripping what she thought was the side of the pony trap until she realised with horror she was mauling the thigh of Mr Kernick now battling to control the rearing horse.
“Whoa, there, Ned!” The handsome young tutor was too busy dragging on the reins to notice Charlotte snatch back her hand while the force of the vehicle’s abrupt halt caused her head to snap back.
“Are you all right, Miss Stanbridge?”
Charlotte, doing her best to keep her balance, forced a smile, though she was shaking with fear. “Quite all right, thank you, Mr Kernick.”
Except she wasn’t. Everything about this terrible journey, which should have taken only an hour, made her want to cry. And she’d gripped Mr Kernick’s thigh. All these years of just gazing at him, and now she’d actually touched him.
It was unladylike, and it was mortifying…
For he hadn’t even noticed.
“Poor Old Ned isn’t used to weather like this, and you’re not either, I’d wager.” Rain dripped from Mr Kernick’s low crowned felt hat, his face silhouetted against the lowering sky. He smiled. “Don’t worry, I’ll soon have you at Pencarrow Manor so you can get warm and dry.”
As usual, Charlotte couldn’t find the words to answer him, though his kindness nearly emboldened her to tell him she didn’t want to get to her destination.
Why should he care, though? Mrs Glendenning didn’t.
A note from Lord Pencarrow’s housekeeper, Mrs Tregonning, was all it had taken for her to relinquish Charlotte for a week, as apparently his lordship’s nephews had come to stay unexpectedly and needed the supervision of a full-time governess.
“Here, let me tuck that blanket around you a little closer, Miss Stanbridge.” The horse had stopped once more, and Mr Kernick leaned over. “You’re shivering like a near-drowned thing, and Mrs Glendenning won’t thank me for delivering you to Pencarrow Manor with a feverish chill.”
Charlotte murmured a thank you and closed her eyes, shivering even more as Mr Kernick’s fingers grazed her cheek. He was touching her, just like in her dreams.
She brought herself up short. Clearly, though, it meant nothing to him. Simple practicality motivated his actions.
“I’ve secured you as best I can against the rain, but now I see you’re as trussed up as a babe and can’t move. Lean against me if it’ll help buttress you against the jolts,” he said as Old Ned got back into his painstakingly slow stride.
“Thank you, Mr Kernick, but I’m quite all right,” Charlotte said for the second time, while her heart sped up dangerously.
Why, oh, why had she said that? In all her years working for Mr and Mrs Glendenning, Charlotte could only have dreamed of the young tutor saying such words to her during his weekly visits to Honeyfield House.
“As long as you’re sure, miss.”
Did he look disappointed, or was she only imagining it? Charlotte was about to rectify any sense of frostiness she might have conveyed, only Mr Kernick now said cheerfully, “You must look forward to a change of air, or a different routine at any rate. You’ve been governess at Honeyfield House for longer than I’ve been tutor to Sir Pennyworth’s sons, and I’m ready to stretch my wings.”
For five years, Charlotte’s routine had been unvaried. Reading, writing and arithmetic in the morning with the two younger Glendenning girls was followed by painting in the afternoon with their elder sister. Charlotte’s most important task was to instil a ladylike sense of decorum into the soon-to-be presented headstrong Miss Catherine.
Charlotte, by contrast, had never been headstrong, a virtue Mrs Glendenning had been pronouncing all week was what she’d miss most—or rather, her headstrong daughter would—once Charlotte left the household to marry Mr George Ravensby.
As if this was a given.
When Charlotte looked reluctant when informed she’d spend a week at Pencarrow Manor, Mrs Glendening had suggested with a thoughtful frown that this was the appropriate length of time to keep Mr Ravensby waiting for his answer.
Mr Ravensby. Charlotte glanced at Mr Kernick and realised he did not know about Charlotte’s marriage offer. She wondered if she should tell him, but decided that his inevitable congratulations would be too painful.
Charlotte didn’t want to marry Mr Ravensby, but Mrs Glendenning had made it clear that Charlotte’s answer would naturally be in the affirmative. Since the Glendenning family would shortly decamp to London, and then France, where they’d hired a French governess, and since Charlotte had no other home to go to, she had to agree with Mrs Glendenning. She really didn’t have any option.
Another slice of wind lanced Charlotte’s cheek, and she shivered even more, for the rain, which had breached the neck opening of the blanket, showed no sign of abating.
Mr Kernick sent a worried look up at the sky, the reins slack in his lap. “It doesn’t look like Old Ned is going any further, though it’s hardly to be wondered at.” He jerked a thumb at the low-lying cloud and heavy fog that swirled about them. “Old Gryff, the shepherd warned me. His bad leg is a harbinger of bad weather.” He snapped the reins and added in a more cheerful tone, “Ah, but I’m sure this will pass and sunshine will bathe the cliffs in a golden glow. We’ve three hours before nightfall and plenty of time to get you safely to Pencarrow Manor.”
Charlotte loved the poetic way Mr Kernick spoke. If she put her ear to the pane of glass that separated the schoolroom where she taught the little girls, she could hear Mr Kernick— and catch a glimpse of him from time to time—teach Master Edward Glendenning advanced mathematics during his weekly visit.
Apparently, Mr Kernick was gifted in advanced mathematics. And Mr Glendenning had high hopes that this would rub off on his son who would one day assist him as manager of the local tin mine, though as far as Charlotte could tell, Master Edward wasn’t gifted at anything other than finding ways to avoid exerting himself.
With a click of his tongue, Mr Kernick encouraged Old Ned on his plodding journey, though the fog was now hugging the cliff top, and Charlotte could only hear the crashing waves.
She wondered if a girl like herself, reared in Hampshire’s gentle climes, might ever get used to Cornwall’s wild and unpredictable coast.
Mr Kernick let out a sudden laugh and Charlotte’s heart cleaved to see the joyous way his eyes crinkled as he pointed to the rainbow curving over the sea as the clouds suddenly parted. “What did I tell you, Miss Stanbridge? Not just bathed in sunshine but crowned by a rainbow, and isn’t it the most beautiful you ever saw?”
Water had now breached the front of her pelisse beneath the blanket, Charlotte realised, for her nipples hardened in the most disconcerting way, though her throat had never felt so dry.
“It is beautiful.” She dropped her gaze from Mr Kernick’s face as longing clutched at her, and she mumbled the first thing she could think of. It had in fact been chasing itself round and round her head since she’d overheard the snippet a month ago. Perhaps it was one of the reasons she’d given Mr Ravensby a hearing, thus emboldening him to make her a marriage offer. For without Mr Kernick’s weekly visits, she could at least get on with her life. “I hear you’re leaving Swain Cove for a position at  Riverdale School, Mr Kernick.”
He nodded as Ned negotiated the uneven track. “Sir Pennyworth has recommended me, and I shall be forever in his debt. A farmer’s son rarely rises so far.”
“Is it because you’re good at mathematics? Mr Glendenning says you have the mind of an abacus?” Riverdale School was located an hour’s drive away. As the most hallowed learning institution between Swain Cove and Oxford and Cambridge, Charlotte had heard that a position there was often a precursor for a fellowship at one of those great universities.
Mr Kernick nodded. “Aye, Sir Pennyworth says I have a gift that should be recognised. As our magistrate, he’s used his connections to secure me this great position. Oh, my!” He broke off, indicating the dissolving rainbow. “Our heavenly vision was short-lived. And now the rain has begun again. We are making heavy work of this, Miss Stanbridge, and I worry that you’ll catch a chill.”
Charlotte wrapped her arms about her as another gust of freezing air, and the sharp cry of a seabird, was overlaid by Mr Kernick’s, “Steady on! Whoa!”
The horse had stumbled and now it drew to a halt amidst a clattering of metal and harness, the moist and clammy air infiltrating Charlotte’s lungs, making her cough.
Charlotte strained her eyes to see beyond the horse’s nose and as she turned her head, met Mr Kernick’s concerned look.
“You’re shivering.” He put out his hand as if he might touch her, then withdrew it.
Disappointed, Charlotte acknowledged that her demeanour hardly gave him encouragement. She’d never been one to show her feelings, but the presence of the one man who sent her senses into painful awareness seemed to make her even more closed-up.
“Are you cold?” He paused, frowned, then said firmly, before she could answer, “You must have the other blanket.”
“Please, Mr Kernick, there’s no need. You’ll want it more than I—” Charlotte’s objection was truncated by another cough while her companion ignored her protest, removing the blanket from his knees.
She closed her eyes as his warm, capable fingers once again brushed her cheek and neck and stiffened against the familiar longing that crept like tendrils through her whole being.
His decisive tones jolted her back to the present. “We can’t stay here and the horse refuses to go further.” He stood up and scanned the fog-shrouded cliffs, turning to look inland. “Nor are we within easy walking of any habitation.”
Charlotte wondered how he could know this when she couldn’t see beyond Ned’s stubborn head. “But we’re surely near the town? I saw it in the distance before the weather closed in.” She cursed herself for allowing an edge of panic to her tone, then, drawing in a careful breath, managed more calmly. “If the horse refuses to take us, couldn’t we walk?”
“Not when we can’t see a foot in front of us.” Mr Kernick shook his head. “One misstep and we’d be over the cliff, with the other blindly following. Trust me, Miss Stanbridge, I grew up in these parts.”
Charlotte had always wanted to know more about Mr Kernick and his unusual elevation in society but he was now climbing down from the pony trap, telling her he’d check the horse’s hooves and the path in front to see if there was any obvious reason old Ned refused to take another step.
She waited, shivering. The cold seemed to have seeped right into her bones and, despite the two blankets, she wondered if she’d ever be warm again.
She only realised she was drifting off to sleep when she was shocked into opening her eyes by a gentle slap on the cheek.
“Forgive me, but you cannot fall asleep!” He had her shoulders now and was gently shaking her. “In this weather, you might not wake up again. The lightning is dangerous, and we can’t remain so exposed to the elements.” His grip loosened, and he touched her cheek, his look concerned.
And fond, she thought dreamily.
Though wasn’t she always having dreams about Mr Kernick?
That’s all they were. Dreams.
And nothing ever came of dreams.
But then consciousness returned as his grip tightened, his voice urgent as he shouted against a rumble of thunder, “We need to find shelter! Quickly!”

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